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Children stop drivers from speeding as part of Llanelli 20mph campaign

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Speeding drivers have been stopped by children in Llanelli for going over the 20mph limit outside their schools – and asked to explain themselves.

Pupils from Ysgol Penygaer, Ysgol Dewi Sant and Ysgol Y Felin have been taking action to slow down motorists.

A total of 33 drivers were stopped by the schoolchildren (including five for not wearing a seatbelt), supported by the council’s road safety unit and officers from Dyfed-Powys Police , GoSafe, and the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

The children used a Speed Indicator Device to find out what speed passing motorists were travelling. The device flashes their speed along with a happy face if they are within the limit or a sad face if they are over the limit.

Offending drivers are given the option of speaking to the children to explain why they are speeding or receive a £100 fine and three penalty points.

The initiative is part of a wider education and awareness campaign in the Llanelli North area, which is part of a Welsh Government rollout to reduce the national default speed limit.

Llanelli North, which covers Dafen, some parts of Felinfoel and the Llanerch area, has been chosen as one of eight communities in Wales to trial a reduced national speed limit from 30mph to 20mph in residential areas and busy pedestrian streets.

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Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole, who went along to Ysgol Y Felin, said: “Evidence shows that lower speeds result in fewer collisions and reduces the severity of injuries, and in particular, where 20mph limits are introduced, there is a reduction in the number of casualties.

“It also encourages people to be more active within the neighbourhood, leading to healthier lifestyles, creating a better environment and quality of life.”

Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Hazel Evans added: “It is extremely worrying that so many motorists are continuing to speed outside our schools, hopefully this initiative will make people think about the speed they are travelling and the impact it has on local communities and the safety of our children.

“We hope that drivers will adhere to new 20mph speed limit improving safety for all road users, but where they do not, an enforcement strategy has been developed and will be implemented where speeding continues to cause concerns.”

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “We’ve already seen the effects current 20mph limits have had in reducing speeds and serious incidents on our roads. I believe this innovative enforcement initiative at the site of one of our 20mph pilots will encourage motorists to drive responsibly, placing the safety of children at the forefront of their minds at all times.”

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Other awareness-raising initiatives taking place in the area include a Community Speed Watch where local residents have been recruited by Dyfed-Powys Police and GoSafe to monitor the speeds on local roads using speed detection devices. Vehicles exceeding the speed limit are referred to the police, and the aim is to educate drivers to slow down and stay within the limit.

In a scheme similar to the speed reduction initiative with the schoolchildren, police and GoSafe are also stopping speeding drivers and giving them the option of the fine and points, or receiving a short presentation from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service on the consequences of speeding in the community.

The road safety team is also working with local schools to encourage more active travel. All primary schools in the area are being offered Kerbcraft training which aims to teach children from aged from five to seven how to be safer pedestrians, as well as on-road cycle training for all year 6 pupils.

Sgt Ian Price, from Go Safe – Dyfed-Powys Police Road Harm Reduction Unit, said: “Dyfed-Powys Police, with the support of Go Safe, is working with our road safety partners to help change driver attitudes in recognising a cultural and potential legal change, regarding restricted road status from 30mph to 20mph.

“Historically we have grown up to know that streetlights mean 30, but potential legislative changes in Wales in 2023 will default a restricted road status to 20mph. Too many people are being killed or seriously injured in existing urban areas, in which a reduction in speed limit along with compliance, can only reduce the number of these incidents. We can also make our communities safer places to live by walking and cycling those short journeys.

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“Over the next few months, you will see an increased visible presence in the Llanelli North area where engagement, education and enforcement will take place in an effort to change driver behaviour”.

Lead image: Local councillor Cllr Bill Thomas, Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Hazel Evans and Council Leader Emlyn Dole with pupils from Ysgol Y Felin who are taking action against speeding drivers. (Image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Carmarthen

Mother gifts toys to children’s wards in memory of lifesaving son

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The family of a patient who passed away in Morriston Hospital has donated a collection of toys to the children’s wards to help keep his memory alive.

But the presents are nothing compared to the gift of life that has resulted from the deceased being an organ donor.

Marc Leach passed away on 5th May, of this year, in Morriston Hospital, following a period in critical care.

The 25-year-old, who worked as a chef in a Carmarthen restaurant, leaves behind a 5-year-old son, Lincoln.

On what would have been his 26th birthday, his family and friends met up at Marc’s place of work where the idea of keeping his memory alive for his son was hatched.

Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis, said: “On his birthday this year, on 18 November, we all got together and decided to do a toy drive for the children’s ward in Morriston, to give them new toys.

“Marc has an amazing little boy called Lincoln, who is the spitting image of his daddy. I wanted to keep my son’s memory alive so that his own son would never forget him.

