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Mark Jones

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The latest Clay Shaw Butler Money Matters column

Posted By Robert Lloyd

By Mark Jones, director of Carmarthen-based Clay Shaw Butler chartered accountants and business consultants. The Money Matters column appears in the Pembrokeshire Herald, the Carmarthenshire Herald and the Llanelli Herald newspapers.By Mark Jones, director of Carmarthen-based Clay Shaw Butler chartered accountants and business consultants.

There’s no avoiding the dreaded ‘B’-word nowadays. Brexit issues are dominating the news headlines as the deadline approaches to Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Here at West Wales chartered accountants Clay Shaw Butler we have been keeping a weather eye on the latest consumer and business information from experts across the UK.

Surveys show that British consumers remain gloomy.

The GfK consumer confidence index held at Minus 14 in January, its lowest since July 2013.

Economists taking part in a Reuters news agency poll had expected a slight fall to Minus 15.

Businesses gave a sobering outlook in surveys published by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Lloyds Bank.

The GfK survey showed households’ assessment of their personal finances improved due to falling inflation and higher wages and employment.

But their outlook on the economy over the next 12 months was the weakest since December 2011.

“Consumers, companies and corporations thrive on certainty, which is in short supply just before the planned date for the UK’s EU exit,” GfK executive Joe Staton said.

Without a deal that is acceptable to both sides, Britain risks a disorderly exit from the EU on March 29.

The CBI said small businesses reported the sharpest decline in sentiment about exports since the financial crisis, despite above-average output growth in recent months.

“Uncertainty in the domestic and global trading environment is clearly hitting manufacturing SMEs hard, with sentiment falling, concerns over political and economic conditions abroad spiking and investment plans still well down on the past year,” CBI economist Alpesh Paleja said.

Political or economic conditions abroad were named as the biggest challenge to exports over the next three months since the survey began in 1988.

The latest survey by Lloyds Bank showed a small rise in business sentiment this month, after it hit its lowest since June 2016’s Brexit referendum in December.

Meanwhile, British house prices rose by just 0.1 percent in annual terms in January, their weakest increase in nearly six years, adding to signs of a slowdown in the country’s housing market ahead of Brexit.

Data from mortgage lender Nationwide showed the housing market’s loss of momentum reflected the unusually “uncertain economic outlook”.

But the Nationwide said that if the economy grew modestly, house prices on a national level would probably grow “at a slow single-digit pace” in 2019.

In monthly terms, prices rose by 0.3 percent.

Britain’s housing market has slowed since the Brexit referendum in June 2016 when Nationwide estimated house prices were rising by around 5 percent a year.

You can find out more about money matters on the Clay Shaw Butler website (under our news for business section) – 


We have a strong and experienced team with great local knowledge all geared-up to helping you get the very best from your finances – whether that is as an individual or as a business.

We stay ahead of the game by putting great store by continual professional development for our staff.

With Investors In People status at Clay Shaw Butler, we care passionately about making sure our staff have all the tools they need to serve you, our customers.

Weblink – http://www.clayshawbutler.com

The team at Clay Shaw Butler can be contacted on 01267 228500.

The team at Clay Shaw Butler are on Twitter. Look for @clayshawbutler.

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Latest podcast from Phil Evans and Robert Lloyd

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The latest podcast from Phil Evans and Robert Lloyd.

The Big Cwtsh – Episode 40.

Now available on Soundcloud.

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Jenkins Bakery all loved up ready for St Valentine’s Day

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Love is in the air at the Jenkins Bakery’s 30 shops across South Wales.

The popular bakery business has launched special products to mark St Valentine’s Day on Thursday, February 14. 

“Love Bugs, special romantic cup cakes, heart-shaped Welsh cakes and Valentine Heart biscuits are just what you need to add that sprinkling of romance to your day,” said Jenkins Bakery operations director Russell Jenkins. 

“2019 seems to be the year when romance is in the air. 

