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Chairman Calls On All Councillors For Help

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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.

Dear Councillor,

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.

Regards,

K R Francis.

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New Body Cameras for Transport for Wales Staff

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Last year alone, saw over 350 reported accounts of physical or verbal abuse against staff on trains in Wales and whilst this is a small number in terms of the overall passenger journeys, TfW are keen to further reduce this number as any incident should not be tolerated.

Antisocial figures in Wales show an improving trend in comparison with the rest of the UK and TfW has previously committed to providing CCTV at every station across the Wales and Borders network and already introduced additional security staff.

This trial is another step forward in reducing this type of behaviour and is being delivered in partnership with the British Transport Police.

The trial will include four different type of cameras, and after a review period, one company will be selected to supplying 300 across the network.

Ken Skates, Welsh Government Transport and North Wales Minister, said:

“Everyone has the right to work or travel on our network without the fear of abuse or threats. The rail staff there to help us are no different to our family and friends. They are working hard to get us from A to B, often in difficult circumstances.

“We must stamp out anti-social behaviour and do everything we can to support staff to do their jobs and let passengers make their journeys in a safe and pleasant environment.”

Daniel Hopkin, a frequent rail passenger on the Neath to Cardiff line added:

“It’s great that Transport for Wales are fitting their staff with cameras. I regularly travel between Neath and Cardiff on the train and I think that any improvements in safety will benefit customers.

“The railway station can be really hectic and the fact that staff will have body cameras should act as a deterrent to some of the occasional bad behaviour. Transport for Wales seem to be considering different ways to improve things for the customer and I find that encouraging as a passenger.”

Marc Clancy, Transport for Wales Conductor said:

“We have to deal with a range of people daily and most of our customers are grateful and polite. We work extremely hard to give our customers the best possible experience when using our services, however at times staff and passengers do experience occasional antisocial behaviour and abuse.

“The introduction of these cameras should act as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour, support assault prosecutions and boost public confidence in safety.

“They will provide our front-line staff with more confidence when dealing with difficult situations and abusive customers.”

BTP Superintendent Andrew Morgan, said:

“The safety of passengers and our rail industry colleagues is our absolute priority and we do everything we can to protect them.

“We fully support the introduction of body worn cameras for Transport for Wales’ frontline staff – we know from experience that body worn video is a fantastic piece of kit that helps us in securing convictions against those who target staff with unnecessary violence or abuse.

“We hope the introduction will deter anti-social behaviour and provide reassurance to rail staff as well as passengers.
Fortunately, these types of incidents are few and far between, however if anyone has any concerns while travelling, they can text us on 61016.”

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Courts fine a Llwynhendy man for illegal cockling

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A man from Llwynhendy in Llanelli has been fined £1,032 for illegal cockling at Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery.
Terry Royston Butchers, aged 64, was summoned to appear at Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday, 31 January, 2020.

He admitted taking live cockles from the licensed area twice and failing to comply with instructions from an enforcement officer.

He was fined £240 and ordered to pay Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) legal costs totalling £760, plus £32 court costs.

During a night time patrol on 29 June, 2019, he was found attempting to get sacks of cockles from his quad bike onto a 4×4.

He gave false details and tried to escape several times. NRW officers stopped him and then positively identified him with assistance from Dyfed-Powys Police .

His cockle gathering equipment was seized and he was ordered to place all live cockles back on the cockle beds.Andrea Winterton, Marine Services Manager of Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Our enforcement officers work hard, often in difficult circumstances, to tackle illegal cockling. It is an essential part of our careful management of the cockle beds.

Illegal cockling not only damages people’s livelihoods, it can seriously damage cockle habitat and the sustainability of the cockle population.

”Natural Resources Wales manages the cockling industry at Burry Inlet to maintain the delicate balance between the needs of the local economy and the area’s protected wildlife.

Licensing the area puts measures in place to protect the habitat. Dealing with persistent illegal cockling, helps to prevent the cockle beds from having to close.

There are currently 36 licensed cocklers who can fish sustainably at Burry Inlet. There are 61 people on a waiting list.

Andrea Winterton added:

“The Burry Inlet Fishery is important to our local heritage. If we look after our environment, the economy, society and wildlife can all benefit.

“I would encourage people to report concerns about illegal shell fishing or other fishing practices to the confidential NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.”

Anyone wanting to gather cockles within the Burry Inlet Fishery must have a valid licence.

The only exception is an area between Llanrhidian Pill in the South and Llanelli Dock in the North, where people can gather a maximum of 8kg a day without a licence for personal consumption.

Find out more about the Burry Inlet Cockle Fishery.

To report concerns around illegal cockling, call the NRW hotline on 0300 065 3000 24 hours a day.
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First look at new plans for Llanelli town centre

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THE first look at new plans for a key development site in Llanelli town centre have been revealed.

Carmarthenshire County Council is planning a massive investment in the town centre to transform, regenerate and connect its key retail and leisure areas.

The latest to be unveiled is the plan for Market Street North, where a number of new commercial units are set to be built with high quality apartment living space above.

They would replace the building most recently occupied by Altalia, which unfortunately cannot be redeveloped owing to its poor structural condition.

However, new designs for the development give a nod to the current building’s character, including the replication of its splayed corner.

A traditional brick and block façade is also planned to complement the character of the Exchange Building which stands opposite.

A pre-planning consultation is now underway by Asbri Planning, on behalf of the county council, where members of the public can view the plans and provide feedback before a formal planning application is submitted.

The Market Street North scheme is just one of a series of planned developments across the whole town centre, where millions of pounds are being invested to improve the appearance of the main shopping district and attract more commercial interest and footfall.

The council has already spent £4.5million buying empty shop units from private ownership, renovating and bringing them back in to use at affordable rental levels – all of them currently occupied by independent businesses with tenants in the first and second floor apartments.

A Local Development Order has been put in place to simplify the planning process for potential investors, and property development grants are being offered to owners of town centre buildings to improve the appearance of shop fronts.

More investment is in the pipeline and yet to be announced, but the council has confirmed this will involve further investment in key buildings and development sites across the whole town centre.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of the council, said: “Very shortly we will be sharing our vision for the whole town centre, where we are investing heavily to improve the town’s appeal and bring more businesses and people in.

“We have already spent significantly to buy several buildings from private owners and have brought them back in to use at rental levels that are achievable for the local market. This has been its own success, but we have even more planned.

“Market Street North is an important element of these plans, and we’ve seized the opportunity of significant grant funding from the Welsh Government to develop this site.

“We know this is a much-loved building that holds a lot of memories for many people in Llanelli, and whilst we cannot use the current building because of its poor structural state we are keen to retain the look and feel of this corner.

“We hope our plans to re-build on this site, providing improved retail and food units with apartments above, will attract new businesses and people to the town.

“We are still disappointed that Altalia is no longer part of our plans for this site because of the owners’ own commitments, but we want to create purpose-built premises that will become home to businesses of equal appeal and quality to bring vibrancy back to this end of town.

“This feeds in to our overall plans for the town which we hope to share in the very near future.”

The pre-planning consultation for Market Street North is now live at www.asbriplanning.co.uk and is also available to view at Llanelli Library until March 4, 2020.

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