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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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Llanelli: Stop notice issued for school planning application

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A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for a new 480-spaced school in Llanelli has been issued a stop notice by the Welsh Government.
Carmarthenshire County Council is proposing to build a new £9.1m school on Llanerch Fields in Llanelli and were looking to determine the planning application in the coming weeks. Welsh Government will now decide whether to call in the application or not.
The new school would accommodate 420 primary and 60 nursery pupils, set over two floors with larger classrooms with integrated IT facilities, a multi-purpose hall and specialist provision for pupils with additional learning needs.
Over recent years there has been much debate in the area on the choice of site for the new school with campaigners arguing that they support a new school, but object against Llanerch fields being built upon. Last year an attempt to get the land designated as a village green was turned down.
In 2017, Ysgol Dewi Sant as the first Welsh medium primary school to be provided by a local authority celebrated its 70th birthday.
Councillor Rob James, local member for Lliedi, stated “From day one I have raised concerns that the Council’s site choice and planning process opened the Council up to the possibility of the Welsh Government calling in the planning application. It is clear that these concerns were not misplaced and there is now a really chance that it will be. 

“As a local Councillor, a school governor and a parent, I am passionate about the need for a new school for the pupils of Ysgol Dewi Sant and it is important that local pupils get the benefits of a 21st century school.
“I will now be working with Council Officers to ensure that contingency plans are prepared in case the Welsh Government state that the planning application does not comply with national planning policy.
“I will also work with parents, pupils, residents and interested parties are able to engage with the Welsh Government during this process.”

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Third annual Burry Port Raft Race is eagerly awaited

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THE THIRD ANNUAL BURRY PORT RAFT RACE, organised by Burry Port couple, Craig and Isabel Goodman, will be held on Saturday (July 27).

The event which is held in Burry Port Harbour, raises much needed funds for both Burry Port RNLI and a children’s football academy and primary school the couple support in The Gambia.

The day launches at 12pm with stands, food stalls and children’s inflatable games and rides and these will be available until 5pm. You’ll also have a chance to meet the crews, who’ll be busy putting the final touches to their rafts.

Rafts launch at 3pm, followed by a presentation ceremony, including prizes for first raft over the line, first raft to sink and best dressed raft.

Craig said: ” A huge thank you goes to all our sponsors, including overall sponsor Dawsons, along with continued sponsorship from Celtic Couriers, Parker Plant Hire, Burns Pet Nutrition, Burry Port Co-Op, Llanelli Star, LBS Builders Merchants, Burry Port Marina, First Choice Flooring and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.

For any further information about the event, please contact 07825 842981.

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Compensation offered after FSCS declares Llanelli firm in default

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CONSUMERS could get back money they have lost as a result of their dealings with a failed regulated firm in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. The firm is Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited formerly Assura Protect, Room 1, 7 Meadows Bridge, Parc Menter, Cross Hands, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA14 6RA.

The firm was declared in default in June 2019 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

FSCS is the UK’s statutory compensation scheme that protects customers of authorised financial services firms that carry out certain regulated activities. A declaration of default means FSCS is satisfied a firm is unable to pay claims for compensation made against it. This paves the way for customers of that firm to make a claim for compensation with FSCS.

Alex Kuczynski, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at FSCS, said: “FSCS steps in to protect consumers around the UK when authorised financial services firms go bust. This vital service, which is free to consumers, protects deposits, insurance, investments, home finance and debt management. We want anyone who believes they may be owed money as a result of their dealings with this firm to get in touch, as we may be able to help you.”

Since it began in 2001, FSCS has helped more than 4.5m people, paying out more than £26bn in compensation.

If you wish to make a claim with FSCS against Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited, you may be able to do so using FSCS’s online claims service at https://claims.fscs.org.uk Or you can contact its Customer Services Team on 0800 678 1100 or 020 7741 4100

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