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‘We must get the best deal for Wales’

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A HERALD reporter met with Plaid Cymru election candidate Elwyn Williams in his Carmarthenshire office. Among the clutter of election literature and paperwork, the experienced campaigner told us about his background and hopes for the future for Plaid Cymru. He also expressed cautious optimism about Plaid’s chances in the General Election.

“I was born, brought up and educated in and around Carmarthenshire. I have worked in the insurance business in Carmarthen since 1979 and also on the farm. I have been involved in politics since a young age and would say I am a middle of the road person when it comes to politics.”

Addressing the issue of the English language media’s portrayal of Plaid as a left-wing, fringe party, Cllr Williams pointed out: “I think what’s happened is that the political spectrum has shifted. You have two Labour parties. One claims to be of the left, but the nearer you get to Westminster the further to the right they go, the conservatives are firmly on the right, the Lib Dems have shifted to the right, having at one time been to our left.”

He continued: “I think when it comes to individual policies left/ right is a false divide. There are times when the issues are not on one side or the other but sometimes are based upon how well the candidates are known and can get themselves known. I think my local connections are an advantage. I have roots in the community and people from both sides have assured me of their personal vote at the election. That means a lot to me.”

On Plaid’s policy of seeking independence for Wales, he adopted a pragmatic approach: “I believe Wales is a nation and, while there is not much support for independence (yet), I firmly am of the belief that that it is Plaid Cymru’s duty to the best it can for Wales.”

Funding for Wales from the UK Government is a hot topic in the election debate in Wales and also an important issue for Cllr Williams: “A key issue for me is making sure that Wales has its fair share of the UK budget. We are badly underfunded compared to some other parts of the United Kingdom and I am convinced that if we were to have fair funding it would remove the need for the most drastic cuts that face Welsh local authorities. Compared to Scotland, we are short by £1.2bn and compared to some English regions by £300m to £400m.”

He emphasised that Wales needs to use the funding it gets both from the UK government and from Europe wisely: “We must find a way to create better jobs using European funding. Employment re-energises the economy and the individual. Money circulates, business improves, people feel more positive and there is a general uplift in confidence both in the individual and in business.”

On local challenges, Cllr Williams spotlighted three major areas to work upon: “The important thing is to sustain and maintain the diverse local economy within West Wales. The milk industry has a large problem, we must try to process the milk locally to secure a better price for local farmers. In 2013 milk was in relatively short supply, now production is very high and the demand has not risen to keep pace with an increased supply. We must work to maintain high-skilled jobs in the west of the constituency along the Cleddau. Those are very important not only for the people who work there but for the whole of Wales. The tourism sector needs to be boosted, we need to invest now for the future to ensure people keep coming to West Wales and keep coming back.”

On Plaid’s sometimes negative portrayal as a single issue party centred around the Welsh language, Cllr Williams told us: “What we are trying to do is to take the Welsh language out of politics and form a cross-party consensus. We are able to make common ground on this with all parties. To be bilingual gives a person advantages, especially in relation to the future opportunities. Let’s face it: The Conservatives and Labour are doing nothing for Wales. Only a strong Plaid Cymru presence will negotiate to get the money Wales needs. Only Plaid are offering a positive alternative to austerity for Wales. In politics you have to be practical, we have to look at the situation we are in after May’s General Election.”

He was positive about his own chances for success: “In the Assembly elections we are in the top three and close to victory. We have now separated our candidates between Westminster and the Assembly so that we maximise our chances for success in both to make sure there is no impression that our attention is split between Westminster and the Senedd. There is no second chance for me, this is it. We have had good responses from all parts of the constituency and we will work hard to secure votes from all areas, as well as in Carmarthen Town and West Carmarthenshire.”

On the often difficult relationship between MP’s and local authorities, Cllr Williams suggested that he would try to work with councils wherever possible: “From Westminster, I would still seek to influence local councils. I think with officer-led councils like Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, and I am a Carmarthenshire councillor, the key thing is not to be aggressive but to try and work with them towards solutions to problems. We need more party politics in local government to make sure that voters have clear choices and there are clear policies before local voters. The independents in both Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire are, in many ways more united than the political groups who oppose them. But the voters are unable to properly hold them to account. They promise and deliver little. With more party politics, the power of officers will be reduced as candidates who become councillors will have to deliver on what they promised the voters who elected them.”

On the national prospects for Plaid, Cllr Williams finished on an upbeat note: “I see Plaid gathering momentum to make the kind of big changes that Wales needs. In order to form a government in the Assembly, we will have to form a coalition. The process of forming coalitions means that Plaid takes a realistic and pragmatic view of politics, but we are always mindful that Plaid aims to deliver the best deal for Wales.”

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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