5     Appendices

                                                                                                                                               

a.   Estimated costs of implementing recommendations

Many of the recommendations presented will not require additional funding to deliver as they suggest a different approach or new way of doing things. However, it is recognised that this will require officer capacity and support to implement. Where appropriate, an indication of likely costs for delivering those recommendations that will require a funding investment have been outlined below. With many of the recommendations, the detailed costs of implementation will be unknown until the recommendation is further developed. In those instances, we ask that support in principle is given at this stage and a detailed business case will need to be prepared and re-submitted for Executive Board consideration at a later date.

Recommendations

Estimated Cost

1

That the Council works with the local communities and stakeholders in ten of its rural towns (and surrounding communities) to develop individual plans that will aim to provide a long-term strategic vision to secure economic, cultural, social and environmental sustainability for those towns. The proposed ten rural towns are:

                    i.            Llandovery

                  ii.            St Clears

                iii.            Whitland

                 iv.            Newcastle Emlyn

                   v.            Laugharne

                 vi.            Cwmamman (Amman Valley)

               vii.            Llanybydder

             viii.            Kidwelly (Gwendraeth)

                 ix.            Llandeilo

                   x.            Cross Hands.

£170K grant funding identified to undertake preparation of growth plans for 8 of the 10 towns.

 

Additional £50K required to complete first phase.

 

 

2

That the Council continues to implement existing funding opportunities for rural development and identify external public and private sector funding opportunities to assist with the economic growth aspirations of the ten rural towns and the county’s rural businesses.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

3

That the Council ensures a focus on the further development of the Foundational Economy sector within Carmarthenshire whilst supporting the principles of the Circular Economy.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

4

That the Council works to enable the re-use of vacant or unused buildings on agricultural land and within rural towns and villages to develop business incubator or commercial accommodation in rural areas.

Costs to be determined once opportunities identified and plans developed

5

That the Council maintains its rural estate but reviews its use and policy going forward, whilst also working with other public sector partners to identify development opportunities through their rural estate.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

6

That the Council continues to make grant funding available to support the growth aspirations of the county’s entrepreneurs and rural businesses whilst exploring the feasibility of establishing a local private sector loan fund.

Grant funding available through existing programmes. Officer capacity to deliver

7

That the Council works with other business support agencies and services (e.g. Business Wales, Business in Focus, Farming Connect etc) to enable greater clustering of support and signposting to local businesses.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

8

To lobby Welsh Government to amend national planning policy, and in particular

a.      TAN 6 to enable a more flexible approach to development in rural areas, especially in areas outside of identified settlements, and

b.      TAN 20 in terms of ensuring the impact of any development on the Welsh language is required as a material consideration, as stipulated in the Planning Act 2015 and that its status in legislation is reflected in the TAN.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

9

To lobby Welsh Government to amend planning policy (as part of TAN 6) in relation to the construction of a second dwelling on established farms as the current requirements relating to demonstration of income from the farm to enable development is no longer valid. Given the current and future changing nature of agriculture and possible implications of Brexit, income from the farm will have to be supplemented with income from other sources i.e. extended family members taking up employment outside of the farm setting. Therefore, the total income of the household, as a family unit, needs to be considered rather than farm income alone.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

10

That the Council ensures that the revised Local Development Plan:

a.      enables appropriate scale residential and business development in smaller community areas as needed

b.      enables appropriate tenure mix in residential developments, based on local housing need

c.       enables the appropriate allocation of affordable homes within rural areas

d.      enables tourism and business development in rural areas to support future development and diversification.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

11

That the Council amends its planning policy to enable the citing of a new/re-developed farmhouse or dwelling linked to an agricultural property so that it can be located a reasonable distance outside of the working farm yard in order to ensure due regard can be given to:

a.      Health and safety considerations;

b.      Biosecurity; and

c.       Lessen the risk of zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transferred between people and animals e.g. TB).

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

12

That the Council looks into the feasibility of enabling the establishment/creation of new small-holdings in rural areas, outside identified settlements on the basis of local need and the potential positive contribution to the economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability of the local community.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

13

That the Council continues to support and further develop its ambitious Carmarthenshire Affordable Homes Delivery Plan post 2020 to ensure the continuation of increased availability of affordable homes within the county and ensure the proposals for building new Council houses reflect local housing needs in rural areas.

Costs to be determined once plans developed

14

That the Council considers the recommendations of the Education & Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee Task and Finish ‘A review of the current provision for early year’s education, childcare and play opportunities’ to be published in 2019 which include recommendations focused on:

a.      The availability and provision of childcare across the county but especially in the rural areas

b.      Supporting the childcare sector to increase the availability and provision of Welsh medium childcare across the county

c.       The availability of after school clubs and wrap around care provision through schools

d.      Reviewing the Council’s admissions policy for full-time education for 4 year olds

e.      Ensuring all parents and carers receive information about the benefit of Welsh medium education and bilingualism

f.        Supporting schools and local partners to develop a model which would enable community use of school play facilities outside of school hours.

The recommendations would have a significant impact on provision and access to childcare and play opportunities in rural areas as well as supporting the principle of building the future resilience and sustainability of rural schools.

To be determined as part of the Task & Finish Review

15

That the Council remains fully supportive of doing all that it can to support and build the future resilience and sustainability of its rural schools, and will work to Welsh Government’s set of procedures and requirements within the School Organisation Code which works on a presumption against closure.

Costs to be determined on a case by case basis

16

That the Council continues with the progress being made in moving all primary and secondary schools along the continuum in terms of increasing Welsh medium provision.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

17

That the Council, through the Swansea Bay City Deal and Regional Learning and Skills Partnership Skills and Talent Project, look to increase careers input at a younger age in schools to inspire and raise aspirations in terms of local employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

No direct costs. Project being implemented through RLSP.

18

That the Council works with Coleg Sir Gâr to consider options for the development of a rural innovation, technology and skills hub model across the county which would work to address the skills shortage in certain sectors focussing on work based/vocational skills.

Costs to be determined once options identified

19

That the Council develops a suite of placement/work experience opportunities with local businesses in order to increase local awareness of career options.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

20

That the Council works with partners to develop a tracking system for young people leaving Carmarthenshire for education and employment opportunities with a view to signposting them to employment opportunities to enable them to return to Carmarthenshire.

Costs to be determined once options identified. Project being considered by RLSP

21

That the Council works with partners to undertake further mapping work on the possible implications of Brexit on certain workforce sectors across the county.

No direct costs. Project being implemented through RLSP

22

That the Council urgently works with agencies and through the Swansea Bay City Deal Digital Infrastructure Project to improve broadband infrastructure and connectivity focusing on areas of poor or no connectivity, especially through the 10 Rural Towns programme. Where possible the Council should also develop and implement its own innovative solutions to addressing local need.

Costs to be determined on a case by case basis

23

That the Council improves promotion of grants and support services currently available to businesses and private properties to support their digital connectivity.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

24

That the Council works with partners to support the promotion of existing opportunities to develop digital skills and look to introduce additional support where required.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver

25

That the Council builds on existing arrangements to work with all interested partners in the tourism sector to create and promote a Carmarthenshire destination offer.

No direct costs initially – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

26

That the Council works with all interested partners in the tourism sector and local communities to develop, support and promote a programme of year-round local events/festivals across the County.

