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How a Welsh jeans firm became a cult global brand

Media captionThe Hiut Denim Company sells its jeans around the world

With a look of concentration on her face, a worker guides the sheet of denim through the sewing machine, and a pair of jeans starts to take shape.

As the needle goes up and down in a blur of movement and rattling noise, a line of stitching starts to form a neat trouser leg.

When most people think about the global fashion industry it is safe to say that a sleepy town in far west Wales does not immediately spring to mind.

Yet Cardigan, on Wales’ Irish Sea coast, has for the past five years been home to a high-end jeans-maker – the Hiut Denim Company.

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Hiut has brought jeans production back to the Welsh town of Cardigan

Beloved by a growing number of fashionistas from New York to Paris, and London to Melbourne, Hiut ships its expensive jeans around the world.

As orders arrive via its website, Hiut’s workforce of just 15 people gets to work hand-cutting and sewing the trousers from giant rolls of indigo-coloured denim that the company imports from Turkey and Japan.

Despite only making around 120 pairs of jeans a week, founder and owner David Hieatt has big ambitions to expand.

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Cardigan actually has a long history of jeans-making

While it may seem a little incongruous that a posh jeans business is based in west Wales, Cardigan (population 4,000) actually has a long history of jeans-making.

For almost 40 years the town was home to a factory that made 35,000 pairs of jeans each week for UK retailer Marks Spencer. But in 2002 the facility closed with the loss of 400 jobs when production was moved to Morocco to cut costs.

Fast forward 10 years, and when Mr Hieatt – a proud Welshman – was looking to open a factory to start making jeans, he chose Cardigan. The company name is a combination of the first two letters of Mr Hieatt’s surname and the word “utility”.

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Hiut staff make each pair of jeans by hand

“Where better to locate ourselves than in a town with a history of jeans-making, where the expertise remains?” he says.

Employing machinists who had previously worked in the old factory and not lost their years of jeans-making skills, Mr Hieatt says he was confident that Hiut could be successful if it concentrated on selling directly to consumers around the world via its website.

“Without the internet we’d have been dead within 12 weeks,” he says. “But the internet has changed only everything. The internet allows us to sell direct and keep the [profit] margin… it enables us to compete.”

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Hiut

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David Hieatt’s background in advertising has helped him boost Hiut’s profile

Now exporting 25% of its jeans, it takes Hiut about one hour and 10 minutes to make one pair, compared with 11 minutes at a highly mechanised jeans industry giant.

And rather than staff doing just one part of the manufacturing process, such as sewing on the pockets, each machinist at Hiut makes a pair of jeans from start to finish.

Mr Hieatt refers to the workers as “grand masters”. This is in reference to the fact that some of them have more than 40 years of jeans-making experience, and new joiners have to train for three years before they can start making jeans for customers.

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Workers at Hiut have decades of jeans-making experience

In running Hiut Mr Hieatt and his co-owner, wife Clare, have benefited from their experience of previously owning a clothing firm called Howies, which they sold to US firm Timberland for £3.2m in 2011.

But what has also been invaluable is Mr Hieatt’s previous career working in advertising.

This advertising nous has enabled him to very effectively market and promote Hiut, from its snazzy website, to its extensive use of social media; both adverts in people’s Facebook feeds and arty photos of people wearing its jeans.

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Mr Hieatt hopes to expand sales overseas and grow the business

“The interesting thing about social media for me is that up until Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat you had to have a huge budget in order to tell your story,” he says.

“In effect you were locked out of telling that story because the costs [of advertising and wider marketing] were too high. But social media has actually allowed the smaller maker [small firms that manufacture things] to go and tell his story.

  • This is the ninth story in a series called Connected Commerce, which every week highlights companies around the world that are successfully exporting, and trading beyond their home market.

“And actually, if David wants to beat Goliath, the best tool in the world is social media.”

Mr Hieatt also sends out free jeans to what he calls “influencers”, either fashion bloggers or famous people, in the hope that they will write or talk positively about the brand.

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Jeans show no signs of falling out of fashion any time soon

Successful examples of this have been an increase in orders from Denmark after Hiut sent a pair of its jeans to celebrated Danish chef Rene Redzepi, and also UK TV presenter Anthony McPartlin of the duo Ant Dec tweeting about the company.

