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Press releases

“One that we let get away,” says Scarlets coach Pivac

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The opening round of the Guinness PRO14 was a tense affair at Kingspan Stadium with Scarlets narrowly missing out on a victory over the homeside Ulster.

The only try of the afternoon came in the opening minutes from outside half Rhys Patchell with scrum half John Cooney claiming all of Ulster’s fifteen points.

Speaking after the game head coach Wayne Pivac said; “We didn’t expect it to be perfect rugby in round one. I don’t think either side played particularly well, there were a lot of mistakes but we made the costly ones.

“At half time we talked about staying in the arm wrestle, we knew it was going to be a tight affair. To lose the man and go down to 14 wasn’t helpful and then I thought we had the opportunity to put the game to bed at 13-12 in their 22 with about four minutes to go.

“The message was to keep the ball in hand and build the phases bt we chose to kick the ball away and they had one last go, got down there and kicked the penalty to win.”

Cooney’s penalty in the closing minutes was enough to claim the victory for the homeside breaking Scarlets hearts in the process.

Pivac went on to say; “We defended reasonably well throughout the game so they didn’t really threaten the try line itself. We paid the ultimate price for kicking the ball away. It’s one that we let get away unfortunately.”

Scarlets lost centre Jonathan Davies in the warm-up adding to the side’s injury woes. Commenting on that Pivac said; “Every team picks up injuries, the side that we put out was good enough to win that game.

“Those points are vital eventhough it’s round one, it’s bitterly disappointing but hopefully we’ll learn a lot from that.”

Scarlets welcome Leinster to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday 8th September, kick-off 19:35.

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Press releases

Five new road cycling routes unveiled for Carmarthenshire

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Five new road cycling routes through Carmarthenshire’s breath-taking countryside and coast have been unveiled today ahead of the Tour of Britain Grand Depart at Pembrey Country Park.

Carmarthenshire County Council has launched its Cycling Hub of Wales destination guide showcasing the county’s new routes and incredible cycling terrain, including tracks, trails, circuits and traffic free paths.

Some of those have been experienced today by world class cyclists including Tour de France winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome as they rode the Tour of Britain from Pembrey to Llandovery.

The first time the tour has visited Carmarthenshire, it allowed the county to showcase its stunning landscape and scenery to cycling fans across the world.

The new cycling guide shines a spotlight on five new routes, totalling over 450km of quality road cycling terrain.

The largest – the Big Wilderness Adventure Tour – clocks up an impressive 105km with a 7 out of 10 difficulty rating taking in breath-taking views north of Llandovery and crossing in to neighbouring Ceredigion.

The most challenging route – Big Hills and Big Views – takes riders over 101km across some of the county’s best mountain trails taking in Ammanford, Llandovery and Llandeilo and skirting the edge of the Brecon Beacons.

More leisurely routes are the 90km Teifi River Tour taking in Newcastle Emlyn; the slightly longer 95km Tywi Valley Tour of the Castles from Carmarthen; and the 62km Carmarthen Bay Coastal Tour taking in Llanelli’s beautiful Millennium Coastal Park.

The guide also showcases two fantastic off-road cycling circuits launched during 2018 – the new National Closed Road Circuit at Pembrey Country Park and the newly renovated historic Carmarthen Velodrome; challenging mountain biking trails through the Brechfa and Crychan forests; and traffic free paths through Llanelli, Amman and Tywi.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We have been bold in our ambitions for Carmarthenshire to become the Cycling Hub of Wales, and today’s launch – coinciding with our hosting of the Tour of Britain Grand Depart – shows just how far we have come and the scale and variety of cycling opportunities Carmarthenshire has to offer.

“Carmarthenshire is already enjoying record-breaking tourism figures, and with the Tour of Britain introducing our wonderful county to millions of people around the world, we’ve no doubt that many cyclists are already planning their visit.

“We are raising our profile as a world class visitor destination and a county that’s well-equipped to host high quality sporting events.

“We look forward to welcoming new and returning visitors and to hear them spreading the word about our fantastic cycling terrain.”

Cyclists can download the guide, routes and GPS Plotaroute Map at Discover Carmarthenshire.

