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Llanelli landmark features on BBC Two show



THE PROJECT to restore Llanelli’s historic Railway Goods Shed will be featured on the popular BBC Two programme Great British Railway Journeys tonight (Jan 8).

Michael Portillo, the programme’s presenter, visited the Grade II listed building last summer to learn about the history of Llanelli’s railways and the plans to bring the Goods Shed back into use for the benefit of the community.

The latest episode featured an interview with local historian Russell Grigg and a performance by Cor Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir inside the Goods Shed.

The Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust (LRGST) has been working to redevelop the derelict Goods Shed and surrounding areas into a vibrant community hub, offering a range of educational, training, upskilling, arts activities and business start-up support, as well as a café and visitor centre.

If the remaining funding can be secured to complete the project, it is hoped locals residents and schools, as well as tourists, will visit the Goods Shed to learn about and celebrate Llanelli’s heritage.

Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli and Chair of the LRGST, said: ‘We were delighted to be asked to take part in this episode of Great British Railway Journeys. It is a fantastic opportunity to make people aware of the project to transform the Railway Goods Shed and the benefits it will bring the community.

We managed to surprise the presenter Michael Portillo and TV crew with a special performance by Llanelli’s own Cor Meibion choir inside the building. Hopefully this performance is a sign of brilliant artistic and cultural events to come when the project is successfully completed.”

Development support has come from the Heritage Lottery, Big Lottery, Architectural Heritage Fund, Carmarthenshire County Council, Dwr Cymru and Llanelli Town Council, which has helped to secure planning permission and draw up the innovative and creative architectural proposals to restore the building. Bids have been put in for the capital funding needed to complete the £2.2m project.

The LRGST already has partnerships with a number of organisations that all have strong records of delivery, including Carmarthenshire Youth and Children’s Association, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Cyfle Building Ltd, Indycube Community, Bluebee Productions and Hive Theatre School.

The Llanelli Railway Goods Shed, which was built in 1875 and can be found on Marsh Street, is a classic example of the Brunel style of architecture and one of the few surviving buildings of its kind in Wales.

Anyone wanting to sponsor or get involved with the project should contact Nia Griffith MP ( or the LRGST’s Secretary Richard Roper (

The Trustees are particularly interested to hear from people interested in Llanelli’s industrial heritage and local history or with expertise in business, marketing, fundraising, accountancy, the arts, education, practical construction and social media.

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Ash Grove GP partners return contract



THE FUTURE of Ash Grove Medical Centre is currently uncertain after Hywel Dda UHB announced this morning that the Partners were returning their General Medical Services Contract to the Health Board in August.

A spokesperson for the health board said that ‘the continued sustainability of general medical services for the population is a priority for the Health Board and we have started to develop a robust plan over the next 6 months to secure a bright and strong future’.

“We are asking those patients registered with the practice to be part of the decision-making process regarding the future,” they added.

Elaine Lorton, Assistant Director of Primary Care at the Health Board said: “We accept that this may cause some concern for the community and I wish to reassure patients of Ash Grove Medical Centre that they can still access GP services locally at the Surgery’s premises as normal.

“We urge patients not to try and register with any other local practices at this point,” she added.

“I am pleased that the Ash Grove Medical Centre has committed to work with us to ensure that patient services continue to be provided and we have also started discussions with other GP Surgeries locally to explore potential solutions for the future. The Health Board appreciates the continuing support given by the community and remains committed to maintaining the high standards of care currently provided at Ash Grove Medical Centre.

“We will write to patients shortly giving them further information about the options we will be considering along with details of an information and forthcoming drop-in session that we will be organising towards the end of April.”
Following the news, Lee Waters AM and Nia Griffith MP issued a joint statement explaining that they have written to the Chief Executive of Hywel Dda seeking reassurance that people currently registered at Ash Grove Medical Practice will continue to have full access to a local GP.

They have asked the Chief Executive to ‘set out in detail what plans the Health Board has to find a solution to the situation at Ash Grove Medical Centre that maintains a GP practice in this area and ensures that patients currently registered there will have continuing and undiminished access to GPs’.

In their letter to the Health Board, Ms Griffith and Mr Waters reference the ‘widespread public concern about GP provision in the local area’ and point out that the threat of a potential reduction in these services would be ‘cause for significant alarm’.

“We all need access to local GPs”, they wrote, “and we would expect the Health Board to do everything it can to ensure this can continue here.”

