DYFED POWYS POLICE have bought themselves out of a Private Finance Initiative deal costing £700,000 per year which tied up almost a fifth of the forces’ total estates budget.
Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon announced this week that the PFI contract which facilitated the building and maintenance of Ammanford police station has been ended, and that the force has agreed to take over the ownership of the station.
It is claimed that £3.1m will be saved as a result of the multi-million-pound buyout. The original 30 year contract, which started in 2001 involved a £21m PFI loan, which was around ten times the build cost. Figures have yet to be released concerning the cost of the buyout, but it is thought to be in the region of £4m.
Mr Salmon said: “The savings will be invested into front line policing and keeping people safe. I’ve long said that the PFI deal, which I inherited on my election in 2012, did not deliver value for the public and the police. I said I’d leave no stone is unturned to address the issue so I instigated discussions which have now led to the change in ownership. They took around two years and cost around £160,000 in professional fees – but we save more than £3m against the PFI deal and that’s good news for our communities.”
Ammanford Police Station, in Foundry Road, opened in 2001. The project was funded by a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract signed in 2000 by the former Dyfed-Powys Police Authority and Ammanford-based company Dolef.
The PFI – due to run a total of 30 years – saw the police pay monthly sums for the building.
Mr Salmon, elected in 2012 to replace the Police Authority, owns the police estate.
The Commissioner said: “I’d like to pay tribute to some organisations and individuals who each played a significant role in the new agreement. Dolef, the building’s former owners, were professional in their approach to our discussions. Jayne Woods, my director of finance, worked with professionalism throughout the process.
P2G, our consultants, gave me expert support and the benefit of great knowledge.”
AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas said that Plaid Cymru had long been critical of the original PFI contract: “Plaid Cymru opposed Labour’s PFI contracts from the very beginning and warned that these expensive agreements would suck valuable resources from front line budgets – a position that has been proven right time and again” he told The Herald.
However, Mr Thomas was keen to point out that the company responsible for the construction and maintenance, which is locally based and employed local tradesmen, was in no way to blame: “The company operated fairly within the parameters set out by Labour’s Gordon Brown and our anger at these costly agreements has always been directed at the ludicrous policies of the previous government – not the companies who had no choice but to use them,” he added.
Describing the decision as a ‘positive result for the taxpayer,’ Mr Thomas called for Mr Salmon to demonstrate similar commitment to saving the Dyfed Powys Police helicopter.
“The Police Commissioner spending £160,000 on professional fees is a clear demonstration by Mr Salmon that if he believes an issue is worth pursing, then money is clearly no object,” he said.
Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend
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.
Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales
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.
Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo
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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