Showing posts from August 22, 2010

Prince to launch community challenge

A community challenge is being launched by the Prince of Wales at the first Start Wales Festival taking place in Carmarthenshire next month.
Groups, individuals and communities are being asked to commit themselves to a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
It follows the success of the Byw Sir Gar project piloted in Ferryside last year, when residents took part in a number of initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.
His Royal Highness will officially open the Start Festival, taking place at the National Botanic Garden of Wales on September 7 and 8, and launch Carmarthenshire’s Community Challenge.
Start is a national initiative, inspired by the Prince of Wales, to promote and celebrate sustainable living.
The Size of Wales will also be launched at the event, which aims to engage people in protecting an area of tropical forest the size of Wales, as part of a national response to climate change.
Carmarthenshire County Council will host a marquee at the festival, where th…

Carmarthenshire reviews education centre charges

Education centre charges to groups in Carmarthenshire have been reviewed.
The new charges being introduced on September 1st will help ensure a fairer and equal system out of school users and help to sustain their provision.
The increases will be staged for those who have been paying considerable less-in some cases less than half-the current economic rate.
Earlier in the summer the Authority carried out a review of the room rental charges at each of the seven Carmarthenshire Community Education Centres. This review has shown that there were differing rates at some centres and no direct links to the County Council’s central lettings policy.
However, the current and well publicised financial pressures on all public sector bodies - including the County Council, has meant that the Authority's community learning service must maximise the revenue gained from rental in each of our community education centres to ensure their future. It has been explained to all the groups currently using Car…

100 Green Flags for Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire has become the first county in Wales to fly 100 Green Flags under the Eco Schools programme.
Laugharne Primary School has been awarded its second Green Flag for its efforts to help save the planet - the county’s 100th.
The Green Flag is only awarded to schools which have demonstrated a real commitment to tackling climate change.
Pupils study topics including litter, biodiversity, water, energy, waste, transport, healthy living and global citizenship.
Laugharne head teacher Tom Rees said: “We are delighted to achieve our second Green Flag. Assessors reported that Laugharne was a first-class eco school. Our eco-work included promoting Low Carbon Day, a ‘walking bus’ to school, and we created an igloo out of recycled milk bottles and made planters in the shape of ‘Lacharn’.
“I would like to say well done to both staff and pupils for their continued support and enthusiasm for the scheme.”
Eco Schools is a partnership between Carmarthenshire County Council, Keep Wales Tidy and th…

Big rush for compost bins at Cross Hands

More than 100 compost bins were sold every hour in a special one-day sale compost bin sale organised by the council.
The compost bins were available for the public to buy at a subsidised price of just £5.
The sale was held at the Co-op car park in Cross Hands and in total 465 compost bins were sold in four hours.
The aim was to encourage householders to go green home compost their garden and kitchen waste.
Known as ‘nature’s way of recycling’, composting waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings, teabags and eggshells helps to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill as well as creating rich compost to perk up our gardens.
Home composting is also one of the most environmentally-friendly and cost-effective ways of dealing with garden waste.
Waste minimisation/recycling officer Karen McNeil said: “The sale was a great success, despite the rain. We were amazed by the number of bins we sold in just four hours. It was a great central location for most of the county and we would like to th…

Carmarthenshire spotlight on electric blankets

Carmarthenshire residents are being urged to have their electric blankets tested for free before the winter arrives.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is holding free testing events across Carmarthenshire during September and October.
Community fire safety officers will be checking electric blankets as well as providing free home safety advice and encouraging residents to sign up to a free home fire safety check.
Any defective blankets will be replaced with new.
The events are being held in partnership with Age Concern Sir Gâr, who will also be attending and offering information and advice on a range of issues.
Community fire safety officer Steve Winstone said: “It is extremely important that you have your electric blanket tested - especially if you have had it for a number of years.
“Electric blankets can have potentially life threatening faults such as defective overheat protection and exposed wires - and although figures show that faults are more common in older blankets, proble…