As Hiut continues to win overseas orders for its jeans costing up to £230 ($300) a pair, Mr Hieatt admits that one negative issue the company has to deal with is a return rate of “about 14%” – people sending them back because they don’t fit.

To counter this problem Hiut is exploring using technology that can accurately tell from a photo a person’s perfect jeans size.

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Staff at Hiut sign the jeans that they have made

Dr Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas, fashion marketing course leader at London College of Fashion, says that if Hiut wants to expand its overseas sales it needs to “have the website in different languages” and consider partnerships that will see its jeans listed on other websites.

Back at Hiut’s small factory on the edge of Cardigan, Mr Hieatt says the long-term aim remains to recreate 400 jeans-making jobs in the town.

“Our aim is to get 400 people their jobs back. If you ask me when is that going to happen, the honest answer is I don’t know.

“But I believe in compound interest. Small things over time gather huge numbers.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42237426

Welsh university bosses’ pay ‘generally lower’

University buildingImage copyright
Betina Skovbro/Cardiff University

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Cardiff University has 128 staff paid more than £100,000 a year

The pay of university bosses in Wales is generally lower than at similar UK institutions, a report has said.

But the average annual rise of 3.6% in 2015/16 was higher than the UK-wide figure of 2.5%, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The vice-chancellor of Cardiff University had the biggest pay and benefits package at £294,000.

Wrexham Glyndwr University paid more than £343,000 including interim arrangements during the academic year.

This covered the last few months of Prof Graham Upton’s period in office. He spent 13 months as interim vice-chancellor to bring financial stability after restructuring at the university.

He had performed a similar role at the University of Cumbria a few years before.

The former vice-chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University was the only one in Wales who had a package, excluding pension contributions, higher than the UK average at £277,000.

The rise in salaries of vice-chancellors had been known in October but this latest report also looks at pay of other senior staff.

Cardiff University had by far the largest number of staff paid over £100,000 at 128.

That in part is explained by the numbers of staff in the university’s medical school.

A Cardiff University spokesman said the salaries of senior staff reflected “performance and affordability, but also take account of this institution’s size and complexity, the scale and diversity of activities”.

Swansea University had 33, Bangor had 18 staff paid over £100,000, while the other five universities covered in the report had less than 10.

Concerns have been raised about the pay of vice-chancellors at institutions such as the University of Bath, the University of Southampton and Bath Spa.

The UK’s highest paid vice-chancellor, Dame Prof Glynis Breakwell, with a salary of £468,000 said she was stepping down after a row about her pay.

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Cardiff University

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Prof Colin Riordan’s salary is independently determined by Cardiff University’s remuneration committee

Cardiff University vice-chancellor, Prof Colin Riordan, is responsible for 7,000 staff and 30,000 students and oversees a £500m turnover.

He said there has been “a level of restraint” shown in Wales over pay.

He said: “I can see that it’s a concern, but I would say that in Wales the average salary of vice-chancellors is lower than the UK average and the difference between average pay and the senior levels of pay is smaller as well.”

Prof Riordan also said the university introduced the living wage in 2014 and there was a range of people who deserved to be paid in a way “that was commensurate with what they do and with what they deserve, and that’s what we do”.

Hefcw’s report said senior pay had to reflect the fact Welsh universities were operating in a UK and international marketplace.

‘Greater restraint’

It said: “The pay of university vice-chancellors and other senior staff in Wales needs to be broadly comparable with that for other UK universities, if Welsh institutions are to be able to attract talented and ambitious individuals to these key roles.”

The report added that salaries of senior staff in Wales were “broadly comparable”, although in all but one instance vice-chancellors’ total earnings were below the overall UK mean and largely lower than those for the vice-chancellors of comparable UK universities.

It also identified a gender pay gap for senior staff in Welsh universities though it noted that by July 2016 half of Welsh universities had appointed female vice-chancellors.

The Welsh Government said it was “disappointing” to note the report’s conclusions on gender pay equality.

“Institutions have the tools to address these issues and we expect to see rapid improvements,” said a spokesperson.

It also said while greater transparency was pleasing, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams expects to see senior leaders “exercise greater restraint on pay.”

She has written to Hefcw and Universities Wales – which represents higher education institutions – to reiterate her views and to arrange a meeting for early in the New Year.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-42326964

Unemployment rate jumps in Wales

Jobs graphImage copyright
portishead1/Getty Images

Unemployment in Wales has risen to 4.7%, in the latest monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is higher than the UK rate of 4.3%.

