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People power cleans up People’s Park

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peoplesparkPEOPLE’S PARK in Llanelli has had a clean up, courtesy of a small group of volunteers who said that they were just ‘fed up’ with the amount of litter gathering in the park and surrounding areas.

The Herald reported on a problem of litter at People’s Park in Issue 58 (Apr 8) – ‘People’s Park Litter Scandal’. Speaking to us at the time, local councillor John Jenkins raised questions over the maintenance of the park with mounting litter and a lack of bins.

He told us:”You have to embarrass the County Council before you can get anything done.”

There is a saying, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself’. and that is exactly what a small team of volunteers did on Friday (Jul 1).

Armed with litter pickers and bin bags, this community spirited group made up of a few adults and a lot of children took to the park to take matters and litter into their own hands.

This spontaneous new brigade of volunteers have not only embarrassed the County Council but actually put them to shame, judging by the new fresh and clean appearance of the park.

Back in April, at a Llanelli Town Council meeting, Councillor Winston Lemon said that he had sent countless emails complaining about the lack of bins and the emptying of bins.

Kate James, who was part of the team last Friday, said: “The areas that we focused on were People’s Park, the Leisure Centre and a grassed area close to Coldstream Street. The event was organised as part of a Buddhist action week and was supported by members of the local Nichiren Buddhist organisation and their friends and family.

“We wanted to do something to support the local community and this was in response to Donna Griffiths and Kate Pearce being disappointed and shocked with the amount of litter dropped in this area. We want the local children to enjoy the area and not be surrounded by some very unpleasant items of litter.

“The children in the group had a fantastic time and have asked when they are going to take part in another litter pick. It has raised their awareness of their local area and also made them aware of how important it is to keep Llanelli a safe and clean environment.”

Kate said that the volunteers wanted to say a big thank-you to Brian Mogford from Keep Wales Tidy for supporting the volunteers and helping with the organisation with the litter pick.

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Everything you need to know about the current coronavirus restrictions in Wales

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THE GOVERNMENT guidelines in Wales are changing today (Apr 12).

There are major changes coming into force today across the country as the government coronavirus guidelines are starting to relax.

The changes affect household bubbles, non-essential retail, education and travel.

As of Monday, April 12, the following changes have come into force:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet and exercise outdoors and in private gardens
  • Households or support bubbles can holiday in self-contained accommodation – including hotels with en-suite facilities
  • All pupils and students can now return to school, college and other education
  • All shops and close-contact services can open
  • The ban on travelling in and out of Wales has ended
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (Remainder on April 22)

Non-essential retail are able to open up today for the first time since the country was put into a national lockdown with non-essential retail ordered to close in December of last year.

With infection rates falling and the national vaccine rollout success, the Welsh Government have set out a road map of restriction easing.

Unlike England, the hospitality industry in Wales will have to wait until April 26 to open their doors to customers, but only for those who can operate in an outdoor space such as beer gardens.

The current guidelines in force for Wales are as follows:

Meeting friends and family

From May 3:

  • Two families can once again form an “extended household” and meet indoors.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet up outdoors, including gardens.
  • If you are an adult living alone or you’re a single responsible adult in a household (a single parent, for instance), you can form a support bubble with one other household.
  • You can also end it and form another support bubble with a different household, as long as you leave a 10-day gap between.

Going to work

  • You must work from home if you can. The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.
  • Tradespeople can work in someone else’s private home, as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus.

Schools and nurseries

  • All pupils will return to face-to-face teaching at school from 12 April.
  • From that date all students can return to further education and training centres.
  • University campuses will be able to open for blended (face-to face and online) learning for all students.
  • Internal GCSE, A-level and AS-level assessments have been cancelled.

Leisure time

From April 26:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen.
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants, but indoor hospitality will remain restricted.

From May 3:

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place.
  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation, including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service, can open to people from the same household or support bubble.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as golf, tennis and basketball are open. A maximum of six people from two households can take part.
  • Organised outdoor sport for under-18s can now take place.
  • All gyms and leisure centres are closed.
  • Professional sports will continue but stadiums are closed to fans.
  • Bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs are closed – except for takeaway and delivery.
  • The outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens can reopen in a limited way.
  • Libraries and archives can reopen

Shopping

From April 12:

  • All shops can reopen.
  • All close contact services such as hairdressers or beauty salons can open, including mobile services.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Hairdressers and barbers are open for business – by appointment only.
  • Non-essential shops remain closed.
  • Garden centres are now open.
  • Alcohol cannot be sold in shops between 22:00 and 06:00 BST.
  • Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff.
  • Indoor shopping should be done alone, or with people in your household.

