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Flying the flag

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screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-48-15AT THE LAST meeting of the County Council, there was a lot of talk about ‘semantics’, the way in which words are used, abused, and misunderstood.

Chief Executive Mark James CBE picked up on one such ‘misunderstanding’ by Cllr Anthony Jones. Cllr Jones, Mr James averred, had become confused between the meaning of the word ‘endorsed’ and conflated it with ‘approval’. Approval, Mr James pointed out, in the case in point, had already taken place. The Executive Board had endorsed that earlier decision, not made it itself.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s flag policy attracted the attention of Herald columnist Cadno in August.

He noted that the Rainbow Flag, adopted the world over by the LGBT movement as a symbol of their pride, did not flutter over Gaol Hill for LGBT History Month in February of this year.

When we raised the question at the time, our reporter was told that Carmarthenshire ‘had a procedure’ regarding the flying of flags from public buildings, as the authority received so many requests to participate in special events that it had decided that indiscriminate flag flying required regulation.

After Cadno’s article (‘The Power of Love’) appeared in August, a Herald reader made a Freedom of Information Act request to Carmarthenshire County Council, seeking to establish just how many requests the Council had received in respect of its policy and how many it had received in the years preceding the policy’s adoption.

THE COUNCIL’S REPLY

Jimi Reid of Ammanford received the following response to his request:

“In the newspaper, I have seen a reference to a flag policy you have adopted, in which there is a procedure for making requests to fly flags from council buildings.

1. Please confirm when that policy was adopted by the council.

A. July 10, 2015.

2. Please confirm how many requests have been made and by whom under the provisions of that policy to fly flags from council buildings.

A. There have been two requests. One from a community group called CETMA (Community Engagement, Media, Technology & Arts) and the other from Seafarers UK.

3. Please confirm how many requests were made and by whom for flags to be flown from council buildings in the three years before the policy was put in place.

A. We do not hold this information.

4. In both instances, where the policy was in place and in the three years before the policy was put in place, please let me know how many of the requests made have been rejected and why they were rejected.”

A. The two requests received since the policy has been in place were refused. We do not hold information prior to the introduction of the policy.

CETMA’S REQUEST

Our attention was attracted by the inclusion of CETMA in the very short list of the ‘many’ applications the council had received in relation to flying a flag from County Council buildings. Among the projects with which CETMA is engaged are several relating to LGBT projects and LGBT Pride.

We contacted CETMA and asked them why their request had been rejected.

CETMA provided us with their request, made to Mark James CBE, Carmarthenshire Council’s CEO.

CETMA’S LETTER

Dear Mr James,

I am contacting you to see whether the County Council would fly the Pride Flag during the week of Monday 1st to Sunday 7th August 2016.

The reason for this is that we have a project called Llanelli LGBT Support and we will be holding Llanelli LGBT day on Saturday 6th August. The day is about everyone coming together to raise awareness about how far Carmarthenshire and Wales has come and how far it has to go in regards to equality and to celebrate achievements in the areas of LGBT.

Having the flag flying from Llanelli Old Town Hall on the day and during the week would be brilliant. We did try last year but we’d left it too late.

If you would like more information, then please let me know.

MR JAMES’ PERSONAL RESPONSE

Thank you for letting me know about the project that you are intending to run in August. As you may know, the council has been keen to promote diversity in the workplace and beyond. We have worked with organisations such as Stonewall to look at how we support employees and ensure that we are a welcoming employer. We were very pleased to have been placed in the top 100 employers in the Stonewall annual rankings and we will continue to work to promote diversity as an a employer.

With regard to the issue of flying flags, we get many requests from campaign groups and organisations to participate in their events and, whilst we are often happy to assist with those events at a community level, WE HAVE TAKEN A VIEW THAT THIS DOES NOT EXTEND TO FLAG FLYING AT CIVIC BUILDINGS (emphasis added). As I am sure that you will understand, if we agree to do so for one group, we would find it difficult to refuse another and this might lead to administrative or other difficulties. We have, therefore, in the past declined to use flagpoles at civic buildings in this way.

I wish you every success with your events in August. Please do let us know if there is anything else we might be able to assist with.

THE QUESTION OF TIMING

An examination of council meetings, agendas and minutes dated before the policy’s adoption shows no indication that the policy was EVER discussed by County Councillors. Indeed, the policy’s introduction in July is, entirely coincidentally, within 28 days of LGBT Pride Week. Any application made by CETMA after July 15, 2015 would have been caught by the adoption of a procedure which did not exist beforehand and which received scant – if any – publicity.

We contacted CETMA again and were told that, as LGBT Pride takes place at the beginning of August, the request to fly the flag in 2015 was made at the beginning of the July.

That means that the request to fly the LGBT Rainbow Flag from Llanelli Town Hall was made – entirely coincidentally – either before or at the time the flag policy was adopted.

A policy for which the council can provide no evidence for necessity .

Moreover, the rational underpinning the adoption of the policy, ‘introduced due to the increasing number of requests being received, and the cost implications’ is not only highly questionable, based on the limited number of requests made since the policy’s adoption, but impossible to verify because the council simply did not retain records. How the council can state that a policy was introduced on the grounds of ‘cost implications’ when it does not even hold the data relating to the requests – IF ANY – actually made, is even more questionable.

