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Don’t mention Parc Howard

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THE MAN who caused a furore in a public meeting at Parc Howard in 20 15 by saying ‘places like this end up getting bulldozed’ and who was latterly exposed as an introducer for Loca Ventures, the company vying to take over the park, has popped up in another bid for property in Llanelli.

Tony Rees from Cornelly, near Porthcawl, attended a public meeting called by County Councillor John Jenkins on Saturday (Jun 25) to discuss plans to sell off the old YWCA on Queen Victoria Road.

Councillor Jenkins told The Herald: “Before the meeting started , Mr Rees told me , ‘ i f anyone brings up Parc Howard not to allow then to speak’. ”

Councillor Jenkins said that he was not really sure why he was asked to curtail any mention of Parc Howard until he got home and Googled Tony Rees.

He told us: “I saw the reports regarding Parc Howard and I was very concerned about what I read. Given the proposals for the YWCA, what I read cast doubts about the credibility of Tony Rees.”

Councillor Jenkins said that there was a mystery man in the meeting who, when asked, said that he was an associate of Mr Rees and to whom Tony Rees referred as ‘the money man’.

parchowardhomeSpeaking about the proposed plans for the building, which was initially to provide 15 bedsit-type rooms, Councillor Jenkins said: “What they were proposing was something I would not keep a dog in. It was worse than the worst university accommodation. There were 15 bedsits and one bathroom. I objected to the plans , as did Llanelli Town Council.”

NOT NIMBYISM

“We would have sent a representative to speak and object if it had gone to a planning meeting, ” Cllr Jenkins continued .

“What the area needs is sensitive development like the flats that have been created at the former Wanderers club a few doors up. This is not NIMBYism. I am open to residential development and the building needs to be put back into use.

“I believe that there are significant amounts of money available as grants from the Welsh Assembly Government for putting dilapidated buildings like this back into use. Given those vast amounts of money, I have serious concerns ; the council have to be careful about whom they choose as their bedfellows.”

A concerned resident, who spoke to The Herald on condition of anonymity, said: “As you probably know, the situation has changed somewhat because Mr Rees has ‘responded to community concerns’ and has withdrawn the application for bedsits at the former YWCA building. His plans encountered such hostility at the residents’ meeting and so many objections had been lodged that they are exploring alternative plans.”

The resident told us: “Robert Davies, the planning officer for the Queen Victoria Road scheme , informed John Jenkins, our County Councillor, that he was minded not to put the application before the Planning Committee.

“A new application is likely to be made for six or seven self-contained flats but this is still squeezing them in.”

A further resident said: “There was a mysterious ‘investor’ introduced at the residents meeting, presumably the man who will provide the capital for the project. Interest and loans will be repaid from rents and the risk is reduced by the high demand for low-cost accommodation for single people. Income is assured if rents are set at Housing Benefit levels. Through Housing Benefit, the tax payer is always likely to have an important role in underpinning this kind of business model which begins with identifying a decaying property which the owners are desperate to be relieved of responsibility for and can therefore be bought very cheaply.”

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

The feeling of residents after meeting with Mr Rees and his unnamed ‘money man’ was that many questions remained unanswered . There was concern about the nature of the development and the tenants to whom it would be marketed. Despite attempts to re-assure them, residents felt the accommodation was likely to be let to vulnerable people with a high risk of disturbances related to drug and alcohol abuse and that tenancies were also likely to be transient.

In that respect , they noted the content of a report from the County Council’s Environmental Health Officer, Gareth Jones, who wrote: “P roperties of this size and nature become unmanageable because of: Anti-social behaviour, Noise, Tenant disputes, Refuse management, Fire risk, Parking facilities, Cleanliness and management of communal areas . ”

A spokesperson for local residents told The Herald : “This venture would not be a valuable addition to the housing stock. It is not high quality accommodation – not the sort of accommodation any of us at the meeting would wish ourselves or any member of our families to end up having to live in. It is not designed to address the shortage of housing for single people – it is designed to take advantage of that situation by profiting from temporary, low -investment accommodation that meets only the most basic legal requirements.

“The scale of it and the low standard meant it is likely to attract only transient residents. Concern was expressed about pressure on planning committees to approve ventures like this because of Welsh Government policy.”

HERALD ASKS QUESTIONS

The Herald asked Mr Rees the following questions via email:

  • Following your own and your associate’s meeting with local residents concerned about your plans for the redevelopment of the above property , I would be grateful if you would provide a statement regarding your intentions for the same.
  • Please confirm whether funding from either local government or Welsh Government grant will fund any part of any refurbishment of the premises.
  • Please confirm whether it is your intention to acquire the freehold of the premises, whether by use of a corporate entity or in your own right.
  • Having spoken to some people who were at the public meeting , we have been told that you asked a local councillor not to allow one member of public to raise the issue of Parc Howard. Could you either confirm or deny this?

We have so far received no reply to our enquiries.

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Llanelli fundraiser boycotts her bed for Action for Children

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A LLANELLI woman is boycotting her bed for 24 hours this month in order to raise funds for Action for Children, the charity that runs the Carmarthenshire REFLECT project, based in the town.  REFLECT offers support to women whose children are in foster care or have been adopted. 

Helen Antoniazzi felt that this year it was particularly important to raise money to help Action for Children mitigate the impact of the pandemic.  Over the course of 24 days, Helen has committed to giving up an hour of sleep and to swap it for some physical activity.  She is asking her supporters to support her in this by donating money.  Helen’s efforts will culminate on the 9th July which is the official #BoycottYourBed night, Action for Children’s flagship annual fundraising event. 