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“Next year we are going to do a donor drive and raise money for mental health services.”

Marc Leach (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

When it became apparent that Marc would not survive his mother spoke to members of the organ donation team.

Michelle said: “Marc had told us he wanted to be a donor. Because his uncle had benefitted from receiving a kidney in the past, he wanted to give back.

“I’m also a registered donor, I was supposed to give one of my kidneys to my brother but a donor came up instead.”

Although the recipients of donated organs remain confidential Michelle has been told that her son’s decision has already helped save lives.

She said: “His kidneys have gone to two people, his liver has gone to another. I believe he has saved three or four people.”

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It is a bittersweet thought for Michelle.

“I’m chuffed to bits that he has saved lives but I wish he was still here as he would have only been 26 this year.”

Calling on everyone to at least have a conversation on the subject of donations, she said: “We don’t need our organs when we die but there are people out there who do need them. They are just going to waste.”

Michelle thanked those who looked after her son in his final days.

“The nurses and doctors in intensive care laughed with us and they cried with us. They were absolutely amazing.

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“They were part of the family in the end. They knew a lot about Marc from listening us talking about what he was like and what he got up to.”

Kathryn Gooding (pictured top with Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis), Swansea Bay UHB specialist nurse organ donation, said: “Organ donation really does save and improve the lives of others.

“Thanks to Marc’s donation and the bravery of his family to support the decision other lives were saved.”

Of the presentation of toys to the hospital she said: “This initiative is a lovely way of remembering Marc and his generous gift of life and hopefully to bring a smile to the children who will benefit from the toy drive.”

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Carmarthen

Extra free parking days for Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen during the festive season

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Carmarthenshire shoppers are being encouraged to use free parking days and support local businesses in the run up to Christmas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has approved requests from Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen town councils to allocate free parking days throughout December for events.

Towns across Carmarthenshire are offered five free parking days to use as they wish from January to November every year, but the council’s Cabinet has agreed to requests from some towns to extend these into December.

In Llanelli the free parking days are December 4, 11 and 18; in Carmarthen they are Dec 5, 12 and 19 and in Llandeilo they are Dec 4, 11, 18.

These are in addition to the usual free parking periods in our short stay car parks already running throughout the year in Carmarthenshire towns.

The free parking days coincides with the launch of the first ever Christmas pop up shops as part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s 100% Sir Gâr initiative as a way of supporting local businesses to recover from a long period of lockdown and restrictions on retail.

The free pop up shops are located at the former Debenhams in Carmarthen and number 1 Stepney Street (next door to Andrew Price Hairdresser) and are open up until Christmas.

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Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “We know how difficult the past year has been for our local businesses and that is why we have agreed to allow the three main towns to use their annual free parking day allocations during December if they wanted to as this month is usually excluded. We hope as many people as possible will take advantage of these extra days and support the pop up shops and our local town centre businesses during the festive season.”

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Carmarthenshire

Scrub removal at Pembrey will improve dunes for biodiversity say environment body

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Scrub provides a splash of greenery in our sandy spaces, but too much scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there according to Natural Resources Wales

This winter the Welsh environment body will be removing non-native, invasive plant species from areas of dune at Pembrey to help wildlife thrive.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system. Sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

Some non-native plant species, like the dense scrub plant sea buckthorn, are invasive and they are growing quickly in this dune system – spreading further across large areas of dune each year. Many of the dunes’ rare and specialist wildlife needs bare sand or low grassland habitat to survive and gets lost under or outcompeted by scrub. If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

Scrub removal in specifically chosen locations will help to restore the habitat types that these species need, and this work will play a part in ensuring the dunes at Pembrey have a healthy, biodiverse future. Improving the ecological condition here will increase this coastal landscape’s resilience to other threats, such as extreme weather events and changing conditions brought on by climate change in the future.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park around Car Park 8 and the second will take place on the foredunes in front of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW. It is scheduled to begin in the last week of November and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 5th December.

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Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said: “Sea Buckthorn control is important to improve the dune grassland habitats at Pembrey. Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have carried out this type of habitat management over a number of years which has resulted in restoring the area to a dune grassland rich with different species of plants. You can best enjoy this during the summer months within the Pembrey Burrows and Saltings Local Nature Reserve. As part of Dynamic Dunescapes, we are now continuing this work, which will result in an overall increase in dune grassland habitat.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “Whilst scrub is a valuable habitat it does need management to maintain it in good condition for wildlife. Cutting back the scrub will ensure it does not spread into areas where is not wanted and or where it can destroy other habitat.”

Dynamic Dunescapes is not the only project working to restore Pembrey’s important sand dunes. The EU LIFE-funded Sands of LIFE project, managed by (NRW), has also been undertaking sand dune management to improve conditions for wildlife in recent years. The two projects work closely to build on and support each other’s work.

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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