A LABOUR administration in Carmarthenshire would try to protect small and rural schools from closure, introduce “skip days” for people to get rid of junk, and consult residents about increasing council tax for second homes by up to 300%.

The party, which is currently in opposition, has published a 32-page manifesto ahead of the council elections on May 5.

It would explore ways of enforcing minimum energy efficiency standards in the private housing rental sector, create an extra 100 allotments, and introduce a subsidised Actif membership card for all residents to encourage visits to country parks, leisure, culture and tourism facilities.

The manifesto contains more than 110 pledges and aspirations – some reflecting Welsh Labour pledges, most specific to Carmarthenshire.

The pledges fall under nine broad categories, and here are some of them.

Education:

– Fast-track £73 million of investment in new schools while seeking to protect small and rural schools.
– Try to ensure all pupils can be educated in the language of their choice, which could mean more dual stream schools, and increase opportunities for pupils in all areas of Carmarthenshire.
– Hold consultations within a year for proposed new schools including Ysgol Dewi Sant (Llanelli), Ysgol Bro Banw and Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman (Ammanford), and Ysgol Teilo Sant and Ysgol Gynradd Llandeilo (Llandeilo).
– Provide free school meals to all primary school pupils.

Housing:

– Deliver 2,500 homes over the next five years in tandem with the private sector and housing associations, with a focus on more bungalows.
– Explore ways of enforcing minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rental sector.
– Improve the turnaround time for vacated council properties so new tenants can move in faster.
– Review the council housing stock to see if insulation can be improved and energy-generating devices installed.

Social care:

– Increase the proportion of residential and home care services run in-house by the council.
– Relaunch a meals on wheels service.
– Focus on preventative care, and improve support for people living with dementia and their families.

Transport:

– Create a council-owned bus company in collaboration with neighbouring authorities
– Commission a feasibility study into restarting rail services on the Carmarthen to Llandeilo line, and press for immediate investment for passenger trains to return on the Amman Valley line.
– Ensure every pupil has access to free or subsidised school buses to primary and secondary schools.
– Fair and equitable car parking charges across the county.

Environment:

– Invest substantial sums of money into local green energy projects, and plant one million trees over the next decade.
– Cut levels of nitrogen dioxide to meet legal limits in the most polluted areas.
– Revise the council’s local development plan to ensure new private housing estates provide electric vehicle charging points.

Sport, culture and tourism:

– Build a new leisure centre in Llanelli and in the Amman Valley with 3G pitches and running tracks, and deliver 3G pitches elsewhere.
– Introduce an affordable bike and e-bike hire scheme.
– Support the successful Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Carmarthen.

Sustainable development:

– Prioritise capital investment in town centres to regenerate them, and create “green, vibrant” high streets in Llanelli, Ammanford and Carmarthen.
– Deliver the already agreed £199.5 million Pentre Awel wellness and life science village, Llanelli.
– Create a network of storage units for local tradespeople to lease, helping them store equipment and materials between jobs.

Council workforce:

– St David’s Day to be a bank holiday for council staff.
– Create in-house bank of employees to cut down agency staff costs.
– Free Welsh lessons and any necessary paid time leave to learn Welsh as part of staff development.

Communities and language:

– Support the purchase of land to create starter farms for young farmers on a fixed two-year basis.
– Work alongside farmers and National Resources Wales to create nature-based flood management on major river catchments.
– Support the Welsh Government’s ambition for one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Carmarthenshire Plaid Cymru, which has run the council for the last seven years in coalition with the Independent group, has published its manifesto.

In the forward to the Labour manifesto, Carmarthenshire Labour leader, Cllr Rob James, reflected on the Covid pandemic, a “disruptive” exit from the European Union, and war in Ukraine.

He described the manifesto as comprehensive and progressive.

“We believe that Carmarthenshire Council can be a force for good,” he said.

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