No direct costs initially – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

27

That the Council works with partners and the private sector to identify opportunities to address the current gap in terms of open air and all-weather provision in the County.

No direct costs – officer capacity to developr. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

28

That the Council works with partners to develop community transport opportunities across the county, which should consider all feasible means of transport to address local needs.

No direct costs – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

29

That the Council works with partners to consider further investment in the electric charging points network across the County with a focus on development of the infrastructure as part of the 10 Rural Towns initiative.

LEADER funding identified to plan and develop infrastructure

30

That the Council builds upon the approach of the Tywi Valley Cycle path by looking into the feasibility of developing additional cycle paths on redundant railway lines across the County.

Feasibility study to be undertaken. Costs of delivery to be established.

31

That the Council improves promotion of its Country Cars scheme.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

32

To lobby Welsh Government to secure longer-term funding for the successful Bwcabus model.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

33

That the Council explores all possible funding options to support its highways maintenance programme to ensure that the condition of rural roads are improved.

Estimated £15m required for most urgent repairs (across the county). £3m secured to date through WG grant.

34

That the Council works with partners to look into the feasibility of developing co-operation led milk processing facilities within Carmarthenshire on a micro/macro basis and agrees a way forward once the findings are known.

Feasibility study to be undertaken. Costs of delivery to be established.

35

That the Council works with partners to look into the feasibility of developing a ‘Bwyd Sir Gâr’ brand for locally produced food.

Feasibility study to be undertaken. Costs of delivery to be established.

36

That the Council fully engages with the Carmarthenshire Public Services Board programme which is looking to develop opportunities for public sector procurement of locally produced and supplied food as well as ways the public sector can support local food producers to establish, develop and grow their businesses. If this approach is deemed successful and appropriate it could be extended to enable local procurement of other public sector goods and services which will in turn support the Carmarthenshire pound. 

Funding for initial mapping work identified. PSB leading grant application to support further development.

37

That the Council considers demand and opportunities for the development of medium sized food based business and production units.

Feasibility study to be undertaken. Costs of delivery to be established.

38

That the Council works with and supports other agencies, especially through the Farming Connect Mentro / Venture programme, to support the promotion and development of opportunities for shared farming type initiatives.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

39

To lobby Welsh Government to ensure that any post Brexit funding programmes established to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP):

a.      Fully respects the agricultural sector’s diversity whilst reflecting the economic, social, environmental and cultural contribution the sector makes to rural communities as a whole;

b.      Does not have a disproportionately negative impact on smaller-scale agricultural operations and traditional family farms

c.       Responds to the need for economic growth and is more closely aligned to wider Welsh Government economic and skills development plans.

We would also ask that the Welsh Government re-considers its plans to withdraw direct payments in the future which could destabilise the industry in Wales as it sets Wales apart from the approach of other countries who would be direct industry competitors. 

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

40

Once the Brexit position is known, that the Council works with partners to consider opportunities to enhance an internal Carmarthenshire/Wales/UK market for beef, lamb and pork produce.

No direct costs – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

41

That the Council works with partners to develop the approach and use of social enterprises as a potential model for delivery of community led projects and services across the County.

No direct costs – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

42

That the Council works with partners to develop a more co-ordinated approach to identifying, supporting and developing volunteering across the County.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

43

That the Council works with Carmarthenshire Young Farmers Clubs Federation to ensure a closer working relationship and support structure in the future.

Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

44

That the Council works with partners and communities to respond to issues relating to loneliness and isolation.

Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

45

That the Council works with Dyfed Powys Police to address rural crime issues affecting the county and to monitor any trends in terms of community cohesion issues.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

46

That the Council revisits the delivery model for leisure facilities and services in rural areas with a view to creating a sustainable and accessible service provision in the future. This should be linked with the Ten Rural Towns programme.

Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

47

That the Council works with partners to improve promotion of opportunities to increase development and use of renewable energy in the private, public and community sectors.

No direct costs initially – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

48

That the Council works with partners to support the development of community energy schemes.

No direct costs – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

49

That the Council looks to increase the use of renewable energy sources to supply Council properties.

No direct costs – officer capacity to develop. Costs to be determined once opportunities identified.

50

To lobby Welsh Government to fund and support direct action in Carmarthenshire working with local organisations to address the water pollution issues currently faced.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

51

To lobby Welsh Government to re-consider the introduction of the proposed NVZ regulations (aimed at improving water quality by restricting the period available for spreading slurry) and focus direct intervention on repeat offenders of slurry mismanagement rather than impose sanctions on all farmers.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

52

That the Council works with local communities to address fly tipping and waste management issues in rural areas, and monitors the impact of recently introduced changes at the Council’s recycling centres and landfill sites in terms of levels of fly tipping in rural areas.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

53

To lobby Welsh Government to ensure it gives sufficient focus and resources to the specific needs of rural communities in Carmarthenshire, working regionally where appropriate through a potential rural deal.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

54

That the Council facilitates an on-going discussion with interested parties and stakeholders to ensure delivery and further development of the Council’s rural affairs strategy, working in a multi-agency and multi-sector way.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.

55

To lobby Welsh Government and other national agencies to improve understanding of the challenges, pressures and logistics of planning and providing services in a rural community and to revisit its definition of deprivation to better reflect issues relating to rurality.

No direct costs – officer capacity to deliver.


b.  Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs Task Group Terms of Reference

Aim

To consider the issues effecting the rural communities in Carmarthenshire and to identify actions the Council, in partnership with other public bodies and organisations, can take in addressing those issues to ensure and support rural regeneration in future years.

 

Objectives

·         Interpret and analyse any relevant national, county and ward level information, data and research identifying any key issues that have a local effect.

·         To consult with and take evidence from as wide a range as possible of stakeholders with an interest in rural affairs to identify the particular issues effecting Carmarthenshire’s rural communities.

·         To consider the findings of recent and current national reviews into rural affairs undertaken by Welsh Government or any other organisations as appropriate.

·         To agree a way forward to addressing rural regeneration in Carmarthenshire.

 

Membership

In addition to the Chair, the cross-party group will consist of nine elected members. The group to confirm representatives as follows:

·         Three Plaid Cymru Group representatives;

·         Three Independent Group representatives;

·         Three Labour Group representatives.

 

Task Group Arrangements

·         The Task Group will be chaired by the Executive Board Member with responsibility for Rural Affairs.

·         The Task Group will meet on a monthly basis for the first six months and will be reviewed thereafter.

·         The Task Group will report its findings establishment to the Council within 12-18 months of its.

·         The Group will be supported by the Corporate Policy & Partnership Manager and officers from the Regeneration and Policy Division, Chief Executive’s Department.

c.   Stakeholders, partners and interested parties that have presented information and suggestions to the Task Group

Date of meeting

Attendance

21st November 2017

Llinos Quelch, Head of Panning and Ian Llewelyn, Forward Planning Manager provided an overview of planning matters.

Robin Staines, Head of Housing and Public Protection provided an overview of housing matters.

19th December 2017

Jane Lewis, Regional Learning & Skills Partnership Manager provided a presentation on growth industries, future skills requirements and learning requirements.

Stuart Walters, Economic Development Manager provided an overview of current economic activity in Carmarthenshire.

Rhian Phillips, Economic Development Area Manager provided information on available funding.