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Press releases

Landscape detectives meet at Aberystwyth University

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Geomorphologists from around the world will convene in Aberystwyth in September as Wales hosts the discipline’s top annual UK academic gathering for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The Annual Meeting of the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG), which takes place from the 10-12 September 2018 at Aberystwyth University, will see early career and more seasoned geomorphologists showcase cutting-edge research and discuss new collaborations.

Referred to as “landscape detectives”, geomorphologists study the history of a landscape and how it has been moulded over millennia by the action of running water, wind, snow, ice and gravity.

The focus is on Earth’s landscapes but increasingly interest is also turning to landscapes on other planetary bodies such as Mars and Titan.

And it isn’t only the gradual evolution of the landscape that attracts their interest. Geomorphologists also study the effects of fast-acting, disruptive hazards such as coastal storm surges, river floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.

A key theme of this year’s Annual Meeting is communicating the relevance and importance of geomorphology in an era of rapid environmental change.

This includes going beyond university circles and developing approaches for improved communication of geomorphology in schools, among the general public, and with land owners and environmental policy makers.

Delegates will also hear from one of the UK’s most eminent geomorphologists and a Fellow of the BSG, Aberystwyth University’s Emeritus Professor John Lewin, who will deliver the meeting’s Frost Lecture.

There will also be keynote addresses from the BSG Award Winners for 2018, including Hervé Piégay (David Linton Award), Larissa Naylor (Gordon Warwick Award), Edwin Baynes (Dick Chorley Award), and Bradley Johnson (Wiley Award).

Delegates also have the option of staying on after the meeting for field trips on 12, 13 and 14 September that will take them to the uplands, valleys and coastline of mid Wales.

The meeting is chaired by Professor Stephen Tooth, from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

Professor Tooth said: “This is the first time for many decades that the BSG has hosted such an event in Wales, and given the contributions of Aberystwyth-trained geomorphologists and Welsh landscapes to development of the science, it is fitting that the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences is able to host the Annual Meeting as part of its centenary year celebrations”.

As part of the conference, Professor Tooth and Dr Hywel Griffiths, also from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, will release a booklet entitled 10 Reasons Why the Geomorphology of Wales is Important.

The booklet is based on a series of parallel blogs by Dr Griffiths (Welsh) and Professor Tooth (English), providing examples of Welsh landforms and landscapes that illustrate the 10 reasons.

Further details of the Annual Meeting can be seen on the BSG’s website www.geomorphology.org.ukand Facebook page www.facebook.com/geophemera. Developments can also be followed on Twitter @BSG_Geomorph #bsg2018.


Photo: Professor Stephen Tooth, Chair of the 2018 Annual Meeting of the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG), and Dr Hywel Griffiths, both of the Department of Geography and Earth Science at Aberystwyth University, who will launch their booklet 10 Reasons Why the Geomorphology of Wales is Importantduring the meeting.


British Society for Geomorphology http://geomorphology.org.uk/

British Society for Geomorphology2018 Annual Meeting

Stephen Tooth’s Blog: https://stephentooth.wordpress.com/2015/03/

Hywel Griffiths’ Blog (Welsh): http://hywelgriffiths.blogspot.com/2015/03/10-rheswm-pam-10-reasons-why-1.html

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Mark Jones

Blog posts

The latest Money Matters Clay Shaw Butler column

Posted By Robert Lloyd

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


British banks approved fewer mortgages last month, despite a boost from existing home-owners looking to lock in cheaper interest rates ahead of the Bank of England’s rate rise in August.

That’s the verdict from the latest mortgage industry data.

“The broader economic outlook remains mixed, with households continuing to see their incomes being squeezed by rising inflation,” UK Finance director Peter Tyler said.

“July saw steady growth in gross mortgage lending, driven largely by remortgaging as homeowners locked into attractive deals in anticipation of the recent base rate rise.

Annual consumer credit growth slowed to 3.7 percent, its weakest since December 2014.

The narrower measure of credit card purchases was more robust, which UK Finance linked to the World Cup and unusually warm weather boosting spending.

Meanwhile, there’s been a warning from the British Government of the consequences of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

Britons living in the European Union could lose access to their UK bank account services and businesses on the continent could be cut off from investment banks in London if a Brexit deal cannot be agreed.

