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Fire Chief’s pay being formally investigated

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THE TERMS and salary of the re-employment of a Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) are being formally investigated, The Herald can reveal.

We have previously reported on the re-employment of Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies following his retirement.

Cllr Gordon Walker, a former firefighter and Fire Authority member, officially raised a complaint with The Welsh Fire Minister and Auditor General for Wales regarding the terms of re-employment for the Chief Fire Officer and has been calling for an investigation since last year.

Mr Walker had written to the Fire Authority and MAWWFRS on numerous occasions asking for a review on the situation, however after failed attempts, Mr Walker sent his concerns to the Auditor General for Wales.

The issues that have been highlighted relate to the Chief Fire Officer’s pay and the policy regarding re-employment following retirement.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies, who retired from the service a number of years ago, has since been re-employed by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service in a more senior role.

Due to legislation in accordance with the Authority’s Policy on Re-employment of Retired firefighters, following voluntary retirement employees may be re-engaged and have their pensions abated.

However, this will not normally exceed a one year fixed term contract to retain specialist skills or knowledge, this will not normally exceed a one year fixed term contract.

Stating section 4.4 of the policy it clearly states ‘An individual will be re-employed on the same level of basic pay pertaining to the role they hold on retirement’.

A source within the fire service told us how Chief Fire Officer, Chris Davies, despite taking voluntary retirement and receiving a lump sum payment, has been re-employed by MAWWFRS on a salary that is almost £20,000 higher than his former basic pay.

Despite government legislation that says they should be re-employed for no longer than a one year contract, Chris Davies has been re-employed in his current role for five years.

As of now there is still no succession plan in place to replace Chris Davies with MAWWFRS.

The Auditor General for Wales have confirmed that they will be running a full investigation into the salary and the terms surrounding the re-employment of Chris Davies as Chief Fire Officer.

Speaking to The Herald, Gordon Walker said: “I have put my complaint in and I can confirm that we are awaiting the results of the investigation.”

Gordon has been campaigning relentlessly to have more transparency on the re-employment of retired fire service employees, especially those re-engaged on a rank senior to that on which they left.

A spokesperson for MAWWFRS said: “Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is aware of the allegations made by a Member of our Fire and Rescue Authority and we can confirm that we are currently working with Audit Wales as part of their investigation.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

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Police appeal for missing woman

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DYFED-Powys Police is appealing for help to find a woman who is missing in the Carmarthen area.

Christine, who is 58, left her van at an address in the Cwmduad area overnight and hasn’t been seen since.

She is described as being 5ft 8ins, with grey/blonde shoulder length hair, of very slim build and is believed to be wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

Christine

Anyone who has seen Christine, or knows of her whereabouts, is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPP101Online, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. 

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908, quoting Ref: DP-20220812-040.

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Discover Carmarthenshire launches 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails

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TO HELP their visitors to eat and drink local and authentic produce, Discover Carmarthenshire has developed three new online guides, the 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails for them to follow. The three Larder trails can be viewed here.

With every season bringing the freshest local produce to the county’s markets, delis, farm shops and even the shoreline, as well as an increasing appetite for foodie focused travel experiences, the new trails help visitors head straight to the ‘source’ with some truly authentic experiences to be enjoyed along the way.

The ultimate aim is to help make the picnic, campsite cook up or holiday cottage kitchen supper feature as much Carmarthenshire produce as possible ensuring tourism secondary spend supports the local economy.

Discover Carmarthenshire enlisted the help of three food and travel writers who each spent time in the county researching their trails, locating the tastiest addresses to recommend. Kacie Morgan from The Rare Welshbit who lives in Cardiff covered the west, Binny’s Food and Travel from London hit the east and Carmarthenshire based travel writer Jade Braham, explored her mid county food and drink favourites.

Each trail breaks down advice under different categories including best places for produce market shopping, morning coffee, lunch, treats, hands on tasting experiences, take homes and dinner dates.

From pop up markets to coffee roastery cafes, to cheese makers, vineyards, bottle shops, butchers and delis, visitors following the trails are led on a self guided eating, drinking journey around the county meeting the makers themselves, the farmers, foragers, baristas and gelato producers adding to their experience.

Discover hidden milkshake vending machines down winding county roads and family-run cafes and delis tucked away in market towns, as each guide suggests the best of local eats and drinks.

The Eastern Larder Trail covers the Aman Valley, Llandeilo, Llanelli, the Western Larder Trail explores Laugharne, Whitland, St Clears and Newcastle Emlyn and finally the Mid County Larder Trail focuses on Carmarthen, Kidwelly and Llansteffan. The whole county is covered including experiences such as a low intervention vineyard tour and tasting, to gin and rum distilleries, cookery classes and coastal foraging.

