A PLAID CYMRU motion calling for Carmarthenshire to be retained as a unitary authority in any shake-up of Welsh local government was overwhelmingly passed at a meeting on Wednesday, (Apr 15). Proposed by Plaid leader Emlyn Dole, the motion was the subject of a significant amount of selfcongratulation from members of the ruling group, who appeared less concerned with the thrust and point of Cllr Dole’s motion than in polishing up the council’s reputation in case Leighton Andrews, the Welsh Public Services Minister, was watching the debate with bated breath.
Debating points were made that the period of uncertainty about the future of Carmarthenshire were affecting inward investment to the county due to ‘instability and uncertainty’. Proposing the motion, Cllr Dole mentioned, presumably ironically, that strong and effective local government was something of which Carmarthenshire could be proud. Appealing to history and heritage, Cllr Dole went on to slam the idea of a merger as something for which nobody had much appetite. Most startling was the intervention by Cllr Kevin Madge.
The council leader, in the teeth of evidence to the contrary in the recent past, he told the meeting that Carmarthenshire was the ‘best run council in Wales’. Mr Madge went on to wave the shroud of other, envious local authorities, picking over the corpse of the County Council’s prudence for the tastiest morsels. Acknowledging the council’s record was less spotless than Cllr Madge proposed, deputy leader Pam Palmer nevertheless contrived to suggest that Carmarthenshire’s record bore comparison with other local authorities. Hengoed councillor Sian Caiach rather spoiled the backslapping by pointing out that doorstep research by her suggested the Council was regarded as ‘a basket case’.
Cllr Caiach, who is the People First candidate for the Llanelli parliamentary constituency, indicated that the council’s reputation was not as simon-pure as preceding speakers had suggested. Moreover, she went on to claim that the overwhelming preference in Llanelli was for merger with the proposed Swansea city region, with Dyfed Mark Two second, and only ten percent backing the status quo. Citing the council’s legal travails, the adverse findings of the Wales Audit Office, the council’s lamentable record with the Ombudsman, and allegations of prying into members’ emails, Cllr Caiach suggested that Carmarthenshire was a poor marker against which to measure Welsh local government.
The council elected to endorse its record and vote for Cllr Dole’s motion. Whether it did so on the basis of Cllr Dole’s appeal to history and heritage or for less altruistic reasons is open to question.
Conviction for an illegal waste operator in south west Wales
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.
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.”
Llwynhendy man sentenced to two years for handling stolen goods
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.”
Police seized spice worth £10,000 from car on drugs run
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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