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Mayor hosts Veterans and Cadets

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LLANELLI Mayor and County Councillor Bill Thomas is fast becoming one of the most hospitable mayors Llanelli has ever seen.

That is by no means a reflection on the sterling work of previous mayors, it is just that this mayor appears to be taking every opportunity to fill his parlour with just about every organisation in Llanelli. This week it was the turn of the Llanelli Veterans and the Sea Cadets from TS Echo. He plans to invite the boxing clubs, judo clubs, football clubs and rugby clubs amongst others at future dates.

His aim, he says, is to get people together to socialise, to talk, to share experiences and to network. It is a plan of sorts and amongst all the chaos of a parlour full of Sea Cadets taking advantage of the abundant cans of Coca Cola and the Veterans enjoying a glass of hospitality wine or beer, one would think that this was a recipe for disaster. Not so. It was wonderful to see the young and the old mixing and chatting. Take Frank Goddard, who was in TS Echo in 1942 when they started. TS Echo had won a plaque for being the best unit in Britain in 1943. He said the award was a signed portrait of the King. He told young Cadets Joshua Jones, Charlotte Stroud, Gareth Clancy and Brian Morris that he had done the same things the Cadets were doing today, like learning how to tie knots, and that meeting them had brought back some great memories. Frank joined the navy and served in the Second World War. He said that he thought joining the Cadets was an invaluable experience to socialise and learn. The Cadets told Frank that they admired his bravery and that he was a hero to them. They said that he was welcome to go and visit them at the training centre.

Retired Minister David Payne was also at the event. He is the padre for the Sea Cadets and the Signals Veterans. He said: “I attend their meetings and lead the Armed Forces Day Service. I take the Remembrance Day Service in Ponthenri.” Speaking about the need for armed forces today, he said: “I don’t know what can be done about warfare today. It is different today. Technology has made things simpler and as long as people want power over other people, we are always going to have these conflicts. The church plays a role and always has in supporting the armed forces. There were chaplains throughout the Great War and the Second World War. When you have young people in organisations like the Cadets and Scouts, they get a sense of responsibility and community. Everyone tends to pass on the responsibility to everyone else today. We have become a nanny state in many respects.”

Welcoming the Cadets and Veterans, the mayor said: “This may be the first time we have had the future and the past together here at the Mayor’s Parlour. The veterans fought to preserve the freedom we enjoy today. I want to give people the opportunity to meet, to talk and to share with each other. It is a chance to network and to learn from one another. This is one of many events I have organised this year and there are more to come.”

Veteran John Williams thanked the Mayor and said: “On behalf of the comrades, the old and the bold, I thank you for inviting us to your parlour. When you are serving in the army, you look back, and there was nothing finer to look back to than Llanelli. When you come home, there is nothing finer to look back to than Hong Kong, Burma and Singapore.

I would like to say that all these thoughts that we do have we should remember, but remember most of all that there is no place like Llanelli.”

Bruce Coombes shared his memories of fighting in the Second World War. He said: “I was in the Royal Welsh Fusileers in Normandy and we fought right through to Bremen. I joined in 1944 and I was in Germany after the war finished. I was 17 joining up in the West End of Llanelli. We were front line troops. We landed on the beaches and once you had broken out of Normandy, it wasn’t so bad going through France. We captured a city in Holland and they named the bridge ‘The Royal Welsh Bridge’. We had three battalions and each battalion was a thousand strong. I can’t remember how many men we lost. It took us a year to go from Normandy to Denmark.” Bruce, we were told, had won a lot of medals, including the Legion d’honneur. When we asked Bruce if we could see the medal, he fished through his pockets, which appeared to contain several more medals, before modestly producing what is the highest honour in France.

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Environment hero helps to keep Carmarthenshire clean

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A young volunteer has been praised by Carmarthenshire County Council for his environmental work in the Whitland area. 

10-year-old Leon litter picks his local area every day, helping to keep the area clean and tidy. As a reward for his fantastic work Leon was invited on a behind the scenes tour of Nantycaws recycling centre and Canolfan Eto.

During the visit, Leon saw the different processes that Carmarthenshire’s household recycling goes through as well as seeing the transformation of items at Canolfan Eto re-use project.

Cllr Edward Thomas, Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services said: “Leon has done a wonderful job in helping to keep Whitland clean and tidy and I’m delighted that we were able to recognise his efforts with a visit to Nantycaws.

“Carmarthenshire is very lucky to have an excellent group of volunteers who are a real asset to the community, giving up their precious time to help keep Carmarthenshire clean. Thank you to everyone who dedicates their time to helping us.” 

Businesses can also support their local environment by becoming a custodian of a ‘2 minute clean’ board. These A-frame boards are equipped with everything needed to clean the area including litter pickers and bags.

