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Milestone reached at Yr Egin

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THE CONSTRUCTION of Yr Egin – the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s new digital and media centre – reached a milestone on September 18 with a ‘topping out’ ceremony held on the site in Carmarthen.

The practice of ‘topping out’ is a tradition in the construction industry and celebrates a significant point in the construction phase when the building reaches its highest point.

During the ceremony held at the top of the building, Professor Medwin Hughes DL, UWTSD’s Vice Chancellor was joined by key partners in this exciting initiative including Ian Jones, S4C Chief Executive; Steve Nicholls from Kier Group; Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader and Mark James, Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council; as well as representation from the Welsh Government, which has provided £3million funding towards the new centre.

“Today is a very important milestone in the construction of the Yr Egin development,” said Professor Hughes. “The building has reached its highest point and clearly indicates the realisation of the University’s exciting and bold vision to develop a creative and digital cluster that will greatly benefit the county, the region and the creative industries across Wales.

“Co-locating a range of creative, digital and cultural practitioners within the same building – with S4C at its core as the main anchor tenant – will create opportunities, encourage innovation and enable job creation in this key priority sector.”

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin is an ambitious and transformational development that will be home to S4C’s main headquarters as well as a number of companies and organisations working with the creative and digital industries.

S4C Chief Executive Ian Jones said: “With just over a year to go until we relocate our headquarters to Canolfan S4C Yr Egin today is a significant milestone.

“Seeing Yr Egin take shape underlines our commitment to ensuring that S4C will have offices in three locations across Wales by the end of 2018.

“Our internal preparations for the move to Carmarthen are well underway and we look forward to the prospect of creating numerous employment opportunities from the first quarter of 2018 onwards.”

The design of the 3,700 square metre building has already received the support of the Design Commission for Wales with the internal layout of the building focused around a public foyer and atrium that overarches the three floors. There will be a specific focus on the broadcasting and performance on the ground floor, with a range of offices for S4C and other partners on the other two floors. The University will also create new enterprise incubation units, offering access to opportunities, facilities, events and industry networks.

Regional construction company Kier Group Plc are the main contractors for Canolfan S4C yr Egin and are responsible for managing the construction of the new centre. The company’s Operations Director, Jason Taylor praised the project team for the hard work and progress they had made: “It has been a real pleasure to meet the university staff, the anchor tenant S4C and local councillors today to show them around the site. The project is gathering momentum and taking shape allowing us all to visualise the flagship Yr Egin building with its surrounding featured landscapes.

“Collaborative working relationships is a core part of the success of this project and a shared ethos between UWTSD, S4C and Kier. Throughout the construction process we have been working hard with our local supply chain partners to provide employment and up skilling opportunities. The project is also being utilised as a learning initiative for local schools and colleges.

“I would like to personally thank our site team for their efforts to ensure that the roof was complete for this ‘topping out’ celebration which enables them to progress internal works heading for completion. Kier are very proud to be part of this project and we look forward to seeing the completion of this creative Welsh digital hub in 2018.”

Economy and Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates said: “Once complete this new facility will help to deliver the infrastructure needed to support the University’s vision of a cluster of creative businesses in Carmarthen. This in turn will help to inject new life into the local economy, bring additional and high quality jobs to Carmarthen and enhance Wales’ growing reputation as an enabler of talent, imagination and productivity. It also supports our wider commitment to promoting Welsh as a living and vibrant language and will help cement links between academia and creative businesses.”

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin is a development that will transform and shape the creative and digital industries in South West Wales and beyond. It will also be a centre that will be at the heart of the community providing opportunities for local people to enjoy the building and its resources – a cafe, auditorium and performance stages.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “From winning the S4C contract to securing the City Deal investment, the Yr Egin development is well on track and we’re excited to be part of the journey.

“This is a fantastic development for the whole of the Swansea Bay City Region, especially so in Carmarthenshire, with the creation of exciting new jobs in the creative sector that I’m sure will act as a catalyst for further opportunities.”

Canolfan S4C Yr Egin’s design team is a partnership between the Rural Office for Architecture (ROA), a company based in Newcastle Emlyn, and BDP (Building Design Partnership), an international company of architects, engineers and designers, with local architect, Niall Maxwell leading on the project.
The building will be complete by next summer.

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Warning to drug users in Ceredigion over ‘Street Valium’

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POLICE are once again warning drug users in Ceredigion to take extra care when taking illegal prescription drugs especially when taken in conjunction with other drugs and/or alcohol. Mixing drugs, knowingly or unknowingly, can be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that drug users are making use of “Street Valium” at the moment and this is very concerning as individuals just do not know what these tablets may have been combined with. Valium, also known as diazepam – is a benzodiazepine. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines is particularly dangerous because both types of drug sedate users and suppress breathing”.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/

Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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