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Ken Skates to Parc Howard’s rescue

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Around the grounds: Lee Waters and Ken Skates get the grand tour

Around the grounds: Lee Waters and Ken Skates get the grand tour

THE DEPUTY Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates AM visited Parc Howard on Monday (Mar 14) accompanied by Labour’s Llanelli AM candidate Lee Waters.

The Deputy Minister said that he wanted to see what a fantastic place Parc Howard was.

We asked the minister what his plans for the park were and he told us: “There are many opportunities to bring people together and decide what the common purpose is and then deliver. There are capital investment grants available for places like this. The role of community leaders is crucial in bringing people together. The key first step to take is to decide what it is that we want this park for.”

The Herald asked if private ventures would be considered in the future for the park. Lee Waters said: “It is important that this park remains the property of the people. It has been handed down for the people of the town. It is really important that whatever mechanism we come up with that people feel that this is their park.

“I wanted Ken Skates to come here and see for himself because we have discussed the potential many times and there is huge potential and that is the frustration. The council went behind people’s backs to talk to private developers. It is not the principle of thinking of new purposes for the house that is the problem. It is the transparency in doing it and bringing the people with you. There is a problem with Carmarthenshire County Council in that they are not good at bringing people with them.”

The Labour AM candidate for Llanelli was critical of the County Council’s chopping and changing regarding the fate of the park.

He continued: “I think it is important that the community is part of it. The council gave the impression that they wanted to wash their hands of it and leave it to volunteers to take it over. It is not for volunteers to do that. Volunteers add value.

“They cannot be the ones driving it. They may not have the time or professional skills. The town has paid for this place. The council need to come to the table and say what partnership we can launch and come up with a new model for keeping the park public and reaching its potential.

Ken Skates agreed that there was huge potential for the park saying: “Parc Howard is an ideal place for a whole number of activities. It is a great area for leisure activities. It is perfect for park runs, street games and other physical activity. It is a great place for reading, outdoor classrooms. It is a superb place potentially for acquiring new skills.”

The Herald asked Ken Skates if the Welsh Assembly Government would provide funding for Parc Howard. He replied: “Any request for support will be administered by us. This place has enormous potential. As Lee said, we need a council that is listening to people and a council that is responding to people’s calls for action. We need a council that is able to gather people together in a very constructive way and to be able to come to the table for any further requests for support.”

Given the nature of Carmarthenshire County Council cuts and the threat to local libraries and museums like the one at Parc Howard we asked the minister whether councils are breaching the Libraries Act by closing them:

“As of yet, no, “ he answered, “There is the final sanction available to us to take over library services but we have not had to use that final sanction. It has been an incredibly difficult time because of austerity.

“Austerity is something that no government or council in Wales would which to have to impose on the tax payer but sadly it is being determined by Westminster and we are living through a sustained periods of austerity. How we have responded in Wales is quite unique. We have those standards which protect those core services that libraries are able to deliver. We have backed it up with £14m of investment to transform 100 community libraries.

By transforming them they have become more sustainable. As far as we are aware not a single one of those libraries we have invested in has closed. There are ongoing challenges for libraries and that is why I have commissioned an expert panel review to look into the sustainability of local libraries and another panel to at the sustainability of local museums. The work is being completed.

We are implementing some of the recommendations. The future is challenging because of austerity but at least now we have those expert’s recommendations to be able to make sure that our libraries and our museums that people value so much are able to survive into the future.”

The Herald asked if there was a risk of looking at Welsh heritage, history, and preservation only as part of a tourism strategy, as commodities, instead of valuing them for their own sake. Ken Skates told us: “At the moment tourism is part of the portfolio that I have. I don’t think you should separate them out because libraries and museums are so important to the visitor economy. A lot of people will visit Wales to access a museum, not just a big museum either. A lot of people are searching for the records of their families so they will come to local museums, likewise libraries are important.”

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Business offer Welsh Government help in ‘non-essential’ shopping row

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THIS morning (Tuesday, October 27), the Wales Retail Consortium, CBI Wales and Association of Convenience stores presented the Welsh Government joint recommendation to resolve the confusion over non-essential items.

The three industry bodies’ statement expresses the hope that the Welsh Government, ‘will agree to these recommendations and the people of Wales can refocus all their energies on respecting the Fire Break’.

The recommendations come in response to confused and confusing messaging from the Welsh Government, which allowed its public health message to be drowned out over the weekend by rows over whether toasters, Lee Childs novels, and size 16 jeans were essential items for customers. The confusion was not helped by a mistaken tweet by supermarket giant Tesco which claimed women’s period products were not essential items when they are and always have been.