Wales has also seen the largest rise in unemployment of all UK nations and regions, up 6,000 to 71,000, since the period between May and July.

Compared with a year ago, Wales is the only part of the UK where the unemployment rate has risen.

That was also an increase of 6,000 (0.4%) compared with the same period in 2016.

The biggest falls in the unemployment rate during that time were in Northern Ireland followed by Scotland.

Unemployment in the UK as a whole remains at its lowest rate since 1975.

Numbers employed in Wales rose by 2,000 over the quarter but have dropped by 12,000 over the year.

Plaid Cymru’s economy spokesman Adam Price said the latest figures were a “reminder that the Welsh economy is going backwards”.

He said: “Less than six months ago, unemployment in Wales was down to 4% yet it has crept back up again with few signs of increased productivity and growth in the meantime.”

Mr Price said it came in a week that the Welsh Government launched its long-awaited economic strategy.

“The economic action plan, launched with fanfare, trumpeted the fact that Wales has a lower rate of unemployment than the UK average. Less than 24 hours later the Welsh Government’s economic strategy is already failing.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-42338146

Newport brewery Tiny Rebel must change beer can design

Cans of Cwtch beerImage copyright
Wales News Service

A brewery must change the can design for one of its beers after it was deemed “too attractive” to children.

Newport’s Tiny Rebel had a complaint made about its Cwtch beer, which features a cartoon bear and graffiti.

Alcohol industry standards body the Portman Group ruled it breached packaging and marketing codes.

Brewery co-founder Bradley Cummings accepted the decision and said minor changes would now be made to the drink’s packaging.

One complaint was made by a customer who said they bought the beer thinking it was a fizzy drink and thought the can “looks very similar to Sunkist”.

Tiny Rebel argued the psychedelic pattern was inspired by the Austin Powers films and the bear was “a manifestation of the two co-founders’ personalities”.

The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel agreed the packaging could appeal to under-18s and encourage “immoderate consumption”.

But it rejected two further claims it could encourage antisocial and violent behaviour and did not state it was an alcoholic drink clearly enough.

John Timothy, secretary of the independent panel, said: “While it was clearly not the intention of the producer to promote immoderate consumption, even indirectly, companies have to be extremely vigilant around themes that could be attractive to young people, particularly when designing 33cl cans which, in the UK, are traditionally associated with soft drinks.”

Mr Cummings said: “We’ve worked with the Portman Group and the result of our chats is a minor change to our Cwtch can product by making our logo less dominant on the front of the can.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-42321674

Cold weather closes 300 schools as snow turns to ice

Some parts of Wales were covered in a blanket of snow

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Some parts of Wales have been covered in a blanket of snow

More than 300 schools across Wales have been closed after heavy snowfall at the weekend was followed by a cold snap.

Temperatures in some areas fell to -12C (10F), making it the coldest day December since 2010.

A Met Office yellow “be aware” warning for ice is in place until 11:00 GMT on Wednesday, with untreated roads and pavements potentially hazardous.

Council gritters have been out trying to keep roads open, but more disruption has hit the roads.

Overnight, temperatures plummeted to -10C (14F) in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, followed by -12C (10F) in St Harmon at about 07:45.

Arriva Trains Wales said the line between Llanelli and Craven Arms would be closed throughout Tuesday due to “multiple incidents of fallen trees or overhanging branches”.

Media captionTemperatures plummeted to -10C overnight, the coldest recorded in Wales since 2010

Currently, 320 schools have said they would not open on Tuesday.

Powys is the hardest hit with 84 closures, but Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen and Wrexham are all affected.

Meanwhile, a man had to be airlifted to hospital on Monday night after falling 80ft (25m) from a ridge on Snowdon.

He suffered back, leg and head injuries after the plunge on Crib y Ddysgl.

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Llanberis Mountain Rescue

Rhondda Cynon Taf council said roads over the Rhigos Mountain and the Bwlch Mountain would remain closed as the salt was “ineffective at such low temperatures”.

There may also be disruption to public transport, with passengers urged to check before travelling.

On Monday 600 schools closed their doors and about 500 homes were left without power.


Details of any school closures are available on council websites.

