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Llangennech School plan sent to Executive

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Dual Stream a superficial choice: Sioned Elin, CIG

A MEETING of the Education Scrutiny Committee on Monday (May 23) has recommended that a proposal for the change in language status of Llangennech School should proceed for consideration by the County Council’s Executive Board.

Llangennech’s existing schools are designated as ‘dual stream’.

In dual stream schools, a designation determined by the Welsh Government, two types of provision exist sideby- side. Parents/pupils opt either for the mainly Welsh-medium or mainly English-medium provision.

Under the Council’s proposals, Llangennech’s existing schools would amalgamate into a single 3-11 Welsh- Medium School.

The former is in accordance with the creation of single 3-11 schools in localities where two schools exist and where a single head teacher is in charge of both schools. In Welsh-Medium education (WME), Welsh is the main teaching medium at Key Stage 2, with at least 70% of the teaching through the medium of Welsh.

English is introduced formally as a subject at Key Stage 2 and is taught through the medium of English, and English may occasionally be used for some aspects of some subjects.

Some people in Llangennech are vehemently opposed to the proposals.

‘NO CONSIDERATION’

Following the meeting, spokesperson for the parents Michaela Beddows told the Herald: “They didn’t really answer our questions until Councillor Jeff Edmunds said he wasn’t happy the vote went ahead until the questions were answered. Two other councillors said they were not happy either.

“The three councillors abstained from voting. Director of Education Rob Sully briefly answered the questions. He said that special needs children won’t be affected by the change. They put the vote forward and it was carried. It is going to the Executive Board, possibly in June.”

However, an alternative view was put by another attendee at the same meeting.

“The rules (on asking questions) are pretty inflexible, as you know, but the objectors received better treatment than people asking questions of full council. Somehow, I doubt that they will see it that way.

“Rob Sully was on top of his brief, and the people who asked questions were told that they would receive full written responses to their questions, some of which contained a lot of detail.

Asked about what the group intended to do now that the proposal had moved forward Michaela Beddows said: “We will now have the opportunity to put in more proformas. Whatever argument we have put forward they are dismissing. They are not taking individual children into account.

“What Rob Sully said was that no child is going to be turned away from the school and that every child can go to the school. There is no consideration given to any English speaking child whatsoever.”

SURPLUS PLACES CLAIMED

The group, who say they are not opposed to children learning Welsh claim that surplus capacity exists at other Welsh Medium Schools and that such a surplus means that the Council’s proposals are not aligned with the Welsh Government’s School re-organisation code.

Michaela alleged: “They have built two brand new Welsh primary schools with surplus places. One in Furnace and one in Brynsierfel.

She continued: “121 children in Llangennech School are not living in the village. 96 have to go out of the village to go to school. 15 of those are attending other welsh medium schools. 81 are attending alternative English schools. They say there is a lack of people wanting English education yet 81 children have to go out of the village to get their education.”

Michaela disputes a claim by the County Council that no child seeking an English medium education has been turned away from the existing school: “We have proof that they have. One mum went to tribunal. She won her case. The school were lying about the capacity there.”

Asked whether the Llangennech County and Community Councillors were listening to families she said that they were not and that issue was councillors’ firm personal belief in the primacy of the Welsh language.

The Herald asked Michaela if the board of governors had listened to their views. She said, “The Board of Governors are not listening. We put a letter of complaint in and asked for the resignation of the chair of the board of governors Tim Davies. He believes that English and Welsh cannot be taught alongside one another.”

CYMDEITHAS RESPOND

In a letter to the Chair of the Committee, Sioned Elin, Chair of Cymdeithas in the area said:

“Retaining separate Welsh and English streams gives parents superficially an idea of choice. However, in reality, registering pupils in the English stream will deprive them of choices later on in life.

“It is recognised by everyone in the field – including the First Minister – that the idea of “second language Welsh” has been a failure and, consequently, only the pupils in the Welsh stream develop skills to work in both languages, and have real choices.

“Pupils in the English-medium stream are deprived educationally. There is a gradual process to rectify the situation through the county so that schools are on a continuum towards Welsh-medium education which ensures proficiency in both languages.”

Speaking after the meeting, Sioned Elin said: “It is the Council’s intention for more schools to offer more Welsh medium education, so Llangennech School could lead the way.

“It was a scrutiny committee that met today, their decision will go before the Executive Committee who will have the final say, but we are hopeful that they will come to the same conclusion; and that the followup process gets under-way as soon as possible.”

