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Carmarthenshire hosts opening stage of Tour of Britain

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THE 2018 OVO ENERGY Tour of Britain will begin in South Wales for the first time today (Sept 2) as Carmarthenshire and Newport host the opening stage of the Tour of Britain.

It will mark the first time that the race has visited Carmarthenshire with the county set to welcome the strongest ever line-up in race history, with reigning Tour de France and Giro d’Italia champions Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome competing for Team Sky.

The city of Newport last hosted the Tour of Britain in 2004, while the final stage of the 2017 race passed through the city on its way to the overall finish in Cardiff.

The first stage of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race will be put under starter’s orders by Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford. Speaking ahead of the race, Professor Drakeford said;

“I am delighted to be opening the first stage of this iconic race. Pembrey Country Park is an impressive venue for the Grand Depart, not only because it is a very popular visitor attraction but also because it has recently invested in cycling facilities, including the first national closed road circuit in south Wales.”

“The Tour of Britain has become a key event in the Welsh sporting calendar and I am pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to support this event once again this year.

“The Welsh public has always given the cyclists a really warm Welsh welcome and I’m sure that with Geraint Thomas amongst the starting line-up, people from across south Wales will come out to support the cyclists as they travel from Carmarthenshire to Newport on the first day of the race.”

Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “We are delighted to be hosting Stage One of the Tour of Britain in Carmarthenshire for the very first time. We have made no secret of our ambition to become the Cycling Hub of Wales and this prestigious event coincides with a huge investment to cycling infrastructure in Carmarthenshire, including off road tracks and circuits, active travel routes and cycling trails.

“This event seals Carmarthenshire’s reputation not only as a growing visitor destination, but also as a first-class location for major events.

“We are overwhelmed by the huge support we have had in recent weeks and especially grateful to our communities who have worked together to give riders and visitors the warmest of welcomes.”

Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the Tour to Newport and cheering them across the finish line of stage one on the first day.

“Newport boasts such a diverse landscape which lends itself perfectly to events such as the Tour – from flat, urban routes to challenging climbs and descents through beautiful countryside. I’m sure the cyclists, supporters and spectators alike will enjoy the leg and their time in our city.”

Race Director Mick Bennett said: “Following the fantastic victory of Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France this Summer it is fitting that we can welcome him, along with the reigning Giro d’Italia champion Chris Froome, to the opening stage of this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain in Wales.  We are looking forward to our first every visit to Carmarthenshire and think it will be a very special occasion for everyone involved with activities planned across the route to celebrate the occasion.

“In this of all years it is fitting that we finish our opening stage in Newport, the home of Welsh Cycling, and are looking forward to an exciting finish on Usk Way in the city.”

Welsh Cycling CEO, Anne Adams-King said: “Welsh Cycling is pleased that Wales is hosting the Grand Depart for the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain profiling our beautiful countryside and showcasing the City of Newport town centre.

“It’s fantastic for people to see four welsh riders in the peloton alongside some of the best riders in pro-cycling. An exciting start to the tour that will inspire a generation of youngsters to experience cycling.”

The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step, taking place between Sunday 2 and Sunday 9 September 2018.

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Carmarthen: Police appeal following death of 31-year-old Harry Lloyd

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THE INVESTIGATION is continuing into the death of 31-year-old Harry Lloyd who had suffered serious injuries at Francis Terrace, Carmarthen and later died at hospital.

There is still a police presence at the property and enquiries being made in the local area.

We were called to an incident at an address in Francis Terrace, Carmarthen at around 9.50am on Wednesday, February 20.

Enquiries are on-going to establish the cause of death.

A 28-year-old-woman arrested on suspicion of GBH remains in police custody.

Here’s a tribute from Harry’s family: “We are absolutely devastated by the loss of our son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend.

“Harry was a very popular, beautiful, gentle soul who will be missed.

“Please allow us to grieve this terrible loss in private.”

The police have asked that anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by phoning 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number: 07811 311 908. Use reference: DP-20190220-098

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Care home told staff not to speak Welsh

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THERE is an investigation taking place after it was revealed that a care home had warned members of staff about speaking Welsh.

Isfryn in Ystradgynlais has Approved Headway Provider status and provides rehabilitation and support for individuals with an acquired brain injury. It has been revealed that staff were told that it would be unacceptable if clients heard employees conversing in a language they did not understand. The Accomplish Group, which runs Isfryn, has announced that it was reviewing the issue.

The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws said: “If two or more people wish to speak or write to each other in Welsh in Wales, they have the freedom to do so, in accordance with the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011.

“If someone, such as an employer, tells them that that they should not continue to use the Welsh language, they are possibly interfering with that freedom. The Welsh Language Measure gives me as Commissioner statutory powers to investigate such cases.

“From the evidence I have seen today, it appears there may be an interference with staff’s freedom to use Welsh at Isfryn, Accomplish. I will be contacting the organisation to gather more information in order to understand the situation fully. I would also like to encourage anyone affected to get in touch with my office to enable us to investigate the matter fully.”

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Plans to partially re-open Cwmduad road following landslide

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s highways team hopes to partially re-open the A484 at Cwmduad in March, following extensive work to clear and make the area safe after a landslide.

The council has been leading a highly complex operation to clear the highway and stabilise the land since October, when the landslide tragically claimed the life of a young man.

Works are progressing well, and providing things continue to go to plan, the council hopes to re-open a single lane on March 18.

To date, the operation has involved extensive clearance and reinstatement of land off the highway, with the creation of a 10 metre buffer zone; construction of a ramp from the highway to the river, to aid the recovery of lorry that was swept in with the force of the landslide; and clearance of silt from the highway.

Work currently underway includes the construction of highway support and reinstatement of the bank to the east of the highway, as well as highway drainage clearance and reinstatement.

The final stage of works – which will take place alongside the single carriageway opening – will involve rebuilding a parapet wall alongside the highway, before the road can be fully re-opened.

Ruth Mullen, Director of Environment for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are pleased that works have progressed well, and we can now plan for the partial re-opening of the road.

“We are grateful for the support from the community during a prolonged and difficult period. It has been a complex project and we have continued to be mindful of the sensitivities both locally and within the community where one person tragically lost their life.

“Whilst we have worked at pace to enable the highway to be reopened as quickly as possible, the safety of the public has always been our primary focus.”

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