11 fined for fly-tipping in Llandeilo

A total of 11 people have been fined £75 for fly-tipping at the recycling site in Llandeilo.
The council’s environmental enforcement officers carried out a targeted operation following increasing incidents of people fly-tipping there – from general household waste to mattresses and even a car door!
As a result, nine men and two women were caught in separate incidents and issued with fixed penalty notices.
Failure to pay could lead to prosecution in the magistrates court and a maximum penalty of up to £2,500.
It is now hoped these fines will now act as a warning to others. Unfortunately, fly-tipping is becoming an increasing problem at recycling sites across the county. Not only is it an eyesore, but it can cause serious pollution and harm to human health as well as to wildlife.
Some residents use the mini recycling centres as a dumping ground for all types of household and garden waste. Others are just too lazy to put their recyclables into the banks and instead leave them in plastic bags …

Woman fined for dog mess

A woman has been fined £75 for failing to clean up after her dog.
Carmarthenshire council’s environmental enforcement officers issued a fixed penalty notice to the woman near Cwmamman Road in Glanamman.
The woman admitted to the officers that she had no bags with her to clean up after her pet.
Failure to pay the fixed penalty notice could lead to prosecution in the magistrates court and a maximum fine of £1,000.
Carmarthenshire County Council is working hard to tackle the problem of dog fouling and enforcement officers regularly carry out patrols the county.
Chair of the council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee Councillor Jim Jones said: “Dog mess left anywhere is a serious health risk. Hopefully this will act as a warning to others that this type of anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and those caught flouting the law will be prosecuted.”
The council is appealing to the public to help identify those responsible. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Carmarthenshire Direct…

Nantgaredig waste amnesty a success

Residents in Nantgaredig have got rid of four tonnes of rubbish and junk they had lying around the home.
A waste amnesty was held giving householders a one-off chance to dispose of any large items of rubbish for free.
It included refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and wooden doors as well as general household and garden waste.
The amnesty was organised by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Tidy Towns and the aim was to encourage residents to dispose of waste that may otherwise be fly-tipped.
It is also hoped the amnesty will raise waste awareness and encourage householders to recycle.
Executive member for regeneration Councillor Clive Scourfield said: “I am pleased that despite the poor weather conditions so many residents in Nantgaredig took advantage of this chance to get rid of any unwanted rubbish they had around the home.
“Bulky waste such as furniture, wood and cardboard left lying in and around homes is not only a fire hazard but can result in fly-tipping which not only s…

Have your say on coastline's future

You can have your say on the future of the South Wales coastline.
The Swansea and Carmarthen Bay Coastal Engineering Group is consulting on a Shoreline Management Plan for the South Wales coast from Lavernock Point (in the Vale of Glamorgan) to St Ann’s Head (Pembrokeshire).
The aim of the plan is to provide guidance for local authorities as well as other organisations such as the Environment Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales to help plan the best way to manage the coast both now and in the future.
The plan will set out how to reduce the risk of coastal erosion and flooding to homes and business and improve the environment, whilst planning future development.
Your help is needed to make sure that the Shoreline Management Plan is realistic, suitable and achievable.
The South Wales coast is changing, it always has and it always will. Climate change and rising sea levels will continue to increase the risk of flooding and erosion to the coast, affecting the places where people live,…

Carmarthenshire health team bids for national award

Carmarthenshire County Council’s occupational health team has been shortlisted for a national award.
The team is up for a gong in the Mental Health and Stress Management category of the awards, which are held annually to celebrate outstanding achievement and recognise innovation, leadership and quality.
The basis of the council’s submission for the award is its work in delivering a stress management programme structured around Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Through close partnership working with the local health board, the team has piloted a programme offering individual sessions to staff who feel they need support. Group therapy and team building sessions are also offered in certain situations, for example if there has been bereavement within an office workforce.
As well as providing occupational health services to the authority’s 9,500 staff, the team also works with staff working in small local businesses and neighbouring authorities in the spirit of partnership and collaborative…

