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Meeting times will remain unchanged

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Carmarthenshire_County_Hall_from_across_TowyTHE TIMES of Carmarthenshire County Council meetings will remain the same following a lengthy debate.

Wednesday’s Extraordinary General Meeting was called to discuss the recommendations made by the Cross Party Constitutional Review working group (CRWG).

The council was recommended to undertake a survey by the Welsh Local Government Association.

Following the survey, the CRWG recommended that the majority were in favour of the existing arrangements.

However, that survey only received 44 responses from the 74 councillors.

Many members questioned whether it would be a good idea to hold the meetings at different times to suit other people and allow more to attend.

Cllr Callum Higgins said: “The feedback I have had from people who may have previously stood for council have found it very difficult to commit time to serve in the public. Varying times of council would improve the situation for some people who might be interested in standing but they cannot do so because of work commitments. It’s been this way for a while but it is something that needs to be looked at.”

Cllr Gwyneth Thomas added: “I think we need to be more flexible in order to attract young people. As someone who works part time it is easy to change shifts in order to be here but we have to be more flexible. This is the way it’s always been but it is time that we look at this and review this to try and include people who aren’t in a position to attend meetings.”

Cllr Giles Morgan said: “We could be far more pro-active in the times of meetings, it’s fair to say that we haven’t really tried it and that’s probably because it suits the majority but nobody can tell me we’ve tried it because we haven’t. I’ll be voting against this today because there should have been a half-way house, there should be a handful of meetings at a better time for people who are working.”

Cllr Darren Price told the chamber that he had suggested having late afternoon meetings on the survey but added: “I hadn’t taken on board the suggestion that we could split it and have some meetings in the morning and some in the afternoon. That would certainly help those who work full time.”

Cllr Andrew James added: “We have had 44 replies out of the 74 so if that’s the way it is, we have to listen to democracy. We have to be flexible but we also have to consider that there are just 24 hours in the day, if we are going to give a contribution here and seek the people that we represent, I think we have to remember how can we be at an evening meeting here, when we have meetings within the community. So before we make too many changes be careful what you wish for.”

Cllr Jeff Edmunds said: “What strikes me is what motivates people to become councillors. Why do you sit here? We all knew before we became councillors what that commitment was and I’ve got no preference so evenings could suit me but it could certainly suit a bias of people who work to have it in the evenings. However, that would go against family life and there are people who have other commitments in the evenings as well as their family lives. We become councillors because there is a motivation that drives us to become councillors and that’s not what time we have the meetings, I’m sure that it goes far deeper than that.”

Cllr Emlyn Dole added: “This process is ongoing annually at this council and it can certainly be reviewed again. We are looking at figures here but the biggest disappointment in the figures is that 30 councillors had no preference because they didn’t bother to respond to the survey. I expected 74 responses and that’s when we have the accurate figure.”

Cllr Tom Theophilus said: “During the winter months the members that represent the rural areas could be snow bound and we must remember that the rural areas are not gritted and therefore the roads will be very dangerous to travel at night time so I don’t think it would be wise to have evening meetings during the winter months.”

The majority of members voted in favour of keeping the existing meeting times while three abstained from voting.

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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New Year – new start – for two seals released back into the wild

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Two grey seal pups have been returned to the wild for the New Year following months of RSPCA rehabilitation.

They were released at Port Eynon, Gower, Swansea, on 3 January as the sun rose – just days into 2021 – by  RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben – who caught the beautiful event on camera. One seal had been originally rescued from Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire – the other from Trevone in Cornwall. They were both found in distress, underweight and with injuries.

Ellie said: “This was such a lovely release – to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious. It was a lovely way to start the new year.”

The seals had been transferred to the Welsh coast from RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings the previous day and had spent the night at the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch seal unit.

“These two pups – nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywaker – have been in the fantastic care of RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre who have given them the best rehabilitation over the past few months. It’s always fantastic to hear when they have put on the appropriate weight and can be released back into the wild,” added Ellie.

Ellie had been involved in the initial care of the seal rescued from Abereiddy Beach back in October.

“He was a weaned pup that had pretty much moulted out all his baby white lanugo coat, so he was fully weaned, but he was found quite underweight, lethargic and had the snotty face of a sickly pup,” she said. “He also had a lump on the top of his neck.

“He was reported to myself and Keith and we asked Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) to attend who very kindly collected him and cared for him for a few days until we were able to transfer him to the wildlife centre.

“Once again we want to thank WMLR for all their assistance, expertise and all their hard work this past season. We could not do what we do without them.”

At RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre the seal had the lump removed under anaesthetic by the vet team.

The second seal from Cornwall came into RSPCA care in November and weighed just 16.3kg. The seal had suffered a few small wounds and was a bit wheezy, with centre staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics. When he left the centre the seal – who was named Luke Skywalker – weighed a healthy 40kg.

Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers for ID purposes. The RSPCA often receives good feedback from sightings – and the scientific results received reveal that seals that go on from rehabilitation survive in the wild.

The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them.

Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.

It’s not unusual for a seal pup to be alone, as seal mums leave their pups very early on in life. So if the seal pup looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours.

If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please stay at a safe distance and call the RSPCA’s advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.

There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.

If you have an animal welfare concern or find an animal in distress please call 0300 1234 999.

This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. Already this Christmas we received more than 44,000 calls to our cruelty line but the calls to our rescue line are not stopping so neither will we. To help our rescue teams continue to reach the animals who desperately need us this winter, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Winter Rescue #JoinTheRescue

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Community Midwife home for Christmas after 85 day battle with COVID-19

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SHARON GEGGUS, a community midwife from Llanelli is home for the holidays after a three month battle with coronavirus.
Sharon began to feel unwell in September, experiencing shortness of breath and a high temperature.
As these symptoms persisted and her condition began to worsen, she was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli on 16 September, with a temperature of 41°C.During her stay, she credits the support of her family and the staff at Prince Philip Hospital for helping her get through the ordeal. Speaking of her experience in hospital, Sharon says: “I was sedated for about five weeks, but I was told that the staff were playing music for me. They had contacted my family to find out what my favourite songs were, and they would play those.
“It was really hard but the hardest times I didn’t really know about – my family were the people going through it. I can’t stress how well the staff looked after me. I used the iPads provided through the hospital to keep in contact with my family and the staff would also help me phone and communicate with my family.  
“The ITU staff and the staff on Ward 9 where I went for rehabilitation were amazing. I’m a community midwife myself and I would obviously treat someone how I wanted to be treated – but they really went above and beyond.
They would sit and chat with me when I was feeling down and they made sure I was in contact with my family all the time, even letting me hang up pictures of my family on my wall.”
Sharon was clapped out of the hospital on 10 December, 85 days after being admitted. Even though she is home, the road to recovery isn’t over.
She says: “There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there. I can get around using a walking frame and only need oxygen when I’m really moving about. It’s so nice to be home, I think you just sort of relax a bit and move around more and just feel better for being back with your family.”
Reflecting on her experience, Sharon offered this advice to others with COVID-19: “Keep in touch with your family as much as you possibly can, it’s what got me through. I wouldn’t really know what else to say, just keep positive and keep in touch with your loved ones, that’s what really helps.”
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