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Value your local bobby

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BOBBIES with local knowledge making local decisions – they’re crucial to helping residents of rural Wales feel safe. High-level new research by university specialists bobbyreveals that communities want stronger neighbourhood bonds with the police. Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon, who funds the work known as Rural Connect, said: “Local policing is vital. I want offi cers to know – and be known – in their communities. That way we build trust and confi dence.

This research is an important reminder of some old lessons. Local people say the small stuff matters. We must tackle the crime and antisocial behaviour that doesn’t make headlines but does make their lives miserable. Senior offi cers must encourage the eff ort needed to build grassroots relationships; they must empower local offi cers to make judgments. Clear communication between the police and public is vital but it takes time, skill and eff ort. Rural Connect contains strong messages from the public and the police. It’s an important piece of research that will help us improve how we police rural communities.”

Dyfed-Powys has unique challenges due to its rural nature; it’s the biggest police force area in England and Wales, covering more than half the landmass of the principality, and has a thinly spread small population of around 520,000. In light of the report, Mr Salmon’s actions will include exploring: • Better mobility for local offi cers, including cycles and mopeds;

• More Special Constables with specialist local or professional knowledge;

• A Say Hello! campaign encouraging offi cers and public to speak more often.

• Local initiatives to replace ineff ective PACT meetings;

• More public access to mediation. He is already considering how schools work can become the responsibility of local offi cers. He wants a better 101 system, more investment in police IT, a review of police middle management and to review provision of the Bobby Van service : ‘Its withdrawal was a mistake’.

The research was led by the Universities’ Police Science Institute (UPSI) based at Cardiff University and used the expertise of Aberystwyth University’s Department of Law and Criminology. It included detailed discussions with members of the public, police offi cers and police staff . The sessions were run by UPSI, the Commissioner’s Offi ce and Dyfed-Powys Police. The key question was: “How can the police best connect with people living in rural communities?” Mr Salmon said: “The voices in this research deserve to be heard. They highlight key areas that we need to address. Some of these areas require small tweaks; others need more fundamental work. I will explore them all in more detail with the Chief Constable.” The Rural Connect report is published today and concludes that, although excellent work is being done by police communities across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, much still needs to be done. It recommends that neighbourhood police offi cers and volunteers should be fully valued, that local knowledge should be developed and retained, that local decision making should be encouraged and that the police should connect more with local people.

Mr Salmon said: “This research is already having an impact; it’s being woven into the force’s strategy for rural policing which is being developed. I want the police to be innovative and outward-thinking in working with local people. Already I’ve removed their targets, have brought a new focus to community policing, have created 30 new police offi cer posts and IT will bring 100,000 more hours on the beat this year. Police offi cers are using my grants to help local organisations thrive, they’re embracing innovations such as Twitter and I regularly witness strong relationships between offi cers, PCSOs and local people. But there’s a long way to go. The public have given me more ideas about what they want, I’ll be working hard with the Chief Constable to drive improvements and I’m already starting to build on the Rural Connect research.”

Sarah Tucker, a research associate at UPSI, said: “Working together with Dyfed Powys staff and offi cers we were able to listen to and understand the issues that aff ect them and their communities, creating an evidence base to inform future decision making.” Rural Connect report author Kate Williams, senior lecturer in criminology at Aberystwyth University and deputy director of the Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice, said: “Working in partnership with Dyfed-Powys staff we were able to learn that both the police and the people in rural communities cherished a positive working relationship. With decisionmaking based on an understanding of local needs, the trust between police and rural communities would build and the connection would strengthen.” Other research just published on behalf of Mr Salmon includes an UPSI study into research literature on rural policing.

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Community

Llandeilo Festival publishes its Entertainment schedule

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“CHILDREN AND families are at the heart of our festival this year,” announces festival vice chair Debbie Ince. “On Friday 18th November the festival stalls will start trading at 10am but in the evening there will be the official opening, followed at 6:15pm by Santa coming through the town on his sleigh. A children’s Lantern procession from CK to King Street led by Llandeilo Primary School’s Samba group will meet Santa on King Street to tunes by the Llandeilo Town Band and bilingual hymn singer Ffion Haf. Once the children had their fill of Santa, the Christmas Lights will be switched on by Mayor Gordon Kilby. Local legend singer and actor Harry Luke and Ffion Haf will entertain the crowd until 8pm.”

People enjoying the festival

A spectacular and pet-friendly Laser Show will replace the controversial fireworks at 8pm. “There’s also a tea cup ride on King Street for kids,” adds Ince. “On Saturday and Sunday kids can go to Santa’s Grotto 10 – 4, and on Saturday to St Teilo’s Church or Hengwrt for activities. At our park and ride on Beechwood Estate ‘Sgiliau’ will be open for our youngest visitors.”