Merlin Festival hailed a success

The Merlin Festival in Carmarthen has been hailed as a great success.
The Festival in the centre of Carmarthen celebrated the legend and lore of Carmarthen’s ancient links with possibly the world’s most famous wizard, Merlin. Jolly jousters, juggling jesters and live performances transformed the town’s streets into colourful seas of bunting and costume with the day’s festivities including a Wizards Academy, Arthurian-themed stilt walkers, storytelling and mix 'n' mingle with puppet dragons, Welsh folk music and arts and craft workshops. There was also a Merlin / myth / legend rap competition on stage and a treasure hunt.
Carmarthen is reputedly Wales’s oldest town, with a history dating back more than 2,000 years and is linked to Merlin through its name. The town celebrates its links with the legendary wizard each year.
Merlin is best known as the magician of Arthurian legend but Carmarthen lays its own claim to the man of mystery from the past.
The name Myrddin may have arisen fr…

New advice network for Carmarthenshire

Older people living in Carmarthenshire are amongst the first to benefit from a new network established to help people manage debt, benefits and finances.
Advice and Support Carmarthenshire (ASC) brings together organisations that offer advice on matters relating to money, savings, housing, benefits or specialist services, such as help for people who are blind or receiving cancer treatment.
Around 50 institutions are part of the network, which is chaired by Cllr Kevin Madge, the council’s Anti Poverty Champion.
In the first of a series of campaigns undertaken by the network, the council has linked up with Age Concern Sir Gar and CATCH UP to encourage more people to apply for Attendance Allowance.
The benefit is available to people over 65 who need assistance to live their daily lives, whether they need help with shopping, dressing or bathing. It is not means-tested, which means people do not need to submit any financial evidence.
Cllr Madge said: “Applying for Attendance Allowance could …

Carmarthenshire students top of the class

Carmarthenshire students are top of the class for this year’s A and AS Level results.
In 12 subjects, 100 per cent of students achieved grades A to E,
Overall, a total of 97.7 per cent gained A to E grades, higher than the Welsh average of 97.1 per cent.
Almost a quarter gained the top grades of A* (4.8 per cent), and A (19.7 per cent).
There was continued success in language subjects of Welsh first and second language, English, French and Spanish.
At AS level there was continued success at Welsh in both first and second language, music, and art and design, with 100 per cent pass rates in many subjects.
Some 87.9 per cent of AS students gained an A to E grade, compared with the Welsh average of 86.9 per cent.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Education executive board member Cllr Gwynne Wooldridge said: “We would like to congratulate the large number of students who have achieved exceptional standards in this year’s “A” & "AS" Level GCE results after two years of hard work.

The latest 'View from Richmond Park' column

The latest 'View from Richmond Park' column from the Carmarthen Journal . . .
Been off on holidays, so here are the 'View from Richmond Park' columns from the Carmarthen Journal of August 18 and 25 (tweaked because of time delay) -
August 18
Carmarthen Town AFC has launched its latest campaign in the Welsh Premier League.
With the season underway, Journal readers will be interested in a short history lesson about Carmarthen Town.
The club was was formed in 1948 and admitted to the Carmarthenshire Association Football League.
The present ground, Richmond Park, was created in 1952.
Election to the Welsh League came in 1953 with the club gaining its first honours in 1959-60 with promotion from Division 2 West to the First Division of the Welsh League.
Progress was patchy in the ’70's and ’80s with intermittent promotion and relegation in the Welsh League Divisions until the 1995-96 season.
This was the best season in the club's history with both the Welsh League title an…

Carmarthenshire Telecare featured on S4C

Carmarthenshire’s high-tech Telecare response service which helps people to live independently, is due to feature on an S4C home programme.
Telecare will be featured on Sioe’r Tŷ, a show which visits homes across Wales to show what people have done to their houses, along with design and DIY advice, and cleaning and money tips.
Telecare assessor Tracy Rees will be seen in a forthcoming episode discussing the various options open to people to help them live at home safely and securely.
Carmarthenshire County Council launched the service, which links in to Careline, in 2007.
Telecare assessors visit peoples’ homes and design a Telecare package to meet their individual needs. There are various types of discreet alarm sensors, from carbon monoxide detectors, flood detectors and door exit sensors, to sensors that can detect a fall.
Should any of the alarms be triggered, the council’s Careline operators can immediately respond by speaking to the client through a two-way monitor. They then assess…