Speaking about why she decided to take on this fundraising challenge, Helen said:

“I’ve long supported the crucial work that Action for Children do to support children, young people and families, but this year it felt even more important than ever to do what I could to raise money.  That’s why I decided to give up an hour’s sleep a night for 24 days as part of Action for Children’s Boycott your Bed campaign.  For each of these hours I’ll be swapping my sleep for physical activity.

“Life was difficult for vulnerable children and their families before the pandemic. Now things are even harder. Action for Children’s frontline, key workers have kept 99% of services open throughout the pandemic, continuing to support vulnerable children, young people and families who were already in desperate need.

“The number of families relying on Universal Credit has doubled. Households with children are twice as likely to have suffered financial hardship – like falling behind on bills or borrowing to pay for basics – because of coronavirus. At the start of the pandemic, Action for Children launched a Coronavirus Emergency appeal which has provided essentials, like food and warm clothes, to around 20,000 children and young people. But more needs to be done. 4.3 million children in the UK are living in poverty. That’s 9 children in every school class of 30.”

Action for Children supported more than 27,000 children, young people, parents and carers in Wales last year with Nina Rice, the charity’s fundraising Regional Manager for Bristol, Bath and South Wales, adding: “Helen is showing tremendous commitment by swapping her bed for an hour’s exercise every day for 24 days.  It is great to see such passion for an event that will improve the lives of the children, young people and families we proudly support in our communities and that have been stretched to the limit during the pandemic.

“We love Helen’s unique take on Boycott your Bed, which is all about sleeping somewhere extraordinary on 9 July (Action for Children’s birthday) whilst raising awareness and funds for our charity.  I hope she inspires others to do something equally challenging as we approach the big night as this is a remote event, where anyone can take part, wherever they are based. Helen will join everyone and come together virtually on the night, to enjoy an evening of virtual entertainment.”

Anyone wishing to support Helen in her bid to raise money can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/helen-antoniazzi

 If you want to spend the night in the most unusual place you can think of while enjoying a star-studded evening of virtual entertainment you can register here: https://boycottyourbed.actionforchildren.org.uk/community-registration/

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NHS Wales announce first and second dose vaccination walk-in clinics

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Hywel Dda UHB is running walk-in vaccination clinics this week. There is no need to contact the health board to book an appointment and if you have already registered using the health board’s online form, you are still welcome to attend the walk-in clinic.

If you have a scheduled appointment, please keep your appointment time. 

With the rise in cases across the UK it is important that as many people come forward for their first and second vaccines.

First vaccine walk-in clinics for anyone aged 18 and over who hasn’t had their first COVID-19 vaccine yet:

  • Aberystwyth (Thomas Parry Library, SY23 3FL): Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm.
  • Cardigan (Teifi Leisure Centre SA43 1HG): Friday 25 June, 9.30am to 5pm.
  • Carmarthen (Halliwell Conference Centre, UWTSD, SA31 3EP): Monday 21, Tuesday 22, Wednesday 23, Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm. 
  • Llanelli (Ffwrnes Theatre SA15 3YE): Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm. 
  • Tenby (Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ): Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June, 10am to 8pm

Second vaccine walk-in clinics (please only attend if the centre is giving the same vaccine that you had for your first dose. This information can be found on your vaccine card.)

  • Aberystwyth (Thomas Parry Library, SY23 3FL): Monday 21, Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 June, 10am to 8pm. Second dose Moderna vaccine only if you had your first dose on or before 11 April.
  • Llanelli (Ffwrnes Theatre SA15 3YE): Monday 21, Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 June, 10am to 8pm. Second dose Moderna vaccine only if you had your first dose on or before 11 April.
  • Tenby (Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ): Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm. Second dose Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine only if you had your first dose on or before 25 April.

If you are unable to attend a walk-in clinic, you can still request your first vaccine by completing this form

To request your second dose please use this request form.

If you or someone you know is unable to use an online form, please contact our booking team on 0300 303 8322.

Important: By travelling to a centre, you accept there is a risk that all vaccines will be allocated before you arrive. If you arrive after all the vaccines are allocated, we will take your contact details and add you to our reserve list.

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Chairman Announces her chosen charities for her year in office

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CHAIRMAN, Cllr Tegwen Devichand has chosen the following four charities to support during her term of office.

Alzheimer’s Society is a care and research charity within the UK for people with dementia and their carers. They provide information and support, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.

Links Llanelli is a unique Llanelli Mental Health Charity, providing support and learning opportunities to those within our community who have or are experiencing mental ill-health. 

Links aims to support people experiencing mental health issues to build confidence, self-esteem and skills.

Links also provides support for veterans and blue light teams living in Carmarthenshire. Veterans are able to access all the activities available at Links. Additionally, for those who live in rural areas or are socially isolated, can be provided with befriending buddy telephone calls and outreach NAAFI mornings which are held in various locations throughout Carmarthenshire on a monthly basis.

Ty Bryngwyn Llanelli Hospice is a Designated Centre of Excellence providing specialist palliative care for the community of Carmarthenshire. It is the only Hospice in the area with inpatient facilities.

Llanelli Hospice provides specialist palliative care both in the community and in its seven inpatient beds.

Wales Air Ambulance is an all Wales charity providing emergency air cover 365 days a year for those who face life-threatening illness or injury. The Dafen airbase, which covers South Wales, is one of four airbases in Wales and this coverage means that an air ambulance is  only 20 minutes away. 

Chairman, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said, “As a Council we like to financially assist worthwhile causes and I am delighted to be supporting such worthy charities. I believe that these charities touch us all in one way or another. I will be as supportive as I possibly can be under the current difficult times when charities need that ‘little bit extra’ financial support. The people in the area are always very generous in their support of such worthy causes. I was chairman in 2012 and I have been a councillor both on County and Community level for over 17 years and know how important lending our support can be.”

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