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Ken Skates to Parc Howard’s rescue

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Around the grounds: Lee Waters and Ken Skates get the grand tour

Around the grounds: Lee Waters and Ken Skates get the grand tour

THE DEPUTY Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates AM visited Parc Howard on Monday (Mar 14) accompanied by Labour’s Llanelli AM candidate Lee Waters.

The Deputy Minister said that he wanted to see what a fantastic place Parc Howard was.

We asked the minister what his plans for the park were and he told us: “There are many opportunities to bring people together and decide what the common purpose is and then deliver. There are capital investment grants available for places like this. The role of community leaders is crucial in bringing people together. The key first step to take is to decide what it is that we want this park for.”

The Herald asked if private ventures would be considered in the future for the park. Lee Waters said: “It is important that this park remains the property of the people. It has been handed down for the people of the town. It is really important that whatever mechanism we come up with that people feel that this is their park.

“I wanted Ken Skates to come here and see for himself because we have discussed the potential many times and there is huge potential and that is the frustration. The council went behind people’s backs to talk to private developers. It is not the principle of thinking of new purposes for the house that is the problem. It is the transparency in doing it and bringing the people with you. There is a problem with Carmarthenshire County Council in that they are not good at bringing people with them.”

The Labour AM candidate for Llanelli was critical of the County Council’s chopping and changing regarding the fate of the park.

He continued: “I think it is important that the community is part of it. The council gave the impression that they wanted to wash their hands of it and leave it to volunteers to take it over. It is not for volunteers to do that. Volunteers add value.

“They cannot be the ones driving it. They may not have the time or professional skills. The town has paid for this place. The council need to come to the table and say what partnership we can launch and come up with a new model for keeping the park public and reaching its potential.

Ken Skates agreed that there was huge potential for the park saying: “Parc Howard is an ideal place for a whole number of activities. It is a great area for leisure activities. It is perfect for park runs, street games and other physical activity. It is a great place for reading, outdoor classrooms. It is a superb place potentially for acquiring new skills.”

The Herald asked Ken Skates if the Welsh Assembly Government would provide funding for Parc Howard. He replied: “Any request for support will be administered by us. This place has enormous potential. As Lee said, we need a council that is listening to people and a council that is responding to people’s calls for action. We need a council that is able to gather people together in a very constructive way and to be able to come to the table for any further requests for support.”

Given the nature of Carmarthenshire County Council cuts and the threat to local libraries and museums like the one at Parc Howard we asked the minister whether councils are breaching the Libraries Act by closing them:

“As of yet, no, “ he answered, “There is the final sanction available to us to take over library services but we have not had to use that final sanction. It has been an incredibly difficult time because of austerity.

“Austerity is something that no government or council in Wales would which to have to impose on the tax payer but sadly it is being determined by Westminster and we are living through a sustained periods of austerity. How we have responded in Wales is quite unique. We have those standards which protect those core services that libraries are able to deliver. We have backed it up with £14m of investment to transform 100 community libraries.

By transforming them they have become more sustainable. As far as we are aware not a single one of those libraries we have invested in has closed. There are ongoing challenges for libraries and that is why I have commissioned an expert panel review to look into the sustainability of local libraries and another panel to at the sustainability of local museums. The work is being completed.

We are implementing some of the recommendations. The future is challenging because of austerity but at least now we have those expert’s recommendations to be able to make sure that our libraries and our museums that people value so much are able to survive into the future.”

The Herald asked if there was a risk of looking at Welsh heritage, history, and preservation only as part of a tourism strategy, as commodities, instead of valuing them for their own sake. Ken Skates told us: “At the moment tourism is part of the portfolio that I have. I don’t think you should separate them out because libraries and museums are so important to the visitor economy. A lot of people will visit Wales to access a museum, not just a big museum either. A lot of people are searching for the records of their families so they will come to local museums, likewise libraries are important.”

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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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