They also urged Hywel Dda to learn lessons from similar situations in the past in terms of communicating news to the public by giving people precise details and reassurance that they will be properly cared for, adding that ‘people must not be left in the dark on this’.

The news comes a fortnight after concerns about primary care provision were raised during a Hywel Dda UHB presentation to Carmarthenshire County Council.

Cllr Glynog Davies highlighted the serious problems in primary care provision across the Board area and pointed out that for any of the service reorganisation options under consideration to be effective there would need to be a substantial investment in and reorganisation of GP provision and the way in which GPs delivered services.

“How,” Cllr Davies asked, “will you do that?”

The responses from Dr Rhian Dawson and Dr Phil Kloer did not address that issue clearly. However, the need for greater joint working with GPs was stressed. It was also noted that GPs had acknowledged in discussions with Hywel Dda UHB that primary care provision across the region was not working as well as it could.

If anyone would like to share their views with the Health Board on the future services for Ash Grove Medical Centre patients, please write to Tracey Huggins at Hafan Derwen, St David’s Park, Job’s Well Road, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, SA31 3BB.

In the meantime, patients of Ash Grove Medical Centre should direct enquiries to Laura Lloyd Davies, Primary Care Locality Development Manager on 07805 799658 or the Health Board’s Patient Support Services on 0300 0200 159.

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Police investigate after shed fire



POLICE in Llanelli are investigating after a garden shed caught fire on Saturday night (Mar 17).

The fire, which happened between 10pm and 10.30pm in Llys y Drindod, is currently being treated as suspicious.

A fire crew from Llanelli Fire Station tackled the blaze.

Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Llanelli AM sets out bold metro vision for west Wales



SHOULD the Swansea Bay area have its own driver-less metro system?

That is the view of Llanelli Assembly Member Lee Waters, who appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show this week (Mar 18),

Lee Waters outlined his vision for the world’s first fully automated metro system, and he says it should serve our local area.

Interviewed by Arwyn Jones earlier today, Mr Waters said: “The key for getting people to replace car journeys with public transport is having what we call a turn up and go public transport system. And that’s clearly not the case in Wales. In parts of Llanelli, the last bus leaves at 4pm – you’re just not going to persuade people to give up their cars under those circumstances. The question then is, how can we realistically create a turn up and go public transport system in Swansea Bay?

“We need to think imaginatively.

“The UK government expect automated vehicles to be on sale in three years time. This is happening quickly. Let’s not try and create a Manchester or a Sheffield type tram system – we’re thirty years behind the curve on that. Let’s try and leapfrog and establish the Swansea Bay Region as a test bed for this new technology.”

The driver-less system proposed by Lee Waters would employ fast-emerging technologies, including driver-less, low carbon bus transit systems. Maps and timetables would be replaced with public transport apps, with vehicles ‘learning’ over the time the most efficient routes to take. And door-to-door services could even feature.

Cautioning against a carbon-copy of the Cardiff and the Valleys Metro, the Llanelli AM called on those tasked with drafting the initial plan to match the boldness of the Swansea Bay City Region bid.

 “The Cardiff and Valleys Metro is moving very slowly, because it’s so complex. For the next five years, you’re not going to see many additional services because of the time it takes to convert track to light rail. All prerequisites to getting a rail system working in a different way. I think what driver-less technology offers us, is a chance to not bother with that and instead having these car-sharing, lift-sharing pods taking us where we want to go.”

Similar plan: A driver-less metro system proposed for Moscow

The Welsh Government have recently agreed to fund the development of a ‘strategic outline case’ for improving public transport provision across the region. The budget allocation is the first step in deciding whether or not to pursue the 10-20 year vision for a Swansea Bay Metro.

Mr Waters welcomed the funding provision, but warned against fixating on journey time savings to London – stating:

 “There’s a broader economic point to this – I don’t want Llanelli and the Swansea Bay area to be a commuting pad to Cardiff. Instead of sending people out of our area, we need a public transport system that creates viable and vibrant communities.”

 In appealing for an ambitious approach to be taken, the Assembly Member contended: “For too long we’ve played catch up. We take ages, and too often the result is pretty shoddy.

 “So let’s not do that again. We’re starting from an almost blank sheet of paper, let’s go straight to the future solution.

 “This change is happening at pace and we need to be all over it.”

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