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South Wales Chamber gears up for growth

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SOUTH WALES CHAMBER, which represents more than a thousand businesses from Newtown to Pembroke, is gearing up for the next phase of its growth by aligning its structure to Wales’ new city regions and focusing on building even stronger relationships with its members.

The new approach will see Graham Morgan step aside as Chamber Director as part of changes that involve recruiting for three new posts – a head of operations and two regional relationship managers, one each for the Swansea and Cardiff Capital City regions.

At the same time, Keith Palmer – who heads the parent body behind the Chamber and Centre for Business – and the elected representatives of Chamber members in Cardiff, Swansea and Mid Wales will take the lead on the organisation’s external relationships.

Keith Palmer, group chief executive of Newport and Gwent Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, said: “The Chamber has come a long way over the last five years under Graham’s leadership. He has done a sterling job in getting us to this point by introducing structure, rigour and process to the organisation. We now want to build on this, preserving all that Graham introduced while focusing more on the added value we can bring to our members and on strengthening the team with these new appointments. Our members need dedicated relationship managers who will keep in close contact with them, develop a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and help them find services and support in Wales that will really benefit their business.”

Graham Morgan, 57 from Cardiff, who joined the Chamber in 2009 after holding the position of senior director for NatWest in Wales, has helped knit together the different organisations that merged to form the South Wales Chamber.

During this period, he has spearheaded two flagship initiatives: The development of the South Wales Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey, which now encompasses the whole of Wales and is seen as a barometer of the Welsh economy, and the launch of the South Wales Chamber’s annual manifesto, the Campaign for Welsh Business.

Mr Morgan’s other achievements include building the Chamber’s influence in policy making by contributing to the development of Welsh Government strategy in key areas such as economic renewal and the development of Cardiff Airport. He has also driven forward the South Wales Chamber’s international work, including winning a Welsh Government contract to deliver International Trade Opportunities and establishing a close relationship with the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC).

Paying tribute to Morgan’s contribution to the Chamber, Keith Palmer said: “In the five years that Graham has been with us, he has overseen the merger of three separate Chambers across the region, built numerous invaluable strategic relationships and raised the profile, and credibility of South Wales Chamber of Commerce. We now need to take this baton, build on Graham’s work and take the Chamber to the next stage of its development. During my first year as CEO, he has especially helped me by passing on his many years of corporate knowledge and expertise about the organisation. I’m also grateful for the broader work he has done regarding developing the structure of the Senior Management Team and helping us to navigate the intricacies of the world of commercial banking, which we’ve needed to do as an organisation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Graham, on behalf of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, for all of his hard work, and to wish him the very best for the future. ”

Graham Morgan said: “I’ve really enjoyed my past five years at the South Wales Chamber and am proud to have helped make it one of the top 20 Chambers in the UK. In the past five years alone, membership numbers have grown 108% to the 1,096 that we enjoy today, and we are on plan to get to the top five chambers in the UK by 2018. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of professional and business circles to help with the crusade of developing the chamber, and I’m now looking forward to taking a well-earned break before deciding on what the next business challenge is. I will also use my time to continue to raise money for Meningitis Now, a cause very close to my heart. As a family, we’ve already raised more than £50,000 since 2012, and my wife and I have already signed up to trek through the Andes to Patagonia early next year, so I doubt I will be resting for very long!”

The South Wales Chamber of Commerce has grown from its original roots as the Newport and Gwent Chamber of Commerce to become the voice of SMEs across the southern half of Wales, employing 15 people.

Stuart Taylor, chair of the Swansea Bay Territory Council, said: “This is an exciting time for the South Wales Chamber as it enters a new era. The Chamber’s approach of aligning itself with the city regions’ key business priorities, through working collaboratively with key public and private sector partners and contributing to economic policy that underpin these, makes sound strategic sense, with crucially members seeing tangible benefit from the changes. I would like to add my personal thanks to Graham Morgan who has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the organisation in Wales.”

The parent body of The South Wales Chamber and the Centre for Business is the Newport and Gwent Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. The company has 95 members of staff with a turnover of £5m with 11 offices located in Swansea, Neath, Cardiff, Newport (2), Merthyr Tydfil, Ebbw Vale, Caerphilly, New Inn, Abergavenny and Newtown.

The three new positions will be advertised towards the end of March. For further information please visit southwaleschamber.co.uk .

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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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