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Quay development plans revealed

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The Ethos Building in Swa nsea

The Ethos Building in Swa nsea

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.

 

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KeolisAmey awarded Wales and Borders Rail contract

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KEOLISAMEY is pleased that the Welsh Government has announced its intention to award the contract to operate the Wales and Borders rail service and the South Wales Metro to KeolisAmey.

Upon successful completion of a 10-day standstill period, the contract will run from June 4, 2018, to October 14, 2033, with rail services transferring on October 14, 2018.

This standstill period is normal procurement practice.

KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey.

KeolisAmey currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which has one of the best records in UK rail – consistently better than 99% reliability. Additionally, we operate and maintain Greater Manchester’s Metrolink – the largest tram network in the UK.

Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said: “This will be a transformative new rail service for Wales and its borders which will see Keolis once more combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey’s engineering excellence.

“We look forward to the successful completion of the procurement process – this exciting contract will deliver for all of Wales. The procurement process was rigorous, resulting in transformative solutions for the benefit of all in Wales, and indeed, future generations.

“While the proposed changes won’t happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government.”

Andy Milner, Amey’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s DLR – we are honoured to be asked to operate the Wales and Borders service.

“This is a great opportunity for us to use our joint capabilities to deliver a first-rate service for Wales. We will be focused on working with Transport for Wales to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.”

KeolisAmey is unable to make any further comment until the procurement process has concluded and the contract has been awarded.

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Changes made to Sex and Relationships Education

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EDUCATION SECRETARY Kirsty Williams has announced changes to Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and its role in the curriculum.

Whilst the topic of sex and relationships is a statutory part of the curriculum of Wales, individual schools can currently choose their approach to the subject. But the changes, set to be introduced in 2022, aim to provide a greater grasp of sexuality, with greater emphasis on healthy relationships rather than a lesson on the biology of the topic.

Age appropriate material on diversity, domestic abuse and consent will be taught to children from five to 16 years old.

The announcement comes 30 years after Section 28 was introduced in Welsh, English and Scottish schools. Section 28 of the Local Government Act stated that a local authority ‘shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ or ‘promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’. It was repealed in 2000 in Scotland and in 2003 for the rest of the UK.

Kirsty Williams, Member of the Welsh Assembly for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “The days of traditional sex education are long gone; the world has moved on and our curriculum must move with it.

“Sex should never be taught in isolation for the simple reason that it is about so much more than just sex; it’s also about relationships, rights and respect and that must go hand in hand with a much broader understanding of sexuality.

“Anything less does a disservice to our learners and teachers.

“The fact is relationships and sexuality shape our lives as well as the world around us.

“They are a fundamental part of who we are and how we understand ourselves, each other and society.

“30 years on from the introduction of Section 28, we will also ensure that RSE is fully inclusive of all genders and sexualities and meets the needs of LGBTQI+ learners.

“Crucial to all of this will be ensuring that our teachers have the knowledge and confidence to provide the RSE our learners deserve.”

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Illegal gin traps leads to death of red kite

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AN RSPCA appeal for information has been launched following the death of a red kite caught by an illegal gin trap.

RSPCA Cymru was alerted after the poor bird of prey was found bleeding, and with broken legs, in the trap on Park Avenue in Aberystwyth on May 7.

The caller who found the bird transferred the animal to a local veterinary practice, where it was confirmed that the legs had been broken by the trap.

Sadly, the vet was left with no choice but to put the bird to sleep to prevent further suffering.

Gin traps, such as the device used in this incident, are spring-operated and illegal to set and use, although not illegal to own. It is also illegal to set any spring trap in the open or on top of a post.

The RSPCA say they are following a line of inquiry about the placing of the trap – but are calling on the local community in Aberystwyth to get in touch should they have any relevant information.

RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “These gin traps were made illegal to set many years ago and yet shockingly are still being used to catch animals. They are indiscriminate and sadly this red kite is the latest victim.

“The potential consequences of these devices for animals and humans are so severe. I shudder to think what could have happened had a toddler, for example, crossed the path of this trap.

“We are following a line of inquiry on this incident but are eager for more information to come to light as to the circumstances behind this illegal trap being put down.

“The RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line can be reached on 0300 123 8018, and all calls are treated in confidence.”

If you have concerns about the welfare of an animal, please call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999 to report the incident.

For more information on what to do if you find a wild animal in need of help, please visit the RSPCA website.

If you wish to help RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as this, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.

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