· The Chair referred to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and stated that, on behalf of members, staff and residents, he had conveyed the County’s deepest sympathies to the Royal family. He added that he had also had the honour of announcing the Proclamation of the new Sovereign on the steps of County Hall, Carmarthen;
· The Chair referred to the recent passing of former County Councillor Jan Williams who had represented the Lliedi Ward and who was also a former Mayor of Llanelli Town Council and, on behalf of the Council, extended his sincere condolences to her family;
Whereupon Members and Officers observed a two minute silence;
· The Chair stated that he and his consort had had the pleasure of attending a number of events over the last month including the Llanelli Model Railway fair at Pembrey Country Park;
· Cllr. Ann Davies expressed condolences to the family of Maldwyn Harris who had recently died following a tragic accident on the family farm at Penybanc, Llandeilo;
· Cllr. Ann Davies congratulated members of Carmarthenshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs on their recent successes in numerous competitions at national level over the last few months including winning the Public Speaking competition in Stafford and winning a cup for the biggest increase in membership over the past year. Cllr. Davies paid tribute to all those volunteers who helped train the young farmers in various skills and disciplines, including Cllr. Jean Lewis, and congratulated Carmarthenshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs on the excellent work it did for young people;
· The Leader, at the Chair’s invitation, commented that in spite of recent Government changes, including a new Prime Minister, some of the challenges, such as the cost of living, continued and had indeed, worsened, following decisions made in London. The impact of those decisions would, he considered, have a big impact not just individually but on households, businesses and the public sector across the county and also for the County Council. He stated that, mindful of next year’s budget, officers had already started the work of planning and that Cabinet would be considering a report next week outlining the challenges faced by the Council including inflation, energy prices and other factors with the Council looking at a £22m gap in its budget. The Leader advised that there was a need for everybody to work together to understand the situation and find solutions. This, he added, was not a challenge unique to Carmarthenshire but throughout the country and those discussions between the WLGA and Welsh Government had already commenced. Leaders and Cabinet members across Wales were concerned about the impact on services across Wales and if there was no additional money from either Welsh Government or Westminster there was a tremendous risk for some services that residents required. The Leader was of the view that there was a moral duty on the Council to do all it could to support residents and businesses through this period and he added this was being done and would continue to be done. He referred to the fact that since the previous Monday payments of about £200 were going to those households who were eligible as part of the winter fuel payment. In addition Cabinet was due to consider a report on the cost of living - under the discretionary cost of living fund there was £1.5m in Carmarthenshire to be used hopefully to provide additional support for individuals and those organisations that supported them. The Leader reminded Council of the idea of supporting those individuals who had difficulty in terms of heating their homes and officers had been requested to start on the work of planning and delivering on that. He added that the county council also had assets such as libraries, leisure centres, etc which could potentially be used over the winter months. Furthermore there were other organisations such as community councils and organisations in the sector who were keen to be part of that agenda. The county council’s task therefore, in the Leader’s opinion, was to make sure that such assets were used and offered but that it also worked with the other sectors to ensure that there was provision across the whole of the county over the winter months. The Leader stated that the Council was very keen to work with organisations across the county and with that in mind an event was being organised in the next month where there would be an opportunity for members and officers of the council and officers from other organisations to come together to make sure that the challenges could be met. On a final note he expressed the view that the Council could not face this challenge by itself but had to collaborate across all sectors and plan what could be done.