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Firm wants Aberystwyth-Carmarthen link

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TRAWS LINK CYMRU are to host a meeting to report on the progress of the campaign to re-open the rail line between Carmarthen and Aberwystwyth.

On Thursday March 19, in St. Peter’s Civic Hall, the West Wales Rail Campaigners will host the meeting, which will be open to the public.

Following two meetings held in Lampeter in Autumn 2013, Traws Link Cymru was formed in the spring of 2014. In order to provide a railway connection between north and south Wales, Traws Link want to re-build the rail link between Carmarthen and Aberwystwyth, as well as a connection between Afon Wen and Bangor.

In 1998, the idea to better the connection between the north and south of Wales was first put forward by Friends of the Earth. The idea gained renewed relevance when the Scottish Borders Railways, from Edinburgh to Galshiels, were due to reopen in 2015.

A debate was led by Simon Thomas (AM) at the Welsh Assembly in March 2014 and was supported by all political parties. It gave momentum to the campaign, and a meeting was soon held with Network Rail, who supported the idea.

8,000 signatures were accumulated over the summer, emphasising the desire for an improved connection. A survey of the trackbed indicated that less than 3% was already built on. The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, indicated his support and Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion have now voted to support the campaign, along with over 40 community and town councils along the line.

Traws Link are soon to meet with civil servants in Cardiff to help prepare for a Feasibility Study. They are also going to meet with the Minister of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb MP, to discuss plans for the improving railway links in Wales.

Traws Link have said: “The new railways will provide a swift connection across west Wales linking six universities and providing passengers with access to hospitals, shopping and cultural facilities. It will encourage investment and new job opportunities for one of the poorest parts of the EU and help sustain the Welsh language. In addition, the potential for freight transport will help to make our roads safer and encourage a more environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure.”

Adrian Kendon, the Chairperson of Traws Link Cymru, commented: “We expect that, following the devolution to the Welsh Government of responsibility for infrastructure and the completion of a feasibility study, the railway will be rebuilt from 2019 onwards. We have estimated the cost as being between £400m and £650m including devising new routes into Carmarthen and Aberwystwyth.”

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South West Wales enters a state of Drought as dry weather continues

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FOLLOWING the extended period of dry weather, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has confirmed that the trigger thresholds have been met to move South West Wales into drought status from Friday, August 19.

NRW’s decision to move from prolonged dry weather status to drought for the area was agreed and shared with a meeting of the Welsh Government’s Drought Liaison Group and after consideration of the exacerbated pressures the high temperatures and lack of significant rainfall have had on the environment in this area.

The rest of Wales remains in prolonged dry weather status but concerns still remain. While essential supplies of water remain safe, the public and businesses in drought affected areas should be very mindful of the pressures on water resources and should use water wisely.  NRW continues to closely monitor the situation across Wales, working with partners and will take action as required.  

Natalie Hall, Sustainable Water Manager for NRW, said: “Prolonged dry weather can lead to drought when rainfall remains low. This can impact some of our most precious habitats and species as well as systems we often take for granted, such as our water supplies.

“We have decided to declare a state of drought in South West Wales after it was clear the lack of rain and recent heat have put a huge strain on our rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels.“

The areas affected are:

  • North Ceredigion (Rheidol, Aeron, Ystwyth)
  • Teifi
  • Pembrokeshire (Eastern and Western Cleddau)
  • Carmarthen (Tywi and Taf)
  • Swansea and Llanelli (Tawe and Loughor)
  • Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend (Neath, Afan, Ogmore)

South West Wales received just 65.5% of its average rainfall in July and all river levels in the area are lower than expected for this time of the year, with the Ewenny, Teifi and Taf exceptionally low.

Low groundwater levels coupled with record high temperatures, have also put a strain on the region’s ecosystems as well as public water supplies in Pembrokeshire and parts of Carmarthenshire.

The rest of the country continues to experience a period of prolonged dry weather, despite there being some recent rainfall.

Across the rest of Wales, the majority of rivers across Wales are lower than expected for the time of year, with many exceptionally low including the Alyn, Conwy, Clwyd, Taf, Teifi, Ewenny, Wye, Usk and Ebbw. 

Between March and July Wales received just 61% of its expected rainfall resulting in the driest five-month period in 40 years

NRW is advising the residents of Pembrokeshire to follow water conservation advice given by Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water, who have introduced a temporary use ban,  more commonly known as a hosepipe ban, which will also come into effect today (Friday 19 August).

NRW and Welsh Government (WG) also attend the national drought group for England to address any cross-border concerns.

Natalie added: “While certain parts of Wales may be experiencing rain, it can still take a long time to recover from drought, making water a precious resource.

“We’re urging the public to save water where possible; you can find the latest ad advice on water by visiting your water company’s website or Waterwise (www.waterwise.org.uk).

“Please report any incidents on the current dry weather on our 24-hour hotline on 0300 065 3000.”

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Llandeilo Youth Club Thrown a Lifeline 

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“A SUBSTANTIAL private donation has dramatically changed our position,” says Llandeilo Children and Youth Society chair Christoph Fischer. “The promise of £10,000 over a period of one year has changed the way we can run the club dramatically.”

The society has had a struggle over the last two years. Set up in response to minor vandalism in Llandeilo during the pandemic, the committee secured a large number of volunteers, support from the Wales Sports Association, CWWYS and secured a grant from the Fund for Wales – BIG scheme. 

Yet, further lockdowns delayed the projects, volunteers returned to work or moved away and buildings that were earmarked as locations for the club were demolished or sold.

“We found the most benevolent support from the Civic Hall where we will share space with the Box of Fists club,” explains Fischer.

“We can now look for a youth worker to run our sessions on Monday and Thursday afternoons,” says the society’s secretary Richard Lashley. “We’re looking for applicants as well as for a suitable partner organisation to take on the administrative sign of this.”

“This money couldn’t have come at a more perfect time,” says treasurer John Meredith Williams. “We almost completed the required training and bureaucratic procedures.”

“It is time there’s something new going on in town for kids,” says Fischer, “and we can’t wait to finally get started.”

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Carmarthenshire students celebrate A Level and A.S. results

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council wishes to congratulate all of the county’s students that are receiving their A-Level and A.S. results today, Thursday 18th August 2022.

Whilst this year has seen a return to exam-based results, following two years of assessment-based grading during the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers have still had to contend with the ongoing impact of the last 2 years.

A total of 98.6% of A Level students in Carmarthenshire achieved A*-E, which is higher than the 97.3% in 2019 when exams were last sat.

Across Carmarthenshire, a total of 40.1% of A level students have received A or A* this year, which is vastly higher than the 24.9% when exams were last sat in 2019.

After 2 years without examinations, students at AS Level also had the opportunity this year to show what knowledge they had learned and skills they had developed, through a combination of exams and assessments, applicable to different courses. 91.8 % of AS students in Carmarthenshire achieved A-E grades which, again, is higher than in 2019.

Cllr. Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language said: “Congratulations to every single student receiving their A-Level and A.S. results today. These young people and their teachers have worked extremely hard, within the uncertain climate that exists due to the pandemic, and they should be very proud, as am I, of their fantastic achievements.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the students, teachers and support staff of Carmarthenshire as well as their families for their hard work over the last two years.”

In a joint statement, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters and Director of Education and Children’s Services, Gareth Morgans added: “Congratulations to our A-Level and A.S. students for their, well deserved, excellent results. The last two years have been very challenging for students, teachers, support staff, families and friends and we are grateful to everyone for their commitment and support to each other during this period.

“These young people are a credit to their schools and our county, and we wish them every success for the future.”

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