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.
Wales’ hospitality sector will prepare to re-open outdoors from 13 July
The Minister signalled the first phase of a planned reopening for bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor spaces following a rapid review of the sector.
A final decision about outdoor re-opening will be made at the next review of the coronavirus regulations on 9 July and will depend on whether rates of coronavirus are continuing to fall.
Future decisions about indoor re-opening will be made later and will depend on the success of the first phase of outdoor opening.
The Minister will today also confirm the timetable for re-opening outdoor visitor attractions and the partial opening of the tourism industry in Wales for the remainder of the summer season.
If the requirement to stay local is lifted in Wales on 6 July, outdoor visitor attractions will be able to reopen from Monday.
And, subject to the forthcoming review of coronavirus regulations on 9 July, the tourism sector is preparing to re-open self-contained accommodation.
The Minister will today confirm the date that owners of self-contained accommodation can accept bookings is being brought forward to 11 July from 13 July, to help with the pattern of Saturday-to-Saturday bookings.
Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan said:
“Tourism is a vital part of the Welsh economy at a national, regional and local level. I’d like to thank all our industry partners for working with us to carefully reopen the visitor economy.
“A successful, safe and phased return will give businesses, communities and visitors confidence to continue with the recovery of the visitor economy.
“We ask everyone who travels to and around Wales to enjoy their time here, but always to respect local communities. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Wales – but we want everyone to Visit Wales Safely.”
Guidance to help businesses in Wales’ visitor economy has been published this week. Further guidance for cafes, bars and pubs will follow.
Visit Wales has also worked with the other national tourism organisations on a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide reassurance as the sector works towards reopening.
The Good To Go industry standard and supporting mark means businesses can demonstrate they are adhering to the respective government and public health guidance; have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked they have the required processes in place. The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry.
Folly Farm are ready to welcome back its loyal annual pass holders from 8 July and will open to all on 13 July.
Zoe Wright, head of marketing at Folly Farm, said:
“We’ve been preparing for our re-opening for several weeks and are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Folly Farm, safely.
“We’ve been hugely encouraged by the support we’ve received from our visitors and our local community. Lots of local accommodation providers have been sharing our staying safe re-opening guide ahead of their guests returning.
“We’ve got lots of measures in place to keep our visitors, staff, animals and our wider community safe, including the essential pre-booking of visits so we can limit visitor numbers and provide even more space across our 120-acre site. As an animal attraction, we’re naturally geared up to offer and encourage regular handwashing but we’ve added hand-sanitising stations across the park too.
“Our animals provide a fun way to encourage visitors, especially the younger ones, to follow our social distancing signage with paw prints marking out a safe distance in queuing areas and penguin and pig themed arrows for our one way systems.”
Sean Taylor, Founder & President of Zip World is making preparations to open on 6th of July and said: “As one of North Wales’s biggest outdoor tourist attractions, there is a huge responsibility in the way we restart our operations. We have a strong sense of community and have an important role to play in rebuilding the region’s visitor economy all of which has to be managed responsibly and firmly in line with the current government guidelines.
“We have spent the last few months rethinking the logistics of our operations to keep staff, customers and the community safe. To begin with, the reopening will be a staggered approach by only opening two of our three sites initially and 6 of our adventures. This means a reduction in capacity and we have also introduced robust hygiene regimes, clear wayfinding & signage, PPE and the use of tech where possible to reduce consumer touch points. There is now a simple 6 steps guide for all customers to follow before and during their visit – this includes signing the waiver online pre visit, contactless payments etc.”
South West Wales Virtual Open Day 8 July
Welsh local authorities, schools, colleges and work-based learning providers will be hosting a series of Virtual Open Days for Year 11 pupils for the first time this month.
An event specifically for pupils from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Llanelli, Swansea and Powys will be held on Wednesday 8 July and will cover a series of sessions on post-16 options including A Levels at sixth form or college as well as work-based qualifications.
