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‘It is great to see Carmarthen thriving’

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The candidate, Carwyn, and the correspondent: A t the Ivy Bush, Carmarthen

FIRST MINISTER Carwyn Jones was in Carmarthen on Thursday (Oct 15) to officially open the town’s new Welsh language learning centre, Yr Atom, which is based on on King Street in Carmarthen.

The c entre’s main aim is to develop Carmarthen as a truly bilingual town, ensuring that the Welsh language is seen and heard more often. Yr Atom, in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) and Menter Gorllewin Sir Gâr, is working closely with the local business community, local groups and organisations to provide a programme of Welsh language courses as well as a large number of leisure activities.

Before opening the centre , the First Minister took a walk around the town with Carmarthenshire West and Pembrokeshire South Labour AM candidate Marc Tierney. They headed for Carmarthen market where the First Minister bought a cup of tea and some ham sandwiches. As he sat in the sun at a cafe table just outside the market people began to stop and chat with him. One lady stopped to tell him that her grandchild was receiving excellent care at Glangwili Hospital. Another lady stopped and asked if he was ‘off the TV’. The First Minister then walked through the town meeting and greeting a number of people before making his way to the Ivy Bush where we caught up with him.

The First Minister said : “Carmarthen is somewhere I come frequently. I am here to support our candidate Marc Tierney and it is great to be back here.”

Speaking of his previous career as a barrister, Carwyn Jones told us: “It is great to go around the town again. Carmarthen Crown Court was the last court I went to conduct a trial when I was a barrister. I went to the market too and that was wonderful. It is great to see Carmarthen thriving as a town again.”

We asked if the First Minister was sad to see the court closing. He said : “SCANDALOUS! That court has been there for a long time. It is quite unique inside. it has just been refurbished as well and the Magistrates downstairs. To think that a town like Carmarthen will lose its court flabbergasts me. It shows that somebody in London has taken a decision, not thought about Wales . Our vie w is that we should be running the courts ourselves. This is an example why this should be the case.”

There is mounting pressure for the UK Government to scrap the Criminal Court Charges so we asked the First Minister if he would be adding his voice to that call. He said : “It’s a racket. That is what I will call them publicly. It puts pressure on people to plead guilty to offences they haven’t committed quite often. It is completely wrong and completely against the principle of justice. People are fined just for turning up for court. Where are we heading as a society? We will have no courts. Where we do have courts people will be fined as they arrive. What’s next? Trial by combat. I say that half in jest. What I do see is the Welsh justice system being decimated by Whitehall.”

Carmarthenshire farmers face losing their livelihoods as a milk collection company and processor stated last week that they would no longer be collecting milk from Carmarthenshire farms from next year.

We asked the First Minister what could be done to help the milk producers. He said : “It is very tough because we know the Russian sanctions have affected the price of milk. We know that milk is quite difficult to brand and sell. We can do it in Wales, Welsh milk tends to attract a better customer base than milk from elsewhere. Ultimately what we want to see is more processing taking place in Wales. This is the opposite of what we would want to see. I have said to farmers before. Why be at the whim of others, come together. Work together. Why not think about a business plan to set up your own creamery. It has happened in the past in Wales. South Caernarvon was an example of that in the 1930’s. There is no reason why that can’t happen here.

“I know there is little tradition of people working together as producers in farming in Wales but that has got to happen because that is the way the world has gone. What I’d say to farmers is come together think about how you would like to do this yourselves. Make sure that people feel that this is a venture people can buy into and then you are not at the whim of others. I think there was chaos after the MMB went. What we saw then was farmers being offered a few pence here and there and chasing the money.

“You can’t blame people for that people have to make a living at the end of the day. We know that that chaos continued. It still hasn’t settled properly. We have seen farmers’ cooperatives in the dairy industry being set up but we have not really had a big one in the South of Wales. It would be useful to see developments like that in Wales.”

A recent Cardiff University report suggested that newspapers in Wales were on the decline. We asked the First Minister for his thoughts on the importance of local newspapers like The Herald. He said : “It is very worrying. At the moment we know that local papers do a sterling job in informing people of what is going on locally. We don’t have a vigorous and extensive national press in Wales. We have the Western Mail, we have the Daily Post and then of course we have the dailies in different parts of Wales.

“The Western Mail is the only one that can reach across Wales. Look at Northern Ireland where my wife is from in Belfast they have three daily papers in Belfast alone. Then of course there are Irish and Northern Irish editions of the Fleet Street papers. Fleet Street papers don’t bother producing Welsh editions that is the problem. I am worried that we might end up in a situation where we don’t have a newspaper that covers the whole of Wales. What happens if local papers are not around anymore? Who holds councils to account? Who tells people what councils are doing? We can’t all do it on Twitter, we can’t all do it on Facebook. I am concerned about the pressures that print media face at the moment.”

With the focus on the planning department of Carmarthenshire County Council and the apparent inconsistency of decision making we asked the First Minister if Wales needed an independent panel devoid of conflicts of interest and removed from councils to scrutinise questionable planning applications and breaches of planning.

He said: “What we need are local authorities with up to date Local Development Plans. If you don’t have an up to date Local Development Plan there is a free for all. You get applications that get approved that annoy people. Developers don’t know where they stand that is absolutely crucial. That process is important because local people are able to have their say. They can say where they think development should go.

