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Welsh Government announces £200m support for small businesses in wake of coronavirus outbreak

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT has today announced a package of support worth more than £200m for small businesses to help them during the coronavirus outbreak.

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Llanelli with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rate relief and pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill.

A further £100m will be available for a new grant scheme for small businesses Further details on this new grant scheme will be confirmed as soon as possible.

Welcoming this announcement, Lee Waters MS, said: “I’m pleased that the Welsh Labour Government is offering this package of support to businesses as part of their response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

“They are doing everything they can to support businesses to deal with the impact of coronavirus. My advice to all businesses is to use the help and advice that is available.

“Any business affected should contact the Business Wales telephone helpline on 03000 603000. They can help with practical advice – from staffing to financial planning as well as supply chain support.

“The Development Bank of Wales is also available to help – it has equity and loan funding it can make available immediately to small businesses to help them through the cash flow and other challenges they may face in next, difficult, few weeks and months. The Development Bank of Wales can be contacted on 0800 5874140.”

Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans AM, said: “We are allocating every penny of the funding we will be receiving as a consequence of the schemes the UK Government announced in England last week to support businesses in Wales.

“But I know that helping businesses with their rates bills will not be enough to protect them from the severe drop in custom many are experiencing as coronavirus cases increase.

“We will be calling on the UK Government to act quickly and decisively to provide a very significant support package for vulnerable businesses and their employees.”

Please find below links to current information issued that you may find useful for your business and continuity.

A number of announcements were made in the March 2020 Budget including financial support that businesses can expect to access:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

In terms of Department for Work and Pensions support for employers, here is a useful link (via GOV.UK): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses?utm_source=37472ed5-c0b4-4625-8801-549259dc908d&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
Further and complementary advice can also be found on the Business Wales Website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Visit Wales also provide some specific advice for tourism businesses regarding the situation. This can be found by following:
https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKWALES/bulletins/280805d

We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice at: https://phw.nhs.wales/coronavirus

There is also updated information regarding the virus on the Welsh Government website. Please view: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan

We are also starting to see banks such as Lloyds offering support via low interest loans sources. We will update this information as further opportunities come forward.

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Police seized spice worth £10,000 from car on drugs run

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POLICE officers seized £10,000 of the psychoactive substance spice after waiting near a motorway slipway for a car returning from a drugs run.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers arrested Jack Brennan on Saturday, June 28 after stopping a Volkswagen Polo just off the M4 at Hendy.

Officers from the Priority Policing Team were acting on intelligence that the occupants of the Volkswagen Polo – including 22-year-old Brennan – were travelling to and from Cardiff to collect drugs to sell in Carmarthenshire.

On being stopped, Brennan – who has now been jailed – claimed the half kilo supply of spice was for his own personal use.

Detective Inspector Wayne Bevan said: “Information was received that the car would be returning to Llanelli with controlled substances intended to be supplied to people in the area.

“Assistance was requested from Carmarthenshire Roads Policing Unit to stop the car as it left the M4 at Hendy, where it was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“As the occupants were detained, Brennan told one of the officers there was half a kilo of spice on the back seat, which was all for his own use.

“A package was found in the car, containing an amount of the drug inconsistent with personal use. Brennan was swiftly arrested on suspicion of possessing class B drugs with intent to supply.”

An Iceland carrier bag was found in a back footwell of the car, which was seized and found to contain a black back filled with a green substance.

This was identified as being 570g of class B drug spice. The street value of this quantity is estimated to be around £10,000.

Brennan, of Railway Place in Llanelli, was charged with possessing class B drugs with intent to supply, and admitted the offence at court.

He was remanded to appear at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on August 7, when he was jailed for 36 weeks.

DI Bevan said: “Spice is an extremely addictive and dangerous substance, and this operation has prevented a significant quantity of the drug from making its way to Llanelli.

“This is an excellent example of partnership working between departments to identify and stop the vehicle, and to prevent this drug from entering the supply chain.

“Our proactive teams will continue to act on all information received about the abuse of illegal substances, and will endeavour to bring those concerned in the supply of drugs to justice.”

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Police ask Carmarthenshire communities to stay alert to prevent raves this weekend

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Police ask Carmarthenshire communities to stay alert to prevent raves this weekend

As we head into the weekend, police are urging members of the public in Carmarthenshire to help them prevent illegal raves from setting up in their communities.

A police operation, called #OpFlamenco, is urging people living in rural communities, including farmers and landowners, to report anything suspicious to Dyfed-Powys Police.

The information will help police respond swiftly as illegal raves arise and hopefully prevent them from happening or at the very least allow police to respond before they become established.

