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Queues as Range opens doors

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THE OPENING of a new store at Parc Pemberton saw Llanelli residents queuing up to check out the goods on sale.

The 145th branch of the Range store opened ​last​ Friday (Sept 15) and The Herald was given a grand guided tour of the new store.

Llanelli dignitaries were also given the red carpet treatment at the official launch at 9am.

Llanelli Town Mayor Cllr Jeff Edmunds, Head of the Rural Council Cllr John Evans and his Consort Cllr Sylvia Evans thoroughly enjoyed seeing what was on offer. Cllr John Evans cut the ribbon at the eagerly awaited launch.

Eager customers queued outside the Range, which has stores dotted around many areas of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The franchise stocks a wide variety of homeware and has something for all tastes at a competitive price.

The Herald spoke to Range Chair and Owner Chris Dawson. He had arrived in style via helicopter at Machynys golf course prior to the store’s official opening.

Mr Dawson journeyed from his home in Plymouth in Jersey to welcome the excited crowd. The event was hosted by the Wave radio Station which provided music and competitions throughout the day. A ‘guess the contents price of the trolley’ with a prize of £250.00 store spend proved especially popular amongst visitors​.​

Mr Dawson started The Range franchise some 25 years ago and the reputable business has gone from strength to strength. The Parc Pemberton outlet is measured at approximately 40,000 square feet including the mezzanine floor and has aided in securing local employment for nearly 80 members of staff.

The Herald heard that Mr Dawson’s visit was part of a week-long business trip: “I’m in Ireland on Tuesday and Wednesday (Sept 19-20) developing and buying stores. I started the business 25 years ago and have invested in various things.

“I’ve got manufacturing plants over in ​southern Ireland as well as the UK, there’s a lot going on, we can’t say what it is yet. We’ve a massive and an exciting announcement coming, we can’t reveal it yet though. That’s for another interview!” he added.

“I hope to visit Llanelli often, I don’t always have the chance. I’ll try to visit at least six times a year, pre-season I’d like to think. I can see the store as it changes and develops and to make sure they’re tip-top. They’ll be tip-top everyday though.

“Soon, with the other deal we’re doing we’ll have an additional ​50 stores to go with what we have now, throughout Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland. There’ll be two hundred stores easily by this time next year.

“I’ve been to Llanelli for many years and I’ve surveyed the sites long before today ever happened, I study where people like to visit and what they want to spend. My Father was born in Hereford which was Wales back in the day. He was brought up in Penarth in his infant years, my brother lives on the outskirts of Cardiff currently in Culverhouse Cross. There’s a big connection to Wales for me.”

Chief Executive Officer Nigel Oddy said:​ “I run the whole business of The Range. I run the 145 stores including today’s new store and have over 7​,​000 employees throughout the UK and Ireland. I’ve been to the Parc Pemberton area three times within the past four months. I’ve been to Llanelli, Cwmdu and Swansea recently. I went to Carmarthen and Bridgend yesterday. We’re going straight down to Newport after this.

“This new store has benefited from gaining local employees, which is means around eighty additional jobs that have been created locally. The Range is a fantastic store where you can purchase everything from homeware, to DIY to gear for pets and much more. We’re delighted to be in Llanelli and we think that it’ll provide a good service to members of the public.”

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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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