22nd January 2018

A presentation was received by Barry Liles, John Owen, David Davies, Mary Richards and Mike Williams from Coleg Sir Gâr.

Tony Loizou, Creighton Harvey and David Saywell from the Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation and Frank Jones from the West Wales Rivers Trust attended the meeting.

19th February 2018

A presentation was received by Aled Davies and Bronwen Gardener from NFU Cymru.

David Waters, County Executive Officer and Ian Rickman, South Wales Vice President provided a presentation on behalf of FUW.

26th March 2018

Ed Hunt, West Director of Next Generation Access for Openreach provided an update on the latest progress and next steps with Superfast Broadband roll-out.

9th April 2018

Visit to Food Centre Wales in Horeb where a presentation was received by Arwyn Davies, Business Development Manager.

21st May 2018

Mike Galvin, Digital Lead for Swansea Bay City Deal, provided a presentation on the Digital Infrastructure Project.  Also attended by Ed Hunt, Wales Director of Next Generation Access for Openreach and Tony Morgan, Local Full Fibre Network Lead for Openreach.

A presentation was received by Chief Inspector Steve Thomas on the Dyfed Powys Police Rural Crime Strategy.

9th July 2018

Eirwen Williams, Director and Carys Thomas, South West Regional Manager of Menter a Busnes provided a presentation on the support they provide.

7th September 2018

Rural Affairs Conference

5th November 2018

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism and Deina Hockenhull, Media and Marketing Manager provided a presentation on the tourism service.

Nia Ball, Chief Executive and George Reid, Chairman of Carmarthenshire Tourism Association provided a presentation.

20th November 2018

Stephen Pilliner, Head of Transport & Highways

Ian Llewelyn, Forward Planning Manager provided an update on the Local Development Plan

10th December 2018

Huwel Manley, Operations Manager West and Ioan Williams, Carmarthenshire Team Manager, Natural Resources Wales

Neil Lewis, Manager and Cara Hope, Energy Local Co-ordinator, Carmarthenshire Energy

5th February 2019

Gareth Morgans, Director of Education and Children, Simon Davies, Head of Access to Education and Lisa Grice, Childcare & Play Sufficiency Manager, Carmarthenshire County Council

Marie Mitchell, Chief Executive, and Clare Pilborough, Engagement Officer, Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services

Marc Davies, Project Manager Digital Communities Wales, Wales Co-operative Centre

9th April 2019

Dr. Mark Lang, Cardiff University provided a presentation on his Llandovery Place Review

Jake Morgan, Director of Community Services and Rhian Dawson, Carmarthenshire County Director for Hywel Dda University Health Board provided information of the rural care.

1st May 2019

Endaf Griffiths provided a summary of statistical work undertaken by Wavehill.

The meeting was attended by Nigel Williams, Castell Howell, Simon Wright, Wright’s Food Emporium and Ian Hussell, Record Industrial Brushes to obtain the perspective of the Business Sector.

 

d.  Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs Consultation - Summary Report

Rural Affairs Consultation Report 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

RURAL AFFAIRS CONSULTATION

INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT

Carmarthenshire County Council has established a cross-party Task Group to consider the issues effecting rural communities in Carmarthenshire. The aim is to identify actions the Council, in partnership with other public bodies and organisations, can take in addressing the issues raised to ensure and support rural regeneration in future years. The survey conducted from the end of November 2017 to the end of April 2018 sought the view of residents and stakeholders on the matters that are important to secure the future prosperity of our rural communities. 335 survey responses were received and one organisational response.

This report:

 

1) Outlines the approach and consultation methods deployed;

 

2) Provides an analysis of key results and findings.

 

1)    OUTLINE OF APPROACH AND CONSULTATION METHODS

 

A mixed-methods approach was employed to ascertain the views of residents, businesses, third sector groups, community organisations, stakeholders and any other sectors interested in supporting the development of our rural communities. Both qualitative and quantitative questions were designed to collect views on the issues affecting rural communities in Carmarthenshire. Specifically, the consultation focused on collecting opinions on the matters which are important to secure the future prosperity of our rural communities.

Publicity

The consultation was publicised through the Council’s press office, through means including: press releases; article in Carmarthenshire News; information on the Council’s website; online consultation portal (hosted on iLocal) and through social media feeds. Members of the Task Group also attended the Royal Welsh Winter Fair on the 27 and 28 November 2018 to launch the consultation and to speak directly with stakeholders. Partners such as the Young Farmers, NFU, FUW and town and community councils were asked to share information about the survey with their membership.   

Survey

The survey contained a number of fixed-response (closed) and free-response (open) questions. Furthermore, the survey was designed to collect both qualitative and quantitative questioning for data analysis purposes.

The consultation exercise resulted in 335 responses which was collected through paper surveys, electronically and through tablet submissions. Demographic information is presented below.

 

Demographic Characteristic

Overall %

 

Demographic Characteristic

Overall %

Male

35.1%

 

Ethnicity

 

Female

61.1%

 

White

95.8%

PNTS

3.8%

 

BME

0.7%

Relationship status

 

 

Other

0%

Single

11.4%

 

PNTS

3.5%

Married

65.2%

 

 

 

Separated

1.4%

 

Disability

 

Divorced

3.4%

 

Yes

12%

Widowed

5.5%

 

No

84%

Civil partnership

1%

 

PNTS

4%

Co-habiting

7.2%

 

Preferred language

 

Other

3.8%

 

Welsh

35%

PNTS

3.8%

 

English

64%

Sexual orientation

 

 

Other

1%

Straight

86%

 

Is your gender the same now as when assigned at birth

 

LGB

4%

 

Yes

95.4%

PNTS

10%

 

No

0.4%

Religion

 

 

PNTS

4.2%

Yes

47%

 

 

 

PNTS

15%

 

 

 

Caring responsibilities

 

 

 

 

Yes

13%

 

 

 

PNTS

5%

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)    ANALYSIS OF KEY RESULTS AND FINDINGS

 

The following section of the report includes the quantitative results of the survey. Each question posed in the survey have been individually analysed and presented below.

 

Question 1

 

Tell us what you think are the main challenges facing rural communities?

 

Respondents were asked to tick what they believed to be the main challenges facing the rural community and were able to select more than one option. Following this, they were asked to provide an explanation as to why they felt the issue ticked is a key challenge (this can be seen in the qualitative analysis summary following each question). 

 

The table below presents the main challenges selected by respondents in order.

 

Tell us what you think are the main challenges facing rural communities.

 

Total number or respondents

333

Employment Opportunities

213

 

64%

Broadband

201

 

60%

Public Services e.g. health & social care, leisure, libraries

154

 

46%

Transport

154

 

46%

Future of Agriculture

145

 

44%

Community Life

 

113

34%

Highways

106

 

32%

Land Use and Planning

108

 

32%

Housing

100

 

30%

Economic Development

89

 

27%

Education

82

 

25%

Food production and processing

48

 

14%

Other

28

 

8%

 

 

The table on the preceding page indicates that respondents believe that Employment Opportunities is the main challenge facing rural communities with 64% (n=213). This is closely followed by Broadband which 6 in 10 (60%; n=201) of respondents noted as one key issue facing rural communities.

Public Services such as health and social care, leisure and libraries; Transport and the Future of Agriculture also received a high percentage of votes with all of these key issues scoring above 40% (46%; 46%; 44%, respectively).

