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Badger cull lobbying given green light

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Councillors agreed to lobby the Welsh Government for a badger cull

Councillors agreed to lobby the Welsh Government for a badger cull

A MOTION to lobby the Welsh Government to introduce a badger cull was passed by Carmarthenshire County Council on Wednesday (Feb 11) in spite of fifteen councillors who declared an interest being unable to vote.

The motion, put forward by Councillor Gareth Thomas, was eventually passed 21-16, with six abstaining.

Introducing the motion, Cllr Thomas, who was granted an exemption permitting him to speak as a result of his expertise in the area, said that a cull was necessary ‘in light of the complete breakdown of the vaccination programme.’

Cllr Thomas described himself as a ‘cattle and badger owner’. If you can own a wild animal, I have setts on my land. I am proud of my cattle and proud of my badgers,” he added.

He quoted Defra figures which indicated a 25% increase in the number of cattle culled in Carmarthenshire, and said that his son, a vet, had told him that TB had been on the increase in the county all winter.

“If an alien came down, they would see big black-and-white things with TB and little black-and-white things with TB – but we have control over the big ones,” he added.

Cllr Thomas said that he believed that the original badger protection measures, brought in in 1982 to prevent badger baiting, had served a useful purpose, and reminisced about ordering four baiters from the valley off his land as a teenager.

However, he claimed, the resultant increase in population had led to an increase in infection in setts.

He also pointed out that cattle could be tested, and the movement of livestock restricted, however, none of this applied to badgers. “Without eradicating TB in both species, it will be withus forever and a day, “he said.

The Welsh Government vaccination trial was described as ‘a non-scientific experiment,’ which Cllr Thomas claimed cost £700 for every badger vaccinated, until a worldwide shortage of the vaccine led to the programme being halted.

Cllr Thomas also suggested that countries where wild species were culled, like New Zealand, and Ireland where badger setts are gassed. In particular, he claimed, Ireland had halved the amount of infected animals, where it had quadrupled in the UK.

The motion’s seconder, Councillor Jean Lewis, who was also granted an exemption, said that as a resident of an area which falls under TB restrictions, she knew the problems the disease could cause.

“Farmers have great pride in their stock – it is heartbreaking when they have to be killed because of TB,” she added.

Cllr Lewis also claimed that the Defra figures quoted by Cllr Thomas showed that vaccination was ineffective, and raised issues about the wellbeing of the badger population:

“If we are seriously concerned about badgers, is it fair to let them suffer a long and painful death?” she asked.

She suggested that tests carried out by the University of Warwick showed that infected badgers could be identified by their faeces. “No one wants to see cattle and wildlife destroyed, but we have to go to the root of the problem,” she added. “Animals are not the problem – TB is.”

Councillor Siân Caiach said that she agreed that the problem was the disease not the animals. However, she said that TB was a ‘difficult’ disease, because of its slow-growing nature.

She pointed out that practically every animal can catch bovine TB – including cats, dogs, rats, deer and even elephants, and said that culls on these animals had not been suggested.

However, she added, cows seem to mostly catch the disease from airborne moisture in breath.

Suggesting that a programme of vaccination for all cattle would solve the problem, Cllr Caiach pointed out that the majority of badgers had a natural immunity to TB because they had been allowed to develop it, rather than being slaughtered as soon as they tested positive for the disease.

She also suggested that, because the TB bacilli can live on in dead animals for up to six weeks, the disease was spread by roadkill being left on roads, and suggested that this was one area where Carmarthenshire County Council could make a difference.

Councillor Alun Lenny said that it was important to differentiate between protecting the livelihood of farmers and killing animals for fun ‘which is something I find highly objectionable.’

He recommended that if culling were to be brought back, then infected setts should be targeted. “This would be more effective than a ‘sledgehammer approach’” he added.

Labour Group leader Jeff Edmunds and Councillor Ryan Thomas suggested that culling was not the answer, and that TB should be eradicated ‘by scientific means’. Cllr Thomas disagreed with Cllr Gareth Thomas’ description of the vaccination programme as a ‘nonscientific experiment’ and pointed out that the trial culling of badgers in Gloucestershire had not been an unqualified success.

Cllr Edmunds said that if infected badgers were injured during a cull, and died elsewhere, the disease would be absorbed back into the food chain.

Responding, Cllr Gareth Thomas said that treating bovine TB with antibiotics was not feasible with animals, due to the long treatment required. He pointed out that in a vaccination trial in Gloucestershire, after four years only 8% fewer badgers caught Tb, and the programme was abandoned.

Stating that the cost of TB to UK taxpayers each year was £87m, Cllr Thomas said: “We have to find a solution. The days of throwing ideas about are long gone.”

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Police appeal for missing woman

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DYFED-Powys Police is appealing for help to find a woman who is missing in the Carmarthen area.

Christine, who is 58, left her van at an address in the Cwmduad area overnight and hasn’t been seen since.

She is described as being 5ft 8ins, with grey/blonde shoulder length hair, of very slim build and is believed to be wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

Christine

Anyone who has seen Christine, or knows of her whereabouts, is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPP101Online, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. 

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908, quoting Ref: DP-20220812-040.

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Discover Carmarthenshire launches 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails

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TO HELP their visitors to eat and drink local and authentic produce, Discover Carmarthenshire has developed three new online guides, the 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails for them to follow. The three Larder trails can be viewed here.

With every season bringing the freshest local produce to the county’s markets, delis, farm shops and even the shoreline, as well as an increasing appetite for foodie focused travel experiences, the new trails help visitors head straight to the ‘source’ with some truly authentic experiences to be enjoyed along the way.

The ultimate aim is to help make the picnic, campsite cook up or holiday cottage kitchen supper feature as much Carmarthenshire produce as possible ensuring tourism secondary spend supports the local economy.

