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The dangers of legal highs

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legalhighsA NEW campaign has been launched to warn teenagers of the dangers of using New Psychoactive Substances, with a message that ‘Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe.’

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are drugs made to copy the effects of illegal drugs.

To support their new Key Stage 3 lesson ‘New and Nasty’, which focuses on informing pupils about the harmful effects of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), the All-Wales School Liaison Core Programme are launching a series of posters highlighting the dangers of using New Psychoactive Substances.

Between the November 30 and December 4, six new posters were released on the SchoolBeat social media accounts to raise awareness of the dangers of New Psychoactive Substances.

Some of the messages include:

  • You can’t be sure if it’s legal – it may contain illegal drugs
  • You don’t know what you are taking
  • You have no idea what the effects will be
  • You have no idea what is in a New Psychoactive Substance
  • You can’t be certain it’s safe to take
  • You don’t know how your body will react to a New Psychoactive Substance

Wales’ Deputy Health Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “I’m very pleased to support this new awareness campaign. We take the issue of people taking new psychoactive substances – so-called legal highs – very seriously. We’re supporting a range of initiatives to raise awareness, including DAN 24/7, our bilingual substance misuse helpline.

“We have ensured that the All-Wales Schools Liaison Core Programme, which operates in all primary and secondary schools across Wales, is regularly updated to include specific lessons about new psychoactive substances because of their potential impact on children and young people.

“I have been supportive of the UK Government’s proposal to introduce a blanket ban on new psychoactive substances. However, banning these substances will not work in isolation – we have introduced a number of actions to educate, raise awareness and improve our ability to respond to the emergence of new psychoactive substances.”

The new posters are supported and funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston.

Mr Johnston said: “I hope these posters will play an important role in raising awareness about the dangers of substance abuse amongst school children and young people. We want fewer victims of crime and to protect people from serious harm and this is why I supported and provided funding for this project.

New Psychoactive Substances pose a serious threat to the health and safety of people in our communities. We want to send out the clearest possible message that these substances can be dangerous to people’s health – even fatal. These posters aim to help young people make the right choices if and when the time comes they are offered these substances.”

National Coordinator for the All-Wales School Liaison Core Programme, Faith McCready said: “We hope the All-Wales School Liaison Core Programme New Psychoactive Substances campaign will raise awareness of the risks associated with NPS usage. Each poster presents a key message in an innovative way and has been designed to make young people think about the possible consequences of taking these unregulated substances. We feel it is vital that young people are given accurate information so they can make informed choices.”

During the week, School Community Police Officers will be delivering the lesson ‘New and Nasty’ to students across Wales to raise awareness of New Psychoactive Substances and the awareness campaign.

Show your support for the campaign by downloading the campaign board and taking a picture of yourself using the hashtags #NPSAware and #SSNHysbys and posting it on Twitter.

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Community

Llandeilo Festival publishes its Entertainment schedule

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“CHILDREN AND families are at the heart of our festival this year,” announces festival vice chair Debbie Ince. “On Friday 18th November the festival stalls will start trading at 10am but in the evening there will be the official opening, followed at 6:15pm by Santa coming through the town on his sleigh. A children’s Lantern procession from CK to King Street led by Llandeilo Primary School’s Samba group will meet Santa on King Street to tunes by the Llandeilo Town Band and bilingual hymn singer Ffion Haf. Once the children had their fill of Santa, the Christmas Lights will be switched on by Mayor Gordon Kilby. Local legend singer and actor Harry Luke and Ffion Haf will entertain the crowd until 8pm.”

People enjoying the festival

A spectacular and pet-friendly Laser Show will replace the controversial fireworks at 8pm. “There’s also a tea cup ride on King Street for kids,” adds Ince. “On Saturday and Sunday kids can go to Santa’s Grotto 10 – 4, and on Saturday to St Teilo’s Church or Hengwrt for activities. At our park and ride on Beechwood Estate ‘Sgiliau’ will be open for our youngest visitors.”

“There is of course plenty of entertainment for adults, too,” adds festival chair Christoph Fischer. “From Davies & Co Station Road to Flows on Market Street, most Llandeilo venues will play indoor music, many day and night. The stage will host a variety of acts: from school and adult choirs, bands, solo singers and dance groups, such as Mixed Youth Group, Lotus Sisters Belly dancers and Sunflowers Wales. Cooking demonstrations on Saturday and a Santa Run on Sunday morning round up the festival programme. You can find updates on the Llandeilo Town App Dyma Llandeilo.”

