Saturday, 31 October 2009

Could you help with lollipop patrol in Swansea?

Road safety officers in Swansea are hoping residents will sign up to become school crossing patrols.

An appeal has gone out for more people to sign up for the much needed community service which helps thousands of school children cross busy roads to and from school every day.

Swansea there are 93 registered sites. At present, 27 of those sites are without a patrol.

John Hague, Cabinet Member for the Environment in
Swansea Council said, "Historically, local councils throughout the country have experienced difficulties recruiting enough patrols to cover the service.

Swansea, our aim is to encourage more people to sign up and become school crossing patrols.

"They carry out a vital service in communities and are really valued by the children, parents and the schools."

Brian Mansell has been working as a School Crossing patrol outside Cwm Primary School for almost a year. He said, "I enjoy the job immensely. It's really rewarding knowing I'm providing a valuable service and helping to keep our local children safe.

"I applied for the post after noticing that there was no patrol at the school for a long time. Parents and children seemed to be having difficulty crossing roads and I felt like I needed to help out."

Cllr Hague added, "Road safety is about educating children and also about implementing measures that help provide safer environments for children to walk and cycle to school.

"Having a school crossing patrol on site will help children become even safer on our roads. If anyone is interested in carrying out this important role, they can contact the Council's Road Safety Team."

The locations needing patrols are:

1. Arfryn Primary School - Heol Gwyrosydd junction Heol Cadifor

2. Clydach Inf/Jnrs - Vardre Road (Near Park Road) BT offices

3. Cwm Primary- Jersey Road School Gates

4. Cwmglas Primary - Colwyn Avenue near Supermarket

5. Cwmrhydyceirw Primary - Heol Maes Eglwys near Comprehensive school Roundabout

6. Gendros Primary - Carmarthen Road Pelican Crossing (west junction with Kings Head Road)

7. Gendros Primary - Middle Road junction Upper Kings Head Road

8. Gors Avenue Community School - Gors Avenue, School Gates

9. Gorseinon Infant/Nursery - Alexandra Road - Old Post Office

10. Gowerton Comp - School Gates - Park Road

11. Gwyrosydd Primary - Penlan Road junction with Parkhill Terrace

12. Gwyrosydd Primary - Heol Gwyrosydd junction with Crwys Terrace

13. Llanmorlais Primary - B 4295 Junction Lane to School

14. Morriston Comp - School Gates Raised Platform Rhodfa Fadog

15. Penllergaer Primary School - Gorseinon Road Roundabout

16. Portmead Primary - Broughton Avenue junction with Paviland Place

17. St Joesphs RC Primary - Llangyfelach Road junction with Caepystyll Street

18. St Josephs RC Junior - Carmarthen Road Pelican Crossing Caepystyll St

19. Townhill Primary - School Gates Townhill Road

20. Tregwyr Infant - Cecil Road junction with Talbot Street

21. Treuchaf Primary - Glebe Road junction with North Road

22. Ynystawe Primary - Pelican Crossing Clydach Road

23. YGG Tirdeunaw - School gates Heol Ddu

24. Brynhyfryd Infants - Eaton Road Jct with Freeman Street

25. Pentrehafod Comp - Llangyfelach Rd Jct with Pentremawr Road

26. Penyfro Primary - Killam Road jct Priors Crescent

27. St Josephs RC Primary - Pontardawe Road School Drive
read more... “Could you help with lollipop patrol in Swansea?”

20p to 'spend a penny' in Swansea

PLANS to introduce a charge for using public loos at Swansea's re-vamped bus station have been agreed by Cabinet.

The 20p charge will help to ensure the new toilets are maintained to a high standard and provide a safe and clean environment for users.

The decision could help generate around £80,000 a year which will be invested in maintaining the toilets. This will also contribute to the provision of a free state-of-the-art changing facility for people with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

John Hague, Cabinet Member for Environment, said that other councils in Wales, including Carmarthenshire and Cardiff, have been charging users at some public toilets for a number of years.

Swansea has a good reputation for the quality of its toilet provision and our staff have won a number of awards over the years for the work they do in keeping the toilets clean, presentable and safe," he said.

"By introducing a small charge for the use of the new toilets at the bus station we will be able to maintain them to a high standard over the years to come and ensure users get the service they expect.

"This isn't a new idea. Other local authorities have been charging up to 20p for the use of some of their toilets for some time."

"Our aim as a Council is to provide a good public convenience service and maintain and improve on standards that have helped us win awards in the past."

read more... “20p to 'spend a penny' in Swansea”

Fast ferry will speed from Swansea to Devon

THE first-ever fastcat ferry link between Swansea and Devon is being welcomed by Swansea Council and business leaders in the city.

The Severn Link, a 50-minute car-carrying fastcat service between the city and Ilfracombe, is being launched on October 29 and aims to go into service early next year.

Council Leader Chris Holley said: "This is terrific news that comes in the wake of the announcement that the
Swansea to Cork ferry is being reinstated. A fast cat service from Swansea to Ilfracombe would be a boost for the city's tourism economy and would allow Swansea people easier access to Devon and the South West of England.

"The service would also introduce many visitors from the Devon area to Swansea Bay for the very first time where I'm sure attractions such as Gower would make a hugely positive impression and would encourage people to return.

"We've got so much in
Swansea that would appeal to visitors. Investment in recent years has seen the opening of the £32m LC leisure centre, the National Waterfront Museum and the state-of-the-art Aspers casino. We're fortunate to have first-class facilities and attractions that cater for all ages and interests."

Swansea's tourism industry is worth more than £300m a year and rising. And according to the latest figures more than 4.1m tourists visited the area in 2008, an increase on 2007.

Hywel Evans, chair of
Swansea Business Forum, said: "The fastcat ferry and the return of the Swansea-Cork ferry are both votes of confidence in Swansea as a destination and as a place to do business.

"There's new private investment going into the city centre's retail sector with the arrival of High Street names like Zara, Slater and Animal and the promise of more. These new arrivals, combined with the maritime initiatives mean
Swansea's well-placed to benefit from the economic recovery when it comes."
read more... “Fast ferry will speed from Swansea to Devon”

Swansea's council tax help for pensioners

THOUSANDS of Swansea pensioners are getting a Council Tax windfall under plans being drawn up by the city's council.

