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Who cut the over-60s free swims?

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60swimAS OF THIS WEEK, free swimming provision for the over- 60s in Carmarthenshire has been dramatically reduced. Llanelli leisure centre now only offers free swimming between 6.30am and 8.30am, and an hour at midday. The question is; who is ultimately responsible for these cuts?
The Herald was contacted by Dennis Gardner, a 77-year-old from Pontyates. He told us that the reduction in free swimming time at Llanelli Leisure Centre had come as a surprise, especially given that Carmarthenshire Council and the Welsh Government both encouraged physical activity in the over-60s: “If they want to keep us all active, why have they suddenly told us we’ve got restrictions on pool use? It’s preposterous,” he said.
Mr Garndner also pointed out that people from outlying villages who were dependant on public transport would be unable to take advantage of the early session. A check of bus timetables revealed that the earliest bus to reach Llanelli from Carmarthen via the B4309 would not arrive in Llanelli bus station until 8.09am.
The new times for free swimming are: Monday-Thursday 6.30-8.30am, 12.30-1.30pm; Friday has an extra hour between 4 and 5pm. Over the weekend, an hour of free swimming is available on Saturday and Sunday.
We contacted Carmarthenshire Council to ask them the reason for the reduction in hours. Their response was to the point: “This is a Welsh Government initiative that has been funded by them. If you any have any queries regarding this issue you would need to speak to them.”
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas agreed that the fault lay squarely with the Labour administration in Cardiff: “It is a crying shame that the Labour Welsh Government has cut funding for the National Free Swimming Initiative aimed at those aged under sixteen and over sixty,” he told The Herald. “The scheme brings immense benefits in terms and socialising, keeping active and easing pressure on health services. The responsibility for the reduction in free swimming lies squarely at the door of the Welsh Government. I hope the county council will consider the impact of the reduced hours of free swimming taking into account the connectivity issues residents have to endure to use leisure facilities.”
The Welsh Government have made cuts of 20% to the budget provided for over-60s swimming in the past year, something that has affected provision in all Welsh local authority areas. In Pembrokeshire, for example, a consultation is currently underway to ascertain public opinion regarding which services should be reduced.
Among the options considered are reducing free swimming provision for children in school holidays to one hour per day per facility, and charging adults £1 to participate in adult/ child swimming sessions, which last for two hours. Free swimming for the over-60s, which is available during all public sessions (on average 61 hours per week in each leisure centre,) will remain unchanged.
We took Carmarthenshire Council’s advice, and asked the Welsh Government who was responsible for the provision of free over-60s swimming. We received the following response:
“It is up to local authorities how they allocate the money we provide for free swimming. Our original guidance issued advised that as a minimum, Free Swimming should be available to the over 60’s at all times other than during school holidays. Since the revision of Free Swimming funding allocations, some authorities may have changed their provision. There are around 13 weeks of school holidays so the over 60’s are entitled to a far greater share of free swimming time than the under 16’s.”
This seems to indicate that the decision to reduce the free swimming provision, and more importantly, the times allocated, are the responsibility of Carmarthenshire Council. The Herald has been unable to find any evidence of any consultation with leisure centre users in recent times regarding these changes.
It could also be argued that the reductions at Llanelli pool represent a reduction of more than 20 percent of the service provided. As Mr Gardner said: “They are putting us at times when no one wants to use the pool.” It is to be hoped that these changes to service provision will not stop senior members of the community from exercising regularly. After all, as Carmarthenshire Council’s Health Challenge Carmarthenshire project states: ‘As we age we drift away from exercise – at a time when it’s especially crucial that momentum is maintained’.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Witness appeal after car is stolen and burnt out

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a car from a property in Lando Road, Burry Port, which was later found burnt out in Pembrey Country Park.

Officers are appealing for witnesses to the theft of the blue Ssangyong Rexton, which took place sometime between 5pm on Friday, 11th November, and 9am on Saturday, 12th November, and would like to speak to anyone who may have information or CCTV or dashcam footage.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation 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-20221112-109

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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