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Energy saving consultancy helps leisure firm reduce carbon footprint

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Almost 500 tonnes of carbon a year have been saved thanks to energy-saving measures at Swansea leisure facilities.

Freedom Leisure, the not-for-profit charitable leisure trust which operates leisure centres in Swansea as well as dozens of other local authorities across the UK, has been working in partnership with an energy saving consultancy to deliver a number of projects to minimise the environmental impact of its leisure centres.

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Award winning consultancy and industry leader, Leisure Energy has been supporting the not-for-profit organisation with projects across the UK.

Amongst recent projects was a programme of energy saving measures implemented
across the community leisure facilities in Swansea, South Wales.

Operated by Freedom Leisure, on behalf of Swansea Council, the facilities have benefitted from significant energy savings and a reduction in carbon of almost 500 tonnes per year. This is equivalent to taking 100 cars off the road per year or saving the entire energy use of an average house for almost 40 years.

This success is being replicated across the Freedom Leisure group, with the organisation
able to reduce its carbon emissions by 841 tonnes (CO2) and also reduce both its gas (-
5.1%) and electricity usage (-9.2%) during 2019-20. However, the organisation is now
looking to boost these efforts even further.

The recent award winning project at The Stour Centre, Ashford, is testimony to this. The
carbon reduction project at the Freedom Leisure centre was delivered with support from
the Public Sector Decarbonisation Grant and will result in carbon emissions being halved
at the centre. The project has been recognised with multiple industry awards, including
Energy Managers Association: Energy Management Consultancy Partnership 2021; and
New Civil Engineer: Best Use of Technology: Carbon Reduction (TechFest 2021).

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The LC is one of the leisure centres in Swansea to have benefitted from the energy reduction programme (Image: Freedom leisure)

Working on behalf of Freedom Leisure, Leisure Energy have played an instrumental role
in the delivery and success of these projects.

Neil Bland, Managing Director – Leisure Energy said: “Leisure energy have been working with Freedom leisure for about 6 years, helping with their energy efficiency, sustainability and decarbonisation pledges. We recently helped Freedom Leisure reduce the carbon footprint of the community leisure facilities in Swansea by nearly 500 tonnes per year. Our most recent project has also won two prestigious awards for decarbonisation, again – showing that Freedom Leisure are at the forefront of carbon reduction in the Leisure sector.”

Ivan Horsfall-Turner, Chief Executive Officer of Freedom Leisure added: “Minimising environmental impact is a priority for Freedom Leisure right across our organisation. We are totally committed to being socially and environmentally aware, delivering a sustainable service for local communities – the success and recognition of these recent projects in Swansea and Ashford are testimony to that.”

Freedom Leisure say that these awards follow the recent appointment of a new Sustainability and Environmental Manager. Angela Brown was recently appointed to the newly created
role in a bid to secure its commitment towards a greener future. Brown has joined the
Senior Leadership Team and Freedom Leisure say she will play a key role in driving the sustainability and environmental efforts at all levels across the group.

(Lead image: Freedom Leisure)

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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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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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Port Talbot

Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business

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Following refurbishment, visitors to Port Talbot will once again be able to visit the shop located at the lifeboat station at Aberavon seafront.

The shop refit marks the start of a new era. The shop was opened in loving memory of the previous shop manager, Phil Jones, who sadly passed away in early 2021.

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Phil had kept the shop open single-handedly for over twelve years with much success. Phil’s wife and daughter kindly agreed to officially open the new shop on Sunday 12 June when many memories were shared and there were plenty of best wishes for the future.

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local station. Around 1920 commemorative RNLI products were added and shops were selling souvenirs and Christmas cards, all profits helping to save lives at sea.

The RNLI now has over 170 shops around the coast and inland all of which are run by dedicated volunteers: Port Talbot is no exception.

The shop volunteer team has grown since April 2021 from a team of one to thirteen and is also involved with fundraising.

New Shop Manager Kirstee David says: “It has been amazing watching the shop team develop over the last twelve months and to see how passionate the team is about developing what we offer – and about the RNLI!”

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(Lead image: Port Talbot RNLI)

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