Eligible pensioners will benefit by around £52 per household under a scheme that's being paid for by the Welsh Assembly Government.

WAG have provided a £2m pot for local authorities across Wales to help pensioners pay their Council tax bills in the coming year and the amount coming to
Swansea is just over £160,000.

Swansea Council's Cabinet has agreed the move which means about 3,100 pensioner households who qualify for partial Council Tax benefit will be informed by post by the Council of the reduction.

Stuart Rice, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: "There are many pensioners in the city who already qualify for full Council Tax benefit and they will not be affected if Cabinet accepts the offer. It will only apply to pensioners who currently qualify for partial Council tax benefit."

But Councillor Rice added that local families should not forget that
Swansea's Benefits Take Up Team are on hand to help anyone who may be eligible to claim other forms of help with paying Council Tax.

Benefit Take up Manager Paula Lewis said: "There are many different family situations and taking account of age and income means that customers should not rule themselves out.

"We urge everyone to contact the Take up Team on 01792 635885 to have a calculation for their particular circumstances. Even a little money off the bill can help. "

Anyone wanting information or help should contact the take-up team on 01792 635885.

read more... “Swansea's council tax help for pensioners”

North Wales Police's safe Halloween tips

Youngsters who enjoy going trick or treating should remember that not everyone enjoys Halloween in quite the same way.

North Wales Police are encouraging youngsters to be mindful of others, as officers will be patrolling the streets and clamping down on any incidents of anti – social behaviour.

Shopkeepers are also being encouraged not to sell flour and eggs to children in the days running up to October 31.

Halloween can be a frightening time of year for some of the more vulnerable members of our community – especially the elderly. With this in mind, the police are asking youngsters and their parents to show consideration to others.

Posters – one welcoming Trick or Treaters and the other asking callers to move on – have been distributed to vulnerable residents by the Neighbourhood Policing Teams across the force area.

"Although lots of people enjoy this time of year, unexpected knocks at the door throughout the evening can cause some people distress." said Acting Chief Constable Ian Shannon.

"By placing a sign in the window people will know that particular resident’s preference. Hopefully this will be respected and those who would rather keep their doors closed on Halloween night will not be disturbed."

"We wish for everyone to have a happy Halloween, but would like to remind people to have fun responsibly rather than disturbing others."

Top Tips for Trick-or-Treaters:

• Young children should always go trick or treating with an appropriate adult

• Plan your route and let people know where you are

• Do not take short cuts

• Make sure you stay in areas that are well lit with street lamps, and take a torch with you

• Never go into a stranger’s house

• Do not knock on doors where a ‘No Trick or Treat’ sign is visible

• Don’t talk to strangers on the street

• Be careful not to frighten vulnerable people, especially the elderly

• Ensure you are always visible; it may be a good idea to wear reflective tape on your costume

• Look carefully before crossing the road

• Remember that throwing eggs and flour at property is classed as criminal damage - and the police will deal with all incidents of anti-social behaviour accordingly

• And finally… polite on Halloween night
read more... “North Wales Police's safe Halloween tips”

Drugs, driving and anti-social behaviour top of Gwent Police list

Police officers throughout Gwent will next week be taking part in activities to mark ‘Not in My Neighbourhood Week' 2009, which runs between Monday, November 2 and Friday, November 6.

The week aims to promote and showcase what is being done locally to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The activities will bring professionals and local communities together to say no to crime in the neighbourhoods of Gwent.

‘Not In My Neighbourhood Week’ informs local people about the action being taken by police, local agencies and partners to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour - the quality of life issues that impact on local communities.

During the week Gwent Police have organised a range of public engagement activities as well as enforcement operations aimed at helping to reduce crime, detect crime and reducing the fear of crime.

In identifying its priorities for the five-day initiative, Gwent Police reviewed feedback from 2,600 responses provided by members of the public via PACT meetings and the force’s summer engagement programme. This highlighted that communities across Gwent want the force to focus on issues including drugs, speeding, poor driving and anti-social behaviour.

During the week, a force-wide enforcement day will take place to proactively tackle drug dealing and anti-social behaviour. Gwent Police will be seeking out persistent offenders in order to respond to community concerns.

On Monday, November 2, the focus will be road safety and anti-social use of vehicles. Motorists caught using their mobile phones while driving will be shown clips of the anti-texting while driving film Cow to raise awareness of the disastrous consequences of distracted driving.

Litter and graffiti will be the target on Wednesday, November 4 and on Thursday, November 5 Neighbourhood policing teams and Schools Community Liaison Officers will be participating in Operation Bang, an all-Wales initiative to deter anti-social behaviour during the period on and around Bonfire Night.

Commenting ahead of NIMNW Detective Chief Superintendent Ray Wise said:

"Not In My Neighbourhood Week showcases the partnership work that is going on across
Gwent every day to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. By raising awareness of this work I hope that communities will recognise how problems can be solved more effectively by working together."
read more... “Drugs, driving and anti-social behaviour top of Gwent Police list”

Plans for Caerphilly improvement approved

Last night Caerphilly Council unanimously accepted the new three year Improvement Plan which sets out priority areas for improvement.

Leader of Council, Councillor Lindsay Whittle said, "I was pleased to see the council united in its acceptance of this plan last night. Our four main ambitions are set out in blocks with a core foundation of a fundamental purpose to improve public services."

He continued: "As an authority we are all about building better public services and to do this we also need to focus on building better lifestyles for each and every resident. Building a vibrant economy so businesses can thrive in this area, set alongside our principle of providing a learning environment that helps build futures and change lives is a key component of providing the right environment to improve everybody's ability to improve their lives."

Caerphilly County Borough Council's Chief Executive, Stuart Rosser said, "Building better communities is the plan's title and it captures the next step in our journey of improvement. In all we wish to achieve, we are clear building better public services by improving our value for money culture is the consolidation that must be undertaken over the next few years. During the next three years, adherences to our sustainable and equalities policies are crucial components to all we undertake. Closely managing our budgets and putting in place financial regulations alongside accurately implementing fundamental procurement practices will enable services to achieve their individual targets."

