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Bottled water company to double workforce

The family business started in 1991 Credit: Princes Gate

Princes Gate Spring Water has announced plans to invest £5.5 million in a major expansion project, which aims to double staff numbers and more than triple production volumes.

As part of the project, the Narberth-based business is investing in a new bottling line, which is capable of producing 37,000 bottles an hour - increasing their annual production to a potential 370 million.

The expansion is being supported by £250,000 business finance from the Welsh Government.

Over the next three years the company is expected to create 25 new jobs, bringing the total number of people working on site to over 50.

This investment will create a range of news jobs in rural Wales and help Princes Gate Spring Water - one of our iconic Welsh brands - reach new markets both in the UK and overseas and increase turnover.

– Edwina Hart, Economy Minister

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Unions condemn decision to renew rail franchise

Transport unions have questioned the decision to allow FirstGroup to continue to run the First Great Western line - which runs from London Paddington to Swansea - accusing the Government of making "behind-closed-doors deals"

Hitachi's express trains will come into use on the line in 2017. Credit: ITV News

The train company will continue to run the line until April 2019 promising, along with the Government, new trains, more seats and faster journeys.

They claim a major timetable change in December 2018 will mean journey times between Cardiff and London will drop to 1 hour 45 minutes, compared to the current typical journey time of 2 hours and 7 minutes. They also claim journey times between London and Swansea will be cut by up to 20 minutes.

First Great Western will be also responsible for bringing in new inter-city express trains built by Japanese company Hitachi.

As previously announced they will come into service from summer 2017 on trains running between London, the Cotswolds, Bristol and South Wales.

But the Campaign for Better Transport questioned whether the franchise award - a direct award without a competition being held - was an example of "rewarding failure".

"Passengers will welcome the news that new trains are on the way to help reduce overcrowding. However, the rolling stock won't be arriving anytime soon, and questions remain about whether the franchising system is rewarding failure...FGW must use this investment to respond to passenger criticisms and improve services. In the future, the Department for Transport needs to give passengers a much clearer voice in discussions over franchise extensions."

– Martin Abrams, Campaign for Better Transport

"The so called market-driven rail franchise system has been reduced to a farce...Obviously, we welcome the fact that 7 billion is being spent on modernising the lines to Wales and the West Country but it is surely worth noting that it is our money that is being spent. The taxpayers are footing the bill."

– Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union
  1. Nicola Hendy

North Wales slate industry bids for World Heritage status

North Wales' slate industry could one day join the likes of the Egyptian pyramids and the Great Barrier Reef, by becoming a designated World Heritage Site.

The application is being supported by many of the tourist attractions in the area who believe World Heritage status could bring a renewed interest in the slate industry.

Nicola Hendy reports from Blaenau Ffestiniog:

Unemployment down in Wales - but still above UK average

The unemployment rate in Wales has fallen to 6.2 per cent - but remains higher than the UK average.

Between November and January, 92,000 people here were out of work.

In the previous three months, the jobless figure was at 105,000 - or 7.1 per cent.

The unemployment rate in Wales has fallen by 0.9 per cent. Credit: PA

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, for the UK as a whole, the unemployment rate has dropped slightly to 5.7 per cent.

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