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Trimsaran: Asset transfers in the spotlight

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Nia Griffith MP: Assets must be brought up to scratch before transfers

SHADOW SECRETARY of State for Wales, Nia Griffith MP chaired a public meeting at Trimsaran Rugby Club on Thursday (Jan 28) to discuss the future of the Miner’s Welfare Hall and the Trimsaran RFC changing rooms.

Both are threatened with closure if the local council and the community cannot find a solution to take over the assets and potentially fund their future.

Around 30 people attended the meeting and heard from representations including Nia Griffith MP, Sian Caiach (People First), Huw Woodford-Rock and Colin Davies of Kidwelly RFC.

Kicking off the meeting, Trimsaran RFC representative Huw Woodford- Rock said he thought that part of the Miner’s Welfare Hall should be demolished but that the main building was solid and should stay.

Huw told the meeting: “Trimsaran is now a designated primary rest and care centre in the event of floods.” Talking about the damage to the rugby club’s changing rooms, he said: “The council say they can’t do the repairs until the insurance people have been in. You have seen the recent floods and the insurance people are there the next day.

If the Club was looking to take over the facilities, Huw said: “The WRU in joint venture with Natwest will supply the club with banking staff to help with a business plan.”

Nia Griffith MP said: “I am sure most people are aware that the County Council is trying to get rid of their assets.” She asked if the community wanted to take on the responsibility of the assets. She continued: “Any of you who have been involved know how much hard work is involved. They key issue is to think of the uses you want it for when you look at a feasibility study. You have to think about whether it will be leased from the County or if the community council takes over the lease. If an independent body takes over, they may just disappear. The guidelines are that it has to remain where there is a clear ownership by County or Community Council.”

The representative of Kidwelly Park Association Colin Davies said that he had to lease their asset from the County Council: “Residents formed a Parks Association and all organisations were now responsible for the park.”

He continued: “We were the first to do this. We managed up to now through the generosity of local businesses, but we are struggling. If everyone does not pull together or you are wasting your time.

“We had to do it because the Town Council didn’t want anything to do with it. We were promised grants but we have not seen a penny of it yet. The County Council have said they will be giving us money in part payments.” Colin Davies concluded: “It has been a big saving for the County. They don’t have to employ anyone now. We were not being paid and we didn’t even have any machinery. We were fortunate that a businessman put some money forward. Pontarddulais RFC have gone through an Asset Transfer. The council paid them up front. It cost us £15,000 and we did the work ourselves. We had nothing from the County or the Town Council.” One member of the rugby club committee said that the club had been in communication with the County Council since January 2015: “We went to the Welsh Rugby Union and had to see a man called Geoff Roach who was sitting on the Asset Transfer Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council. “We had to go and see him to arrange a meeting with the County Council Asset Transfer Team. We met them on April 2, 2015. Don’t think for a minute they are trying to help you. If they had got away with it you would still be using the leisure centre to get the money to maintain the changing rooms. We have been active for the last 12 months in trying to get something done.”

Sian Caiach of People First said that she had a number of projects on the asset transfer list.

Addressing the meeting, she told the audience: “The county thought it would be a good idea to get rid of these assets. They offered £10,000 per project. We had 13 and had to drop a lot of them.”

She advised that Trimsaran RFC should negotiate as hard as they could and that they needed to get Meryl Gravel on their side as she had an enormous amount of influence.

Cllr Caiach continued: “A lot of assets are being neglected. We need to make sure the assets are looked after and handed over in A1 condition. We cannot be responsible for those costs right at the start. The council still own these assets and it is their responsibility. The whole idea is to make people take over the assets we already own and have paid for from our own council tax. That money will be diverted somewhere else and called a saving. There are councils and clubs who just can’t afford to do anything.

“Nobody knew that the policy of the County Council would be to get rid of everything. The County Council have not thought this through.”

Speaking after the meeting about the future for Trimsaran RFC and the county’s assets Nia Griffith told The Herald: “Trimsaran has a fantastic reputation for sport. The changing rooms are integral in being able to offer sport to all sorts of age groups. They do have the will and enthusiasm to take over those changing rooms. They are willing to sign a lease with the council but they want the facilities handed over in A1 condition. They need to be ready to be used by next winter.