Since the policy’s adoption, the council has flown the Rainbow Flag once, in response to the Orlando nightclub massacre.

As it stands, on the face of Mr James’s words, the policy is redundant. Mr James will never give permission to fly any flag. On the basis that nobody will get permission, of course, the policy cannot be said to be discriminatory in any way.

Which, of course, it isn’t.

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Cymraeg

Colin Jackson bydd ddysgu Cymraeg

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GYDA medal Olympaidd yn ei feddiant, mae Colin Jackson wedi arfer a hyfforddi’n galed er mwyn cyrraedd yr uchelfannau. Ond sut fydd pencampwr y byd gwibio a chlwydo yn delio gyda’r her o ddysgu Cymraeg?
Mae Colin, a gafodd ei fagu yng Nghaerdydd, wedi cael ei enwi fel y trydydd seleb i gymryd rhan yn gyfres newydd sbon ar S4C yng Ngwanwyn 2020 sef Iaith ar Daith.
Bydd Colin yn un o bump seleb – gan gynnwys Carol Vorderman a Ruth Jones – sy’n mynd ar daith i rannau gwahanol o Gymru gyda mentor adnabyddus sy’n gallu siarad Cymraeg, i geisio dysgu Cymraeg.
Yn achos Colin, y cyflwynydd teledu a radio Eleri Siôn yw’r mentor ac mae’r ddau yn ffilmio yn Aberystwyth a Chaerdydd dros y dyddiau nesaf.
Fel rhan o Iaith ar Daith, mae’n rhaid i bob un o’r selebs gyflawni nifer o sialensiau – ac un o rheini i Colin yw dangos ei fod yn gallu deall ac ymateb i gyfweliad yn y Gymraeg.
Colin, wedi galw mewn yn stiwdios y BBC yn Aberystwyth ac yn westai arbennig ar sioe Ifan Jones Evans ar BBC Radio Cymru ar ddydd Llun, 3 Chwefror.
Yn siarad cyn y sialens, fe ddywedodd Colin: “Dw i bach yn nerfus ac yn poeni braidd. Nerfau yw fy ngelyn pennaf! Dw i’n teimlo’n rhwystredig iawn os dw i methu dod o hyd i’r geiriau i fynegi fy hunan.
“Ond dw i’n gobeithio bydda i ac Eleri yn cael lot o hwyl. Dw i’n gobeithio bydd lot o chwerthin a bydd Eleri yn mwynhau’r profiad yn ogystal â helpu fi ar y daith. Fe fydd hi’n atgoffa fi o’r pethau dw i wedi anghofio ac yn gwneud imi ail-adrodd pethau ac i wir gael teimlad o’r iaith.”
Dywedodd Colin ei fod e eisiau dysgu Cymraeg oherwydd mae’n genfigennus o’i chwaer, yr actores Suzanne Packer, a’i gallu hi i siarad Cymraeg.
“Mae fy chwaer yn dysgu ac yn gwneud yn dda iawn. Dw i’n gweld bod siarad Cymraeg yn helpu hi gael perthynas mwy agos gyda Chymru. Dw i’n teimlo bod y gallu gyda fi ond bydda i’n cymryd y peth yn ara’ deg. Erbyn adeg yma blwyddyn nesa’ fe fydda i’n rhugl!”
“Mae gen i real chwant i ddysgu Cymraeg – dw i’n meddwl bod rhaid i chi wir eisiau gwneud e – mae’n rhywbeth sy’ tu fewn i chi,” meddai Colin.
A sut mae Colin yn teimlo am wneud y cyfweliad ar sioe Ifan Evans?
“Bydd yn teimlo fel y cyfweliad hiraf dw i erioed wedi gwneud!”, medd Colin. “Ond dwi’n edrych ymlaen. Cyn belled bod Ifan yn siarad yn araf a dyw’r cwestiynau dim yn rhy gymhleth bydda i’n iawn – fe wna i oroesi!”
Yn gynharach y mis yma, fe gyhoeddodd S4C bod y cyflwynydd Carol Vorderman a’r actores ac awdur Ruth Jones yn cymryd rhan yn Iaith ar Daith.
Un o dasgau Ruth oedd dysgu sgript a chael rhan ar yr opera sebon poblogaidd Pobol y Cwm a dydd Sul diwetha’, cyflwynodd Carol y tywydd ar S4C.
Cadwch lygaid allan am fwy o newyddion ar Iaith ar Daith dros yr wythnosau nesaf pan fydd dau wyneb cyfarwydd arall yn cael eu datgelu ynghyd â’u mentoriaid.
Os fethoch chi ymddangosiad Ruth ar Pobol y Cwm ar ddydd Mawrth, Ionawr 21 gallwch chi ddal i fyny ar S4C Clic neu BBC iPlayer

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Politics

Locals praise new cash machine in Llandovery

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COUNTY Councillor for Llandovery, Handel Davies has praised the work of Mr & Mrs John and Laura Morgan who have installed a new cash machine at the Post Office in Llandovery.

