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Preparations underway for safe return of tourism

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EXTRA care is being taken to prepare Carmarthenshire for the return of tourists when lockdown restrictions in Wales ease.

Carmarthenshire County Council is working with local communities and businesses in the tourism industry to prepare for a phased return of visitors and guests when Welsh Government gives the go-ahead – further announcements are expected in the next few weeks.

In preparation, accommodation providers and visitor attractions are being supported to get ready for a phased re-opening with extra measures being put in place to reassure businesses, communities, staff and visitors.

Practical advice, resources and support with signage and marketing is being made available.

Key to the return of the tourism industry is providing confidence and reassurance to local communities that extra care has been taken to protect them as visitors return.

People will be asked to ‘respect, protect and enjoy’ Carmarthenshire whilst supporting businesses close to where they are staying.

Carmarthenshire’s tourism and hospitality sector plays a vital role in the county’s economy, contributing almost half a billion pound every year as visitors flock to enjoy our unique blend of coast and countryside.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “Our tourism industry has suffered badly during lockdown, and we know how important it is to local businesses that they can start to re-open their doors and resume trading.

“We welcome the new guidance which allows our tourism businesses to begin welcoming visitors once more and are doing everything possible to support them to do that safely whilst protecting our communities.

“We have to take a cautious approach to this whilst providing the necessary support and reassurance.

“We love welcoming people to Carmarthenshire – we have so much to offer – and it is so vitally important that we get the balance right.”

Tourism providers not already signed up to receive the council’s Discover Carmarthenshire newsletters, which offer updates, resources and more, are encouraged to get in touch by emailing tourism@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

Visit www.discovercarmarthenshire.com for a wealth of local information including accommodation listings, visitor attractions, walking and cycling tours and much more.

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First Attempt To Save Carmarthenshire Theatre Jobs Is Unsuccessful

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AN attempt to directly employ twenty-two agency staff working in Carmarthenshire theatres who lost their job with just one week of pay has been defeated by Plaid and Independent Councillors.

Last month, half of the theatre staff working in Carmarthenshire Council theatres were left without pay after Carmarthenshire Council cut the contingent workers scheme in a row over furloughing with an employment agency.

Around twenty-two staff members, some who had worked within the theatres for up to sixteen years, were being employed via an employment agency to cover long-term staffing issues.

A motion tabled by Carmarthenshire Labour Leader, Cllr Rob James, sought to directly employ the staff members, effectively bringing the service in-house.

The motion also sought complete a full review into the use of agency staff within Carmarthenshire Council with claims that the practice was costing millions to the taxpayers of Carmarthenshire.

Cllr Rob James, speaking in the debate stated “As a County Council, we have a moral obligation to agency workers commissioned to provide council services and we should be leading the way in the County demonstrating best practice to support the workforce and offer value for money.

“It is extremely disappointing that a restructure that would have seen these theatre posts brought in-house has been on-going for two years and had not been completed at the time of lockdown. That is a dereliction of duty by the Executive Board Member.

“We need to consider best practice in this area and learn from other authorities. Southampton City Council have an in-house temporary employment agency, in essence a register of workers who are available to provide cover for short term and temporary assignments within council services.

“Where there are longer-term staff needs, employees should be directly employed by the Authority on permanent contracts.

“We are fighting to ensure that taxpayers funds are not being wasted by employing via agency companies at high costs and that local works are supported by this Council and paid fairly.

“Through this pandemic we have praised our Council employees its time we followed up the warm words with direct action.”

Peter Hill, GMB Regional Organiser stated: “It’s hugely disappointing to our members that the Plaid/Independent leadership decided to vote against this motion. Over 20 staff have been left without pay for several weeks now due to this situation. The motion brought by Cllr James and backed by the labour group could have resolved the situation and provided the support our members desperately need”

“The Local Authority have been over-using agencies like Randstad for years, at a huge cost to the taxpayer. While the direct responsibility is with Randstad, it was the Council’s decision to cut payments to staff despite the Welsh Government allowing local authorities to reclaim these expenses. The Council has a moral duty to these workers which it is shirking. GMB will continue to campaign on this issue, and its not the last councillors who voted against this motion will hear on it.”

