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Contamination debate kicks up a stink

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Bill Thomas: The asker of awkward questions

COUNCIL LEADER Emlyn Dole used a debate on the Council’s strategy on contaminated land to slam the Welsh Government for introducing regulatory obligations on local authorities without coming up with the money to perform or fund them.
Cllr Dole asked: “Where is the Welsh Government’s funding for this? It seems to have hit a brick wall. The Government issues guidance but does not provide funding to match the guidance it hands down.”
Cllr Sian Caiach (Hengoed) asked how many contaminated land sites there were across the County, especially in respect of those residential areas where residents are advised not to grow vegetables or eat those they have grown in their back gardens.
Responding, Council officer Sue Watts said that the Council had identified contaminated land in an extensive survey in 2001 and had identified some of them before the Welsh Government withdrew funding for the exercise. With regard to residential areas, Ms Watts was unable to say whether the Council had advised residents other than in 2001, and was uncertain whether the warning was contained in their deeds. No ongoing information had been provided to residents.
Cllr Sian Thomas (Penygroes) pointed out that there were significant dangers following on from illegal dumping that had taken place at some sites in the County. Highlighting an incident at the former Emlyn Colliery in her ward, she told councillors that late night dumping of almost certainly illegal waste in the colliery had been a problem. She noted that if the environmental report on the Emlyn site was taken at face value, then the existing village would need to be demolished.
Cllr Thomas told councillors: “Any developer must ensure us that the land upon which they wish to build is safe, not only for garden but also for digging out foundations.”
There was a dispute between Cllr Bill Thomas (Lliedi) and Chair Peter Griffiths as to whether Cllr Dole would take note of the European Union proceedings against the UK regarding the pollution of the Burry Inlet and the Loughor Estuary. Alongside the Chair, Council Chief Executive Mark James appeared agitated and eager to curtail Cllr Thomas’ intervention in the discussion.
To widespread groans from Plaid Cymru and Independent members, Cllr Thomas suggested that the Chief Executive had told the Chair to deny him the opportunity of asking questions. Cllr Griffiths continued to prevent Cllr Thomas from asking the officer questions about the Burry Inlet and the Loughor Estuary.
Finally the officer confirmed that the Council was aware of the case and its potential impact upon the Council as a potential contributor to the payment of any fine levied by the EU.

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Family tribute to Carole Patricia Fowler

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Carole was a teacher for 30 years at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Llanelli. She loved children and they loved her. 

As one of her past colleagues said: “I know she made such a difference to every child she taught.” She was very popular with staff and well respected and loved by parents. She was dedicated and conscientious, always 100% for the children. She led the music there and was always popular with her guitar accompaniments for services and concerts. 

Likewise, she was a valued member of the choir at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Gendros, Swansea, where she would often accompany hymns with her guitar and gave guitar lessons to the children in the church’s Saturday Music Club. She was also a keen member of Côr Persain, Ammanford. 

She was talented, loved and in demand. A convicted and devout Catholic all her life, through good and bad.

Carole was an avid and very gifted crocheter and was always crocheting or knitting something for someone. She had been spending her time recently, during the Covid crisis, crocheting NHS teddies in scrubs and rainbows, with many given to practising nurses. Carole had recently started learning to make bobbin lace. She was also capable of some very decent sewing, too. 

She was also learning Welsh, doing ‘pilates’ and was considering taking up yoga lessons as well.

She was a busy lady! As one of her work colleagues said of her: “She was wise, strong, beautiful, generous, devout and feisty. And I loved her for all those qualities.”

Above all, she was an immeasurably loved Mam, daughter, sister and a doting Mamgu and so much loved by her fiancé. Having been together for 14 years, they would have been married last July 20th had covid allowed! 

Her premature passing at 61 is tragic and she is already sorely, painfully missed. She leaves behind a huge chasm in so many hearts that cannot be filled.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, o Lord, may perpetual light shine about her, may she rest in peace.”

If anyone witnessed the collision or may have been travelling on the M4 at the relevant time, please contact the Serious Collision Unit quoting police reference DPP-20210113-317

Police can be contacted either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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