PLANS for a new office development on Carmarthen Quay were revealed at an Executive Board meeting on Monday (Nov 30).
The Swansea-based Ethos Group made ‘an unsolicited approach’ to Carmarthenshire County Council, seeking to develop the area where the Quay Centre currently stands.
The future of the Quay Centre is currently uncertain; one of the proposals in the budget consultation is to review youth services provision at the centre, which according to CCC’s website, hosts drop-in centres for the young unemployed and is the base for Carmarthenshire Youth Service and a number of other organisations. The consultation is still open.
Introducing the motion Cllr David Jenkins said that the Chair of the Council and members of the Executive Board had taken the opportunity to visit the Ethos building in Swansea, and saw ‘an exceptional example of cooperative working which allowed small start-ups to develop businesses in the centre of town.’
Cllr Jenkins added that the Ethos Group sought an ‘exclusivity agreement’ which would provide them with the opportunity to get the project ‘worked up.’ The board was invited to consider redeveloping ‘in principle’ either through Ethos, or ‘working towards the relocation of the centre’s current users and openly marketing the site.’
“That is basically the decision before us,” he said.
Councillor Meryl Gravell said that she was ‘absolutely delighted’ and pointed out that talks with Rowland Jones – one of the members of the Ethos Group – had started in 2012.
“This is an opportunity to bring new businesses into Carmarthen – that is what we really need. Quality jobs so that we don’t have as much brain drain as we have in the past,” she added.
Discussing the ‘iconic’ appearance of the Ethos building in Swansea, Cllr Gravell said: “If you are attracting inward investment it is vitally important to have that iconic building. It gives out that openness and welcoming to the county.”
Mark James CBE agreed, and suggested that as the main gateway to Carmarthen it had to be a ‘rather nice looking building.’
Mr James also suggested that Ethos would be to gain funding from the Welsh Government, the EU and the private sector.
A summary said that the site represented a prominent redevelopment opportunity and ‘may also be of interest for other potential uses.’
It was acknowledged that the Town Council had previously expressed an interest in the existing building, as had a community group, which had ‘indicated interest in potential future asset transfer of the property for riverside uses.’
One of the community groups which use the existing building contacted The Herald after finding out about the Ethos proposal through local media. Steve Bright, the Chair of the Gwendraeth Paddlers, said that the club used part of the premises to store canoes, and as a changing room. The basement of the existing building was redeveloped for this purpose using grant funding within the last couple of years.
Mr Bright said that the Paddlers were part of the Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership, and through their qualified coaches, allowed young people the chance to try out different boats and gain experience on the water ‘in relative safety’.
It is thought that none of the groups who use the area regularly – including the coracles and the Carmarthen Boat Club, have been informed of the possible development.
“They are misguidedly jumping on to another white elephant saying that there’s no decent office space available when there are empty offices for rent along old station road and the Pensarn Creamery office has been empty for years,” Mr Bright told us.
“The claim that it will help business by drawing more people to the town centre comes while they charge exorbitant business rates, which rob inception businesses of their capital and don’t allow them to get a foothold. Yet again councillors meddle in business without any idea of who pays their wages and gilt-edged pensions while establishing another white elephant edifice to their incompetence.”
The Herald contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to ask whether the results of the budget consultation would be taken into account when deciding the future of the Quay Centre, but at the time of going to press had received no reply.
Drakeford confirmed as First Minister
MARK DRAKEFORD was confirmed as the new First Minister after a vote in the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday (Dec 12).
Carmarthen-born Drakeford succeeds Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader, after Jones resigned on Tuesday.
Mr Drakeford, 64, has styled himself as a ’21st Century socialist’, and throughout his leadership campaign promoted continuity and stability as a candidate, having worked as a Welsh Government special advisor under Rhodri Morgan and being the only Welsh Government cabinet minister to support Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for the UK Labour leadership in 2015.
The AM for Cardiff West has been in the Assembly since 2011, becoming Health Minister in 2013 before becoming Finance Secretary in 2016.
Mr Drakeford grew up in Carmarthen, and was educated at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys. He then went on to study Latin at the University of Kent, before working as a probation officer and Barnardos project leader in west Cardiff.
Mr Drakeford went on to pursue a career in academia, lecturing at Swansea University, and then becoming a professor of social policy and applied social sciences at Cardiff University.
His first experience of electoral politics was as a councillor on the old South Glamorgan County Council, before serving the Cardiff ward of Pontcanna between 1985 and 1993.
Mr Drakeford was one of the two candidates, alongside Eluned Morgan, to have produced a manifesto during the leadership campaign, setting out many of the policies he hopes to introduce. These include an extension of the smoking ban to outdoor areas such as restaurants and town centres, the cutting of emissions through greater emphasis on public transport and building on Superfast Cymru – a scheme to rollout 733,000 homes and businesses across Wales.
The manifesto also proposed installing drinking fountains across Wales, double allotments, and piloting a ‘baby bundle’ – similar to baby box schemes in other countries with a package of essential items.
Mr Drakeford also suggested introducing a committee to advise the Welsh Government on the Hinckley Point power plant in Somerset, as he has spoken of his scepticism regarding nuclear power.
The new First Minister has also backed proposals put forward by economist Gerry Holtham to fund elderly social care in Wales through a tax. An annual review of PFI contracts across the Welsh public sector would be introduced, and the 22 councils across Wales would be kept as they are.
One issue that has been subject to much debate is the potential for the M4 Relief Road, but Mr Drakeford’s manifesto does not mention it specifically. Instead, it states a commitment to dealing with congestion, citing the A40 in Mid and West Wales, the A55 in the North and the M4 in South Wales.