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BBC/PA

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-42318257

Welsh Assembly: Report backs more members and votes at 16

Welsh Assembly chanmber

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Sixty members is no longer enough to deliver for the people of Wales, the report said

The Welsh Assembly needs an extra 20 to 30 members to cope with its growing workload, an expert panel has said.

The expanded assembly – which currently has 60 members – should be elected by a more proportional system, it added.

The panel’s report also recommends that 16 and 17-year-olds should be able to vote in assembly elections.

Presiding Officer Elin Jones hoped the proposals would lead to broad support for a “stronger, more inclusive and forward-looking legislature”.

  • Case for more AMs ‘compelling’
  • Assembly budget rise ‘hard to justify’
  • Welsh Assembly to be renamed Parliament
  • Call to increase AMs from 60 to 100

AMs were given powers to make changes to the way they are elected under the 2017 Wales Act.

Any changes will require a law to be passed in the assembly with a two-thirds majority.

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Steve Pope

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Prof Laura McAllister admitted that calling for more politicians would be “unpopular”

Prof Laura McAllister of Cardiff University, who chaired the panel, said the assembly needed more members “to effectively represent the people and communities it serves, hold the Welsh Government to account, and be a parliament that truly works for Wales now and in the future”.

“Calling for more politicians is unpopular; but we have to report as we see the evidence,” she added.

“As its powers increase, the assembly cannot continue as it is without risking its ability to deliver effectively for the people of Wales.”

The panel also recommended a change in the voting system, to a proportional method called the Single Transferable Vote.

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National Assembly for Wales

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The electoral map may not change much – but the method of election could be very different

One option would be to pair the current 40 constituencies to merge them into 20 seats, each with four AMs, giving a total of 80.

A gender quota would boost the number of women in the Senedd, and the option of standing as a “job share” candidate would aim to encourage people with disabilities or caring responsibilities.

Votes at 16 were also recommended, as long as it was accompanied by “appropriate political and citizenship education”.

Welcoming the report, Ms Jones said the Assembly Commission – the cross-party group which ordered the study – had already recognised the assembly was “underpowered and overstretched”.

“This lack of capacity will not be resolved without bold action, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer,” she said.

“The Assembly Commission will consider the proposals in detail over the coming months and engage with people across the country and the political spectrum.

“I hope we can find a broad consensus for change and deliver a stronger, more inclusive and forward-looking legislature that works for Wales for many years to come.”

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David Davies said an increase in AMs could not be justified

Before the report’s publication, some politicians questioned the need and public appetite for more assembly members.

UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton said the idea should be put to a referendum, saying: “The last thing Wales needs is yet more politicians.

“The assembly costs £55m a year and the increase would mean a budget expansion to over £80m. Do the Welsh people think this is value for money?”

Conservative MP for Monmouth David Davies – a former member of the assembly himself – argued that AMs should work more effectively, rather than see their numbers increase.

Swansea East Labour AM Mike Hedges said he “wasn’t convinced” by calls for more AMs, saying smaller assembly committees “could achieve the same improvement in scrutiny”.

But his Labour colleague, Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, told BBC Radio Wales: “We have got many assembly members who are working 50, 60, 70 hours [a week].”

“When you start doing that number of hours are you doing that work properly?”

Glyn Davies, another former Conservative AM who is now MP for Montgomeryshire, told BBC Wales he was “not against increasing the number of assembly members” if more powers were devolved.

“You can’t suddenly say you can’t have the number of members you need,” he said.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42310943

Tax cut on Welsh homes worth up to £180,000

HousesImage copyright
Getty Images

Homebuyers in Wales will pay no tax on homes costing up to £180,000 when a Wales-specific version of stamp duty is introduced in April, the finance secretary has said.

Mark Drakeford’s original proposal was that all homes in Wales up to the value of £150,000 would be exempt.

The UK chancellor announced last month first-time buyers would not pay duty on homes up to the value of £300,000.

But the changes in Wales will not just focus on first-time buyers.

The Welsh Government said the move would reduce the tax burden for about 24,000 homebuyers here.

It said the average buyer in Wales would pay more than £500 less tax under the new land transaction tax (LTT) than under stamp duty, and about 80% of first-time buyers would pay no tax – the same proportion that will benefit from the Chancellor’s first-time buyer stamp duty land tax relief.

But for those buying a house worth more than £180,000, the rate has increased from 2.5% of the value of the house to 3.5%.

