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Is the tide turning at County Hall?

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Stinking: Raw sewage is released into the environment as system can’t cope

Stinking: Raw sewage is released into the environment as system can’t cope

CARMARTHEN COUNTY COUNCIL’S planning committee made a visit to the Grillo site in Burry Port on Tuesday (June 2). Members of the committee, including local councillors Patricia Jones and John James, were present during discussions, which took place on the harbour side and in a car park some distance from the site.

We asked Councillors Jones and James if they would answer some of our questions and they said that they would following the site visit. Neither Cllr. Jones, nor Cllr. James stayed to answer our questions.

This newspaper telephoned the leader Cllr. Emlyn Dole to ask why the councillors had left without answering our questions. He said: “They would have had to avoid you because of protocol. You should put those questions to the chair of planning.”

The Herald interviewed Cllr. Lenny by telephone. He told The Herald “I have just started as chair of planning and it is my intention to try and make the planning process and decisions as clear and transparent as possible. I would like to be more proactive in that I’d like to publish press releases on a more regular basis.”

The Herald asked Cllr. Lenny if he had read the environmental report by Waterman Quadrant.

“Yes”, he said, “That was included in the essential reading along with the host of comments from the various consultants like the NRW. I appreciate that this is a contentious site and not without challenges. As a post industrial site there is contamination in the land. The numerous conditions attached to the planning recommendation including the contamination will have to be complied with. In my view this is the primary consideration. Now according to the amended maps flooding should no longer be n issue on this site. In general I’d say that the LDP will take up a lot of agricultural land for house building and they don’t make any more of it. There is a genuine fear that food production might be affected by the disappearance of agricultural land. This is a brown field site and is the type of land Welsh Government would favour for development. Brown field land is not without its issues. The contamination aspect will have to be dealt with.”

The Herald asked Cllr. Lenny, ‘What legal advice has the council received from Welsh Water on the ongoing proceedings before the European Court and what measures will you put in place to deal with the already over capacity sewage system in the Bury Port area?

Cllr. Lenny replied, “I asked that question at yesterday’s meeting. We mustn’t forget that the committee is minded to approve. If a request to call in is received it is taken out of our hands. We are in a fairly ambiguous position at the moment. Yesterday’s decision wasn’t a decision as such. It was an agreement in principle if you like. The E.U. press release in March mentions places in England and it mentions Llanelli and Gowerton. Obviously we are well aware of the situation there. It is not a new one. Welsh water is playing catch up on this however they are implementing innovative and environmentally positive resolutions.”

We pushed Cllr. Lenny on the question, ‘Are you confident you will hold out to put measures in place to deal with the over capacity of the sewage system in the Llanelli area?

He told our reporter, “This is a large site and has to be seen in the context of the Llanelli and Burry Inlet area. The committee felt and were unanimously minded to approve all six applications. They supported the application should I say. This site cannot be left as it is. Pembrey and Burry Port town council were very much behind the development. There are challenging factors and these will have to be addressed. There will also have to be safety measures put in place for the railway.”

Cllr. Lenny was asked about comments made by local councillor Patricia Jones, which seemed to predetermine the outcome of the planning application. Cllr. Lenny said, “We have free predisposition as a condition under the Localism Act. What we have to how is that we have an open mind. If I may say so, one of the local members speaking to the evening post said ‘this must go ahead’. This is plainly predetermination but she is on the sub-committee. We also consult with our solicitor.”

When asked in what circumstances the council would take legal action to push through the development Cllr. Lenny replied, “At the moment the ball is very much in the Welsh Governments court. You will be aware that the Welsh Government is a partner on the site. This is a key site. The school is a key part of the site. I can’t pre-empt what the Welsh Governments decision would be nor the council’s decision would be regarding legal action. Given that all members were unanimous in minding to support the development the council would take all reasonable steps to try and implement the development.”

Cllr. Lenny was asked why the amount of money promised under a Section 106 agreement had been reduced and whether the council could renegotiate. He told the Herald: “It is a source of concern for me as a member of the planning committee. Before coming to the chair I would always challenge any reduction in Section 106 contributions and indeed any reduction in percentage to affordable housing. One part of the development has 20% and just 10% in the other one. I asked this question and the answer was that clearing the site of contamination is a prime factor in the cost hence the 10%. I was always challenge and question in affordable housing. As the county council is a partner in the housing venture I hope that the county council’s involvement in this development will make that 20% more watertight.”

Cllr. Lenny wanted to reiterate that the development had a positive side and said, “The Welsh government challenged the application previously on the flooding issue. I don’t know if there were lesser issues involved at that time. It hasn’t been called in they have put an Article 18 stop on it. This is a key site within the county due to it being a brown field site being vacant for many years. It has potential not only for housing development but also for employment and a much-needed Welsh medium school. This is a brown field site, which would take pressure off building on green field land. Despite the many problems on the site, it is a challenging site and they will have to be addressed, hopefully it will be a key site, which will give employment education and homes to people in this part of Carmarthenshire. Obviously the retail application is outline. Tesco asked for permission but as you are aware Tesco have their own issues at the moment and are closing smaller supermarkets at the moment. I am not sure where they stand in the context of this development.”

Our reporter asked Cllr. Lenny what kind of reassurances would local businesses get.

He said, “Lessons can be learned from what has happened in Llanelli. The Trostre development has damaged the town centre. In Carmarthen the development has been close to the centre and Carmarthen has become the fourth most successful commercial centre in Wales. Any large retail developer has to be close to the smaller shops so that they benefit from the extra footfall.”

