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Clean-up operation underway following Storm Eunice

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Storm Eunice breaks sign, making it a Welsh-only sign

A MASSIVE clean-up and recovery operation is underway to deal with the aftermath of Storm Eunice which battered Carmarthenshire.

The storm caused disruption to council services on Friday, with schools closing and bin collections suspended.

Leisure centres, parks, libraries, theatres and museums were also closed on Friday as a precaution to keep both staff and residents safe, along with recycling centres, day centres and customer service Hwbs and cash desks.

Routine housing inspections and planned works were also suspended so any emergency works caused by the storm could be prioritised.

The council’s contact centre and out-of-hours staff dealt with hundreds of calls, and staff were mobilised throughout the night and day to deal with the damage caused by the storm.

Council highways crews have had an extremely busy few days as extreme winds brought down trees, branches, roof tiles and electricity cables on Friday and throughout the weekend. To date, they received 295 weather-related highway reports, and this figure continues to rise.

This resulted in numerous road closures across the county which highway crews, supported by specialist tree contractors, worked hard to clear.  Closed roads included King Street in Carmarthen, the A4069 at Llandovery due to flooding, the B4308 at Stradey woods in Llanelli and the A484 at Llangeler and Pentre Morgan. There are still some road closures in place in a few areas, particularly on the minor rural roads and these will re-open once it is safe to do so. All closures are published on the Traffic Wales website.

The council’s property teams dealt with over 300 calls, mainly from housing tenants, reporting damage to their homes, such as loose roof tiles, or fences blown down, as well as from some schools including Llandeilo and Pencader, as well as weather-related issues reported at Richmond Park, Bryngwyn and Ffwrnes. The buildings will be assessed during the half-term break and any necessary repairs carried out when weather conditions allow.

The Clock Tower near Carmarthen Market was also damaged in the storm, as was the roof at Carmarthen Leisure Centre and an outbuilding at Carmarthenshire Museum in Abergwili. Both the leisure centre and the museum remain closed until they can be properly assessed.

The council’s social care staff were also out and about assisting with power cuts which affected some of the county’s care homes and ensuring they provided continued care and support for the most vulnerable.

Now that the winds have started to subside, the clean-up and recovery work can get underway. Specialist contractors are being brought in where necessary to help with storm damage clearance and to minimise the disruption to the public as much as possible.

However, due to the scale of the storm, continuing high winds and availability of contractors, the works will take some time to complete, and residents are being urged to please take care when out and about as some buildings remain damaged and there could still be some debris on the roads.

People are also being urged to check on their neighbours, particularly those in our communities who are more vulnerable.

Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “Our frontline crews have been working hard in challenging conditions and I would like to thank all our staff for their efforts over the last few days, as well as our contractors and all our partner agencies that have helped during the storm. I know it hasn’t been easy, but we really do appreciate all your hard work in helping to keep us safe.”

The impact of the storm is still being felt across Carmarthenshire, with knock-on effects on bin collections in particular. Crews are catching up with missed bin collections from Friday/Saturday, however, this will take a few days as there are still some areas that are inaccessible. Residents are being advised that if their waste has still not been collected by the end of Wednesday, to please report it to the council using its online reporting form on the website.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole said: “Our priority as always, is the safety of our staff and residents. I would like to thank all our staff who have worked tirelessly over the last few days and through the weekend responding to the difficult conditions, and to those who are now managing the clean-up and recovery work now that the wind has started to ease. Our teams will now be able to assess the damage caused by the storm.

“And although we are over the worst of the weather, I am urging residents to be careful whilst driving, especially in the dark, as there could still be some trees, branches and other debris on the roads.”

Residents can also report any highway problems on the council website, please visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk

For regular service and weather updates please visit the council’s Facebook and Twitter pages and the Newsroom page on the website.

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Health

Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award

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STAFF at Werndale Hospital near Carmarthen have been recognised for the quality of their patient care. 

The prestigious ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’ award is presented to an organisation that has shown excellence in its delivery of care, commitment to the community and innovation within healthcare.

Werndale Hospital was also recognised for their initiatives to support staff in their career progression and wellbeing.   

The latest statistics show, 98% of patients at Werndale Hospital were satisfied with their overall level of care, 98% of patients would recommend their care to family and friends, and 98% of patients rated the nursing staff as excellent or very good. 

In addition, independent analysis of Circle hospitals’ hip and knee procedure outcomes of health improvement shows that Circle scored 8.4 versus an independent sector average of 7.8 in the hip category, and a score of 15.4 versus an independent sector average of 13.9 in the knee category.   

The award presented to Circle Health Group, owners of Werndale Hospital, in London in June, also noted the extraordinary contribution the teams at the hospital had made to the community. 

In 2021 alone, Werndale Hospital partnered with Air Ambulance Wales and raised £1,205 to support the charity’s work in the community.  

In addition to the charitable work, Werndale Hospital was recognised for it’s commitment to support staff through a series of wellbeing initiatives and career development opportunities. The judges were particularly impressed with the launch of the ‘Be Heard’ survey at the hospital.   

The survey looks to empower staff to feedback on everything from the working environment at the hospital through to their own career ambitions. Building directly on the feedback from this survey, the ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign was launched which supported staff to work towards specific qualifications from nursing degrees with partnered universities through to bespoke management programmes and MBA qualifications.   

As a direct result of this support for staff at what is a challenging time for healthcare workers, Werndale Hospital and Circle Heath Group were recognised as being a Top 20 Best Large Company to work for.   

At the heart of Werndale Hospital’s approach to treating patients is a commitment to the community they serve.  

 Paolo Pieri, CEO of Circle Health Group, said:  “The award is a testament to what an amazing year 2021 was for Werndale Hospital with considerable investment into the facilities and services on offer to patients in west Wales. I couldn’t be prouder of what our staff and doctors have achieved.”  

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News

Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award

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ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.

Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.

“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.

As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.

“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

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Education

Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years

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Carmarthenshire County Council

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.

The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.

However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.

The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.

All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.

The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.

Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).

It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.

He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.

“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.

“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.

“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.

“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.

“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”

Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”

Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.

“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.

“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”

The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.

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