How much will homebuyers in Wales pay?

£0-£180,000 – 0%

£180,000-250,000 – 3.5%

£250,000-£400,000 – 5%

£400,000-£750,000 – 7.5%

£750,000-£1.5m – 10%

£1.5m-plus – 12%

The changes announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond will apply in England and Northern Ireland, and in Wales up until the end of March, but not in Scotland.

Mr Drakeford said: “Under the changes to the main rates of land transaction tax, which I am announcing today, around 65% of these house sales will not be liable for tax.

“The changes will benefit more buyers than the chancellor’s targeted relief for first-time buyers – more than half of buyers will benefit from a reduction in tax relative to stamp duty land tax.

“This is consistent with my aim to make tax fairer and contribute to a more equal Wales. These improved rates will help meet Wales’ needs and priorities and will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42307101

Dyfed-Powys Police cell safety call over severed fingers

Jamie Clark's injured handImage copyright
Wales News Service

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Jamie Clark lost part of three of his fingers in a Dyfed-Powys Police cell door

A police force has been urged to fit safety guards to all its cell doors after a man had part of three fingers chopped off.

Jamie Clark, 29, lost his fingers in the cell door after being wrongly accused of assaulting a police officer.

The police watchdog ruled there was insufficient evidence to bring a misconduct case against any officers.

But the Independent Police Complaints Commission did call on the force to consider cell door “finger guards”.

Mr Clark, of Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, was initially arrested after a row with his girlfriend in June 2016 but was accused of attempting to assault PC Christopher Burton at Llanelli police station following his arrest.

The father-of-one won a legal battle to seize CCTV footage of the incident.

He gave the video footage to the IPCC as part of a formal complaint over his treatment.

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Wales News Service

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CCTV footage shows him naked running at the cell door as it was being closed

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Wales News Service

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Mr Clark was cleared in court after his solicitor fought to obtain a copy of the CCTV from police

An IPCC spokesman said: “The force accepted recommendations to remind custody officers that significant events and decisions should be recorded in detail and to ensure custody staff training looks at minimising any risk of injury to detainees during the closure of cell doors.

“Dyfed-Powys Police also planned to assess the possibility of installing finger guards in custody suites.”

Mr Clark, a self-employed painter, claimed he was pepper sprayed, stripped naked and forced into a cell by half a dozen officers.

“I went to get out but that’s when I felt this huge pain and felt my flesh being torn away when the door was shut,” he said last year.

“I was screaming in agony. I was begging the officers to open the door but no-one helped me.”

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman said it accepted the conclusion from the IPCC.

The force has “complied with recommendations from the IPCC, including adding a new element around finger safety to training and reviewing the possibility of finger guards”, he added.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-42309161

Schools across Wales shut as cold weather continues

Media captionWales could see its coldest temperatures of the year so far on Monday night after a weekend of snowfall

Nearly 600 schools across Wales are to close on Monday after the Met Office issued a weather warning for ice.

Schools in 14 counties have confirmed closures as snowfall and hazardous conditions persist across large parts of the country.

The yellow “be aware” warning runs from 04:00 GMT on Monday to 11:00 on Tuesday, with the Met Office warning of injuries from slips and falls.

More than 500 homes are without power, mostly in Monmouthshire.

Media captionThe hurt man was rescued after a Ton Pentre sledging accident

The school closures so far are in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Carmarthen, Ceredigion, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen and Wrexham.

Meanwhile, a man was taken to hospital with “potentially severe injuries” after a sledging accident on the hillside above Ton Pentre, in Rhondda Cynon Taff, on Sunday evening.

In a separate rescue, a 24-year-old man fell almost 330ft (100m) while climbing Tryfan, a mountain in Snowdonia.

A team from RAF Valley, with the help of a team leader from Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue, put him in a stretcher and got him off the mountain. He was taken to hospital with multiple injuries to his chest and shoulder.

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Penarth Coastguard

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The casualty was airlifted from Rhondda Fawr to Blackweir, Cardiff after a sledding accident

Three mountain roads in Rhondda Cynon Taff remain closed on Monday morning – the A4233 between Maerdy and Aberdare, the A4061 Bwlch road between Treorchy and Nantymoel, and the A4061 Rhigos road between Treherbert and Hirwaun.

