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Liberal plans to revitalise high streets

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highstreetsTHE LIB DEMS have launched a package of radical policies to revitalise Wales’ struggling high streets.

In government, the party would establish a ‘High Street Wales’ body to empower people to drive the regeneration of their local communities and tackle dereliction and decay. Based on the ‘Main Street’ movement in America, it would offer education, hands-on-training, online resources and facilitate connections and conferences to share best practice and build strong communities.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would also give more powers to communities by introducing a ‘Community Right to Bid’ so that people can work together to protect key local services such as libraries, post offices or pubs.

Other initiatives proposed in their policy report ‘A Diverse Welsh High Street’ include a new ‘Reoccupation Relief Scheme’ – slashing business rates by 50% for new occupants of premises that have been empty for a year; tackling the proliferation of betting shops by giving them their own use class to give local communities greater say over where they are placed; and a statutory requirement to consider walking and cycling at an early stage in new development schemes to ensure a more accessible and pleasant high street environment; supporting the development of Business Improvement Districts with the development of a BID learning network to share lessons and support the development of future BIDs; and encouraging local authorities to offer limited free parking schemes near the town centre to support struggling high streets.

William Powell, Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales said:“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are offering fresh, innovative and enterprising ideas to revive our high streets.

“Having a devolved government offers huge potential to be creative in supporting our local high streets, yet Labour has failed miserably with shop vacancy rates in Wales consistently above the UK average.

“Our ‘High Street Wales’ policy would empower people to drive the regeneration of their local communities and tackle dereliction and decay.

“We will also put powers back into the hands of local people by enabling them the opportunity to save key local services.

“The Labour Welsh Government has been content to sit back and witness the decline of our high streets; this complacency must end. The retail sector is Wales’ largest private-sector employer and high streets are vital in supporting the many jobs that it offers.

“We recognise that high streets and town centres are more than just economic hubs; they also strengthen the social fabric of our communities. It is time for new ideas to regenerate town centres and the Welsh Liberal Democrats would ensure that enterprise is at the heart of a Welsh Government.”

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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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