“We understand there have been problems with asset transfer but you would think by now that they would have learned and the process should become straightforward. It needs to be efficient and the facilities need to be handed over in a way where they can be used with a proper lease agreement.”

Expressing reservations about the way asset transfers are being handled, the Llanelli MP continued: “The other issue is the concern about the asset transfer programme where the county is taking money from the reserves for vanity projects, things we don’t really need yet rather than making sure the assets they do have are up to standard. We want the repairs done and either kept on by the council or handed over fairly. What we don’t want is the neglect of these assets and deliberately letting them get run down whereby nobody can afford to get them done up. We have all paid for these assets. We need them repaired and the discussions to take place between all concerned to make sure the hand over can be cost effective and sustainable. The example of Kidwelly where they have worked so hard and have not had any financial help is awful. I will be pushing for that money to be released.”

Nia Griffith concluded: “Carmarthenshire is a land rich county. It is totally inexcusable to be using the green spaces in our communities for more housing. They provide opportunity for local people of all ages to get out get some fresh air and take part in exercise and enjoy the spaces. This is not a city where where it is difficult to find a space. We are blessed with a beautiful county. It is a worry and people are concerned.”

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Llanelli: Stop notice issued for school planning application

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A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for a new 480-spaced school in Llanelli has been issued a stop notice by the Welsh Government.
Carmarthenshire County Council is proposing to build a new £9.1m school on Llanerch Fields in Llanelli and were looking to determine the planning application in the coming weeks. Welsh Government will now decide whether to call in the application or not.
The new school would accommodate 420 primary and 60 nursery pupils, set over two floors with larger classrooms with integrated IT facilities, a multi-purpose hall and specialist provision for pupils with additional learning needs.
Over recent years there has been much debate in the area on the choice of site for the new school with campaigners arguing that they support a new school, but object against Llanerch fields being built upon. Last year an attempt to get the land designated as a village green was turned down.
In 2017, Ysgol Dewi Sant as the first Welsh medium primary school to be provided by a local authority celebrated its 70th birthday.
Councillor Rob James, local member for Lliedi, stated “From day one I have raised concerns that the Council’s site choice and planning process opened the Council up to the possibility of the Welsh Government calling in the planning application. It is clear that these concerns were not misplaced and there is now a really chance that it will be. 

“As a local Councillor, a school governor and a parent, I am passionate about the need for a new school for the pupils of Ysgol Dewi Sant and it is important that local pupils get the benefits of a 21st century school.
“I will now be working with Council Officers to ensure that contingency plans are prepared in case the Welsh Government state that the planning application does not comply with national planning policy.
“I will also work with parents, pupils, residents and interested parties are able to engage with the Welsh Government during this process.”

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Third annual Burry Port Raft Race is eagerly awaited

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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.

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Compensation offered after FSCS declares Llanelli firm in default

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CONSUMERS could get back money they have lost as a result of their dealings with a failed regulated firm in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. The firm is Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited formerly Assura Protect, Room 1, 7 Meadows Bridge, Parc Menter, Cross Hands, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA14 6RA.

The firm was declared in default in June 2019 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

FSCS is the UK’s statutory compensation scheme that protects customers of authorised financial services firms that carry out certain regulated activities. A declaration of default means FSCS is satisfied a firm is unable to pay claims for compensation made against it. This paves the way for customers of that firm to make a claim for compensation with FSCS.

Alex Kuczynski, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at FSCS, said: “FSCS steps in to protect consumers around the UK when authorised financial services firms go bust. This vital service, which is free to consumers, protects deposits, insurance, investments, home finance and debt management. We want anyone who believes they may be owed money as a result of their dealings with this firm to get in touch, as we may be able to help you.”

Since it began in 2001, FSCS has helped more than 4.5m people, paying out more than £26bn in compensation.

If you wish to make a claim with FSCS against Hayden Williams Independent Financial Services Limited, you may be able to do so using FSCS’s online claims service at https://claims.fscs.org.uk Or you can contact its Customer Services Team on 0800 678 1100 or 020 7741 4100

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