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.”
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.
Lighthouse to Lifeboat station swim a huge success
A LLANELLI man has completed a grueling swim across the Loughor estuary from Whiteford Lighthouse to Burry Port Harbour to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).
Matthew Jenkins completed the swim on Sunday, July 26.
Speaking on the challenge he set himself, Matthew said he set his sights on the swim to give him something positive to focus on during these unprecedented times and raise vital funds for Burry Port RNLI.
The Swim was a family effort with Matthew’s two daughters also pitching in to sell RNLI cupcakes to supporters and bystanders near the lifeboat house.
The conditions were far from ideal on the day with a 7.2 metre tide accompanied by whitecaps waves and a south to southwesterly wind behind Matthew of approximately 20 mph.
However there was plenty of support from safety teams in the area to step in if needed with jet skis, kayaks and boats all keeping within safe distance.
Matthew set off on his challenge at approximately 10.45 and shortly afterwards supporters could see he was already past the halfway point.
The support shown from the beach was huge and it was obvious to all that Matthew was able to hear the chants of support and praise from those at the beach.
On completion of the challenge Matthew raised his hands as a thank you gesture for all of his support throughout the journey.
This small event has brought back a familiar feeling without the town of pre-pandemic days where events like these would be hugely supported by the community.
It was clear to see the support for both Matthew and Burry Port RNLI throughout the day.
A grand total of £822.25 was raised through Matthew’s Just Giving page.
Matthew has praised all of those who have supported him through the journey both in the water and on land and said he feels very ‘thankful’ for the support and the opportunity to complete the challenge.
Swans grab last gasp play-off spot
WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).
Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.
The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.
The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.
And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.
The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.
Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.
The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.
But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.
John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.
Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.
Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.
Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.
But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.
However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.
Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.
With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.
Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.
With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.
Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.
However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.
Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.
They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.
The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.
And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.
Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.
Glamorgan launch new kit
GLAMORGAN Cricket has unveiled its new Vitality Blast playing kit for the 2020 season.
Designed by the Club’s official kit supplier, Masuri, alongside Glamorgan’s management, players and coaches, the brand-new Vitality Blast strip contains a subtle Welsh twist.
Fitting Glamorgan’s traditional colour schemes, the top is dark navy with a tonal dragon across the front – a nod to the old Glamorgan nickname and the Welsh identity – while a sharp yellow trim on the neck and sleeves frames the top.
The famous ‘Daff’ sits on the heart of the shirt, with MiPost’s strong Welsh brand centre-stage. Appearing on the collars are the logos of ‘Official Players Car Partner’, Mon Motors and Welsh company, Philtronics Solutions, with Discover Leeks on the right sleeve and SA Group on the back.
The famous Aston Martin logo features on both side of the Glamorgan T20 cap, as they continue their ongoing support of the club.
Head of Commercial, Huw Warren, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Masuri throughout the design process and together developed an exciting new kit we’re sure our supporters will love with its strong connections with Wales.
“Our Masuri kits have always been hugely successful with players and fans alike and we look forward to continuing our commercial partnership with them.
“We can’t wait to see our players wearing the new kit when the Blast gets underway later this summer.”
Masuri CEO, Sam Miller, said: ‘’Once again it has been a pleasure working with the team at Glamorgan to bring this year’s kit to life, and we are looking forward to seeing it in use during the much anticipated Vitality Blast this year.’’
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