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Quay development plans revealed

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The Ethos Building in Swansea

The Ethos Building in Swansea

PLANS for a new office development on Carmarthen Quay were revealed at an Executive Board meeting on Monday (Nov 30).

The Swansea-based Ethos Group made ‘an unsolicited approach’ to Carmarthenshire County Council, seeking to develop the area where the Quay Centre currently stands.

The future of the Quay Centre is currently uncertain; one of the proposals in the budget consultation is to review youth services provision at the centre, which according to CCC’s website, hosts drop-in centres for the young unemployed and is the base for Carmarthenshire Youth Service and a number of other organisations. The consultation is still open.

Introducing the motion Cllr David Jenkins said that the Chair of the Council and members of the Executive Board had taken the opportunity to visit the Ethos building in Swansea, and saw ‘an exceptional example of cooperative working which allowed small start-ups to develop businesses in the centre of town.’

Cllr Jenkins added that the Ethos Group sought an ‘exclusivity agreement’ which would provide them with the opportunity to get the project ‘worked up.’ The board was invited to consider redeveloping ‘in principle’ either through Ethos, or ‘working towards the relocation of the centre’s current users and openly marketing the site.’

“That is basically the decision before us,” he said.

Councillor Meryl Gravell said that she was ‘absolutely delighted’ and pointed out that talks with Rowland Jones – one of the members of the Ethos Group – had started in 2012.

“This is an opportunity to bring new businesses into Carmarthen – that is what we really need. Quality jobs so that we don’t have as much brain drain as we have in the past,” she added.

Discussing the ‘iconic’ appearance of the Ethos building in Swansea, Cllr Gravell said: “If you are attracting inward investment it is vitally important to have that iconic building. It gives out that openness and welcoming to the county.”

Mark James CBE agreed, and suggested that as the main gateway to Carmarthen it had to be a ‘rather nice looking building.’

Mr James also suggested that Ethos would be to gain funding from the Welsh Government, the EU and the private sector.

A summary said that the site represented a prominent redevelopment opportunity and ‘may also be of interest for other potential uses.’

It was acknowledged that the Town Council had previously expressed an interest in the existing building, as had a community group, which had ‘indicated interest in potential future asset transfer of the property for riverside uses.’

One of the community groups which use the existing building contacted The Herald after finding out about the Ethos proposal through local media. Steve Bright, the Chair of the Gwendraeth Paddlers, said that the club used part of the premises to store canoes, and as a changing room. The basement of the existing building was redeveloped for this purpose using grant funding within the last couple of years.

Mr Bright said that the Paddlers were part of the Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership, and through their qualified coaches, allowed young people the chance to try out different boats and gain experience on the water ‘in relative safety’.

It is thought that none of the groups who use the area regularly – including the coracles and the Carmarthen Boat Club, have been informed of the possible development.

“They are misguidedly jumping on to another white elephant saying that there’s no decent office space available when there are empty offices for rent along old station road and the Pensarn Creamery office has been empty for years,” Mr Bright told us.

“The claim that it will help business by drawing more people to the town centre comes while they charge exorbitant business rates, which rob inception businesses of their capital and don’t allow them to get a foothold. Yet again councillors meddle in business without any idea of who pays their wages and gilt-edged pensions while establishing another white elephant edifice to their incompetence.”

The Herald contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to ask whether the results of the budget consultation would be taken into account when deciding the future of the Quay Centre, but at the time of going to press had received no reply.

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£121k watersports funding announced for Llanelli beauty spot

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• Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Llanelli Rural Council & Canoe Wales has secured ‘Access to Water’ funding.

• Visitors will be able to enjoy paddlesports (canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding), windsurfing and angling.

• Site expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year.

The recent announcement of the development of the Swiss Valley reservoirs in Carmarthenshire has been given a boost with the confirmation of an ‘Access to Water’ grant from Welsh Government, worth £121k, that will enable visitor access to the Lower Lleidi reservoir for paddle sports and angling.

The funding will realise plans to bring back a range of paddlesports to the reservoir, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.  It will also enable bank angling through the creation of recreational zones.  A range of improvements to the surrounding infrastructure are also planned to include a boat wash for biosecurity and the creation of paths and a pontoon that allows easy access to water for people of all abilities, and the refurbishment of toilet facilities.

Developing the Swiss Valley Reservoirs is expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year to the site, in line with Covid19 regulations. The ‘Access to Water’ funding is an important milestone in achieving shared ambitions for the site, and to support the funding application, a survey of local canoe clubs, outdoor activity providers and anglers was conducted which found a strong demand for access to the water for their activities. The feedback was that this is likely to generate a huge amount of interest from clubs and providers given it’s ideal geographical location. The community adoption scheme means that local people are offering to invest their own time to help look after this jewel of a community asset, and care for it into the future.