For further information, please visit the council's Improvement Plan web page.

read more... “Plans for Caerphilly improvement approved”

Johnson reaction to Ospreys draw

Speaking to the press after the 9 - 9 draw with Glasgow on Friday night, Ospreys coach Scott Johnson said:

"It was a hard one. The effort was fantastic, the execution dreadful. But, considering the mix and match that we did this week I’m not sure if I’m really, really, disappointed or really, really, pleased. When you’ve got 23 or 24 players you can’t pick from, and you throw a team together, with blokes turning up in the week to find out they are playing, and then add the weather into it, it’s compounding the situation.

"We lost Marty Holah in the warm-up as he pulled a hamstring and we had to replace him with a winger as that’s all we had. It’s a funny time of the year for the Ospreys. I’m sure that we’ll be criticised because we didn’t beat what is a quality side that had their best team, that’s just the law of the land here!

"The effort was something tonight. We lost six consecutive lineouts on the bounce and I think we had four penalties or turnovers from scrum and when you lose that much set-ball but you’re still committed, it says great things. With a little bit more maturity we probably would have scraped a 12-9 win out of that and won ugly, but we were still trying to play at the end when it was clear that we should have taken a bit of field position.

"It’s very difficult when you’ve got aggressive attacking players who are trying to play footy all the time, in conditions and positions that probably didn’t suit that running game. It’s human nature to get frustrated, and backs get frustrated if you don’t get a flow to your game. If you don’t get a flow with an even amount of possession, you then start to think that you are chasing the clock.

"I think Barry Davies has been good for the last couple of weeks to be fair to him. He adds something to the squad with his personality. He’s a contagious personality, so not only is he producing on the field, he’s done terrific when he hasn’t been picked and he’s been second to Lee. He’s enlivened the squad and he’s been a great acquisition for us. I don’t know how the rest of the Welsh contingent has been playing at 15, but there’s an argument that he’s probably the form 15.

"We’ve been watching Nicky Thomas in the Premiership for a while and all credit to him tonight. He’s turned up this week and we’ve thrown him in, hoping to give him the experience of being around the camp but not really expecting him to play, but Nikki’s got hurt early on, and he’s gone on and done wonderfully well. I was really, really happy for that kid, what he’s done tonight, it wasn’t easy to do, and as a coach, I’m quite taken by that."

read more... “Johnson reaction to Ospreys draw”

Connacht 16 - 10 Scarlets

In front of a crowd of less than 2,000 and with conditions playing a role in the style of performance, Connacht fly half Ian Keatley ably kicked 11 of the 16 points which included the conversion of Mike McComish's first-half try as Connacht achieved a much need first win out of their last four Magners League outings.

The Scarlets had won 8 of the last 12 games against Connacht prior to this encounter but put in a first half performance that did not match up to their last three victorious outings.

With a number of front line players missing through international duties or injury this week and with experienced prop Deacon Manu a late Scarlets withdrawal, a below par first half Scarlets performance lacked its characteristic control and flair and saw Connacht move 13-0 ahead from two Keatley penalties on 15 mins and 18 mins.

Following a strong performance with the boot last week against the Dragons, Rhys Priestland missed his first shot at the posts just 12 minutes into the game following a decent spell of early possession by the Scarlets.

The first half also saw two sin bins; one on Connacht's centre Keith Matthews who was shown the yellow card for a late tackle and the other just nine minutes later from Scarlets lock Vernon Cooper.

Within three minutes of the
Scarlets sin binning, Connacht took advantage with a powerful scrum and O'Connor popped an inside pass to set up athletic number eight McComish for an opening try which was promptly converted by Keatley.

The Scarlets pack didn't show its usual mettle and often played second fiddle to the hosts in the opening quarter - with the Connacht back row of John Muldoon, Johnny O'Connor and McComish swarming over the breakdown area.

Scarlets came back at the hosts in the third quarter with a strong rally - and with Connacht prop Brett Wilkinson the third player to see yellow, Priestland hammered over the resulting kick at 57 minutes to get the Scarlets off the mark at 13 - 3.

With a number of Scarlets substitutions in the final 10 minutes which saw Aaron Shingler, Josh Turnbull, Jamie Corsi, Emyr Philips, Gareth Davies, Gareth Maule and Dan Newton all take to the field, as the visitors tried to up the intensity.

However, Keatley thumped a long-range penalty over to further the lead at 16-3 at 66 minutes.

But the Scarlets spirit continued and their efforts paid off when in-form winger Lee Williams broke through for a characteristic try in the corner at 78 minutes (16-8).

Up stepped promising young Scarlets fly half, 19 year-old Daniel Newton, who will be pleased that his kick ensured the Scarlets left the Sportsground with a losing bonus point.

Scarlets remained in eighth position in the Magners League last night with 11 points, a point ahead of the Blues but two points behind the Dragons and six behind the Ospreys.

Final Score: Connacht 16
Scarlets 10.

Scarlets: Priestland Pen (1) Lee Williams Try (1) Daniel Newton Conv (1)
Connacht: Keatley Pen (3) & Conv (1) McComish Try (1)
Attendance: 1,750

Scarlets: Evans, Stoddart, Lamont, Higgitt, Williams, Priestlend, Knoyle, I. Thomas, Owen, Manu, Cooper, Welch, Easterby, Pugh, Lyons. Replacements: Maule for Higgitt (72), Newton for Priestlend (72), G. Davies for Knoyle (72), Phillips for Owen (72), Corsi for John (72), Shingler for Cooper (62), Turnbull for Easterby (62).

Connacht: Duffy, Nathan, Ta'auso, Matthews, Carr, Keatley, F. Murphy, Wilkinson, Cronin, Morris, McCarthy, Upton, Muldoon, O'Connor, McComish. Replacements: Flavin for Cronin (73), Hagan for Morris (54), Browne for McCarthy (55), Swift for McComish (66). Not Used: O'Loughlin, Nikora, Bibo. Referee: G Knox (Scotland)
read more... “Connacht 16 - 10 Scarlets”

Ospreys 9 - 9 Glasgow Warriors

The Ospreys and Glasgow were inseparable after 80-minutes of rugby after playing a match in awful conditions at the Liberty Stadium.

All 18 points came from the boots of fly-halves Gareth Owen and Dan Parks.

