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Garden aims to quell language row

Thomas Sinclair

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Feeling the heat: Garden boss aims to ease row.

Feeling the heat: Garden boss aims to ease row.

AFTER being engulfed by a row over its failure to use the Welsh language in signage, the National Botanic Garden of Wales has attempted to fight back against stinging criticism made by Cymdeithas Yr Iaith.

The row began when Iola Wyn, of Ysgubor Bryncaerau near St Clears wrote to the National Botanic Garden pointing out recent marketing emails had been in English only and pointing out that a sign positioned at Foelgastell advertising ‘Easter Fun for all the Family’ was also in English only.

The Garden’s own policy on use of the Welsh language reads: ‘Standard written correspondence with the public in Wales will be bilingual, ensuring that where an individual’s preference is not known, their preference for use of Welsh or English is respected and facilitated’.

The above is in addition to the promise that: ‘Any correspondence in Welsh will receive a reply in Welsh’.

In relation to signs, the policy reads: ‘signage will uphold the principle of equality, with Welsh appearing together with the English in equal prominence’.

The response from David Hardy, the Garden’s Marketing Manager, to Iola Wyn appears to have been in English only and to claim that signs were designed to attract English tourists heading down the M4 corridor at speed.

Iola Wyn’s husband wrote, in Welsh, to the National Botanic Garden taking it to task over its failure to treat Welsh equally. He wrote: ‘Taking into account that you have received support from the Welsh Government and the County Council, we would be interested to know why you’re not in a position to provide material in Welsh, and in Carmarthenshire – the county with the highest number of Welsh speakers in Wales’.

She received a response in English: ‘Thanks for your email. I’m sorry you are not happy with the efforts we are making here to attract new visitors to the Garden. In order to save you from further inconvenience and upset, I am happy to remove your name from my distribution list’.

The high-handed response caused outrage and Cymdeithas Yr Iaith were swift to act. A barrage of complaints to and about the Garden’s approach followed. In a letter to both the First Minister and the leader of Carmarthenshire Council, the Society said: ‘The Garden’s attitude towards the Welsh language is very far from what is expected in the twenty-first century’.

In a letter to the Garden’s director, Dr Rosie Plummer, Cymdeithas said: ‘As a national institution that receives significant public funding and support from the local authority and central government it stands to reason that there should be full Welsh language services available. The response to public complaints about shortcomings in Welsh provision are bordering on arrogant, and it raises significant questions about the attitude of the whole organisation towards the Welsh language’.

Cymdeithas’ key criticism is that the National Garden of Wales regards the last part of its title and the Welsh language as an afterthought.

Responding, Dr Plummer said: “The Garden, as an iconic organisation and environmental flagship for Wales, is very committed to its wide support for the culture, language, and heritage of Wales and makes substantial allocation of resources and effort to this. It is therefore enormously disappointing to be subject to such vigorous approaches that largely seem to overlook the very wide range of ways in which the Garden actively contributes to bringing the unique importance of Wales to everyone who visits. The Garden works hard to offer a warm, Welsh welcome and to promote and develop its language resources to the more than 2 million visitors it has welcomed in just 15 years. Necessarily this effort is constrained, particularly at a time when funding everywhere is extremely tight. Nevertheless, all our press releases, brochures, published materials, and visitor signage are bilingual and we take a great pride in the way in which we present our information and learning, and encourage use of the language in a friendly and engaging way. The Garden hosts many thousands of education visits each year, and offers more than 50 curriculum-linked courses through the medium of Welsh.”

There was no sign in Dr Plummer’s response of an apology to Iola Wyn or her husband for the way in which the Garden dealt with their correspondence.

The Herald contacted the Garden’s media office and asked whether it wished to comment on the way it had responded to Iola Wyn and her husband.

No comment was forthcoming

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development

Carli Newell

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A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.

Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.

The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.

“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.

“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”

Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.

Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.

“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”

The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.

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Burry Port Harbour lighthouse overhaul tops council’s £2million investment

Carli Newell

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A £2MILLION investment in Burry Port Harbour is nearing completion, topped off with the iconic lighthouse getting a fresh lick of paint.

Carmarthenshire County Council is behind a range of improvements to maintain and restore the historic harbour which is one of the county’s most loved and well visited beauty spots.

Restoration of the Grade II listed harbour walls, undertaken under the guidance of CADW, will conclude within the next few weeks.

The council has also been working alongside The Marine Group, which operates the harbour, to improve mooring facilities. They are working closely with fishermen to bid for funding for new commercial pontoon infrastructure.

It will add to investment made over previous years which saw the council spend almost £1.5million on new pontoons, and over £300,000 in maintaining the harbour railings and bridge.

A local operator has agreed a lease for a cafe and public toilets on east side of Harbour, and the refurbishment of the old RNLI harbour office has recently started by The Marine Group (TMG) to create a harbour-side coffee house.

TMG has also invested in a state-of-the-art dredger which arrived at the harbour last autumn. Dredging is well underway and will continue until targeted depths are reached.

Boat lifting equipment and new fuelling points are also planned.

The council has introduced community safety officers to patrol the harbour assisting tourists and local people during the summer months, especially to advise around Covid regulations, as part of a tourism hotspot plan to take care of issues such as parking, litter, street cleansing, enforcement and signage.

Temporary car parking surfacing has also been laid on the east side along with new pay and display facilities ahead of a wider multi-million regeneration plan that will transform the harbour with a mix of housing, commercial and leisure space covering around 13 acres of prime development site.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We are proud of our continued investment in Burry Port Harbour. We are spending millions restoring and maintaining historic features that are much-loved by local people and visitors who come from far and wide to enjoy what the harbour has to offer.

“We continue to work closely alongside The Marine Group and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council to plan and prioritise works and ongoing maintenance. We are as keen as everyone else to ensure it is well-maintained and continues to be a place people can enjoy.

“We appreciate that there has been some upheaval during these improvement works but we ask people to understand that our investment will make Burry Port Harbour an even better place for the future.”

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