Carmarthenshire County Council has agreed a set of recommendations for Carmarthen’s Picton monument.
A cross-party Equality and Diversity (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) Task and Finish Group was set up earlier this year in response to two detailed debates in the Council chamber, with the purpose of engaging residents and gathering feedback to help break down barriers and support Carmarthenshire’s BAME communities.
As part of their work, the group launched a public survey in response to commentary about historic monuments across the UK – the Picton being one of them. It encouraged people to give their views on whether the council needed to take any steps in response to public discussion, and what these steps should be.
The Task and Finish Group recommended erecting prominently placed information boards near the Picton Monument and within its grounds with reference to Sir Thomas Picton encompassing his military career as well as his known links with slavery, as well as reference to the local history of the area, including the Rebecca Riots. The group also recommended a further information board placed in the vicinity of the Court Room at the Guildhall, where a portrait of Sir Thomas Picton is displayed.
The group has asked that the recommendations be implemented within 12 months .
Cllr Cefin Campbell, Executive Board Member for Equalities and Chair of the Task and Finish Group, said: “The consultation was held over six weeks and I’m very pleased to say that 2470 people responded which is an amazing response. We consulted with the Race Council for Wales, the Llanelli Multicultural Network, Carmarthen Town Council and our museums service. Our main focus was getting people’s opinions.
“Some 73 per cent of respondents were from Carmarthenshire, and a third were from Carmarthen itself. In general, the opinion was two to one in favour of keeping the monument as it stands, but even within that percentage there were people saying that it’s important that we teach people about Picton – learning of his history and the history of the area as well.
“We have recommended that we put information boards prominently in place so that people can read a rounded interpretation of Thomas Picton, and also include the history of the area with reference to the Rebecca Riots – one took place just down the road from the Picton monument. There will be QR codes for people to get more information and also an information board at Guildhall where his portrait is hanging.”
Carmarthenshire County Council leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, added: “The work of the group is continuing and we welcome that this important work is going to continue and give full consideration to the other matters brought up in the Notices of Motion we received at council earlier this year.”
Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves
Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.
His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.
The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.
The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.
“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.
“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”
The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.
He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.
“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”
He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.
“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.
Carmarthen’s Richmond Park School celebrates becoming a School of Sanctuary
Richmond Park School in Carmarthen is the first school in Carmarthenshire to achieve School of Sanctuary status.
The school has been recognised for all its good work in creating a culture of welcome and safety for people seeking sanctuary, including asylum seeking and refugee families.
It joins a national network of over 300 primary and secondary schools all committed to
to supporting the thousands of young people seeking sanctuary in the UK, raising awareness of the issues facing people in asylum, challenging misconceptions and building social cohesion.
Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language Cllr Glynog Davies and Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans visited the school during Refugee Week 2022 to celebrate the achievement.
Cllr Davies said: “People have been responding to the ongoing refugee crisis in towns and villages across Wales, setting up schemes which offer support and welcome. Over the past few years, we have welcomed new arrivals from Syria, Afghanistan and now the Ukraine underlining the importance of initiatives such as School of Sanctuary.
“Schools play a crucial role in helping young people to make sense of the world, to become responsible citizens and to create positive change in their communities.
“Richmond Park have done a wonderful job in achieving this award and have set the bar high. We hope many other schools in Carmarthenshire will also begin their journeys towards this prestigious award.”
The awarding panel was impressed with how brilliantly and articulately the children from Richmond Park spoke about their school, their experiences of being new arrivals and all the wonderful things they do to welcome and include everyone.
The school’s Cymuned Croeso student council is made up of students who have transitioned to the school who help to shape the school’s policy around welcoming newcomers; and Richmond Park’s sanctuary barn – known as Noddfa Iaith – offers a designated area of sanctuary, a place for quiet reflection filled with messages of positivity.
The panel were also impressed by how the school is promoting multilingualism through the use of Giglets/Flash Academy, Online FlipGrid creating a multilingual exchange space throughout Carmarthenshire, multilingual staff, and students trained as interpreters.
Schools of Sanctuary co-ordinator Megan Greenwood said: “As the first school in Carmarthenshire to go through the process, we have been particularly impressed with how self-driven the school has been and its efforts and activities are all the more impressive and innovative.
“We feel that the school has taken opportunities to properly engage with the whole school community and has evidenced various novel efforts and activities that reflect best practice in building sanctuary in school.”
(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)
Carmarthen illegal angler must pay £3k after court no-show
After failing to attend two court hearings, a Carmarthenshire man has been found guilty of fishing offences at Llanelli Magistrates Court and has been ordered to pay almost £3,000 in fines and costs.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) prosecuted Gavin Davies of 4 Heol Spurrell, Carmarthen after he was witnessed by an NRW Enforcement Officer and a Dyfed Powys Police (DPP) Wildlife Crime Police Officer catching an adult salmon on the Wenallt fishing beat of the River Tywi, by deliberately using an illegal barbed fishing hook.
The incident took place on 17 September 2021.
It is a legal requirement in Wales, that any salmon caught are released alive back into the river and that anglers who target migratory fish such as salmon and sea trout (sewin) must use de-barbed or barbless fishing hooks.
Mr Davies, who had caught the salmon by the time he was approached by the officers, was attempting to put the fish back into the river. He showed a very poor catch and release practice, which would have contributed to the death of the fish if it had not already died due to the damage caused by the illegal barbed hook.
The fish was seen floating down the river immediately after being released by Mr Davies.
After the dead salmon was recovered from the river, officers witnessed fatal gill damage injuries to the salmon that were caused by the barbed hook used by Mr Davies. The NRW Officer instructed Mr Davies to de-barb and flatten the barb on his fishing hook, which he duly did.
Mr Davies made no attempt to attend his first summons to Llanelli Magistrates Court hearing and also made no effort to attend the second hearing which was re-arranged for him on 22 April 2022.
The case was made against Mr Davies in his absence, and he was found guilty by the court Magistrates.
The court fined him the maximum amount available to them for the charge and awarded NRW the full costs of the investigation.
The fine, costs and victim surcharge totalled to £2,917.91.
Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “This incident is a case study in how not to fish for migratory fish such as salmon and sea trout. Mr Davies was experienced and well versed in the angling byelaws, but still knowingly used an illegal method to catch the salmon. Mr Davies displayed shockingly poor technique in trying to release the salmon and showed no respect for fish welfare.
“He represents a very small portion of the angling community on the Tywi catchment, and I urge anyone who isn’t sure of the angling rules, or of the best practice catch & release techniques to visit our website.
“Every single salmon that reaches its spawning beds is highly important to the river Tywi catchment and to the passionate angling communities who visit.
“The female ‘hen’ salmon that died because of Mr Davies’ actions may have contributed nearly 5000 eggs if it had spawned in the higher reaches of the Tywi catchment. These lost salmon eggs represent an important loss for a river catchment which is already not meeting its spawning targets for successful future fish stocks.
“I would like to thank our Dyfed Powys Police Wildlife Crime Officer for his continued help within our fisheries enforcement teams and also in prosecuting this case.”
(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)
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