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Air quality ‘puts children at risk’

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A MEETING of the County Council’s Environmental & Public Protection Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday April 8, received a report on poor air quality in the centre of Llanelli.

The Environment Act 1995 places a duty on local authorities to assess and manage air quality in its area. This is achieved through the Local Air Quality Management work. There are various pollutants that can be assessed but local authorities are only required to monitor for those that have a potential to breach the Air Quality Objectives. For Carmarthenshire, the main pollutant of concern is nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

While NO2 levels are not sufficiently high to cause immediate health effects, the current levels could cause adverse health effects over the long term, particularly in people suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Environment Act 1995 specifies how local authorities deal with areas that fail to comply with the national air quality objectives.

The town of Llanelli has experienced increasing levels of NO2 over the last few years, to the extent that the air quality objective for NO2 has been breached. The Welsh Assembly Government has required the authority to carry out a Detailed Assessment to ascertain the extent and level of breach of the Air Quality Objective.

It is now proposed to designate part of Llanelli as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

The Policy Guidance for which states: ‘The legal imperative to protect air quality should not be displaced with political imperative if this means the local authority is not working towards compliance with the Air Quality (Wales) Regulations 2000, as amended’.

The proposed designated area incorporates the Sandy Road roundabout and follows an easterly direction along the A484 Pembrey Road before turning north up New Road as far as the mini roundabout in Furnace, and then travels back south along Old Road as far as the junction with Thomas Street on the A476.

The boundary then travels north east along the A476 through Felinfoel Road and Panteg, as far as the mini roundabout joining Farmers Row. The boundary travels back south west along the A476 right down to Thomas Street bearing left along the A484 continuing on to the roundabout and bearing right following the A4214 along Stepney Place.

The boundary continues along the series of mini roundabouts going through Upper Robinson Street and Murray Street before turning right at the junction with Station Road. The boundary continues along the A4214 through Church Street, Hall Street, West End on to Pembrey Road before reaching Sandy Road roundabout to complete the boundary.

The committee remitted the matter to May’s Executive Board meeting and a meeting of the full council in June.

Public health services manager Sue Watts: “The first step in improving air quality in the affected areas is to declare an AQMA, which the council is now preparing to do.”

She continued: “The declaration of the AQMA by Carmarthenshire Council is a legal process and will include areas that are considered as being part of the solution, not just those areas affected.

“Carmarthenshire Council, working with identified stakeholders, will formulate an action plan which will aim to reduce levels of NO2 back within the objective levels again.”

Attempting to reassure members of the public about the council’s commitment to maintaining better air quality, Ms Watts concluded: “Air quality will continue to be monitored throughout the process to fully assess the impact and to help engage in consultations.”

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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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