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Police reserves will be spent

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Uncertainty over future revenue: PCC Christopher Salmon

Uncertainty over future revenue: PCC Christopher Salmon

POLICE AND CRIME Commissioner Christopher Salmon is to use the Dyfed Powys Police reserves to meet ongoing revenue requirements.

In the Budget report, Mr Salmon says: “I have sought to act prudently and reflect the uncertainty which still remains in relation to future financial settlements for policing the Dyfed Powys area, whilst setting a challenging but achievable cost reduction target for the Chief Constable.”

While the reduction in the central government grant to the Police has gone down by 0.6%, the cut to the overall Police budget will be significantly higher following the Commissioner’s decision to freeze the Force’s Council Tax precept and taxation and national insurance changes.

The actual cut, in money terms, the Commissioner proposes is just over £3m out of a budget of £93m: just under three and a quarter percent

The Commissioner acknowledges that the introduction of a new funding formula, due to be introduced in 2017/18, will provide a period of uncertainty.

However, and notwithstanding such uncertainty, the Commissioner plans to use in excess of £24m of reserves over the next three years. That is as one with the Commissioner’s plans to PCC’s to use reserves to fund an element of the revenue budgets for 2015/16 to 2018/19.

At the end of 2015/16 total reserves are expected to be approximately £30.121m. The Police plans anticipate spending of £24.103m over the coming four years. At the end of 2019/20, the general reserve will remain at £4.5m. Other reserves will amount to £1.518m.

Some of that expenditure, £4m, is necessary to extract the Force from the ruinous PFI contract it entered into in respect of Ammanford Police Station. That contract is one for which Mr Salmon is not responsible and upon which he acted swiftly in resolution

It is the use of reserves to fund £4m of revenue expenditure, and effectively bankroll reducing and freezing the Force’s Council Tax precept is one that is unusual, not least as had the Police moderately increased its precept (as it could have done) the amount taken out of the reserves would have been reduced and operational flexibility maintained.

As plans currently stand, the whole of the capital reserve will be depleted by the end of 2019/20.

The Herald understands the position to be that the reserves constitute money the public have paid, and the plan is to spend the majority of it over the coming years, the Commissioner believes wisely, leaving a much more modest but workable reserve at the end of the process.

In view of the coming election, the issue of the financial prudence of such a move is likely to be a significant issue, alongside the vexed issue of the fate of the Force’s helicopter; a subject that still rankles with the public and is a subject all opposing candidates in the forthcoming election for the position of Police and Crime Commissioner seem likely to attempt to exploit.

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Drink driver hospitalised and arrested

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A MAN who was hospitalised after crashing his car on the B4310, Drefach, has also been arrested for drink driving.

The crash, which happened in the early hours of Sunday morning (Feb 18), destroyed the Mercedes he was driving.

He hit a van which was parked outside of a property, which was also damaged.

Dyfed-Powys Police, Welsh Ambulance Service, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service personnel attended the scene.

A spokesman for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called to reports of a road traffic collision at 12.50am on Sunday morning on the B4310 in Drefach.

“We sent crews from Pontyates and Tumble at the scene and one male was cut out of a car using hydraulic cutting equipment and taken to hospital.”

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‘Connecting Carmarthenshire’ campaign takes a leap forward

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Making progress: Jonathan Edwards MP, Adam Price AM and Geraint Trello

EFFORTS to improve the availability of high speed internet and good mobile phone signal took a leap forward this week as EE sets about switching on new mobile phone masts and launches its 4G Home Broadband solution.

Representatives of EE came to Carmarthenshire this weekend to meet with Member of Parliament, Jonathan Edwards and Assembly Member, Adam Price who have led a ‘Connecting Carmarthenshire’ campaign.

Their meeting, which took place near the site of one of two new mobile phone masts near Abergorlech, focused on the upgrades and improvements the company is undertaking across rural Carmarthenshire, with a particular focus on EE’s new 4G Home Broadband solution which can provide superfast broadband via an antenna on the house – a solution EE says could help around 580,000 homes nationwide gain access to high speed connectivity.

The Plaid Cymru politicians said the new improved mobile signal was itself “a big advancement”, but said the launch of the 4G antenna was “a leap forward” for connecting rural Carmarthenshire communities.

Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards said: “It was a pleasure to welcome EE to Carmarthenshire and continue our discussions on improving connectivity in rural Wales. One new mast will be switched on in Abergorlech in a matter of weeks, with another new mast for the Llansawel region with us later in the year.

“These new masts add to the 27 4G upgrades EE has carried out to existing sites in Carmarthenshire over the last 12 months, providing better coverage for rural communities including Llanybydder, Pencader and Llanarthne, adding to the upgrades from other mobile phone giants across the county.

“Perhaps the most impressive news this week is the launch of EE’s Home Broadband solution which, with the use of a small antenna on the home, can bring superfast broadband to the house. This looks like it could be the answer for many properties which have been left behind during the fixed line upgrades, or where they can only receive slower fixed broadband speeds.

“It’s not for an elected representative to promote a particular private company, but where there appears to be a solution for so many properties to get high speed internet, I have no problem in promoting the product – particularly because when it was trialed it delivered speeds over 100Mbps! This is a giant leap forward.

“Connecting Carmarthenshire is really starting to see positive results, but I’ll keep on working to ensure everyone I represent achieves good connectivity.”

Assembly Member Adam Price said: “The new sites in the Abergorlech area are the latest in a long time of upgrades in recent months, with the added bonus of those mobile signals being used for superfast internet in the home.

“Given that various grants for broadband solutions are available from the Welsh Government, we believe those who can’t get access to fixed broadband connections or receive a glacial pace connection may well be able to receive a grant to have products like 4G Home Broadband installed at their homes.

“I’d encourage anyone who is interested in a grant to cover the costs of delivering a step change in their broadband speeds to visit the Welsh Government’s website to check eligibility, or contact Jonathan and I where we can send information to them directly.

“More and more people across our Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency are seeing the benefits of good mobile phone signal and much faster broadband. We’ve still got a little way to go, but local residents are seeing big advancements. We’re delighted the Connecting Carmarthenshire campaign is delivering tangible results for the county.”

On the launch of EE’s 4G Home Broadband solution, Max Taylor, Managing Director of Marketing, EE said: “As our network continues to expand into some of the most remote parts of the UK, we’ve seen the amazing impact that 4G connectivity can have on rural communities. Our newest 4G home broadband router and antenna takes this one step further, ensuring thousands of families in rural areas across the UK could enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband inside their home for the very first time – whether video-calling the grandparents or streaming their favourite TV series.”

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4.4 magnitude earthquake felt across Wales

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AN earthquake of 4.4 magnitude has been felt across Wales and England this afternoon (Feb 17).

There are numerous reports of the earthquake being felt across west Wales, including Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The earthquake originated near Swansea, where it is was felt strongest, at around 2:30pm.

However, the earthquake was felt across Wales, and many parts of England.

The EMSC, an independent monitor of earthquakes, said: “Latest update of the effects of the #earthquake in #Swansea region. Was felt up to 300 km from epicentre.”

Dyfed-Powys Police received many reports about the incident, but said that there was no need for concern, and that they felt it themselves in their control room.

The police force said: “We are receiving an extremely high call volume reporting some sort of earth tremor in the area – we are receiving reports from across the whole of Wales (we felt it in our control room too!). For now – it is unexplained – but there is nothing to worry about.”

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