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Multi-million pound digital boost to future-proof City Region

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A £55 million investment that will help future-proof the Swansea Bay City Region’s digital infrastructure has taken a major step forward.

The Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee has approved a programme of digital infrastructure and connectivity improvements which will now be submitted to the UK Government and Welsh Government for final approval.

The City Deal digital infrastructure programme will benefit residents and businesses in all parts of the City Region, which includes Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea. It’s estimated to be worth £318 million to the regional economy in the next 15 years.

Led by Carmarthenshire County Council, the digital infrastructure programme will help to ensure the region’s cities, towns and business parks have competitive access to full-fibre connectivity. This will help pave the way for the region to benefit from 5G and internet of things innovation, which includes smart homes, smart manufacturing, smart agriculture and virtual reality, as well as wearable technology that will support healthcare, assisted living and other sectors. 

The programme will also focus on improving access to broadband in the region’s rural communities, while stimulating the market to create competition between digital providers for the benefit of consumers. 

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, said: “The importance of world-class digital connectivity can’t be overstated. It’s fast-becoming the fourth utility, which underpins so much of daily life nowadays – from contact with family and friends to controlling our homes and supporting businesses in all sectors to drive productivity and enable innovation. 

“The quality of digital infrastructure in South West Wales is currently lagging behind other parts of the UK though, so this programme will help close that gap by acting as a springboard for a super-connected City Region with equality of access to broadband throughout our rural communities.  

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“This will benefit regional residents and businesses both now and in future by improving connectivity and providing the kind of digital infrastructure that’ll be needed to support digital innovation in coming years, including advancements in 5G and internet of things technology.

“Covid-19 has further raised the profile of digital connectivity’s importance, so it’s very encouraging that we now have sign-off from the City Deal’s Joint Committee to submit this exciting programme to both governments for final approval.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee Chairman, said: “With digital connectivity continuing to transform the way we live and do business, this programme will help ensure the region is well-equipped to benefit from future innovation, while improving connectivity in all our communities.

“Not only are strong digital foundations critical to keep pace with technological advancements, but they’re also needed to help attract further investment and well-paid jobs to the City Region.”

The digital infrastructure programme is seeking a £25 million City Deal investment, with remaining funding contributions split between the public and private sectors. It’s among a portfolio of major programmes and projects throughout the City Region due to be part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal.

Funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector, the Swansea Bay City Deal is being led by Carmarthenshire County Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, in partnership with Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea Bay University Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board.

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Carmarthenshire

Pembrey Country Park retains prestigious Green Flag award

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Pembrey Country Park has once again received the prestigious Green Flag Award.

The international award has been given to the popular tourist attraction for its amazing green space for the last three years.

The award is recognised for having the highest possible standards, being beautifully maintained and boasting excellent visitor facilities.

Around £4 million is being invested into the park as part of a masterplan to continue its development as a major tourism destination within Carmarthenshire and Wales.

This is the second award for Pembrey Country Park after it celebrated winning the Blue Flag status for Cefn Sidan earlier this year.

Since the Blue Flag awards were first introduced in 1988, Pembrey Country Park has won more Blue Flags than anywhere else in Wales. Cefn Sidan was also the first Welsh beach to win the accolade.

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Much of the investment has been completed with upgrading and extending camping and caravanning including the installation of a new amenity block and the opening of Yr Orsaf restaurant.

Work has already been completed on a national closed road circuit, a BMX pump track, an adventure golf course, a changing places facility at the ski and activity centre and new accessible toilets.

Improvements will soon be underway to upgrade the outside area surrounding Yr Orsaf restaurant and hub to give visitors a better experience.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said a lot of effort has been put into making the park what it is today. He said: “We are thrilled to be receiving this award once again which is only given to those green spaces that have demonstrated high standards. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how important our green spaces are and they clearly provide health benefits for everyone.”

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government.

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Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

Wales still holds more than a third of the UK’s Green Flag community sites.