As pictured on the previous page, many issues such as; Community life (34%), Highways (32%), Land use and planning (32%) and Housing (30%) received a considerable amount of votes with approximately a third of respondents selecting these issues as a main challenge.

When considering the lower end of the table, Economic development (27%) and Education (25%) still received a high number of selections with approximately every 1 in 4 respondent noting as a main challenge facing the rural community. The challenge which received the fewest number of responses was Food production and processing (14%).

Presented below is a bar graph which illustrates the above findings.

 

 

The following section of the report contains the analysis of comments made in question 1. The analysis has been conducted on all 13 options as many of the comments noted the interrelated nature of options. Furthermore the analysis was conducted in this way to avoid repetition of findings.  

Question 1 - Tell us what you think are the main challenges facing rural communities?

 

Qualitative analysis

Firstly, many respondents noted that there were many challenges facing rural communities which all interact with each other. One consequence of the challenges noted by residents is that young people are being driven away from rural communities because there is lack of opportunities for work and often, the available work is poorly paid. Furthermore, currently there are not enough basic services and facilities easily accessible to keep young people in the areas. Several residents also noted that due to the lack of affordable homes, this increased the likelihood that young adults would not stay in rural areas.  

Several comments were made on the lack of quality broadband in the rural area and its wider impact on the community. As previously mentioned, respondents noted that this has a severe impact on trying to keep young people in the rural community. Many respondents also noted that the lack of broadband facilities creates problems for local businesses, those who are self-employed and has also created problems for businesses wanting to invest in rural areas. Other factors were also attributed to the lack of broadband facilities such as the future of agriculture, food production and processing, with many individuals noting that if broadband facilities were improved this would have a significant impact.

One other factor which was frequently mentioned in the comment section was the lack of transport links in rural communities, with many individuals noting how challenging it was. Several reported that the bus services are limited and do not provide any late service and do not run every day which causes a significant impact on the residents’ ability to seek employment. Some other respondents commented on the impact that the lack of public transport has on residents and has increased the likelihood of isolation and loneliness in rural areas. It was also frequently mentioned that there is a need to improve the highways infrastructure in rural communities as it poses a challenge to the future of agriculture and sustaining the economic development of rural communities.

Finally, several respondents commented on the lack of public services available in the rural area noting that this causes a significant challenge. It was often reported that these services are a long distance away with insufficient public transport available. Comments were made on the ‘worry’ and apprehension of these services being a long distance to travel with an ever-increasing elderly population. Furthermore, some respondents noted that the lack of local public services decreased the opportunity to socialise which increased the likelihood of residents becoming isolated and lonely.

Question 2

Tell us what you would like to improve about your rural community?

 

The table below presents what areas respondents would like to improve about their rural community and are presented in order of most often selected.

 

 

Tell us what you would like to improve about your rural communities?

Total number or respondents

311

Broadband                

177

 

57%

Employment Opportunities

160

 

51%

Public Services e.g. health & social care, leisure, libraries  

122

 

39%

Transport       

115

 

37%

Future of Agriculture

107

 

34%

Highways

93

 

30%

Land Use and Planning

84

 

27%

Community Life

84

 

27%

Education

75

 

24%

Housing

72

 

23%

Economic Development

68

 

22%

Food production and processing

36

 

12%

Other

30

 

10%

 

 

As seen in the table above, the two areas which received the highest number of responses were Broadband (57%) and Employment Opportunities (51%). Interestingly, these two topics were also the most popular amongst respondents when noting the main challenges facing the rural community in question 1.

 

Many other subjects received a considerable number of responses such as: Public services (e.g. health & social care, leisure, libraries; 39%), Transport (37%), Future of agriculture (34%) and Highways (30%). Moreover, topics such as: Land Use and Planning (27%), Community Life (27%), Education (24%), Housing (23%) and Economic Development (22%) were selected approximately by 1 in every 4 respondent. Food Production and processing received the fewest replies with only 12% of respondents selecting this option.

 

 

Pictured below is a bar graph containing the information above.

 

 

Question 2 - Tell us what you would like to improve about your rural community?

 

Qualitative analysis

 

Many respondents stated that the challenges facing rural communities are dependent on each other i.e.  Broadband / employment/ transport / health. Insufficient broadband service is having a significant impact on rural communities affecting employment opportunities and businesses being able to run efficiently and a barrier for young people wishing to move back to their communities to start a business. It was noted that it is essential that Welsh Government increase funding for rural communities in order to develop and install adequate broadband services. Respondents also felt that BT/Openreach should be forced to provide an immediate and honest installation date for providing Fibre to the premises (FTTP) in the county. Young professionals that grow up in rural Carmarthenshire find themselves having to move away in order to secure suitable employment. Many also noted that adequate broadband could enable more people to work from home and allow them to care for relatives or children whilst doing so, increasing well-being and reducing the burden and demand on care services for the elderly. Many respondents noted that employment opportunities would improve if adequate broadband was available throughout the county.

 

Several respondents expressed their concerns in respect of an uncertain future for the farming industry and suggested that opportunities/incentives to sustain the industry would encourage the younger generation to be more involved in it. It was also noted that adequate broadband was vital for sustaining agriculture and any other rural businesses.  Some suggested that farm businesses should be encouraged to grow trees as a future long term investment portfolio which would create employment and complement the annual cycle of agriculture. 

 

Many commented that some rights of ways/footpaths are impassable and unusable for residents or tourists, if these were improved it would increase tourism and help the local economy and create employment. Economic development is required to raise funds to maintain highways and provide public services.

 

There were many comments regarding the planning policy, it was felt that this needed to be altered in order to assist suitable development and economic regeneration in rural areas instead of being a barrier.

 

Many comments received emphasised the importance of maintaining public health services. Several respondents stated that in rural communities, people have to travel long distances to access health facilities, which creates stress due to insufficient transport access. It was felt that it is difficult to attend health appointments unless you have access to your own transport, many of the public transport routes are usually on main roads and far away from rural properties. Respondents felt that more support is needed for local groups that support social care and health and an improved system for GP appointments. 

 

A number of respondents felt that social care and health facilities such as libraries and leisure centres are vital. Some stated that loneliness is a major problem for people of all ages and can affect health and well-being. A local community initiative encouraging cross-generational social interaction would be valuable and relatively inexpensive to deliver. It is difficult to develop a community where there are no resources to link with. Many elderly feel excluded from communities due to lack of transport, public toilets, seating areas and central community venues to meet i.e. cafes, libraries. It was suggested that Day Centres should be available for holding social gatherings in the community for residents in similar situations to meet up.

 

Respondents also noted that the closure of schools, post offices and banks in rural areas had a negative impact on communities. Furthermore, many expressed that it is difficult to attract medical professionals to small rural areas.

 

Many stated that public transport is not suitable for commuters, forcing people to use their own vehicles. Moreover, respondents noted that the rail infrastructure is not viable due to the speed and timetable of the services.  

 

Another suggestion was to create networks of Community and Town Councils, as well as other stakeholders, facilitated by the County Council in order to work together on providing solutions to some of the issues raised from this survey. Specifically, these networks should be composed of individuals and groups who may have expertise or skills that are otherwise going to waste, as well as ideas and motivation to make things happen.

 

Question 3

 

Tell us what you are happy about in your rural community?

