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Concerning rise of Covid-19 cases in Carmarthenshire

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THE HEALTH protection zone covering a large part of Llanelli is working well and helping bring down the number of positive Covid-19 cases, however concerns are increasing about the spread of Covid-19 elsewhere in Carmarthenshire.

Residents living in the zone are being thanked for their efforts and asked to keep up the good work for at least another week to help bring numbers down even further.

Carmarthenshire County Council, working with Hywel Dda University Health Board and Welsh Government, is keeping the situation under constant review.

Discussions are also taking place to prepare for a potential ‘circuit breaker’ – a measure being considered by Welsh Government to stop the rapid spread of the virus across Wales.

It would mean a return of stronger national restrictions for two-three weeks.

Welsh Government is due to announce its decision on Monday.

In Carmarthenshire, although cases remain concentrated in Llanelli (currently at 87.4 per 100,000 of the population*), small clusters of the virus are being identified across the county.

The rate of infection for Carmarthenshire, excluding the Llanelli health protection zone, is currently 64.8 per 100,000 of the population.

The rate for the whole county, including the Llanelli health protection zone, currently stands at 71.5 per 100,000 of the population.

All figures quoted are correct as at October 14, 2020 – the most recently available data.

Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “We are so pleased to see the numbers continue to fall in the Llanelli area – this shows that the extra restrictions put in place are working,” he said.

“We are so very grateful to the people of Llanelli for listening, taking extra care and helping control the spread.

“However there is a note of caution for the rest of the county where we’re seeing figures starting to creep up.

“Largely, these appear to be in small clusters, and not as concentrated as in the Llanelli health protection zone, however it is a cause of concern. It shows that the virus is spreading.

“Contact tracing investigations tell us that many of these cases are linked back to people coming into close contact with eachother whilst socialising in licensed premises or at work, and then sharing the virus with people they live with.

“So we’re asking – please – keep your distance from people you don’t live with, practice good hygiene, wear a face covering, work from home if you can, and self-isolate if you’re asked to or if you have any Covid-19 symptoms.”

Carmarthenshire County Council continues to concentrate resources on supporting licensed premises to provide a safe environment for customers.

Since September 25, when the extra restrictions for Llanelli were announced, over 450 pro-active visits have been made to business premises offering advice and support.

Most are operating well, but there is still a small minority of licensed premises not putting safe systems into place – 12 of those have been served closure notices since September 25, most of them re-opening after making significant improvements.

Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board Ros Jervis said: “This is a critical moment for the wider Carmarthenshire population. We can see cases rising and we need everyone to take action. Please do what you can to protect your health and that of your loved ones. Remember – hands, face and space. Wash hands regularly, use a face covering when social distancing isn’t possible and if you live outside of a health protection zone, where extra restrictions apply, then still place keep a two metre distance from people not in your household, whether you are inside or outside. Taking these measures is not only the best way to protect our health, but also the best way to protect the more vulnerable in our local communities.”

Deputy Chief Executive, Medical Director and respiratory consultant for Hywel Dda University Health Board Professor Philip Kloer added: “We are seeing a worrying rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 in Carmarthenshire. We are already providing care for Covid-19 patients in our hospitals and we expect these numbers to increase, right at the time of year when our hospitals are getting ready for the busy winter period. Please, in order to protect yourselves and the ability of the NHS to provide you and your families with the care you need, follow the guidelines. Our staff are working incredibly hard and following stringent infection prevention procedures. Please do not mistake this as a message to stay away from hospital or primary care services if you need them. We are here for you and we have made our hospitals and health care provision as safe as possible for you and our staff, using all the expert evidence about how this disease spreads and the infection prevention measures required.”

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Have your say on the future of housing in Carmarthenshire

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RESIDENTS and businesses are being urged to have their say on the future of housing in Carmarthenshire.

Carmarthenshire County Council is developing a new 10-year Housing and Regeneration Masterplan and residents are being asked for their views.

Providing quality, affordable homes is a key priority for the council and it is investing millions of pounds in new housing stock; creating much-needed jobs and helping to grow the local economy and regenerate communities.

In 2015, the council became the first in Wales to suspend the Right to Buy to retain its declining housing stock, and built a number of bungalows – the first local authority housing to be built in Wales since the 1980s.

A year later, in 2016, it launched its affordable homes plan to deliver 1,000 additional affordable homes in the county by 2021 by building new, buying from the market and converting empty buildings.

Now the council is shaping its plans for the next 10 years which includes building over 900 new council homes and investing nearly £150million across the county by 2029.

It is important that the new homes are of the right type, size and tenure, and in the right places to build strong sustainable communities where people want to live and work.

