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Review recommends immediate approval of two City Deal projects

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TWO major projects forming part of the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal should be immediately approved, an independent review has found.

The review – carried out by Actica Consulting for the UK Government and Welsh Government – says project business cases for ‘the Yr Egin’ creative digital cluster in Carmarthen and the City and Waterfront Digital District in Swansea are ‘fit for purpose’.

Senior UK Government, Welsh Government and local authority officials should now aim to bring these project approvals to a swift conclusion, the review says.

A 3,500-seat digital indoor arena and digital plaza at the LC car park site is among the features of the £168.2 million Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District. Other project features include a 100,000 square foot digital village for tech businesses on Kingsway, as well as a 28,000 square foot ‘box village’ and 64,000 square foot innovation precinct development for start-up companies at the new University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) campus in SA1.

Once the project’s business case is approved, a City Deal contribution of £50m from both governments will follow.

Already close to full occupation and with S4C’s newly-relocated headquarters at its heart, phase one of the 4,000 square metre ‘Canolfan S4C Yr Egin’ creative industry development at UWTSD’s Carmarthen campus was officially opened late last year.

A second phase of work is also planned, adding a further 4,250 square metres of commercial floor space for creative sector businesses.

City Deal funding worth £5 million would contribute to an overall £24.3 million project cost.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “We welcome the findings of the independent review and the continued support of both governments for the Swansea Bay City Deal.

“We will now look to agree and implement the review’s recommendations, which is evidence of our ongoing commitment to deliver an investment programme worth £1.8 billion and over 9,000 jobs to South West Wales.

“Work on the digital indoor arena and digital plaza elements of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District is due to start this summer, so we agree with the review’s finding that commitment of City Deal funds in the short-term is critical to ensure the financial exposure of local authorities remains manageable.

“We also welcome the call to imminently approve City Deal funding for the ‘Canolfan S4C Yr Egin’ project in Carmarthen. This development has been an outstanding success story since opening last autumn, but there’s much more to come thanks to a second phase of work that’s planned.

“We stand ready to meet with UK Government and Welsh Government officials as soon as possible to get these two exciting projects over the finish line.

“These approvals will be the first of many that will benefit residents and businesses in all Swansea Bay City Region communities.”

A further recommendation of the review says there should be flexibility in the City Deal programme to allow some projects to be potentially replaced by other new projects in future. The review says this recommendation would guard against the City Deal stagnating, while enabling the chance to explore new opportunities.

It’s also being recommended that an independent programme director is appointed to provide a dedicated additional resource to help speed up the City Deal’s delivery. This recommendation is echoed by an internal City Deal review.

Cllr Stewart said: “Although the City Deal was first signed in March 2017, the need for a detailed legal agreement to be drafted and approved by the UK Government, the Welsh Government and all four regional councils meant Joint Committee’s first formal meeting only take place at the end of August last year.

“So given the City Deal is still at an early stage, Joint Committee commissioned our own internal review to run in parallel with the independent review to ensure our governance is sufficiently robust.

“Both reviews are recommending the appointment of an independent City Deal programme director, which would provide an additional dedicated resource and support for partners to enable work on projects across the region to be progressed more quickly.

“We also welcome the recommendation for the City Deal programme to be more flexible. This aligns with our consistent request to bring new projects into the City Deal if they’re good for the region.

“Throughout these reviews, work on all City Deal projects has been ongoing. The City Deal hasn’t been on hold in any way, although we’re now in a position to make much more progress in coming months.”

The Swansea Bay City Deal is led by the four regional councils – Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea – in partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

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Businesses fire safety advice on offer as part of Business Safety Week 2019

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MID AND WEST WALES Fire and Rescue Service are offering businesses fire safety advice as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC’s) Business Safety Week 2019.

The campaign runs from 9th – 15th September with the aim to provide those, who are responsible for businesses and public buildings, with information and advice to reduce the number of fire incidents and false alarms in the workplace, both of which impact business safety and productivity.

The week encourages all businesses to double check they have taken the steps required by law to protect their business and employees from fire. Advice will also be given on preventing arson attacks, reducing false alarms, and if needed fire safety advice for premises with sleeping accommodation.

The lead up to Christmas can be a busy time for businesses so the NFCC and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service ask people to take the opportunity now to review risk assessments and escape plans. Preparation also needs to be considered as they may take on extra stock and new or seasonal staff.

Statistics show that in Wales during 2017 – 18 there were 11,005 fires with 6,372 being deliberately set and the figure for false alarms being 14,739. From these figures, a total of 3,190 fires were recorded to be in Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service with 1,520 as deliberate and the figure for false alarms being 4,939.

David Hancock, Head of Business Fire safety, for the Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service, said:“It’s vital that businesses have robust arrangements in place to protect their premises, staff and visitors and to ensure they have prepared themselves to be able to continue operating after a fire or similar event. During Business Fire Safety Week we are keen to engage with business owners and provide practical advice that will help with preparations for emergency incidents.”

Chair of NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee, Mark Hardingham said: “Fire can have a devastating effect on small and medium size businesses. The NFCC is committed to supporting business and linking them to their local fire and rescue service who can help and advise them on reducing their fire risk. “We encourage business owners to get in touch with their local fire service and find out about the help available so business can flourish and support the UK economy and local community in a safe and sustainable way.”