 

The table below presents what respondents noted they are happy about in their rural community in order of most often selected to the least often selected.

 

Tell us what you are happy about in your rural community?

 

Total number or respondents

264

Community Life

141

 

53%

Education

63

24%

Public Services e.g. health & social care, leisure, libraries

48

 

18%

Other

45

 

17%

Highways

46

 

17%

Housing

39

 

15%

Broadband

39

 

15%

Transport

38

 

14%

Land Use and Planning

28

 

11%

Future of Agriculture

27

 

10%

Food production and processing

25

 

10%

Employment Opportunities

20

 

8%

Economic Development

12

 

5%

 

As seen in the table above, over half of the respondents (53%) noted that they are happy with the community life in the rural community. In comparison to others, this option was selected considerably more times than any other. The second highest option which respondents noted that they were happy with in the rural community was education which approximately 1 in every 4 respondent selected (24%). 18% of respondents noted that they were happy with the Public services (e.g. health & social care, leisure, libraries) in the rural community. Some respondents noted ‘Other’ aspects they are happy with in the rural area, however, under closer inspection many of these ‘other’ features were similar to the options provided. 17% of respondents noted they were happy with highways in the rural community whilst Housing (15%), Broadband (15%), Transport (14%), Land Use and Planning (11%), Future of Agriculture (10%) and Food production and processing (10%) all received 15%-10% of individual selections. The two options which received the fewest number of responses were Employment Opportunities (8%) and Economic Development (5%) where under 10% of respondents noted that they were happy with these aspects.

Question 3: - Tell us what you are happy about in your rural community?

 

Qualitative analysis

 

Firstly, when examining the free-text responses for the above question, the majority of respondents made reference to the ‘community feel’ and ‘community spirit’ of rural areas. Respondents noted that rural areas have a great sense of community and most individuals are willing to help each other. Some noted that the community life is created by those who are passionate about keeping the rural community thriving and vibrant. Furthermore, some noted that these individuals work tirelessly to help others in their community to keep it alive.

 

Another common response received regarding what makes residence ‘happy’ in their community was the beauty of the country side. Several responses noted that they ‘loved’ the ‘peace and quiet’ of rural areas. Furthermore, some comments related to the ‘open green spaces’ and ‘fresh air’ as main sources of happiness living in the rural community.

 

Several respondents noted that the schools in the rural community were ‘very good’ providing excellent education to young children. Other responses were made regarding the transport links and roads of rural areas, stating that they were very good in comparison to other rural areas in other counties. Although highlighted as a source of happiness in rural community, many comments indicated that although satisfied with the transport and roads, many suggested that this is not the same for all rural communities and some roads require additional maintenance.

 

Question 4

 

What three things would make the biggest difference to you living and/or working in a rural community?’

 

The following section of the report displays the analysis for the above question. The results can be seen in the table below.

 

Overall Total

 

 

Topic

No. Comments

%

Highways

146

14.4

Broadband

134

13.2

Transport

116

11.4

Other

115

11.3

Public Services

88

8.7

Community Life

86

8.5

Employment Opportunities

78

7.7

Economic Development

54

5.3

Land Use & Planning

52

5.1

Future of Agriculture

52

5.1

Housing

50

4.9

Education

40

3.9

Food Production & Processing

4

0.4

TOTAL

1015

100

 

As can be seen from the table, Highways received the highest number of selections with 14.4% of respondents noting this would make the biggest difference in a rural community. This was closely followed by broadband (13.2%) and transport (11.4%). Furthermore, respondents noted that there were ‘other’ areas which, if improved, would make the biggest difference in the rural community.  Other topics included:

 

•          Investment in sustainable energy

•          Pro-active elected members

•          Ensure the Welsh language is kept and enforce incomers to learn the language

•          Banks and post offices in rural communities

•          Improved recycling - glass collection from houses

•          Parking charges

•          More bins

•          Less council tax as less services are available

•          Better relationship with local authority

•          A way to keep the young within the county

•          More support with childcare for women returning to work


 

e.   Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs Conference Report – 7 September 2018

Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs

Conference Report

 

7 September 2018                            


 

Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs

Conference Report

 

Introduction and Background

The Carmarthenshire County Council Rural Affairs Task Group was established in September 2017 with a view to consider the issues affecting rural communities in Carmarthenshire and to identify actions the Council, in partnership with other public bodies and organisations, can take in addressing those issues to ensure and support rural regeneration in future years. The Group are aiming to prepare a report with recommendations for action by March/April 2019.

 

The Group has been engaging and consulting with a range of partners and stakeholders in order to fully consider the issues facing rural communities and the Conference on the 7 September 2018 was an opportunity for many of those stakeholders to share their views and experiences in order to inform the final report and recommendations. It was also an opportunity to hear from academics and experienced community and business leaders on their understanding and approach.

 

Over 160 people attended the Conference held at the Halliwell Conference Centre, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen.

 

The event was ably facilitated by Aled Rhys Jones.

 

The following provides a summary of the key points raised by the individual speakers and from the discussion groups held during the Conference. All of the points raised will be considered by the Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs Task Group as they prepare their final report and recommendations by March/April 2019.

 

Cllr. Cefin Campbell, Executive Board Member for Communities and Rural Affairs and Chairman of the Rural Affairs Task Group

As Chairman of the Rural Affairs Task Group, Cllr. Campbell outlined some of the key issues identified by the Task Group to date. It was noted that we face a period of uncertainty but we need to respond positively for the sake of our rural communities. The Carmarthenshire Rural Affairs Task Group has undertaken wide engagement and consultation with a range of stakeholders to date and a number of key issues have already been raised.

It was noted that 60% of Carmarthenshire residents live in rural area, that is approximately 120,000 people. Our rural communities are very different in nature and have varied needs. The same solution will not work across all rural communities so we have to consider specific requirements.

Cllr. Campbell noted a few of the key issues facing our rural communities:

·       De-population of your young people is a big issue. We lose an estimated 1,000 young people from Carmarthenshire each year, many of those would be from rural areas. Approximately 60% of these are Welsh speakers;

·       We have an ageing population. There is a smaller percentage of people between the ages of 20-39 living in rural areas. This means that we are loosing future leaders as young people leave;

·       With an ageing population we have additional needs on public services;

·       GDP levels in rural areas are 70% lower than the UK average. Income levels are also lower. 87% of rural businesses in Carmarthenshire employ less than 9 people which indicates that we have a shortage of medium sized businesses in our rural communities;

·       We recognise that there is a shortage of affordable homes meaning that young people and young families cannot buy homes in rural Carmarthenshire. We aren’t unique in this sense as this seems to be an issue in rural areas across the whole of the UK;

·       Business development depends on fast broadband access and provision is currently patchy in our rural areas;

·       Banks, shops and pubs closing. Unfortunately this is a common picture across rural areas and is a particular problem for our once thriving market towns;

·       We have some environmental issues which need to be fully considered. River pollution is an area that needs to be addressed;

·       All of the above factors have contributed to the reduction in the number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire.

The Task Group has undertaken a public consultation with a total of 335 responses being received. Key headlines from the feedback indicate priority for the following areas:

o   more jobs;

o   improve broadband;

o   improve public services;

o   improve public transport;

o   support for the agricultural sector,

The Task Group has also identified a need to consider some issues further including enabling more local food processing in Carmarthenshire or South West Wales which will add value to the concept of the Carmarthenshire pound. Other areas that the Task Group are due to consider include transport, tourism, leisure and services including education, health and social care, childcare.

