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Tributes paid to Carmarthenshire Council Deputy Leader Cllr Mair Stephens

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Tributes have been paid to Cllr Mair Stephens, Deputy Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, who has sadly died.

Cllr Stephens, who led the Independent Group of county councillors, died on Sunday January 9, 2022, after a bravely fought illness.

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Leading the tributes, Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of the Council, said she will be missed and remembered.

“The Mair we all knew and appreciated was industrious and meticulous with an attention to detail that was phenomenal. She gave it her all, whether it was in her work as a councillor for St Ishmael’s, in her voluntary associations, or indeed her family life.

“She has been a thorough and conscientious councillor for many years and has served as a Cabinet member for numerous administrations bringing that same work ethic to her various Cabinet roles. She has served as my able deputy for these past seven years and was absolutely committed and supportive in that role as she was in her leadership of the Independent Group.

“With her passing – as her colleagues and fellow councillors – we are all diminished. She will be so greatly missed but equally remembered by us all.”

Cllr Stephens, of Llansaint, was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 2004 as member for the St Ishmaels ward, covering the communities of Llandyfaelog, Ferryside, Llansaint, Cwmffrwd and Bancycapel.

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For many years, and until her passing, she served on the council’s Cabinet with responsibility for council business and transformation, strategic planning, human resources and training, ICT, audit and performance management.

As well as serving the county council, Cllr Stephens had been a member of Llandyfaelog Community Council for over 40 years and served as National Chair of the Wales Association of Community and Town Councils, during which time she was instrumental in the formation of One Voice Wales, bringing together all organisations representing community and town councils in Wales.

She also represented community and town councils on the National Assembly Partnership Council and was Secretary of Llandyfaelog Agriculture and Horticultural Society.

One of her strongest passions was the Women’s Institute, serving as county organiser for Carmarthenshire and as Chair of the WI’s Federations of Wales Committee.

A strong campaigner for volunteering and supporting those in need, Cllr Stephens served on the Welsh Consumer Council and on the Board of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

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In Carmarthenshire she was the driving force behind the county’s Christmas Toybox Appeal and was overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness shown by local people to the 2021 appeal in which she oversaw the collection and distribution of over 7,500 gifts to over 1,200 children.

Wendy Walters, Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “Mair will be hugely missed both by me personally and also by the wider team. We will hold very fond memories of working with Mair, and on behalf of all those officers that worked closely with Mair we offer our heartfelt condolences to her family – we hope that in a small way they may help during this very sad time.”

Flags at the county council’s civic buildings have been lowered to half-mast in a sign of respect following her passing.

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Carmarthenshire

PCSO works to bring end to unscrupulous cockle pickers in Kidwelly, Ferryside, Llansteffan and Laugharne

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PCSO Helen Fender has been recognised at Dyfed Powys Police’s awards for her efforts in tackling anti-social behaviour associated with unscrupulous cockle pickers descending on the communities of St Ishmael, Kidwelly, Llanybri, Llansteffan and Laugharne.

To effect change, PCSO Fender looked at the issue and its cause – pinpointing an old by-law that allowed anyone to get a free permit to pick cockles in the Three Rivers Fishery cockle beds.

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PCSO Helen Fender (Image: Dyfed Powys Police)

In 2017 there were more than 1,000 permit holders and the only regulation for obtaining a permit is to give a name, address, contact details and a photograph for ID.

“I noticed that something had to be done, it couldn’t go on this way as it was causing no end of issues for the community and the genuine fishermen who relied on picking cockles for a living,” she said.

“On the Bury Inlet there was no issue as it was much harder to get a permit.”

PCSO Fender set about working with the Welsh Government to try and make the Three Rivers Fishery regulated as other cockle beds are.

A three-month consultation is being launched with the aim to bring in tougher legislation for permits to be issued – with requirements to include training, minimum kit standards, their employment status for HMRC and an annual fee of £800.

“I’ve worked with the communities and with the local fishermen on this, and they are supportive,” said PCSO Fender.

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“When you’ve got 1,000 permits handed out to people from all over the country, there is going to be problems for the community and it impacts the local gatherers who depend on this industry to make a living.

“It was having a really detrimental effect on the lives of people in the area and it was proving dangerous, with numerous quads on the beaches and villages, even crossing railway lines.”

The issue has caused problems over the years with the Welsh Government Marine and Fisheries Division closing the Three Rivers Fishery cockle beds from 2012 to 2017 due to serious reports of anti-social behaviour, including people sleeping rough, litter not disposed of properly, no toilet facilities, and large articulated lorries trying to access small village roads.     

