HERALD NEWS UPDATE
THE CHAIRMAN of the Carmarthenshire United Sports Committee has written a letter to every single County Councillor in Carmarthenshire expressing his concerns over council plans to spend on stone walls on roundabouts and to invest in new projects while running existing projects into the ground and eventually selling them off or closing them off to the public. Mr Kevin Francis is asking councillors to support him against the onslaught of cuts. First Minister Carwyn Jones has also stated that it is now up to the council and councillors to convince the people of Carmarthenshire that the County Council is not officer led and to explain to the people why they are not using the £100 million plus they have in reserves.
Mr. Francis writes
This email has been sent to every councillor in Carmarthenshire. It is the councils intention to close every park and playground in Carmarthenshire if they can’t find anyone to take them over by 2017. Contact your local councillor now before we lose these areas forever.
My name is Kevin Francis and I am writing to you today in my role as Chairman of the Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee (CUSC).
This committee was formed in 2014 to oppose the pitch and green fee rises proposed by Carmarthenshire County Councils Executive Board. We are a non-political organisation. Our members are all non-paid volunteers who contribute their time and knowledge to help grass roots sports in our communities. As an example the Carmarthenshire Football League alone has 315 fully qualified and CRB checked volunteers coaching 1825 children.
Due to our campaign and a motion brought by current Leader of the council Emlyn Dole, CCC agreed to freeze the hire costs for a year until proper consultation with the sporting clubs had taken place. This consultation resulted in a saving of £241,505 to the authority and an affordable hire agreement to the sporting clubs.
It has come to our attention that The Executive Board of CCC will meet on Monday November 30th to discuss the possibility of ploughing £286,000 of taxpayer’s money into the velodrome situated in Carmarthen Park.
Councillor Meryl Gravell has stated that this project will attract more people to the area.
We at the CUSC are astonished that CCC are contemplating spending public money on this facility whilst at the same time Councillor David Jenkins, the Executive Board member for Finance, Property and Asset Transfer goes to press stating that they have no choice but to look at alternative ways of providing non statutory services such as the Llanelli areas parks and playgrounds because they simply cannot afford to continue maintaining them. Will the closure of parks and playgrounds in the Llanelli area attract more people?
We as a committee understand the financial situation the council faces but if cuts are being made to Leisure and Technical Services departments surely these should reflect their current and future usage? With this in mind we are asking whether users of this velodrome will be asked to cover the full maintenance cost of this area as is the case with Football, Rugby, Cricket and Bowls.
The Sporting organisations we represent are under great financial strain due to the fact that they are being asked to cover the full maintenance costs of the areas they hire to play their chosen sport. This kind of subsidy will not sit well with them or us.
The Llanelli area contributes roughly 43% of CCC’s Council Tax Income yet our public recreational areas are faced with closure.
Parks and Playgrounds contribute to the health and well being of children who would otherwise be part of the obesity statistic of young people in Wales, which currently stands at 19%! They are a vital part of encouraging a better standard of fitness, health and well being in the community, hence reducing the burden on the NHS.
Any loss of an outside playing area no matter how small has to be detrimental to resolving this obesity crisis. An area that is free to access for a family struggling financially could make a big difference to a child’s wellbeing. Leisure Centre’s and Play Centre’s are wonderful facilities but they are very expensive when used on a daily basis. We urge you as councilors to stand up and fight for all of our parks and playgrounds not just the select few.
This was the response of Phil Williams, a Carmarthenshire League Mini Football coach when he was asked what Penygaer & Llanerch Playing Fields meant to him:
“Three generations of my family have played football on those playing fields. I grew up in Llanerch; I played on those fields every weekend and every day during the school holidays. I learned to ride a bike on the path besides Penygaer. As a kid I watched my dad playing football there. I have memories of walking with my Gramps down there and him smoking his pipe. Every time I smell a pipe now it takes me back to those playing fields.
Those pitches are important for the town, as it is the only multi pitch facility in the area, where many teams come together on a Saturday and a Sunday to play football. It’s the spiritual home of the Carmarthenshire League”
A recent Facebook post by Charity Gala Organiser Ann Jones (05/11/15) gave us these thoughts:
“In 1912, Sir Stafford Howard and his wife Lady Stepney Howard gifted Parc Howard to the people of Llanelli. That is a fact it was a gift. There will always be ‘people of Llanelli’ but every 4 years, Councillor’s change. A comparatively small number of people, in power for a very short time do not have the right to decide on the future of something, which belongs to the people. I doubt that the Stepney Howards envisaged this appalling turn of events when they made their generous gift to our town. Strange how the Council seem to be able to find funds for all sorts of things, especially executives salary increments and golden handshakes but cannot work with the owners (Llanelli inhabitants) of Parc Howard to keep it in perpetuity, for future generations, one of the most historic and spectacular parks in Wales and beyond. If this part of our local heritage is lost, we only have ourselves to blame; people power is a mighty force. In reality, the council works for us, it is in our hands to save what is ours. I am appalled at what the council proposes to do. Please folk, please share and make our presence known. We will NOT have our heritage stolen from us to be reduced to commercial enterprise etc. I am appalled.”
We didn’t ask for walls on roundabouts but we do ask that we keep our recreational areas, as they are a vital part of the health and well being of our community. What are we paying a substantial amount of our council tax for?
Llanelli Town Centre has recently been voted the 2nd worst in the whole of the UK; do we want our open spaces to be tarred with the same humiliating brush or even worse, lost forever?