“There is of course plenty of entertainment for adults, too,” adds festival chair Christoph Fischer. “From Davies & Co Station Road to Flows on Market Street, most Llandeilo venues will play indoor music, many day and night. The stage will host a variety of acts: from school and adult choirs, bands, solo singers and dance groups, such as Mixed Youth Group, Lotus Sisters Belly dancers and Sunflowers Wales. Cooking demonstrations on Saturday and a Santa Run on Sunday morning round up the festival programme. You can find updates on the Llandeilo Town App Dyma Llandeilo.”

Santa at the Parade

“With our wide selection of street food, arts-,crafts-, fashion- and food stalls there should be something for everyone,” adds stalls coordinator and treasurer Mered Williams. “See you all on the 18th.!”

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Carmarthenshire County Council has launched its annual Christmas Toybox Appeal

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The appeal, in its 12th year, helps hundreds of children with families who can’t afford to buy toys or gifts.

Last year saw us help more families than ever who were struggling financially with more than 7,700 gifts distributed to 1,287 children. This year during these unprecedented times we rely on support more than ever.

The appeal was launched online for the first time in 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic and people were asked to make a financial donation instead of buying gifts and toys.

This year people can either give a financial donation or drop off gifts from games, arts and craft items to toiletry gift sets for all ages – from 18 months up to teenagers, at one of a number of collection points around the county.

Schools, family centres and youth workers identify those who are in greatest need of support and council staff will distribute them in the run-up to Christmas.

The council’s executive board member responsible for the Toybox Appeal, Cllr Linda Evans said:

“I am proud to be following on from the legacy of Cllr Mair Stephens who sadly passed away earlier this year. The Toybox appeal this year is going to be more important than ever. We have always had fantastic support and this year we hope this will continue to ensure that hundreds of children will receive a Christmas gift. We know times are hard, but if people are able to spare a gift or a donation no matter how big or small, it will make a great difference to those families less fortunate.”

You can make a donation of your choice online at the Christmas Toy Box Appeal website. If you have a cash or cheque donation please call 01267 246504.

To view the collection point locations please visit the council’s website

Donations are being taken up until November 30.

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Council responds at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning Service

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Audit Wales has carried out a Follow-up Review of Planning Services by Carmarthenshire County Council and concluded that the council has successfully addressed all its recommendations.

In July 2021, Audit Wales published a report following a review of the council’s planning services, with its findings identifying significant and long-standing performance issues in the planning service that needed to be urgently addressed to help support the delivery of the council’s ambitions.

A total of 17 recommendations were made by Audit Wales for the council to address. All of which the report has confirmed have been met.

In response to the recommendations of the report, Carmarthenshire County Council convened an Intervention Board to provide oversight of a 49 point action plan to respond to the Audit Wales findings that were published in July 2021. Over the past 15 months, progress against the plan has been monitored through the council’s governance framework to provide assurance of progress made against the recommendations.

Audit Wales has been following the council’s progress through regular catch-up meetings with the council, document reviews and observing governance and audit committee meetings. They have also interviewed key council officers during the audit process.

Within the follow up-review, which can be viewed on their website, Audit Wales states that:

“The Council is to be commended for the swift, decisive action it took in response to the findings of our 2021 report, and for the way it has driven improvements in its planning service.

“The constructive way in which the Council received our report and acted on the recommendations is a particularly positive example of a Council demonstrating its commitment to driving improvement in service delivery.

“The Council has learnt lessons from the review that it has also applied more widely, particularly in relation to performance management.

“Overall, we found that the Council has successfully addressed all our recommendations and has responded at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning service.”

Cabinet member for rural affairs and planning policy, Cllr Ann Davies said:

“I am very pleased with the Audit Wales report which states that Carmarthenshire County Council has succeeded in overcoming challenges within our planning department.

“The report is excellent, it praises the work and the change in systems, procedures and leadership, recognising the significant improvement that has been achieved.

“The issues in question were not due to a lack of work ethic, as I know first-hand of the effort and commitment that is put in by a number of our officers. It was rather the processes which were to blame and needed to be adjusted, as it did not provide officers with the appropriate environment to carry out the work required.

“I would like to thank all council officers that have worked so hard since the Spring of 2021 to achieve the goal of meeting all 17 of the recommendations that were initially set out by Audit Wales.

“The next step, of course, is to keep going, keep moving forward to stay at the forefront as one of the most productive planning authorities in Wales. There is further work to be done and we are committed to continuous improvement, especially in the world of enforcement but we are moving in the right direction with over 1000 enforcement cases having already been resolved in the last year.”

Click here to visit the Audit Wales website and view a full copy of the Follow-up Review of Planning Services.

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