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Merger threat to language and jobs

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HQ: Claims Cantref faces job cuts

HQ: Claims Cantref faces job cuts

A WARNING has been given ahead of merger talks between troubled housing provider Cymdeithas Tai Cantref and the Welsh Government’s favoured suitor for its operation – Mid and West Wales Housing Association.

In April, Carmarthenshire County Council was one of the unsuccessful bidders to take over Cymdeithas Tai Cantref, after the Housing Association found itself in difficult circumstances following an excoriating review of its management and financial structure. After the review by Campbell Tickell, which has never been fully published by the Welsh Government, the Chief Executive of Tai Cantref, Lynne Sacale, and Board Chair, David Wilcox, left their posts.

Ms Sacale had previously welcomed the enquiry on the basis that ‘any findings will be to the benefit of the association going forward’.

No public explanation has been given for either Ms Sacale’s or Mr Wicox’s speedy departures. However, the Welsh Government says the report shows evidence of mismanagement.

Hilary Jones , of Bro Myrddin Housing Association , and Doug Elliott, a former head of regulation in the Welsh Government, were parachuted in to temporarily run the Association, prior to the appointment of Kevin Taylor as interim chair.

Now, with merger talks imminent, a housing group based in Ceredigion has raised significant fears over the reorganisation of Tai Cantref, including expressing fears about the effect on the local economy, the Welsh language, and job losses within the Association.

Ble ti’n Mynd i Fyw – an independent housing group in Ceredigion – have urged stakeholders to vote against the proposed merger of the two companies.

In a letter to the Housing Association, Ble ti’n Mynd i Fyw stated that the housing group expressed fears that Tai Cantref’s local identity would be eroded by the deal.

Ble ti’n Mynd i Fyw have highlighted that ten jobs have already been lost leading up to the prospective merge r and have also underlined their concern that they feel that Cantref’s commitment to provide a Welsh language service to both tenants and staff would be undermined should the merger proceed. Ble ti’n Mynd i Fyw points out that internal meetings have already started to be held in English only and have brought to Cantref’s attention issues surrounding both tenant and non-tenant applications to become stakeholders being refused with no explanation in recent months.

Cantref have historically supported local contractors for maintenance and building works , which has supported many businesses locally. Ble ti’n Mynd i Fyw believe that this is unlikely to continue following the merger, as Wales and West have their own internal maintenance services, reducing the need for local suppliers and businesses. They express serious concern relating to job losses within the county and the risk those losses pose to communities in West Wales.

Those fears, which were expressed at the time and once the identity of the successful bidder was known, would have been addressed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s promise to ensure the maintenance of the Welsh language’s position and NO job losses at the Association’s Newcastle Emlyn HQ.

Whether the Council would have maintained in-house maintenance staff is not known, but it is likely that – bearing in mind the geographical spread of the properties owned by Tai Cantref – that local contracts would have been necessary.

The 1,400-home housing association needs to secure votes in favour from 75% of its shareholders in order for it to go ahead and fears have been expressed that the Association has deliberately withheld the names of shareholders in order to prevent them being canvassed to oppose the merger.

In June, Inside Housing reported that that opposition among some residents and board members means it is unlikely to win the vote.

Local opposition to the merger is rooted in 9,500-home Wales and West’s larger size, the fact that it is not based locally and a perception that it is less committed to the Welsh language than other local associations.

In a joint statement earlier this year, Cantref and Wales and West said: “Merger discussions are progressing in a positive and timely manner and these talks are taking place with the full support and engagement of all appropriate lenders.”

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Police launch public appeal following Carmarthenshire burglary

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating a burglary at a property in Ponthenry.

People broke into a shed at a home in Victoria Road at around 8.30pm on Monday, 31 October, before leaving after spotting a CCTV camera.

They returned at around 10.15pm and again at around 10.55pm.

During their raids they tooka green Wolf motocross helmet with a full face with a peak and line green motocross goggles.