In a document detailing contingency planning if Britain leaves the EU in March with no transition deal, the government said unilateral action on several fronts could only minimise disruption up to a point.

While Britons will still be able to use their bank cards to withdraw money in EU countries, more than a million UK citizens living abroad may not be able to use their British accounts for borrowing and deposit services, or insurance contracts such as annuities that pay pensions, the document said.

Banks offering these services may also be affected.

“This could impact these firms’ ability to continue to service their existing products,” it added.

All Britons will face higher costs to make card payments in the EU when travelling or shopping online.

The EU agreed this year to cap the fees retailers pay to process debit and credit card transactions.

Without a deal between London and Brussels, British customers will no longer be covered by a ban on cross-border surcharges, which prevents business from imposing excessive charges on consumers.

The Government had previously said those charges cost Britons about £166 million in 2015.

“Leaving the EU without a deal would cause major inconvenience to millions of pensioners, travellers and drivers,” said Hugh Savill, director of regulation at the Association of British Insurers.

Currently banks, insurers and fund managers in Britain have unfettered access to the EU, their biggest export market, worth £26 billion last year, under the bloc’s “passporting” rules.

Without a deal, banks, insurers and pension providers would have to establish operations in the EU or be legally barred from serving clients or sending out payments.

Brexit minister Dominic Raab played down the threat that tens of thousands of British retirees in the EU – many of whom live on the Spanish Mediterranean coast – could lose access to their pensions.

“It’s hardly in the interests of southern Spain to do harm to the UK pensioners out there,” Raab told reporters.

The Government said it was committed to giving regulators such as the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority a “general transitional tool” to phase in changes easing the impact if no deal is agreed.

However, the EU would also need to take action to avoid disruption in cross-border financial services, it said.

Brussels has said it is primarily up to banks and insurers themselves to prepare for Brexit, such as by opening new hubs in the bloc.

The Government document said the EU needed to reciprocate British action to ensure continuity in cross-border insurance policies, derivatives contracts, and core market services for companies and people.

Without EU action, it said, businesses across the bloc could no longer use investment banks in Britain.

Brussels, for example, would need to give investors in the EU permission to continue using a share trading platform or clearing house in London, where most euro-denominated derivatives are currently cleared.

The finance ministry and the Bank of England will give details next month on how customers in Britain can continue using a settlement house in the EU, a critical step whereby cash is exchanged for legal ownership of a stock or bond.


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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The Big Cwtsh

Blog posts

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 27) is now on Soundcloud.

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Press releases

Communities make voices heard in Hywel Dda health debate

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Communities in mid and west Wales have made their voices heard as part of a 12-week consultation into the future of NHS health and care services.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has received an independent consultation report, detailing the extent and scope of views received during the consultation. The health board provided many different opportunities for people to voice their views, from completing formal questionnaires and writing in to attending events and face-to-face meeting, as well as debate on social media. The report provides the views of those who chose to respond and highlights some key issues for Board members to consider as part of their decision making.

The Health Board has chosen to publish that report (at www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/hddchange), before it is formally received by the Health Board at an extraordinary meeting, due to be held and webcast from Carmarthenshire County Council Chambers on Wednesday 26 September 2018, where a future service model will be discussed.

Chief Executive Steve Moore explained: “We have committed throughout this process to be as open and inclusive as possible and we’ve strived to go above and beyond expectations for continuous engagement because it is the right thing to do and because we have learnt so much from discussion, new ideas and challenge. We are therefore making this report available to our patients, staff, stakeholders and communities so we can all take time to read and consider its contents.”

What has been heard?

Hywel Dda – Our Big NHS Change consultation was held between 19 April and 12 July 2018. From a population of around 400,000, the consultation received 5,395 questionnaire responses, and reached out face-to-face at more than 160 events, attracting more than 4,000 attendees. Five petitions were received with almost 51,000 signatures and there was significant debate on social media.

There was support for some elements of consultation (*see reminders about key elements of the consultation below), including the case for change, strengthening community models, separating planned and urgent care (but most suggesting this should be done on the same site) and provision of a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

However, there was considerable disagreement around locations of proposed community hubs and hospitals, with recurring suggestions for hubs to be considered in Milford Haven/Neyland, Fishguard/Goodwick, Crymych, Lampeter and Llandysul, and concern generally over loss of community beds, particularly in regards to Amman Valley Hospital.

