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Welsh coffee business brew up lockdown success as sales soar

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One of Wales’ leading coffee roasteries has turned lockdown stress into business success by quadrupling its online sales during the lockdown period.

Coaltown Coffee, based in Ammanford in south west Wales, saw sales with its 275 wholesale customers stop virtually overnight as the UK entered lockdown in March. But the company, which has two café sites and was about to open two more before the pandemic hit, has seen a huge spike in its online sales thanks to a quick response in enhancing its digital presence.

Fast tracking its plans to redevelop its web shop, which was due to happen later this year anyway, Coaltown Coffee has reported a 582% rise in sales in April 2020 based on the same month the previous year. The roastery, which up until lockdown derived the majority of its sales from the wholesale market, accelerated the overhaul of its online retail platform into the space of a week. The company has seen an average of 160 orders a day during lockdown, a 220% increase on average daily orders before coronavirus.

Scott James, founder of Coaltown Coffee said: “Our online presence was established, but we never anticipated the level of traffic increase we saw during this lockdown phase. It’s been hugely encouraging to see how quickly we’ve been able to respond to this as a business, as well as the new market of customers we’ve attracted. We’ve adapted our business aims for 2020, in what should have been the year we opened two further sites, to redirecting our focus towards providing customers good quality coffee that can be enjoyed at home.”

The company also set out to diversify its offering, expanding its subscription box service by offering rolling subscriptions, gift subscriptions and an ‘espresso roulette’ where the customer is sent a random espresso flavour every week. Coaltown saw its subscription service customer base double in the first three weeks of lockdown.

Scott continued: “We haven’t invested in targeted digital advertising or large-scale social media campaigns during lockdown, but relied on organic marketing through videos and blog content which has helped to raise the profile of the web shop.”

The Drinks Cluster, funded by the Welsh Government, is the body that represents Wales’ alcohol and soft drinks producers. Mark Grant, associate director at Levercliff who leads the Drinks Cluster, commented: “Coaltown are a prime example of a business here in Wales that has faced the challenges of lockdown head on and moved rapidly to ensure it can still make a success of this time. Thanks to streamlining their digital presence efficiently, the company have unlocked new custom and seen their sales soar. Clearly consumers are keen to get their hands on great coffee, even during lockdown.”

Coaltown Coffee roasts and packs its coffee at its roastery in Ammanford, the hometown of founder Scott James. Coaltown employs local people from the town in south west Wales and focuses on ethical and sustainable trade with small farms across the world’s coffee growing regions.

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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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Restrictions on Ammanford Man Jailed for Sexual Touching

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John David James, aged 67, from the Llandybie area, was recently jailed after urinating on the wall of a dental surgery and breaching a community protection notice (in June 2020).

He was released from that stint in prison on July 22, but within a matter of hours was arrested for sexually touching a member of public while drunk.

He pleaded guilty to the offence and was sent back to prison for 12 weeks. He will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.

On July 24, the court granted a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) on James in readiness for his release from prison. If he breaches any of the following restrictions he can be arrested and placed before the next available court:

  • Drink alcohol or be drunk in any public place in England or Wales.
  • Act in an anti-social manner, that is to say, manner that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any member of the general public; behaviour such as and not limited to shouting, swearing or using abusive, insulting or threatening words/language.
  • Entering the curtilage of llandybie parish church or go within 5 metres of the church and the church grounds save to pass and repass without stopping.

PCSO Ian Morgan, of Ammanford’s neighbourhood policing team, said:

“James is a persistent offender in the Ammanford area, and as a result of previous behaviour had been made the subject of a community protection notice (in August 2019).

“We’ve received numerous complaints from the residents and visitors of Llandybie about his behaviour, and the ball has now been firmly placed in his court – if he does not listen to what the court are asking, he can be arrested and put back in front of them.

“I hope this resolves his bad behaviour and reassures the community that we will not tolerate these actions in our area.

“This is the second criminal behaviour our team have successfully applied in a matter of days. Let this be a warning to anyone intent on unacceptable behaviour in our communities, it will not be tolerated.

“We have a structure in place that allows us to deal with antisocial behaviour appropriately, and if you won’t work with us, we will use all of the tools we have.”

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