Waste amnesty for Burry Port and Pembrey

Residents in Pembrey and Burry Port are being urged to have a good clear out and get rid of any rubbish they have lying around the home.
A waste amnesty is being held on Saturday, August 28 and householders will be able to take advantage of a one-off chance to dispose of any large items of rubbish for free.
A collection point will be set up at the Seaview Terrace car park in Burry Port (by the recycling banks) between 8am and 10.30am.
Most household waste can be taken along including bulky waste items such as furniture and electrical goods.
However, asbestos, tyres, paint, garden chemicals, batteries, gas bottles, construction waste and trade waste will not be accepted.
Operatives will also be on hand to help residents dispose of any bulky items.
The amnesty has been organised by Carmarthenshire County Council and Tidy Towns and the aim is to encourage residents to dispose of waste that may otherwise be fly-tipped.
It is also hoped the amnesty will encourage householders to recycle and/or re…

Appeal for events information

Are you organising a Bonfire Night display or Christmas lights switch-on? Communities in Carmarthenshire are being asked to let the county council know about any major events they have planned.
The marketing and tourism section of the local authority is compiling a listing of large events taking place around the county, such as Bonfire Night displays and Christmas lights switching on, in order to produce an Autumn/ Winter 2010/ 2011 "What's On" Guide which will be widely distributed.
The information will also be placed on the "Discover Carmarthenshire" website (which links into the corporate County Council website), into Community News, which gets distributed to every household in the county, and released through various other types of media.
Entry into the listing is completely free and the Marketing and Tourism section is looking for events through the period of Sept 2010 - April 2011.
Please include the following details: Date/s of event, Name of event, Venue, b…

Pilot hospital project is a success

An innovative pilot project between Carmarthenshire County Council’s social services transport unit and Hywel Dda Health Board has proved so successful that it has been extended.
The project transports patients home from Mynydd Mawr and Amman Valley hospitals.
It has proved so successful that it has now been extended on a trial basis to West Wales General Hospital, and also provides transport for patients attending out-patient clinics at Prince Philip Hospital.
Cllr Pat Jones, executive board member for health and social care, said: “This service is making a genuine difference to patients who may otherwise have to spend extra time in hospital without any real medical need for them to stay.
“Partnership services such as this are making all the difference to a patient’s experience of hospital and social care services.”
The scheme ensures patients are discharged in line with health board performance targets, which in turn improves patient flow.
Drivers have been through a comprehensive traini…

New handbook in spotlight at Botanic event

Visitors to the Learn With Grandma event at the National Botanic Garden of Wales near Carmarthen have had a chance to look at the new 50+ Handbook.
Members of the 50+ Forum were at the event in Llanarthne organised by Valerie Wood-Gaiger MBE of Learn With Grandma, a not for profit company that wants to encourage respect between the generations; to help instil a love of learning; help create lasting memories and to have fun.
50+ strategy development officer Kevin Pett took the opportunity to ask for opinions on the handbook called Living Life to the Full in Carmarthenshire, which covers a wide range of topics including making the most of being 50 and over, home safety, crime, caring, getting about, the environment and looking after yourself.
Local visitor Carol Bendy said: “The Handbook is excellent, easy to understand and the layout is great. I am going to have a good look at the book and may be thinking of joining the Forum.”
50+ Forum member Sandra Llewelyn said: “By being a member of t…

Minnie Driver joins campaign to save Lido

Hollywood star Minnie Driver’s mission to save Brynaman Lido has been welcomed by Carmarthenshire council chiefs.
The actress launched a campaign via Twitter last week to raise funds for the 80-year-old attraction which is in need of major repair.
The council does not have the budget for the significant amount of work needed, and is currently working with the lido committee to explore funding options.
However, the news that Minnie Driver has shown an interest in the lido, believed to be the last of its kind in Wales, has been welcomed.
Now the council hopes people will support her campaign and have even called for her to launch a Hollywood fundraiser.
Regeneration and Leisure executive board member Cllr Clive Scourfield said: “We welcome Ms Driver's interest and would also welcome any kind of contribution she could make for the restoration of the lido.
“As a council facing huge financial cuts we are not in a position currently to invest funds in projects such as this, and are seeking g…