Owen was the two to one victor in the first half exchanges and the home fans sniffed victory when he added a third seven minutes after the break, but the Warriors fought back for Parks to level in the 65th minute with his third and final goal.

The result means Glasgow move into second place on the table with 19 points, tied with Ulster who they will face next week. The
Ospreys remain in fifth place with 17 points.

It was a match where tactical kicking dominated at the expense of free-flowing rugby and scoring chances were few and far between.

Owen kicked penalties in the 12th and 25th minutes with Parks slotting one in between.

In the 33rd minute full-back Barry Davies' burst almost led to hooker Richard Hibbard going over, but he was deemed to have fallen short of the line.

Glasgow often had the
Ospreys' scrum in trouble as youthful props Cai Griffiths and Ryan Bevington found themselves under pressure.

However, the hosts managed to ride the Glasgow storm at that phase and five minutes after the break Owen extended his side's lead.

Early in the second period the Ospreys also had veteran centre Sonny Parker to thank for the out-stretched arm that brought pacy Glasgow wing Thom Evans down.

Seven minutes after the break Owen stretched his side's lead with his third penalty. Glasgow fought back to earn a brace of penalties which Parks had kicked by the 65th minute, bringing a justified reward for the visitors' determination to match the hosts.

Owen led a break-out that brought another attempt at goal after Tiatia was held down after a tackle. But he failed with that 67th-minute shot and despite having the better chances as time wore on the visitors were unable to claim a vital winning score.

Owen narrowly failed with a long-range drop-goal attempt and after making a break down the touchline, wing Tommy Bowe could not find support.

read more... “Ospreys 9 - 9 Glasgow Warriors”

Interview with ex-Wales boss Hansen: high praise for Gethin

Pop across to the WRU website to catch an interview with Steve Hansen in Japan as he travels with the All Blacks on the way to the Millennium Stadium for the Autumn Internationals.

Hansen, who says he learned a lot about himself and his trade at Wales and is pleased to see youngsters who took their first international steps with him doing so well.

"I get a lot of satisfaction seeing them perform, a lot of those guys went on to the Lions in 2005 and again this year," he said.

He had particular praise for Gethin Jenkins - to whom he awarded a first cap - describing him as a 'complete footballer'.

"Gethin's a very, very good athlete: he's mobile and a good ball handler and always has been and his scrummaging is getting better and better all the time," Hansen said.

"If we perform as well as we possibly can then the winning will take care of itself," said Hansen, who ominously said the goal for the All Blacks was to learn more about their group of players and coaches and to win all the test matches on the tour.

read more... “Interview with ex-Wales boss Hansen: high praise for Gethin”

Davies rues cards in Connacht defeat

Nigel Davies admits ill-discipline is costing his Scarlets side following their slender defeat to Connacht.

Lock Vernon Cooper became the sixth Scarlet in seven games to be yellow carded in the Magners League this season.

And head coach Davies admits that failing to finish games with a full XV is starting to take its toll as the Llanelli side suffered their fourth consecutive away league defeat in a row.

Davies said: "Discipline is haunting us. It has let us down and that was a key factor in losing here.

"When Vernon was off, they scored a try because our scrum was under pressure.

"This is professional sport and it has cost us in games at the start of the season and again tonight.

"Vernon is extremely disappointed but we're disappointed as well. I've got no complaints because the referee did warn him - it was stupid."

The loss brings a run of three victories to an end following the stunning double triumph in Europe and the Welsh derby win over Newport Gwent Dragons.

Davies' men trailed 13-0 at the interval but showed character and never-say-die spirit to snatch a losing bonus point through Lee Williams' late strike. And the Scarlets chief reckons consistency is the next step for his emerging side.

Davies added: "Obviously we are disappointed but having said Connacht is a tough place to come to.

"We've had a big month in terms of our performances and we're not a great team yet. We are a team who are improving moving forward.

"Our consistency will always been a problem for us at the moment and that's what we will strive to achieve.

"I was disappointed with our accuracy in the first half. We had plenty of intent but we didn't manage to nail some of the half chances we created. But I'm pleased to pick up the bonus point."

read more... “Davies rues cards in Connacht defeat”

Friday, 30 October 2009

Celtfest to take Wales to the World

Celtfest has a new backer as preparations heat up for the November 7 event to celebrate Wales' meeting with New Zealand with an all day celebration of Welsh culture and rugby culture at Cardiff International Arena.

Transport tycoon Clayton Jones is also involved with plans to expand and export the festival to Six Nations host cities and the Ryder Cup - always promoting Welsh products and providing a brilliant experience for visitors to the fans' village.

Following CeltFest’s hugely successful debut at the Cardiff International Arena in March - the day of the thrilling Ireland v Wales game - Pontypridd-based Mr Jones is to become CeltFest’s chairman and is investing in the company as an equity partner.

Mr Jones said: "I had to become involved when I heard that this project is about taking Welsh products to places like Dublin, Rome and Paris.

"It is great news that at last a Welsh company is doing what the Irish have done for years – making a serious business out of your own culture. This is all about promoting Wales in the world and I am delighted to be associated with the company’s Buy Welsh policy."

Mr Jones, a staunch patriot and one of Wales’s most successful entrepreneurs, recently sold his transport company for £10m to French conglomerate Veolia.

CeltFest chief executive Dwyer McClorey said: "Clayton and I have developed a business model which will allow a working person on a working wage to enjoy performances by world-class international stars at an affordable price during these lean times.

"Our policy is value all the way, but quality is never compromised. That’s why we make it a rule to buy local. The well-mannered rugby public gets to see international stars while enjoying a pre- and post-match pint with all the facilities they deserve – a queue-free bar, good food, clean toilets and so forth. An online poll of those who attended the first CeltFest shows us that and astonishing 94% will attend again.

"CeltFest has agreed a sponsorship deal brokered by Felinfoel with Carlsberg, Felinfoel’s preferred supplier of lager and the fourth largest brewery in the world," said Mr McClorey.

"The deal, to support CeltFest abroad, means that in future, within Wales events will be known as Felinfoel CeltFest, but elsewhere Carlsberg CeltFest.