There was high level of disagreement over the proposed location for a new urgent and emergency care hospital. Feedback demonstrated competing arguments for building the new hospital near Carmarthen, due to population density both from town itself and being central between Haverfordwest and Llanelli; and further west given that access from these locations is already an important recognised issue.

Key themes of concern have emerged, including travel and access to services, particularly for the more vulnerable or isolated; the infrastructure of roads and public transport limitations; resourcing requirements including costs and staffing; regional impacts, such as those on other health boards and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, and the ability to deliver the community and primary care required for such a model to work, amongst others.

Overall, Proposals A and B carried considerably more support than Proposal C, and there was substantial support for alternative options – the vast majority of alternatives relating to the retention or enhancement of existing services at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest and some calling for integration or amalgamation between Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Boards.

It was generally recognised that Proposal A was likely to maximise the resources available for investment and the delivery of community-based services and many believed the benefits of adopting the most cost-effective option shouldn’t be understated given the ongoing financial pressures and increasing needs of an ageing population.

The feedback suggested that the main advantages in support of Proposal B was the ability to deliver services locally within the Health Board area for as many people as possible. Many had concerns that if Prince Philip Hospital did not remain a Local General Hospital, then large numbers of residents from the most populated areas would inevitably choose to receive services in ABMU Health Board.

People in Ceredigion tended to support Proposal A, followed by B; people from Carmarthenshire tended to support Proposal B, followed by C; and people in Pembrokeshire tended to support  Proposal A over B and C but with substantial support for an alternative proposal. NHS staff tended to favour Proposal B over Proposal A.

What next?

The Health Board is now going through a period of ‘conscientious consideration’, where it will consider views and implications heard in consultation and assess any alternative options put forward, before re-evaluating and proposing a future service model.

A series of meetings have been organised with clinical staff and key stakeholders such as other organisations that provide care and Hywel Dda Community Health Council to undertake this work. Two meetings are with broader stakeholders, one with representatives from protected characteristic groups and another wider group, with invitations issued to those who have already been significantly involved in the consultation. A summary of the outcome of these meetings will be published in the Health Board’s consultation web resource available at www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/hddchange under ‘Next Steps’, to share this more widely.

Any alternative proposals suggested as part of consultation will go through the same process as those explored pre-consultation. The Health Board will review if any of these alternatives were already considered, assessed and discounted prior to consultation. Any new, alternative proposal will be analysed (based on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis)) by a range of clinical staff to assess if it is viable and if so, modelling of activity, travel time, affordability etc would be undertaken. A scoring exercise will then be carried out on any proposals that reach this stage. If any alternative proposal scores equivalent to or more than the proposals taken to public consultation, an equalities impact assessment will take place and the proposal will be presented to the Executive Team of the Health Board to determine if it is viable.

If the alternative proposal is broadly the same as one of the proposals already consulted on but with some adjustments that don’t have any undue negative impacts, this proposal could be adopted without the need for further consultation. If, however, the alternative proposal is radically different to the proposals already consulted on, there may be a requirement for further public consultation by the Health Board.

A recommended way forward, led by clinicians, will be presented to the public Health Board on Wednesday 26 September in Carmarthenshire County Council Chambers and webcast for ease of public access to the full discussion and debate.

The consultation will not be determined by numbers alone, or a single aggregated result, as the population will inevitably have different perspectives on proposals and all views are important and valid.

Board members will need to consider the clinical views, all they heard in the discover phase (engagement during summer 2017) and everything they have heard in formal consultation, as well as issues such as safety, quality, sustainability of services and equalities when making any decision.

The Health Board will continue to update staff, stakeholders and the public and encourages all those interested in the development of health and care services to join the involvement and engagement scheme Siarad Iechyd / Talking Health. You can join by using the link www.talkinghealth.wales.nhs.uk or by telephoning 01554 899 056.


*Our Big NHS Change Consultation – summary reminders of key elements of consultation – full details can be found in archived resources at www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/hddchange

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