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Plaid Cymru outlines capital investment plan

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Cllr Kevin Madge: Accused Plaid of ‘Mother Hubbard politics’

Cllr Kevin Madge: Accused Plaid
of ‘Mother Hubbard politics’

LAST WEEK the Plaid Cymru group on Carmarthenshire County Council pledged to release almost £20m from the capital reserves to spend on major projects across the county over the next five years. In a media release, which The Herald covered online, Cllr Dai Jenkins, the Executive Board Member for Resources, said that since May, Plaid Cymru had been working with the Independents to ‘analyse the reserves in detail.’ “We have established that almost £20m could be released for muchneeded capital projects,” Cllr Jenkins added. These projects include the renovation of Abergwili Museum, and the provision of £2m toward a new archive, which as The Herald reported last week, will ensure that a vital part of the county’s heritage remains in the area, hopefully sans mould. Other projects include, in the words of the press release:

· Extending Oriel Myrddin Art Gallery as the focal point of King Street ‘cultural quarter’: £750,000

· A new circular cycle track at Pembrey Country Park: £500,000

· A contribution towards restoring Carmarthen Park Velodrome as a major cycling venue: £286,000

· The Carmarthen-Llandeilo cycling and walking track: £5.75m

· The Cross Hands economic Link Road – Phase 2: £12.3m

· Upgrading and new attractions at Pembrey Country Park: £1m

· A new care home in Llanelli: £12.5m

· Disabled Facility Grants to help older and vulnerable people to live in their own homes: £10m

· The refurbishment of Glanaman Industrial Estate: £1m · Renovation of Llanelli Market: £300,000

·Rural Enterprise Fund to help enterprises create jobs and economic growth: £2m The above are in addition to the tens of millions of pounds to be spent on new schools and a large number of other varied capital projects.

Cllr Jenkins said that these reserves had not been used to offset cuts in services to the extent advocated by the party when in opposition, because “the truth is, at that time, due to lack of vision by the Labour-led administration, it was unclear why there was so much money in reserves and what use could be made of it. “Some of it may be spent on offsetting cuts to services, but most of the money will be invested in a detailed strategy to create jobs and improve standards of living,” he added. “With council reorganisation on the horizon, it’s imperative that we spend the money raised in our county for the future benefit of Carmarthenshire,” said Cllr Jenkins.

“Plaid has a clear vision for our county’s future – and the means to deliver it.” However, the party was accused of being misleading, on the grounds that a number of the projects had been agreed some time before. The Cross Hands Link Road, for example, has been under discussion for years, and the refurbishment of Glanamman Industrial Estate, an issue which has been noted for some time, was the subject of a report in 2013, which stated that works had to be carried out, and a feasibility study in 2014, which suggested that the existing buildings be demolished and replaced. This was welcomed by then-council leader Kevin Madge, who said that ‘the Glanamman site provides a fantastic opportunity for businesses within the local and wider region but is in need of significant investment in order to bring it up to today’s standards.’

However, Cllr Madge was less delighted with the Plaid Cymru proposals, after finding out about them through The Herald’s Facebook page. “It was extraordinary to log in to Facebook and see that Plaid were making this announcement. It was the first I and I am sure many others would have heard about it. There was also an apparent omission of the Council Leader’s name on that press release. “Where are they getting this money from all of a sudden when we are going to see all the cuts to front line services?” Mr. Madge warned of the need to retain council reserves given the political uncertainty over the structure of council administrations in Wales. He said, “This is ‘Old Mother Hubbard politics’. What happens when the cupboard is bare on a rainy day?” In a Full Council meeting on Wednesday (Dec 9) Cllr Madge also suggested that the Independent Group had not been made aware of the content of this press release, as part of an entertaining and lively speech.

However, this was given short shrift by Council Leader Emlyn Dole, who said that all the information had been made available to all councilors six weeks ago. “I totally understand that you want to look back at history and play politics as well,” he said, before suggesting that Cllr Madge should ‘read more and talk less’. “If he had been paying attention, all members were invited to the Ffwrnes Theatre a month and a half ago, where we launched the regeneration programme. That detail has been given to everybody, and it has been said that if you weren’t there the information was available for all. “What we have been discussing as a coalition over this summer is exactly what we produced a month and a half ago.“What we’ve done since is ensure the capital spend can support that programme as we move forward. It’s all in there – you just have to read it.” When The Herald contacted the Plaid Cymru group, a spokesman said that they had released the information to ‘pull together’ the council’s plans for the next five years and make them accessible to the public. “In the past there has been a lack of direction from the council administration, and the public, and possibly some councillors, didn’t know what the council was doing,” they added. “It is useful to tell the public if money is available, which it was, and to make it clear where the capital investment is being spent. “In this new spirit of transparency and openness, it doesn’t do any harm to show a selection of various projects across the county.”

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Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities

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Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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