Finally the Herald asked about the contentious issue of parking. Cllr. Lenny said, “We are looking a while down the road but there is enough elbowroom on the brown field site for parking and I would like to see any parking sites to be equidistant from any development and the small businesses.”

Carmarthenshire County Council issued a press release at 4:30 pm on (June 3). It reads,

REDEVELOPMENT OF BURRY PORT

Ambitious plans to redevelop Burry Port have moved a step closer today as the Welsh Government has lifted a stopper notice preventing approval of a major element of the proposals. Yesterday’s meeting of the county council’s planning committee unanimously voted that it was minded to approve six planning applications – for up to 230 homes at the former Grillo site, for infrastructure for that site, for a 134 unit housing development alongside the former Grillo site, for construction of a 330-place Welsh Medium Primary School off Burrows Terrace, for a commercial leisure development at Burry Port Harbour East, for employment space alongside Silver Terrace.

The council could not make a decision to actually grant permission following a Welsh Government intervention before the previous planning committee giving formal notice under Article 18 that it was not in a position to approve any of the six applications including the school. But today the Welsh Government removed the notice covering the plans for 230 homes on the Grillo site after deciding not to ‘call in’ the application for the Minister to decide, as the issues raised are of no more than local importance. A decision on the notices covering the other five applications will follow soon.

A decision approving the 230- home application can be released once the Section 106 legal agreement on community benefits is agreed. Planning committee members had visited the sites in Burry Port before yesterday’s meeting. There has been a long history to the issue with Welsh Government maps showing the area, at one time, liable to flooding. The County Council challenged this but the maps could not be changed in time for the area to be included in the Local Development Plan.

The Welsh Government has delayed allowing the council to make a decision so that the Minister can give careful consideration to the issues that prompted the stopper notice. Flooding is one of the concerns. The council’s executive board member for regeneration and leisure Cllr Meryl Gravell said, “Yesterday the planning committee decided that the local authority is minded to approve these developments and today the Welsh Government has lifted the notice preventing us making a decision on a significant part of the plans. It is brilliant news. We are supporting these schemes in order to deliver a longstanding economic strategy of providing jobs and enhancing the environment in Burry Port. We are hoping to see the notices lifted soon on the other applications and to seeing speedy progress made on the plans to take Burry Port forward.”

Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said, “This is excellent news. I’m pleased to see that the Welsh Government has moved quickly on this application and look forward to a quick lifting of the notices on the other five. Then we can move forward with the whole scheme. “I said at the beginning of my leadership that regeneration is at the heart of my vision for the county. Jobs, houses, and leisure are central to that.”

 

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How Wales created 19 new field hospitals in less than 8 weeks…

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Across Wales the Welsh Government is supporting the NHS to create new field hospitals and rapidly increase bed capacity.
Health boards have repurposed existing buildings, including the Principality Stadium, a holiday park and even a television studio to provide an additional 6,000 beds.Field hospitals are designed to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic by providing extra bed capacity but they will also help normal hospital services be restarted and support social care services.Last month, the first patients were admitted to Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig at the Principality Stadium, in Cardiff.

Four to six weeks

Here is how Wales almost doubled its bed capacity in less than eight weeks…The time it has taken to nearly double hospital bed capacity in Wales, creating field hospitals across the nation.

19 field hospitals in Wales
This includes the repurposing of Bluestone Holiday Park and Parc y Scarlets in west Wales and Venue Cymru in north Wales.

1,500 beds at the Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig
Making it one of the largest field hospitals in the UK.

Five days
The length of time it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, which overlapped with the build phase.

3,000
The number of planning hours, involving more than 20 different disciplines, it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig.

£166m
Welsh Government funding for the set up, construction and equipment for field hospitals in Wales.

138,000
The number of pieces of equipment have been provided to help support field hospitals, including beds, imaging equipment, syringe drivers and medicines.

Three North Wales field hospitals have the name Enfys
Meaning rainbow – the symbol of hope and thank you to the NHS during the pandemic.
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children

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Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.

Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic.  As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real.  Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.

Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help.  My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.

‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’

Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge.  Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund. 

‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most.  I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’

If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb

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Housebuilder launches Coronavirus move in package

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A South Wales housebuilder has launched new incentives which mean homes are ‘ready to move into’ during the Covid-19 crisis – without the need for tradespeople or delivery people.

People in Wales are allowed to move into new build houses during the lockdown – and many people have successfully done so.

However, the limitations of social distancing can add extra stress when it comes to having things like dishwashers, washing machines and turf installed in the new property.

That’s why Persimmon Homes West Wales has launched a new incentive package which gives purchasers the chance to buy a house with white goods and flooring already in place.

Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “Our sales advisors have done a terrific job in talking with customers and guiding them through the buying process remotely, without the need of face-to-face meetings.

“It’s been a huge challenge, but we’ve risen to it – and Persimmon has sold more than 120 properties in South Wales during the lockdown period. We have customers moving into their new homes every week.

“But, understandably, some people are cautious about having too many tradespeople and contractors enter their home, even if they are doing their utmost to abide by social distancing rules.

“That’s why we have launched these new packages which mean people can turn the key, unpack and get on with enjoying their new home.”

The package includes carpets and vinyl throughout, turf in the back garden, sliding wardrobes, integrated fridge freezer, integrated washer/dryer, integrated dishwasher and £500 discount towards removal fees.

The deal is on offer at Glas Y Felin in Bridgend, Parc Yr Onnen in Carmarthen, The Bridles in Llanelli, Peterson Park in Pontyclun, Parc Brynderi in Llanelli and Allt Y Celyn in Rhos.

Persimmon’s marketing suites in Wales remain closed for the time being. Visit www.persimmonhomes.com or call 01792 229800 for details of homes available.

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