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Copperworks school ‘must be saved’

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Outside the School: Campaigners hope for a positive outcome

A GROUP of campaigners are attempting to save the old Copperworks School in Burry Port, which they claim is in line to be demolished by Carmarthenshire County Council for a housing development.

The school was built for the children of the workers at the old copper works and is a link to the areas industrial past. The building sits in an impressive walled enclosure alongside another large community building.

It is one of a number of former community buildings in the town, which is being considered for sale by the County and the Town councils.

On Tuesday (Mar 1) we visited the school and met with a lady called Ros, who is one of the campaigners.

She told The Herald: “The council want to have planning permission to develop the land and so the school would be demolished. We would like to save the school for the community.

“The council have given us a six month period to come up with some ideas. We would like to see the community taking part in the survey asking them what sorts of things they would like to see in the area.”

Ros continued: “We would like to see the school being used for a cinema, a market, a well-being centre, a dance studio and a community meeting place. We would look at getting grants but it would also have to be sustained through private enterprise like a coffee shop. We could also keep it as a community space and include affordable housing.”

NOT AN EASY TASK

Explaining the difficulties, Ros told us: “We would like to take it on a peppercorn rent, but the council don’t see that as an option.

“It is okay for the council to tell us they need affordable housing, but we also need community spaces. We only found out about the sale when we saw a man up a ladder doing a survey. We were told there was a reference to it in the Town Council minutes!

“This building is one of the last remaining links to the area’s industrial heritage. It was built by the Elkingtons and the Masons for the children of the workers at the copper works. At a point when people really need community space this is an ideal place to start.

“In the minutes of the council meeting they actually say they will have a plaque here when it has been demolished. There is a lot of new building going on in Burry Port. There is a new school and more housing but there are no community meeting places included.

“I would like to think that we could get help to keep this building for the community. The council elections are coming up and it will be interesting to see which side of the fence they sit on regarding this building.”

A look at the buildings of the school shows that it is not long since works have been done on their interior. If the school was demolished, the money spent on those works would appear to have been a waste of public funds.

The Herald tried to contact the County Councillors for Burry Port.

We were told that Councillor Pat Jones was ill and would not be able to speak to us.

Councillor John James was unavailable. Instead, we spoke with Town Councillor Mike Theodolu. We asked Cllr Theodolu what the Town Council’s stand point was on the school and what the future plans were for the school.

He told us: “The council took a decision a few months ago to allow a period of time for the community group that was interested in using it as an arts centre to see what could come up with and whether they could get the funding, the support and business plan to do anything it.

We gave them a deadline by which they had to come back to us for the end of April or May. If they have not come back to us with something that is a goer then we will find an alternative.”

VALUE FOR MONEY

The Herald asked Councillor Theodolu if the Town Council had conducted any consultation with the community on the future of the building and if they would back a community enterprise. He explained: “The site belongs to the Town Council. We have a duty to get value for money for any asset.

“In this time of financial restraint, the Town Council must bear in mind all the other community facilities we have that need money spending on them. We are also being asked to take on parks and open spaces by the County Council or they will close. We need to find the money to be able to keep those alive for the community.”

We asked whether the buildings and land had been valued and he replied: “We have not had a valuation. We are waiting to see what this group comes up with. I am really proud of this council for listening to a local group that hasn’t got a track record that’s come up with a proposal, because it is taking a risk with a group who haven’t got a bank account; haven’t been constituted; and we are still giving them a chance, whereas other councils wouldn’t.”

Asked what the Town Council would do with the building Councillor Theodolu told The Herald: “We were happy to have given the group the time to put together a business plan together. I have met them and even given them advice about where they can go for help.

“I am quite proud of the way this council has said, there is a local group who have expressed an interest, let’s give them a chance. If nothing comes of that then we have a duty to the rest of the community to use that wisely.

“We will be considering their proposals, if they come up with them by the deadline. “ If they are robust and convincing, they don’t exactly have to have any guarantees and if they have given it enough thought and it looks like they might get somewhere then we will give them the chance to do that.

“If they don’t, we owe it to the rest of the community, with the continuing growing demand on money and resources to save other community facilities, to do something with that building so we can safeguard other facilities.”

