AT A COUNCIL meeting on Wednesday, May 11, Executive Board Member for Leisure and Regeneration brandished a piece of paper which, she claimed, provided proof that nefarious ‘Llanelli residents’ had scuppered the Council’s plans for refitting and refurbishing Parc Howard.
Cllr Gravell’s combative performance was in response to questions by Cllrs Bill Thomas and Jan Williams, both of whom have repeatedly pressed Cllr Gravell to substantiate her allegations of interference in the Council’s bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Speaking to The Herald following the meeting Councillor Thomas said: “We asked Meryl Gravell the questions and she never answered them. I gave the background, it is quite simple. She said at the last meeting ‘I was told’.
“We asked who told her. She waved a piece of paper in the air and said that she had a letter regarding the people of Llanelli scuppering the bid through objections over parking.”
Councillor Thomas told us: “I did not see that letter.”
CLAIMS ‘ABSOLUTELY CORRECT’
The Herald asked Cllr Gravell about the letter from HLF and asked her to confirm that the letter from which she read at the meeting supported her previous claims
Cllr Gravell replied: “That is absolutely correct. We had to put things straight. It is no good looking back to the past. I don’t know why they are harping on about it. We have to look to the future because it is a fantastic place. Today I was able to give them proof. What I said was correct. That is the end of it.”
The Herald asked if the letter could be made public upon request. She said, “I would probably have to ask HLF. If they are happy then of course.”
HLF: NO RECORD OF OBJECTIONS
Heritage Lottery Development Officer Adam Hutchings told us that he could not find any record of any communication to Meryl Gravell regarding any objections to parking from anyone in Llanelli once the bid was submitted: not from councillors, from residents, or members of the Parc Howard Association.
Moreover, Mr Hitchings confirmed that any objection to parking would have been a matter for the County Council and would not be in the remit of the Heritage Lottery. He also stated that should a letter between objectors and the County Council exist, it would have no influence over the bid as it would be regarded as a local political issue.
WHY THE BID WAS REJECTED
A report from HLF on the bid notes no interference in the bid once made. It states: ‘A considerable amount of community consultation had informed your proposals, but the work to prioritise your capital works and activities, deciding which to take forward and which to save for a future project, had not yet been done.
For this reason your grant request was high compared to other applications in the batch and works did not appear well planned.
‘The Parks for People programme expects schemes to focus on conservation of existing historical features of the park and costs should reflect this. Your application showed costs for new capital works that were more than double the costs of restoration work and this should be addressed if you hope to resubmit.
‘A lack of match funding meant that HLF’s grant rate was high. Further information on your fundraising efforts would have been useful.
‘Significant opportunities would be created through the project but the relationship between the new facilities at Parc Howard and those already existing at the Tywi Centre and Aberglasney (both of which have received HLF funding) was not described.
‘Estimated volunteer time and costs for activities were considered relatively low while professional fees for the development phase were considered high. We would not be able to cover the costs of existing council staff through the development grant unless they were to work above their normally contracted hours.’
A TRAIL OF LETTERS
In addition, The Herald has seen a copy of correspondence from HLF to Cllr Thomas addressing the specific point of whether any interference had taken place in relation to the Parc Howard funding bid.
That letter confirms: ‘We have found no record of meetings with, or contact from, the people listed in your query (residents, councillors, members of the Park Association, the local MP) either to support or to oppose the application. There was however a discussion with council officers on January 10 2014 to discuss the rejected application’.
Following Cllr Gravell’s claim, we contacted Mr Hitchings again and asked whether he was aware of further correspondence that would support it.
He told us: “I am afraid I really can’t add to my previous e mail (24.2.16) and the letter dated 21.4.14 to Helen Morgan both of which clearly set out the basis for the rejection. As far as I am aware nothing has changed. However, if anyone believes they have information from the Heritage Lottery Fund which is at odds with my responses to you I would find it helpful if a copy were to be forwarded to me.”
As Cllr Gravell avers that the material in her possession which suggests that there was interference by third parties from Llanelli in the HLF bid originated with that body, perhaps she will send that material to Mr Hitchings to jog his memory.
Police appeal after river death in Ystradgynlais
DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses following the death of a man in Ystradgynlais.
At around 10am this morning (16 January 2020), a man aged in his 60s was seen entering the River Tawe near Gorsedd Park.
He was rescued from the water near Trebanos Rugby Club, but despite the best efforts of paramedics, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin and HM Coroner have been informed.
His death is not being treated as suspicious, or linked to the adverse weather.
Our thanks go out to all who assisted in the response to this tragic incident, in very difficult weather conditions.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police in Ystradgynlais online by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Use reference: DP-20200216-217
New Body Cameras for Transport for Wales Staff
Last year alone, saw over 350 reported accounts of physical or verbal abuse against staff on trains in Wales and whilst this is a small number in terms of the overall passenger journeys, TfW are keen to further reduce this number as any incident should not be tolerated.
Antisocial figures in Wales show an improving trend in comparison with the rest of the UK and TfW has previously committed to providing CCTV at every station across the Wales and Borders network and already introduced additional security staff.
This trial is another step forward in reducing this type of behaviour and is being delivered in partnership with the British Transport Police.
The trial will include four different type of cameras, and after a review period, one company will be selected to supplying 300 across the network.
Ken Skates, Welsh Government Transport and North Wales Minister, said:
“Everyone has the right to work or travel on our network without the fear of abuse or threats. The rail staff there to help us are no different to our family and friends. They are working hard to get us from A to B, often in difficult circumstances.
“We must stamp out anti-social behaviour and do everything we can to support staff to do their jobs and let passengers make their journeys in a safe and pleasant environment.”
Daniel Hopkin, a frequent rail passenger on the Neath to Cardiff line added:
“It’s great that Transport for Wales are fitting their staff with cameras. I regularly travel between Neath and Cardiff on the train and I think that any improvements in safety will benefit customers.
“The railway station can be really hectic and the fact that staff will have body cameras should act as a deterrent to some of the occasional bad behaviour. Transport for Wales seem to be considering different ways to improve things for the customer and I find that encouraging as a passenger.”
Marc Clancy, Transport for Wales Conductor said:
“We have to deal with a range of people daily and most of our customers are grateful and polite. We work extremely hard to give our customers the best possible experience when using our services, however at times staff and passengers do experience occasional antisocial behaviour and abuse.
“The introduction of these cameras should act as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour, support assault prosecutions and boost public confidence in safety.
“They will provide our front-line staff with more confidence when dealing with difficult situations and abusive customers.”
BTP Superintendent Andrew Morgan, said:
“The safety of passengers and our rail industry colleagues is our absolute priority and we do everything we can to protect them.
“We fully support the introduction of body worn cameras for Transport for Wales’ frontline staff – we know from experience that body worn video is a fantastic piece of kit that helps us in securing convictions against those who target staff with unnecessary violence or abuse.
“We hope the introduction will deter anti-social behaviour and provide reassurance to rail staff as well as passengers.
Fortunately, these types of incidents are few and far between, however if anyone has any concerns while travelling, they can text us on 61016.”
Police appeal following fatal road traffic collision
“Dyfed-Powys Police is appealing for witnesses to a single vehicle road traffic collision which occurred on an unclassified road eastbound between Afon Dulais and Pantygwyn, Capel Dewi around 3pm on Saturday 8th February 2020.
Sadly the 50-year-old female driver passed away at the scene.
The vehicle involved was a 64 plate Grey Nissan NV200 Acenta.
If anyone has any information on this incident please contact Carmarthenshire serious collision investigation unit on the 101 number quoting reference 185 for the 08th February
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