CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Executive Board has unveiled its aspirations to regenerate its rural communities – strengthening local economies, creating jobs and business opportunities and protecting the Welsh language.
It is the first time ever that a wide-ranging strategy has been developed by the council to specifically focus on its rural areas.
Over 60 per cent of Carmarthenshire’s population lives in a rural area and the council’s executive board was the first to create a specific portfolio to represent rural affairs.
That position is held by Cllr Cefin Campbell, who chairs a cross-party task group to investigate, understand and plan what is needed to create more sustainable rural communities and economies.
Cllr Campbell presented his ‘Moving Rural Carmarthenshire Forward’ report to Executive Board for the first time this week, securing the full backing of colleagues to progress the report to Full Council.
At the heart of the new strategy is an emphasis on creating jobs and business opportunities so that young people stay and settle in Carmarthenshire, instead of migrating to find good quality jobs and lifestyles elsewhere.
There is also an emphasis on encouraging young people to return to their roots, with incentives to help them set up businesses to support themselves and the local economy.
Initiatives being looked at include making innovative use of vacant or unused agricultural buildings to create hubs for entrepreneurs, and improving broadband provision so that digital connectivity isn’t a barrier to rural development.
A Carmarthenshire ‘brand’ could be developed to support and grow the county’s diverse agriculture and food production sector, encouraging communities to buy local to create a re-circulating ‘Carmarthenshire pound’, and boosting the county’s growing tourism sector.
The council’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and use of plastics also features as part of the plan, with proposals to work with partners and agencies to create a more sustainable environment, with new infrastructure including an investment in rapid charging points for electric vehicles.
Rising to the challenges created by Brexit is a key focus, to ensure the agricultural industries – which make up the majority of businesses in rural Carmarthenshire – are not adversely affected, with Cllr Campbell calling on Welsh Government to take more action to forward plan.
The report also details a ‘Ten Rural Towns Initiative’ which will launch in the autumn to ensure market towns, from Llandovery to St Clears, are more economically, socially, environmentally and culturally sustainable for the future.
“More than 60 per cent of the population of Carmarthenshire live in rural areas, so we are talking about having an impact on the vast majority of people,” said Cllr Campbell.
“Regenerating the economy is an integral part of this report. The important message is that we are currently losing about 1,000 young people in Carmarthenshire each year – many talented people have left; we hope to attract them back to the county. We want to create an infrastructure that will help them with their entrepreneurial skills.
“We need sustainable housing, we need to be less strict on our planning guidelines for rural development, and we need to support our village schools so that it will attract more families to set up in the area.”
He added: “Our recommendations include an array of initiatives which will allow our young people to live and work locally. These developments will also strengthen the position of the Welsh language as demographic changes are one of the key reasons for its gradual demise.”
Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “The Welsh Government is paying attention to this report – it’s innovative and essential.”
Visit the Council and Democracy section at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales to read the full report, which is available as part of the agenda papers for Monday’s Executive Board, alongside a web archive of the debate in the chamber.
Police urge visitors to ‘check the rules’
POLICE in Powys are reminding people to check the rules before they travel, as tourists from the Midlands, London and Bristol continue to visit despite lockdown restrictions.
Last weekend more than 1,000 cars were turned around by police in the Brecon Beacons after visitors attempted to access the area around Ystradfellte known as ‘waterfall country’.
Many of those stopped claimed they thought the rules around travel were the same as in England, while others had deliberately flouted them.
Seventy-two per cent of people reported for breaches of Covid-19 restrictions in Powys since March 27 have been from outside the police force area.
“I would like to thank the communities of Powys for their cooperation in recent months in complying with requirements of the Covid 19 legislation and also reassure them we are still working hard with our partners to police the restrictions that remain in place across Wales,” said Superintendent Steve Davies.
“Our officers have worked hard to engage with the public at every opportunity throughout these unprecedented times by explaining what we are doing and why, and encouraging people to make the best choices to protect public health in Wales.
“But where people have clearly flouted the rules we have dealt with them appropriately and issued fines.”
He said officers will continue to conduct stop checks throughout Powys and across the force area this weekend.
In England, people can now travel an unlimited distance for exercise and to access so-called ‘beauty spots’.
But the Welsh Government has said people must remain local – ideally not travelling further than five miles from their home – for exercise or limited leisure pursuits, and this also applies to anyone travelling across the border.
Wales’ three national parks – which include popular sites such as Snowdon, the Elan valley and the Pembrokeshire coast – currently remain closed to the public, as do all National Trust car parks and properties.
The latest Welsh Government advice is available at gov.wales/coronavirus.
Forestry fire near Rhos, Llandysul, is believed to have been started deliberately
On Sunday, 31st May 2020 at 08:57pm, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) were called to a forestry fire near Rhos, Llandysul. Crews from Llandysul, Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthen and Tumble have attended this incident.
Approximately 210 hectares of various sized spruce trees and shrubland have been destroyed by the fire.
The resources deployed to fight the fire have included a helicopter, drone, 45mm jets, five hose reel jets, a fogging unit, wildfire blowers and beaters.