The latest 'View from Richmond Park' column

The latest 'View from Richmond Park' column from the Carmarthen Journal . . .
Been off on holidays, so this is the 'View from Richmond Park' column from the Journal of August 11 (tweaked because of time delay) -
The Welsh Premier League season is underway. Carmarthen Town AFC took the field against old rivals Aberystwyth Town on Saturday, August 14.
The new season sees plenty of changes in the structure of the Welsh Premier League - the national league of Wales.
The league kicked off the 2010/11 season on August 13 (The New Saints v Prestatyn Town played on Friday night) with 12 clubs, after a reduction in size from 18 clubs in 2009/10.
No teams were promoted from either of the feeder leagues as the only eligible club on playing merit - Cymru Alliance champions Llangefni Town - failed to gain the necessary FAW (Football Association of Wales) domestic licence.
The five lowest-placed clubs in the top flight - Cefn Druids, Caersws, Welshpool, Porthmadog and Connah's Quay - …

Carmarthenshire issues 'smoking ticket'

Carmarthenshire County Council has issued its first ticket for an offence of breaking a ban on smoking.
A fixed penalty notice has been issued to a taxi driver who was found smoking in his cab while waiting for a customer in Lammas Street, Carmarthen.
The local authority has the power to issue £50 fixed penalties under the Health Act 2006. The amount to be paid is reduced to £30 if it is paid promptly. Smoke-free legislation came into force in Wales on April 2, 2007.
Council head of public protection Philip Davies said that officers from the council’s street scene section were investigating another problem in Lammas Street when they noticed a taxi driver smoking in his vehicle.
“The matter was reported and resulted in a fixed penalty notice being issued to the person concerned. The fine was paid almost immediately, so he paid £30,” he said.
Executive board member for housing and public protection Cllr Hugh Evans said: “This is the first time that a fixed penalty notice has been used to enf…

Simon Buckley's latest Iechyd Da column

The latest Iechyd Da column by award-winning brewer Simon Buckley, of Llandeilo's Evan-Evans Brewery. It appears in this week's edition of the Carmarthen Journal -
It's official: Summer is over!
That’s not because the weather is colder, or indeed wetter, it’s because the first new season Malt samples have just arrived, and our annual invitation to view new season hops has landed on my desk.
This is the time of year when we brewers review the first of the new season grain samples, and decide on what hops we are going to use in our beers over the next 12 months.
Each year the raw materials change very slightly and we have to adjust our recipes to allow for the slight difference the growing season has produced.
This year, we have the rich golden berries of Pearl Winter Barley.
With the samples comes a detailed scientific analysis, and from this and the visual look of the malt we then decide which variety we are going to use, and forecast our usage for the next year.
Our first fie…

Grim reading for Western Mail

The latest ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) figures for newspapers in Wales show the Western Mail's average sales at below 30,000.
The Welsh figures, for the period up until the end of June, are as follows (percentage movement on previous figures shown first)-
-10.1pc Cardiff - South Wales Echo 35,389
-4.5pc Daily Post (Wales) 32,414
-5.1pc The Leader (Wrexham, Flintshire & Chester)18,443
-7.5pc South Wales Argus 24,679
-7.5pc South Wales Evening Post 42,619
-10.2pc The Western Mail 29,567
For the weekly newspapers in Wales, see the post below.

Tough times for weekly newspapers in Wales

The latest ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) figures for newspapers in Wales show they have had a tough six months.
The figures, for the period up until the end of June, are as follows (percentage movement on previous figures shown first)-
0.6pc Bangor/Anglesey Mail 8,976
2pc Barry & District News 5,910
-4.2pc Caernarfon & Denbigh Herald (Series) 12,013
-4.1pc Campaign Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach & Bargoed (Series) 30,238
-4.3pc Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 7,085
-4.2pc Carmarthen Journal 18,402
-0.1pc County Times and Express 15,763
-11.6pc Cynon Valley Leader 7,404
-1.2pc Denbighshire Free Press 6,745
-17.4pc Echo Extra 51,511
0.5pc The Flintshire Standard 22,712
-18.6pc Free Press - Monmouth (Series) 6,641
-12.2pc Glamorgan Gazette (Series) 17,049
-17.5pc Gwent Gazette 7,119
-3pc Holyhead & Anglesey Mail 8,407
-2.5pc Llanelli Star 14,023
-13.8pc Merthyr Express (Series) 13,402
-13.3pc Milford & West Wales Mercury 3,685
0pc North Wales Chronicle 30,628
0pc Nor…

