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Flying the flag

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screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-48-15AT THE LAST meeting of the County Council, there was a lot of talk about ‘semantics’, the way in which words are used, abused, and misunderstood.

Chief Executive Mark James CBE picked up on one such ‘misunderstanding’ by Cllr Anthony Jones. Cllr Jones, Mr James averred, had become confused between the meaning of the word ‘endorsed’ and conflated it with ‘approval’. Approval, Mr James pointed out, in the case in point, had already taken place. The Executive Board had endorsed that earlier decision, not made it itself.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s flag policy attracted the attention of Herald columnist Cadno in August.

He noted that the Rainbow Flag, adopted the world over by the LGBT movement as a symbol of their pride, did not flutter over Gaol Hill for LGBT History Month in February of this year.

When we raised the question at the time, our reporter was told that Carmarthenshire ‘had a procedure’ regarding the flying of flags from public buildings, as the authority received so many requests to participate in special events that it had decided that indiscriminate flag flying required regulation.

After Cadno’s article (‘The Power of Love’) appeared in August, a Herald reader made a Freedom of Information Act request to Carmarthenshire County Council, seeking to establish just how many requests the Council had received in respect of its policy and how many it had received in the years preceding the policy’s adoption.

THE COUNCIL’S REPLY

Jimi Reid of Ammanford received the following response to his request:

“In the newspaper, I have seen a reference to a flag policy you have adopted, in which there is a procedure for making requests to fly flags from council buildings.

1. Please confirm when that policy was adopted by the council.

A. July 10, 2015.

2. Please confirm how many requests have been made and by whom under the provisions of that policy to fly flags from council buildings.

A. There have been two requests. One from a community group called CETMA (Community Engagement, Media, Technology & Arts) and the other from Seafarers UK.

3. Please confirm how many requests were made and by whom for flags to be flown from council buildings in the three years before the policy was put in place.

A. We do not hold this information.

4. In both instances, where the policy was in place and in the three years before the policy was put in place, please let me know how many of the requests made have been rejected and why they were rejected.”

A. The two requests received since the policy has been in place were refused. We do not hold information prior to the introduction of the policy.

CETMA’S REQUEST

Our attention was attracted by the inclusion of CETMA in the very short list of the ‘many’ applications the council had received in relation to flying a flag from County Council buildings. Among the projects with which CETMA is engaged are several relating to LGBT projects and LGBT Pride.

We contacted CETMA and asked them why their request had been rejected.

CETMA provided us with their request, made to Mark James CBE, Carmarthenshire Council’s CEO.

CETMA’S LETTER

Dear Mr James,

I am contacting you to see whether the County Council would fly the Pride Flag during the week of Monday 1st to Sunday 7th August 2016.

The reason for this is that we have a project called Llanelli LGBT Support and we will be holding Llanelli LGBT day on Saturday 6th August. The day is about everyone coming together to raise awareness about how far Carmarthenshire and Wales has come and how far it has to go in regards to equality and to celebrate achievements in the areas of LGBT.

Having the flag flying from Llanelli Old Town Hall on the day and during the week would be brilliant. We did try last year but we’d left it too late.

If you would like more information, then please let me know.

MR JAMES’ PERSONAL RESPONSE

Thank you for letting me know about the project that you are intending to run in August. As you may know, the council has been keen to promote diversity in the workplace and beyond. We have worked with organisations such as Stonewall to look at how we support employees and ensure that we are a welcoming employer. We were very pleased to have been placed in the top 100 employers in the Stonewall annual rankings and we will continue to work to promote diversity as an a employer.

With regard to the issue of flying flags, we get many requests from campaign groups and organisations to participate in their events and, whilst we are often happy to assist with those events at a community level, WE HAVE TAKEN A VIEW THAT THIS DOES NOT EXTEND TO FLAG FLYING AT CIVIC BUILDINGS (emphasis added). As I am sure that you will understand, if we agree to do so for one group, we would find it difficult to refuse another and this might lead to administrative or other difficulties. We have, therefore, in the past declined to use flagpoles at civic buildings in this way.

I wish you every success with your events in August. Please do let us know if there is anything else we might be able to assist with.