The couple opened the new ‘Ystrad at The Bank’ post office in Llandovery in November last year following the closure of the former Post Office earlier in 2018.

Then in June of this year, Barclays Bank dropped another bombshell on the town when they announced the closure of the last remaining bank in the town and with it went the 24/7 cashpoint (ATM) facility.

The newly opened cash machine will provide a 24/7 service.

Plaid Cymru County Councillor for Llandovery, Handel Davies said: “I have nothing but admiration and respect for John & Laura. Having settled to live in the area only recently, in which time not only have they quickly established a thriving business at Ystrad Nursery and Agricultural Supplies on the A40 outskirts of Llandovery, but they have also demonstrated their amazing social conscience by personally reacting to the potentially devastating impact resulting from the Post Office and Barclays Bank closures upon the town.

“Showing remarkable concern for this injustice to the local community John and Laura once again stepped in when they decided to submit a planning application for a new ATM at the new Post Office. Believing this would be a relatively straightforward process, it unfortunately proved anything but the case. However, thankfully, almost a year from the day that the new Post Office was opened, the new ATM has finally been installed.”

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Community

Mobile library services put in place for Cross Hands

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OPTIONS are being explored for a temporary home for Cross Hands Library, pending a proposed permanent move to a purpose-built facility within the town.

The library will leave its current home at the Cross Hands Cinema building during December following expiry of a lease agreement.

Services will be provided from Carmarthenshire County Council’s mobile library from Saturday, December 7, until a new temporary premises is found.

It will provide a comprehensive range of reading materials along with iPad access to online services and will operate during existing Cross Hands library hours – 10am-5pm Mondays and Thursdays, and 10am-1pm on Saturdays.

The council said it welcomes suggestions from members of the public and businesses about a temporary solution.

Longer-term, there are proposals for the library to be permanently based at a new Health and Wellbeing Centre planned for the Cross Hands area.

Ian Jones, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Head of Leisure, said: “We would like to thank people for their understanding whilst we work towards the permanent provision of a modern, fully-equipped, and purpose-built library service within the Cross Hands area.

“We will shortly be leaving our current home at Cross Hands Cinema, and thank the trustees for welcoming us over the last few years.

“Our mobile library service will be operating in the area from late December, offering a good range of reading and audio material, as well as digital access for our customers.”

The current provision at Cross Hands Cinema will come to an end on December 7.

For further information, email libraries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 01269 598360.

Gwasanaethau llyfrgell teithiol ar waith yn Cross Hands

MAE opsiynau’n cael eu hystyried ar gyfer cartref dros dro i Lyfrgell Cross Hands, hyd nes y gwireddir y bwriad i symud yn barhaol i gyfleuster pwrpasol yn y dref.

Bydd y llyfrgell yn gadael ei chartref bresennol yn adeilad Sinema Cross Hands yn ystod mis Rhagfyr ar ôl i gytundeb prydles ddod i ben.

Bydd gwasanaethau’n cael eu darparu o lyfrgell deithiol Cyngor Sir Caerfyrddin o ddydd Sadwrn, 7 Rhagfyr, hyd nes y bydd safle dros dro newydd yn cael ei ganfod.

Bydd yn darparu amrywiaeth gynhwysfawr o ddeunydd darllen ynghyd â mynediad i iPad i gyrchu gwasanaethau ar-lein. Bydd yn gweithredu yn ystod oriau presennol llyfrgell Cross Hands, sef rhwng 10am a 5pm ar ddydd Llun a dydd Iau, a rhwng 10am ac 1pm ar ddydd Sadwrn.

Dywedodd y cyngor ei fod yn croesawu awgrymiadau gan y cyhoedd a busnesau ynghylch ateb dros dro.

Yn y tymor hir, mae cynigion ar gyfer lleoli’r llyfrgell yn barhaol mewn Canolfan Iechyd a Llesiant newydd sy’n cael ei chynllunio ar gyfer ardal Cross Hands.

Dywedodd Ian Jones, Pennaeth Hamdden Cyngor Sir Caerfyrddin: “Hoffem ddiolch i bobl am eu dealltwriaeth wrth inni weithio tuag at ddarparu gwasanaeth llyfrgell pwrpasol a pharhaol sy’n fodern ac yn cynnwys yr holl gyfarpar angenrheidiol, a hynny yn ardal Cross Hands.

“Cyn bo hir byddwn yn gadael ein cartref presennol yn Sinema Cross Hands, a hoffem ddiolch i’r ymddiriedolwyr am ein croesawu ni dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf.

“Bydd ein gwasanaeth llyfrgell teithiol yn gweithredu yn yr ardal o ddiwedd Rhagfyr, gan gynnig amrywiaeth dda o ddeunydd darllen a sain, yn ogystal â mynediad digidol i’n cwsmeriaid.”

Bydd y ddarpariaeth bresennol yn Sinema Cross Hands yn dod i ben ar 7 Rhagfyr.

I gael rhagor o wybodaeth, anfonwch neges e-bost at llyfrgelloedd@sirgar.gov.uk neu ffoniwch 01269 598360.

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