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Veterans home scrapped due to ‘negativity’

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Lon Hir: Plans scrapped.

Lon Hir: Plans scrapped.

PLANS for a group home in Lon Hir, designed to offer homeless veterans a new start in life, will not now be acted upon, despite a successful appeal to the Welsh Planning Inspectorate. The original bid, by Christian charity Alabare, was to change a house in the cul-de-sac from a residential dwelling into a multiple-occupancy, catering for service veterans. Alabare run a number of homes across the country, and estimate that they have helped over 300 veterans in the past six years. However, despite the plans being recommended for approval by Carmarthenshire Council’s head of planning, they were rejected at a planning committee meeting on September 23 last year, citing ‘highway safety and the detrimental effect on the local community’ as reasons for refusal. Among the objections raised by residents were ‘potential noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour; loss of privacy and the proposal would dramatically affect local residents’ enjoyment of the peace and tranquillity they currently experience; totally wrong location for such a use; the road outside the property is unadopted and there is no lighting,’ and ‘there are two busy footpaths joining onto Lon Hir, which are designated safe routes to school’.

The comment regarding the school was described as ‘disgraceful’ by a council member in an interview conducted at the time. At the meeting a representative for Alabare pointed out that no formal complaints had been raised over the six years that they had been running homes across the country. Alabare then appealed the decision, and the Welsh Planning Inspectorate approved the plans. However, Alabare announced that they had decided not to press ahead with their plans for Lon Hir. In a statement, the charity’s Chief Executive Andrew Lord explained their reasons for this: “In all our homes our key priority has always been the welfare and care of homeless and vulnerable Veterans. Part of the support we provide is to help them to live in a community, integrating and positively contributing to life in their neighbourhood. We have spent a lot of time talking to people living in Lon Hir and have met people with strong feelings both for and against opening a Home for Veterans in their road. The positive opportunities offered by this house and location led us to pursue our planning application.

Despite our reassurances and 6 year track record of successfully supporting Veterans in communities across the South West, we have been unable to win around those immediate neighbours who have continually felt extremely negative towards our proposal and who have made it very clear that they would not welcome our staff or residents, nor would they wish to join us in any Community Forum. We are very sad that we have been unable to convince these neighbours of the merits of our proposal and benefi ts that it could bring to everyone in this community. It is therefore with a sense of sorrow that our Board of Trustees has today taken the decision not to proceed with the purchase of this property. Given the exceptional and continuing negativity of a small number of immediate neighbours, we no longer believe it will be in the best interests of our staff or potential residents to live at this address.

Our Trustees stand by the decision to take this planning application through to a successful appeal, as they do not wish the circumstances of this change in our plans to have a negative impact on the future development of Supported Housing for vulnerable adults in Wales. Ultimately we believe that Veterans should be afforded the same opportunities to live successful and fulfi lling lives as anybody else. Due to the length of time it has taken to complete this planning process, and in recognition of the needs of homeless Veterans in Carmarthen, six months ago we rented a number of Wales Homes for Veterans in the town. We are delighted that this has enabled us to help those who are vulnerable and in need of a home and our support.

We will continue to support Veterans in these homes, and will be looking to open Homes for Veterans in other areas in the near future.” Carmarthen veteran Lt Col John Skipper expressed his disappointment at Alabare’s decision, but added that he could understand their reasons. In a statement made to the press, he explained why projects like the proposed Lon Hir development are an essential part of provision for veterans of the armed forces: “This type of housing is of critical importance to Armed Forces veterans across the UK, assisting their transition back into civilian life. This transition can be made all the more diffi cult due to Service-related mental and physical health issues. It is a fundamental element in bringing the provisions of the Armed Forces Covenant alive. It also resonates with the recent 70th anniversary of VE day – we must look after those who have put their lives on the line, then and now. I know of many veterans in Wales who are struggling to make ends meet – servicemen to whom we owe an enormous debt for the freedoms we so often take for granted. It is important that a line is now drawn under this unfortunate issue: recrimination and attribution of blame serves no one.” Lt Col Skipper also refl ected on some of the issues raised by objectors: “This very unsavoury argument depicts the veteran as someone who can never be rehabilitated, which is rubbish. My biggest fear is that this will drive away people who would benefi t from this service.”

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Cllr Kevin Madge elected as new county council Chairman

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THE new chair of Carmarthenshire County Council said he will work tirelessly during his term of office.

Cllr Kevin Madge, member for Garnant, takes the chain of office whilst celebrating 40 years as a councillor.

Taking the chair, Cllr Madge paid tribute to outgoing chairman Cllr Mansel Charles, member for Llanegwad, saying he had fulfilled his duties with passion.

Cllr Madge will chair the council for the next 12 months, with Cllr Ieuan Davies, member for Llanybydder, as his vice chair, and his wife Catrin as his consort.

“I’m very much looking forward to the year ahead, I will do my best for everyone. I will work tirelessly,” he said.

Cllr Madge has chosen the Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks and emergency food provision for people in crisis, as his Chairman’s Charity of the Year.

The Chair is the first citizen of Carmarthenshire County Council, and is elected at the Annual General Meeting.

Duties include chairing full meetings of the council, representing the council at formal and ceremonial occasions, welcoming visitors to the county, and attending and supporting events organised by local people and organisations.

Cllr Madge has been a county councillor since 1996, and a member of Cwmaman Town Council since 1979.

He also serves as chairman of the Royal British Legion Garnant branch, Garnant Family Centre and Cwmaman Meals on Wheels, and is a member of Amman Valley League of Friends.

He represents the county council on the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, and the Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm Community Fund, and is on the governing body of Ysgol Y Bedol.

A former pupil of Amman Valley School, Cllr Madge has worked in the Amman Valley throughout his life, most recently as agent and researcher to Dr Alan Williams MP until 2001.

A keen football supporter, he has served as chair and president of Cwmaman Football Club and spent 25 years as a Welsh League and Neath and District football referee.

He is married with two children and three grandchildren.

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‘UK Government should work with the Welsh Labour Government on Tata’

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LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said ““This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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MP and AM call for Trostre certainty after merger fails

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LOCAL ASSEMBLY MEMBER Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.

Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.

During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.

Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”

“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”

Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.

Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”

Nia Griffith AM said “This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.

“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”

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