Swansea Bay Business Fire Safety Team will be at the Village Hotel, Langdon Road, Swansea on 9th September at 10:00 until 13:00 , to give general advice on Fire Safety and information on:

• Preventing Arson
• Reducing False Alarms
• Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires and
• Protecting Sleeping Accommodation

On the morning of 11th September 2019, Carmarthenshire Business Fire Safety Team will be at Parc Pemberton, Llanelli between 10:00 and 12:30 and in Parc Trostre Retail Park, Llanelli in the afternoon between 13:00 – 16:00, to give general advice on Fire Safety and information on :-

• Preventing Arson
• Reducing False Alarms
• Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires
• Protecting Sleeping Accommodation
· Business Continuation Management
· Waste Management

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Becoming Deputy Chief Constable ‘a huge privilege’

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CLAIRE PARMENTER has been announced as the new Dyfed-Powys Police Deputy Chief Constable, describing it as a ‘huge privilege’.

DCC Parmenter, who grew up in Llanelli but now lives in Carmarthen, has worked her way through the ranks since joining the force as a PC 26 years ago.

She said: “Becoming the Deputy Chief Constable within my home force is a huge privilege for me, I hope this will inspire other officers and staff to achieve whatever they want across the service.”

Her policing career began in Ammanford in 1993, having just completed a BA (HONS) degree in Education at Cardiff.

“I was thinking of a career in teaching or policing, and decided to do my degree before making the choice,” DCC Parmenter said. “Policing was always in my heart, so when it came to it, it was an easy decision.”

As well as serving in a variety of uniform roles, DCC Parmenter has undertaken a number of secondments across UK Policing and beyond.

These include a role as national field officer with the National Policing Improvement Agency, becoming operational Chief Inspector in Avon and Somerset Police, and contributing to the national implementation of neighbourhood policing, for which she received a chief constable’s commendation.

She was promoted to Superintendent in 2010 and became lead for the Joint Emergency Services Group in Wales, leading and developing a number of blue light collaboration and resilience programmes, working closely with Fire and Rescue, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Welsh Government.

“I’ve always tried to look at the wider landscape of policing and how we work with partners to improve services to our communities,” she said.

“These secondments have given me exposure to different ways of working and has broadened my outlook.”

DCC Parmenter returned to uniformed policing in 2012 and took up the role of Superintendent of specialist operations.

She later took over as BCU Commander for Carmarthenshire and Powys, and later took up the post of Chief Superintendent Head of Uniformed Policing for the force.

She is an accredited Strategic Firearms and Gold Public order commander and has won a Stonewall National award for her support of LGBT staff.

A mother of two, DCC Parmenter’s drive and dedication has not only led her to become a chief officer, but has also had a positive influence on her teenage daughters.

DCC Parmenter said: “My youngest daughter is 14 and she’s also keen to join the police. It’s nice to know that she looks at my career positively and can see how policing can make a real difference.

“I’m very proud to be a chief officer in the force I am from. Being able to effect the delivery of services in my home area, and to serve people in the area I live ensuring the best possible service, is a huge privilege.”

Looking ahead, DCC Parmenter’s aims are to keep delivering across Dyfed-Powys Police, and to ensure the force continues to improve and innovate.

She added: “I know Dyfed-Powys communities and staff very well, and I think we have got all the ingredients to be an absolutely outstanding force. I look forward to being a part of the chief officer team to deliver that.

“I’m really grateful to our staff and colleagues across the force, who have supported me throughout my career.”

Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Claire has shown outstanding commitment to our communities over many years and I am delighted to have her as my Deputy Chief Constable.”

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MP calls for ‘fair funding’ for Wales

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PLAID CYMRU Treasury Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has called for a radical rethink of how the nations and regions of the UK are funded through the establishment of an independent Office for Fair Funding.

Writing in Wales on Sunday, Mr Edwards said he would propose legislation – in the form of a 10 Minute Rule Bill – in Westminster which would establish the new expert-led, independent body.

The organisation would have a statutory obligation to deliver geographic wealth convergence, as well as for deciding on funding settlements for the devolved nations and regions of the UK.

Recent international data has shown that the largest difference in economic prosperity in Europe was between Inner London, the UK’s richest region (with a regional GDP average of 614% of the EU average), and West Wales and the Valleys, the UK’s poorest (with a regional GDP 68% of the EU average).

Disputes between devolved government and Whitehall relating to how nations are regions were funded could also be resolved by the independent body, Mr Edwards suggested.

For example, the dispute over HS2’s consequences for Welsh funding could be examined by the Office.

The greater the spending on HS2 the greater the proportional fall in funding Wales will receive.

This is due to ‘comparability factors’ – the measure Westminster uses to decide how much spending by a Whitehall Government Department relates to issues that are devolved.

Scotland and Northern Ireland get a score of 100% on the HS2 comparability factor, whereas Wales gets a 0% score (as confirmed in the British Government’s Statement of Funding).

This leads to a counterintuitive scenario where, as the Department for Transport’s budget increases to meet the spending requirement of HS2, Scotland and Northern Ireland will receive corresponding uplifts in the money it receives.

Whereas Wales’s overall comparability factor will proportionally decrease, meaning Wales will receive a smaller slice of the overall funding.

This will also mean that as spending accelerates on HS2 during the construction of HS2 the proportional disadvantage for Wales increases.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards said: “For decades, British Governments – red and blue alike – have tinkered around the edges of the broken economic system without challenging its fundamental problems.

“That is why, as a first step in rebalancing things, I am proposing a new law that would establish an independent Office for Fair Funding. The independent, expert-led organisation would be legally bound to deliver a fairer economic balance between the nations and regions of the UK.

“London and the south-east of England continue to act as a black hole, sucking in talent and investment from the rest of the UK. Things have got so bad that recent data has shown that the inequality between London and Wales was the worst in Europe.

“These inequalities have disfigured the UK economy to the point where we no longer have a ‘UK economy’ in any meaningful sense.

“The Office of Fair Funding is not a silver bullet. There is little hope on the horizon of a fundamental shift away from the over-centralised British State, but it could be the first step on the much-needed journey towards a fairer, more equal economy.”

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