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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
Kidwelly Tea Dance Club donate £500 to Breast Care Unit Prince Philip Hospital
A big thank you to Kidwelly Tea Dance Club for raising funds for the Breast Care Unit at Prince Philip Hospital.
Sandra Griffiths, Club Secretary said, “We all know someone who has undergone treatment for breast cancer and we would like to support this wonderful service at Prince Philip hospital. We raise funds by selling raffle tickets at our tea dances, which are held every fortnight at the Princess Gwenllian Centre. Everyone is welcome to join us, even if you don’t like dancing, it’s an opportunity to meet socially in a friendly atmosphere.”
Claire Rumble, Carmarthenshire Fundraising Officer said “Thank you for inviting me to your tea dance and presenting the £500 donation, it really will make a difference to our local Breast Care Unit – thank you and keep dancing!”
First dog breeder signs up to Buy With Confidence scheme
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has become the first in the UK to bring a dog breeder on to the national Buy With Confidence Scheme.
Knocking Stone Kennels, of Mynydd Y Garreg, has signed up to the scheme, which provides consumers with a list of local businesses that have given their commitment to trading responsibly and fairly.
Every business the council signs up undergoes a rigorous vetting process before being approved as a member of the scheme.
Becoming a member allows the business to display the Trading Standards Approved Badge, and provides their customers with additional reassurance that they are buying or commissioning services from a responsible trader.
Carmarthenshire County Council has a strong and proactive approach to enforcing dog breeding standards.
Bringing responsible breeders on board with the Buy With Confidence scheme allows the council to further strengthen the standards it expects from breeders.
The council’s executive board member for public protection, Cllr Philip Hughes said: “This scheme helps protect customers from rogue traders and illegitimate businesses. It also gives them peace of mind about the products and services they are purchasing.
“Our animal health team proactively enforces dog breeding standards in Carmarthenshire and are constantly striving to improve conditions in this industry. Bringing breeders on board with the Buy With Confidence scheme is another way of encouraging licensed breeders to be responsible, and is in addition to the process of vetting and inspections with standard licensing.
“We have worked closely with Knocking Stone Kennels to bring them on board with this scheme, and hope that they will be the first of many.”
Knocking Stone Kennels has been established for 50 years, specialising in Yorkshire Terriers and other toy breeds.
Owner, Linda Baxter said: “We are delighted to become a member of the Trading Standards Buy with Confidence Scheme and to be approved and accepted as the very first dog breeder on the scheme in Carmarthenshire, Wales and UK. A big thank you to the council’s animal welfare team for their help and guidance through the process and to Trading Standards for entrusting us on the scheme.”
Carmarthenshire County Council licenses over 80 dog breeders across the county, allowing them to enforce standards and carry out regular inspections.
The council employs a qualified vet to complete inspections and dedicated investigation officers proactively monitor selling sites and visit premises to pursue action.
Over the last year, the council has prosecuted four breeders, confiscating over £275,000 by means of Proceeds of Crime which has been reinvested into the pursuit of illegal activity and substandard licensed conditions.
It is now working to encourage other breeders to come on board with the Buy With Confidence scheme to provide added reassurance to their customers.
Anyone who would like further information about joining the scheme, or who is looking for a registered trader, can visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk
Lee Waters MS and Cllr Tina Higgins have backed a commitment by the Welsh Labour Government to improve welfare standards for dogs at breeding premises in Wales.
Welsh Labour’s Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths has said she will act immediately to strengthen how the law is applied across Wales.
And she has re-confirmed the Welsh Government will take forward Lucy’s Law and ban third party puppy and kitten sales.
It comes as a review of the existing laws by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group, called for greater consistency in the inspection and enforcement of breeding regulations and a review of the licensing process, including application of a staff to adult dog ratio appropriate to the breeding premises. These actions can quickly improve the welfare of dogs in Wales. The Group also recognised the need for better welfare standards for all breeding dogs in Wales rather than only those at licensed premises.
All of these changes can be implemented straight away, and should improve animal welfare quickly. A bill to ban third party puppy and kitten sales will be introduced to implement Lucy’s Law.
Last year, Councillor Tina Higgins successfully brought a motion to the full Carmarthenshire County Council calling on the council to support Lucy’s Law, a national campaign calling for a ban on puppies being sold by dealers and other third parties. The motion was successfully carried, and Cllr Higgins has led the campaign for better animal welfare standards in Carmarthenshire.
Lee Waters MS said:
“I welcome the commitment made by the Welsh Labour Government to drive up the welfare standards for dogs at breeding premises – it’s something I have long campaigned for.
“We all want to see the highest welfare standards for animals in Wales. So it’s good news some of the recommendations can be delivered through existing legislation and enacted quickly.
“The combination of new regulations on pet sales and dedicated funding for enforcement and delivery of the breeding regulations will result in lasting improvements to the welfare standards of puppies bred in Wales.”
Cllr Tina Higgins said:
“I’m absolutely delighted that the Welsh Government have taken action to strengthen and implement Lucy’s Law here in Wales, and drive up standards for all dogs being used for breeding.
“We can learn from elsewhere and help make sure that Wales has the best animal welfare standards in the UK.”
“I’ll be making sure Carmarthenshire Council is ready to use its powers to protect animals being bred here.”
Council to consider new regional relationship for school improvement
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Executive Board will meet next week to discuss the authority’s future as part of the regional school improvement consortium ERW (Educational Regional Workforce).
The council, along with authorities in Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Swansea, has been a part of the consortium since it was established in 2014.
However, the Executive Board could decide to withdraw from the consortium to support a new arrangement for school improvement services based on the footprint of the Swansea Bay Region.
Neath Port Talbot Council has already served notice to withdraw.
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, has recognised the many positive achievements of the consortium in recent years, but said it was right to discuss what was best for Carmarthenshire going forward.
“ERW has achieved many positive things, however it is fair to say that it has also navigated through some difficult times with changes in political and managerial leadership,” he said. “The large geographical area of the ERW footprint has added to these challenges.
“We truly value working with our neighbours, but it is timely to review the regional arrangements and potentially look to realign with other partnerships across the Swansea Bay City Region which could have bigger benefits for Carmarthenshire’s children and young people.”
The Executive Board will meet on March 16 (2020) to review the authority’s position, but has promised to work with partners to ensure a seamless and robust transition should members decide to withdraw.
Cllr Glynog Davies, the council’s Executive Board Member for education and children’s services, added: “We are committed to working in partnership and across local authority boundaries where this delivers benefits for our communities.
“It’s right to acknowledge the significant progress of ERW over the last 12 months, in terms of staffing and organisation, but we must be confident that we are providing the very best support for our schools and it’s timely to look at how this can best be achieved.”
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