AN ELDERLY couple, one of whom has dementia, recently contacted The Herald to express concern regarding a number of problems in the bungalow they rent from the County Council.
Dorothy McDonald of Waun Sidan in Llanelli began by telling The Herald:
“We have had problems with rats since November 2015. We had a flood in our kitchen caused by workmen climbing onto the roof to see where the rats were coming in and dislodging four slates.
“We were unable to use our kitchen for over four weeks while they put in a new ceiling and we had to go out to buy meals during that time.”
Dorothy continued: “Four weeks ago when we came back from a few days with our daughter in London , the smell in the bungalow was terrible. We traced it to coming from the attic. We rang the housing department in Llanelli and they said they would send someone out.
“For four weeks, I kept being told that someone would come out. Nobody ever did. My husband, who is 88 -years-old and has dementia, climbed the ladders and had a look but he couldn’t see and he couldn’t climb across the boards.”
Dorothy said: “I got up on Sunday , August 19 , at 5am to go to the bathroom and it was covered in maggots. I killed them all and washed the floor with bleach. I went and bought some spray for maggots and put that down. I got up early on the Sunday morning to find the bathroom crawling with hundreds of maggots again.”
Speaking about her frustration at not being helped , Dorothy said: “That was the final straw. I just broke down into tears. It was awful.
“I cleaned them all up again. At nine o’clock , I telephoned our local Town Councillor , Ken Edwards. He was great and he came round to the bungalow with his wife.
“I told him we had seen some coming from behind the bath . We pulled the side of the bath away to find under the bath was full of builders ‘ rubble.”
With the help of Councillor Ken Edwards , they contacted Carmarthenshire County Council. Dorothy said : “Someone called me straight away and he was really helpful. He said he could hear I was upset and he would get some one out as soon as he could. By 11 o’clock , a contractor arrived and he went up in the attic and at the very far side was what he described as a very large rat which had been dead for some time and it was crawling with maggots.
“He cleared all the area and he said that the workmen who did the ceiling had not finished the job there was also problems with the wiring. He said the rats were coming in under the eaves at the far corner.
Dorothy expressed her disgust at having to pay the full rent and community charge for a bungalow that is not fit to live in. She said : “If the bungalow had been rented out by a private landlord , they would be prosecuted.”
Dorothy says she is now seeking compensation for the distress and inconvenience as well as the money she has spent herself : “I have gone through the press because I want to show the manner in which Carmarthenshire County Council treat their elderly tenants.”
The Herald visited Dorothy’s bungalow on Wednesday (Aug 31). It was difficult to remain inside the bungalow for more than couple of minutes due to the overpowering smell of what can only be described as a rotting corpse. We saw for ourselves the pile of rubble left under the bath by contractors.
Dorothy told us : “The council workmen were supposed to come out at 8am yesterday. They did not arrive. After spending hours on the phone to them , they told me some one would be here in the next seven days. I told them I had enough ; I am near breaking point and was going to the press.”
We asked the Council to comment, but no response to our request was received in time for inclusion.
Head of Housing and Public Protection, Robin Staines, said: “An issue with rats at 13 Waun Sidan and neighbouring properties was resolved in April this year. Mrs McDonald reported this latest problem to us last week and a contractor has visited and laid bait. The drains have also been surveyed and no defects found. The contractor has reported that there may be a new access point to the loft at the properties, and as such, scaffolding will now be erected for roofers to seal off these points. “On the matter in the bathroom, rubble has been removed from behind the bath and works will be carried out to amend any damage. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and will be agreeing recompense.”
Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize
LLANELLI HIGH STREET has been shortlisted in the Government’s Great British High Street Awards, in proud partnership with Visa, putting them in the running for up to £15,000.
After a rigorous selection process led by a panel of independent judges, the high street has been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, which celebrates high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.
The bid by Ymlaen Llanelli follows research commissioned by Visa in April 2019 demonstrating the positive impact that the local high street has on communities. The research found that nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) in Wales say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with nearly half (45%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason. Spending time with friends and family (25%) and offering a sense of community (18%) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people feel happier. The research also reveals that half of consumers (50%) feel that their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to Llanelli for being shortlisted for the Rising Star Award for this year’s Great British High Street Awards.
“Llanelli high street is a hive of activity, with food festivals, childrens’ days and community get-togethers all part of the local calendar. A great example of how high streets can bring a renewed energy to communities.
“People are happier when they can see their hard-earned cash support local businesses. That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.”
Sundeep Kaur, Head of UK & Ireland Merchant Services at Visa, added: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories. In particular, the desire to innovate stands out amongst this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.
“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”
Llanelli High Street is one of the 28 high streets that have been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, identifying high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify. 12 high streets have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the UK’s best high streets. All 40 high streets are now in the running to win a prize of up to £15,000 to be dedicated to a local high street initiative.
Head Teacher at Primary school in Llanelli suspended
THE HEAD TEACHER of a Welsh primary school has been suspended, it has been confirmed.
Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins, who is head at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, has been suspended from her duties at the school with immediate effect.
Governors at the school have been unavailable for comment, but Carmarthenshire Council confirmed the news this morning.
It is understood that the chair of the governing body is currently out of the country, and the council would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension.
The council’s director of education, Gareth Morgans, said: “School staffing is a matter for the Governing Body, however, we can confirm the headteacher of Ysgol Ffwrnes has been suspended.
“It is not appropriate to comment further.”
Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins has worked at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes for 23 years, taking up a post at the school in 1996.
She has been the headteacher there for almost 20 years, taking over the role in 2000. She has also worked as a peer inspector at Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales confirmed.
According to one local councillor, ‘serious concerns’ have been raised about the school in recent months.
“Local residents and parents have approached us raising serious concerns about the school in question,” said Carmarthenshire councillor Rob James.
“We are in dialogue with senior council officers to assert whether the allegations are credible and what action the council and governors have taken in response to these allegations.”
Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour
POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.
According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.
These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.
HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.
Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.
Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.
“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.
“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.
“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”
These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.
The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.
That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.
Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”
Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.
“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”
He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”
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