"CeltFest’s business model is very simple. The company aims to provide the largest Celtic bar in every capital city coinciding with major sporting events, and to offer all-day, world-class, live entertainment with a huge screen relaying the match, all for £25. Special coaches will be on hand to take people home for as little as £2."

The Cardiff event in March saw Welsh brewery Felinfoel’s award-winning ales served at a huge queue-free bar in a friendly hassle-free atmosphere, with stunning entertainment from Bryn Terfel, Cerys Matthews, Dafydd Iwan, Rhys Meirion, Calan and a phenomenal finale from Irish folk legends The Wolfe Tones.

The next major CeltFest – the events are billed as the ‘Greatest Rugby Parties Ever’- is on November 7, again in Cardiff’s CIA, and will feature superstar Max Boyce and Friends.

Rugby legend Max is the only singer-comedian ever to have achieved a No 1 UK album. His show sold-out the Sydney Opera House and his TV programme An Audience with Max Boyce scored some of the highest viewing figures ever.

Bryn Terfel’s agency has been retained to ensure a programme of world-class Welsh singers and musicians with tenors, sopranos, baritones and a ‘Three-Tenor’ experience planned for the event on November 7.

Talks are already under way for The Chieftains, Ireland’s most popular traditional music band, to take up residence at the CIA during the Ryder Cup and sing with the greatest solo stars from Wales.

More Celtfests are booked for 2010 at the CIA as well as block bookings for every Wales home game in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The search is on for venues adjacent to the rugby stadiums in other European rugby capitals, Paris, Rome, London, Dublin and Edinburgh in partnership with Livenation.

Visit the site for more on CeltFest.

read more... “Celtfest to take Wales to the World”

Patrols increase for rugby autumn internationals

Police in Blaenau Gwent will be working with local licensed premises over the course of the autumn international rugby games, to help ensure that incidents of crime and disorder are kept to a minimum.

Officers will be increasing their patrols of local pubs and clubs on match days, starting with next Saturday (7th November).

Over the next month, officers will also be visiting local licensed premises and rugby clubs to speak to staff about a number of issues. This includes offering advice about underage drinking, closing times and ensuring sensible drinking.

Checks will also made on door staff to ensure that they are SIA (Security Industry Authority) approved.

Neighbourhood Officers will be patrolling hot-spot areas for underage drinking and confiscating any alcohol that they find. Blaenau Gwent Council’s CCTV unit will also be working closely with officers to help pinpoint any signs of disorder on match days.

Sergeant Angela Burt, from the Blaenau Gwent Neighbourhood Support Unit, said:
“We generally find that the atmosphere in local pubs and clubs is good-natured on match days. It’s important that we work with the local licensed premises to ensure that it stays that way.

We have found in previous years that a minority of people, who drink to excess on these occasions, can go on to commit crime and disorder. This campaign aims to prevent this from happening and to ensure that rugby supporters enjoy their night out and remain safe.”

read more... “Patrols increase for rugby autumn internationals”

Get creative with name for health and social care services building

Denbighshire Social Services need your help in coming up with a name for a building that will house various kinds of health and social care services in Prestatyn.

The current building on Nant Hall Road will include:
  • support from social workers, therapy services and district nurses
  • voluntary sector organisations
  • health and social care information
This means that people will be able to get services nearer to where they live, making it easier to access them.

The new base for these services will be opening in early 2010, but we need to choose a name that will reflect the services and the location. If you have a suggestion for a name, please let us know by telephone: 01824 712900 , by email: (please include your contact details to receive a response)

The deadline for entries is midday on Monday, 16 November 2009. The winning entry will be used as the name for these services, and the person nominating will receive £10 in high street vouchers.

read more... “Get creative with name for health and social care services building”

Pensioners get help with council tax

Pensioners could be in line for a £50 cash windfall to help pay their council tax.

Neath Port Talbot Council has received funds from the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce a scheme to help pensioners to pay their council tax.

Under the scheme, the Council will reduce council tax bills for pensioners who are aged 65 or over on 30th November 2009 and who are receiving partial council tax benefit.

The Council will write to the pensioners who qualify for the payment in early December. However, if you are not already receiving council tax benefit, it's not too late to apply.

You can get an application form at any of the Council's offices or you can phone 01639 686838 and an application form will be sent out. Advisors can also visit you in your own home to help you fill in the form. If you do receive a visit, remember to always ask to see identification.

Councillor Ali Thomas, Leader of the Council, said the Authority was pleased to be able to do something to help some of the county borough's pensioners to pay their council tax bills.

"I would urge those pensioners who are not claiming council tax benefit to apply and see if they are entitled to help with their bills," he said "You have nothing to lose - get an application form today."

read more... “Pensioners get help with council tax”

COW goes from computer screen to TV

Television viewers in Wales can find out exactly what all the fuss has been about when ‘Cow’, the short ‘anti texting when driving’ film makes its TV premiere on BBC2 at 10pm on Monday night (November 2).

The phenomenal online success of the film (7.5 million viewings so far) has attracted interest from all over the world with hundreds of requests for full length copies of the hard hitting production being received by Gwent Police.

As a result of this demand Gwent Police Authority in partnership with the International Film School at the University of Wales, Newport, have established a new, not for profit organisation called The Gwent Independent Film Trust (GIFT). Using any income generated from the success of Cow the new trust will commission crime prevention educational films and award bursaries to young film makers.

Gwent Police Chief Constable Mick Giannasi commented:

"I'm delighted that the people of Wales will have the opportunity to view 'Cow' in its entirety on Monday evening. The clips which many people have seen on the intranet are only part of a hugely impactive film which is designed to entertain whilst sending out a powerful message to people, young and old about the tragic and life changing consequences of using a mobile phone whilst driving.

The selfless hard work and dedication of the director, the production staff, the actors and all those who provided their support to this venture has created a unique film which has caught the imagination of millions of people around the world.

The establishment of The Gwent Independent Film Trust on the back of the film’s success is an exiting development and will provide the film makers of tomorrow with an opportunity to create their own blockbusters.”

Professor Stephen Hagen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Wales, Newport added:

"The University of Wales, Newport is proud of the major artistic and creative involvement in the production of COW by its former and current students and, of course, the film's Director, Peter Watkins Hughes, a Senior Lecturer at the University. This film, with its world-wide audience, has raised even more awareness of Newport's University as a major player in film industry training."

