A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for a halfway house for teenagers at Erw Las, Llwynhendy, is at a property owned jointly by Professor Marc Clement.
Professor Clement is the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales. He was sacked from his position as Dean of Swansea University’s School of Management earlier this year. His dismissal followed an internal disciplinary process which examined his involvement in aspects of the Wellness Project and relationship with its developer in a separate project.
Issues arising from that investigation are now the subject of an investigation by Tarian, the South Wales Regional Organised Crime Unit.
Professor Clement denies any wrongdoing.
The Land Registry shows he bought the house for a recorded price of £375,000 in July this year.
The purchase completed roughly at the same time as the planning application’s submission and weeks after the applicants for the development approached the local authority for pre-application guidance.
The application is in the name of a company called Freshstart Care Ltd.
Professor Clement is not shown as having any interest in the applicant company.
A search of Companies’ House Records reveals companies with similar names operating in the same general field as Freshstart Care Ltd – including a significant provider of post-16 care called Fresh Start Care Services Limited. However, none of the directors of the applicant company is connected with the latter, which appears to have nothing to do with the application before Council planners.
The application for the hostel on a residential street has provoked significant local opposition and a slew of letters of objection sent to the County Council.
Each of the letters shares a common theme: that the application is in an unacceptable area to even consider placing a youth hostel for young offenders.
One lengthy objection notes: ‘There have also been grave concerns expressed in neighbouring Swansea relating to the number of private children`s homes being opened in that area. This results in the transferral of children with complex behavioural problems from other areas, with consequent increasing demands on both police resources and council services within the recipient area. The expansion of such homes in recent years is a very lucrative option with substantial profits to be made which many believe is the premier reason for the current Llwynhendy application’.
The presence of recently released young offenders at the property, if planning permission is granted, also exercises a significant number of respondents.
One writes: “I find it inconceivable that a semi-detached property should be considered suitable as a rehabilitation home for young, individuals as there is bound to be regular audible disturbance certainly for the adjoining neighbour if not for those living further away.
I understand that there will be four youths guarded/rehabilitated by 6 adults. This ratio of supervision would be the envy of any prison in the land and just confirms my suspicion that we can expect trouble, even when they are closely supervised.
I find it very odd that the residents were not advised or consulted about this change of use by the current owners of Han Y Bont. I understand some internal changes have already been made at the property. This seems rather foolish and arrogant to assume that the residents would not object and that the council would rubber-stamp it as a fait accompli.”
Several objectors also note chronic parking issues on the road, exacerbated by Erw Las’ use as a rat run for traffic and by boy-racers, trying to avoid speed cameras on neighbouring roads.
A further objection notes that, contrary to claims that the property is not prone to flooding, it has a river at the side of the property and has been flooded on a couple of occasions and the surrounding area is made up of marshland.
The Herald covered the story of Erw Las residents’ flooding complaints in 2016. Those who spoke with us said they had suffered from flooding for the last six years, we’re unable to get any help and unable to get any insurance cover for their homes.
One objector alleges: “The property is already kitted out for the youngsters to move in, so are they aware of something which the community is not?”
Cllr Deryk Cundy wrote:
a. We have no understanding of the supervision or regulation of the use of this property.
b. There are no guarantees on the safety of the residents of the property whoever they may be.
c. There are no details about the qualifications of the staff employed here.
d. There are no controls by the Council on the suitability of what is delivered here.
e. There are no regular inspections by the Council on the Health and Safety of these children.
Llwynhendy County Councillor and Chair of Llanelli Rural Council, Sharen Davies, also objected and asked: “As the local County Councillor for the Llwynhendy Area, I would like to request a site visit, for the Planning Committee to be made aware of the Rural area and the inappropriate environment for this development. I would also like to speak at the full Planning Committee.”
Not a single response from neighbours favours the plan and nor does the Council’s own Child Services team.
In its response, the Children’s Services Team write: “Carmarthenshire Children’s Services do not use private residential homes for looked after children so the proposed centre will be utilised by outside local authorities. Carmarthenshire is already a net receiver of a large number of looked after children and young people from other local authority areas – we currently have a population of out of county LAC almost the same size as our LAC population. We object to the planning application on the basis that this will contribute to an increase in the volume already entering and residing in the area.”
The application is certain to go forward for decision by the Planning Committee. It can expect a bumpy ride.
UK’s top skaters and riders drop in on Llanelli youngsters to celebrate a special birthday
THE WORLD’S and the UK’s finest skateboarders, BMX and Wheelchair Motocross stars will drop in on young people at a Carmarthenshire Ramps skatepark on Saturday 19 October 2019 from 11 am till 2 pm.
The event was arranged to celebrate the £3 billion National Lottery players have raised for projects which have specifically helped children and young people develop and thrive in the UK over the last 25 years.
£2 million of National Lottery funding has specifically been awarded to support and develop over 47 BMX projects in local communities for young people in Wales to enjoy.
Wales and Pembrokeshire’s own wheelchair sports superstar, Lily Rice; the Olympic BMX freestyler from Swansea, James Jones; Britain’s leading street skateboarder and 2020 Olympic hopeful, Alex Decunha; and YouTube influencer, Jake O’Neill (aka Jake100), visite hundreds of youngsters at Ramps indoor and outdoor skatepark in Llanelli as part of the National Lottery’s celebrations.