THE QUESTION OF TIMING

An examination of council meetings, agendas and minutes dated before the policy’s adoption shows no indication that the policy was EVER discussed by County Councillors. Indeed, the policy’s introduction in July is, entirely coincidentally, within 28 days of LGBT Pride Week. Any application made by CETMA after July 15, 2015 would have been caught by the adoption of a procedure which did not exist beforehand and which received scant – if any – publicity.

We contacted CETMA again and were told that, as LGBT Pride takes place at the beginning of August, the request to fly the flag in 2015 was made at the beginning of the July.

That means that the request to fly the LGBT Rainbow Flag from Llanelli Town Hall was made – entirely coincidentally – either before or at the time the flag policy was adopted.

A policy for which the council can provide no evidence for necessity .

Moreover, the rational underpinning the adoption of the policy, ‘introduced due to the increasing number of requests being received, and the cost implications’ is not only highly questionable, based on the limited number of requests made since the policy’s adoption, but impossible to verify because the council simply did not retain records. How the council can state that a policy was introduced on the grounds of ‘cost implications’ when it does not even hold the data relating to the requests – IF ANY – actually made, is even more questionable.

Since the policy’s adoption, the council has flown the Rainbow Flag once, in response to the Orlando nightclub massacre.

As it stands, on the face of Mr James’s words, the policy is redundant. Mr James will never give permission to fly any flag. On the basis that nobody will get permission, of course, the policy cannot be said to be discriminatory in any way.

Which, of course, it isn’t.

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Praise for seamless services provided to Ukranian families in Ceredigion

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THE USE of the Urdd centre at Llangrannog as a welcome centre for Ukrainian refugees has been praised.

Following the surge in refugees fleeing war in Ukraine in early 2022, the first Welcome Centre of its kind was quickly set up in Ceredigion.

The Urdd Gobaith Cymru Gwersyll at Llangrannog was selected as a location by the Welsh Government and it was opened on 28 March.

During the next four months, up until 31 August when the centre was officially closed, 72 Ukranian families were supported through a multiagency delivery group.

A paper compiling Ceredigion County Council’s contribution to the Welcome Centre was presented to cabinet members on 4 October, as well a letter of appreciation by the First Minister of Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Together with partners, you have played a critical role in ensuring Wales has lived up to our ambition of being a Nation of Sanctuary. The Llangrannog Welcome Centre was a real example of the extraordinary warm Welsh welcome we have been able to offer to our new Ukrainian friends.

“Your efforts have demonstrated the Team Wales approach so characteristic of our joint effort to support people seeking sanctuary.”

‘Tears when they left’

Councillor Bryan Davies, leader of Ceredigion County Council praised the “integrated and seamless way” that agencies worked together to support the 72 Ukrainian families.

“Most were worried about their families in Ukraine, their future, how they would be able to find a job in this country and secure permanent accommodation. They were also very concerned about getting their children into school.

“We received consistent feedback that the Urdd and Council staff at the Welcome Centre were helpful, friendly, and always there to help. They valued the quality of the accommodation, felt safe and that the help with obtaining key UK documents was invaluable to them.

“Some stated that they were in tears when they arrived from Ukraine, and were in tears when they left Llangrannog, having received such excellent care and support.”

Lowri Jones, director of the Llangrannog Urdd Gobaith Cymru Centre, added: “Humanitarian support has been at the core of the Urdd’s work since our establishment in 1922. The Welcome Centre at Llangrannog would not have been possible without the support of Urdd members and schools enabling us to open our doors to families from Ukraine.

“The partnership working with Ceredigion Council, Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board meant that the multiagency team allowed us to offer the best support for the families in their time of need.”

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt has thanked Wales households who have come forward to offer their homes for Ukrainians fleeing the war and has encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

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Ammanford suffer narrow loss against Newport

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AMMANFORD suffered their third successive defeat at home to second placed Newport by the narrowest of margins, just three runs separating the sides in a 500 run thriller at the Park.

Newport won the toss and elected to take first knock. Their innings was defined by a 148 run middle order partnership between Imran Hassan (112no) and Mujahid Ilyas (57).

Ammanford were looking down the barrel of another 300+ target until the return of Saihaj Jaspal (3-26) and Dan Roberts (1-32) to the attack slowed down the run rate. Owen Davies and Josef Davies also picked up a wicket each as Newport closed on a hefty 259 for 6.

Ammanford’s response began perfectly with a 131 run opening partnership between Kurtis Marsh (78) and Andrew Salter (44).

