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Three year ‘interim’ contract for CWM

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Waste Collection: AWS’s Llangadog plant

Waste Collection: AWS’s Llangadog plant

AT A MEETING of the Environmental and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee on June 8, it was announced that CWM Environmental, the council-owned company that is responsible for waste collection and recycling in Carmarthenshire along with AWS, who run a recycling facility in Llangadog, had been continuing to operate on an ‘informal’ basis since their fifteen-year contracts expired in March.
According to the minutes, ‘it was asked why the committee was being requested to endorse a recommendation that interim arrangements for treatment, recycling, and the disposal of waste be put in place, as this appeared to have been implemented already, contrary to what the Committee had been told in a previous meeting’.
The expiration of the council’s waste and recycling contract appears to have been the subject of remarkably little attention during scrutiny committee meetings over the preceding year. In fact, dog orders and stray horses both appeared on the agenda more frequently. In a meeting held in February 2014, it was noted that the contract would come to an end in 2015. The committee was told that ‘we are currently considering our waste options post 2015.’
At this point the waste strategy document was ‘in draft form, pending financial decisions relating to the budget pressure and final budget settlement.’ One year later, no attempt appears to have been made to open the process to tender. In the June 8 meeting, the following recommendations were made:
• Implementation of interim treatment, recycling and disposal contractual arrangements as detailed in this report, ensuring that they are put in place by whichever route deemed most suitable, which in practice will mean negotiation for aspects of the service with the existing providers, as appropriate, up to March 2018.
• Exemption from the Authority’s internal Contract Procedure Rules in order to allow the interim arrangements as outlined in the preceding paragraph to be implemented
The WLGA’s Draft Model for Contract Procedures in Wales (section 6.1.4)) states that “for tenders of a value above £75,000, ‘requirements must be tendered and advertised on the national procurement website (as a minimum). Where a restricted procedure is adopted a minimum of three tenders must be invited.”
We asked Carmarthenshire Council whether their ‘interim arrangements’ complied with this. In response, Waste Services Manager Ainsley Williams said: “The council’s current waste treatment arrangements need to be extended for an interim period until a new waste treatment contract is procured. It is accepted that the proposed interim arrangements are the only practical way forward to secure the continuation of the waste service at this time until a new contract is in place, which is likely to be around spring 2018. We are therefore seeking exemption from the council’s Contract Procedure Rules to extend the existing CWM and AWS waste treatment/disposal contracts for three years, pending long term arrangements being secured. There is no intention to avoid a transparent, competitive process and the proposed interim option would seek only to postpone such a competition until a clear specification can be produced (following analysis work with Welsh Government, likely to take 12 months) to allow meaningful bids to be submitted.”
While this is to some extent understandable, given the degree of uncertainty surrounding future Welsh government policy implementation, it is hard to see how in three years, these uncertainties will have been resolved. Regardless of which party or coalition holds the majority in the Senedd next year, a sweeping programme of changes to regional government in Wales is on the cards. It also appears that the Scrutiny Committee was not informed of these developments until after the fact.
We contacted the council again to ask why the awarding of an ‘interim’ contract, which would be worth £7.3m per annum, and would allow for renegotiations with the council-owned company, was given so little consideration during meetings of the scrutiny committee. At the time of going to press we had received no reply.

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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