MEMBERS of three unions in Carmarthenshire have voted not to grit roads overnight for three consecutive nights between 18 and 20 December.
The action has been timed for maximum impact ahead of forecasted icy weather conditions in parts of the county.
The effect on commuters to Carmarthenshire from Pembrokeshire could be significant, as could the potential for travel chaos if Pembrokeshire shoppers head east to buy Christmas gifts.
As we went to press, a meeting was scheduled between Carmarthenshire County Council and the unions in an attempt to avert industrial action.
The strike vote followed an official dispute between GMB, Unison and Unite unions and CCC over the issue of rates of pay for staff undertaking winter gritting duties.
The council made an offer to staff that was rejected unanimously by members of GMB, the largest union in the depots, with a mandate to ballot for action if negotiations do not progress.
The unions say Carmarthenshire currently has some of the worst terms and conditions for staff under-taking gritting duties in comparison with other local authorities, and staff risking their own insurance when working.
Peter Hill, GMB Regional Organiser said: “We negotiated in good faith over the last year to try and find a deal, but unfortunately we’ve yet to get a fair deal for GMB members.
“Staff are being forced to undertake winter gritting on low rates of pay, after years of real-terms decline in the wages.
“Our members are angry and frustrated.”
The unions have indicated an intention to step up their industrial action in the New Year.
Save Our Sands memorial unveiled at Pembrey Country Park
A MEMORIAL has been unveiled at Pembrey Country Park to commemorate a hard-fought campaign to save Pembrey sands for public use.
Between 1969 and 1971, the Save Our Sands campaign was launched by the local community against Ministry of Defence plans to put a gunnery and missile proofing centre in the area.
Now 50 years on, in honour of all those that battled to protect the shoreline for the enjoyment of generations to come, seven standing stones representing both the individual groups that battled, and the seven miles of Cefn Sidan beach, have been erected within the park.
It also includes a plaque telling the story of the campaign, and why the country park was created.
Campaigners and their friends and families had been concerned that the story of the great battle would be forgotten and began raising money through various fundraising events for a permanent memorial.
The group, formerly known as SOS@50 (it was formally dissolved in August 2019), said: “Pembrey Country Park would not exist as we know it without this historic and hard-fought campaign which was waged throughout the locality; 15,000 acres of land seaward of the railway line between Pembrey and Kidwelly would have become a gunnery and missile proofing centre prohibiting leisure activities along the shoreline between the Gower coast and Tenby.
“Without the immense fight waged against the incumbent government of the time and the Ministry of Defence, we would have been subjected to live – and probably and continue to be living – in a very different environment than the one which we are privileged to enjoy today.”
Pembrey Country Park has also launched an Augmented Reality Historic Trail which takes you back to hear all about what went on during WW1 and WW2. To download search ‘Pembrey Historical Trail’ on the ‘App Store’ for iphones or ‘Google Store’ for android phones.
Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John said: “We are extremely fortunate to have Pembrey Country Park here in Carmarthenshire. With its 500 acres of glorious woodlands to explore, seven miles of golden sandy beach, and lots of activities for all the family to enjoy, it’s the perfect day out.
“But it is so important that we remember the history of the park, and all those people who fought to save our sands, as without them, we would not have the park that we know and love today.
“I am delighted that this memorial has been put in place to tell this amazing story and triumph.”
20mph speed limits in Wales ‘will protect pedestrians and save money’
SENEDD members will vote on Welsh Government plans to introduce 20mph as a standard speed limit across Wales on Tuesday (Jul 12).
The plans intend to shift to a default speed limit of 20mph from the current 30mph in most residential roads and other busy streets.
If it passes, the new law is expected to come into force from September 17, 2023.
The policy aims to reduce the number of road traffic collisions, improve air quality and noise pollution, and encourage the shift away from car use.
Research and pilot trials in eight areas across Wales have been regarded as a success by Welsh ministers.
The government estimates that after an initial £33 million is spent on the change, it will be offset by a saving of £58m in reduced use of emergency services and hospital admissions over 30 years.
Supporters of the move say that pedestrians are 40% less likely to die when hit by a car travelling at 20mph compared with one travelling at 30mph.
Dr Sarah Jones, consultant in environmental public health at Public Health Wales, said: “Travelling at 20 mph has been shown to reduce the risk of crashing and the severity of crashes that do still happen.
“It also produces less noise pollution and reduces fuel consumption. It encourages people to walk and cycle, helping to fight obesity and improve mental well-being.
“All of these are likely to contribute to improvements in health and reduction in the demands for health services, which will help the NHS recovery from Covid.”
However, not everybody is in favour of the change. The law is likely to be opposed by the Welsh Conservatives.
Sam Rowlands, MS for North Wales, has called on residents to voice their concerns about the plans.
Mr Rowlands said: “I met with local councillor Adie Drury and residents in Buckley, this morning who are extremely frustrated at the pilot scheme which has led to roads through the town having a 20mph speed limit instead of 30mph.
“They are quite rightly very concerned as they believe that pollution is increasing because cars have to drive in a lower gear and wait longer at traffic lights, there have also been more accidents and the cost of the scheme is thought to be in the region of £33 million across Wales which would be better spent on more teachers, doctors and nurses.
“The trial has certainly caused a lot of problems for people living in Buckley and I am angry on their behalf as there does appear to be a lack of public awareness around these changes.
“I do support letting councils put 20mph speed limits outside schools, hospitals and other areas where evidence shows it’s a benefit, but a blanket 20mph speed limit across urban roads in Wales is just not right.”
Stephen Edwards, chief executive of Living Streets, who advocates a walking based approach to travel, said: “This would be life-changing legislation because slower speeds will improve the places where we live, work and go to school.
“It’s simple: slower speeds save lives – and I urge Members of the Senedd to support the 20mph in the vote on 12 July and help make our streets and pavements safe and accessible for everyone in our communities.”
Christine Boston, director of sustainably travel organisation Sustrans Cymru, said: “Sustrans Cymru joins Living Streets and Cycling UK in calling for Members of the Senedd to support the proposals, because 20mph defaults will help make communities across Wales safer and more attractive places to walk, wheel and cycle.
“We believe that everyone in Wales should have access to safe streets. Making 20mph default limits in our communities will help to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles whilst creating opportunities for social interaction, creating happier and healthier places.
“We want communities that are built for safety rather than speed.”
Commenting, Welsh Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Ashgar MS, said: “The Welsh Conservatives are not against introducing 20mph speed limits outside schools, playgrounds, places of worship and high streets, but a blanket roll-out is quite frankly ludicrous.
“With a price tag of more than £32 million, is this really money well spent at a time when the Labour Government should be focused on tackling the big issues at hand such as the cost-of-living? I don’t think it is, and I am sure residents across the country will be thinking the exact same.
“This is yet another diktat imposed by Labour from Cardiff Bay.
“Speed limits like this should be decided by councils in their local areas, not top-down by Labour ministers. Let’s give local people the power over their communities, the very people who know their roads best.”
Police appeal following assault allegation
DYFED-POWYS Police is investigating an allegation of assault which occurred on Erw Road, Llanelli in the early hours of Saturday morning, July 2, 2022.
A man received injuries which required hospital treatment.
The suspect is described as a white male, in his late 50’s, about 5ft 6inches tall, a slim build and a bald head.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 101.
If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DP-20220702-030.
Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org