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‘Urgent action needed’ to safeguard towns

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Jonathan Edwards: Carmarthenshire’s towns need urgent support says MP (Pictured, Carmarthen)

THE TIME has come for a towns renewal task force – that was the message from Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price and MP Jonathan Edwards this weekend who said Carmarthenshire’s towns need urgent support to transform them back into the “vibrant hubs of the community they always were.”

Former MP Mr Price said the catalyst for his call was witnessing the closure of local businesses and the discussions he had had with business on the campaign trail.

He praised the recent announcement of a £2million Rural Enterprise Fund from the new Plaid Cymru County Council administration but said we were witnessing a “fundamental shift in shopping habits” and that a business as usual approach nationally was “no longer an option”.

County Councillors representing rural areas across Carmarthenshire already meet several times a year to discuss the challenges faced by rural communities. Mr Price has this week written to the leader of the County Council suggesting such a forum is perhaps opened up to local businesses and chambers of trade in order for a task force to take urgent action.

Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards supported the call, saying that everyone needs to work towards an agreed plan for action for our towns. He said short term measures such as car parking charges can make a difference, but said a longer term vision was needed.

Mr Edwards stressed the business rate policy Plaid Cymru launched some years ago which would raise the threshold at which small businesses pay rates. Currently, only businesses with a rateable value of under £6,000 receive full business rate relief. Plaid Cymru would raise the threshold to £10,000 and change all thresholds to extend small business rate relief to all businesses with a rateable value under £15,000. This would take 70,000 Welsh businesses out of paying business rates altogether.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Adam Price said:

“Having met countless business owners on the campaign trail I believe the time has come for a towns renewal task force – not a talking shop, but a forum which brings together the tools of council, businesses and the respective chambers of trade to agree on how we can safeguard the future of our small towns.

“In what is a major intervention for our towns, the new Plaid Cymru Council administration has recently announced a £2million Rural Enterprise Fund. This is fantastic news and will undoubtedly be a shot in the arm to many businesses.

“But what we’re witnessing is a fundamental shift in shopping habits. When people can do their shopping on their mobile phone or tablet computer without leaving the house, doing things as we’ve always done is no longer an option.

“One in every seven shops in Wales is empty. This is a higher rate than both England and Scotland and, as we’re witnessing, is a more acute concern in rural areas.

“Our first priority should be to stop the decline and support existing stores to keep their doors open – Plaid Cymru’s business rate relief changes could be a significant boost in this respect. Then we need to reach an agreed programme of steps we should take to safeguard our towns and transform them back into the vibrant hubs of the community they always were.

“I have written to the County Council Leader this week to seek urgent consideration of this idea and get businesses around the table as quickly as possible.”

Jonathan Edwards MP added:”There is a package of measures which can be taken in the short term. We have been pushing for several years to see a change business rate thresholds to take thousands of small firms out of paying rates altogether.

“Under Plaid Cymru’s proposals hundreds of businesses in Carmarthenshire would receive 100% rate relief. The Welsh Government already has the power to do this now, but it has regrettably failed to take any action.

“Then, of course, there is the need to be creative with car parking charges and offer free parking. But with councils across Wales having their budgets slashed by the Welsh Government, they need additional financial support themselves to do that.

“With such a profound shift in the way we shop, as well as the short term actions we need to have a longer term vision for our towns, and a task force that helps make our communities and businesses more sustainable.

“As an elected member, I will do what I can to lobby both the Welsh and UK Governments in support of that vision. But I’m convinced that everyone needs to pull in the same direction if we are to secure the renewal of our towns. A task force can be a good mechanism for getting things done.”

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Community

Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Business

Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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