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Have your say on council’s budget proposals

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PEOPLE are being encouraged to have their say on a range of savings proposals being considered by Carmarthenshire County Council as part of its annual budget setting process.

A public consultation has been launched giving people an opportunity to review proposals that could help the council save £16.5million over the next three years.

The council is inviting local residents, businesses, community and voluntary organisations to complete an online budget survey or drop-in to a face-to-face consultation event, to say how the proposals might impact on their families and communities.

The council is also asking whether people would accept a higher increase in council tax in order to avoid some of the efficiency proposals.

Feedback will be considered in early February before final decisions are made by councillors in March when they must set a balanced budget.

Several proposals have been put forward for public consultation.

Amongst them are plans to help schools manage budgets more effectively by sharing resources and merging schools where there are low pupil numbers; as well as supporting children with additional learning needs to attend their local school by upskilling staff, therefore saving costs on specialist settings.

The household waste recycling centre at Whitland could be closed; charges could be raised at the council’s cemetery in Ammanford; three public toilets could be closed where there are alternative facilities nearby, and charges for ‘superloos’ could be increased.

Some services that the council is not required to provide could be reduced, including the closure of some under-used facilities and the scaling back of maintenance and cleansing routines.

Meanwhile, income targets have been raised for some of the council’s facilities, including Pembrey Country Park, Pendine Outdoor Education Centre, Dylan Thomas Boathouse, theatres and leisure centres.

Further income is being sought through more vigorous income recovery from the council’s trading standards team and a potential paid-for treatment service for Japanese Knotweed.

And council staff have been told they need to find £13million of internal savings across all departments to save money by working more efficiently, including plans to reduce travelling, printing and energy costs; as well as looking at procurement arrangements and staffing structures.

Continued efforts are also being made to provide a range of preventative services to support vulnerable people at home and in their communities to improve their wellbeing whilst reducing the need for costly reactive social care.

Cllr David Jenkins, the council’s Executive Board Member for Resources, said: “Like other councils, we continue to face increased costs and demand for our services which is not matched with the same level of increased government funding. We are making savings by improving efficiency and looking carefully at how services can be better provided – this allows us to continue spending in areas of most need, caring for our most vulnerable residents and providing a range of front-line services.

“Asking people how our proposals might impact on them is important to us, so that we can fully understand public opinion and make decisions based on that feedback.

“This is an important consultation, and we encourage everyone to spend time reviewing the proposals and telling us their thoughts.”

Anyone without access to the internet is encouraged to visit their nearest library or customer service centre to use the free public access computers. Alternatively, hard copies of the survey are available on request.

A series of drop-in events are also being planned – dates and venues will be published on the council’s website and social media feeds.

For further information, or to share views in another way, contact the consultation team by email, consultation@carmarthenshire.gov.uk, or by calling 01267 234567.

The consultation runs until January 28, 2020.

Drop-in events will be held between 10am and 2pm at:

Friday, January 10 – Llandeilo, Municipal Buildings
Tuesday, January 14 – St Clears (location TBC)
Wednesday, January 15 – Hwb, Quay Street, Ammanford
Thursday, January 16 – Cawdor Hall, Newcastle Emlyn
Monday/Wednesday January 20/22 (date TBC) – Llandovery Library
Thursday, January 23 – Hwb, Stepney Street, Llanelli
Monday, January 27 – Hwb, Spilman Street, Carmarthen

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Community

Eggstra special Easter treat for Carmarthenshire children

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VULNERABLE children and children of critical workers in Carmarthenshire will be getting an eggstra special Easter treat this year.

Kind donations of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns are being delivered to all the childcare hubs and food hubs in the county.

The childcare hubs have been set up to look after the children of critical workers and to support vulnerable children during the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of food hubs have also been set up by the council across the county to help families in need. Children who are entitled to free school meals also receive food supplies to feed the whole family.

Now thanks to the generosity of local businesses and organisations, the children and staff are guaranteed a very ‘hoppy’ Easter.

Food wholesaler Bookers in Carmarthen have given 50 boxes of Cadbury’s crème eggs to share out between the food hubs for children receiving free school meals – that’s a total of 1,968 eggs!

And the Co-op stores in Ammanford and Burry Port, Morrisons in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Llanelli Rotary Clubs, and Llandeilo Town Council have donated Easter eggs to give out to all the children attending the care hubs.

Morrisons in Carmarthen are also providing Easter eggs for all the staff working in the hubs on Good Friday; and Carmarthen-based Hafod Bakery will also be making a special delivery of hot cross buns and loaves of bread.

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I would like to thank everyone involved for their generosity, both the children and staff will be delighted.

“It is particularly important at this difficult time that we remain positive and take joy in all that we can. These Easter eggs will put a big smile on all the children’s faces, and it also shows how much we appreciate the hard work of all the staff.

“This is an excellent example of what we are trying to achieve as part of our SirGâredig campaign – the incredible community spirit and kindness that is taking place throughout Carmarthenshire during the pandemic.

“It is at times like these that we see the good in people, and I am proud of the people of Carmarthenshire for the support and kindness they are showing one another in these challenging times.”

Thanks also to Morrisons in Carmarthen for delivering Easter eggs to our bin collection crews at the Cillefwr depot today (Thursday, April 9), they were very happy indeed!

If you have an act of kindness you would like to share, please tweet us @CarmsCouncil using the hashtag #SirGaredig or post on our Facebook page @CarmarthenshireCC

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Supporting vulnerable children and their families

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SUPPORT for vulnerable children and their families is continuing during the coronavirus crisis.

Staff from Education and Children’s Services are continuing to offer wellbeing support as well as respite to families that need it.

With schools closed, headteachers and staff at specialist settings are making regular contact to make sure children are receiving the support they need and that the family is coping.

Other families with children that require individual support have been contacted directly by one of the council’s family liaison officers to find out what support is needed and how best it can be delivered, either through one of the childcare hubs, or through alternative arrangements.

Some pupils who need additional support are having their needs met through the childcare hubs and the feedback from parents is that it is working well.

Although schools are closed, Area 43, the school-based counselling service can still be accessed by children and young people from Year 5 upwards. Staff are available to provide information, support and counselling remotely; either online, by telephone or text and through its social media pages. Visit Area43.co.uk for more details.

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “Respite and support services are continuing for vulnerable children, and will continue to do so as long as staff remain well, and families want and need it.

“It is more important than ever that we have this support in place for families, and it is also important that our young people can still access the counselling service whilst the schools are closed. This is a very difficult and uncertain time for everyone, and this type of support is essential.

“I am also very pleased to receive positive feedback from parents of children with additional learning needs that are using the hubs.”

If you have any concerns about a child or young person, please get in touch by emailing CRTChildren@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or by calling 01554 742322. If a problem occurs out of office hours that cannot wait, please call 0300 333 2222.

More information and support for parents can be found at newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/coronavirus

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Community

Lottery win for local neighbours

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Two people in Ferryside are celebrating today after winning £1,000 each thanks to their lucky postcode.

The neighbours netted the windfall when SA17 5YP was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery on Wednesday 8th April 2020.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her well-wishes to the winners. She said: “Congratulations to our winners! What a great surprise for them, I hope they enjoy their winnings.”

A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised over £500 million to date for thousands of good causes in Britain and beyond.

This draw was promoted by Maggie’s which has received over £16.1 million in funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Maggie’s runs a network of cancer support centres across the country. These centres bring people together to help combat the isolation and distress that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

Many good causes close to the winners have also benefitted from players’ support, and local charities can next apply for funding in August.

For more information on People’s Postcode Lottery, please visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk or Facebook and Twitter.

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