Even if the closure of these facilities doesn’t directly affect your constituency we still need your support in this matter.
K R Francis.
Third annual Burry Port Raft Race is eagerly awaited
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.
The tale of the WW2 Luftwaffe pilot who mistakenly landed in west Wales
IT WAS this time of year, 1942, that a bizarre series of events led to a German fighter pilot landing at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, unintentionally aiding the war effort of The Allied Forces in the process.
On June 23, 1942, Oberleautnant Armin Fabar was ordered to a fly a combat mission along with his squadron, in response to an Allied bombing raid of northern France.
Fabar’s squadron (the 7th Staffel) all flew Focke-Wulf 190 fighter planes. These planes were seen as superior to the then current Spitfires of the Allied Forces, and in the subsequent dog-fight that developed over The English Channel seven Spitfires were shot down, compared to only two Focke-Wulf 190s (FW-190s).
One Czechoslovakian Spitfire pilot, Alois Vašátko, dramatically lost his life when, in the fray of combat, he collided head-on with an FW-190. The German pilot bailed out and was later captured by Allied Forces.
In the ensuing battle, Faber became disorientated and was separated from his squadron. He was attacked by a Spitfire manned by Seargent František Trejtnar. In a desperate attempt to shake off his pursuer, Faber fled North over the skies of Devon. He pulled off a brilliant ‘Immelman Turn’, a move in which the sun is used to dazzle a pursuer on your tail. Now flying directly from Trejtnar’s view of the sun, Faber shot him down.
Trejtnar crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon suffering shrapnel wounds and a broken arm.
The victorious Faber had another problem entirely, though he was unaware of it at the time. He had mistaken The Bristol Channel for The English Channel, and flew north into south Wales, thinking it was northern France!
Finding the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey, in Carmarthernshire, Faber prepared to land. Observers on the ground ‘could not believe their eyes’ as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.
Faber expected to be greeted with open arms by his German brothers, but was instead greeted by Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sgt Matthews, pointing a flare gun at his face (he had no other weapon to hand).
As the gravity of the mistake slowly dawned on him, the stricken Faber was ‘so despondent that he attempted suicide’ unsuccessfully.
Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley. Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. At one point the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missing Faber’s head!
Fabers mistaken landing in Wales was a gift for The Allied Forces, a disaster for The Third Reich.
He had inadvertently presented the RAF with one of the greatest prizes of the entire war – an intact example of the formidable Focke-Wulf 190 fighter plane, an aircraft the British had learned to fear and dread ever since it made its combat debut the previous year.
Over the following months Faber’s plane was examined in minute detail, the allies desperately looking for any weakness in the FW-190. There were few to be found.
They did find one, however.
The FW-190s became relatively sluggish at higher altitudes. This knowledge aided the Allied Forces and saved countless lives, as the aerial battles turned increasingly in their favour.
Faber was taken as a prisoner of war, eventually being sent to a POW camp in Canada. Towards the end of the war he was sent home to Germany due to his ill health.
49 years later Faber would visit the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, where parts of his FW-190 are displayed to this day, along with parts of the Spitfire that he shot down in the skies over Devon. He presented the Museum with his officer’s dagger and pilot’s badge.
This little-known but important piece of Carmarthenshire history illustrates not only the high-stakes arms race between The Third Reich and The Allied Forces during WW2, but also the cost of human error.
NSPCC: Wales conference puts spotlight on domestic abuse
PROTECTING women and children from domestic abuse was the focus of a ground-breaking conference in Wales this week (Mar 28).
Organised by Cardiff University’s Exchange Network – with support from NSPCC Cymru / Wales and Welsh Women’s Aid – the event aimed to share information on the most effective approaches to tackle all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and support for victims – be they adults or children.
Preventing violence from happening and protecting those who fall victim to domestic abuse formed the focus of the conference, at Cardiff’s Novotel Hotel.
Representatives from Welsh Government, Relate Cymru, Barnardos and Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre also attended.
Domestic abuse continues to be a significant reason for young people to contact Childline. In 2016/17 volunteers at the NSPCC-run helpline undertook 120 counselling sessions with children from Wales who had concerns about abuse by a partner in their own relationship.
And 241 children from Wales contacted Childline to discuss parental domestic abuse.
Some young people who witness this also experience physical abuse by their parents. This can sometimes happen when they try and intervene in the abuse taking place, with some children telling Childline they were hit by their mother or father when trying to stop a fight.
“Sometimes my dad gets in a bad mood and gets really aggressive. He says horrible things to me and my mum and it scares me. In the past he was threatening to hit my mum, when I tried to get him to calm down he slapped me instead. I feel like neither of them listen to me and they don’t understand how upset it’s all making me.” (Girl, 16-18, Wales)
Head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, Des Mannion, told The Llanelli Herald: “Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing and it’s hugely important that we share information and discuss ways to both prevent violence and protect victims.
“We all have a part to play in tackling domestic abuse and it’s important to pick up the phone if you’re concerned so that our advisers can offer guidance and get help where it’s needed.
“Stepping in early helps to change behaviours and avoid abuse escalating, and putting the child at the heart of interventions is paramount in keeping children safe and limiting long-term damage.
“It is also vital that children and young people affected by domestic abuse have access to the right kind of support to overcome the trauma of witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse.”
Any child worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on 0800 11 11. Any adult who is concerned about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
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