The First Minister has announced the planned locations of Wales’ first commemorative woodlands to remember all those who have died during the pandemic.
The first two woodlands will be created on part of the National Trust Cymru’s Erddig Estate in Wrexham and at a site identified by Natural Resources Wales at Brownhill in the Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire.
A third memorial woodland will be created in South East Wales – a site is currently being identified.
The memorial woodlands will be a symbol of Wales’ resilience during the pandemic and one of regeneration and renewal as the new woodlands grow.
It is hoped they will be places of commemoration where families and friends can remember lost loved ones.
They will also be locations where the public will be able to reflect on the pandemic and the impact it has had on all our lives.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It has been almost two years since the coronavirus pandemic hit Wales.
“Too many people have been taken too soon by this awful virus. We will remember all of them and keep them in our hearts and our minds.
“These woodlands will be a permanent and living memorial to all those who have died. They will also be a symbol of the strength the people of Wales have shown over the past two years.”
The woodlands will be planted with a range of tree species, making them resilient to our changing environment.
Planting is expected to begin this year.
Natural Resources Wales and National Trust Cymru will work with local communities and families to plan and design the woodlands.
Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said: “Our forests and woodlands are powerful, poignant symbols of life, helping to enhance our environment and biodiversity and providing space for recreation and reflection.
“Our ambition for this commemorative woodland is for it to become a living, growing area for all the community to enjoy, as well as a quiet space for contemplation as we continue to navigate this most challenging of times.
“As part of the journey, we want to engage with local communities and our partners to plan and design the woodland, shaping with them safe and accessible spaces, where people of all ages can come to remember and reflect for years to come.”
We expect the sites to become part of the National Forest for Wales in the future, with opportunities for local communities to help shape the management of the woodland.
Justin Albert, Director, National Trust Cymru said: “For over 125 years, the National Trust has provided places for people to connect with nature, beauty and fresh air. This has felt as relevant over the last two years as it has in any time in our history: knowing that nature has been hugely comforting to many during the pandemic, bringing both pleasure and reassurance as all other aspects of our lives changed.
National Trust Cymru are proud to support the Welsh Government in creating one of the commemorative woodlands for Wales at Erddig. We look forward to collaborating with communities and partners to create a special place in memory of those lost to coronavirus. The woodland will be for remembrance and reflection, but also to provide a future green space for everyone to continue that much needed, beneficial connection with the natural world for ever.”
Drivers in Dyfed-Powys police area least likely to have car stolen
New research has shown that drivers in Dyfed-Powys police’s area are the least likely to have their car stolen in all of England and Wales.
There were 623 vehicle thefts in 2021. This means just 1.2 cars were stolen per thousand households.
The study, conducted by A-Plan Insurance, was carried out by assessing Home Office data of vehicle thefts in each Police Force Area and determining the rate according to the number of thefts per household.
With 100,185 cars stolen in London in 2021, England’s capital had 11.1. vehicle thefts per thousand households. This puts it first for the area where drivers are most likely to be the victims of vehicle theft.
The West Midlands comes second for its vehicle crime rate, with 10.4 vehicle thefts per thousand households (30,608 cars stolen in 2021), while Greater Manchester had nine cars stolen per thousand households (25,495 vehicle thefts), making it the third most dangerous place to own a car.
Cumbria and North Yorkshire are also some of the least likely areas for vehicle theft, with 727 and 1,433 cars stolen respectively in 2021. That’s 1.5 vehicle thefts per thousand households in Cumbria and 1.7 in North Yorkshire.
The research also analysed data from 2020, to determine whether vehicle thefts have increased or decreased in each Police Force Area since last year, finding that although London is still the worst place for vehicle theft, the crime rate is improving. Compared to 2020, car thefts in the capital are down by nine per cent, however, it’s a different story in the West Midlands, with 12 per cent more vehicles stolen in 2021.
Greater Manchester also saw an increase of five per cent on last year, but Hampshire is the area where vehicle theft has increased the most, with 22 per cent more cars stolen in 2021 than in 2020.
Gloucestershire has seen the biggest improvement when it comes to the number of cars stolen in the area, with nearly a third fewer thefts in 2021, compared to 2020.
The full results of the research
|Police Force Area||Household figures (mid-2020) rounded to 100||Vehicle thefts per 1,000 households (year ending Dec 2021)||Total vehicle thefts (year ending Dec 2021)||Percentage change in vehicle thefts (from 2020 to 2021)|
|London (Metropolitan Police and City of London)||3,543,000||11.1||100,185||-9|
|Avon and Somerset||737,300||4.9||8,407||-4|
|Devon and Cornwall||778,700||1.8||3,210||-7|
Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson for A-Plan Insurance said: “Theft is one of the main concerns for drivers, especially if you live in an area like London or the West Midlands, where there’s a higher risk of your vehicle being stolen than there is in somewhere like Dyfed-Powys and Cumbria.
“It’s interesting to see that some of the places with the highest vehicle crime rates are improving, though, and drivers can rest easier by making sure they have adequate insurance cover for their vehicles to protect them from theft and other risks.”
West Wales car dealership to double in size
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show
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.
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.
“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.
“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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