Discover Carmarthenshire enlisted the help of three food and travel writers who each spent time in the county researching their trails, locating the tastiest addresses to recommend. Kacie Morgan from The Rare Welshbit who lives in Cardiff covered the west, Binny’s Food and Travel from London hit the east and Carmarthenshire based travel writer Jade Braham, explored her mid county food and drink favourites.

Each trail breaks down advice under different categories including best places for produce market shopping, morning coffee, lunch, treats, hands on tasting experiences, take homes and dinner dates.

From pop up markets to coffee roastery cafes, to cheese makers, vineyards, bottle shops, butchers and delis, visitors following the trails are led on a self guided eating, drinking journey around the county meeting the makers themselves, the farmers, foragers, baristas and gelato producers adding to their experience.

Discover hidden milkshake vending machines down winding county roads and family-run cafes and delis tucked away in market towns, as each guide suggests the best of local eats and drinks.

The Eastern Larder Trail covers the Aman Valley, Llandeilo, Llanelli, the Western Larder Trail explores Laugharne, Whitland, St Clears and Newcastle Emlyn and finally the Mid County Larder Trail focuses on Carmarthen, Kidwelly and Llansteffan. The whole county is covered including experiences such as a low intervention vineyard tour and tasting, to gin and rum distilleries, cookery classes and coastal foraging.

As well as focusing on classic Welsh produce, the trails also celebrate diversity and guide visitors to where they can enjoy Asian curries and tapas cooked up using the freshest local veg followed by a visit to the county’s most famous cheese producer or a drive to a market to search out laverbread, Carmarthenshire’s very own caviar.

The guides also include recommended places to stay (Larder Sleepovers) where the food journey continues – from a new self-catering apartment above the Caws Cenarth dairy, to Mansion House restaurant with rooms and views over Carmarthen Bay, or Cowpots campsite with its own pizzeria and ice cream parlour.

To view the three 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails go to: https://www.discovercarmarthenshire.com/explore/carmarthenshire-larder-trails/.YvOdLS8w35Y:

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Carmarthenshire based company supplies kit to Wales Commonwealth Team

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Olivia Soady - Bethan Jones - Jasmine Joyce - Gabriella Maria - Steven Wright - Credit University of South Wales

A LLANELLI based business, that has received financial support from Carmarthenshire County Council, has won the contract to supply the Wales Commonwealth Team’s training leggings.

Onesta has only been trading since June 2020 but is already kitting out the likes of Rosie Eccles, Anwen Butten and Alys Thomas as they represented Wales at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The leggings were designed by University of South Wales students Beth Jones and Olivia Soady, who won a design competition set by Commonwealth Games Wales in partnership with the University. Beth and Olivia worked in partnership with Onesta to produce 360 pairs of leggings using sustainable, recycled materials.

Since it commenced trading, over two years ago, Carmarthenshire County Council has supported Onesta, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also to realise the company’s long-term ambitions. In June 2021, Onesta was awarded an Economic Resilience Fund grant of £2,500 by Carmarthenshire County Council as support to cover the business bills during the COVID-19 restrictions of May and June 2021. They were also awarded a £2000 Non-Domestic Rates Grant during the COVID-19 support schemes in February 2022.

In April 2022, Onesta was awarded a Business Growth & Recovery Grant of £10,000 to assist with the purchase of manufacturing equipment and workshop and office furniture. The grant money will fund a cutting table, overlockers, cutting machine, industrial iron, industrial sewing machine and lockstitch, which would assist in the manufacturing of the clothing for the Wales Commonwealth Team for the 2022 Games.

The company’s founder, Gabriella Diana, was nominated by the Council for the Wales Start Up Awards in 2021 in which she went on to win the Rising Star category.

Since then, Onesta has also won the Marie Claire Sustainability Award for Best Sustainable Small Brand 2021, UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Award, and was a finalist in the Cardiff Life Awards 2021 and the GBEA Awards 2021.  

Onesta was highly commended in the Heroes of Net Zero competition at a special awards ceremony, hosted by Intuit, at the COP26 international climate change summit in Glasgow. More than 160 businesses entered the competition, making a commitment at the UK Business Climate Hub to achieve net zero by 2050, in line with the government’s own climate commitment. They were highly commended in the micro business category for demonstrating a range of measures taken on their journey to net zero, including sourcing eco-friendly materials locally, removing toxic chemicals used in manufacturing and re-purposing fabric scraps to make sustainable products for Surfers Against Sewage.

Gabriella Diana, Founder and Owner of Onesta said “I was over the moon when we found out that the Wales Commonwealth Team had chosen us to supply their leggings. The past few months have been very busy as we have been measuring the athletes and creating the garments. I’m so pleased to see them being worn on the international stage next week.

“I’m very grateful to Carmarthenshire County Council for the financial support we have received to, not only survive the COVID-19 restrictions but also to build the business and strive.”

Since launching the Business Growth & Start-Up Grant scheme in early 2022, Carmarthenshire County Council has approved 61 business grants to Carmarthenshire businesses. Of which 44 approvals were Business Growth & Recovery Grants, totalling £299,225.17 and 17 approvals were Business Start Up Grants, totalling £117,924.31.

Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism said “As a local authority, we are delighted to have been able to invest in Gabriella and her company to enable her to grow the business. We are also very proud to have provided financial support to Onesta, and other companies based in Carmarthenshire, to weather the difficult COVID-19 restrictions of the past two and a half years.

“We have all enjoyed watching Wales’ athletes compete at the recent Commonwealth Games and the fact that they are wearing a kit that is made in Carmarthenshire has been a source of much pride for Carmarthenshire County Council.”

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