Brexit is of course a key issues for our rural communities. This could be the single most damaging event facing the agricultural sector since the Second World War. At this point we are still no closer to knowing what kind of deal we will strike. If we crash out of the EU with no deal or a bad deal the repercussions for rural communities will be disastrous. Cllr Campbell outlined some key statistics:

·       90% of Wales’ food and drink exports are to the EU;

·       30% Wales’ red meat is exported, 95% of that to EU;

·       £600m per year is received in Wales through direct payments from EU, 50% of that from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP);

·       Change in procurement arrangements may be a positive as this could enable a change to be able to support local procurement.

So, what is the Council already doing:

·       Swansea Bay City Deal will see a total investment worth £1.3 billion across the region. This will create an additional 12,000 jobs over next 15 years. Many of the projects will benefit rural communities as well as the more urban areas of the region;

·       The development of the Tywi Valley cycle path which will see an investment worth £8m which will boost the tourism offer of the area;

·       A Carmarthenshire Rural Enterprise Fund worth £2m has been established to support businesses;

·       There will be a focus on supporting our market towns over the next 3 years – 10 towns will be support starting with Llandovery, St Clears and Whitland;

·       A new mobile library service has been launched;

·       A new housing company has been established which will enable us to build or buy housing to tackle the affordable housing issue in the county. It is planned to provide 1,000 more affordable homes over next 3 years, with 50% of these having already been achieved;

·       Council farms are to be kept in Council ownership;

·       New Local Development Plan will look to support development in rural areas;

·       Tourism strategy to be develop.

In closing, Cllr Campbell noted that although there are black clouds on the horizon we all have a responsibility to make sure what we have inherited from our forefathers is able to thrive for the future. We cannot be overcome by the circumstances but we must find opportunities, be inspired and work together to secure and further build on the foundations of our rich and diverse county for future generations.

 

Prof. Janet Dwyer, Professor of Rural Policy and Director of the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire

Prof. Dwyer outlined the key findings of a study she had prepared on behalf of the Wales Centre for Public Policy in January 2018 ‘The Implications of Brexit for Agriculture, Rural Areas and Land Use in Wales’.

She stated at the outset of her presentation that the current uncertainty around the final Brexit deal arrangements is making it very challenging, if not impossible to plan appropriately or make any decisions in terms of future policy and approach.

In general, rural Wales has strong and weak points in terms of its economic and social position. The key sectors for rural areas are going to be: public sector; tourism; SME manufacturing and crafts; and food businesses. Studies suggest that approximately 60% of registered businesses in remote rural market towns were associated with farming. There is also evidence that a lack of medium-sized firms in rural areas is linked to poor infrastructure and services.

Unemployment in rural areas is low but average income is also lower meaning that rural poverty is an issue particularly for remote elderly households.

A high-quality rural environment is recovering slowly from past pressures, but is very vulnerable to change. 30% of Welsh rural areas are designated protected area which could be a benefit from a tourism perspective. Wales is a major source of drinking water to Wales and England. Ecosystem services depend upon sensitive land management however, flood mitigation and management is an increasing issue of concern. On-going changes in climate are indicating that Wales will be wetter.

Carmarthenshire has a balance of farm types within the county with the main sector being dairy but with a good balance of sheep, beef, general cropping, pigs, poultry and horticulture. This diversity could be a benefit to the agricultural sector in Carmarthenshire compared to other areas which are more dependent on certain types of farms. Business adaptation and survival going forward will be dependent on this diversity.

Grazing livestock farms depend upon both CAP pillar 1 and pillar 2 aid and any changes to the funding arrangements will have significant social, welfare and health concerns among farm families, particularly in Carmarthenshire, Powys and Gwynedd.

In terms of major products, trading patterns and trends sheep meat dominates Wales’ production with most being exported to the EU. More beef and dairy are consumed within the UK, however there are key imports in these sectors from Ireland. Horticulture and poultry are small but there is growth potential in these sectors however this will depend upon input / energy price trends. Tourism and leisure is an important income for some with off-farm income helping more than 40% of farm households. Forestry also shows potential for further development, especially if fuel prices rise.

Some of the key points currently shaping Brexit impacts include:

1.      Future trading conditions: Tariffs between UK and EU could be 0% - 40%, even 60%; could vary by product. Lower tariff barriers with third countries could also be a possibility for not likely for 10 years

2.      Future public funding to farms and rural areas: will these be the same, lower or higher? UK and Wales Governments have already signalled new priorities and goals. If subsidy is to continue and the Barnett formula is used to allocate funding to Wales it will immediately mean 50% less to Wales than is currently received through CAP funding.

3.      Regulatory regime & wider economy conditions: strong or weak? Currency exchange rate?

Some common themes are now starting to emerge which we need to further consider as post-Brexit arrangements become clearer:

·         Likely decline in sheep production after short-term ‘heyday’, need to restructure and re-orientate these businesses;

·         Scope for modest growth in beef and dairy sectors before new trade deals;

·         Food chain response will be key: loyalty and willingness to invest in Wales and Welsh products, longer-term pricing and market growth, larger operators will anticipate and respond quickly to change;

·         Public sector pressures may lead to an increased gap between demand and supply in rural services, especially for health & social care

·         Whilst hardly visible in statistics, farming downturn threatens:

o   Community viability in remote areas;

o   Land-use and ecosystem services: less grazing on hills, more intensive poultry or dairy in some areas – natural capital and tourism impacts?

·         Opportunities for new land uses: forestry, horticulture, vines, energy and leisure, housing?

In closing, Prof. Dwyer noted two key priorities for rural communities going forward.

The first of those is adaptation. There is a need to prepare Welsh farms, upland management and rural businesses for big changes.

·         There will need to be a focus on up-skilling and developing capacity for group action and innovation, learning and exchanging ideas.

·         There will need to be help for the older generation and struggling businesses to exit with dignity.

·         There is a need to develop farm and community-level coping strategies.

·         Promote mid-scale food/rural industry infrastructure         

·         Environment-proof these changes (e.g. no sudden cuts, balanced planning controls)        

·         Increase agri-food sector and community resilience via new long-term partnerships.

·         More partnership working between government and industry, government and communities, and key sectors of the rural economy including financial providers.

The second priority should focus on developing a new support framework.

·         There will need to be a bespoke approach to public support, to maintain and enhance natural resources, cultural heritage and rural vitality across Wales, to benefit current and future generations.

·         A long-term food, natural resources and viable landscapes scheme for Wales, with clear, agreed national targets.

·         A flexible, locally-tailored approach, developed with farmers, foresters, communities and other stakeholders, giving space for private funding as well as public, supporting economic, social/cultural and environmental outcomes together.

·         This approach will need trusted delivery agents who can deliver a smooth phase-in with intelligent monitoring and control and a fair UK budget share.

The connections between people, environment and culture will be vital for the future of our rural communities and ensuring a partnership approach across sectors will be to the benefit of all parties going forward.

