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Executive Board proposes reducing Council Tax increase to 66p a week

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet has proposed reducing the Council Tax increase despite the cost of living rising at its fastest rate in three decades and the continued pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members met today to discuss feedback from the public budget consultation as well as to review the council’s current financial position.

After further consideration of the authority’s draft budget, Cabinet Members have agreed to cut the previously proposed increase of 4.39% to 2.5% in recognition of the pressures being faced by residents.

Now, a proposed Council Tax increase of 2.5% per cent is being recommended to Full Council – that would mean a weekly increase of 66p on the average Band D property or £34.07 for the year.

All 74 members of the council will meet in March to discuss the recommendation and make a final decision.

Cabinet Member for Resources Cllr David Jenkins said that they had reviewed their budget plan and made key adjustments which allowed leeway to cap the council tax at 2.5%.

Cllr Jenkins said: “The public response to the consultation quite clearly indicated a majority favoured the lowest increase possible and I would like us to do everything we can to support our residents, recognising that the cost of living is rising at its fastest rate in three decades.

“To be able to set a Council Tax increase as low as 2.5%, I believe is a great achievement considering that there are so many financial risks and pressures with the budget this year, including the recognition that inflation is running well in excess of 5 %. This low increase will hopefully help all our residents of the county.

“Adopting these proposals, allows the Cabinet to present a fair and balanced budget to county council, which responds to the major concerns fed back from the consultation but also recognises the significant inflationary pressures that are being placed in front of the council over the forthcoming year and the financial risks of any future response to COVID-19.”

The council has a legal responsibility to set a balanced budget every year, ensuring that income from sources such as Council Tax, revenue from paid-for services and grants is enough to cover planned expenditure, as well as having money in reserves to pay for unplanned expenses and emergencies.

Cllr Jenkins added: “I would like to express my thanks to all who took part in the consultation or responded to the surveys. One thing that is generally clear from those who took part in the consultation is that they do appreciate that difficult choices need to be made.”

Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism  Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “We have had two extremely hard years with COVID and to be able to present a budget which maintains and develops the services we have is quite an achievement.”

The budget also includes no proposed cuts to school budgets for the next financial year, Cllr Jenkins said: “There are no savings allocated to delegated school budgets next year, allowing headteachers and all schools staff to continue to put all their focus into helping Carmarthenshire’s learners get back on track after what has again been a disruptive two years.”

Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “We are continuing to see the impact of the pandemic on our schools, it has been a very difficult for staff and learners and we haven’t yet seen the end of this with the omicron variant.

“We have supported the schools to the best of our abilities, and I want to thank all our headteachers and staff for working with us.

“This is excellent news for all our schools allowing them to deliver the current level of service in future years.”

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Shock in Carmarthenshire as it’s named as one of the top locations for most reckless young drivers in UK

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CARMARTHENSHIRE has landed some unwanted publicity after being named as home to some of the most reckless young drivers in the UK.

According to comprehensive analysis by Adrian Flux, the county is one of the areas with the speediest teenagers on the road. On average 87.1% of FluxScore users there will receive a serious warning about their speeding compared to less than one in five in Conwy (17%).

The warnings are triggered by a black box that sits in the driver’s car to monitor their performance in the hope of improving safety and saving them money.

“This gamification style approach has helped sensible drivers save up to 60% for year-long safe driving upon renewal,” said Scott Goodliffe at Adrian Flux, one of the UK’s largest specialist motor insurance brokers.

“Unfortunately, some users are less attentive or cautious and their behaviour is a cause for concern because it leaves them more likely to make a claim or hurt themselves or others.

“It’s disappointing when alerts have to be sent but we’re proud that they are helping to change behaviour behind the wheel. We already know FluxScore is reducing the number of speeders across the board by 70% and hopefully this analysis will help address the small number who negatively impact these already impressive figures slightly.”

There are also considerable concerns about how quickly youngsters are travelling in Rhondda Cynon Taf with the area also being named and shamed in the top 10. It’s a much better picture in Conwy though with youngsters there being rated amongst the most careful drivers in the UK.

Adrian Flux’s self-fitting black box sits on the inside of the windscreen and tracks journeys. It helps reward safe driving by providing daily updates on the FluxScore app to show how the previous 24 hours’ driving has affected a driver’s renewal premium.

FluxScore sends alerts to drivers who it deems as driving dangerously or above the speed limit. The findings focus on Alert 2s, which are considered serious speeding events and take into account other factors such as the type of road. If a driver receives three Alert 2s, this will result in their policy being suspended.

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Local specialist contractors needed for countryside works

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is seeking local specialist countryside contractors for work on Public Rights of Way and conservation sites throughout the county.

Businesses in Carmarthenshire are being encouraged to tender for the countywide framework, which is for two years, starting in September with an option to extend for a further two years.

The work will include the management of nature reserves, mitigation for development and government funded habitat projects on sites with challenging conditions, ecological constraints, wet land and difficult access.

Examples of the work include path maintenance, installation of countryside furniture (stiles and gates), mowing overgrown fields, chainsaw and strimmer work, excavator work, woodland management, fencing and tree planting.

A proven track record and a good understanding of working in the rural and natural environment and knowledge of conservation is essential, as is an understanding of the way that the land changes in challenging weather conditions.

Applicants will need to make available vehicle inspection documents and maintenance records, certificates of operator competency (in relation to plant hire with operatives), health and safety policy and relevant insurance documents.

Any suppliers interested in tendering for this work need to be registered on the National Procurement Portal Sell2Wales website, where they can express their interest and receive further information.

This is a free online service and allows businesses to promote their organisation not only to the council but to other Welsh public sector bodies, and to receive notifications about contract opportunities suitable to their field of work.

The council also encourages businesses to register on the Business Wales Business Directory – a free resource where businesses can advertise their services.

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Police appeal for information after vehicle collides with two pedestrians

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POLICE say they are appealing for witnesses following a road traffic collision which occurred on College Street, Newcastle Emlyn just after 4pm on Monday 20th June.

A black coloured Honda CRV vehicle collided with two people on the pedestrian crossing.

A 70-year-old female sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to hospital.

A 50-year-old female was taken to hospital by ambulance with what are described as minor injuries

The 64 year old female driver of the vehicle was arrested on suspicion of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Anyone who witnessed the incident, or has information that could help officers with their investigation, or anyone who was driving in the area at the time and has dashcam footage, is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.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. Quote reference: DP-20220620-283.”

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