“We’ve already had the saint’s day for the Welsh patron saint of love, Santes Dwynwen, and now the countdown is well and truly on to Valentine’s Day.

“It seems everyone enjoys the chance to have some fun and lighten the mood at this time of the year. St Valentine’s Day gives everyone the opportunity to smile and get in the romantic mood.

“Romance has been high on the agenda here at the Jenkins Bakery as we have been busy showing off our award-winning cake designs to wedding customers.

“Our expert cake decorators love a challenge and they are up to any task demanded by happy couples planning their wedding cake. Planning is everything when it comes to weddings and we’re here to help add that extra-special romantic touch to the big occasion.” 

Here are some the products on offer at Jenkins Bakery shops for St Valentine’s Day-



Top quality shortbread biscuit and decorated with a sugar paste Valentine heart message.



Top quality shortbread biscuit with a rope of rich Viennese around the edge and in filled with red piping jelly.



Our moist red velvet cup-cakes topped with marbled frosting and sugar paste hearts.



Our moist chocolate cup-cakes with marbled frosting and sugar paste heart.



A shortbread biscuit with a light caramel filling covered with milk chocolate and hand decorated .



Our top quality chocolate Swiss Roll coated with chocolate and decorated with two valentine sugar-paste hearts.



Two gift-wrapped heart-shaped Welsh cakes using our traditional recipe



Our top-quality sponge filled with raspberry jam and buttercream covered in white sugar paste and hand-decorated with red hearts displayed in our clear gift box gift pack.

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Phil Evans

Blog posts

The latest Phil Evans column

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy. This column appears in the South Wales Evening Post, Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star. Website – www.philevans.co.uk



I was dismayed to learn that the statue in London’s Green Park (commemorating the ultimate sacrifice made in World War Two by members of Bomber Command) had been vandalised – covered in white paint.

The Royal Marine Memorial was also vandalised, as was the memorial to WPC Yvonne Fletcher, who, in April 1984, was killed by a bullet fired from the Libyan Embassy in St. James’s Square.

The paint-throwing cowards hid their faces beneath hoods, while they desecrated memorials to heroes who bravely faced danger and death every day.

I can’t imagine the vandals would possess the cool-headed courage that 25-year-old flight engineer Norman Jackson did on a bombing raid over Germany in 1944.

After coming under attack, the starboard wing of his Lancaster bomber caught fire and, despite being wounded by shrapnel, at a height of 22,000 feet he climbed on to the wing with a fireextinguisher!

As the plane travelled at 200 mph it came under further attack, he got badly burnt and fell off the plane, his parachute bursting into flames. 

He spent the rest of the war in a prisoner-of-war camp and was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

There’s a growing tendency today for certain groups to delight in smearing major figures from Britain’s past – some of whom were, admittedly, flawed characters.

However,they were the ones who bravely stepped up to the plate to defend Britain and because they did we live in a country where people can try and rewrite history through 21stCentury eyes – a futile task!

Ironically, if our war heroes and military leaders hadn’t acted as they did, today’s naysayers wouldn’t have the chance to say nay! 

Despite what happened to him, Norman Jackson was one of the luckier members of Bomber Command. 

55, 573 of the 125,000 lost their lives.

It comes down to this.

Who would you rather have a pint and a chat with – Norman Jackson or a self-important, would-be rewriter of our history?



Love thy neighbour:

As a young lad, I was brought up in the days where everybody in the street on which you lived knew everyone else.

I am sure many of you reading this column can remember this time very well.

The good old days.

However, times have changed and, unfortunately, there are so many of us today that don’t know who lives on the street, or, in some cases, even who lives next door!

Gone are the days when you would pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar or your neighbour would pop in to share their copy of the local paper when they’d finished it.

My grandmother would always make the effort to check on her neighbours and get to know anyone new who moved into the street.

If she were still around today, they’d nickname her “Google”.

Keeping in touch with those around you was second nature.

These were life skills and values that would prove useful for all concerned.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to see this sense of community make a welcome return? 


