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Rural regeneration launch success

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OVER 100 people from all walks of life turned out to the launch of the council’s rural regeneration strategy.

The event was held in Newscastle Emlyn and was an opportunity for people to hear more about the Moving Rural Carmarthenshire Forward strategy which focuses on strengthening local economies, creating jobs and business opportunities and protecting the Welsh language.

Carmarthenshire County Council leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole and Chief Executive Officer Wendy Walters gave presentations on moving forward.

Rural affairs executive board member Cllr Cefin Campbell discussed findings and recommendations from a cross-party task group review which was set up to investigate, understand and plan what is needed to create more sustainable rural communities and economies.

Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “The event was well attended and was an opportunity to discuss recommendations put forward by Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs Task Group to ensure that we do everything in our power to support our rural areas to grow, to thrive, and to become self-sustaining – communities that offer opportunities for all.

Everybody living and working in one of our rural communities should see this an opportunity to get involved and play a part – this is not something we as a council can do alone and we welcome all input from residents, businesses and organisations.”

At the heart of the new strategy is an emphasis on creating jobs, affordable homes and business opportunities so that young people stay and settle in Carmarthenshire. There is also an emphasis on encouraging young people to return to their roots.

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.

View the report and its recommendations ➡ https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-democracy/strategies-and-plans/moving-rural-carmarthenshire-forward/

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Council continues with Storm Dennis clean-up

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CARMARTHENSHIRE’S clean-up operation following Storm Dennis is continuing

Crews have been working hard to clear debris left by the floods, with specialist contractors being drafted in to help in some areas.

A full assessment of the damage caused is being carried out and inspections of affected roads, verges and bridges on major routes will be completed by the end of the week.

A Support Fund has also been set up for residents and businesses in need of financial support.

All homes in Carmarthenshire affected by the floods can receive support and advice, with a £200 advance to those most in need.

Business support officers have contacted more than 100 businesses who have previously been affected by floods to offer assistance if needed; with rate relief also being sought from Welsh Government. The majority of businesses affected have now been able to re-open.

Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole has today taken part in a Welsh Government summit being held today (Wednesday) to discuss the disruption and damage caused by Storm Dennis along with representatives from other local authorities, Natural Resources Wales, the emergency services, businesses and voluntary groups.

Cllr Dole said: “I would like to thank staff who are working hard in the aftermath of the storm to clear up affected parts of the county and who are advising and supporting residents and businesses.

“A Support Fund has been set up to help those most in need of financial support and I would urge anyone affected to please get in touch.

“A full assessment of the damage is underway, and, as well as working with partner agencies, we will liaise with Welsh Government to ascertain what resources are available.”

For more information or to apply for the Support Fund visit the council website or call 01267 234567.

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Carmarthenshire Labour call on county to sort out school buses

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LOCAL representatives Lee Waters MS, Nia Griffith MP and Cllr Rob James have again called upon Carmarthenshire Council to step in to restore school bus services across the county, after it has become clear that they have the power to do so.

Lee Waters MS and Nia Griffith MP stepped in to ask the UK Government to grant an exemption to the new regulations to allow parents and the council time to come up with a permanent solution in Carmarthenshire. A letter received by Lee Waters and Nia Griffith from the Secretary of State for Wales makes it clear that an exemption already exists that would allow Carmarthenshire to step in. The exemption was made available to all school transport procured by or on behalf of a school on 31 December last year.

Before these exemptions were granted school pupils in Carmarthenshire had seen many of their school bus routes cut, as a result of the introduction of regulations from the UK Government. The regulations, passed in 2000 and phased in, restricts the types of vehicles that bus companies could use to ensure that all vehicles can accept wheelchairs. The changes have caused a number of school bus routes to be axed with around 500 pupils directly affected. As a result children have been left with long walks to school in the dark and rain, or having to catch service buses that are more expensive and don’t provide an adequate and timely service.

The Labour Group on Carmarthenshire Council, led by Cllr Rob James have been pressuring the Plaid Cymru leadership to take initiative and commission replacement services since this exemption was announced, but the Plaid Cymru leadership have maintained that they aren’t able to do so.

Lee Waters MS said: “We have written to the UK Government to ask them to allow school bus services to keep running as before, but they’ve written back pointing out there’s nothing stopping Carmarthenshire Council from commissioning buses themselves.

“It would be simpler if the UK Government were to take action but there is a way that Plaid Cymru in Carmarthenshire could sort things out, but it’s clear they won’t act.

“Meanwhile, it’s the children who are suffering”

Nia Griffith MP said: “It’s now crystal clear that Carmarthenshire Council could step in to restore the buses. The only thing holding them back is reluctance on the part of the Plaid Cymru leadership.

“I’m particularly frustrated because we’ve pointed out that the Council could solve this by contracting a service for weeks now, and they’ve refused to budge. Because of that, Carmarthenshire could now be at the back of the queue and pupils will be left stranded.”

Cllr Rob James said: “The children and families affected by the administration’s inaction deserve an apology. We have always known that it was the local Council that could step in and support pupils – it’s baffling that they are still refusing to do so.

“In the coming weeks we will be tabling a vote in the Council to restore lost school buses and I hope all Councillors will vote with their conscience.”

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More investment on Carmarthenshire’s A484 is underway

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The final stage of recovery works to repair damage caused by Storm Callum on Carmarthenshire’s A484 is underway.

A highly complex programme of phased works has already been completed in one of the worst hit areas at Cwmduad, when a landslide tragically claimed the life of a young man.

Repairs as a result of the storm have also been carried out at Bronwydd.

Some 20 miles of the A484 was affected by the extreme weather conditions in Carmarthenshire in October 2018 stretching from Carmarthen to Cenarth.

Phase two of the support works have now started at other affected areas at Henallt Bends, Pante South, Llwyfan Cerrig Station, Foelfach, Tirgwili/Rock and Fountain, Mile End, Nantclawdd, the A484/A475 junction, Gelligatti before finishing at Flatwood in Cenarth.

Works will include felling damaged trees, providing foundations for new safety barriers, stabilising embankments and installing new highway drainage chambers.

Carmarthenshire Council secured funding from Welsh Government to carry out maintenance of the highway in response to detailed inspections following the storm.

Cllr Hazel Evans, Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “This has been a very complex operation covering over 20 miles and involving a number of agencies. Whilst the safety of the public is paramount, every effort will be made to ensure these essential works are carried out with as minimal disruption as possible until they have been completed. We understand that this has had a major impact on the local community and road users, and we would like to thank them for their patience and co-operation whilst these recovery and repair works are being carried out.”

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