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Reserves row re-ignites

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C A R M A R T H E N S H I R E COUNTY COUNCIL has issued a lengthy press release that seeks to explain the council’s position in respect of the use of its reserves. “We appreciate why people were questioning why we are keeping £122m in reserves, which is forecasted to be £96m by the end of March, and then cutting our services,” said Cllr Jeff Edmunds. “But we cannot simply dip into these reserves, the vast majority of which is ring-fenced for a specific use.”

Cllr Edmunds continued: “Put simply – to compare with an average household – reserves are like our savings account which we use if we need to make home improvements, fix the car etc, and our revenue budget which funds services, are like our current account which pays our bills. If we raid our piggy bank because we can’t afford to pay our bills it will be depleted and when we need money for anything there will be none there. Reserves are for one-off expenditure or projects, it is unsustainable and would be a reckless use of funds to take money from them for day to day living.”

One Independent Group councillor suggested to The Herald: “The question begged by his (Cllr Edmunds’) remarks is whether he thinks it is better to have a million in the bank and sit in darkness because the electricity and gas have been disconnected.”

Chris Moore, the council’s head of financial services, was less absolutist than Cllr Edmunds; however, his words were still cautionary: “Reserves are set aside to meet future potential liabilities, and any use of the reserves for any purpose other than what it is earmarked for, should be considered with extreme caution.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Kevin Madge, said: “We want to be very clear about our use of reserves. We are planning for a sustainable future. Raiding our ‘piggy bank’ to see us through this financial year simply stores up problems for the future. It would be irresponsible to put ourselves at such risk.”

However, Cllr Madge’s view on the reserves and the irresponsibility of using them was not shared by Plaid Cymru’s group leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole.

He told The Herald: “It seems to me that what is being said about the reserves on the one hand is totally inconsistent with the way the executive board managed to approve switching £3m of reserves around not that long ago. My deputy, Dai Jenkins, attended a recent meeting of the executive board at which the board nodded through moving £3m around the reserves at Chris Moore’s proposal without any questions being asked. It worked out at a £1m a second to deal with the whole thing. Of course officers need input into decisions, nobody can dispute that, but they should only be advising councillors, not directing policy. That is what the executive board and the council are there to do. If you have a weak executive and strong officers it is a recipe for disaster. Our view that we should look at what we can do with the reserves cannot have come as a surprise to the council leader. He was told by Leighton Andrews – a Welsh Labour minister – that councils across Wales should look at what they can do with those reserves. That letter was sent in November. The council’s reserves are an essential part of the budget process. Those reserves are public money and should be used for the benefit of Carmarthenshire people. It really should have rung a bell in someone’s mind at County Hall that the reserves would need to be examined. It follows that they should be scrutinised. At the moment there is £15-20m sitting in a reserve just called ‘other’. I suppose there could be reserves marked ‘other-other-other’ just to make clear what they are for! Against a background of austerity, we should have looked at the reserves as the Welsh Government suggested. The way the council has dealt with the whole issue of reserves smacks of scare-mongering.”

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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