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Ammanford and Llanelli Hwb buildings to re-open

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s customer service centres in Ammanford and Llanelli will re-open from Wednesday, July 29.

The Hwbs will re-open in a phased approach to ensure the safety of customers and staff. The Hwb and cash desk at Spilman Street in Carmarthen currently remains closed. Further information on the re-opening will be announced in coming weeks.

Despite the buildings having to close at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Hwb staff have continued to help and advise over 90,000 residents over the phone since lockdown.

Residents are still being encouraged to use their My Hwb account for online services and payments, setting up direct debits for regular payments such as council tax or to call the team where possible on 01267 234567.

The Hwbs on Stepney Street, Llanelli, and Quay Street, Ammanford, will be open Monday to Thursday from 9am-5pm and 9am-4.30pm on Friday.

To ensure the safety of customers and staff there will be some changes to how the Hwbs will now be running to those who require face to face advice.

Only one customer can attend per visit (two if they are from the same household and need support during the enquiry.)

To ensure social distancing measures are followed the number of customers inside the building will be reduced and queuing will take place outside the building.

Protective screens and sanitiser points will be in place.

To contain the potential of spreading the virus there will be no access to computers or phones for the duration.

The cash desks at Ammanford and Llanelli will be open to take payments for council tax, business rates, council rents, parking fines, temporary accommodation charges, licensing fees, building regulation and planning fees. Please note the cash desks will be closed daily from 1pm-1.45pm.

The Hwb provides a face to face advice and assistance service to customers for a range of council enquiries such as recycling, housing benefits, council tax, blue badges, taxi licensing and more.

Executive board member responsible for Resources, Cllr David Jenkins, said: “Hwb staff have been continuing to help thousands of customers throughout the pandemic over the phone and they are still at the other end of the line to help residents with any queries, but I’m pleased to say that our Hwb buildings in Ammanford and Llanelli will now re-open to those who require face to face advice. Further changes may be implemented if and when Welsh Government revises restrictions, which will ensure the safety of customers and staff at all times.”

To register or log in to My Hwb account go to www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales

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Food help available for projects in Llanelli and Carmarthen

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A great opportunity is opening up for food projects in Llanelli and Carmarthen. Food distribution charity FareShare Cymru is expanding further into West Wales and is looking for charities and community groups that provide food as part of their project. 

FareShare Cymru currently redistributes quality surplus food and drink from the food industry to over 170 community groups and charities based between Newport and Swansea. The surplus food benefits services such as homeless hostels, community centres, refugee centres, primary schools etc.

FareShare Cymru turns the environmental problem of food waste into a social solution. They aim to maximise the social impact of food that would otherwise go to waste; encouraging members to provide a service that is more than just food handouts and that tackles the causes of food poverty rather than just the symptoms.

FareShare Cymru offers a competitively priced membership scheme to provide a weekly provision of a variety of meat, dairy, fruit, veg and ambient produce.

It’s vital for a lot of the older diners who perhaps wouldn’t come out otherwise. But without Fareshare, that might not be able to happen. We couldn’t necessarily go out and buy all the produce you provide us. We couldn’t afford to. – Liam Turner, volunteer chef at Cornelly Luncheon Club 

This growth is happening thanks to a grant from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Fund, which aims to divert waste from landfill.

Expanding into West Wales has been on our agenda for some time and we are grateful to the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme for supporting us to be able to do this. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant it is more important now than ever to get good, nutritious food to those who need it and to support community resilience. – Katie Padfield, Head of Development at FareShare Cymru

If groups are interested in finding out more about becoming a FareShare Cymru member, please contact members@fareshare.cymru. For more information about our service, visit www.fareshare.cymru

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Business

Applications open for emergency financial support from Economic Resilience Fund

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Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000

BUSINESSES in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus can now apply for emergency financial support from the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething previously said £120 million would be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains affected by the move to alert level 2 announced by the First Minister on Wednesday 22 December.

Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000, with grants dependent on their size and number of employees.

The application window will be open for two weeks, with payments starting to reach businesses within days.

Vaughan Gething

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Following positive engagement with businesses, trades unions and other partners, we recently changed the eligibility criteria for the ERF support. The ERF grant is a Wales-only top up payment that currently supports eligible businesses who have seen a 60% drop in their income between December and February compared with the same period two years ago. The new criteria means that businesses in these sectors who have seen a 50% reduction in their turnover will now also be able to access the ERF.

“This means more businesses will receive more support from the Welsh Government.”

Non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses in Wales can also receive support from the Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked grant which is being administered by local authorities. Businesses will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

Local authorities are also administrating a discretionary fund for sole traders, freelancers and taxi drivers and businesses that employ people but do not pay business rates. Last week this was doubled to £1,000.

The Welsh Government has provided in excess of £2.5bn funding to Welsh businesses since the start of the pandemic. Focused particularly on backing small businesses and Welsh communities, it’s targeted approach has helped protect in excess of 160,000 Welsh jobs which might otherwise have been lost.

Apply for Economic Resilience Fund support here:

COVID-19 Support for Business | Business Wales (gov.wales)

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Plans for Cross Hands Health Centre to go before Welsh Government

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AN OUTLINE Business Case for the development of a Wellbeing Centre to be based in Cross Hands is to be resubmitted to Welsh Government, Hywel Dda University Health Board is pleased to announce.

The business case outlines our intention to develop an integrated health and social care network of services for the Amman Gwendraeth area and the construction of a Wellbeing Centre. If approved, the centre will provide a base for health and care services which will accommodate two local GP practices (Tumble and Penygroes), a library, family centre, community pharmacy and also community police support officers and voluntary sector groups.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we deliver some health and care services. Hywel Dda University Health Board has been working with partners and stakeholders to refresh the business case for the development to ensure that these continue to be fit for our population’s health and care needs both now and in the future.  It is anticipated that the Business Case will be resubmitted to Welsh Government in Spring 2022.

Rhian Dawson, Integrated System Director for Hywel Dda University Health Board and Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to refocus on the development of the Wellbeing Centre in Cross Hands. This will not only be an asset for Cross Hands but will benefit Carmarthenshire as a whole. While it is unfortunate that the pandemic has delayed our progress, it has also demonstrated the importance of delivering services as close to home as possible.”

It is anticipated that the Centre could potentially be complete in 36 months from the approval of the Outline Business case. 

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