We pushed Councillor Theodolu on whether or not the community had been consulted on the sale of the community land and buildings. He said: “We have recently finished a series of public meetings with the public to listen to what people had to say about the parks and other facilities. These were advertised widely.

“A report in local media says that the people unanimously want us to find the money to safeguard the parks and open spaces. There is a limit to how many times you go asking for views and opinions.

“I think we have enough direction from the people in the community about what they want us to do. We will honour the commitment we have made to this group and if they don’t come up with anything that is viable we will move on.”

FOND MEMORIES

The campaign group Regenerate Our Copperworks School (ROCS) says that it is encouraged by the responses to their survey of public opinion on the future of the Old Copperworks School in Morlan Terrace: “The survey and petition, which took place throughout, Burry Port invited not only local residents, but also those people outside of Burry Port who have a love of the town, to express their views on this iconic building that Burry Port Town Council wishes to demolish.

“Many people expressed fond memories of the school and shared their school days with us. We are honoured that Lord Leslie Griffiths of Burry Port has agreed to be our patron and we are equally pleased that MP Nia Griffith is a keen supporter of our aims and objectives.

The Group continued: “We are very keen to garner the ideas of the townsfolk as to the future uses of the old school, which we see as a Centre for the Community where we can present art based activities, these could include dance, theatre, music, story-telling, art classes, exhibitions, crafts, historic talks and will include a family room, and a well-being venue, a café and a school museum.

“Our aim is for the old school to be a part of the town’s tourism infrastructure by providing opportunities for craftspeople to hold activities and skilledbased courses and to use local hotels, restaurants and shops.

“We are actively seeking ideas and suggestions from local residents, artists and craftspeople as to possible uses for this amazing space. Also for consideration is an opportunity for an arts-based professional to establish a business in the school.”

The group have now embarked on a survey-questionnaire to gain an appreciation of the needs and requirements of the Townspeople of Burry Port & Pembrey. The objective is to provide a voice for everyone to express their personal needs and determine a new future for the Old Copperworks School.

Members and supporters of the ROCS Group will be visiting homes and the shopping areas to ask members of the public for their opinion. The quick, short questionnaire enquires of interests in dance, the arts, well-being and youth and family based activities, which will be presented to the Town Council.

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Sport

Rees stars as Llanelli beat Bronwydd

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LLANELLI’s Iwan Rees took three wickets and then top scored with the bat to help his side to victory over Bronwydd on Satuday (Jun 22).

Bronwydd won the toss and elected to bat but they were all out for 144.

They lost James Dickson early when he was trapped leg before by Steven Devonald for a duck and Gareth John was also out cheaply as he was caught by Rhidian Morgan off the bowling of Devonald.

Iwan Davies and Jacob Jenkinson then shared 33 runs for the third wicket but it was Rees who struck as he had Jenkinson caught by Craig Howells.

Davies hit seven fours as he scored a half century but he was then out on a score of 58 to the bowling of David Richards.

Rees then trapped Philip Howell leg before and Aled Gilley then bowled Oliver Furneaux on a score of 22.

Rees then bowled Callum Collins-Davies to leave Bronwydd on 110-7.

Photo by Darren Harries

Carwyn Jones and Tom Gleeson took over in the middle and they shared 21 runs for the eighth wicket.

Jones scored 17 before he was bowled by Gilley and Gleeson scored 15 before he was caught by Morgan off the bowling of Alex Symmons.

Steven Devonald then claimed his third wicket as he trapped Matthew Vaughan leg before to bring the innings to a close.

Iwan Rees and Ioan Phillips then shared 40 runs for the first wicket as Llanelli got off to a good start in their reply.

Tom Gleeson picked up the first wicket as he bowled Phillips but Rees and Craig Howells batted on. They shared 97 runs for the second wicket to all but seal the victory.

Rees had hit 12 fours in his score of 75 but he was then caught by Matthew Vaughan off the bowling of Callum Collins-Davies.

Howells and Steven Devonald then saw Llanelli to their target with Howells hitting five fours and a six as he finished not out on 37.