The Housing and Regeneration Masterplan will also recognise the role of housing development and investment in stimulating the overall economic growth of the county – which is now even more critical as we recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents are being encouraged to take part in our online consultation which starts on Monday, June 14.

Cllr Linda Evans, Executive Board Member for Housing, said: “We are proud to be leading the way here in Carmarthenshire to deliver new, affordable, high quality and much-needed homes for local people.

“We have already achieved so much during the last few years, but we must now plan for the next 10 years and we need the views of our residents to help tell us where they think these homes should be developed, who should have them, and what type and size they should be.

“We are committed to making more homes available for those in highest need, and aim to deliver a plan that will provide homes in communities where people want to live, with a range of homes to suit specific needs.

“This includes our rural towns and villages, where we must help to make sure that local people are able to afford quality affordable homes and remain in their communities; as well as increasing the residential offer in our town centres, increasing footfall and helping businesses to thrive.

“Aside from providing much needed homes in the county, the investment will also boost the local economy creating jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships in the construction industry.”

The council is delivering this commitment in a number of ways, including building more council homes and working with housing association partners to deliver more new build schemes, buying stock that suits our needs, working with developers to ensure a range of affordable homes are built as part of private developments and bringing empty homes back into use. 

It is also actively working with landlords to encourage them to make their properties available at affordable rent levels, including bringing more private sector homes into the management of our in-house social lettings agency.

To take part in the survey please visit the consultation pages on the council website carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultations Paper copies are available from one of our customer service Hwbs. The survey closes on July 26.

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Community wardens hit the streets of Tyisha and Glanymor

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has appointed two new community wardens to patrol the Tyisha and Glanymor areas of Llanelli.

The community wardens will support the local Neighbourhood Policing Team and other agencies to provide a visible presence within the area and will have a varied role which will include:

  • Patrolling hot spot areas to deter crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Tackling vandalism and fly tipping as well as issues relating to communal areas and open spaces/parks
  • Supporting the introduction of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme
  • Organising the installation of crime prevention measures
  • Offering targeted support to vulnerable members of the community
  • Encourage wellbeing activities and community engagement with youth projects, schools and clubs including the promotion of volunteering opportunities.

Linda Evans, chair of the Tyisha steering group and executive board member for housing said: “I am delighted that Tyisha and Glanymor now have community wardens who will work closely with Dyfed Powys Police and other agencies to deliver a multi-agency approach to tackling issues of community concern. In response to community feedback they will prioritise tackling anti-social behaviour issues, reducing crime relating to drug and alcohol misuse and engaging with the community to make positive changes throughout Tyisha and Glanymor.”

Ann Davies, Executive Board Member and vice-chair of the Tyisha Steering Group said: “The work carried out by the community wardens will make a positive difference through helping to reduce fear of crime and incidents of anti-social behaviour as well as improving quality of life for those who live in these communities.”

The introduction of community wardens to the Tyisha area forms part of the council’s ambitious Transforming Tyisha project which looks to regenerate the area through increasing community safety, developing housing and community facilities and improving the environment.

To contact the community wardens or for more information on joining Tyisha and Glanymor’s Neighbourhood Watch Scheme please e-mail tyisha@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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Pollinators protected during annual grass verge cuts

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council highways crews are starting their annual roadside grass cutting operations this week, but not every verge will be fully cut.

As part of its duty to protect biodiversity, grass will only be cut in one metre swathes in most areas where growth is affecting road visibility and pedestrian safety and several verges will be left until later in the year allowing flowers to set seed before being cut.

Much of Carmarthenshire’s roadside growth of grass and wildflowers will be left untouched to support local wildlife and pollinating insects.

Cuts will only be taken in these areas if there are health and safety concerns, particularly in 30-40mph areas in towns and villages.

Cllr Hazel Evans, the council’s executive Board Member for Environment, said the authority has taken a careful view of grass cutting operations not just for the sake of biodiversity but also to keep costs down.

“We have to carefully balance the needs of local wildlife with our responsibility for highway safety,” she said. “The importance of the road verge network for nature conservation is reflected in our verge maintenance policy. We delay the cutting of some verges in the interests of conservation as long as highway safety for motorists, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians is not jeopardised.

“This is not only a reflection of our duty to the environment but also follows budget reviews which have identified cost savings by reducing and delaying grass cutting operations.”

Pollinating insects are essential for the maintenance of ecosystems through pollination of the wild plants which form the basis of most habitats. They also play an important role in the production of many crops.

The council works to conserve and enhance biodiversity and has a range of projects to support local species and habitats.

Managing areas for wildlife can provide opportunities for individuals, community groups and schools to get involved, benefiting wildlife and people.

Visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/biodiversity for further information and ideas for ways to support local conservation. 

For further information on highways operations, visit the website’s travel, roads and parking pages.

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