The A470 is also blocked in both directions between Llyswen and Builth Wells in Powys because of a fallen tree.

And one lane of the M48 Severn Bridge is closed in both directions to stop vehicles being blown into the next lane by strong winds

However, the Crimea mountain pass at Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd has reopened.

The railway line between Abergavenny and Hereford is blocked by trees on the line, with services cancelled or delayed.

Arriva Trains Wales said tickets would be accepted on Cross Country or Great Western services but apologised for no alternative bus services being available due to road conditions.

Wales was hit by heavy snow all weekend, causing disruption to road, rail and air travel.

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Belinda Laidlaw

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An early morning shot of a garden in the Brecon Beacons

On Sunday, six British Airways flights travelling to Heathrow airport were diverted to Cardiff Airport because of adverse weather in London.

Planes departing from Zurich, Zagreb, Vienna, Nice, Gibraltar and Madrid landed in Wales instead.

Some passengers described lengthy delays and a lack of help from the airline.

Greg Petruska, who was travelling from Zurich, tweeted: “This is what the @britishairways #hostage situation at Cardiff looks like. No BA staff… no bags… no communication… broken vending machines so no food.”

Skip Twitter post by @GPet73

End of Twitter post by @GPet73

Julia Herd from Cookham in Berkshire was also on the plane from Zurich with her husband, two-year-old child and her mother, who has mobility difficulties.

She told BBC Radio Wales the flight was delayed for around 90 minutes leaving Zurich and had almost reached Heathrow when it was diverted to Cardiff, where they were kept on the plane for about an hour without any information.

Ms Herd added: “They finally got us off the plane at Cardiff and and then were told there were buses to Heathrow but we were one of five planes which had been diverted to Cardiff. Everybody was then sent into the baggage area. We then waited for two-and-a-half hours with absolutely no information.

“By the time the streams of people started coming out there were no buses left available… and people were told that they had to wait, potentially for hours. Fortunately my husband had the foresight to pre-book a car which we eventually got in to.”

A BA spokesman said the company had provided refreshments and hotel accommodation, while Cardiff Airport advised passengers due to fly to check its live flight information before travelling.

Image copyright
Karen Berger

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The bridge at Usk, Monmouthshire, after snowfall at the weekend

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Twitter/Barry James

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The view from the top of Snowdon

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Alice Star

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The goalposts are just about visible at Moodies football pitch in Heolgerrig, Merthyr Tydfil

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Dafydd Murray

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A solitary sheep in the snow at Capel Curig, Snowdonia

North and mid Wales saw the worst of the weather at the weekend, with Sennybridge, near Brecon, Powys, having 30cm (12in) of snow on Sunday.

Several roads were closed throughout the weekend and there was also heavy disruption to rail services between Newport and Abergavenny and in Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, where snow blocked the lines.

Hundreds of homes were left without power in mid, west and south Wales on Sunday due to the weather, with hundreds still not yet reconnected.

Details of any school closures are available on council websites.

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BBC/PA

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-42302859

Archbishop of Wales calls to revive ‘disheartening’ school assemblies

School assemblyImage copyright
Getty Images

The new Archbishop of Wales wants the church to help revive school assemblies because he thinks they can be “wearying” and “disheartening”.

The Most Rev John Davies, recently enthroned as the 13th leader of the Church in Wales, said addressing whole schools at once was a “huge challenge”.

The traditional morning assembly often includes common song or prayer and school announcements

Mr Davies has also said he wants to “refresh” the church in Wales.

Mr Davies, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon since 2008, has called for the Church in Wales to “pause and draw breath” after his appointment.

Now the father-of-two wants to help revive the school assembly.

“One of the things I found quite wearying when I was in school was assembly” he told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme.

“I’ve never really seen the benefit of dragooning hundreds of children into a hall simply to go through a ritual that means something to some but not necessarily to others.

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The Church in Wales

“One of the disheartening things I’ve experienced in schools is you can get through an assembly and maybe get a message through and have a period of stillness and silence at the end of it all, but within an instant and you’re into the school announcements and any sense of spirituality vanishes.”

Mr Davies has called for schools to consider smaller gatherings as that is his “preferred way of operating”.

“Trying to address an entire school with an age range of 11-18 is a huge challenge,” he said.

“But I think spirituality addressed properly, trying to speak to a soul of an individual rather than a mass of people is still very important.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-42296530