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.
Thousands of dead fish in river Afon Dulas pollution incident Download
NATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) can confirm that more than 2,000 fish have been killed due to a slurry pollution incident in West Wales.
Officers have been on site taking samples and conducting fish surveys since the incident was first reported on the River Dulas near Capel Isaac in Carmarthenshire on Monday (8 July).
An estimated three miles (4.7 kilometre) stretch of the river has been affected and has had a major impact on invertebrates as well as fish – mainly brown trout but also bullhead, eels, lamprey, stone loach, minnow and salmon.
Ioan Williams, Natural Resource Management Team Leader from NRW, said:
“Protecting Wales’ waterways and the plants and animals that depend on them is a massive part of the work we do which is why people can report pollution incidents to us 24/7.
“Unfortunately, we can confirm that the total number of fish that were killed is significant and will have an adverse effect on the river for years to come.
“We can also confirm that there has been a significant impact on invertebrates in the river.
“Our staff have been working tirelessly to gather evidence about this incident and we will use that evidence to consider future legal action.
“Incidents such as this shouldn’t be happening.
“We work very closely with the farming industry to make sure they understand the devastating and long-term damage that pollution causes and what steps they can take to prevent it from happening.
“It is completely unacceptable and irresponsible that a small number of farmers are not taking notice of good practice and regulations and therefore giving the rest of the industry a bad name.
“These incidents come at a time when we are already seeing salmon and sewin stocks at very low levels.
“We encourage the agricultural sector to do everything they can to prevent further pollution incidents occurring and ensure they invest in adequate on-farm slurry infrastructure and follow good practice. We would also urge framers to report any issues to us immediately.”
NRW encourages people to report signs of pollution on 03000 65 3000 so it can respond appropriately and give Welsh rivers the protection they deserve.
Council’s plan to cut CO2 by almost 700 tonnes a year
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council is investing over £2.5million to make energy efficiencies in its buildings in a bid to cut carbon emissions by almost 700 tonnes a year.
It is part of the council’s efforts to become a net zero carbon local authority by 2030, a commitment it made in February when declaring a climate emergency.
The authority has taken out an interest-free loan to pay for the Welsh Government Re:fit scheme, which it will pay back over 10 years from savings on running costs.
New technology will be installed in non-domestic buildings – including schools – to save energy and water, with an estimated 691 tonnes of CO2 saved every year.
Over 30 sites have been identified for phase one of the roll-out, undertaken on behalf of the council by renewable energy company Ameresco.
The scheme is in addition to the energy saving measures the council has already applied in its buildings.
To date, over £2million has been invested in over 200 energy efficiency projects, saving over £7million in running costs and 41,000 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of installed technologies.
The council has a policy of integrating low and zero carbon technologies into major building works projects such as schools, where PV installations and Passivhaus standards are already in use.
Its fleet of refuse lorries is the most emission-friendly fleet in Wales; street lighting has been converted to LED units; and there has been significant investment in Safe Routes in the Community and Safe Routes to Schools to encourage more sustainable travel.
In 2012 Carmarthenshire became the first council in Wales to introduce electric pool car vehicles, and has recently secured funding for plug-in chargers following an increase in electric vehicle sales.
Last year, the council vowed to reduce single-use plastics in council buildings and offices and ban plastic cups and straws.
The council’s climate declaration was backed unanimously by councillors in February.
As well as making and planning changes towards a target of becoming a zero carbon local authority by 2030, it has called on Welsh and UK Governments to provide support and resources to enable effective carbon reductions.
Cllr Hazel Evans, Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “We take our commitment to working towards becoming a carbon neutral authority very seriously, and we’re pleased to be making this investment not only to save harmful carbon emissions, but also to save financially on the cost of running our buildings.
“Coupled with our on-going property rationalisation programme, we are producing financial and carbon savings in times of increasing utility prices. This is a win-win situation when we are also able to help the environment.”
Dyfed Powys exploring greater use of technology in policing
INCREASING the use of technology in policing is something Dyfed Powys Police is exploring, the force’s Commissioner has confirmed.
Dafydd Llywelyn told members of the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel at its meeting in Ceredigion this week, that he was looking closely at the work of other forces around the UK.
Mr Llywelyn, who sits on the National Digital Policing Board, said he is in the fortunate position of watching the development of technology that he introduced in his former role as the force’s principal crime and intelligence analyst – before he was elected as Commissioner in 2016 – and hopes that the use of technology will develop to aid effective policing.
He was responding to a question from panel member Cllr Keith Evans, who wanted reassurance that the force is closely assessing the risks involved in using technology, such as facial recognition equipment.
“We don’t use facial recognition in Dyfed Powys at the moment, but that’s not to say that we won’t explore that in the future,” said Mr Llywelyn. “Technology is increasingly being used by police forces – it includes body worn cameras, CCTV, and mobile data terminals that the police have. We are learning from advancements.”
He added: “There’s a test case involving South Wales Police at the moment, and it’s about balancing effective policing with the right to a private life. I think there should be a caveat in terms of the risk – in Dyfed Powys there is an independent assessment of procedures and we’ve had a clean bill of health every year.”
Cllr Keith Evans responded to his comments, saying: “What’s important to us is that this work is considered carefully. Technology will feature more prominently in the work of the police and it’s about striking the right balance.”
The Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel is made up of representatives from the four counties of the force area.
It is the Panel’s duty to hold Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn to account.
The Panel meets at least four times a year, and can put questions to the Commissioner on behalf of members of the public.
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