Santa at the Parade

“With our wide selection of street food, arts-,crafts-, fashion- and food stalls there should be something for everyone,” adds stalls coordinator and treasurer Mered Williams. “See you all on the 18th.!”

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Carmarthenshire County Council has launched its annual Christmas Toybox Appeal

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The appeal, in its 12th year, helps hundreds of children with families who can’t afford to buy toys or gifts.

Last year saw us help more families than ever who were struggling financially with more than 7,700 gifts distributed to 1,287 children. This year during these unprecedented times we rely on support more than ever.

The appeal was launched online for the first time in 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic and people were asked to make a financial donation instead of buying gifts and toys.

This year people can either give a financial donation or drop off gifts from games, arts and craft items to toiletry gift sets for all ages – from 18 months up to teenagers, at one of a number of collection points around the county.

Schools, family centres and youth workers identify those who are in greatest need of support and council staff will distribute them in the run-up to Christmas.

The council’s executive board member responsible for the Toybox Appeal, Cllr Linda Evans said:

“I am proud to be following on from the legacy of Cllr Mair Stephens who sadly passed away earlier this year. The Toybox appeal this year is going to be more important than ever. We have always had fantastic support and this year we hope this will continue to ensure that hundreds of children will receive a Christmas gift. We know times are hard, but if people are able to spare a gift or a donation no matter how big or small, it will make a great difference to those families less fortunate.”

You can make a donation of your choice online at the Christmas Toy Box Appeal website. If you have a cash or cheque donation please call 01267 246504.

To view the collection point locations please visit the council’s website

Donations are being taken up until November 30.

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Council responds at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning Service

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Audit Wales has carried out a Follow-up Review of Planning Services by Carmarthenshire County Council and concluded that the council has successfully addressed all its recommendations.

In July 2021, Audit Wales published a report following a review of the council’s planning services, with its findings identifying significant and long-standing performance issues in the planning service that needed to be urgently addressed to help support the delivery of the council’s ambitions.

A total of 17 recommendations were made by Audit Wales for the council to address. All of which the report has confirmed have been met.

In response to the recommendations of the report, Carmarthenshire County Council convened an Intervention Board to provide oversight of a 49 point action plan to respond to the Audit Wales findings that were published in July 2021. Over the past 15 months, progress against the plan has been monitored through the council’s governance framework to provide assurance of progress made against the recommendations.

Audit Wales has been following the council’s progress through regular catch-up meetings with the council, document reviews and observing governance and audit committee meetings. They have also interviewed key council officers during the audit process.

Within the follow up-review, which can be viewed on their website, Audit Wales states that:

“The Council is to be commended for the swift, decisive action it took in response to the findings of our 2021 report, and for the way it has driven improvements in its planning service.

“The constructive way in which the Council received our report and acted on the recommendations is a particularly positive example of a Council demonstrating its commitment to driving improvement in service delivery.

“The Council has learnt lessons from the review that it has also applied more widely, particularly in relation to performance management.

“Overall, we found that the Council has successfully addressed all our recommendations and has responded at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning service.”

Cabinet member for rural affairs and planning policy, Cllr Ann Davies said:

“I am very pleased with the Audit Wales report which states that Carmarthenshire County Council has succeeded in overcoming challenges within our planning department.

“The report is excellent, it praises the work and the change in systems, procedures and leadership, recognising the significant improvement that has been achieved.

“The issues in question were not due to a lack of work ethic, as I know first-hand of the effort and commitment that is put in by a number of our officers. It was rather the processes which were to blame and needed to be adjusted, as it did not provide officers with the appropriate environment to carry out the work required.

“I would like to thank all council officers that have worked so hard since the Spring of 2021 to achieve the goal of meeting all 17 of the recommendations that were initially set out by Audit Wales.

“The next step, of course, is to keep going, keep moving forward to stay at the forefront as one of the most productive planning authorities in Wales. There is further work to be done and we are committed to continuous improvement, especially in the world of enforcement but we are moving in the right direction with over 1000 enforcement cases having already been resolved in the last year.”

Click here to visit the Audit Wales website and view a full copy of the Follow-up Review of Planning Services.

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