‘BONKERS PROCESS’

Others’ views were less stridently expressed: “A couple of the questioners were a bit aggressive in tone, and one of them tried to challenge Councillor Gwyn Hopkins’ declaration of interest. Cllr Hopkins had been granted permission to speak and vote, and one parent said he thought this was against the rules. There was clearly no love lost and Gwyn Hopkins looked pretty upset.

“After that initial excitement, things quietened down, Cllr Eirwyn Williams thanked them repeatedly for taking time to come, and carefully avoided confrontation while keeping firm control.”

However, criticism was levelled at the way the statutory code – set by the Welsh Government – operates: “What is unfair to everyone concerned – children, parents, staff and governors – is the bonkers process which has to be followed. If someone wanted to create a process which prolongs agony and ensures that permanent scars are left, this would be it.”

LABOUR CRITICISED

Further criticism was levelled at Labour’s apparently cynical approach to the issue: “Labour’s antics were also deplorable. Two of their three members did not show up, apparently having dropped out at the last minute. So they used their reserves, including Jeff Edmunds.

“Despite having voted unanimously for the policy when they were running the council, they were squeaking that they had reservations about applying it in the case of individual schools. So they abstained, presumably hoping to make political capital out of the issue. There’s leadership for you.”

That last point touches upon one salient factor that some Labour councillors are very keen to play down. The plan for Welsh Medium Education in Carmarthenshire – and the Welsh Language Education Policy nationally – are both creations of the Labour Party.

The position of some of the more opportunistic Labour representatives locally seems to be to stir up opposition to policies pursued by the current administration, which the former Labour administration put in place.

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Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children

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RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season

RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)  

Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.

“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children.  However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”

Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:

*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)

*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).

The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.

Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:

  • You are worried about your child.
  • Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
  • Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
  • Your child seems very tired or irritable.

Dial 999 for an ambulance if:

  • your baby is having difficulty breathing
  • your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
  • there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
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Health Board issues urgent call to anyone due a second Moderna vaccine

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RESIDENTS living in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire are being urged to check their vaccination card and come forward for their second Moderna vaccine this week if they are due.

Anyone approaching 8 weeks since a first Moderna dose should contact the Hywel Dda University Health Board’s vaccine booking team to make an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 or by emailing COVIDenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or attend their nearest mass vaccination centre’s walk-in clinic.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB said, “Our mass vaccination centres are contacting people due a second dose of Moderna directly but in case anyone missed a call from us, we want to make sure that everyone due a second dose, especially Moderna, knows we are asking them to come forward as soon as possible.

“Two doses of the vaccine, regardless of which you received, is important for you to receive the best longer-term protection.

“The Moderna vaccine is available at all walk-in clinics across the three counties and the mobile vaccination van which will be visiting Ammanford’s Tesco store on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 September.”

If you received a first Moderna dose 8 or more weeks ago, you can attend your local centre without an appointment during the following times:

Walk-in opening times:

  • Aberystwyth (Thomas Parry Library, SY23 3AS) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10.00am and 6.00pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. AstraZeneca only available on Thursday 16 September.
  • Ammanford (Tesco car park, Mobile Vaccination Van) – Friday 17 September and Saturday 18 September from 11.00am to 7.00pm.
  • Carmarthen walk-in Halliwell (former Y Gamfa Wen Nursery, UWTSD, SA31 3EP) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10.00am and 4.00pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available.
  • Carmarthen drive-through (United Counties Showground, SA33 5DR) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10am and 6pm. Moderna vaccine available.
  • Cwm-cou (Ysgol Trewen, SA38 9PE) –Open Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 September between 9.30am and 9pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccine available.
  • Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire Archives, SA61 2PE) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10am and 6pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. AstraZeneca only available between 10am and 4pm on Thursday 16 September.
  • Llanelli (Dafen Industrial Estate, Unit 2a, Heol Cropin, SA14 8QW) – open Monday 13 to Thursday 16 September between 10am and 4pm. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. AstraZeneca only available on Thursday 16 September.
  • Tenby (Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ) – open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for walk-ins between 10am and 4pm. Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines available.
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Operation Elegant: Eight sentenced to 40 years after police break up drugs gang

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EIGHT people have been jailed as part of an organised crime gang which trafficked cocaine worth almost £200,000 into Llanelli over a five-month period.

Dyfed-Powys Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Team dismantled the gang which was transporting the class ‘A’ drug between Swansea, Pontarddulais and Llanelli in a covert operation named ‘Operation Elegant’.

The operation resulted in more than 2kg of cocaine being supplied by the gang.

