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Don’t mention Parc Howard

Jon Coles

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THE MAN who caused a furore in a public meeting at Parc Howard in 20 15 by saying ‘places like this end up getting bulldozed’ and who was latterly exposed as an introducer for Loca Ventures, the company vying to take over the park, has popped up in another bid for property in Llanelli.

Tony Rees from Cornelly, near Porthcawl, attended a public meeting called by County Councillor John Jenkins on Saturday (Jun 25) to discuss plans to sell off the old YWCA on Queen Victoria Road.

Councillor Jenkins told The Herald: “Before the meeting started , Mr Rees told me , ‘ i f anyone brings up Parc Howard not to allow then to speak’. ”

Councillor Jenkins said that he was not really sure why he was asked to curtail any mention of Parc Howard until he got home and Googled Tony Rees.

He told us: “I saw the reports regarding Parc Howard and I was very concerned about what I read. Given the proposals for the YWCA, what I read cast doubts about the credibility of Tony Rees.”

Councillor Jenkins said that there was a mystery man in the meeting who, when asked, said that he was an associate of Mr Rees and to whom Tony Rees referred as ‘the money man’.

parchowardhomeSpeaking about the proposed plans for the building, which was initially to provide 15 bedsit-type rooms, Councillor Jenkins said: “What they were proposing was something I would not keep a dog in. It was worse than the worst university accommodation. There were 15 bedsits and one bathroom. I objected to the plans , as did Llanelli Town Council.”

NOT NIMBYISM

“We would have sent a representative to speak and object if it had gone to a planning meeting, ” Cllr Jenkins continued .

“What the area needs is sensitive development like the flats that have been created at the former Wanderers club a few doors up. This is not NIMBYism. I am open to residential development and the building needs to be put back into use.

“I believe that there are significant amounts of money available as grants from the Welsh Assembly Government for putting dilapidated buildings like this back into use. Given those vast amounts of money, I have serious concerns ; the council have to be careful about whom they choose as their bedfellows.”

A concerned resident, who spoke to The Herald on condition of anonymity, said: “As you probably know, the situation has changed somewhat because Mr Rees has ‘responded to community concerns’ and has withdrawn the application for bedsits at the former YWCA building. His plans encountered such hostility at the residents’ meeting and so many objections had been lodged that they are exploring alternative plans.”

The resident told us: “Robert Davies, the planning officer for the Queen Victoria Road scheme , informed John Jenkins, our County Councillor, that he was minded not to put the application before the Planning Committee.

“A new application is likely to be made for six or seven self-contained flats but this is still squeezing them in.”

A further resident said: “There was a mysterious ‘investor’ introduced at the residents meeting, presumably the man who will provide the capital for the project. Interest and loans will be repaid from rents and the risk is reduced by the high demand for low-cost accommodation for single people. Income is assured if rents are set at Housing Benefit levels. Through Housing Benefit, the tax payer is always likely to have an important role in underpinning this kind of business model which begins with identifying a decaying property which the owners are desperate to be relieved of responsibility for and can therefore be bought very cheaply.”

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

The feeling of residents after meeting with Mr Rees and his unnamed ‘money man’ was that many questions remained unanswered . There was concern about the nature of the development and the tenants to whom it would be marketed. Despite attempts to re-assure them, residents felt the accommodation was likely to be let to vulnerable people with a high risk of disturbances related to drug and alcohol abuse and that tenancies were also likely to be transient.

In that respect , they noted the content of a report from the County Council’s Environmental Health Officer, Gareth Jones, who wrote: “P roperties of this size and nature become unmanageable because of: Anti-social behaviour, Noise, Tenant disputes, Refuse management, Fire risk, Parking facilities, Cleanliness and management of communal areas . ”

A spokesperson for local residents told The Herald : “This venture would not be a valuable addition to the housing stock. It is not high quality accommodation – not the sort of accommodation any of us at the meeting would wish ourselves or any member of our families to end up having to live in. It is not designed to address the shortage of housing for single people – it is designed to take advantage of that situation by profiting from temporary, low -investment accommodation that meets only the most basic legal requirements.

“The scale of it and the low standard meant it is likely to attract only transient residents. Concern was expressed about pressure on planning committees to approve ventures like this because of Welsh Government policy.”

HERALD ASKS QUESTIONS

The Herald asked Mr Rees the following questions via email:

  • Following your own and your associate’s meeting with local residents concerned about your plans for the redevelopment of the above property , I would be grateful if you would provide a statement regarding your intentions for the same.
  • Please confirm whether funding from either local government or Welsh Government grant will fund any part of any refurbishment of the premises.
  • Please confirm whether it is your intention to acquire the freehold of the premises, whether by use of a corporate entity or in your own right.
  • Having spoken to some people who were at the public meeting , we have been told that you asked a local councillor not to allow one member of public to raise the issue of Parc Howard. Could you either confirm or deny this?

We have so far received no reply to our enquiries.

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development

Carli Newell

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A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.

Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.

The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.

“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.

“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”

Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.

Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.

“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”

The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.

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Burry Port Harbour lighthouse overhaul tops council’s £2million investment

Carli Newell

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A £2MILLION investment in Burry Port Harbour is nearing completion, topped off with the iconic lighthouse getting a fresh lick of paint.

Carmarthenshire County Council is behind a range of improvements to maintain and restore the historic harbour which is one of the county’s most loved and well visited beauty spots.

Restoration of the Grade II listed harbour walls, undertaken under the guidance of CADW, will conclude within the next few weeks.

The council has also been working alongside The Marine Group, which operates the harbour, to improve mooring facilities. They are working closely with fishermen to bid for funding for new commercial pontoon infrastructure.

It will add to investment made over previous years which saw the council spend almost £1.5million on new pontoons, and over £300,000 in maintaining the harbour railings and bridge.

A local operator has agreed a lease for a cafe and public toilets on east side of Harbour, and the refurbishment of the old RNLI harbour office has recently started by The Marine Group (TMG) to create a harbour-side coffee house.

TMG has also invested in a state-of-the-art dredger which arrived at the harbour last autumn. Dredging is well underway and will continue until targeted depths are reached.

Boat lifting equipment and new fuelling points are also planned.

The council has introduced community safety officers to patrol the harbour assisting tourists and local people during the summer months, especially to advise around Covid regulations, as part of a tourism hotspot plan to take care of issues such as parking, litter, street cleansing, enforcement and signage.

Temporary car parking surfacing has also been laid on the east side along with new pay and display facilities ahead of a wider multi-million regeneration plan that will transform the harbour with a mix of housing, commercial and leisure space covering around 13 acres of prime development site.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We are proud of our continued investment in Burry Port Harbour. We are spending millions restoring and maintaining historic features that are much-loved by local people and visitors who come from far and wide to enjoy what the harbour has to offer.

“We continue to work closely alongside The Marine Group and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council to plan and prioritise works and ongoing maintenance. We are as keen as everyone else to ensure it is well-maintained and continues to be a place people can enjoy.

“We appreciate that there has been some upheaval during these improvement works but we ask people to understand that our investment will make Burry Port Harbour an even better place for the future.”

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