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Candidates called to act on debt

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CANDIDATES standing to become the MP for Llanelli in May’s General Election are facing calls to make promoting free debt advice a priority, after a debt charity revealed it has received more than 500 calls for help from people with debt problems in the constituency since 2013.

A total of 510 calls for help from people in Llanelli were received by National Debtline, the free advice service run by charity the Money Advice Trust, during 2013 and 2014.

In addition, the charity’s Business Debtline service, which advises the self-employed and other small business owners, received 22 calls from businesses in the constituency last year.

With research showing that only 17% of people with unmanageable debt in the UK seek advice, the need for debt help in Llanelli is likely to be far higher than these figures suggest. The Money Advice Trust says that higher awareness of free debt advice in and around Llanelli could ‘mean the difference between financial recovery and financial disaster’ for thousands of people. After contacting National Debtline, 82% of people say they feel more in control and knowledgeable in managing their money.

MPs are often contacted by constituents about unmanageable debt, including problems with credit cards, personal loans, mortgage debts, payday loans, council tax arrears, rent arrears bailiffs and county court judgments (CCJs). As well as signposting these constituents to seek advice from charity-run services such as National Debtline and Business Debtline, many MPs take a pro-active role in promoting debt advice charities in their communities.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “Whoever is elected as Member of Parliament for Llanelli on May 7 needs to put promoting free debt advice in the area near the top of their to-do list after the General Election. While National Debtline has given more than 500 advice sessions to people in Llanelli in the last two years, we know that potentially thousands more are suffering in silence. MPs can play a crucial role in the fight against problem debt – not only by directing people who come to them for help to the free advice they need, but also through raising awareness of services such as National Debtline in the local community. Our message to anyone in Llanelli who is struggling to cope with problem debt is simple: Seek free advice from a debt charity such as National Debtline as soon as possible. The earlier you seek advice, the quicker and easier the problem will be to solve.”

Nia Griffith, Labour’s candidate for Llanelli, told The Herald: “Sadly with prices having gone up faster than incomes in 4 out of the last 5 years, many people in Llanelli are struggling with debt problems. I would strongly urge contacting National Debtline early to obtain trustworthy, independent advice as unfortunately there are also the unscrupulous out there who will promise you everything and leave you worse off. I think it is vital that we have a service like National Debtline readily accessible to people.”

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Conviction for an illegal waste operator in south west Wales

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW), in partnership with Dyfed-Powys Police, has successfully prosecuted a man for operating an illegal waste site in south west Wales.

CYMRAEG ISOD

James Anthony Gunter, aged 32, from Brynamman, admitted the offences in interview, and was charged with operating an illegal waste facility and disposing of waste at that facility in a manner likely to cause pollution to the environment and human health.

He was sentenced at Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday 31 July. Gunter received a 12 month community order with 200 hours unpaid work. He must pay costs in full of £6,709 and a victim surcharge of £85.

He’d been operating a household clearance and rubbish removal service  in the Ammanford, Neath, Port Talbot and Llanelli areas.

He was taking money from customers to take away their waste and was bringing it back to a site in Brynamman, Ammanford, to dispose of it illegally.

David Morgan, waste enforcement officer, Natural Resources Wales said:

“Illegal waste activities like this blight the countryside, have a detrimental impact on people’s lives with issues including smoke or noise, and impact on legitimate waste businesses.

“Gunter left more than enough evidence to lead us to him. Amongst the mostly burnt waste we discovered numerous documents with addresses on. We also found a sign from an old local business. Thankfully, we could trace these items back to their place of origin, and the producers of the waste were willing to give witness statements.”

The investigation began in June 2019 when the Waste Regulation Team received a number of reports of the illegal waste operation.

Large volumes of waste were regularly being tipped and burnt at a location, on the border of Brecon Beacons National Park.

NRW’s enforcement officer and an officer from Dyfed-Powys Police who was on secondment to NRW at the time, visited the site. From that visit and follow-up enquiries they found substantial amounts of evidence that led to this successful prosecution.