Cwmdu helps Age Concern Sir Gar

Cwmdu Village Association has raised more than £100 for Age Concern Sir Gar.
The Association chose Age Concern as one of the charities to support when it held its annual carnival – because an increasing number of village residents are growing older.
Arriva Trains Cymru were approached by committee member Hywel Jones and agreed to donate a prize of free travel passes for four people on the Arriva rail network which covers not only Wales put part of England.
The raffle raised £101 for Age Concern Sir Gar and the winner was Nia Harris from Brecon.
Carmarthenshire 50+ Champion Cllr Kevin Madge said: “I am delighted that Cwmdu Village Association has supported the good work being done by Age Concern Sir Gar by raising this money.”

Hywel Jones and Cllr Kevin Madge are pictured with the cheque for £101.

Carmarthenshire campaign to bin gum

A campign has been launched to clean up Carmarthenshire’s sticky streets.
Chewing gum litter is not only an eyesore but it can stick to people’s clothes and shoes and it is difficult and costly to clean up.
In fact, it costs the council more than £30,000 a year to remove chewing gum from the streets of Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford – money that could be better spent on other essential services.
Assembly Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing Jane Davidson launched the council’s ‘Bin your gum’ campaign in Carmarthen.
The launch took place at the Apollo cinema in St Catherine’s Walk and then there were lots of activities in Guildhall Square with singing and dancing from the Gregory Brothers and Eco Eli, the council’s eco-friendly elephant; a special appearance from Scarlets star Ken Owens, face painting and fun and games.
Pupils from Amman Valley Comprehensive School were also giving out free gum-wraps.
Ms Davidson said: “Chewing gum litter has a negative impact on Wale…

Digital revolution arrives in Red Roses

Older residents in a Carmarthenshire village are taking part in the digital revolution.
A major project to help people in Whitland and St Clears access new technology is flourishing.
A digital hub has been set up at Eglwyscummin Community Hall in Red Roses, with wireless computers and a film club proving a resounding success.
Residents of all ages are learning how to surf the net, use e-mail and webcams, shop on-line and access up-to-date communication tools like Skype.
The Eglwyscummin Community Association is behind the 'Connecting Communities' scheme as part of a drive to bring the rural area into the modern world of communication.
The group has received a £5,582 grant from the Access to Services through Innovation project and has been congratulated on its vision by Carmarthenshire County Council.
Regeneration Executive Board Member cllr Clive Scourfield said: “The council is committed to supporting voluntary organisations, and this project is helping to bridge the digital divide…

Carmarthenshire fun day a big success

A fun day for council tenants from Carmarthenshire has been hailed a huge success.
Hundreds of residents from across the county turned out for the family event.
Workshops and activities, fair rides and an inflatable obstacle course transformed the United Counties Showground.
Visitors were treated to a variety of craft stalls and information stands, along with dance displays, circus skills and interactive drumming.
Safety displays were staged by the fire service, the police helicopter attended, and there were demonstrations on DIY, carpentry and plumbing, along with face painting for children.
The event was aimed at bringing together tenants from across the county and providing them with an opportunity to access information on council services.
It was organised by Carmarthenshire County Council’s Housing Services team, and was the latest in a series of events aimed at engaging with tenants.
Tenant Participation Officer Janet Griffiths said: “The event was very successful and the feedback we h…

12,000 visits chalked up!