Dan Roberts continued the good work but four wickets fell in quick succession before the arrival of skipper Alun Evans at the crease.

The match was well within Ammanford’s grasp had these two managed to stay together but the departure of Roberts (39) left the burden firmly on Evans’s experienced shoulders.

An unbeaten 43 from the captain wasn’t quite sufficient and Ammanford fell an agonising three runs short of their target on 256 for 8.

Ammanford have now lost against the top three clubs in Premier 1, but in each case have shown an
eagerness to challenge and the talent to support that eagerness.

The rest of the summer beckons encouragingly, beginning with a visit to Port Talbot Town next Saturday, May 28.

Ammanford seconds earn six wicket win

AMMANFORD seconds returned from Stradey Park with a straightforward 6 wicket victory over Llanelli.

Having put Llanelli in to bat, the Ammanford bowlers made short work of dismissing the Llanelli batters for 100 in 27 overs.

Sara Phillips (22) provided Llanelli’s main resistance. Chief wicket taker for Ammanford was Matthew Davies with 4 for 37, whilst Fin Jeffries, Sam Potter and Iwan Matthews picked up a couple each.

Ammanford overtook the Llanelli total within 23 overs for the loss of four wickets, thanks in the main to opener Eirian Morgan (25), with support from Fraser Benjamin (17) and Tiaan Evans (16no).

Player of the match was undoubtedly Llanelli’s Sara Phillips who crowned a fine all-round performance
with figures of 3 for 29.

Thirds suffer heavy defeat

AMMANFORD thirds suffered a heavy 135 run defeat at the hands of visiting Dyffryn at the Rec.

Dyffryn scored a formidable 245 from their 40 overs, due to fine knocks from Phil Paisey (95) and Rhodri Morgan (47).

Toby Davies took 3 wickets for Ammanford, whilst Jac Davies and Dafydd Evans picked up a couple
each.

Ammanford’s reply never really got off the ground, and they collapsed to 110 all out in 27 overs, thanks to impressive bowling from Lloyd Jones with 7 for 22. Opener David Lumb top scored with 20.

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JON COURTENAY: Live in Carmarthen

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The funniest show with a piano

Jon Courtenay’s 2021 UK Tour “WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT” which is coming to The Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen on Monday 1st November.

“WONDERFUL…YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED HARD FOR YEARS AND NEEDS A BREAK AND I’M SURE YOU WILL GET A HUGE REACTION FROM THIS, I PROMISE YOU.” Simon Cowell

Following his enormous success as the first Golden Buzzer act ever to win Britain’s Got Talent, Jon Courtenay is delighted to announce that he will be setting out on his debut tour of the UK in 2021.

“ONE OF THE BEST GOLDEN BUZZERS WE’VE EVER HAD ON THE SHOW.” Amanda Holden

Long before triumphing in the 2020 final, Jon was a powerhouse live performer with decades of experience touring the world. Become part of Jon’s journey of a lifetime where you will roar with laughter, maybe shed a few tears and definitely be inspired by his music and the hilarious tales of his family, relationships and life on tour. With a soundtrack including all his Britain’s Got Talent songs and music spanning the classics to rock n roll, Jon’s side-splitting show will leave you with a happy heart and a huge smile on your face.

This will definitely be a rip-roaring night of music and comedy that you’ll never forget!

“IT’S FUNNY, IT’S TOUCHING, IT’S UNIQUE TO YOU…THAT WAS UNBELIEVABLE.” David Walliams

Jon Courtenay originally hails from Ipswich but now lives in Mossley, Greater Manchester with his wife Emmah and two sons Nathan and Alfie. He started his stage career as a comedy magician but gradually the magic made way for the piano. Even before he won Britain’s Got Talent, Jon was already a powerhouse live performer with decades of experience touring the world. He is also one of the rare British performers to be asked time and time again to perform in America. His originality and remarkable stage presence have led to hugely successful shows in the corporate market as well as on all the major luxury cruise lines.

Although Jon’s show is continually evolving, his sense of humour remains the same and he has now created a truly original experience for every audience.

“MAGICAL…YOU NAILED IT MY FRIEND. YOU TICKED EVERY SINGLE BOX.” Alesha Dixon

For more information go to theatrausirgar.co.uk or call 0345 226 3510

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