 

Gerallt Llewelyn Jones, former director of Menter Môn

In his role as the director of Menter Môn Gerallt Llewelyn Jones he led the enterprise agency to become a diverse development deliverer and social enterprise business. The agency seeks to develop the economy from within, with an emphasis on adding value to natural and human resources. He shared with Conference his experiences in taking the agency forward and provided suggestions for rural regeneration in the future.

The key drivers for Menter Môn’s work include an emphasis on the rural economy via:

·         business and agriculture;

·         new product development;

·         support for communities of interest; and

·         focusing on practical solutions.

The agency also work to three underlying principles

1.      Innovation:

What makes us different makes us interesting. What makes us interesting makes us marketable. The most successful rural areas in Europe are those which add value to and harness these unique resource differentiators to develop their economies, thereby ascending the global ladder (Yves Champetier, 1990)

2.      Agitation: engage, gather, challenge and agitate to seek innovations and solutions.

3.      Pragmatism: this has to be befriended and respected.

 

The only way to respond to the challenges facing rural communities is to work together in partnership. No one group or organisations will be able to respond to the challenges alone therefore there is a need to agitating the communities of interest within Carmarthenshire. There is a need to interrogate tolerances and drive common ground between groups and organisations into objectives and projects. This is what is known as pragmatic agitation.

We must be consistently creative and develop ways to add value to what we have to offer and what makes us different. We must also take responsibility for finding our own solutions. There is no point waiting for answers from the outside, we must develop and do what works for our communities.

Gerallt Llewelyn Jones referred to the symptoms of decline and used a medical metaphor to challenge the way we respond to community development. When thinking about symptoms, prognosis, cure, we have unreasonable expectations of external saviours, of government, of inward investors which does not allow us to think beyond our analysis of the symptoms. However, government and inward investment alone cannot revitalise rural economies. The patient has to think beyond symptoms and a bad prognosis. So what do we need to do?

·         Identify a leadership group to lead a change in communities from passive to proactive.

·         Community based education: Individual Enterprise / Social Enterprise / Growing Food / Renewable Energy.

·         Strengthening community identity and belonging is critical. Chapels and schools and pubs no longer do it – new collective activities will.

·         Examine and embrace new structures for change – Community Land Trusts, Housing Trusts, Asset transfer of empty schools, Council owned land.

·         Community based skills audits: challenge inhabitants - what can you contribute?

·         Re-establish food diversity through collective community action – reconnect people to land, to growing and adding value.

·         Establish Enterprise Clubs and Fabrication Laboratories - individuals making things, innovating, provide the early resources.

·         Huge change lies ahead in distributed energy provision – rural communities can become self-sufficient in energy. Audit renewable models for your community and pursue smart energy grids.

·         Local Investment Funds can work in some areas (Be Nesa Llŷn) and provide for local determination.

·         Get Digital or Die.

Some key growth areas were also identified:

·         Renewable energy;

·         Energy storage;

·         Digital infrastructure;

·         Digital services;

·         Fabrication technology; and

·         Food production.

Gerallt Llewellyn Jones went on to outline some possible curative approaches:

·         Local Investment Funds;

·         Credit Unions;

·         Digital technology academies;

·         Fabrication technology academies;

·         Food production academies; and

·         Distributed generation of energy; energy storage;

There is also a need to secure streams of new food, craft, tourism and environmental products.

Is it also essential to nurture new generations of creative people in our rural areas, if we stop imagining, stop envisioning, stop aspiring, we will decline.

 

Panel Discussion

Cllr Cefin Campbell; Prof. Janet Dywer; Gerallt Llewelyn Jones; and Simon Wright

Question and answer session.

 

Discussion Groups

Entrepreneurship: session facilitated by David Hieatt, Huit Denim

Feedback points

1.      Confidence

2.      Hunger

3.      Why are we afraid to fail?

4.      Be ambitious for talent

5.      Don’t be frightened of young people moving away – bringing the treasure back

 

Scribe notes from discussion

·         Why does Wales lack confidence?

·         Some people have the hunger but don’t know how to harness it – need help from others to bring it out?

·         Why are we afraid to fail? We’ve got to get over ourselves

·         Need to be ambitious and nurture/develop talent. Why do we think other people are better than us?

·         Need to accept that young people will move away for education, jobs and other reasons but the key for us is to make sure that they want to come back – they can then make a significant contribution to their communities

·         Bring the treasure back

 

Agriculture: session facilitated by Euryn Jones, HSBC

Feedback points

1.      Why don’t milk processors invest in Carmarthenshire?

2.      Capture the enthusiasm  of the young people whilst lack of vision of the older generation

3.      Potential of micro milk processing as the beer industry

4.      Adapt planning policies to enable farmers to change

5.      Adapt policies to ensure the possibility of local procurement

 

Scribe notes from discussion

·         Attitudes of farmers in terms of looking for customers

·         No control on the market, market volatility

·         Need a two way conversation with the buyer

·         Lack of local milk processors. Why don’t milk processors invest in Carmarthenshire?

·         Opinions of both generations differ

·         Banks investment – do they support everybody?

·         Potato industry in Pembroekshire – contracts created. (These are different to the MMB – farmers don’t have to be part of the contract

·         County Council needs to speak to processors

·         Co-operative works well in North Wales.

·         Micro-production in Cross Hands (these produce Menyn Sir Gâr)

·         Beer brewing industry has changed with a number of small producers now in place. Can we replicate this for the milk industry?

·         How do we get young people intro agriculture?

·         ‘Get into milking’ project with Coleg Sir Gâr in Gelli Aur. Similar scheme to ‘Back to work’ which targets young, unemployed, refugees, people released from prison etc.

·         Farmers need to produce more diverse crops for human consumption

·         Geography has an effect on contracts for Farmers

·         Procurement rules – Ask / demand Local Authority to buy from Local Farmers

·         Powys Pound – keeping the money local. Procure local produce but this has meant higher costs.

·         Local Authority to explore giving preference, following leaving the European Union, to producers who adhere to the same Terms & Conditions, as when in the EU.

·         New Entrants - cost of farms and land too expensive

·         Joint Ventures and contractual agreements are options that need to be explored and encouraged

·         Focus groups for young people and current landowners

·         Current criteria and mechanisms for classing young entrants was discussed.

·         Local Authority can influence through Planning. Cost of plots / houses too expensive in rural communities for young people.

·         Local Authority will need to adapt planning policies to support change.

·         Hill farmers rely completely on subsidies

·         Taking away grants and subsidies will be to the detriment of the hills and mountains as farmers and animals are keeping the walking routes clear and suitable for walkers.

 

Infrastructure & Services: session facilitated by Llinos Quelch, Carmarthenshire County Council

Feedback points

1.      Broadband

2.      Co-location of services at community hubs and businesses – market towns

3.      Organise services jointly – health and social care

4.      Improve links between education and employment – skills gap

5.      Regulated car sharing scheme

 

Scribe notes from discussion

·         Public transport issues – community solutions? Further develop Bwca Bus model? Car share clubs? Organised hitch-hiking – example from France

·         Lack of accommodation

·         Opportunities to develop community hubs – real or virtual? One location for a number of services.

·         Co-ordination of organisations to support small businesses

·         Role of planning and development

·         Education and schools – impact on communities

·         Roads and highways – condition

·         Energy – traditional and renewable solutions

·         Social services – able to cope with future demand? Need integrated approach with health

·         Access to broadband and mobile phone networks essential: home working and businesses. Possible community led solutions – dig the trenches.