The project is well placed to support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Whilst Welsh Water is not a public body, it is committed to working in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, Natural Resources Wales and Canoe Wales in the spirit of the legislation.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is an excellent example of a scheme which increases opportunities for outdoor recreation and provides safe access to water for people of all abilities.  The development of these reservoirs will enable local people and visitors to gain more enjoyment from this beauty spot in line with covid19 guidelines and help to support a green recovery in Wales.  I hope the success of this project will encourage development of many more similar opportunities over the coming years.”

Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “Access to blue space is proven to be positively associated with health and wellbeing. Swiss Valley is an important asset for the local community and visitors alike. This funding is a major milestone in our efforts to bring this cherished community asset back to its former glory and make it more accessible, for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

Jen Browning, Chief Executive of Canoe Wales, the national governing body for paddlesport in Wales, added, “Over the past eight months, we have seen an unprecedented amount of demand for canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, but the limited number of venues in Wales suitable for new paddlers has always been a major obstacle. This funding will ensure that Swiss Valley can play an enormously important role in making it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the water, and for many to discover a passion for paddlesport and develop a deep connection with the outdoors.”

Dave MacCallum, Specialist Advisor for Water Access & Recreation at Natural Resources Wales and Chairman of NAFW Access to Water Sub-Group said: “We are delighted to have been a part of this important collaboration which will open up these new waters for responsible, inclusive recreation in South West Wales. NRW is committed to doing all we can to enable more people to enjoy Wales’ countryside more easily and responsibly – to take advantage of the many health and wellbeing benefits that getting outside can bring. Benefitting from bespoke disabled paddle-sport access facilities and a Biosecurity station promoting and enabling the Check Clean Dry initiative, the Swiss Valley reservoir project paves the way for future access to Welsh still waters so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy their visits to some of Wales’ most spectacular landscapes”

Llanelli Rural Council Leader, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said “the funding is marvellous news for the community and will enable the council to develop its plans for the reservoir in earnest. Much of the preliminary work associated with the first phase of infrastructure improvements can now get underway, in fact some work has commenced already. The physical adaptations to refurbish the toilet block, visitor car park and access to the water to facilitate paddle sports and the angling fraternity is scheduled to be completed by March 2021, but work won’t stop there. Moreover, the community response to our plans for the reservoir has been overwhelming; the council has received a great deal of local and regional support and a number of interest groups and individuals have come forward to help us deliver our plans as well as to offer their services. This is greatly appreciated and bodes well for the future.”

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Llanelli Yodel colleague celebrates 30-year anniversary

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Beverley Smith, a valued member of the Llanelli depot’s team, is celebrating her 30-year anniversary with UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel.

Beverley joined Yodel in 1990, when it was originally known as Home Shopping Network, as an Inbound Sorter and then moved onto a Customer Service Support role over 28 years ago. Beverly supports the Llanelli Management Team, provides customer service to clients and customers alike and is always on hand to answer any driver queries.

To celebrate her anniversary, Kay Dodd, Service Centre Manager, presented Beverley with £750 of Very vouchers and ordered in a cooked breakfast to celebrate.

Customer Service Support Advisor, Beverley Smith commented: “My time with Yodel has been very fulfilling – constantly challenging – keeping me on my toes. I’ve been with the company so long that I remember having to write with a pen and paper and have to fax documents to the head office daily – I can’t say I miss those days!

“I have made many close friends during the 30 years at the business and I truly have enjoyed the hard working and happy atmosphere at Llanelli every day.”

Kay Dodd, Depot Manager, added: “Bev is a valued member of my team here at Llanelli, she provides excellent customer service to customers, clients and colleagues. She has a courteous and caring attitude and goes beyond her duties to ensure everyone has a positive experience at Yodel Llanelli. Thank you for everything Bev!”

To join Beverley and the team at Yodel’s Llanelli depot, or to find out more about working for Yodel, and the roles and training available, visit www.yodelopportunities.co.uk or text ‘Deliver’ to 84433. 

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Preparatory works to start at key Stepney Street Building

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Preparatory works are due to start on a key building in Llanelli Town Centre ahead of formal planning approval.

Number 49 Stepney Street is being redeveloped as part of a significant investment in the town centre to transform, regenerate and connect its key retails and leisure areas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has submitted plans which could see the former YMCA building retain much of its character whilst providing high quality living space and commercial units

The works would include the restoration of the front façade of the building, along with the retention of the perimeter wall, main internal structural walls and bringing back many original features such as the ornate staircase.

Subject to planning approval the rest of the building would be redeveloped to include two floors of commercial space on the ground and first floors, with eight two-bedroomed living spaces on the upper floors.

There will also be residents parking spaces on the ground floor.

The works currently underway will prepare the building for redevelopment and include stripping and clearance of old materials.

Carmarthenshire County Council leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “Many generations of people from Llanelli will have special memories of using this fantastic building over the years and it is such a shame to see it lay empty and falling into disrepair – we’re proud to be leading on this scheme to breathe new life into it once again.”

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

A Local Development Order has been put in place to simplify the planning process for property owners and potential investors

This project is being procured via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework. Carmarthenshire County Council has appointed a regional contractor who will develop the project alongside local supply chains.

For further information on this framework, email TSSWWRCF@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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