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Carmarthenshire

Town centres across Wales to receive over £24m

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Welsh Government Ministers have announced an additional £24m package of support to revitalise Wales’ town centres.

  • £18.4m of Transforming Towns loan funding will breathe new life into old and empty properties;
  • £3.34m will help high street businesses grow and embrace innovative digital technology that will help their business thrive as part of the Year of SMART Towns;
  • An additional £3m will be used to incentivise more North Wales businesses to locate in town centres.

Since 2015, the Welsh Government’s Town Centre Loans programme has funded local authorities to support landlords to redevelop empty and underutilised properties. Under this round of funding, local authorities can act directly and use their share of the £18.4m to step in to buy and redevelop properties to support the diversification of our town centres by encouraging more sustainable uses for empty sites and premises, such as residential, leisure and for key services. 

Once the Town Centre Loan is repaid, the money will be recycled to fund new loans, bring empty and derelict sites back into use, help businesses to grow and prosper, and support activities to increase footfall on our high streets.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council will benefit from £2.570m for the redevelopment of strategic sites in Ebbw Vale and Brynmawr, while Flintshire County Council will receive £750,000 to redevelop a number of premises that would otherwise be difficult to bring back into use.

Swansea Council is set to receive £6m in funding to bring back into use long-term empty buildings within the city and Powys County Council will receive £2m to redevelop the former livestock market in Llanidloes.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said: “As part of our Transforming Towns approach, we have invested over £40m of Town Centre Loans funding over this Senedd term, enabling the redevelopment and occupation of many town centre buildings across Wales. I look forward to seeing more homes, offices and businesses developing thanks to the property improvements we will see as a result of this latest round of funding.”

The £3.34m funding for town centres will be vital in enabling businesses to plan projects which will support their economic growth as well as helping them make the best use of digital technology.  This includes utilising data to help firms better understand their customer base and trends which will support businesses in their future planning and marketing activities. The funding will also help establish pop up shops and creative hubs to increase their retail offer and will drive increased footfall into the town centre.

A separate £3m North Wales town centres entrepreneurial fund will incentivise new entrepreneurs to locate their businesses within the town centres of Wrexham, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Bangor.  The fund comprises grant and loan funding; the loan funding will be provided by Development Bank of Wales.

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Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates said: “Supporting our businesses and town centres is a key part of our Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission as we aim to rebuild the Welsh economy so that it’s more prosperous, equal and green than ever before.

“We have all seen the importance of digital during the pandemic, in how we connect with each other, purchase goods and access service. Embracing technology is going to crucial to the future success of businesses and I’m delighted our town centre funding will help towns and businesses do just that.

“I’m also pleased we will be able to provide important incentives to businesses so we can increase footfall in Wrexham, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Bangor. This funding will help attract businesses and people back into the town centres.”

Local authorityAllocation
Blaenau Gwent£2,570,000
Carmarthenshire£2,000,000.00
Conwy£1,000,000.00
Flintshire£750,000.00
Gwynedd£600,000.00
Merthyr Tydfil£1,000,000.00
Pembrokeshire£1,500,000.00
Powys£2,000,000
Swansea£6,000,000
Vale of Glamorgan£550,000.00
Wrexham£500,000.00

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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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Dyfed Powys Police

Eight people have lost £58k in the last week to criminals in ‘courier fraud’ – with Llanelli area being hit hardest

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thoughtful adult woman talking on smartphone

Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating a growing number of reports of people posing as bank staff or police officers, as eight people have lost £58,000 to criminals in the last week alone due to ‘Courier Fraud’.

This increase is particularly prevalent in the Llanelli area.

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DC Gareth Jordan from the Economic Crime Team said: “People posing as fake bank staff or police officers have been calling residents and persuading them their accounts have been compromised, then sending a courier to collect the money. This is known as Courier Fraud.

“In the past week alone we have seen eight people lose a significant amount of money between them, and it’s very distressing for those victims. We are asking friends and family to look out for those that could be vulnerable – talk to them about this scam, advise them to be vigilant, and report any suspicious calls.

“Please remember that police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a ‘safe’ account.”

Dyfed Powys Police warn that if someone is claiming to be a police officer asks you to withdraw money for safe keeping or that they’re investigating the bank staff, it’s a scam.

The police, or your bank, will never ask you to assist in an internal investigation. They will never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN either. Never hand your card over with the PIN number.

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And the police will never send someone to your home to collect money, nor will they ask you to transfer funds out of your account.

Top Tips to protect yourself from fraudsters

Stop: Always take a moment to think before parting with your money or information – it could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to the police.

Report suspicious emails to: report@phishing.gov.uk

You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad. 

Anyone who receives a similar call is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police either online; by emailing: 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or calling: 101.

Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to a scammer should report it by calling 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. For further advice and information on how to avoid being scammed visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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