“Quite often what people worry about is that they see a planning application approved near them. It might well be that that development has been allocate in the development plan in the years previously. It is important that people engage in that process. 90% of planning applications are uncontroversial so we don’t need a planning panel to look at them.

“With the new planning bill that is going through the Assembly where there are what we call developments of national significance they will be taken out of the hands of local authorities. They will be determined by Welsh ministers. Where the local authority turns you down it goes to appeal. The appeal legally is to Welsh ministers but in reality it goes to a planning inspector. The Welsh Government has the power to take planning out of the hands of local authorities now in certain circumstances. The system works but there is a need for greater consistency. We have 25 planning authorities. Not all of them work in the way we want.”

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Government to halts competition law and considers bringing in army to deliver fuel

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THE UK GOVERNMENT is to suspend competition law to allow oil firms to target fuel deliveries at petrol stations following recent panic buying.

Petrol stations in Llanelli, and across the UK, have struggled to keep stocked over the last few days, with several running dry altogether. Other forecourts have run out of certain fuels, with diesel it seems, in particularly high demand.

Officials said the move would make it easier for companies to share information and prioritise parts of the country most at need.

It follows days of long queues at the pumps, after fears of disruption to the fuel supply sparked larger than usual demand at the petrol pumps.

The news comes after it emerged that hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to deliver fuel to petrol stations running dry across the country. The plan expected to be considered by Boris Johnson on Monday (Sept 27).

The prime minister will gather senior members of the cabinet to scrutinise “Operation Escalin” after BP admitted that a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel, while the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents almost 5,500 independent outlets, said 50% to 90% of its members had reported running out. It predicted that the rest would soon follow.

Conceived years ago during the planning for a no-deal Brexit, “Operation Escalin” would mean hundreds of soldiers being drafted in to drive a reserve fleet of 80 tankers. It is understood that it would take up to three weeks to fully implement, because some of those mobilised may already be on other deployments and others could be reservists. Escalin was touted as an option last week, but government sources downplayed the chance of its activation.

Announcing the measure to exempt the oil industry from the Competition Act 1998, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government had “long-standing” contingency plans to maintain fuel supplies.

“While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.

“This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.

“We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.”

Transport secretary Grant Shappson on Sunday urged people to “be sensible” and blamed “one of the road haulage associations” for what he called a manufactured crisis, suggesting on Sky News that the group had leaked details from a meeting last week about driver shortages at fuel firms. However, the Road Haulage Association branded it a “disgraceful attack” concocted to “divert attention away” from the government’s handling of the issue.

BP, Esso, Texaco and Shell have introduced a £30 limit on fuel purchases after motorists were seen filling multiple jerry cans as the government warned the public not to panic buy fuel.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are experiencing temporary outages in a small number of areas. We have good availability of fuel, and we’re working really hard to ensure regular deliveries to our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”

A BP spokesman said: “We are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK. This is being caused by delays in our supply chain due to a shortage of qualified drivers – this issue is impacting industries across the UK.

“Most of the 1,200 sites we supply across the UK remain supplied and open. However, with the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30% of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel. We are working to resupply as rapidly as possible. Sites that have multiple grade-outs may have closed for fuel purchases – we do not have an estimate of this number.

“We continue to work hard with our haulier supplier, Hoyer, to optimise fuel distribution and to minimise the level of disruption, keeping key sites supplied and restocking as rapidly as possible. The sites affected are changing as we continue deliveries.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Shell added: “We are working hard to ensure supplies for customers. Since Friday we have been seeing a higher-than-normal demand across our network which is resulting in some sites running low on some grades.”

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Global Litter Charity has announced the date of its next Welsh litter picking event

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Uocean project Carmarthenshire weekend clean up taking place on Saturday 25th September 21 at Pembrey Country Park

THE UOCEAN Project, part of the Vayyu Foundation, which has set itself the target of removing 1 billion kilos of waste from the world’s oceans by 2030, will be holding its next litter collection taskforce event at Pembrey Country Park  in Carmarthenshire.

Everyone is invited to join The UOcean Project volunteers and to make a difference by collecting litter, especially plastics, which are polluting our environment and ending up in the world’s oceans.  The UOcean Project has highlighted the dramatic increase in litter from plastic bags to face masks since lockdown restrictions were lifted, making it even more important to clean-up and reduce waste pollution. 

Chris Desai, head of The UOcean Project commented. “Picking up one plastic bottle or single use face mask may not appear to be significant, but at each event we are collecting many kilos of plastic because more and more individuals are joining our litter picking teams.

RSVP TO JOIN WWW.THEUOCEANPROJECT.COM

The combined collections here and overseas are the only way to make a difference and start fighting back against pollution.” 

The UOcean Project organises litter pick-up teams who work across the UK, especially around coastlines, as well as internationally.  By organising volunteers into Chapters and providing them with the tools and equipment to pick up litter, they have already collected 53,000 kilos of waste which would have ended up in the seas.  

All volunteers are provided with the equipment needed to safely pick up litter so that it can be disposed of in the right way.  For more information about The UOcean Project please go to the website www.theuoceanproject.com

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Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in Llanelli

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the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous

Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in

POLICE are warning drug users in Llanelli to take extra care following information received that dangerous valium is circulating in the area.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/

Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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