Gwent Police Chief Constable Mick Giannasi concluded:

“Having seen the film, many people have said that they will never use a mobile phone again whilst driving.

If you have ever used your phone or you are close to someone who might be tempted to do it, please make sure they watch COW on Monday evening. You owe it to them and you owe it to yourself.”
read more... “COW goes from computer screen to TV”

New corporate director to join Denbighshire

Denbighshire County Council has announced the appointment of a new corporate director.

Bethan Jones, has been chosen as Corporate Director - Governance and Efficiency. Bethan is currently the Deputy Chief Executive and Corporate Director for Improvement and Development at Conwy County Borough Council.

She lives in Llanfairfechan and has been a director in local government for over eight years. She was previously a senior manager in the National Health Service for 11 years.

Denbighshire's Chief Executive, Mohammed Mehmet, said: "I'm absolutely delighted to announce this senior appointment to join the Corporate Executive Team.

"Bethan will bring with her a wealth of management experiences into a job which has been created to improve the governance of the authority and its efficiency and we look forward to working with Bethan as we strive to meet our aim of being one of the best councils in Wales".

Bethan is due to begin in Denbighshire in January 2010.

read more... “New corporate director to join Denbighshire”

Tender for employment service framework

S4C has announced it is to tender the contract to provide a policy and employment service framework for the independent sector.

The three-year contract will include ensuring that production companies conform to the requirements of S4C’s Terms of Trade in relation to policies and rights, as well as ensuring fair and reasonable work conditions for the sector as a whole.

The contract is offered following a review of the scope and range of the services currently supplied to the channel by TAC, via a contract that comes to an end in December 2009. An open tender process will be conducted in accordance with S4C’s Fair Trading and Procurement Policies.

S4C will publish the tender on its production website in due course ( and the aim is to appoint a provider early in 2010.

read more... “Tender for employment service framework”

Tenby RNLI lifeboat rescues vessel with engine failure

Tenby RNLI all-weather lifeboat was launched at 7.20pm on Wednesday (28 October), after Milford Haven Coastguard received a call from a disabled fishing vessel. The boat had suffered engine failure six miles east south east of Tenby.

The volunteer RNLI crew found the vessel at anchor and towed it to its mooring at Saundersfoot. The crew were taken back to Tenby RNLI Lifeboat Station by lifeboat and assisted by the Tenby coastguard rescue team.
read more... “Tenby RNLI lifeboat rescues vessel with engine failure”

Montgomeryshire AM calls for action to close the gap in attainment between deaf children and their hearing peers

Mick Bates AM, has offered support to a campaign to improve the life chances of deaf children and young people in Wales.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Mick Bates met last week with the Deaf Children’s Society and has now signed a Statement of Opinion, calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to take action to close the gap in attainment between deaf children and their hearing peers.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) Cymru, recently published data on the attainment levels of deaf children and young deaf people in Wales. The data revealed that deaf children and young people are underachieving at every key stage in their education. In 2008, deaf pupils in Wales were 30% less likely to achieve 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C than their hearing peers.

Commenting Mick Bates AM said: “I was pleased to meet with the Deaf Children’s Society to discuss the very important need to address the gap in attainment between deaf children and their fellow pupils. I find these new statistics really disappointing, too many deaf children are failing to reach the same grades as their hearing peers.

“It is essential that we act now to ensure that deaf children and young people throughout Wales are given the best support and learning environment, enabling them to reach their full potential.”

The data compares the attainment levels of deaf children, who have no other special educational needs, to the attainment levels of hearing children, who have no special educational needs. Deafness is not a learning disability and there is no reason why deaf children should not achieve the same as their hearing peers – as long as they are given the right support.

NDCS Cymru recognises that much hard work is being done to support deaf children and young people in their studies. However, the charity has identified a number of barriers which are preventing many deaf children and young people from reaching their full potential. These barriers include:
  • Poor acoustics in schools
  • Post code lottery in service provision
  • Lack of deaf awareness
The data covers deaf children who are on School Action, School Action Plus, and in receipt of a Statement. Due to the way in which data is collected, it covers some, but not all, deaf children who do not receive specialist support. Therefore, NDCS Cymru continues to campaign for more robust data on the attainment of all deaf children.

NDCS is the national charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people. We represent the interests and campaign for the rights of all deaf children and young people from birth to independence. NDCS represents children with a range of hearing loss, including mild, moderate, severe, profound, unilateral and temporary hearing loss.

read more... “Montgomeryshire AM calls for action to close the gap in attainment between deaf children and their hearing peers”

Transporting the past

The building of the new Glamorgan Archives in Leckwith is complete and on November 2nd at 10am the team will begin the task of moving all their documents into their new home.

A staggering 45,000 volumes, 60,000 plans and hundreds of items have been transferred from fragile boxes into new robust ones. Mike Hodgson, Conservator, was given the task of overseeing the packaging.

It has taken over three years for staff to prepare and package the documents ready for the move, with over 30,000 made-to-measure boxes being made using the Kasemake machine. The machine has become a valuable member of the team over the past few months.

As Mike explains:“At first we began making the boxes by hand, but as you can imagine making 30,000 was quite a daunting task! Thankfully we were successful in securing a CYMAL grant to purchase the Kasemake machine and since then we haven’t looked back.”

The Glamorgan team has also started the mammoth task of numbering the 18,000 shelves in the new building. Laid end to end they would stretch from Pontypridd to Merthyr Tydfil.

The new record office will open in the spring of 2010 and will see for the first time all of Glamorgan’s records being stored in the one location.

The building has been designed to ensure historical documents are kept in the best conditions and has been constructed to create stability in temperature and humidity.

Documents stored include records of local Councils, schools, families and individuals, landed estates, industries, shipping companies, Police, chapels and churches and many others as well as maps, plans and photographs.

Among some of the more intriguing papers is a bill for cloth purchased for the funeral of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 by Col Phillip Jones of Fonmon, who organised the funeral.

As well as being the home to 8km of historical documents the new record office will provide better facilities for people to use the documents as individuals or in groups with space for workshops and lectures in addition to the public search room. Students and school groups will be especially welcomed.

