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Council votes for itself

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A PLAID CYMRU motion calling for Carmarthenshire to be retained as a unitary authority in any shake-up of Welsh local government was overwhelmingly passed at a meeting on Wednesday, (Apr 15). Proposed by Plaid leader Emlyn Dole, the motion was the subject of a significant amount of selfcongratulation from members of the ruling group, who appeared less concerned with the thrust and point of Cllr Dole’s motion than in polishing up the council’s reputation in case Leighton Andrews, the Welsh Public Services Minister, was watching the debate with bated breath.

Debating points were made that the period of uncertainty about the future of Carmarthenshire were affecting inward investment to the county due to ‘instability and uncertainty’. Proposing the motion, Cllr Dole mentioned, presumably ironically, that strong and effective local government was something of which Carmarthenshire could be proud. Appealing to history and heritage, Cllr Dole went on to slam the idea of a merger as something for which nobody had much appetite. Most startling was the intervention by Cllr Kevin Madge.

The council leader, in the teeth of evidence to the contrary in the recent past, he told the meeting that Carmarthenshire was the ‘best run council in Wales’. Mr Madge went on to wave the shroud of other, envious local authorities, picking over the corpse of the County Council’s prudence for the tastiest morsels. Acknowledging the council’s record was less spotless than Cllr Madge proposed, deputy leader Pam Palmer nevertheless contrived to suggest that Carmarthenshire’s record bore comparison with other local authorities. Hengoed councillor Sian Caiach rather spoiled the backslapping by pointing out that doorstep research by her suggested the Council was regarded as ‘a basket case’.

Cllr Caiach, who is the People First candidate for the Llanelli parliamentary constituency, indicated that the council’s reputation was not as simon-pure as preceding speakers had suggested. Moreover, she went on to claim that the overwhelming preference in Llanelli was for merger with the proposed Swansea city region, with Dyfed Mark Two second, and only ten percent backing the status quo. Citing the council’s legal travails, the adverse findings of the Wales Audit Office, the council’s lamentable record with the Ombudsman, and allegations of prying into members’ emails, Cllr Caiach suggested that Carmarthenshire was a poor marker against which to measure Welsh local government.

The council elected to endorse its record and vote for Cllr Dole’s motion. Whether it did so on the basis of Cllr Dole’s appeal to history and heritage or for less altruistic reasons is open to question.

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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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