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S4C’s commitment ‘firm as ever’

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Cllr Emlyn Dole: “The move would help the local economy enormously”

Cllr Emlyn Dole: “The move would help the local economy enormously”

S4C has moved rapidly to allay fears about its intention to relocate its headquarters to Carmarthen.

Following a council press release, which stated that council leader Emlyn Dole was concerned about the affects to cuts to S4C’s budget, imposed by the Westminster Government, The Herald contacted S4C and asked for a statement.

Following the announcement that the BBC would have to cover the cost of free licenses for people over the age of 75 from 2018, concerns about future funding for the S4C were raised.

S4C receives the bulk of its money (£75m) from the BBC licence fee and a further £7m from the Welsh Government, as well as some commercial income.

Labour’s shadow culture secretary, Chris Bryant MP, has said that the cuts to the BBC threaten the future of S4C. The Welsh channel’s budget has been cut by a third since 2010, and Mr Bryant predicts that another 20% is likely to be cut after the license fee deal.

With an estimation that S4C’s move to Carmarthen could cost the BBC up to £650m annually, in its endeavour to make savings, the Corporation may reduce the level of funding for S4C.

Cllr Emlyn Dole has said that he expects S4C to face cuts of around 10% of its annual budget.

He has therefore written to Huw Jones, the Chair of the S4C Authority, seeking reassurance that S4C’s relocation from Cardiff to Carmarthen will go ahead and will not be jeopardised by an efficiency savings.

The leader said: “I cannot overemphasise how important it is for us as a county that the new headquarters moves to Carmarthen. We are confident that the creation of a new purpose-built and iconic building in the town will act as a catalyst for promoting economic development across the region and nationally. The move will result in the creation of an estimated 150 jobs and would help the local economy enormously. It will also be a major boost for the Welsh language, providing good quality job opportunities for Welsh speakers. In the current financial climate, there is concern about these impending funding reductions and the consequential impact on the decision to move S4C to our county.”

Cllr Dole asked Mr Jones to reaffirm his intention to relocate to Carmarthen.

S4C Authority Chairman, Huw Jones, rapidly told us at The Herald: “I can confirm that the S4C Authority’s intention to relocate the channel’s headquarters to Carmarthen in 2018 remains as firm as ever. The motives behind the decision are solid ones – to bring linguistic, economic and cultural benefits for the area, as well as benefits for the service S4C provides. It is true that we currently face uncertainty regarding what will be the level of S4C’s future funding and we look forward to early discussions with the UK Government in relation to that. But from the outset, it was a key condition of our plans to relocate our headquarters that this would be cost neutral to S4C over the project period, and this challenging new context underlines the importance of that.”

Veteran journalist and Plaid councillor Alun Lenny told the Herald that he still feared for the future of S4C, following the Tory election in May: “My concern about the future funding of S4C arises from the fact that – since 2010 – the channel has received over 90% of its funding though the BBC, which itself now faces serious financial cuts and a fundamental shake-up in the Green Paper announced today (Jul 16). Since 2010, S4C has suffered a cut of 36%. As the BBC faces cuts of £650m (20%), UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale says it’s ‘reasonable’ that S4C should make the same level of ‘savings’. That would be disastrous. Faced with such a reckless and uninformed attitude by politicians in London, there’s every reason to be seriously concerned about the future of our sole Welsh-language channel. In the wake of the Tory victory in the General Election, it’s clear that the BBC itself is a prime target, with Whittingdale having appointed a panel to review the future of the Corporation. As the BBC prepares to fight its corner, there’s a danger that a peripheral channel (to them) like S4C could go the same way as BBC3.”

He added: “As S4C prepares to move its headquarters to Carmarthen, with everything that means to our economy and culture, the people of this town and county have a special responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that the channel survives and thrives. On Budget Day, Carmarthenshire County Council unanimously supported my request to write urgently to John Whittingdale to express our serious concern and total opposition to any further cuts in S4C’s already depleted budget. The UK government’s treatment of S4C is absolutely scandalous. We should be extremely concerned and angry about what’s happening.”

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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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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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