Thanks to you, folks, this blog is continuing to pick up more hits.
It's now hit the 12,000 page views mark.
That's a 1000 views since July 21.
Keep the hits coming, folks!
Many thanks.
See earlier blog -
Meanwhile, the blog has chalked up its first visitor from Bangladesh.
The full country by country list (figures from January 6) is as follows -
United Kingdom (GB) 2,964; United States (US) 413; Europe (EU) 34; India (IN) 34; Germany (DE) 31; Qatar (QA) 29; Australia (AU) 26; Canada (CA) 25; Ireland (IE) 22; France (FR) 14; Malaysia (MY) 13; Belgium (BE) 11; Italy (IT) 10; New Zealand (NZ) 10; Netherlands (NL) 10; United Arab Emirates (AE) 9; Russian Federation (RU) 7; Philippines (PH) 6; Denmark (DK) 6; Spain (ES) 6; Singapore (SG) 6; Sweden (SE) 5; Bahrain (BH) 4; Romania (RO) 4; Greece (GR) 4; Austria (AT) 3; Saudi Arabia (SA) 3; Cote D'Ivoire (CI) 3; South Africa (ZA) 3; Bulgaria (BG) 3; Pakistan (PK) 3; Ukrai…

Action plan for Carmarthenshire houses

An action plan has been launched to tackle the problem of empty houses in Carmarthenshire.
Around 2,000 homes are lying empty in the county at the same time as there is a shortage of affordable housing.
Many are an eyesore in their communities, cause public health related problems and are venues for antisocial behaviour.
Now the county council is taking action to solve the problem and bring properties back into use for families who are desperately in need of housing.
It comes as the number of empty houses is expected to rise because of repossessions caused by the credit crunch.
An Empty Property Strategy was first launched in 2005 and has resulted in 150 properties being brought back into use.
Now an Empty Property Action Plan has been drawn up to build on that success.
The council has become the first in Wales to conduct a survey of empty property owners, in a bid to find out why homes are becoming vacant and what can be done about it.
It revealed that many owners do not know what options ar…

Facebook helps Carmarthenshire consultation

Social networking sites are helping housing chiefs to consult with tenants in Carmarthenshire.
A major consultation programme about how people access council housing in the county is underway.
Officers want to hear the views of residents who use the service, as part of plans to improve the lettings system and provide a fairer service to people who need a home.
Now in a bid to reach as many people as possible, they are turning to sites like Facebook, using digital television and text messages to gain people’s views.
Online surveys, focus groups and roadshows are also being held and consultation was carried out at the recent tenant’s fun day.
Carmarthenshire County Council is behind the move as part of a review into its Access to Social Housing Policy.
Officers say they want to develop a simpler allocation process, reduce anti-social behaviour and prevent homelessness.
They want to ensure that the county’s 9,200 homes and sheltered housing are appropriately let.
The aim is to combat problems in…

Felinfoel sports centre work to start

Work on a brand new community sports centre is about to get underway in Felinfoel.
A £937,670 project is afoot to redevelop the village recreation ground.
A sports hub with changing facilities for cricket, rugby and football teams is being developed at the site.
The building will also house training rooms and space for health and fitness activities, along with conferencing and function facilities.
The centre will act as a venue for learning and development, with health and education benefits for the community.
The ambitious project is a partnership between Felinfoel Communities First and Llanelli Rural Council, which is investing £511,670.
Other funding includes £300,000 from the Communities Facilities and Activities Programme, £50,000 from Cwm Environmental, £25,000 from the County Collaboration Fund, £15,000 from the Community Fund and support from Carmarthenshire County Council.
The community is also actively fundraising for the project.
Work is due to start in August and the centre is exp…

Brynamman eyesore now a car park

A Brynamman eyesore which has been a longstanding blight on the community has been transformed into a much needed car park.
Three buildings on the corner of Mountain Road have been bulldozed after complaints from residents.
Two of the properties had been empty for many years.
The area has now been cleared by Carmarthenshire County Council, as part of a £167,000 environmental improvement scheme.
The project was co-funded by a grant of £116,00 from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Western Valleys Strategic Regeneration Area Programme.
The work has been carried out as part of the 10 year Group Renewal programme in Upper Brynamman.
The council’s Principal Area Renewal Officer Clive Thomas said: “The buildings were in the centre of the village and were an eyesore for the community.
“We are pleased to have been able to complete this scheme. The work has greatly improved this part of Brynamman and provided much needed car parking space for Post Office customers.”
Upper Brynamman is one of two areas i…

