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Drefach homes plans passed

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PLANS for a new 22-home development in Drefach were given the go-ahead by Carmarthenshire County Council’s planning committee this week.

The committee heard that concerns had been raised by local residents about the development, which was adopted for housing under the 2014 Local Development Plan.

Introducing a report, Planning Officer Jonathan Thomas noted that the application had been subject to delays to allow councillors to visit the site and for the applicant to submit an impact assessment for the resident dormice.

He explained that the outline plans, for 20 4-5 bed open-market detached properties and two affordable homes, would see a new access route built from Heol Blaenhirwaun to the north, and the existing road at Bron yr Ynn would be widened and brought up to adoptable standards.

Mr Thomas acknowledged that there had been concerns from local county councillors and the community council, which centred on the potential for the new access to cause a ‘rat run’ through the estate.

Recommending the plans for approval, he noted that other objections were either covered by planning conditions or answered in the report.

However, local county councillor Aled Owen addressed the committee, noting that the site visit should have allowed them to see the infrastructure concerns inherent in adding 22 homes to an ‘unsuitable road’.

He added that there were concerns about the entrance from Heol Blaenhirwaun, which would be near the school, and suggested the road would be used as a shortcut for people travelling from Tumble to Cross Hands.

Cllr Owen also raised concerns about a lack of traffic calming measures, and noted that the new road would cause to loss of a flat green space used for seating suggesting that a different access route would alleviate some of these issues.

Cllr Eirwyn Williams asked what measures would be put in place to protect wildlife, specifically dormice, during construction. He was told that the application ahd been delayed while this matter was sorted, and seasonal controls and mitigation plans put in place Mr Thomas added that under the European Protected Species licence failure to achieve this could see the licence withdrawn.

Stating that he was ‘not happy’ with the application, Cllr Kevin Madge asked whether widening the road would have any effect on the elderly residents who currently parked there. He also suggested that flashing lights be fitted at the junction onto Heol Blaenhirwaun, and asked what the financial contribution towards local recreational areas would be.

His concerns about the new entrance were echoed by Cllr Dorian Phillips, who asked whether the existing entrance would be sufficient on its own. Cllr John James also asked whether the entrance would be too close to the school.

Highways Officer Kevin James explained that Bron yr Ynn would be widened and footpaths would be fitted on both sides.

The spaces where cars were currently parked would be turned into residents’ parking areas.

He added that there would be a speed hump on Heol Blaenhirwaun near the entrance, and the entrance itself would have good visibility.

Cllr Dot Jones suggested that the speed bumps did not prevent speeding on that particular stretch, and people even overtook in the 20mph area.

Councillors were told that moving the new entrance from its proposed position would lead to a large reduction in the size of the plot due to the gradient of the land.

10 councillors voted in favour of the application, with four voting against and three abstaining.

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Drink driver was twice the limit

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A 46-YEAR-OLD man appeared before magistrates at Llanelli Law Court on Thursday (Nov 8) to face a charge of drink driving.

Matthew Francis of Gelli Deg, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to driving his Ford Focus in Llanelli on October 19, whilst over the drink drive limit.

Prosecutor, Sharon Anderson, said: “At 10.20pm police received a call from a member of the public. They were directed to his home address and found the vehicle of the driveway with Francis in the driver seat, and the keys in the ignition.

“He had driven back from a wedding and said he had 3-4 cans. He was arrested and later said he had 6-8 cans of lager and had placed the cans in the garden. Police checked the garden but there was nothing there.

“At half past midnight, Francis completed the intoxiliser and was found to have 70mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. He was spoken to in an interview and said the van was his and nobody else was insured.”

Magistrates fined Francis £120 and ordered him to pay £30 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs. He was also disqualified from driving for 17 months.

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Police operation to get uninsured drivers off the road

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THIS week Dyfed-Powys Police along with other forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taking part in Operation Drive Insured, in a week of enhanced operations to remove uninsured drivers from UK roads and help protect road users.

Uninsured drivers are often involved in a wide range of criminal activities. Every year the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) Police Helpline records hundreds of incidents where an uninsured driver is found without a valid driving licence or using an untaxed or stolen vehicle. Records also show a number of offenders are caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drivers without insurance are more dangerous than insured drivers and cause a high number of accidents. One contributing factor is because those driving with insurance are encouraged to display safer behaviour and meet road legal requirements to help keep policy costs down.

In 2017 MIB received 11,000 claims from victims of uninsured drivers, with hundreds of people who had suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

MIB supports victims of uninsured and hit and run drivers by providing a last resort for claims and compensation. The annual cost to compensate victims of uninsured drivers comes to over £100 million and is funded by the motor insurance premiums of all law-abiding motorists.

Neil Drane, Head of Enforcement at MIB, said: “A driver with no valid insurance has no legal right to be on the road and removing them undoubtedly makes roads safer. The increased activity during Operation Drive Insured should get more of these drivers off our roads.”

Using data from the Motor Insurance Database (MID) – a central record of all UK motor insurance policies – police are using ANPR cameras to easily identify and stop motorists that appear to be uninsured. MIB’s police helpline supports roadside officers by investigating further and liaising with insurers to confirm whether there is valid insurance in place or not.

Any driver found without insurance during Operation Drive Insured is likely to have their vehicle seized, get six points on their licence, a £300 fine and could face court prosecution. Police also plan to carry out checks for a range of additional road traffic offences.

Simon Hills, Inspector for roads policing operations at Thames Valley Police, said: “In my experience, drivers who willingly use vehicles without insurance are often committing secondary offences. These range in seriousness from minor road traffic offences, to driving whilst disqualified and other crimes such as drug dealing and burglary. The effective enforcement of uninsured vehicles allows us to deny criminals the use of the road and prevent further offending. Operation Drive Insured is a perfect opportunity for us to target our resources.”

If a member of the public suspects a person is driving without insurance, they can report it to their local police force or anonymously to CrimeStoppers.

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Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided says Labour

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THE FATE of Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided, Llanelli’s local Labour representatives concluded after meeting the management of the German manufacturing firm in an early morning meeting in the town on Friday (Nov 9).

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith, Assembly Member Lee Waters and Bynea Councillor Deryk Cundy met with Senior Vice President Dr Thomas Cebulla and Greig Littlefair, Schaeffler’s UK managing director, to discuss this week’s announcement that 220 jobs were under threat at the old INA Bearings plant.

“Very concerningly, in spite of our entreaties, it seems that their minds are made up,” Nia Griffith MP said.

Ms Griffith added: “They stressed to us that the demand for the tappets being made in Llanelli has fallen, and is expected to drop drastically as the product comes to the end of its life and as demand for diesel engines reduces, and the new turbo charged product has not enjoyed the take up that had been hoped for.”

Lee Waters AM said: “The managers told us that Schaeffler is a very big global organisation with 72 factories worldwide and that the Llanelli closure is part of a global consolidation. They said it was no reflection on Llanelli workforce but a reaction to the change in demand for the product made in Bynea”

Deryk Cundy, the Councillor for the Bynea ward of Llanelli where the plant is based, said: “We told them that we will do all we can to work with the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire Council to offer help if that would make a difference, but we were not encouraged by their response. It seems that their minds are made up.”

The Schaeffler executives stressed that Brexit was a consideration but not the decisive factor in this decision, pointing out that “we are a global business and global businesses want open borders and open trade”. They said Schaeffler had brought forward plans to consolidate their sites because of the uncertainty of the Brexit process.

Llanelli’s MP and AM have both called for the UK Government to prioritise giving business certainty in the Brexit negotiations.

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