Chief Inspector Jolene Mann, of Dyfed-Powys Police said:

“We rely on our communities to share information with us to target and tackle crimes of this nature, which have a significant impact on local people and the environment.  We will continue to work with partner agencies to effectively deal with offenders and to keep our communities safe.”

David Morgan added:

 “Thanks to people reporting this iilegal waste operation to us, we were able to investigate and prosecute. But members of the public have another important role to play in preventing illegal waste operations.

“If they arrange for waste to be collected from their business or home, they should check that the business collecting it is registered as a carrier. Search the public register of all waste carriers, brokers and dealers on the NRW website.

“If they’re not registered, don’t let them take the waste away and report them immediately to NRW on our incident line 0300 065 3000.”

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Llwynhendy man sentenced to two years for handling stolen goods

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A man was caught with thousands of pounds worth of items taken from homes and sheds in Llwynhendy after accessing wifi on a stolen laptop.

Josh Palethorpe, of Heol Westfa, hid when Dyfed-Powys Police officers arrived at the house he was staying at, but was found surrounded by stolen goods including TVs, power tools, computer consoles and laptops.

The force had received reports of four shed break-ins and two creeper burglaries in the Llwynhendy area over two nights in March.

An investigation was immediately launched, and enquiries led officers to discover that a wifi spot had been accessed on one of the stolen laptops. The occupants of that address had no connection with the burglaries, and officers began looking at a neighbouring house – where 26-year-old Palethorpe had been staying.

DS Bromfield said: “We received a request to attend the address on a separate matter, and on entering the house officers found a large amount of property which was suspected to be stolen.

“Josh Palethorpe was located hiding in an upstairs bedroom and was arrested on suspicion of burglary. However, it transpired that the suspect had bought the goods – and given the low price he paid for them, he must have been aware that they were stolen.”

Palethorpe was charged with handling stolen goods, and was sentenced to two years in prison when he appeared at Swansea Crown Court.

DS Bromfield added: “What was crucial to this investigation was the ability to trace where the suspect was accessing the wifi from. The laptop he was using was fitted with a tracking device, which led us to the address Palethorpe was staying at, where he was arrested.

“I hope this sentence proves to him that it’s not worth being involved in the stolen goods chain, no matter how little he paid for the items.”

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Police seized spice worth £10,000 from car on drugs run

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Police officers seized £10,000 of the psychoactive substance spice after waiting near a motorway slipway for a car returning from a drugs run.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers arrested Jack Brennan on Saturday, June 28 after stopping a Volkswagen Polo just off the M4 at Hendy.

Officers from the Priority Policing Team were acting on intelligence that the occupants of the Volkswagen Polo – including 22-year-old Brennan – were travelling to and from Cardiff to collect drugs to sell in Carmarthenshire.

On being stopped, Brennan – who has now been jailed – claimed the half kilo supply of spice was for his own personal use.

Detective Inspector Wayne Bevan said: “Information was received that the car would be returning to Llanelli with controlled substances intended to be supplied to people in the area.

“Assistance was requested from Carmarthenshire Roads Policing Unit to stop the car as it left the M4 at Hendy, where it was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“As the occupants were detained, Brennan told one of the officers there was half a kilo of spice on the back seat, which was all for his own use.

“A package was found in the car, containing an amount of the drug inconsistent with personal use. Brennan was swiftly arrested on suspicion of possessing class B drugs with intent to supply.”

An Iceland carrier bag was found in a back footwell of the car, which was seized and found to contain a black back filled with a green substance.

This was identified as being 570g of class B drug spice. The street value of this quantity is estimated to be around £10,000.

Brennan, of Railway Place in Llanelli, was charged with possessing class B drugs with intent to supply, and admitted the offence at court.

He was remanded to appear at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on August 7, when he was jailed for 36 weeks.

DI Bevan said: “Spice is an extremely addictive and dangerous substance, and this operation has prevented a significant quantity of the drug from making its way to Llanelli.

“This is an excellent example of partnership working between departments to identify and stop the vehicle, and to prevent this drug from entering the supply chain.

“Our proactive teams will continue to act on all information received about the abuse of illegal substances, and will endeavour to bring those concerned in the supply of drugs to justice.”

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