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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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Community checks out new Carmarthenshire Policing Hub and Custody Suite

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn today (24.06.22) hosted an open doors event for local stakeholders at Dyfed-Powys’ new Custody Suite and Policing Hub, that is currently under construction at Dafen, Llanelli Carmarthenshire.

Planning permission was granted to the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner by Carmarthenshire County Council back in April 2021 for the proposed development, which is to be an ambitious sustainable construction, with a BREEAM excellence rating.

Wilmott Dixon, who are the Construction Contractor have been on site since autumn preparing for the first construction phases, with specific progress now beginning made on the development, that aims to be completed by May 2023.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “This is a major investment for us which will see an ambitious, modern, sustainable fit for purpose policing hub and custody suite that will meet the needs and expectations of modern policing. 

“During the planning application process between 2020 and 2021, we engaged widely with the local community,  and It was a pleasure to open the door, and welcome local community representatives to the construction site today, to show the progress that has been made to date.

“I’ve worked extremely hard with partners over recent years to ensure that we get to this position and I now look forward to seeing the construction work continue to develop at pace over the year”.

In being a BREEAM related development, the new build will offer a more sustainable environment, that aims to enhance the well-being of the people who work within it, and help protect natural resources.

Amongst some of the sustainable credentials of the new build will be a photovoltaic solar power installation to minimise the carbon footprint of the building; a rainwater harvesting facility for toilets and non-potable water, and electric car charging facilities.

Chief Inspector Richard Hopkin, Dyfed-Powys Police’s operational lead on the new build, said: “We feel very fortunate to be having a new build custody suite and hub coming to Llanelli.

“Our current Llanelli estate is old, so to see a new build that is being designed with such consideration for the environment and the wellbeing of our staff and the community within which it sits is really positive.

“The development will provide a fit for purpose, future proof solution which will complement the town centre Neighbourhood Police Team base.”

Ian Jones, Director at Willmott Dixon commented, “This is the first project that we have worked on with Dyfed Powys Police, and as part of what has being a collaborative partnership, we are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this development. 

“This is a purpose‐built, new custody suite to replace and supplement provision of custody within Carmarthenshire which will provide excellent facilities to meet the needs of modern law enforcement and detainee wellbeing for Dyfed Powys Police. 

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to welcome guests to the site to show them first-hand how construction is progressing.”

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Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’

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EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.

Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.

49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.

In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.

“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.

“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.

“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”

Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.

Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.

He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.

Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,

“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”

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M&S opticians opens its doors in Llanelli Parc Trostre

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MARKS & SPENCER has opened the newest branch of its M&S Opticians service, located in the retailer’s popular Llanelli store.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre will offer customers an expert opticians service, which includes a full eye health examination (OCT scan) for every eye test booked at no additional fee.

Free eye tests are available as an opening offer, as well as 15% off glasses and sunglasses for Sparks customers. There’s a wide range of designer brands to choose from including Mulberry, Prada, Joules, Kate Spade, Oakley, Police, Maui Jim along with leading lens manufacturers – Zeiss and Nikon.

Expert advice on contact lens fitting and wearing is also on hand, alongside a contact lens home delivery option. The store will also be home to a hearing aid audiologist who will be offering free hearing health checks along with latest hearing aid technology, including rechargeable models and mobile connectivity.

In addition to the physical experience in-store, customers can book appointments online here, as well as view, purchase and try on glasses via the innovative ‘virtual try on’ tool here

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre is the second optician service to open in Wales following a successful trial across ten UK cities, during which the service received a customer satisfaction rate of 96% and a customer recommendation rate of 96%.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre Store Manager, Aled Bonnell, said: “We’re always looking for ways to make shopping at M&S even more rewarding and feedback from our trial showed that customers loved the convenience of having an Opticians service in our store. We’re really excited to be opening our M&S Opticians in Llanelli and hearing what our customers think. The choice of different brands we’re offering is second to none and we have brilliant opening offers to suit all budgets.”

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