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Carmarthenshire

Images of planned new Llanelli Leisure Centre at Pentre Awel development in Machynys revealed

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A glimpse of the new leisure centre planned for Llanelli has been released following Carmarthenshire County Council’s commitment of funding in its capital investment programme.

Designs for the £27million leisure centre, which will form part of the multi-million Pentre Awel health and wellbeing development in Machynys, include a 25-metre eight-lane swimming pool, an eight-court sports hall and an adventure play area for young children.

As well as offering traditional lane swimming and learn to swim classes, the pool hall will include innovative water-based slides, inflatables and wet assault courses to provide fun and stimulating activities for people of all ages and abilities.

The sports hall will provide top-class facilities for a range of indoor sports, including netball competition standard courts, alongside a cutting-edge gym.

There will also be a dedicated adventure play area with ‘soft play’ equipment for younger children including slides and climbing frames.

The specification for the designs for the wet and dry leisure areas follows extensive community engagement, including the thoughts and wishes of local school children following a public exhibition.

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Leader of the Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “We are excited and absolutely committed to providing a brand new leisure centre for Llanelli as part of the landmark Pentre Awel development which will provide social, economic and health benefits for the whole of Carmarthenshire. This forms an exciting element of our overall investment in capital projects to improve and raise the aspirations of the county.

“Whilst Pentre Awel is primarily a development to support the health and wellbeing of our communities, we of course want to ensure people can visit and enjoy this fantastic location for leisure too.

“Taking feedback and inspiration from local people, our designs include an exciting and flexible range of activity facilities suitable for all ages and abilities.

“We’ve no doubt that this new development will make a huge difference to the lives future generations in Llanelli and the surrounding area, and we look forward to seeing things progress in the near future.”

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Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We have promised a new leisure centre for Llanelli and we’re looking forward to delivering on that. We’ve got exciting plans for a facility that will suit people of all ages and abilities.”

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The Pentre Awel scheme proposed for an 83-acre site on Llanelli’s coastline will be the first development of its scope and size in Wales.

It is due to be part-funded by the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal, with a total of £40million being sought for the project.

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Already approved by the City Deal’s Joint Committee and Carmarthenshire County Council, the business case is now with Welsh and UK Governments with a decision expected imminently.

The scheme will provide public, academic, business and health facilities all on one site to boost employment, education, leisure provision, health research and delivery, and skills and training.

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The project is planned to include integrated care and physical rehabilitation facilities to enable the testing and piloting of life science technologies aimed at enhancing independent and assisted living.

A skills centre will focus on health and care training, along with a clinical delivery centre to deliver multi-disciplinary care closer to home.

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Assisted living accommodation will also feature, along with a nursing home, a hotel, expansion space for businesses, and elements of both open market and social and affordable housing.

Worth millions of pounds to the local economy, Pentre Awel will also create a wide range of employment opportunities across the Swansea Bay City Region as whole.

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Pentre Awel is being delivered by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board, Universities and Colleges.

(All images: Carmarthenshire Council)


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Llanelli

West Wales car dealership to double in size

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Dafen-based Llanelli Motor Company have broken ground on a new development that will see their forecourt double in size over the coming months.

Led by Managing Director Ian Jonathan, the two-phase project will see the independent car dealership increase the number of used vehicles it has on sale to over 400 by January 2023.

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“It’s certainly an exciting period for the business,” said Ian, “and with the significant changes to the used car market, we felt now was the right time to start the project, which has been in the pipeline for over five years.”

Although the business was potentially looking at 2020 as a start date for the developments, the Coronavirus Pandemic put the brakes on the project.

However, since the easing of lockdown restrictions and the delay in obtaining new vehicles, the used car market has seen an unprecedented spike in demand.

Dafen based Llanelli Motor Company is planning to double in size
The company have broken ground on an expansion that will see over 400 cars on sale by the end of January 2023

“The last 12 months have been exceptionally busy,” continued Ian.

“No sooner are we finalising our 140-point safety check on vehicles before placing them on the forecourt, than they are being purchased within a matter of days”.

With the ability to stock 150 nearly new vehicles of all makes and models at the moment, the 1-acre expansion will increase this to 250 by September before more than doubling it to 400 by the spring of 2023.

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In order to facilitate this growth, the company will also be entering a recruitment phase and looking to employ at least 10 new members of staff across its sales, workshop and admin teams as well as taking on new apprenticeships.

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Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

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Brand new trains that aim to transform services across Wales and the English borders have been on show today at Chester railway station.

Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag was revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.

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TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.

Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including services in South West Wales – Manchester to Milford Haven, Cardiff to Fishguard and Swansea to Pembroke Dock.

Offering leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens, the new trains will transform the customer experience. They’ve also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network. These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”

Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.

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“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.

Richard Garner, UK Director CAF said: “CAF is thrilled that the first of our Class 197 trains for the Wales and Borders network has been officially launched.

“We are immensely proud of our key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ vision to transform rail travel for passengers.

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“The manufacture of our trains is taking place at our state-of-the-art facility in Newport, South Wales. We see ourselves as a local manufacturer, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing employment opportunities to the local area whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.

Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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