·         Universal service obligation for phones but not for broadband?

·         Affordable homes: keep young people locally. Need to hold developers to account

·         Spatial context – how will PSB get well paid jobs north of the Tywi? Sustainable rural economies. Need well distributed jobs and services, not just the M4 corridor. We need different models for different areas – tailor the service according to local need. Centralisation of services and jobs is challenging

·         Work and employment: look at procurement opportunities to support local businesses

·         Market towns: role in social and communication. Use sense of place that belongs to market towns and re-energise through local services. Need to understand the role different towns and villages can play in rural regenerations

·         Community asset transfer: third sector, partnership working but also bring the private sector on board

·         Financial services: need to keep banks (or bring them back) to market towns. Can a Council provide banking facilities? Establish Banc Cymru

·         Use redundant rail corridors to establish networks

·         Business units to be developed in market towns and villages

·         Change planning policy in order to facilitate employment and diversification opportunities on farms and rural businesses

·         Role of Town and Community Councils

·         Shortage of Doctors: role for education department to co-ordinate careers advice and opportunities for young people

·         Prepare a Welcome to Carmarthenshire pack.

 


Environment & Well-being: session facilitated by Ioan Williams, Natural Resources Wales

Feedback points

1.      Financial challenges / pressures across all sectors – we need to use our resources wisely

2.      The importance of education (formal, community based an informal). The potential that the new curriculum holds in creating a local curriculum

3.      Community Asset Transfer – how do we encourage people to take part and specifically young people

4.      Green prescribing and Prudent Health – how do we link these opportunities?

5.      The importance of linking accessibility and promotion / marketing 

 

Scribe notes from discussion

·         More pressure on Farmers financial – when conditions are better, Farmers can place more emphasis on the environment

·         Estimated value of tourism – how do we know the economic benefit

·         How do we communicate local challenges? How is aware of the main local issues?

·         Need to raise awareness of the work of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – and the support the organisation can offer?

·         There has been a shift in responsibility – we depend on regulation such as through NRW

·         The importance of education – an opportunity to promote well-being as part of the new curriculum. Schools will have an opportunity to create local curriculai/projects that can promote creativity and raise awareness amongst pupils and teachers

·         The Menter Cwm Gwendraeth project Tyfu Cynefin was highlighted – support for schools to arrange trips and raise awareness of well-being and the environment locally

·         Need to ensure actions for environmental matters – also, with Brexit there will be less grants available. We need to make better use of resources across sectors

·         It was suggested that public policies contradict each other – need to improve joint consideration of environmental, economic and cultural issues

·         Agreement on the importance of the curriculum and that more time needs to be set aside for specific modules in terms of community and environmental matters – need to use local specialists to bring things together

·         Suggestion of using concentric circles within communities and planning systems – community, area, market town, county town, county

·         Excessive rainfall as an opportunity and challenge – why don’t we utilise more hydropower

·         Hydropower / microhydro schemes – need to look at low consequence schemes

·         Need to bring back support for local micro initiatives, taking focus away from tariffs and financial benefit

·         Concerns regarding intensification of the dairy industry and maize production – advice and support is needed from NRW – e.g. emerging technologies to under sow maize with grass

·         Using volunteer base – how can we incentivise and support community interest companies

·         Example cited from Tir Coed, working in Carmarthenshire from 2019 – supporting communities into public access and areas and supporting people back into work

·         Are we looking at a damaged environment? We are not protecting our environment under current restrictions. However, there are third sector organisations who are willing to help the regulatory and statutory bodies

·         Examples were cited from Scotland, whereby forests have been handed to the local community to nurture and development – also a project in Pontrhydfendigaid where a local forest area has been handed over to the community

·         Potential with Community Asset Transfer – however, do we engage with our communities and specifically young people?

·         Who’s role is it to Lead and Agitate?

·         Importance of public transport to education – new curriculum to incorporate outside space

·         Adopt a riverbank scheme in Pembrokeshire cited as a good example – we need to look across primary and secondary sectors

·         We need to look at public transport and the links to private sectors (financial support / sponsorship)

·         Concern was noted regarding the digital age and encouraging interest in rural areas – how do we create that space?

·         Links to education and setting homework – can we set tasks to take young people to our rural areas / what’s local to them?

·         Links to organisations who work with young people – we can’t assume that young people know about open access. We need to be less risk averse – how can the Education department advise school teachers in order to encourage this?

·         We need to strengthen links to mental health, mindfulness and well-being

·         The Health Service can no longer meet demand – how do we link prudent health with our environment?

·         An example was cited from Coventry where people with mental health issues are supported through a green prescribing network. This is also available in Pembrokeshire through WWAMH and PAVO      

 


 

Visitor Economy: session facilitated by Helen Howells, Hwylus

Feedback points

1.      Improve collaboration across the whole sector

2.      Improve promotion of existing events

3.      Work on getting passing trade to stay

4.      Develop the open air offer

5.      Developing the sense of place - what’s unique to Carmarthenshire

 

Scribe notes from discussion

·         Need to improve co-ordination of effort across the sector – establish a forum to co-ordinate activity to promote the sector. Communities, businesses and local authority need to work together

·         Look at specific campaigns across the County

·         Need to look at models that have worked e.g. Myddfai; Menter Stiniog

·         Use hubs in towns e.g. new centre in Llandeilo

·         Co-ordinate resources and expertise – identify opportunities and promote

·         Better promote and market what is already going on

·         Collaboration with local businesses so that they can benefit from local events

·         Understand what attracts people to the county and build on that

·         Connect with mass participation events already taking place in the County e.g. triathlons and other sporting events, support event organisers to promote events to the wider community

·         Need to develop a conferencing centre and hotel accommodations

·         Develop camper van/caravan provision in the County

·         Public transport systems to bring visitors to the towns – possible community project?

·         Look at the Ayers concept in France

·         Natural landscape: fishing/river; water; sea; cycling; walking; castles

·         Improve the rivers to take advantage of fishing tourism

·         Fishing at Llyn Brianne?

·         Water sports opportunities at Llyn Brianne – long boat; canoe; sailing

·         Improve understanding of river life in order to enhance use of the river and support the local economy

·         Opportunity to develop street food pop ups

·         Need to include local community history on the school curriculum – need everybody in the community to sell our county to visitors

·         County of Inspiration; County of Stories

·         20 minutes from everywhere

·         embedding a brand at a county level that is marketable on a national and global level. Tie in with Visit Wales campaigns

·         Understand what makes Carmarthenshire unique and promote it: diversity of food products; design local menus based on these foods; promotion

·         Use private media companies such as Tinopolis to make short films on meu options for either posting on the internet or TV. Use local chefs e.g. Simon Wright to promote. YouTube channel for Carmarthenshire Food Tourism

·         Genus Loci approach in Italy – create a Spirit of Place

·         What is Carmarthenshire?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

The Carmarthenshire County Council Rural Affairs Task Group would like to express their thanks to all of the speakers and facilitators who contributed to the Conference. The Task Group would also like to thank the main Conference sponsors: LHP Chartered Accountant; University of Wales Trinity Saint David; and Coleg Sir Gâr. Thanks are also due to Rees Richards (Chartered Surveyors, Land and Estate Agents); NFU; FUW; and Hwylus for their sponsorship of the discussion groups.