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Don’t mention Parc Howard

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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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Public Services Board seeks views to improve local well-being

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CARMARTHENSHIRE’S Public Services Board (PSB) is seeking residents’ views to find out what matters to them and their local communities.

The PSB has developed its Well-being Objectives and draft actions to deliver them, based on feedback received on its Well-being Assessment. The results of a survey at that time gathered views and helped shape the PSB’s understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors that impact the well-being of individuals and communities within Carmarthenshire.

Once again, residents are being asked to contribute to help public service partners develop Carmarthenshire’s Local Well-being Plan for 2023-28.

To help shape the future of well-being please visit: Current Consultations (gov.wales)

The survey closes on 25 January 2023.

Cllr Darren Price, Chair of the Carmarthenshire PSB and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “To deliver what is important to our communities, we need to their feedback and input. This survey is an opportunity for our residents to tell us if we, as public services, are on the right track to help create a better future for our children’s generation, and the generations to follow, as we strive to reach this goal.” 

Andrew Cornish, Vice-Chair of the PSB andChief Executive Officer / Principal of Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work so far. Our Well-being Assessment gives us a strong foundation on which to build our Well-being Plan and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in our involvement work for the preparation of the Plan.”

Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board is a partnership of public and third sector organisations working together to improve well-being across the county and includes Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales and other organisations.

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Llanelli prepares for Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade

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LATER TODAY (Sunday, November 13) the town will honour those who have fallen in service over the decades.

A number of roads will be closed on the day, including Murray Street, Church Street and Vauxhall Road from its junction with the mini roundabout.

These will be shut for the parade between 8.30am and noon, however, pedestrian access for those wishing to reach individual properties in those streets will be maintained where possible throughout the duration of the closure.

Traffic will be diverted to Robinson Street, Arthur Street, Columbia Row, Anne Street, Bigyn Road, Stepney Place, Water Street, Thomas Street and Gelli Onn.

At 10am, police, organisations and others not marching in the parade will take up their respective positions in front of the cenotaph in the town hall grounds, while the civic party will assemble inside Llanelli Town Hall.

At 10.15am the parade leaves Drill Hall for the town hall with the mayor Cllr Philip Warlow proceeding to the Boer War Memorial where he will lay a wreath.

When the parade arrives at the town hall, the civic party will proceed to the cenotaph where the Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed Sara Edwards, will lay a wreath.

This will be followed by the chair of Carmarthenshire Council Cllr Rob Evans, laying a wreath on the Royal Welch War Memorial and then on the town’s cenotaph.

More wreaths will be laid by dignitaries and politicians and ex-servicemen and women A two-minute silence will then be observed at 11am.

Any service groups or individuals who wish to lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday can contact Paul Wickers via email at llanlva2009@aol.com.

While community organisations are to contact Llanelli Town Council at enquiries@llanellitowncouncil.gov.uk.

Contact should be made by Monday, October 31 at the very latest to confirm arrangements as no additional wreaths will be able to be accommodated on the day.

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Llanelli choir launches fundraising naked calendar

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MEMBERS of a Llanelli female choir have bared all to raise money for the town’s Ty Bryngwyn Hospice.  

Côr Curiad has created a cheeky fundraising calendar for 2023 – the second one they have done.

With around 50 members, photos were taken across Llanelli with strategically placed items to spare their blushes – all in the name of a good cause.

Llanelli photographer Graham Harries was behind the lens for the project.

The choir’s musical director Alex Esney, who is Miss December in the calendar said: “Local businesses sponsored the calendar and so many of the photos were taken at their premises.

“So for example we went to LTC Mobility Ltd and had scooters carefully positioned in front of us, it was a lot of fun.

“I also want to thank Ffwrnes Theatre for opening up especially for me to go and have my photo taken with the piano there.”

Alex said the aim is to raise as much as possible for the hospice, adding: “We did a calendar a few years ago but we now have more members so we thought it was time to do it all again.

“The ladies decided to ‘bare all’ to raise money for the hospice which provides such great care and support for families in their time of need, including two of our own.

“I think we pulled out all the stops this year, getting their clothes off at local businesses in and around Llanelli.”

One of the calendar photos (Images: Graham Harries Photography)
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