Jonathan Davies OBE will host the sessions on apprenticeships and traineeships and will be on hand to field questions about how to apply and get the most from industry-led training opportunities.
Other sessions will be led by Pembrokeshire College, NPTC Group of Colleges, Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion as well as Careers Wales and local authorities.
The spread of COVID-19 has not only meant a break in students’ learning, but also the cancellation of many planned events like open days which were scheduled to take place throughout the summer.
Open days are vital ways of helping Year 11 pupils to understand all their options for continuing their education and deciding on the right path for them. It’s also the way pupils make connections with new people and different environments to support them in making their decision.
With no indication yet of when face-to-face events might be able to go ahead again, over 220 schools, colleges and work-based learning providers across Wales are partnering with the Welsh Government to hold virtual sessions for all Year 11 pupils in Wales to make sure nobody misses out.
Organised by Welsh Government and hosted by Working Wales, the Virtual Open Days will enable young people across Wales to discover the options for furthering their education in their area, including what school and college courses are available, as well as training opportunities like apprenticeships and traineeships, and access to careers advice from
Live sessions will be held for each region across Wales from 7 – 10 July, with lots of additional content available throughout the second week of July and beyond. There will also be the opportunity to put questions to local careers advisors and learning providers who know about the provision in your area.
Virtual Open Days will be hosted online, but those without internet access at home will have the option to phone and speak directly with schools, colleges and work-based learning providers.
Welsh Government will be providing information about the full range of Virtual Open Days, as well as links to partner websites and content, on Working Wales where there will also be advice for those students who are unsure of what they want to do next.
Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “Now more than ever, it’s vital that young people are equipped with the skills, information and training they need to find fulfilling work.
“If you’re a young person, you may be unsure of what you want to do after school, or whether you want to continue in education at all. Open days can play a vital role in helping access the right education or training, providing a vital insight into the different courses and ways of learning that are available to young people considering their next options.
“Virtual Open Days are a really innovative way to explore options digitally and will help young people in deciding what to do next. Whether you are shielding at home, returning to school to say goodbye for the summer, or are not sure what to do next, our national virtual open days will ensure learners in every region of Wales have the opportunity to engage and
ask questions at this important time.”
Nikki Lawrence, chief executive of Careers Wales, said: “Deciding what the next step is with your education is an important time for young people across Wales and we want to make sure that they are still able to explore the different options that are available.
“During the four days we will be offering additional support from our expert careers advisers who will be available via our live web chat. This will enable young people who are not sure what the next step is to get the advice and guidance they need.”
To find out more about Wales’ Virtual Open Days, call Working Wales on 0800 028 4844 or go to www.workingwales.gov.wales/start-your-story
25 apprenticeship in the construction industry on offer
Applications are still being taken for up to 25 paid apprenticeships through the Next Steps programme.
Now in its 11th year, Next Steps is open to men and women living in Carmarthenshire aged 16 and over who have an interest in obtaining qualifications in groundworks, carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, electrics, plumbing and painting and decorating. No previous experience is required.
Working in partnership, Carmarthenshire County Council, Lloyd & Gravell, TRJ, Coleg Sir Gar, CCTAL and CYFLE the Next Step Programme is looking for up to 25 people to become professionals of the future.
Successful candidates will have the opportunity to learn through a practical hands-on experience.
The programme has already changed the lives of countless local people – including people who have gone on to set up their own business and win national skills competitions, as well as children and adults with severe disabilities who have benefitted from community projects built by the Next Steps teams.
The successful candidates will commence a minimum two-year paid apprenticeship/training programme with Lloyd & Gravell Ltd, TRJ Ltd, CYFLE or Carmarthenshire County Council starting September 2020.
A basic knowledge of Welsh is required to accomplish this post. Support can be provided on appointment to reach this level. For further information and to download an application form visit https://recruitment.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/wrlive/pages/vacancy.jsf?latest=01007474
Deadline for entries is July 6.
For an informal discussion please contact Jason Jones – 07880 504117
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