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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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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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