Superintendent Jon Cummins, Head of Specialist Operations for Dyfed-Powys Police, said:

“We know raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in, and if not dealt with swiftly are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved. There is also a safety concern involved in breaking-up such events. And as we’re currently faced with the pandemic, it is absolutely crucial that these types of gatherings do not take place.

“As a force, action is taken as soon as we gather any intelligence of an event being planned. We will continue to respond swiftly to reports of illegal gatherings, and where appropriate will prosecute those responsible in order to protect our communities. Officers will also be conducting proactive patrols of areas identified as possible sites for these types of gatherings.

“However, these types of illegal events are carefully co-ordinated to avoid police attention, and organisers will always try to find new ways to avoid being found out.

“We rely on the support of communities to report any suspicious activity immediately, so action can be taken to disrupt illegal gatherings swiftly. And there has never been a more important time for us all to look out for each other, and report anything that seems suspicious.

“I would encourage farmers, landowners and local communities to report anything they feel is suspicious or out of the ordinary either online at: http://bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, or by email at: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101.”

Know the signs:

  • Unusual numbers of vehicles, especially camper vans, vans or trucks, seen in the locality.
  • Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave
  • People may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.
  • If you suspect anyone who approaches you for land hire might not be who they say they are, please do not hesitate to contact police.
  • Social networks make it easier for organisers to spread the word – rave attendance numbers can grow hugely in short spaces of time, and locations can change quickly.
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Op Waverley – illegal waste sites in the Amman Valley

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In response to a rise in the level of fly tipping offences and illegal waste sites cropping up across the Amman Valley area, where waste is being illegally dumped, and information from a Natural Resources Wales led investigation into a site in the Garnant area, Dyfed-Powys Police recently ran an operation to tackle the issue. A partnership response was required, therefore the multi-agency ‘Op Waverley’ was initiated and carried out in the Garnant, Gwaun Cae Gurwen, Brynamman and Rhosamman areas.

Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot County Councils raised concerns in respect of the significant rise in sites that are not permitted or regulated operating in the Amman Valley. As they are unregulated, there are no controls in place as to the type and volume of waste being dumped. Inevitably, this illegal waste is subsequently burnt to reduce its volume and get rid of it, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are regularly called out to deal with these fires.  This year alone fire crews from Mid and West Wales have attended 329 deliberate refuse fires. In fact they have responded to approximately 19 incidents at one location alone in the area this year.

The majority of these incidents that the fire service responded to were reported by residents living in and around the area, who were affected by noxious smoke entering their homes and impacting upon their quality of life and health. These illegal waste sites and resultant burning also have an adverse impact on the local environment in these communities.

The operation therefore aimed to target, stop and take enforcement action against illegal waste carriers operating in the area. Ammanford Neighbourhood Policing Team and Response officers, Carmarthenshire Roads Policing officers, and South Wales Police officers set up three road check sites close to the county boundaries, where they stopped and checked any vehicle suspected to be carrying waste. This was in order to disrupt and deter illegal waste carriers heading to these sites. Carmarthenshire County Council and Neath Port Talbot County Council waste enforcement teams, along with the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service Arson Reduction Team were also present to support the action. The local authority waste enforcement teams provided drivers with advice around waste carrier licences.

As a result of this roadside operation, 45 vehicles were stopped and checked, and a number of advisory warnings were issued to carriers for minor breaches of the waste carrier legislation. The Roads Policing Unit also issued a number of Traffic Offence Reports for construction and use offences relating to the condition of the vehicles.

Richie Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Waste crime continues to pose a real challenge to Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.  Every year we attend hundreds of refuse fires and we are seeing a very clear and obvious link between deliberate refuse fires, fly tipping and the operation of illegal waste sites.  Waste crime has a real adverse impact upon our communities, environment and quality of life for those affected by these illegal activities and every time we attend one of these fires it can impact upon our response in attending other life threatening emergencies. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is determined to reduce deliberate fires and keep our communities safe.  We can only do so effectively by working collaboratively with our partners.  This operation was a great success and we are looking forward to repeating similar operations across our service area.”

David Morgan, senior waste regulation officer, for Natural Resources Wales, added:

“Natural Resources Wales takes its regulating waste sites across Wales very seriously, to maintain the safety of residents and our environment. We can not do this alone and working closely with police is integral to making sure laws around the disposal and treatment of waste are upheld.

“Before this police-led operation, we provided advice on the legalities of the handling and treating of waste. We’re now working with Dyfed-Powys Police to assess further reports of illegal waste activities.

“We have carried out an investigation at one particular site in the Garnant area looking at the types of waste that were routinely being brought into the site for disposal. The outcome of this investigation is pending.”

For further information and guidance on disposing of waste safely, legally and responsibly, visit the Fly Tipping Action Wales website: https://flytippingactionwales.org/en/advice/duty-of-care

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