The other two leadership candidates, Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan, had both backed another referendum on whether the UK leaves the EU, yet Mr Drakeford is less set on another vote, saying he would only back it should the final deal fail to protect workers’ rights.
As Finance Secretary, Mr Drakeford has been in charge of much of the Welsh Government’s approach towards Brexit so far.
In Wednesday’s vote, Mr Drakeford was backed by 30 AMs, with 12 voting for the Conservatives’ Paul Davies and nine supporting Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.
Are you a £1m Euromillions winner? Time is running out to redeem prize
A LAST ditch attempt is being made to locate a mystery local winner of an unclaimed £1 million pound lottery ticket.
Time is running out to find the owner of the winning ticket from the Euromillions draw bought in Ceredigion on June 22, 2018 – with Millionaire code MDLG 86259.
The winner has until Wednesday, December 19 to claim their life-changing prize.
Andy Carter, senior winners’ advisor at The National Lottery, said: “Time really is running out for the winner of this prize, but we are still hopeful that someone will come forward to claim the money. We’re urging everyone to check their old tickets or look anywhere a missing EuroMillions ticket could be hiding. This life changing prize could really help to make dreams become a reality.”
If no-one comes forward with the winning ticket before the prize claim deadline, then the prize money, plus all the interest it has generated will go to help National Lottery-funded projects across the UK.
The National Lottery changes the lives of individuals as well as communities – players raise, on average around £30 million for National Lottery-funded projects every week.
Euromillions UK Millionaire Maker creates two UK millionaires in every draw. For every EuroMillions line played, UK players automatically receive a Millionaire Maker Code printed on their ticket.
Ceredigion alone has around 1,675 individual National Lottery grants that have been awarded to help projects across the arts, sports, heritage, health, education, environment, charity and voluntary sectors.
With all National Lottery draws, players only have 180 days from the day of the draw to claim their prize if they have the winning ticket. Anyone who has any queries or who believes they have the winning ticket for any of The National Lottery draws within the 180 day deadline should call the National Lottery line on 0333 234 5050 or email email@example.com.
Anyone concerned about lost or unchecked tickets may like to consider either setting up a National Lottery Direct Debit or playing online at www.national-lottery.co.uk.
Free equipment and training for Ceredigion clubs
TUESDAY (Dec 11) saw the launch of a new partnership between learning technology solution specialists Aspire2Be and six Ceredigion rugby clubs as part of the Scarlets’ Three Counties, Three Years strategy. The initiative, courtesy of Scarlets, invites Ceredigion rugby clubs and schools to participate in a pilot project providing free analysis equipment, software and training worth over £20k.
The initial pilot project will work with Aberystwyth Rugby Football Club and Ysgol Penweddig, with a funding application written for remaining clubs once the pilot is completed. ‘Analyse That’ training with Ysgol Penweddig will take place at Penweddig Comprehensive School the afternoon of Tuesday 11 December, with Aberystwyth RFC having their training in the evening on their home ground too.
The ‘Analyse That’ training programme which is run and designed by Aspire 2Be, and the pilot has been sponsored by the WRW Construction Group, one of Scarlets’ long standing sponsors sponsors, and forms part of Scarlets’ Three Counties, Three Years strategy, where the club is supporting local rugby teams and young talent across Ceredigion.
The campaign was kick started this summer where the Scarlets are making a difference across three participating regions; Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, county by county. Ceredigion will take Year One’s focus with emphasis on strengthening partnerships across local clubs and businesses to make a difference in the region’s wider communities. In addition to local partnerships across Ceredigion, the Scarlets have dedicated their 2018-19 away kit colour scheme to the region featuring its coat of arms, sandy beaches and vivid blue seas.
Part of the Aspire 2Be Team is former Scarlets coach and now leading media pundit, Sean Holley. Sean said on the overall training programme experience: “The modern rugby person now has an increasing awareness of analysis and is more digitally aware.
“The innovative ‘Analyse That’ initiative in collaboration with Aspire2Be now makes it easier and more affordable for community clubs to access what can be an expensive aspect of the game. The Scarlets should be applauded for entering into this partnership and I can’t wait to work with the Ceredigion clubs and schools to help upskill and improve their rugby experience in this initial pilot.”
Digital skill development is very much at the forefront of Scarlets’ Three Counties, Three Years campaign. Rural counties like Ceredigion often suffer from digital exclusion. The Scarlets hope this programme with the Swansea based firm Aspire2Be will help locals acquire digital skills in an engaging way.
Speaking on the benefits this training programme will bring to the community, Dai Rudge of Aberystwyth RFC said: “We are very fortunate that our club can be involved with such an innovative training initiative and partnership with Aspire2Be and the Scarlets.
“It’s great news that the Scarlets recognise a digital skill need in Wales and have partnered up with a Welsh tech company to provide digital opportunities for our rugby community. We’re also grateful to the WRW Construction Group for supporting the funding of the pilot.”
Nia Lloyd, Scarlets Community Manager said of the training. “We want all our community teams at every level, to strive to improve performance but in the absence of detailed analysis and feedback protocols being available at each club, a major aid to that improvement is missing.
“Our research leaves us in no doubt how useful these resources would be but few clubs can afford the hardware, the software or the training necessary to provide it. With our Three Counties programme we are hoping that the partnerships that the Scarlets have established between Aspire2Be and WRW Construction Group pave the way for more clubs and schools in the region to experience the exciting and useful analysis equipment and software.”
Those clubs who did not win the £20K prize will be offered the opportunity to send selected members on an exclusive training course free of charge under the guidance of Sean Holley and Aspire2Be. Participants will learn how to obtain additional training and equipment budget to participate in Ceredigion’s growing digital performance analysis community.
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