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Clandestine meetings at hotel

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Llanelli Town Council met this week to discuss the selling off of Parc Howard, above.

Llanelli Town Council met this week to discuss the selling off of
Parc Howard, above.

DETAILS are emerging of secret meetings between a Carmarthenshire County Council cabinet member, Carmarthenshire County Council officers and the Parc Howard Association at a local hotel.

Llanelli Town Council met on Thursday (Jun 4) to discuss the selling off of Parc Howard. The mansion and the grounds it resides in were gifted by Sir Stafford and Lady Howard Stepney to the town in January 1912 and after conversion into a park it was opened by Lady Howard Stepney on her first wedding anniversary on Saturday September 21 1912.

The Parc Howard Association exists to work with current owners Carmarthenshire County Council to maintain and improve the facilities at Parc Howard in accordance with the spirit of the original gift.

The Herald received an email stating: ‘It is a venture supported by the CCC but foisted onto the Town Council in a bid to avoid publicity. It is the usual thing with CCC whereby they try to place Community Councils in a position that if they do not support the suggestion they receive bad publicity in respect of any failure to save anything’.

It is suggested that in the meeting agenda there is a figure for cost and that is well above the tender process within the European Union for tendering. The Herald understands that Carmarthenshire County Council suggests that a joint venture with the Town Council is seemingly preferable.

This latest revelation is not the start the new council leader would have wished for.

At a meeting of Llanelli Town Council on Wednesday (Jun 3) councillors were asked a number of questions regarding the latest revelations.

The Howard family with the local council acting gifted Parc Howard to the children of Llanelli as care taker or trustee. These responsibilities were taken on by previous councils and councillors who set a precept for the maintenance of the park; this situation was inherited by Carmarthenshire County Council in 1995 and now they seek to abdicate this responsibility in a totally unacceptable manner which may even breach European Legislation regarding the tender process which has to be applied for such large invested sums of money. County Councillors including cabinet members have to pay regard to the Nolan Principles in Public Life when taking steps to enter into any kind of venture where the money involved is greater than the European Legislation allows.

Does the county council and councilors including the cabinet member with responsibility know about the legislation?

It was felt that if they did not it was a very strange situation, as the County Councillors present and the Town Councillors present knew about it.

A meeting with county council officers and county members of the previous administration had been part of a public meeting of the town council just a few months ago where none of the elements now proposed in this letter and report were aired or voiced.

Was it the intention of the county council to place the town council in an invidious position where the council was seen to be un-supportive of the plans and thereby take all the blame for the failure of the scheme?

The scheme supported by the independent councilors including the cabinet member, the chair of Parc Howard, a recent UKIP candidate for parliament, has now been inherited by the new coalition of Plaid and independents this issue needs to be dealt with by the new Plaid administration.

On the issue of tendering according to legislation

The letter from the interested party states that the County Council had led them to believe that the Llanelli Town Council had agreed to take over the Park and that there could be a joint venture with the Town Council. In doing this did the County Council hope to have a single company take this on via the Town Council without tendering; or was the plan to place all the burden and costs onto the Llanelli Town Council for something that is legally and essentially the responsibility of the County Council.

Parc Howard Association

This organisation had been involved in the plans put forward by this company and had been involved in consultation talks and meetings with the company and council officers and members, which did not include include public consultation or any real dialogue with the Llanelli Town Council on the proposals. The Chair of Parc Howard has and is organising further meetings for consultation with the Parc Howard Association and possibly the company and possibly County Council officers; however the chair did not invite or make it known to the Town Council officiate members of that committee that such meetings were taking place. These people are unelected volunteers who have no mandate from the people of Llanelli to discuss disposal of this Parc or any other property of the Carmarthenshire County Council. Indeed the only elected members with any responsibility were not made aware of any meetings this included the Two County Council Members for the Lleidi ward where Parc Howard is situated. The chair of the association is organising a public meeting on Saturday afternoon at Parc Howard at 2:15 PM. to discuss the plans for Parc Howard, As the county council administration own the venue then presumably the organization have their blessing.

The Town Council decided to send a letter to the County Council expressing their concerns and reminding the county who actually is the trustee and body capable and responsible for making and taking decisions on the matter; and those include full consultation and abiding by European legislation, abdication of such matters cannot happen neither can directing any company towards the Llanelli Town Council be considered of any joint venture agreement as the due diligence issues are the County Council’s and the new administration’s responsibility.

Llanelli Town Council will certainly wish to see a beneficial outcome to the whole affair and would act within the law and its responsibilities to its electors and council tax payers in order to ensure the probity of any such venture in the best interests of Llanelli Town and Carmarthenshire in protecting the inheritance gifted to the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.

The prospective sale of Parc Howard is extremely contentious in Llanelli and has brought Nia Griffiths MP into the fray stating: ‘I am sure that people in Llanelli will be as horrified as I am to learn that UKIP’s Ken Rees, has been in secret talks about selling off Parc Howard. Back a few years ago, when I took the initiative and re-established the Parc Howard Association, the County Council’s Leisure Chief Ian Jones assured us that Parc Howard was Carmarthenshire’s “Jewel in the Crown” and not an asset they would even discuss transferring to the Llanelli Town Council, never mind sell off. Although we know that they have subsequently talked about transferring it, for Ken Rees to be in detailed talks with one purchaser is an affront to the people of Llanelli, and breaks every rule in the book. These talks must stop now’.

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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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