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County Council unanimously backs WASPI campaign



THE CAMPAIGN for fair pensions for women was well and truly on the agenda last week as women and elected representatives stepped up their campaign.

The pace of change to women’s State Pension Age has been branded ‘unfair’ and ‘unjust’, leading to the creation of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign across Wales and the UK. Around 10,000 women in Carmarthenshire are affected by the pension changes.

On Wednesday, a motion by Plaid Cymru Councillor Carl Harris was debated in County Hall. The motion, which called on the local authority to support the WASPI campaign and make appropriate representations to the UK Government, was unanimously supported by County Councillors.

To mark International Women’s Day on Thursday, local WASPI campaigners joined women from across Wales on a march in Cardiff in protest against the pension changes. They were joined by local Assembly Member Adam Price and Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood AM who also addressed the rally.

On Saturday, around 100 Carmarthenshire women attended a drop-in advice session in Ammanford Library jointly hosted by Jonathan Edwards MP and the WASPI Amman Valley group.

Jonathan Edwards MP said: “If there was any doubt as to why the WASPI campaign was so important then our advice session on Saturday epitomised exactly why we should all support women born in the 1950’s.

“Many of those who came were not informed of the change to their pension age, or received a short letter from the Department for Work and Pensions when they were just a year or two out from retirement, telling them they would now need to wait an extra 6 years.

“It cannot be right that after 40 years of hard graft the government can move the goal posts, sometime twice, without little or no notice, leaving a woman’s future plans shattered.

“Around 100 women attended our drop-in session on Saturday, where they got information on the WASPI campaign and what they can do to make a formal complaint to the DWP.

“As the campaign continues, I want to place on record my personal thanks to the members of the local WASPI group who are working tirelessly to assist Carmarthenshire women fight this injustice.”

Adam Price AM added: “It is 100 years since some women got the right to vote, and it’s in the spirit of the suffragettes that the WASPI campaign is being fought.

“I was delighted to join local campaigners at their march in Cardiff on International Women’s Day this week.
“We’re all so pleased to also get the unanimous support of Carmarthenshire County Council which also recognises the unfairness of these pension changes.

“Jonathan Edwards and I fully support the efforts of local campaigners. I have no doubt that their determination will see the campaign go from strength to strength.”

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3,000 Welsh landlords still unregistered



JANET FINCH-SAUNDERS AM has called on the Welsh Government to urgently work to improve landlord registration under Rent Smart Wales, as estimates released indicate around 3,000 remain unregistered.

Ms Finch-Saunders said: “Rent Smart Wales estimates that still 3,000 landlords are unregistered here in Wales.

“Whilst that makes up a small percentage of our total landlords, it is most concerning for those living in properties leased to them by those who have not yet registered.

“The Welsh Government has confirmed that a landlord who is not registered with Rent Smart Wales is unable to serve a valid Section 21 eviction notice – so where unregistered landlords do indicate that they want tenants to vacate a property, this is not recognised by local housing associations, which can cause stress to tenants who may not be aware of their full rights under the law.

“By focusing on ensuring that all landlords are properly registered, the Welsh Government can alleviate such concerns, and I will be urging the Cabinet Secretary to act to ensure all landlords are abiding by this legislation in full.”

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration told Ms Finch-Saunders that the latest figures released by Rent Smart Wales show that 90,812 landlords are now registered. Rent Smart Wales’ latest estimate for the number of unregistered landlords is approximately 3,000.

This is based on the dwelling stock estimates recently published by StatsWales, and an estimation of the average number of properties owned by each landlord.

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Care home honour Armed Forces Day



PLAS Y DDERWEN in Johnstown will be celebrating Armed Forces Day on Thursday, June 28, with a big brew up supporting SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity.

SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, formerly known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, provides lifelong support to serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces and their families. Armed Forces Day is a chance to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.

Janet Williams, Activities Coordinator, said: “It is very important that we keep the memories of those who fought alive and that we also think about those involved in conflicts around the world today. We welcome anyone that wishes to attend and will have the chance to meet the team and look around the home.”

Plas Y Dderwen is part of Barchester Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest care providers, supporting older people living independent lives over the last 25 years.

Barchester services include residential care and nursing care as well as expert dementia care.

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Huge Brecha Forest West wind turbine project complete



ALL 28 turbines at Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm are now operational and exporting renewable energy to the National Grid, Innogy Renewables UK Ltd has announced.

With an installed capacity of 57.4MW, Brechfa Forest West can generate enough renewable energy to meet the equivalent energy needs of approximately 38,800 average UK homes, which is almost half of all the households in Carmarthenshire.

Martin Kelly, innogy’s Project Director said: “The last turbines have now been commissioned. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their patience and support during the construction phase. We will now continue to work with Natural Resource Wales (NRW) to complete all remaining reinstatement activities.

“We are really proud of what has been achieved here as a team with NRW and our Contractors. With all turbine components safely delivered to site and lifted into place, over 20km of tracks within the forest created or upgraded and a new circular walk created to improve visitor’s experience; the construction has been an engineering success and all carried out safely with no lost time due to injury or incident.”

This announcement also marks the launch of the much-anticipated community benefit fund, worth £459,200 a year.

Following a competitive tender, innogy has selected Antur Teifi as the fund administrator and Severn Wye Energy Agency to provide community development support and maximise the benefits of the fund.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “I am delighted Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm is now operational. It is the most recent example of our approach to using Welsh Government estate to deliver benefits for Welsh people whilst at the same time decarbonising our energy system. I am pleased that the Community fund will be delivered alongside the leisure improvements the development has funded, which are benefiting the local community and future generations.”

Kevin Harrington, Business Development Manager from Antur Teifi said: “We are thrilled to have won this contract and excited by the huge potential and significant opportunities that the Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm Fund can deliver.

“The fund is now inviting applications for funding and for more information please visit our website:”

Onsite, construction and testing activities are drawing to an end. Reinstatement works will continue as well as the implementation of innogy’s habit management plan. innogy will continue to carry out these works in close working partnership with NRW and is delighted to have also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work towards NRW’s vision of developing Energy Parks fit for our futures.

Gordon Baird, NRW’s Energy Delivery Programme Project Manager said: “This is an exciting moment for the Brechfa Forest Wind Farm Project.

“Our joined-up work with innogy on the NRW Managed Estate has demonstrated that together, we can deliver significant renewable energy and help to build a prosperous and sustainable future for Wales.

“And the recent signing of the MoU signals NRW’s intention to work with all developers who wish to use the Energy Park concept to develop Wales’ renewable energy profile.”

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