As well as focusing on classic Welsh produce, the trails also celebrate diversity and guide visitors to where they can enjoy Asian curries and tapas cooked up using the freshest local veg followed by a visit to the county’s most famous cheese producer or a drive to a market to search out laverbread, Carmarthenshire’s very own caviar.

The guides also include recommended places to stay (Larder Sleepovers) where the food journey continues – from a new self-catering apartment above the Caws Cenarth dairy, to Mansion House restaurant with rooms and views over Carmarthen Bay, or Cowpots campsite with its own pizzeria and ice cream parlour.

To view the three 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails go to: https://www.discovercarmarthenshire.com/explore/carmarthenshire-larder-trails/.YvOdLS8w35Y:

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Carmarthenshire based company supplies kit to Wales Commonwealth Team

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Olivia Soady - Bethan Jones - Jasmine Joyce - Gabriella Maria - Steven Wright - Credit University of South Wales

A LLANELLI based business, that has received financial support from Carmarthenshire County Council, has won the contract to supply the Wales Commonwealth Team’s training leggings.

Onesta has only been trading since June 2020 but is already kitting out the likes of Rosie Eccles, Anwen Butten and Alys Thomas as they represented Wales at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The leggings were designed by University of South Wales students Beth Jones and Olivia Soady, who won a design competition set by Commonwealth Games Wales in partnership with the University. Beth and Olivia worked in partnership with Onesta to produce 360 pairs of leggings using sustainable, recycled materials.

Since it commenced trading, over two years ago, Carmarthenshire County Council has supported Onesta, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also to realise the company’s long-term ambitions. In June 2021, Onesta was awarded an Economic Resilience Fund grant of £2,500 by Carmarthenshire County Council as support to cover the business bills during the COVID-19 restrictions of May and June 2021. They were also awarded a £2000 Non-Domestic Rates Grant during the COVID-19 support schemes in February 2022.

In April 2022, Onesta was awarded a Business Growth & Recovery Grant of £10,000 to assist with the purchase of manufacturing equipment and workshop and office furniture. The grant money will fund a cutting table, overlockers, cutting machine, industrial iron, industrial sewing machine and lockstitch, which would assist in the manufacturing of the clothing for the Wales Commonwealth Team for the 2022 Games.

The company’s founder, Gabriella Diana, was nominated by the Council for the Wales Start Up Awards in 2021 in which she went on to win the Rising Star category.

Since then, Onesta has also won the Marie Claire Sustainability Award for Best Sustainable Small Brand 2021, UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Award, and was a finalist in the Cardiff Life Awards 2021 and the GBEA Awards 2021.  

Onesta was highly commended in the Heroes of Net Zero competition at a special awards ceremony, hosted by Intuit, at the COP26 international climate change summit in Glasgow. More than 160 businesses entered the competition, making a commitment at the UK Business Climate Hub to achieve net zero by 2050, in line with the government’s own climate commitment. They were highly commended in the micro business category for demonstrating a range of measures taken on their journey to net zero, including sourcing eco-friendly materials locally, removing toxic chemicals used in manufacturing and re-purposing fabric scraps to make sustainable products for Surfers Against Sewage.

Gabriella Diana, Founder and Owner of Onesta said “I was over the moon when we found out that the Wales Commonwealth Team had chosen us to supply their leggings. The past few months have been very busy as we have been measuring the athletes and creating the garments. I’m so pleased to see them being worn on the international stage next week.

“I’m very grateful to Carmarthenshire County Council for the financial support we have received to, not only survive the COVID-19 restrictions but also to build the business and strive.”

Since launching the Business Growth & Start-Up Grant scheme in early 2022, Carmarthenshire County Council has approved 61 business grants to Carmarthenshire businesses. Of which 44 approvals were Business Growth & Recovery Grants, totalling £299,225.17 and 17 approvals were Business Start Up Grants, totalling £117,924.31.

Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism said “As a local authority, we are delighted to have been able to invest in Gabriella and her company to enable her to grow the business. We are also very proud to have provided financial support to Onesta, and other companies based in Carmarthenshire, to weather the difficult COVID-19 restrictions of the past two and a half years.

“We have all enjoyed watching Wales’ athletes compete at the recent Commonwealth Games and the fact that they are wearing a kit that is made in Carmarthenshire has been a source of much pride for Carmarthenshire County Council.”

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