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Carmarthenshire

Work starts on Llanelli Pentre Awel ‘health and wellbeing’ development

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Work on the multi-million pound Pentre Awel project at Delta Lakes in Llanelli is underway.

Site clearance and ground investigation works started this week as contractor Bouygues UK began delivering Zone One of the development.

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Carmarthenshire Council say this development is the first of its kind in Wales to bring together life science innovation, community healthcare and modern leisure facilities.

The council is leading the delivery of the scheme in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board, and local universities and colleges, as part of the £1.3billion Swansea Bay City Deal.

Pentre Awel will be developed in four zoned phases – Zone One will benefit from over £70million of public sector investment to provide transformational social and economic benefits to people in the region.

Estimated for completion in 2024, it will include a state-of-the-art £27million leisure centre; a £1.3million hydrotherapy pool; education, research and business development space; a clinical research and delivery centre with community level clinical trials; and a well-being skills centre delivering health and care training.

Councillors have this week received an update on progress of the first phase of the two-stage design and build contract awarded to Bouygues UK, including detailed costings to ensure affordability as well as site clearance and exploratory works to refine the design.

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Discussions are also underway with tenants to design and develop internal configurations.

The council and Bouygues UK are now engaging with local suppliers and trades to highlight a huge range of opportunities to get involved with the construction of Zone One, and will be hosting the first of several ‘meet the buyer’ events at Parc y Scarlets on March 30.

Work is also underway to engage with the Regional Learning and Skills Partnership, schools, colleges, universities, and local employment agencies to ensure employment and training opportunities for local people are maximised during the construction phase.

Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “This contract is one of the highest valued tender exercises the council has ever undertaken, putting key focus on social value to ensure that local people and businesses will reap the benefits.

“It is great to see good progress being made on the pre-commencement stage with the start of Zone One preliminary works on site, fresh designs developed with the input of future tenants, and the first of many events to engage with local suppliers and businesses.

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“We are grateful to Bouygues UK for coming back to us so swiftly with detailed costings, bearing in mind the continued volatility in the construction industry as a result of world events.

“Pentre Awel is a transformational project, and we’re pleased that local people and benefits are already starting to see the benefits.”

The exciting Pentre Awel project includes integrated care and physical rehabilitation facilities, a well-being skills centre which will focus on health and care training, a clinical delivery centre to deliver multi-disciplinary care, and a new state-of-the-art leisure centre, along with landscaped outdoor public spaces for walking and cycling.

A hotel, a range of social and affordable housing, assisted living accommodation and a nursing home are being planned for later phases of the scheme.

Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with Cardiff University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University, and Coleg Sir Gar, for the delivery of courses on site. Cardiff University will be the strategic partner for the delivery of innovation and business on site.

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(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Llanelli

West Wales car dealership to double in size

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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.

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“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.

Dafen based Llanelli Motor Company is planning to double in size
The company have broken ground on an expansion that will see over 400 cars on sale by the end of January 2023

“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.

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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.

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Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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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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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