You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales and www.philevans.co.uk

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Robert Lloyd

Blog posts

The latest ‘On Song’ column from the Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The ‘boys’ of Llandyfaelog-based Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi will be performing at a Cawl a Chân at Carmarthen Golf Club as part of their St David’s Day celebrations.

The evening of entertainment, cawl and Welsh cakes takes place at the golf club at 7m on Friday, March 1.

The evening will also feature Y Brodyr Gregory, the famous Gregory brothers Adrian and Paul.

Y Brodyr Gregory are one of the most popular entertainment acts in Wales and regularly perform on TV and radio.

Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi have also fixed the date for their popular annual concert.

It will be on Saturday, October 12, at the Gwenllian Centre, Kidwelly.

The choir will be joined by Mynydd Mawr Choir and guests Trio and Piantel, with compere Eirian Wyn.

Future events for Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi also include a scheduled performance at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales, Llanarthne, on Sunday, November 17.

Lovers of the popular S4C Sunday evening show Dechrau Canu, Dechrau Canmol will be delighted to learn that the programme’s Easter special is being filmed in Llangennech.

The evening will be hosted by BBC newsreader Huw Edwards, a native of Llangennech, and will be held at Salem Chapel, Llangennech, on Sunday, March 24, with doors open at 5.30pm.

The conductor will be the celebrated organist Allan Fewster MBE.

Get there early to book your seat, is the advice.

Over in Swansea, the soloists from the Llanelli-based Loud Applause Rising Stars stable of singers will be performing at a charity concert in aid of the Mumbles Lifeboat and West Glamorgan Crimebeat on Saturday, April 6 (7pm start).

The concert is being held at All Saints Church, Oystermouth, and will also feature the world famous Morriston Orpheus Choir and guest compere Mal Pope, the TV and radio personality.

Back in Llanelli, there’s a special concert at the Thomas Arms on Friday, February 22.

It features Kirsten Orsborn, who is the Official Sweetheart of The Royal Marines and The Royal British Legion.

Kirsten is from the Neath Valley and is one of the UK’s best and most versatile international female vocalists, performing an extensive repertoire of music from Swing, Jazz, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Twist, Motown, Soul, right through to Disco, Dance and Pop.

You can expect contemporary songs – and a trip down memory lane.

The ‘boys’ of Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir will be helping the chairman of Llanelli Rural Council raise money for charity when they perform their St David’s Day concert.

The concert will take the form of a Cawl a Chân evening at The Diplomat Hotel in Llanelli on Thursday, February 28 (7pm).

The chairman of Llanelli Rural Council Councillor Sian Caiach has chosen three charities to support during her year of office – Breakthro’ Llanelli, Llanelli Railway Strike Riots 1911 Commemorative Committee and Wales Air Ambulance.

The evening will also feature special guest soloists, with more details being released next week.

Tickets, at £12 each, are available from Llanelli Rural Council, Vauxhall Buildings, Llanelli

Tel. 01554 774103 Email: enquiries@llanelli-rural.gov.uk

Looking further ahead, Côr Meibion Llanelli have added another date to their 2019 list of engagements.

On Saturday, October 5, they will be performing at The Queen’s Hall in Narberth to help the refurbishment appeal for one of the most popular concert venues in West Wales.

The guest star for the evening will be tenor Trystan Llŷr Griffiths and the concert will also feature the Accapella Youth Group, led by Molara.

This week sees The Opera Boys back at The Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen.

The boys return with a brand new show, full of opera, classical, West End and crossover music, as well as their unique on-stage banter.

Combining four big voices with four big personalities, The Opera Boys promise a fabulous show full of music and laughter!

Operatic arias and classical favourites from ‘Nessun Dorma’ to ‘Time to say goodbye’ are mixed with showstoppers from ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ right through to ‘Jersey Boys’.

The show also features brand new classical arrangements of modern day pop hits, all performed in The Opera Boys’ inimitable style.

