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‘ Plans should be made for guildhall future ‘

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Carmarthen Guildhall

Carmarthen Guildhall

AFTER it was revealed last week that Carmarthen Magistrates’ Court was one of 57 across the UK to face closure as a result of changes to the Justice Department’s estate, a Carmarthen County Councillor has suggested that discussions about the Guildhall’s future begin.

The Guildhall, which was built in 1771, is still occasionally used as a Magistrates’ Court, though most cases are heard in Llanelli these days. The interior of the listed building was the subject of a restoration and upgrade in 2012, though questions have been raised about its suitability as a modern-day court. The Government consultation states that ‘many older buildings are unfit for purpose because of shortcomings in the original design, dilapidations, a backlog of maintenance or changes in the way in which our courts and tribunals now operate’.

Plaid Cymru Councillor Alun Lenny said that it was ‘of great concern’ that the proposals would mean that there would be no Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court in the County Town, but concurred with suggestions that the design of the building made it unsuitable as a judicial venue.

Others voicing their concerns about court provision in Carmarthen and the surrounding area included Jonathan Edwards MP and Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon, who said: “I’ll be writing to the Justice Secretary to make clear in no uncertain terms that rural areas should not suffer a lesser service.”

Should the court be closed, as seems probable given the amount of use it receives, questions will need to be asked about the future of this iconic building, among the most notable landmarks in Carmarthen.

The Justice Department has announced that pending the results of the consultation any properties deemed to be superfluous will be sold as part of a ‘streamlining exercise.’ The monies raised will be spent on improving and maintaining the remaining buildings.

If this is the case, a buyer will need to be found for a building which, especially in the case of the upstairs, cannot be modified. As Cllr Lenny put it, ‘Heritage will be all over any developer’.

A possible solution, and one espoused by Cllr Lenny, would be for the Carmarthenshire County Council to purchase the building and develop it as a museum. The Tourist Information Centre could also be relocated there.

The history of the building itself would certainly suit a museum. Two of the ringleaders of the Rebecca Riots David Davies and John Jones, were tried and sentenced to Transportation there, along with a number of their contemporaries. In more recent times, one of the last men to be hanged in Wales, Ronnie Harries, was tried and sentenced there for the brutal murder of his aunt and uncle.

The court was closed to the general public during the trial of two men who were charged with conspiracy to damage a TV mast during the campaign for a Welsh language television station in the late seventies. This decision was taken as a result of protestors in the public gallery disrupting proceedings. On the first day alone five people were sent down for contempt of court, and hundreds of demonstrators filled the square. This aspect of local history is particularly relevant in light of S4C moving to the region.

The Guildhall can also lay claim to being the place which started nationalist parties in both Wales and Scotland. The votes in the 1966 by-election were counted there, and when Gwynfor Evans was announced as the first Plaid Cymru MP, he greeted the crowd of people gathered in the square from the Guildhall’s balcony.

Space is at a premium in Abergwili Museum, with less than 50% of the exhibits on display, meaning that any extra museum capacity would allow more of the county’s heritage to be displayed. As Cllr Lenny put it: “The Guildhall’s future is its past.”

The former Crown Court is not open to the public, which means that the only people outside the legal system who have seen inside it have either been Jury members or in the dock. The building contains several artworks of great local significance, including large paintings of Generals Picton and Nott, which could not be easily removed. Opening this to the public would be of great local interest.

When asked whether this was a plan that could be considered due to the current financial climate for local government, Cllr Lenny acknowledged that in that respect the consultation had come at a bad time, but added that the next round of European funding could provide some assistance.

Cllr Lenny was keen to stress that although he believed that this was the most practical solution for the future of the Guildhall, what was important was that the future of the building was discussed before the Ministry of Justice’s consultation finished, so that the people of Carmarthen and the surrounding county had a chance to contribute their opinions, and were kept informed about any plans for the building.

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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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