Spotlight on gypsy travellers in Carmarthenshire

Work is underway to educate young people in Carmarthenshire about travellers.
Housing officers are working alongside youth charity Rathbone Cymru to raise awareness of the gypsy traveller culture.
Carmarthenshire County Council is working with the group to promote better understanding among young people.
A special open day was held at the group’s Llanelli base to give an insight into the lives of the traveller community in the town.
A presentation was given by 14 year-old Welsh Romany Shannon Treharne.
The event was aimed at breaking down barriers in the area.
The council’s Area Housing Manager Les James said: “We are working with Rathbone to promote understanding among young people, as part of a drive to encourage greater community cohesion.”
The council’s Housing Executive Board Member cllr Hugh Evans said: “I am delighted that so much proactive work is being carried out to raise awareness of the gypsy traveller culture and I commend all those involved.”

Pictured are Rathbone Llanelli Centr…

New helping hand for Carmarthenshire residents

A new drive is underway to help people needing housing related support in Carmarthenshire.
Residents needing help to live independently in their own homes are being reminded that help is at hand.
Vulnerable people living alone, people wanting to stay in their houses and those wanting to move from an institutional setting to a stable home could all be missing out on valuable advice and support.
Now Carmarthenshire County Council is behind a promotional drive to remind residents what help is available.
The Supporting People team is distributing Directories of Housing Related Support Services and information posters across the county.
They will be circulated to all GP surgeries, customer service centres and Citizens Advice Bureaux, and the directory is also available online.
Officers are hoping to target a large audience, many of who may be struggling in silence.
Supporting People Principal Officer Ruth Evans said: “The team works in partnership with other agencies that can help with a huge ran…

Mobile trailer showcases talent in Carmarthenshire

A unique mobile trailer is being used to showcase local talent in rural Carmarthenshire.
Voluntary groups from across the county are promoting their work at the travelling display unit.
The Gwyb Gart trailer is visiting events across the county, and is helping to develop local talent in the fields of drama, singing and dancing on a special mobile stage.
It was launched by Welsh language initiative Menter Bro Dinefwr following demand from community groups to promote events in rural parts of the county.
It is also being used to raise awareness of the extensive work being carried out by Menter Bro Dinefwr and other voluntary organisations.
The trailer will visit a range of events including agricultural shows, festivals and sporting days over the summer.
The project was funded with the help of a £16,499 grant from the Developing Identity and Distinctiveness programme.
The programme has received aid from Carmarthenshire County Council and the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013, which is f…

Scooter derby for Pontyberem!

A scooter derby is being held as part of a fundraising extravaganza at a Carmarthenshire sheltered housing complex.
Residents of Nant Y Glo in Pontyberem will don fancy dress for the community event.
They will masquerade as robbers and join local police officers for a cops and robbers themed parade through the village.
Around seven mobility scooters and ten walkers will take part in the event on September 5.
The parade will leave the complex at 2pm and travel through the village to the New Inn, with collections being made for the Nant Y Glo Tenants Fund.
Local police officers will pursue the robbers and will be challenged to an advanced scooter driving test when they return to the complex, before refreshments are served.
The event is aimed at providing a fun activity for the residents, many of whom have to use mobility scooters to get around.
Staff at the complex, which is run by Carmarthenshire County Council, have organised the event, after a successful fundraiser at the site last year.

New bid to combat Carmarthenshire housing shortage

Owners of empty homes are being urged to help combat a housing shortage in Carmarthenshire.
Housing officers are appealing to people with properties they would like to rent to get in touch.
They say many will be unaware that they could be used for social letting.
Mailshots are being delivered to the owners of empty properties in the county and an appeal has been made for them to come forward to discuss their options.
The move is part of a new package of support by Carmarthenshire County Council.
Staff say they can assist home owners to locate tenants and will help ease some of the pressures that can be encountered in the rental market.
Around 2,000 homes are lying empty in the county at the same time as there is a shortage of affordable housing.
Many are an eyesore in their communities, cause public health related problems and are venues for antisocial behaviour.
The council’s Principal Housing Officer Val Brown said: “We are keen to speak to anyone who would like to join the Social Lettings…

Back home safe and sound

Back home after a splendid holiday - taking in Rome, Naples, Amalfi, Sorrento, Boppard on the Rhine and Bruges.
Normal service resumes shortly.