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Neath Port Talbot consultation could lead to transport charge for pupils attending Welsh Medium Schools says Assembly Member

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A coastal town's decision to "ban" mankinis from public areas has helped reduce anti-social behaviour and resulted in a boom for the local tourist economy, police and community leaders have said.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has raised a concern that a proposed consultation by Neath Port Talbot Council on access arrangements to Welsh medium Schools in the County Borough could see charges being imposed on pupils who currently enjoy free transport to the school of their choice.

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Officers in the Cornish town of Newquay said a "robust" attitude to inappropriate behaviour in public has helped shed its "Wild West" image as a haven for stag and hen parties, in favour of a family-friendly destination.

 

They say a determination to tackle anti-social behaviour such as excess drinking, public disorder and the wearing of inappropriate clothing such as mankinis - skimpy male bikini-style bathing costumes popularised by the comedy character Borat - has helped reduce crime in the town.

 

It comes as figures show anti-social behaviour and criminal activity in the town has dropped since 2009, when residents marched through Newquay in protest at a perceived lack of action following the deaths of teenagers Paddy Higgins and Andrew Curwell, who fell from cliffs following separate visits to the holiday destination.

 

The scheme subsequently won praise from the Home Office, with Cornwall Council's marketing department targeting holidaymakers from outside the county in an effort to rid its reputation of a lax attitude to underage drinking and anti-social behaviour.

 

Resident Dave Sleeman, who helped organise the 2009 protests and has since become the town mayor, said the resort is "unrecognisable" now from its previous image.

 

He said: "I remember back in the 2000s you couldn't walk the streets on a Saturday without seeing someone wearing a mankini or what have you."

A mankini wearer in the Cornish town of Newquay.

In a slightly surprising result, the Grocer magazine says Sainsbury's is the cheapest of the big supermarkets right now.

Each week the magazine looks at the cost of 33 items across the four major supermarkets: Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco.

 

And for the first time in 2015, Sainsbury’s has taken top spot in the latest survey, with the basket of 33 goods coming to a total cost of £56.40.

 

It was just a matter of pence ahead of Morrisons (£56.88) and Asda (£56.91). However it was easily ahead of its biggest rival Tesco, where the basket came to £58.62.

 

The Grocer said that Sainsbury’s came top this week because it had more discounted items than any other store – 12 of the 33 basket items were on offer, compared to nine at Morrisons and Asda.

 

The Grocer said: “Sainsbury’s has kept saying it’s getting cheaper since the start of the year but there’s been very little evidence in The Grocer 33. All that has changed this week as it recorded its first win of a competition that is in its 47th of 50 weeks.”

 

It’s worth noting that The Grocer doesn’t include deep discounters Aldi and Lidl in its weekly survey, so they may still work out cheapest.

 

You can use the website My Supermarket to compare prices at Aldi, Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

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At present a child attending a Welsh medium School, who meets the distance criteria set down in law, is able to access free transport to and from school. This applies even though there may be an English medium school nearer to the pupil’s home due to the legal requirement on the council to promote access to Welsh medium education and because Welsh medium schools do not tend to be community based in the same way as other schools.

 

Only 73% of pupils in a Welsh medium primary school in Neath Port Talbot currently go on to study in a Welsh medium comprehensive. That is the second lowest transfer rate in Wales. In Swansea 98.6% of pupils will transfer schools whilst staying within a Welsh medium environment, in Bridgend it is 91%, whilst in Newport the figure is 98.6%.

 

At the Council’s Children and Young People Cabinet Board today members are being asked to approve a consultation on future access arrangements to Welsh medium schools. Such a consultation indicates that some change, including the possibility of charges is inevitable.

 

“Whilst I understand that Neath Port Talbot Council wish to regularise their school transport policy so that it is consistent with Welsh Government guidance and the law, I am concerned that the outcome of this consultation will be the introduction of charges for pupils using council transport to attend Welsh medium schools,” said Mr. Black. “Because there are so few Welsh medium schools, pupils attending them will inevitably have to travel more than the statutory minimum of 2 miles to primary and 3 miles to secondary schools. The introduction of a charge will hit many families who choose to educate their children through the medium of Welsh very hard.

 

“There is an additional concern that the introduction of a charge will lead to fewer children opting for a Welsh medium education or going on to study through the medium of Welsh at secondary level. Given the plans by the Council to develop a second Welsh medium comprehensive school in Sandfields, that could lead to a lower take-up of places at this new school. I would urge the council to ensure that free transport continues to be available for pupils going to Welsh medium schools.”

AM for South Wales West

Peter Black

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A thief who used a car to smash his way into a golf club has been sent to prison. Paul Newcombe, aged 35 of Llansamlet, drove a car into the front of Mond Valley Golf Club in Clydach in May last year before making off in a van which was later found containing stolen golf equipment.

 

During his getaway he was pursued by police officers and drove off-road onto waste ground where his vehicle got stuck.

 

He was arrested for the golf shop burglary and other thefts. Newcombe appeared at Swansea Crown Court where he was sentenced to two years for offences of burglary, theft, dangerous driving and handling stolen goods.

The damaged Mond Valley Golf Club and inset Paul Newcombe.

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Swansea City Sainsbury store on Quay Parade.