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Llanelli ‘must fight’ for parks and playgrounds

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St Clears County Councillor P M Hughes: Opening a children's play area in 2009

St Clears County Councillor P M Hughes: Opening a children’s play
area in 2009

MANY OF Carmarthenshire’s sports clubs find themselves in a dire situation in as a result of the increases in pitch fees, says Secretary of the Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee (CUSC), Michael Barrett.

Launching a campaign to save parks and playgrounds in Carmarthenshire, Mr Bassett told us that he was also concerned that further rises in fees are imminent and that many of the parks may find their way into private ownership if community councils decide they cannot take them over.

Mike told The Herald, “We want these parks under ownership of the county council because they have the expertise to manage them. We are very concerned that these parks and playgrounds could come into private ownership. We have consulted with the council over the last 18 months and save them over £240,000 by paying for the full maintenance of the parks and pitches and increasing the size of the leagues.

“Apart from the bowls clubs, all the fees have gone up. £49 to £60 for Senior football fees have gone up from £49 per game to £60 per game. Junior football has risen from £23.50 per game to £30 per game. If the council had had their way they would have made us pay £235 for a senior game of football and £72.50 for a game of junior football. If we hadn’t fought agains this the clubs would have gone out of business.”

Criticising a press claim that only 4% of the county’s council tax comes from the Llanelli area, Mike expressed considerable scorn: “A report in one Llanelli paper this week suggested that 4% of council taxes come from the Llanelli area. It is in fact 43% of the County’s Council Tax which comes from the Llanelli area

“We have been told that East Carmarthenshire is subsidising Llanelli it is the other way around.”

In relation to parks and recreation facilities, Mike told us: “CUSC’s understanding is that most community councils cannot take them over because they cannot afford them and they would have to raise the precept. Why are they on the asset transfer programme when they are not costing them money?

“Parc Howard would have been a prime example. What happens to these people, the clubs if the parks are taken over by third parties? They will hike up fees. If we became a stand alone authority they wouldn’t be having as much as they do at the moment. We deserve these parks and playgrounds.”

Mr Bassett also raised concerns about the future disposal of assets and his worry that the parks may end up as sites for new housing developments and be lost to the community forever.

He said, “The main multi use area in Llanelli is Penygaer. That is a prime site for building houses. Our concern is that a private company takes over it, prices us out and then gets planning for new homes on those spaces. We need reassurances that this will not happen.”

If you take these green areas away where are the kids going to play?

“They say there is investment for a wellness centre. I would have thought the parks and playgrounds were the essence for well being. If we lose these clubs the income from leisure centres will take a hit. We have asked head of leisure for a response asking what he meant by his comment that he can’t afford to keep these places. We were told by Ian Jones that we could play on ‘4 G’ pitches and that houses built on the spaces would pay for those new pitches in schools.”

Mike continued: “We have been to see Ken Skates Head of Sport at the Welsh Assembly Government. He said they give councils grants and it is up to the councils where they make cuts. Why are they making the cuts when we have such a problem with obesity?”

We asked Mr Bassett if he was aware of any places in Carmarthenshire, which were receiving help and which might not be making any money in the long term.

He told us: “There is the boathouse in Laugharne costing upwards of £80,000 per year, the craft centre in St Clears is losing upwards of £50,00 per year. They have just given over £250,000 for the velodrome in Carmarthen. They are not consulting the public,. They are misinformed when they are spending this money.

“We don’t even get much from the Section 106 agreements.”

When asked about the County Council’s Executive Board and their role in the process Mr. Bassett said, “Seven out of ten of the councillors on the executive board live in rural areas. Their lifestyles have nothing in common with the people in an industrial town like Llanelli. We have been short changed.”

“The people of Llanelli need to stand up and fight. The whole town needs to come together and tell these people that we are not happy with stone walls and that we want to keep these areas. We paid and we still pay enough money for them.”

The Herald is backing a campaign organised by Mr. Bassett and the chairman of CUSC called ‘Save Our Parks and Playgrounds’ (SOPAP). Details of the campaign can be found on their Facebook page www.facebook. com/SOPAP

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Station Road: Off-licence refused alcohol licence

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AN OFF-LICENCE on Llanelli’s Station Road has been refused an alcohol licence by Carmarthenshire County Council after councillors decided it could add to the area’s crime and disorder problems.

The Licensing Committee’s decision has been upheld after the applicant, who runs the shop Kubus, appealed to the courts.

The applicant, Aram Mahmood, had asked the council for permission to sell alcohol at his shop between 9am and 9pm Monday to Sunday.

However councillors felt that granting the licence would contravene the authority’s Cumulative Impact Policy, which creates a presumption against the granting of premises licences in the Station Road area, due to anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled crime issues.

A Dyfed Powys Police representative said Station Road is still identified as a crime and disorder hot spot, and a Drinking in Public Places Order (DPPO) is in place.

During April 2017 and March 2018, 164 anti-social behaviour incidents were recorded in Station Road, over a quarter having occurred within licensed premises.

A fifth of all related crime and 13 per cent of all alcohol related anti-social behavior incidents recorded in Llanelli town occurred in Station Road.

Over 40 alcohol related violent crimes were also recorded there during the same period.

Although there are now fewer premises selling alcohol in Station Road, statistics show there is still a high level of alcohol related crime and disorder in the area.

The applicant told the committee that his main customers were families wishing to buy Polish and European foods and products.

He told councillors he had ordered a CCTV system and assured them that the management of alcohol would be well controlled by staff, though believed that his customers would not cause problems.

The licensing committee’s decision was upheld following the applicant’s appeal to Llanelli Magistrates Court.

Justices found that there was no evidence of exceptional reasons to justify departing from the Cumulative Impact Policy and were satisfied with the committee’s decision.

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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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