For information on becoming a 2 minute clean board custodian or to organise a litter pick please e-mail prideinyourpatch@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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‘People are booking the test when they’re not ready, and the pass rate is actually declining’

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THE CEO of one of the UK’s biggest driving schools has revealed that learner drivers are still facing massive driving test delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to GB News presenters Esther Vey and Philip Davies, Seb Goldin said: “It depends where you are in the country, but the backlog is really not being got through at any rate from Covid. We’re hearing six, seven, eight and nine months now.

“It’s made worse because people are just trying to book a test when they’re perhaps not even test ready. And then the pass rate is actually declining at the moment, so then tests are just not available for those who would be ready, which is exacerbating the problem.

“We’d say take your lessons, book the test but only when your instructor tells you that you’re test ready.”

Discussing the possible introduction of self driving cars on UK roads and into driving lessons, Goldin explained: “I think with all technology, where there’s such a step-change from human behaviour to machine behaviour, if we could flick a switch overnight and say everyone’s driving autonomous cars then it would be a very easy segway and move on through. But when you’re gonna have human behaviour on the road with semi or fully autonomous cars, that’s where the challenge is gonna be. We expect to be very busy for the next few years at least.”

He added: “Your car even now compared to what you had ten years ago has so much more technology. One of the challenges that we think is that people are not given instruction or coaching in what a car can do and what it can’t do.

“So for example, if you got a new car with cruise control with a radar at the front which manages the distance which is fine if you get used to it. But if you get a bit of road grime on the front of the car it packs up and then suddenly you have to drive normally again, and if you’re not ready for it or not used to it it can be a challenge. So we’re really excited about integrating technology into driving lessons and we’re working with the government and DVSA to help improve and change the curriculum as technology comes through.”

Whilst self driving cars are not fully on the roads, Goldin explained a driver would still be needed behind the wheel: “There are various steps of autonomy. So at the moment, we have cars on what we call Level 1 and Level 2. What the government is taking about is Level 3, where the car can actually be fully in control of the vehicle without the driver needing to have hands on the wheel or control.

“An analogy is if you think of pilots in big ships or aeroplanes, they still have to be trained in how to manually control them if the technology fails. It’s exactly the same with driving.

“All technology that we work with, trust has to grow and we need to understand what it does, and there’s very much back to the point of teaching people and coaching people to drive. Even when people have passed the driving test, you’re not necessarily a ‘safe driver’ you’ve just passed the driving test. So there’s very much a coaching and a learning role as technology comes on.

“When you get a new car from a car dealer, a lot of them are very good at selling you on the finance but perhaps not so much on what the car can do and more importantly, what it can’t do.”

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Communities for Work Plus is on hand to assist with disability support

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CONGRATULATIONS to Tina Evans who has recently joined the BBC Wales presenting team and is currently covering the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

In preparation for starting her new job, Tina sought the services of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Communities for Work Plus programme to help overcome multiple barriers such as access to work and communicating with social services.

Tina, who is from Pontyberem originally, faces numerous challenges, due to long-term health conditions and disabilities, and requires a lot of support in relation to mobility and everyday care, as she is a wheelchair user.

Writing ahead of starting her new role with the BBC, Tina said “I had been offered work with BBC Wales, as part of the presenting team, and needed to sort out support during my role. As I was tight against time, I accessed the Communities for Work Plus hub in Carmarthen with the hope to speed things up. This was the best decision I made. After speaking with their team, I felt a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I, now, wasn’t sorting things alone.

“I would especially like to thank Desiree from the Communities for Work Plus team. She supported me through telephone calls with access to work and social services and liaised with them to make sure we met the deadlines required. There were a few barriers to overcome along the way, but with Desiree’s support and determination, we hurdled over them. I must admit, her support was invaluable in gaining access to work and without it, I would have given up.

“I can now look forward with excitement for this opportunity, knowing that I have the support I need.”

Desiree De Mouilpied, Community Employment Officer/Disability Specialist said “It’s been a privilege to assist Tina with her journey to accessing work. Her character and determination, to pursue her dreams and overcome complex barriers into employment, have been inspiring. We all wish her the best of luck in her new job.”

Communities for Work Plus provides the infrastructure to support the ongoing delivery of Communities for Work. The programme enhances the employment-focused support for those, often with complex barriers, who are furthest from the labour market into training and future employment with a holistic and person-centred approach.

Carmarthenshire County Council coordinate employment support from its Llanelli Hwb and office, which are based in the middle of Llanelli Town Centre.

For further information about the Communities For Work Plus programme, please visit https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-services/jobs-careers/help-to-find-a-job/ or email c4wplus@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or phone 01554 784847.

Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism said “We’re delighted for Tina and proud of her success in gaining employment with BBC Wales.

“I would urge people in our county, who are looking to get into work, to take advantage of the support that Carmarthenshire County Council can give to you. Our employment support teams can help you identify training opportunities, provide you with a personal mentor, work with you to develop a job action plan, help you to build your confidence and help with writing a CV and completing job applications.

We want to support more people, like Tina, to overcome barriers to get into work.”

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