Sgt Gemma Davies said: “Helen has conducted a thorough and detailed enquiry into the underlying issues at the location, has sourced expert opinion and discussed numerous options to try and implement change for the better for the cockling community and the people living near to the cockle beds.

“We’re hopeful to achieving a regulated permit system which can be monitored and ‘policed’ by the fisheries more effectively.”

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Lead image: File photo of cockle picking in the Burry Inlet (Image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Carmarthenshire

Kaiser Chiefs to headline at Ffos Las Racecourse in Carmarthenshire

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Kaiser Chiefs are set to headline at Ffos Las Racecourse near Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire on Thursday 2 June 2022.

The special ‘Live After Racing’ show will invite audiences to enjoy an entire day of horse racing, with the added bonus of a full live set by the indie titans late into the evening.

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Established as one of the best loved guitar bands to emerge this century, the Kaiser Chiefs will be heading to the races with a winning set-list of bona fide indie belters in their arsenal.

Over the last 15 years the Kaisers have become a real household name, from their seven critically acclaimed and Top 10 charting albums selling multi-millions worldwide, to making memorable performances at some of the biggest events in recent history including Live 8 and the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony, and winning innumerable awards including ‘Best Live Act’ at both the Brit Awards and Q Awards. 

With top 10 hits like ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Ruby’, ‘Oh My God’, ‘Never Miss A Beat’, and ‘Everyday I Love You Less & Less’ all cementing the band’s penchant for penning contemporary pop classics like few of their peers, the many highlights to be found on their acclaimed #3 charting 2019 album ‘Duck’, illustrate a band that have no intention of slowing down soon.

With a reputation as one of the best live acts in the biz, if there’s one safe bet to place all day, put it on a hit-packed set from the Kaisers…

The event, rescheduled from 27 August last year, is priced at £35 advance, £25 for under 18s, with under 5s admitted free of charge.

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Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.

(Lead image: Kaiser Chiefs)

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Save the Cinema Film make scenery at UWTSD Set & Design Production Workshop

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The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) Set Design Production Scenery Workshop has revealed its involvement in the newly released ‘Save the Cinema film for Sky.

The film ‘Save the Cinema’ is a true story looking back at Liz Evans’s campaign to save the Lyric Theatre from closing in Carmarthen. Stars such as Jonathan Pryce, Samantha Morton, Tom Felton, Adeel Akhtar and Susan Wokoma feature in the film.

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As the production started, art director Gwyn Eiddior visited UWTSD’s Carmarthen Campus to see if there were any props or scenery he could possibly use for the film as it was being filmed in Carmarthen. After requesting on social media later that day for use of a workshop to build sets for the film in Carmarthen, Lecturer Dave Atkinson suggested for them to use the facilities at UWTSD.

As a result of this, the film’s construction team were based at UWTSD’s Set Design Production Scenery Workshop, meaning that all of the construction work and scenic art created for the film was made on campus. Along with Dave who was employed as the workshop manager, two graduates from the BA Set Design & Production course, Mari Hullett and Ashley Phillips were fortunate to gain work from this project in the scenic art and graphics departments.

They worked alongside the experienced production designer Jonathan Houlding who has  worked on high-end screen productions such as ‘Love Actually’, ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Martian.’ Dave adds,

“We created a variety of scenery for the film. Largely dressing for the Lyric Theatre, and the theatre scenery they were filming on. The hairdresser’s salon was the largest build which was an empty shop. We had to reinstall a whole salon in there. One fun element to make was the Big Breakfast set – we made the bedroom where they interviewed people.”

UWTSD Lecturer Dave Atkinson at the University’s set design workshop (Image: UWTSD)

Graduate Mari Hullett said, “Working on ‘Save The Cinema’ as a scenic artist was an amazing opportunity and I will always value my time being involved in the production as an experience to take further into my career.

“I am extremely grateful for the chance of working alongside the friendly and highly skilled scenic and construction team as I was able to learn so much from them. I was also able to work on different roles within the art department such as graphic props, which I greatly appreciated as I got to experience a broader spectrum of skills involved on a film set.

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“As a whole, it was a really heart-warming experience to be a part of a project that involved my university town and the wider community.

“This was also my first professional role on a film project which has opened my eyes to the growing opportunities within the film industry in Wales. I am very excited to see this on-screen!”

An experience like this has been a fantastic opportunity, and a chance for the students to have an insight into the industry.

Dave Atkinson adds: “Welcoming Sky Cinema onto campus has given UWTSD Carmarthen the opportunity to not only showcase the high-quality practitioners that graduate from the Set Design & Production course, but to also exhibit the facilities we have, such as the scenery workshop which is equipped with top of the range tools and machinery.”

(Lead image: UWTSD)

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