The main fire has been extinguished, however, due to the dry conditions, there are a number of local hotspots that remain, and the affected land will continue to smoulder for several days.
A crew from Llandysul is currently at the scene damping down hotspots and inspecting the area.
The fire is believed to have been lit deliberately and is being investigated by the Police and Fire Service.
Station Manager Richard Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager for MAWWFRS, said:
“Unfortunately, we have seen far too many large wildfires already this year. Not only do they have a significant ecological and financial impact, but also put a strain on our fire and rescue resources.
For the firefighters, they are very difficult to deal with due to terrain and accessibility. The extreme temperatures and longer travel distances carrying equipment make working conditions even harder.
This incident has seen multiple crews detained over several days meaning appliances must travel from further afield to attend other emergencies in the area. This is all at a time that we are trying to limit exposure between crews during the pandemic phase.
At this incident, we have again seen various ages of forestry, habitats and wildlife destroyed as a consequence of fire which is suspected to have been started deliberately.”
Sergeant Delme Jones, of the local neighbourhood policing team, Dyfed-Powys Police, said:
“Fires such as this pose a real threat to community safety. Fires are unpredictable – this one alone has damaged land the size of 400 football pitches – and also have a devastating environmental impact, damaging both wildlife and the trees themselves, some which take up to 50 years to fully mature.
“The Neighbourhood Policing Team is working closely with the fire to investigate this fire and identify those responsible. Both agencies will be in the local community over the coming days to make enquiries and offer reassurance and advice.”
Crisis masterclasses for Welsh food & drink producers
THE COVID-19 pandemic has particularly hit the food and drink sector. But Welsh producers will get expert advice on coping with the current situation at two special marketing masterclass webinars later this month.
The ‘TUCK IN – Marketing in a Crisis’ webinars will be held on June 9 and June 16.
Organised by the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board and the Fine Food Cluster, the ‘TUCK IN’ masterclasses bring together a wealth of expertise and experience from across the marketing spectrum.
Previous masterclasses have been very well received by producers, and there has been a tremendous response to the forthcoming webinars, which will be conducted via Zoom.
The Fine Food Cluster is a business-led development programme supported by the Welsh Government and facilitated by Cywain.
Fine Food Cluster Lead, Sioned Best, said “Food and drink brands need to be incredibly reactive and on top of how the market is changing in order to pivot their strategy, survive this period and thrive the other side. TUCK IN is all about brands sharing their experiences of how they have done and continue to do just this.”
Speakers will share their marketing expertise, along with experiences of how COVID-19 has impacted on businesses and brands.
Master of Ceremonies will be Jim Cregan, founder of one of the UK’s most loved coffee brands – Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. What began 10 years ago as a café backroom experiment has grown into a brand that is stocked by multiple retailers and wholesalers nationwide.
He said, “The show must go on is the order of the day for ‘TUCK IN’ this year.
COVID won’t stop us from producing and delivering an awesome day of stories and insight from some great companies.
“It’s my third event, and I’m really looking forward to being this year’s MC, it’ll be interesting to work it digital style, but we love a challenge! Let’s do this.”
Also among the keynote speakers are Cathy Capelin of Kantar Worldpanel, Scott James founder and director of Coaltown Coffee, and Pip Murry founder of Pip & Nut.
Joining them are Sophie Higgins, head of marketing for HIPPEAS Snacks, Abergavenny Fine Foods commercial director, Bryson Craske, and Jubel co-founder Jesse Wilson.
Alison Lea-Wilson director of the Anglesey Sea Salt Company and chair of the Fine Food Cluster said, “TUCK IN 2019 was motivating and enjoyable, and brought companies of all sizes together in a day of sharing information, tips, and ideas.
“I know how much work the team at Menter a Busnes has put into organising it for 2020, and I’m so pleased these two days will be going ahead despite COVID-19.
“The food and drink sector is crucial to the Welsh economy, and all parties who have made TUCK IN possible should be commended for their continued support.
“With technology’s help, we will be able to share inspirational speakers’ stories to help us get through – and even thrive – in these extraordinary times.
“I hope the producers who join the TUCK IN days will be heartened by the encouragement and support available to help our great businesses meet the challenges of this turbulent world.”
Andy Richardson, chair of the Food and Drink Industry Board for Wales said, “We have to recognise the situation we are in, that the COVID-19 crisis is a significant disruption for many businesses. The effect has been varied, depending on end customers. Still, there is a common thread – that the indications show that consumer buying behaviour and what they value may have changed potentially forever.”
“Perception is reality, and we need to constantly think about how we present our products and food and drink businesses to demonstrate we are in step with these changes. We have to remain connected to existing customers, while also looking at the opportunities of gaining new business where COVID -19 has been the catalyst for change.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said, “I am very pleased that a valuable resource such as TUCK IN is available to bring Welsh food and drink businesses together at this challenging time.
“The array of targeted advice from experts at the heart of the food and drink industry will, I am sure, help producers to weather the current situation and to focus positively on the future.”
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