The building also houses a modern paper conservation studio where visitors will be able to watch specialists working to repair and conserve irreplaceable documents. A major feature of the studio is a giant wall board, which large maps can be repaired on. At 3 by 4 metres it is believed to be the largest of its type in Europe and was partly funded by a CYMAL grant.

Executive Member for Finance and Service Delivery, Cllr Mark Stephens, said:” The new Glamorgan Archives will provide a modern space for people to learn more about the past and their family history. There is some fascinating information available and having all documents stored in the one building will particularly benefit people with their searches.

“I know the team at the Glamorgan Archives are looking forward to moving to their new home and I would like to personally thank them for all the hard work they have put into the project.”

read more... “Transporting the past”

Go Green This Halloween

As the scariest time of the year approaches, Newport City Council is urging people to go green this Halloween.

From getting the most from your pumpkin to creating your own spooky costumes, there many ways in which you can enjoy Halloween and be kinder to the environment at the same time.

Over one million pumpkins are sold each year in Britain and many end up as one-off Halloween lanterns in homes across the country. But it’s scary to think that, once 31 October is over, most of these pumpkin lanterns are unnecessarily thrown away as rubbish and sent to landfill.

If your pumpkin usually ends up in your black sack don’t forget that you can recycle it by putting it in your food waste recycling bin once you have finished with it.

  • Be creative and make your own costume from old clothes and scrap materials.
  • Search charity shops for suitable items to dress up in – remember you can customise them too!
  • If you’re hosting a Halloween party, email your party invites to save paper and avoid using disposable plates, cups, cutlery, napkins and tablecloths.
  • Rather than buying garlands and decorations, try making your own from scrap paper. If you do buy decorations, buy long-lasting ones that you can use year after year.
  • Trick or treat with a reusable cloth bag instead of a plastic bag.
  • If you’re stocking up on treats, choose those that use little or no packaging.
read more... “Go Green This Halloween”

Funeral for a Friend tickets selling like hot cakes

As we have told you before, Funeral for a Friend will be playing the Coal Exchange, Cardiff Bay this coming Tueday (3 November).

Tickets are selling fast but there are still a few left. They can be purchased from:


and on-line from:


See you there if you are lucky enough to get a ticket.

read more... “Funeral for a Friend tickets selling like hot cakes”

Sponsorship for show-stopping Christmas events in Newport

Newport City Council has teamed up with the city’s Urban Regeneration Company Newport Unlimited, St Anne’s Hospice, Red Dragon Radio, The South Wales Argus, Voice Magazine, Soundbase UK, Ezeeeplay and ASDA to put on the city’s most impressive Christmas celebrations yet for 2009.

This year’s merriment boasts three major events:

Sunday 22 November
The Christmas lights switch-on celebrations will start on High Street at 12noon. The day promises to be a feast of festive activity, with the lights sponsored by Newport Unlimited and the Christmas trees sponsored by St Anne’s Hospice. The lights will be switched on at 5pm by the Mayor of Newport Councillor Glyn Jarvis and the winner of choir competition ‘Searching for Christmas Stars.’

Thursday 26 November
Malarky Arts is making a welcome return to the city centre with its Lantern Parade. Sponsored by Newport Unlimited, the parade is taking place on Thursday 26 November and will involve a number of local Junior/Primary schools including Pill, Maindee, Eveswell, St. Woolos, St. Josephs RC, Bettws, Fairoak Nursery and Surestart. The Parade will make its way around the city centre between 5.30pm and 6.30pm before gathering in John Frost Square for a festive music event.

Saturday 28 November
The third large scale event titled ‘Independents Day’ is a celebration of Newport’s Independent Retailers and will include a festive fashion show in John Frost Square.

Newport Unlimited Urban Regeneration Company is backing this years Christmas events to mark the beginning of the festive period. The Interim Chief Executive Gareth Beer said: “Newport Unlimited is proud to sponsor the Christmas lights and be sole sponsor of the Lantern Parade. On the eve of the Newport 2010 Festival and the Ryder Cup year we are helping make the Christmas celebrations even more special for residents and visitors.”

For the full calendar of Christmas events visit

read more... “Sponsorship for show-stopping Christmas events in Newport”

Rugby skills benefit young people

Children from two Neath Port Talbot schools have been given a taste of rugby disciplines to help them with their day-to-day lives.

The Ospreys teamed up with business education charity, businessdynamics, to work with the youngsters from the Bryncoch and Velindre Community Schools to deliver a ten week lifestyle programme.

The program, which was funded by the Wooden Spoon children's charity, highlights the similar skills adopted by businesses and rugby players which can help the youngsters during the day-to-day routines.

The project allowed the young people to gain an understanding of the workplace and the need to adapt to different working environments, develop good communications skills and develop skills to enable them to work effectively as a team.

Huw Davies, development officer for inclusion, said: "All pupils who took part in the project agreed it was a worthwhile and rewarding experience.

"Many of the year ten pupils asked if they could repeat the programme in year 11."

Neath Port Talbot Council leader Ali Thomas added: "This was an exciting and innovative project, which has benefited a number of our pupils who have been disengaged from main stream education.

"The support given to these young people by The Ospreys and businessedynamics, has been invaluable and I am delighted to learn that it was well received by all the pupils who took part."

read more... “Rugby skills benefit young people”

Suspended sentences for counterfeit clothing sellers

Two Wolverhampton men have received suspended prison sentences for the sale and possession of counterfeit clothing at Chirk Car Boot Sale, Wrexham.

At Mold Crown Court on 12 October 2009 Mohammed Haq, 44, of Bruford Road, Wolverhampton and Adil Haq, 33, of Goldthorn Road, Wolverhampton were each sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, and were ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid community work. At an earlier hearing they had pleaded guilty to twenty three specimen charges brought by Wrexham County Borough Council under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

Trading Standards Officers made test purchases of counterfeit clothing from the defendants’ stall at Chirk Car Boot Sale in June 2008. The following week officers returned to their stall and seized over 600 items labelled with well known brand names such as Nike, Adidas, Henri Lloyd and Fred Perry. Over 500 of the seized items were found to be counterfeit. It is estimated that the value of the seized items was over £6,500. If the goods had been genuine their value would have been much higher.