More than £340,000 was awarded by the National Lottery in 2013 to develop and build Ramps Skatepark which now provides activities for over 15,000 young people a year.
At 15 years old, Lily Rice from Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, is a World Champion wheelchair motocross (WCMX) star. She was propelled to fame two years ago when she became the first female in Europe to achieve a wheelchair backflip, and only the second girl in the world to pull off the stunt. Since then, Lily has emerged as one of the global leaders of WCMX – wheelchair motocross.
She says: “By contributing towards building amazing facilities such as this indoor and outdoor skate park, National Lottery funding is helping thousands of young people of all abilities to reach their goals and discover new opportunities.
I have trained and practised at numerous National Lottery funded skate parks and there is no doubt that the funding has helped wheeled sports, enthusiasts, to become healthier and more active.”
The National Lottery has inspired millions of people to get active in their local community, as well as supporting individuals and teams from grassroots to elite.
James Jones is a 25-year-old professional BMX rider from Swansea. James, who also celebrated his 25th Birthday this year, is one of six world-class athletes who make up the Freestyle BMX Team GB for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. James honed his skills and practised his tricks at the Ramps skate park in Llanelli when he was growing up and highlights the importance of young people having access to facilities like this on their doorstep.
James Jones said: “I practised a lot here growing up and this facility has played a big part in my development as a professional rider and a person. I probably wouldn’t be where I am now without the support I got here. It’s not just about learning to ride or skate, there’s a real family vibe here, a great social aspect and it’s well supported by the community.
The National Lottery must fund parks such as this one so that young people can have a safe space to pursue their hobbies and meet friends.”
First year anniversary for Transport for Wales
TODAY, Transport for Wales reaches its first- year anniversary since taking responsibility for rail services across Wales and the Borders, which marked the beginning of their £5 billion investment programme.
Over the past twelve months, TfW have put the customer at the heart of their decisions and as a thank you to them, they’re offering 20% off advance tickets bought between 14 and 20 October for travel up until 26 November.
Some of the key highlights over the year include the creation of the advanced fare initiative, making it cheaper for journeys over 50 miles; delay repay 15 was launched so that customers can claim for delays of 15 minutes or more and the implementation of new performance measures designed to provide a more reliable and punctual service.
TfW also began their £194 million plan to improve every railway station across their network and committed to spend more than £600,000 a year on Community Rail Partnerships, creating community ambassador roles, that will be responsible for promoting regional tourism and local economic growth.
Embedded video on YouTube
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said;
“It has been an exciting and challenging first year and we are proud to have started transforming the rail service for the people of Wales through delivering on our promises.
“We are implementing some ambitious programmes that will help us to improve the customer experience. Work has started on our railway stations; modernising them, making them safer and more accessible for local businesses and communities. We successfully reintroduced regular passenger services along the Halton Curve, providing 215 new services per week and connecting Wrexham with Liverpool by rail for the first time in 40 years.
“We have introduced additional trains to our network and our December timetable change will bring further increases in capacity across our busiest routes.
“Behind the scenes, there has been detailed planning and preparation work going on for the delivery of Metro services across Wales, the introduction of brand-new trains and the vision to create a fully integrated transport network.
“As well as our customers, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff for their dedication over the year and also thank the partners and businesses that we’ve worked with.”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy and Transport, said:
“One year into our ambitious journey of rail improvement I believe it is important to recognise the progress that has been made. There have been the start of new services and new advanced fares and we will soon see extra capacity being added to some of our busiest lines. We’ve also outlined an ambitious £194m package of investment to improve every station in Wales.
“It’s clear that there are significant challenges and this journey will take time, but we have ambitious plans to transform transport across Wales to deliver a fully integrated network, with customers at the heart of everything. We have outlined a vision for a transformed railway across Wales – including the development of Metro systems – and Transport for Wales will continue to have an essential role to play in helping to deliver this.”
Eluned Morgan visits Llanelli for Mental Health
TO mark World Mental Health Day, Labour Assembly Member Eluned Morgan has visited Llanelli’s LINKS mental health charity to raise awareness of her #IPledge2Talk campaign.
LINKS is a unique to Llanelli support service providing assistance and learning opportunities to those within our community who have or are experiencing mental ill-health.
Earlier this year, the AM for Mid and West Wales launched in the Senedd her “I Pledge 2 Talk” campaign. In response to the growing concern over male suicide, the Eluned Morgan has turned her focus to encouraging people who feel down to seek help, and providing confidence to others to be a mental health ally.
Speaking after her visit, Eluned said: “I was really pleased to be able to meet the team at LINKS on Queen Victoria Road. They have and continue to provide a range of services to help people manage their mental health. They understand the importance of talking to improve mental health and helping others to open up.
“We all have our part to play in reaching out and offering support to those in need by providing an opportunity to talk. We know that if someone is having suicidal thoughts, receiving support from someone else can make a big difference.
“Many people feel unable to talk about mental health due to the stigma that surrounds admitting there’s a problem – we need to overcome this – we can all play a part in helping others feel comfortable enough to seek help without fear of being judged.
“I have launched a website to support the #IPledge2Talk campaign – find out more and how to get involved at www.ipledge2talk.wales.”
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