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Carmarthenshire

Proposed council tax increase reduced to 2.5% in Carmarthenshire

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Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet has proposed reducing its previously announced Council Tax increase

As part of a review of the council’s draft budget, Carmarthenshire Council’s Cabinet Members have rolled back the previously proposed 4.39% increase to 2.5%.

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The reduction comes after cabinet met to discuss feedback from the public budget consultation as well as to review the council’s current financial position.

The proposed Council Tax increase of 2.5% per cent would mean a weekly increase of 66p on the average Band D property or £34.07 for the year.

The proposal is subject to approval of the county”s full council meeting of all 74 councillors in March.

Cabinet Member for Resources Cllr David Jenkins said that they had reviewed their budget plan and made key adjustments which allowed leeway to cap the council tax at 2.5%.

Cllr Jenkins said: “The public response to the consultation quite clearly indicated a majority favoured the lowest increase possible and I would like us to do everything we can to support our residents, recognising that the cost of living is rising at its fastest rate in three decades.

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“To be able to set a Council Tax increase as low as 2.5%, I believe is a great achievement considering that there are so many financial risks and pressures with the budget this year, including the recognition that inflation is running well in excess of 5 %. This low increase will hopefully help all our residents of the county.

“Adopting these proposals, allows the Cabinet to present a fair and balanced budget to county council, which responds to the major concerns fed back from the consultation but also recognises the significant inflationary pressures that are being placed in front of the council over the forthcoming year and the financial risks of any future response to COVID-19.”

The council has a legal responsibility to set a balanced budget every year, ensuring that income from sources such as Council Tax, revenue from paid-for services and grants is enough to cover planned expenditure, as well as having money in reserves to pay for unplanned expenses and emergencies.

Cllr Jenkins added: “I would like to express my thanks to all who took part in the consultation or responded to the surveys. One thing that is generally clear from those who took part in the consultation is that they do appreciate that difficult choices need to be made.”

Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “We have had two extremely hard years with COVID and to be able to present a budget which maintains and develops the services we have is quite an achievement.”

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The budget also includes no proposed cuts to school budgets for the next financial year, Cllr Jenkins said: “There are no savings allocated to delegated school budgets next year, allowing headteachers and all schools staff to continue to put all their focus into helping Carmarthenshire’s learners get back on track after what has again been a disruptive two years.”

Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “We are continuing to see the impact of the pandemic on our schools, it has been a very difficult for staff and learners and we haven’t yet seen the end of this with the omicron variant.

“We have supported the schools to the best of our abilities, and I want to thank all our headteachers and staff for working with us.

“This is excellent news for all our schools allowing them to deliver the current level of service in future years.”

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Ammanford

Man who filmed rape on Ammanford victim’s phone changes plea mid trial

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A man who filmed himself raping an Ammanford woman on his victim’s phone has changed his plea to guilty midway through his trial.

Cameron Hassan, aged 31, of no fixed abode, attacked the woman, raping her as she slept on 21 August 2021.

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Hassan had been on trial at Swansea Crown Court after denying any wrongdoing. However, after the jury was shown the video of the attack and hearing the victim was going to give evidence yesterday (Tuesday, 10 May), Hassan changed his plea to guilty.

Investigating Officer DC Sophie Lambert from Dyfed Powys Police said the victim had shown great strength and determination throughout the investigation.

“I must commend her tremendous courage in coming forward and the tenacity shown throughout the investigation,” she said.

“We hope this case demonstrates that Dyfed-Powys Police acts on serious allegations such as rape and sexual assault with officers working tirelessly to secure justice for victims.

“If you are suffering because of similar abuse, please contact the police, or if you would rather speak to someone in confidence, New Pathways are an independent charity that will support you through every step of the investigation.”

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New Pathways can be contacted at 01685 379 310 or email enquiries@newpathways.org.uk

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Carmarthenshire

Women’s Tour of Britain returns to Carmarthenshire

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The countdown is on before the world’s top women riders will race through Carmarthenshire as part of the Women’s Tour of Britain.

Some 108 cyclists will race through the County to the finishing line on top of the Black Mountain between Llangadog and Brynamman as part of the stage five event on Friday, June 10.

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The route will be starting from Pembrey Country Park at 10.45am and riders competing for the title will go through Pinged, Carway, Pontyberem, Horeb, Llansawel, and Llangadog.

A rolling road closure will take place along the 65-mile route which will come into action at 10.45am until 1.50pm.

Roads will be re-opened once the cyclists have passed through. A full road closure will be in place over the Black Mountain from 5am-5pm.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and across Europe with a helicopter camera crew following the race.

The Women’s Tour departs on Monday, June 6, and coincides with the final day of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The race will culminate with a prestigious finale six days later on Saturday, June 11.

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Pembrey Country Park previously hosted the Grand Départ of the men’s Tour of Britain as well as the overall finish of the Women’s Tour in 2019.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters said: “We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host this top cycling event. Previous years have brought an immediate economic boost to the tourism sector as well as providing a great deal of positive media coverage.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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