Other

From April 12:

  • You can travel anywhere in the UK or the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)
  • Outdoor canvassing for the Welsh elections can begin.
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (remainder on 22 April).

From April 26:

  • Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will be limited to 30 people.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Weddings and civil partnerships can take place at licensed venues, but receptions are not allowed.
  • Care home residents can receive one designated visitor.
  • You can travel anywhere within Wales.
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Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

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The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’ for 73 years, has died aged 99.

Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up. He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Since then, he was rarely seen in public, spending most of his time on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, though moving to be with her at Windsor Castle during the lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and where the couple quietly celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020. He also celebrated his 99th birthday in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

The duke spent four nights at King Edward VII hospital in London before Christmas 2019 for observation and treatment in relation to a “pre-existing condition”.

Despite having hip surgery in April 2018, he attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a month later and was seen sitting beside the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Great Park in June. He and the Queen missed Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening in July 2018, but he was seen attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral in August, and driving his Land Rover in the surrounding Scottish countryside in September.

It is expected that flags on landmark buildings in Britain will be lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning is announced.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has expressed his sadness on the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and offered condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family on behalf of the Welsh Government.

He said: “It is with sadness that we mourn the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.

We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, his children and their families on this sad occasion.

He will be missed by the many organisations that he supported as Patron or President over many decades of service”.Andrew RT Davies, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, has led tributes to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose death was announced today.

In light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace, campaigning has been paused with immediate effect.

Mr Davies said: “This is a very sad day for the United Kingdom.
“The Duke of Edinburgh led a remarkable life, excelled himself with his career in the Royal Navy, was the strength and stay to Her Majesty The Queen, and has left a legacy to the nation through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“Dutiful, devoted, and diligent, his like will never be seen again, and Welsh Conservatives offer their deepest condolences to The Queen, and the rest of the Royal Family.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru said: “On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Many young people in Wales will have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, a reflection of many decades of his public service. Thoughts are with the Royal Family at this time.”

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Devolving funds for rail projects would be boost for Wales

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THE AMOUONT of money available for railway projects in Wales would have been significantly higher if it had been devolved.

A report from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre finds that under a fully devolved system, Wales could have received an extra £514m investment in its rail infrastructure between 2011-12 and 2019-20 compared to what it received, with several projects called for in Ceredigion, including the return of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway, closed in the 1960s under the Beeching cuts.

In 2018, feasibility study into the reopening of the line found that it was “a realistic prospect”, but when cost estimates reached over £600m – there was no form of funding identified to move the project forward.

The report says the Welsh Government is set to lose out on another £505m over the next five years – cash that could have been used for such major projects.

The report finds: “These amounts can be compared to the cost of several major Welsh rail infrastructure projects that have been estimated by external sources, including the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line (£620-775m), electrification of the North Wales Coast mainline (£764m), and electrification of the South Wales mainline between Cardiff and Swansea (£433m).”

Although operations of the railway in Wales are a Welsh Government responsibility through its rail operator Transport for Wales, railway infrastructure remains the responsibility of the UK Government.

The Welsh Government can spend its own resources to fund railway schemes, but because infrastructure is not devolved to Wales, it is not provided with extra resources to do this through the Barnett Formula.

Wales Fiscal Analysis researcher Guto Ifan said: “When it comes to the Welsh railways, the evidence is clear that funding would have been substantially higher under a fully devolved system – to the tune of £500m since 2011.

“That funding over the course of eight years would have enabled significant improvement projects to take place.

“Wales is also set to lose out on transport funding when the Treasury next sets multi-year budgets, due to technical changes in Barnett formula calculations.

“This is a double whammy for Wales, with the historic under-funding being baked in to the system.

“It is now clear that only full devolution of rail infrastructure – similar to Scotland – will address the underfunding of Welsh railways.”

The full report from the Wales Governance Centre has been submitted as evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee’s ongoing inquiry into rail infrastructure in Wales.

Campaigners have called for the return of the railway for more than a decade.

The scheme was included in the Welsh Government’s rail strategy document ‘A Railway for Wales – Meeting the needs of future generations’, in which it said that it wants to ‘improve connectivity on the nation’s key corridors – especially the western corridor from Ynys Môn to Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Swansea Bay’.

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