As well as imposing the suspended sentences and community punishment on the defendants, the Court ordered that their finances should be investigated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Cllr David Bithell, Wrexham Council’s Lead Member for the Environment and Transport said “Anyone dealing in counterfeit goods should be aware they face severe punishment and loss of assets if they are caught. Financial investigations go back six years and defendants may lose any of their assets including their home, car or cash acquired as the result of criminal activity. Tackling the sale of counterfeit goods is one of the priorities for the Council’s Trading Standards Officers. The Judge in this case commented that it was important that legitimate traders should be protected from people who deal in counterfeit goods”.

read more... “Suspended sentences for counterfeit clothing sellers”

Gatland to watch Invesco opponents

Wales coach Warren Gatland will check the form of two of Wales' opponents for the upcoming Invesco Perpetual Series in Saturday's Bledisloe Cup clash.

New Zealand and Australia meet for the first time in Japan at Tokyo’s National Stadium where Lyn ‘The Leap’ Davies won Olympic long jump gold in 1964.

While the All Blacks have already retained the Bledisloe Cup after three earlier victories this year, both countries will be eager to arrive in the UK next week on a positive note.

For the All Blacks, it is a last run before facing Wales at the Millennium Stadium and coach Henry, who led Wales for four years between 1998 and 2002, will use the game as a final chance to hone his team for Cardiff.

Henry said: “This game (in Tokyo) is very important for both teams at the start of our tours. Straight after Australia we have Wales who are a very good side, especially in Cardiff, so we want to go there with confidence.

“There’s a great tradition to that fixture so we will be looking to gain momentum from this game against Australia and increase the spirit within the group before starting out European tour.”

New Zealand have a familiar look to their team having named only three players with less than 25 caps, including new lock Tom Donnelly for only his second Test appearance. Former World Player of the Year winners Dan Carter and Richie McCaw both start.

Matters could not be more different for Australia who have lost five of their last six internationals and are desperate to avoid a record seventh defeat in a row to their arch rivals New Zealand.

They have also been hit by the loss of midfield play-maker Berrick Barnes, who withdrew this week with an ankle injury and remains a doubt for the rest of the Wallabies Grand Slam tour of Great Britain and Ireland that culminates with the Test against Wales on November 28.

That has prompted a re-call for promising teenager John O’Connor while Adam Ashley-Cooper switches to centre inside Ryan Cross, with Stirling Mortlock also out injured.

The Wallabies welcome back long-term injury Digby Ioane and will be led for the first time by Rocky Elsom in his first year back in Australia since lifting the Heineken Cup with Leinster last May.

read more... “Gatland to watch Invesco opponents”

Rhos Youth Council visit Airbase

Children and Community Councillors from the Wrexham South area aid a special visit to the North Wales Police Airbase in Rhuddlan last week to learn about the work of the helicopter.

Youngsters and councillors from Rhos had the opportunity of meeting some of the officers and seeing the force helicopter up close and personal.

Organised by Police Community Support Officer Sofia Iftikar and Council Clerk Wendy Owens, the youngsters, who are all members of the Rhos Youth Council, spoke to some of the officers based at the Unit as well being given the opportunity to see the police dogs being trained.

“I arranged the day because it was something they all expressed and interest in,” said PCSO Iftikar.

“Unfortunately, shortly after we arrived at the airbase, the helicopter was called to an incident, but luckily for us, some of the police dogs were in training, so the youngsters got the opportunity to see them being put through their paces.

“Hopefully they all enjoyed seeing the airbase and speaking to some of the officers and enjoyed learning about the work of the emergency services.”

read more... “Rhos Youth Council visit Airbase”

Bus timetable changes from 2 November 2009

From 2 November 2009, there will be some minor changes to bus services in the Vale of Clwyd.

The main changes will affect the 150 bus service between Ruthin and Corwen, which will be varied by 30 minutes, with departures from Ruthin at quarter to the hour and departures from Corwen at quarter past the hour broadly hourly throughout the day. Other amendments include an earlier arrival in Ruthin and Denbigh from Corwen to allow adequate time for shopping in the town centres.

Buses between Ruthin and Mold on the 1/1A/2 service will see additional journeys that will provide passengers the opportunity for through connections to Broughton Retail Park and Chester, as well as better connections at Ruthin for Mold in response to requests from passengers.

Arrangements will continue to ensure that residents of Eryrys and Graianrhyd visiting Mold have appropriate return facilities.

Buses from Denbigh and Ruthin to Wrexham will continue to operate hourly during the day with the additional benefit of a special evening and Sunday service. Between Denbigh and Ruthin, a half-hourly bus service will be maintained.

Updated timetables have been placed at roadside bus stops. For further details, please contact the Denbighshire Passenger Transport Group on 01824 706968.

read more... “Bus timetable changes from 2 November 2009”

Sales of school dinners set to rocket on November 5

Guy Fawkes celebrations will start off with a bang at Carmarthenshire schools on Thursday. The county’s Catering Service is gearing up for a rocket in sales as they introduce a special themed menu to celebrate November 5th.

Pupils will be tucking in to a low fat sausage in a roll, with bonfire potato bites and baked beans, followed by homemade treason toffee apple crumble and custard.

The meals will provide a nutritionally balanced lunch as an alternative to the current winter menu.

Catering services manager Sandra Weigel said: “It’s nice to be able to offer the children an alternative to the usual three-weekly menu.

“All our meals are put together using a computer system which ensures meals are nutritionally balanced, even down to their mineral content.

“The Guy Fawkes menu is a bit of fun, which the children can enjoy ahead of their evening celebrations.”

Carmarthenshire’s catering service serves up 19,000 school meals to children in 138 schools every day, as part of its commitment to provide healthy, low cost meals with a good nutritional balance.

Seasonal menus are produced using locally sourced produce wherever possible, with emphasis on traditionally cooked, fresh food, with reduced additives, salt and sugar.

Education Executive Board Member Cllr Gwynne Wooldridge said: “I’m sure the children will enjoy this themed menu, which should fill them up for the rest of the day, so that they can go out and watch the fireworks having had a hearty meal.

“Our catering service is one of the best in the UK, and our cooks work very hard to provide a first class service for pupils.”

read more... “Sales of school dinners set to rocket on November 5”

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