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Carmarthenshire’s aspirations to regenerate rural communities

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Executive Board has unveiled its aspirations to regenerate its rural communities – strengthening local economies, creating jobs and business opportunities and protecting the Welsh language.

It is the first time ever that a wide-ranging strategy has been developed by the council to specifically focus on its rural areas.

Over 60 per cent of Carmarthenshire’s population lives in a rural area and the council’s executive board was the first to create a specific portfolio to represent rural affairs.

That position is held by Cllr Cefin Campbell, who chairs a cross-party task group to investigate, understand and plan what is needed to create more sustainable rural communities and economies.

Cllr Campbell presented his ‘Moving Rural Carmarthenshire Forward’ report to Executive Board for the first time this week, securing the full backing of colleagues to progress the report to Full Council.
At the heart of the new strategy is an emphasis on creating jobs and business opportunities so that young people stay and settle in Carmarthenshire, instead of migrating to find good quality jobs and lifestyles elsewhere.

There is also an emphasis on encouraging young people to return to their roots, with incentives to help them set up businesses to support themselves and the local economy.

Initiatives being looked at include making innovative use of vacant or unused agricultural buildings to create hubs for entrepreneurs, and improving broadband provision so that digital connectivity isn’t a barrier to rural development.

A Carmarthenshire ‘brand’ could be developed to support and grow the county’s diverse agriculture and food production sector, encouraging communities to buy local to create a re-circulating ‘Carmarthenshire pound’, and boosting the county’s growing tourism sector.

The council’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and use of plastics also features as part of the plan, with proposals to work with partners and agencies to create a more sustainable environment, with new infrastructure including an investment in rapid charging points for electric vehicles.

Rising to the challenges created by Brexit is a key focus, to ensure the agricultural industries – which make up the majority of businesses in rural Carmarthenshire – are not adversely affected, with Cllr Campbell calling on Welsh Government to take more action to forward plan.

The report also details a ‘Ten Rural Towns Initiative’ which will launch in the autumn to ensure market towns, from Llandovery to St Clears, are more economically, socially, environmentally and culturally sustainable for the future.

“More than 60 per cent of the population of Carmarthenshire live in rural areas, so we are talking about having an impact on the vast majority of people,” said Cllr Campbell.

“Regenerating the economy is an integral part of this report. The important message is that we are currently losing about 1,000 young people in Carmarthenshire each year – many talented people have left; we hope to attract them back to the county. We want to create an infrastructure that will help them with their entrepreneurial skills.

“We need sustainable housing, we need to be less strict on our planning guidelines for rural development, and we need to support our village schools so that it will attract more families to set up in the area.”

He added: “Our recommendations include an array of initiatives which will allow our young people to live and work locally. These developments will also strengthen the position of the Welsh language as demographic changes are one of the key reasons for its gradual demise.”

Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “The Welsh Government is paying attention to this report – it’s innovative and essential.”

Visit the Council and Democracy section at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales to read the full report, which is available as part of the agenda papers for Monday’s Executive Board, alongside a web archive of the debate in the chamber.

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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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.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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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 amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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Business

Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing

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Caws Cenarth award

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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