The Opera Boys have been delighting audiences all over the world with their unique show combining beautiful, powerful and emotional music with funny, engaging and light-hearted entertainment.

They are at The Lyric at 7.30pm on Friday, February 8.

Mid Wales Opera return to Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli at 7.30pm on Wednesday, February 27.

They will sing Puccini’s Tosca.

Power and passion collide in this breathtaking masterpiece.

Trapped in a life and death struggle against the corrupt police chief Scarpia, the diva Tosca and her artist lover face the ultimate sacrifice.

Puccini’s lavish score takes audiences on an emotional rollercoaster ride from tender love story through powerful brutality to ultimate tragedy. The opera will be performed in English.

The Miners’ Theatre in Ammanford will be staging a St David’s Day Concert on Friday, March 1 (7pm).

The popular Cor Meibion Dyffryn Amman will share the stage with three highly-talented young musicians from the Ammanford area – clarinettist Catrin Soons and the beautiful voices of Neve Summers and Osian Clarke. The guest accompanist will be Joseph Cavalli-Price.

Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli always stages a hugely-popular St David’s Day concert. This year it will be held on Saturday, March 2.

The concert will feature the world-famous Morriston Orpheus Choir, conducted by Joy Amman Davies, and Côr Lleisiau’r Cwm, under the baton of Llanelli’s Catrin Hughes.

Sharing the spotlight will be two highly-talented young singers from the Loud Applause Rising Stars stable – mezzo soprano Nikkila Thomas, from Llanelli, and tenor Osian Clarke, from Tycroes. 

The busy ladies of Côr Curiad Choir in Llanelli are looking forward to another big year of charity fundraising.

The choir’s main event this year will be on Saturday, April 6, at Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli.

Their special guest will be TV star and X Factor winner Sam Bailey and her band.

The evening will also feature Ysgol y Strade pupil Martha Morgan and Angharad Elise Thomas, who runs her own drama company called The Hive in Llanelli.

All proceeds from the Llanelli Côr Curiad concert will go to Marie Curie Wales.

Robert Lloyd works as a media consultant – www.rlloydpr.co.uk

If you have any news about the choral scene in Llanelli, then please contact him on 07777 683637 or email rlloydpr@btinternet.com

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Press releases

£500,000 of proposals removed from draft Carmarthenshire budget

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board have removed more than half a million pounds worth of proposed savings from the budget it has recommended to Full Council.

A number of proposals have been taken completely off the table, whilst others have been frozen or delayed for a year.

If approved by Full Council on February 20, it means Council Tax will increase by 4.89 per cent – a level which will allow the council to deliver services and invest in key areas, whilst minimising the impact on the public.

Cllr David Jenkins, Executive Board Member for Resources, said a better than expected budget settlement from Welsh Government helped the Executive Board set its draft revenue budget.

However, he pointed out that additional pressures – particularly in social care – meant it was in effect a real terms reduction.

Many of the proposals taken out of the recommended budget are those most strongly objected to in the recent budget consultation, including reduced winter gritting operations.

A number of proposals have been deferred, including proposed reductions to Youth Support Services and Educational Psychology, and the proposed closure of the Pendine Outdoor Education Centre.

Meanwhile, school meal prices and car parking fees have been frozen, and extra money has been put in to the budget for education and social care.

Speaking at Executive Board, Cllr Jenkins said: “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.

“Adopting these proposals allows the Executive Board to present a fair and balanced budget to County Council, which responds to the major concerns fed back from the consultation and provides significant extra resource to critical services.

“I as portfolio member for Resources, and member colleagues, have really tried to listen both to the public and fellow members’ concerns and respond accordingly.”

He added: “I would like to express my thanks to all who took part in the consultation or responded to the surveys. This allowed significant debate on the budget and has provided overall significant feedback to us in respect of the original proposals put forward.

“However I must say this year we received a poor response from the community and we will need to look next year as to how we get the public back engaged.”

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