That saw Llanelli achieve victory by eight wickets and on Saturday (Jun 29), they will look for another win when they travel to Maesteg Celtic.

Bronwydd will aim to bounce back in their next game at home to bottom of the table Gowerton.

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Sport

Dafen too good for Steel

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DAFEN proved too strong for Briton Ferry Steel on Saturday (Jun 22) as they earned a five-wicket win.

Dafen won the toss and elected to field which proved to be a good decision as they bowled Steel out for just 93.

Openers Evan Hynes and Lloyd Clement had shared 19 runs for the first wicket but Chris Hudson brought that to and end as he bowled Hynes.

Clement had scored 13 but he was then also bowled by Matthew Evans. Hudson then had Gavin Pugh caught by David Dunfee for a duck and Dunfee then had a hand in the next wicket as he ran out Jason Hughes for another duck.

That left the home side struggling on 31-4 and it soon became 44-5 as Steve Maddock was caught by Daniel Vaughan off the bowling of Jonathan Randell.

Rhys Norgrove offered some resistance with a score of 16 but he was then bowled by Randell. Dunfee then removed Tom Williams in similar fashion to leave the Steel on 67-7.

Rhys Maddock made a score of 10 before he was caught by Chris Hudson off the bowling Randell.

Andrew Herbert then had Daryl Phillips caught on a score of 13 by Vaughan and Herbert then brought the innings to a close when he trapped Leigh Williams LBW.

Dafen made a slow start to their reply and they lost early wickets as opener Chris Davies was caught off the bowling of Daryl Phillips.

Simon Davies was also bowled by Phillips as Dafen slipped to 14-2.

Opener Matthew Evans had scored 19 but he was then caught and bowled by Phillips leaving them on 32-3.

George Lavender and Jonathan Randell shared 18 runs for the fourth wicket before Randell was also caught and bowled by Phillips.

Lavender then shared 27 runs with David Dunfee for the fifth wicket as they edged towards their target.

Dunfee was bowled on a score of 14 by Rhys Norgrove but that would be the last wicket to fall.

Matthew Donoghue finished not out on 14 while Lavender was unbeaten on 25 as Dafen reached their target inside 22 overs.

The Steel were also guilty of giving away 17 runs in extras.

On Saturday (Jun 29), Dafen are at home to Llandysul.

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Sport

Felinfoel edged out

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FELINFOEL just missed out on victory on Saturday (Jun 15) as opponents Skewen edged to a three-wicket win.

Skewen won the toss and elected to field and that looked to be a good decision as they were able to bowl Felinfoel out for 155.

Felinfoel lost Andrew Thomas early on when he was trapped leg before by Steve James.

Craig Richards and Rhys Jones shared 55 runs for the second wicket before James struck again as he bowled Richards on a score of 34.

Rhys Jones scored 32 before he was bowled by Luke Martin and Julian Griffiths scored 25 before he suffered the same fate as Jones.

Martin also bowled Ian Meredith and he then trapped Rober Nangalia leg before.

When Dean Kriescher trapped Rohan Nangalia leg before it left Felinfoel on 128-7, having seemingly been in a good position at 118-3.

Stuart Parmenter was then bowled by Kriescher and he then took the catch to dismiss Stephen Jones.

Photo by Darren Harries

Rhys Harries batted on while he watched his team mates fall but he was eventually out for a score of 26 to the bowling of Kriescher.

That meant that Skewen would need 156 to win but Felinfoel did their best to derail their run chase.

Anthony Matthias bowled David Jenkins and Craig Richards had Callum Davies caught by Andrew Thomas as Skewen slipped to 17-2.

Richards then claimed his second wicket as he had Daniel Rees caught by Ian Meredith and Johnny Morris was bowled by Julian Griffiths.

That left Skewen on 49-4 but Dean Kriescher and John Jones swung the game in their favour with a stand of 57 for the fifth wicket.

Rhys Harries then bowled Jones on a score of 25 and he also had Jordan Jones caught by Stuart Parmenter.

Julian Griffiths then bowled Andrew Rogers but Kriescher was the hero for Skewen as he finished unbeaten on 76 with nine fours and a six to see his side over the line.

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