The WRC, CBI Wales and ACS believe their recommendations will fulfil retail’s role in tackling the spread of the virus while allowing for discretion to be used on an individual basis – as recommended by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in a tense press conference yesterday, http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/61929/welsh-health-minister-defends-retail-restrictions/.

The business bodies recommend:

  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.
  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases
  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs
  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer
  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.
  • These recommendations would mean non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores – but large notices are placed in front of the products and in communal spaces informing customers of the Welsh Government’s regulations and the Welsh public are trusted to make the right decision.

They also say they ‘look forward to engaging with Welsh Government again this morning and we hope consensus can be reached’.

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Llanelli Christmas Carnival goes online

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Preparations are underway to host the first ever virtual Llanelli Christmas Carnival. 

The carnival will go digital for the first time in its 42-year history due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings. 

Whilst there won’t be the usual street parade, people will be able to get into the festive spirit from the comfort of their own home. 

The online celebration will be hosted as an event on Discover Carmarthenshire’s Facebook page on Friday, November 13. 

Over the years, thousands of people have been involved in the Llanelli Christmas Carnival – either dressing up to enter a float in the parade, volunteering, or simply enjoying the atmosphere with generations of their families. 

They can still get involved this year by sharing photos and video to help people celebrate good memories and help others reminisce about carnivals gone by. 

There will be a broadcast of music from talented local performers who would usually sing from the main stage, and people will still be able to countdown to the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights. 

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table. 

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “It’s very unfortunate that we can’t hold Llanelli Christmas Carnival this year, but we’re determined to keep the spirit of the carnival alive. Let’s come together and celebrate one of the biggest events in Wales from the comfort of our homes – celebrate with generations of memories and look forward to a bigger and better carnival next year.” 

Sign up to attend Llanelli’s first virtual Christmas carnival – visit facebook.com/discovercarmarthenshire 

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Free Community Crime Prevention Kits to be distributed in Llanelli area

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OVER the coming weeks, residents from both the Ty Isha and Glanymor areas in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, will receive free crime prevention kits that will aim to deter offenders and make both communities safer.

The prevention kits have been purchased through funding that was secured from the Home Office’s Safer Street Fund by Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.

The funding of £195,673 that was secured by Mr Llywelyn will go towards measures proven to cut crime, and will include employing two Community Wardens; purchase of SelectaDNA kits, Community crime prevention activity support, Environmental improvements and Community Crime Prevention kits.

SelectaDNA kits and Bike register kits are two of the Community Prevention kits that will be distributed to residents within the local communities over coming weeks.

The SelectaDNA kits are property marking kits that include a unique formula of DNA, UV tracer and microdots, which people can use to mark their valuable household items, so that if stolen, police are able to trace them. 

Similarly, the bike register kits include stickers, frame markings and microdots to uniquely identify a bike.  Users can add descriptions and photos to ensure that in the event of a theft, their bicycle can be easily identified and returned by Police through the BikeRegister Scheme.

Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys said, “I am delighted that both these crime prevention kits have been purchased through the Safer Streets funding that I secured earlier this year.  Hopefully, as they are distributed over the coming weeks, we will see that they will have a positive impact within the area.  Criminals know that DNA is the police’s most powerful weapon in convicting criminals therefore the DNA fear-factor is highly understood and acts as a huge deterrent.

“I have invested significantly in the area over recent years with community grants I made available in addition to the new CCTV system that is in place across the town. These new crime prevention kits that have been purchased through the new additional Safer Streets funding will further build upon my work over recent years and I hope the residents will feel a positive difference in their communities.

Both Ty Isha and Glanymor areas are considered to be two of the most deprived areas in Carmarthenshire according to the Welsh Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation. The funding secured will focus on tackling all acquisitive crime such as burglary, vehicle theft and robbery within the identified areas.

PCC Llywelyn added, “Ensuring the security and safety of residents is a priority of mine – everyone deserves to live safely, and free from harm. Acquisitive offences are the crimes that the public are most likely to encounter, and they are estimated to cost society billions of pounds every year. There is strong evidence that these crimes can be prevented by tactics that either remove opportunities to commit crime or act as a deterrent by increasing the chances of an offender being caught. I now look forward to continue working closely with all partners that have supported us with our bid, to tackle these crimes in both areas and to ensure that they become safer environments for community residents.”

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