Officers are appealing for help to identify two people they would like to speak to over the incident.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DPP/0756/01/11/2022/02/C. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Morrisons Foundation supports children’s charity with grant for vital equipment

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The Morrisons Foundation supports registered charities that make a positive difference. They recently awarded national children’s disability charity, Cerebra, based in Carmarthen, a grant of £11,109.

This will fund the creation of writing slopes through the Cerebra Innovation Centre, which is partnered with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and designs wonderful toys and equipment to help children living with a brain condition to learn and play.

The writing slopes are designed to help children who struggle with posture and fine motor skills. They also aid children with writing, drawing and hand control. Ross Head, Product Design Manager at the Cerebra Innovation Centre explains;

‘The slopes include a lovely wipe-clean surface for children to experiment with mark making, their own set of pens and a clever lid-free pen store to remove the challenge of removing lids for some children. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do and funding like this is so important to allow us to push boundaries and provide vital equipment that looks beautiful.’

At the start of 2022, the Cerebra Innovation Centre highlighted that they anticipated the need for an additional 20 writing slopes for children. Cerebra Fundraising Manager, James Hay then worked with the grants team at the Morrisons Foundation, who were delighted to support this project. David Scott, Morrisons Foundation Trustee said:

‘Cerebra is dedicated to helping families who have a child with a brain condition to discover a better life together, that’s why I’m delighted that we’ve been able to provide this support. The specialised writing slopes will make a huge positive impact on children with sensory and mobility issues, providing a great opportunity to develop their skills, which will last a lifetime.’

Grants like this are a vital source of funding for Cerebra so that they are able to continue to support children living with a brain condition and their families who face challenges every day. The Cerebra Innovation Centre is one of the many support services provided by the charity that so many families have come to rely on. James Hay adds;

‘Thank you so much to the Morrisons Foundation for this generous grant! We are over the moon as we know how much this project will change young lives. These are particularly challenging times for charities and so this funding from Morrisons for the creation of 20 writing slopes is warmly welcomed.’

You can find out more about Cerebra and how they help children and families by visiting www.cerebra.org.uk 

Writing Slope
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White Ribbon campaign supported by Carmarthenshire County Council

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is again showing its support for the White Ribbon campaign, which takes place on Friday, November 25 and is followed by 16 Days of Action.

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

While domestic abuse affects both sexes, the largest number of violent incidents involve men against women. But ultimately male violence against women is everyone’s issue, not just women’s.

The council was awarded White Ribbon UK accredited status for the first time in 2018 and is continuing to work to tackle such violence.

White Ribbon flags will be flying at County Hall in Carmarthen and town halls in Llanelli and Ammanford on White Ribbon Day (Friday, November 25). County Hall will also be lit up on the evening to show support.

The council is working alongside partners to raise awareness of the campaign across the county – from sports clubs, joint visits with the Police to licensed premises, our leisure centres and libraries to bus stations.

With this year’s White Ribbon Day falling on the same week as the start of the FIFA men’s World Cup, there has never been a better time to come together and start playing as a team to end violence against women and girls.

The council will be raising awareness of the campaign at special events including a Walking Football session at Amman Valley Leisure Centre on November 30 and at “An Evening with Sam Warburton” at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on White Ribbon Day (November 25).

Cabinet Member responsible for Community Safety, Cllr Philip Hughes, said: “It’s vital that we raise more awareness about domestic abuse so that anyone affected can get help and support from one of our local services.”

Support locally can be found at: Threshold (Llanelli) on 01554 752 422 or www.threshold-das.org.uk; Calan DVS (Ammanford) on 01269 597 474 or www.calandvs.org.uk; Carmarthen Domestic Abuse Service on 01267 238 410 or www.carmdas.org and Goleudy on 0300 123 2996 or www.goleudyvictimandwitnessservice.org.uk or call the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or visit https://gov.wales/live-fear-free for free advice and support 24/7

For more information on the White Ribbon campaign visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk

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