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Carmarthenshire hometown heroes & lockdown legends sought for 2020 National Lottery Awards

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The National Lottery Awards 2019 winners on stage, including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson from Wales, the first ever recipient of The National Lottery's Lifetime Achievement Award.

THE National Lottery is searching for your ‘hometown hero’ or ‘lockdown legend’ as part of the 2020 National Lottery Awards.

This year the annual search for the UK’s most popular National Lottery funded projects will, for the first time, honour individuals who have made an extraordinary impact in their community, especially those who have adapted during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

New figures reveal more than £3.2 million of National Lottery funding has been invested in good causes in Carmarthenshire in 2018/19 alone.

A total of 158 National Lottery grants were awarded in the region during the previous financial year, providing vital support to arts, sports, heritage and community projects.

From today, The National Lottery are calling for nominations of people who have done amazing things with the help of National Lottery funding and are an inspiration to us all.

Winners in each category will receive a £3,000 cash prize for their organisation and a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.

Jonathan Tuchner from The National Lottery is encouraging the people of Carmarthenshire to make their nominations.

He said: “The National Lottery continues to have a positive impact on life across the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players thousands of projects are making an incredible difference to their local communities.

Now, more than ever, people have rallied together, and individuals are performing inspirational acts and extraordinary endeavors to help in cities, towns and villages up and down the country.

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK amid the coronavirus crisis. People have used National Lottery funding in amazing ways during these challenging times. We want to honour them as part of this year’s National Lottery Awards and recognise their selfless dedication and thank them for their fantastic work.”

Encompassing all aspects of National Lottery good causes funding, the 2020 National Lottery Awards are seeking to recognise outstanding individuals in the following sectors:

And there will be a special Young Hero Award for someone under the age of 18 who has gone that extra mile in their organisation. All nominees must work or act for a National Lottery funded organisation or have received National Lottery funding.

To make your nomination for this year’s National Lottery Awards, tweet @LottoGoodCauses with your suggestions or complete an entry form through our website www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards . Entries must be received by midnight on 19th August 2020.

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Chancellors economic update includes VAT cut for hospitality sector, and customer discounts

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The Chancellor had set out his coronavirus recovery package today.

Rishi Sunak set out the measures in his summer economic update in the House of Commons on Wednesday (Jun 8), as he faces pressure to assist those who are most vulnerable to the financial crisis.

The Chancellor said he will cut VAT from 20% to 5% for food if people eat out to help those businesses which he said had been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The chancellor announced discount to encourage people to eat out in August.

He says restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels as well as other attractions will be able to claim the money back within five days. It had been reported he was considering giving all UK adults a £500 voucher to spent with companies hit by coronavirus, but the Chancellor has decided not to go ahead with that proposal.

Instead Sunak announced a discount worth up to £10 per head for eating out in August. He said his final measure has never been tried in this country. It is an “eat out to help out scheme”, offering customers as discount worth up to £10 per head when they eat out from Monday to Wednesday in August.

Speaking in the Commons today, he said: “Our plan has clear goals, to protect, support and retain jobs.”

Regards furlough scheme, he said it must wind down, adding: “flexibly and gradually supporting people through to October” but that he is introducing a bonus for employers who bring staff back from furlough.

Employers who bring someone back from furlough and employ them through to January, paying them a minimum of £520 a month, will receive a £1,000 bonus.

He says that “in total we have provided £49bn to support public services since the pandemic began”.

He added: “No nationalist can ignore that this help has only been possible because we are a United Kingdom.”

Mr Sunak says the UK economy has already shrunk by 25% – the same amount it grew in the previous 18 years.

He also announced:

A £2bn kickstart scheme paying employers to take on unemployed 16 to 24 year olds for a minimum of 25 hours a week – he says the Treasury will pay those wages for six months plus a sum for overheads. He says there is no cap. This will apply in England and Wales.

VAT on food from restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels will be cut until January 12 from 20% to 5%
Funding for apprenticeships and traineeships in England, there will be a separate announcement for Wales.

£1bn for the DWP to support millions of people back to work through Job Centres. A £2bn green homes grant in England to cover two thirds of the cost, up to £5,000, for energy efficient home improvements. Again the Welsh Government will have their own proposals on this given time.

A temporary cut to stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland.

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