PLANS discussed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board which could lead to savings of up to £2.5m have been criticised by Unison and opposition councillors.
As reported in The Herald, a different version of the Agile Working Plan to the one deferred in the summer was announced via a CCC press release in the week before the Executive Board discussed the matter.
The new version would see Parc Amanwy – identified as suitable for adaption to Agile Working in the original plan – deemed surplus to requirements, while Ammanford Town Hall and the Old Library would remain in use.
During a rather lengthy preamble, Labour’s Deryk Cundy asked Cllr David Jenkins whether this would mean that the joint health and social services team based at Parc Amanwy would be separated. He was told that the officers were aware of the need for people in different departments to work together collaboratively and this would be taken into account.
“Personally I don’t have any problem with that because I have confidence in the way that officers manage these things,” Cllr Jenkins added.
Cllr Dole launched a rather pointed attack on UNISON and opposition councillors, who he accused of scaremongering based on ‘mythology’ regarding the original deferred report.
“I will be visiting the Town Hall in Ammanford and I will be meeting all the staff there to apologise to them for the discomfort and distress they have been under for the last two months because of some of the political mischief that has been made around this,” he said.
“I would have been feeling very unsettled and unnerved, so on behalf of people making political mischief based on myth and mythology I will be apologising on their behalf. I will be asking for an apology from them at the proper time.
“Also we have the union who arranged a demonstration based on the same myth around what was happening there.
“I look forward to meeting the staff and explaining that to them.”
Following the meeting, UNISON’s Mark Evans criticised both the revised plan and the manner in which the proposal was announced. He told The Herald that members had been phoning his office to find out what was going on after the press release was picked up by local media.
Given that Cllr Dole appeared to be accusing people of unsettling staff by suggesting that a proposal similar to the one now in place for Parc Amanwy could affect their workplace, it is perhaps unclear how people finding out that they would be moving office by reading the local newspaper would be any less unsettled.
Cllr Kevin Madge, who was a prominent objector to the original plans, said that there had been no consultation with local members during the period in which the report was altered.
At the time the plans were announced, Cllr Jenkins said: “We are of course mindful of the impact any potential rationalisation of office space could have on staff and on towns who rely on trade and footfall generated by staff and customers of council buildings. This is why we asked officers to revise an earlier version of this report to develop a more prudent proposal that would have less impact in some areas, including Ammanford which has been the source of much speculation in recent weeks.
“As an executive board we have been clear that it has been too early to make any assumptions about the future use of council buildings in certain areas. We look forward to receiving this report and having a full and frank discussion before any decisions are made.”
Regarding any consultation with staff, a CCC spokesperson said: “Executive Board agreed the agile working report at their meeting on October 23. The process as laid out in the report will now be progressed by officers – that includes consultation with staff at the buildings proposed for closure.”
Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire
FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.
One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.
One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.
“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”
The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.
The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.
Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.
Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.
John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future.
”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”
Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim
THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.
Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.
He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.
It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.
Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.
“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”
According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.
Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.
She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.
“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”
Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at email@example.com.
Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing
A CHEESEMAKER from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.
Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.
Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.
Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”
Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth onto our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”
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