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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‘Strong evidence’ Nantycaws recycling centre fire caused by battery incorrectly discarded in blue recycling bag

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Carmarthenshire Council are urging householders in Carmarthenshire not to dispose of batteries in black or blue bin bags.

It comes after strong evidence suggests that a fire in Carmarthen’s Nantycaws Recycling Centre last April which caused millions of pounds of damage may have been started by a battery that was disposed of in a blue recycling bag.

The fire destroyed the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and the recycling centre was forced to close to the public for five days.

Batteries should be removed from any items that contain them such as rechargeable items, mobile phones, electric toothbrushes, toys, television remotes etc and then disposed of separately at a recycling centre or local battery recycling point.

Batteries that are difficult to remove from items can be recycled at the electrical bay at the recycling centre.

In the last five years, fires suspected or proved of being caused by Lithium Ion Batteries have more than doubled with 48% in 2021 compared to 21% in 2016/2017.

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The most common inappropriate items within bin bags presented for kerbside collection by residents include electrical waste such as toasters children’s toys, hair styling equipment, separate old batteries ranging from standard cell batteries to rechargeable lithium ion batteries and mobile devices.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “Thankfully no one was injured in the fire in Carmarthen’s Nantycaws Recycling Centre last year. Please do not put loose dead batteries or items that hold batteries in your bin bags with other rubbish, it is extremely dangerous and the consequences can be very serious. All our recycling centres have facilities to dispose of your batteries safely as well as many shops and supermarkets that have battery collection points.”

The batteries are initially compromised when unknowingly crew throw the bags containing electrical items into the vehicles which get compacted, they are then transported to the MRF where they can come into contact with further materials that can result in serious consequences.

Richard Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service added: “Lithium-ion batteries can be found in an increasing number of consumer items and disposing of such items has become a growing concern, especially for our partners who operate waste management facilities. Even small lithium-ion batteries can present a very real danger of an intense fire which can then spread quickly. We advise those looking to dispose of batteries to carefully consult waste instructions from their local authority.”

Last year The Environmental Services Association launched a campaign to raise awareness of incorrectly recycling batteries. Millions of pounds worth of damage caused by discarded batteries happens at recycling centres every year and endangers the lives of people who work in them.

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(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Parents pay tribute to 6 month old girl killed in Llanelli horror drunk driver crash

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The parents of a six-month-old baby killed in a collision in Llanelli on Friday (8 October) have paid tribute to their “perfect baby girl” who they say was “a gift from God”.

Eva Maria Nichifor died following a collision involving a blue 3 series BMW and a blue Vauxhall Vectra at the Heol Goffa crossroads in Llanelli at around 9pm.

Eva Maria’s parents Florin and Carmen, who originate from Romania, but now live in Llanelli, issued a tribute in English and Romanian.

“We are distraught by our loss. Eva Maria, only six months old, will be missed by us all.

“She was our miracle, our perfect baby girl, a gift from God. She will always be in our hearts.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support at this horrific time. It has meant so much to the whole family.

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“We would now like time to grieve and would ask to be given privacy in which to do so.”

Suntem foarte supărați pentru pierderea noastră. Eva Maria, avea doar 6 luni si cu toții ii vom simți lipsa.

Ea a fost minunea noastră, un copil perfect și un dar dat de Dumnezeu. Va fi in inimile noastre pentru totdeauna.

“Va mulțumim tuturor pentru susținerea voastră in aceste vremuri dificile, înseamnă foarte mult pentru noi.

“Am vrea acum puțin timp sa ne adunam in liniște alături de familia noastră.

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A woman has been charged with causing Eva Maria’s death by dangerous driving.

Lucy Dyer, aged 23, of Heulwen Terrace, Llanelli, was remanded in custody following the court hearing at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Monday (11 October). 

She is due appear before Swansea Crown Court on Friday, 12 November.  She was also charged with drink-driving.

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