Nine defendants, including one who will be sentenced at a later date, admitted their involvement in the conspiracy to supply cocaine between May and October 2020. The eight sentenced so far have  been jailed for a total of 40 years.

Detective Constable Mark Jones, Op Elegant lead officer, said: “This was a lengthy operation involving a number of departments across the force, who investigated intelligence, coordinated a series of warrants, interviewed the defendants and carried out detailed enquiries into their activity.

“Today’s sentencing culminates more than a year of police work, which saw the disruption of a major supply chain into Llanelli and the dismantling of an organised crime gang, which was no doubt linked to illegal behaviour on a wider scale.”

DC Jones explained that the Llanelli gang was headed up by 27-year-old Shaun Hearne, who put together a team of trusted associates to move, store, prepare and distribute cocaine throughout Llanelli.

When restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the availability of the drug, Hearne was not deterred, and approached 25-year-old Aaron Hookway, a Swansea dealer, to source it.

This proved successful, as enquiries revealed the gang bought drugs from upstream supplier Hookway on 13 occasions, using 36-year-old Rebecca Viola’s home in Felinfoel as a stash house to store the commodity.

From there, couriers and sub-dealers Laura Coelho, Neville Ayres, Jordan Dale Parry, Keiran Price and Daniel Rhodri Evans were responsible for distributing the drugs.

“Through our investigation, we discovered that the gang was made up of a number of people acting as couriers and sub-dealers in various areas across Llanelli, directed by Hearne,” DC Jones said.

“Our first step in disrupting their activity was in stopping a car driven by Neville Ayres on 1st September, 2020, during which uniformed officers seized 10 ounces of cocaine.

“Ayres was a trusted employee of Hearne, who had such a blasé attitude towards his illegal behaviour that he had this huge amount of cocaine – worth more than £22,000 – in plain sight in the footwell of his car”.

“Despite this upset, the gang continued with their activity for another month, when we targeted all members with 15 warrants carried out across Llanelli.”

The week-long enforcement phase saw 13 people arrested, with searches also carried out at homes in Swansea, Ceredigion and Cornwall.

Nine of those arrested were charged with being involved in a conspiracy to supply cocaine. All nine admitted the offence, and eight of them received the following sentences on Monday 6th September 2021 and Tuesday 7th September 2021 at Swansea Crown Court:

  • Head of Llanelli gang Shaun Hearne, aged 27, of Isgraig, Burry Port: 8 years 8 months.
  • Swansea ‘upstream’ dealer Aaron Hookway, aged 25, of Station Road, Fforestfach: 9 years.
  • Courier and Hearne’s partner Laura Coelho, aged 28, of Bond Avenue, Llanelli: 2 years 5 months.
  • Llanelli courier and sub-dealer Neville Ayres, aged 42, of West End, Llanelli: 4 years 9 months.
  • Felinfoel storage and sub-dealer Rebecca Viola, aged 36, of Cae Glas, Llanelli: 4 years.
  • Llanelli sub-dealer Jordan Dale Parry, aged 25, of Dilwyn Street, Llanelli: 3 years 4 months.
  • Llanelli courier Keiran Price, aged 28, of Tirgoff, Llangennech: 4 years 10 months.
  • Llwynhendy sub-dealer Daniel Rhodri Evans, aged 29, of Heol Elfed, Llanelli: 3 years.

The ninth, Llanelli courier Jeffrey Parker-Ward, aged 23, of Stepney Street, will be sentenced at a later date.

As part of the operation, a number of high-value vehicles were seized, along with £11,000 in cash.

Further work is now being carried out as part of a proceeds of crime act investigation, aimed at confiscating criminal assets gained through illegal activities.

“The sentences of a total of 40 years in prison is a testament to the work that was put into this investigation,” DC Jones said.

“Not only have we taken a substantial amount of cocaine out of the supply chain, but we have disrupted the supply into Llanelli, where it would have caused an untold amount of harm to the community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved for their hard work, determination and commitment with HH Judge Rees commenting that the investigation was commendably executed. I would like to reassure the public that we will continue to act on all concerns over drugs use and abuse.”

BCU Commander for Carmarthenshire Gary Phillips said: “The sentences handed out at Swansea Crown Court are not only a reflection of the significant effort that has been put into this police investigation, but they also send a clear message that being involved in serious and organised crime in Carmarthenshire will ultimately lead to you being targeted by police and put before the courts.”

To report suspicious behaviour in your community, visit https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, email 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or call 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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