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Truthfulness versus accuracy in minutes row

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A little less certain of her words: Cllr Meryl Gravell

A little less certain of her words: Cllr Meryl Gravell

A CLAIM made by a member of the Executive Board was the subject of significant backtracking at Wednesday’s (Feb 10) Full Council meeting.

The routine approval of the minutes of an Executive Board Meeting that took place on January 4 took a controversial turn when comments made by Cllr Meryl Gravell and recorded in the meeting’s minutes were challenged by three councillors, including opposition leader Jeff Edmunds.

Cllr Gravell had claimed at the Executive Board that a Lottery bid in relation to funding for Parc Howard had been derailed because of the opposition from local residents.

Cllr Bill Thomas challenged the minutes and claimed that Cllr Gravell’s remarks were untrue and unsupported by evidence. Cllr Thomas claimed that the claim was being examined by the Lottery Commission, who had uncovered no evidence to support Cllr Gravell’s slur on Llanelli residents.

Chair Peter Hughes Griffiths interrupted to establish whether or Cllr Thomas was challenging the minutes’ accuracy, or making a point about their content.

Councillor Thomas pressed on: “If the member for regeneration has either emails or letters that implicate people as having meetings with the Lottery Commission that scuppered this bid then I think we in the council should have sight of those letters.”

Peter Hughes Griffiths asked Cllr Thomas to identify the offending section of the minutes.

Councillor Thomas did so and continued: “As I say, it was investigated and we had a letter of unreserved apology. If the member has documented evidence either email or letters saying that people from Llanelli were implicated in meetings with the Lottery Commission and scuppered the bid, I think this chamber should have sight of those or it should be withdrawn from the minutes.”

Cllr Jan Williams joined in the challenge: “I would just like to ask if there is documented evidence that we could see that shows that it was completely the opposition of local residents that scuppered the bid. My understanding, having read why the bid was unsuccessful is not as claimed. I’d like that clarified because some of us have had spurious accusations made against us.”

Bill Thomas got up again and pressed on: “I would like the member for Trimsaran to give us an answer as to whether she has letters or emails implicating anybody as having meetings with the Lottery Commission. If not I would like that removed from the minutes and from the previous minutes and from the next set of minutes that are coming out.”

Cllr Gravell rose and responded, “That was the information I was given at the time.”

Bill Thomas responded: “That is not the question, Chair. I am asking for evidence.”

Peter Hughes Griffiths said that he would not permit an argument: “It’s going to be a debate and I only ask for questions and answers. I have been accused so many times of not being democratic and so on but you are pushing me too hard from time to time and I must say those are the rules and if you’re pushing me all the time I will stick harder to the rules won’t I? That’s my response all the time as Chair: to be fair with everybody.”

County Councillor Jeff Edmunds asked for clarification from the Chair.

Peter Hughes Griffiths responded: “Clarification about what now again?” He went on to suggest that a rationing quota applied to matters of business as they arose: “It’s a question and you’ve already had three questions today.”

Cllr Edmunds directed a query to the Monitoring Officer, who replied: “I hear what is being said from the floor and a few members challenging the basis of part of the discussion at executive board but the accuracy of the minutes of the executive board meeting are matters for the executive board to confirm.”

Following the Monitoring Officer’s intervention, Peter Hughes Griffiths drew the matter to a conclusion with the words: “In other words, end of story.”

The issue of the minutes’ truthfulness, as opposed to their strict accuracy recording what was said, is an argument that councillors are unable to resolve.

CLLR GRAVELL’S CLAIM

We examined precisely what Cllr Gravell had said which had caused such ill-feeling.

At the Board Meeting on January 4, she referred to a £5m plan to revitalise Parc Howard being presented with a business plan to ‘the Lottery’. She then continued to claim:

“The local people went behind our backs to the Lottery to say they didn’t want it to go ahead. That is just to clarify that is the case.”

As statements of certainty go, that certainly takes some beating. Cllr Gravell not only made a claim local people sabotaged the plans for Parc Howard, but did so by stealth. In addition she clarifies the position to underline her point.

But at the meeting of Full Council, when that version of events was challenged and she was confronted by the results of a Lottery Commission investigation into the claim, she was rather less certain and claimed that her assertion came from ‘information given to me, at the time’.

The issues that arise from Cllr Gravell’s retreat from certainty to something considerably less than certain is the identity of the person or persons who gave her what was manifestly incorrect information and why she continued to repeat the lie when it had been nailed by the Lottery Commission.

It is certain that Cllr Gravell’s words have exacerbated suspicions in Llanelli that the Council is not playing straight with the town.

Perhaps Cllr Emlyn Dole, who is attempting to relieve the miasma of rumour and suspicion surrounding past dealings with Llanelli, could make sure that when members of the Executive Board make assertions such as those made by Cllr Gravell, they are backed by something akin to evidence – i.e. that which can be examined. Or at least challenged to produce it.

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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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