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Packed meetings discuss fields’ futures

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screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-10-13-52IT WAS A PACKED Queen Vic in Llanelli on Thursday, September 29, as a public meeting regarding the future of Llanerch fields took place.

A panel made up of local residents set out what they described as an unacceptable set of plans for a new school on the playing field, which they claim is in full use by numerous local people and community groups including a thriving Boy Scouts group and a local Cylch Meithrin.

OUTRAGE

Campaigner Heather Peters chaired the meeting and told the large gathering that she was shocked and outraged that the council had gone ahead with tests without any local consultation having taken place.

The Herald spoke to representatives of the Football Association and we were told very clearly that they have always had an interest in the field but had foregone the use for one year only to allow the field to recover. Phil Jones from the Carmarthenshire League was also at the meeting and confirmed that they had never ever said that they did not want the field. He said: “We want to use the field – it was the best field in Carmarthenshire. We cannot afford to lose any more teams, clubs or pitches in the Llanelli area. When these green areas have gone, they are gone forever.”

Councillor Bill Thomas told the meeting that the ward councillors were not happy with the choice of site for the new school and asked: “Do you want us as a Town Council to save your field?”

Someone shouted: “We have been telling you that for two years.”

EVERYONE IS CLEAR WE NEED A NEW SCHOOL

Following the meeting, Nia Griffith MP told The Herald: “It is very clearly a decision which will be made by Carmarthenshire County Council and therefore people need to speak directly to those decision makers. There are a number of issues to be looked at but the only people who can actually change a decision or make a decision on this are the County Councillors in power and in particular, of course, the Executive Board members.”

In answer to some questions, Nia Griffith said: “We would love for the Town Council to take over Llanerch but we have to be prepared for the council to say no.”

The Llanelli MP called on the council to take note of legislation on consultation before making plans. She said: “Whereas previously it would have been good practice to have consultation, now it is actually in legislation. It is a requirement before they put planning in. That seems like a sensible way round. What everyone is clear about is that we need a new school.”

LEE WATERS FRUSTRATED

Llanelli AM Lee Waters told The Herald: “I am frustrated at the pattern of behaviour from the council. There seems to be a culture of ‘we know best’ and ‘don’t trouble yourselves with the details because we will decide anyway’.

“There is no doubt there is a need for more schools and a better school for Dewi Sant and Penygaer. What we are concerned about is these proposals which are well developed and the details have to be dragged out. Quite rightly, the residents around the areas most affected have concerns; they have questions and the council have to explain and take people with them. All we want to know is what the plans are and have a chance to influence them.”

Speaking about the political in-fighting in Llanelli and at County Hall, Lee Waters suggested: “There are two issues being mixed up here. There is the issue of asset transfer, which is who has to pay to look after the pitches and the parks of the town. Whoever is in charge – be it Labour, Plaid or Independent – will have to struggle with that. The second issue is the future of our schools and where new facilities go. The two issues do not need to be tied together.

“There is obviously local squabbling going on around that but the people here aren’t interested in that. They are interested in what’s best for their community.”

TOWN COUNCIL MAKES ITS MIND UP

There was another packed meeting at the Old Vicarage on Wednesday (Oct 5) when Llanelli’s Town Council met to discuss whether they should express an interest in the assets on the asset transfer register.

The Save Llanerch Field group were in the public area with representatives of Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee. It led town Mayor Bill Thomas to start the meeting by saying that he had never seen it so full.

Following a brief discussion regarding the position of asset transfer policy, the clerk, Mel Edwards, told councillors: “My understanding is that if there isn’t an expression of interest for a particular asset, there will be a wider consultation than with us, but that is for the assets where there is not a declaration of interest.”

Councillor Burns said: “Going back to the beginning of this process in 2015, it is clear that this asset transfer programme is essentially a programme to transfer costs. It is my opinion that the costs of providing all the services in the parks and recreation areas should not fall on a Town or a Community Council.”

NO DISCUSSION ON SCHOOL SITE

The first question read out asked: “Through the Town Council’s correspondence with the County Council, what discussions have there been on the rebuild of Ysgol Dewi Sant and the nine considered sites?”

The clerk replied: “The quick answer is none. There has been no discussion between this council and the County Council. In April this year, this council made a proposal after a series of discussions with County Council officers where we offered to pay a substantial contribution towards the costs of parks and pitches in Llanelli. When we made that proposal, Llanerch, Penygaer was on the list. This council was under the understanding it was making an offer to contribute towards the costs on facilities including Llanerch. We received a response to that proposal that was made in April in August. That response was politely saying, ‘no thank you, we are sticking to asset transfer’.

“That response was reported to the September meeting of this council. This council, in addition to the motion which has been discussed already, agreed that we should continue to meet with the county to see how we could help. At that meeting, we were told that Llanerch was off the asset transfer register and that it was earmarked for a school.”

TOWN COUNCIL SUPPORTS CAMPAIGN

The final question from the campaigners to be read out was: “Where does this council stand in relation supporting the campaign for maintaining the playing field on Llanerch?”

Council Leader Carl Lucas responded and said that the Town Council have always been looking at how the council could support the retention of the playing fields and surfaces in the town.

He said: “We have consistently said that these sites need to be maintained for recreational use. It shouldn’t be at the expense of us taking on their assets, which is why we have opposed direct asset transfer. I will be asking the council to support the campaign to keep Llanerch as a playing field area.”

Councillor Winston Lemon said that the first he had heard about anything that was going to happen at Llanerch as a County Councillor was when it was flagged up by Heather Peters. He said he was totally against any school on Llanerch and that the field should be kept in recreational use.

Councillor Jeff Edmunds said: “I agree with what everybody is saying in protecting our open play areas.”

MARCHING FORWARDS TOGETHER

Jan Williams said: “People walk their dogs and they enjoy it. We played on it as children and we thought that it was there forever. People who play football there regard it as their premier playing field. We need those open spaces so people can relax and enjoy themselves. It is nice to know that we are all marching forwards together.”

Councillor Jeff Owen said that he played on the field 20 years ago and that asset transfer was a decision made two years ago. He said: “I can’t see how that is going to change because Plaid has taken over. What I am more worried about as a Town Councillor is what our role is going to be if that falls through.”

The clerk confirmed that the motion was that the Town Council supported the campaign to keep Llanerch playing field for the community and that the council asks for information from the County Council regarding what the other sites were.

The vote was proposed and carried unanimously.

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Business offer Welsh Government help in ‘non-essential’ shopping row

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THIS morning (Tuesday, October 27), the Wales Retail Consortium, CBI Wales and Association of Convenience stores presented the Welsh Government joint recommendation to resolve the confusion over non-essential items.

The three industry bodies’ statement expresses the hope that the Welsh Government, ‘will agree to these recommendations and the people of Wales can refocus all their energies on respecting the Fire Break’.

The recommendations come in response to confused and confusing messaging from the Welsh Government, which allowed its public health message to be drowned out over the weekend by rows over whether toasters, Lee Childs novels, and size 16 jeans were essential items for customers. The confusion was not helped by a mistaken tweet by supermarket giant Tesco which claimed women’s period products were not essential items when they are and always have been.

The WRC, CBI Wales and ACS believe their recommendations will fulfil retail’s role in tackling the spread of the virus while allowing for discretion to be used on an individual basis – as recommended by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in a tense press conference yesterday, http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/61929/welsh-health-minister-defends-retail-restrictions/.

The business bodies recommend:

  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.
  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases
  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs
  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer
  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.
  • These recommendations would mean non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores – but large notices are placed in front of the products and in communal spaces informing customers of the Welsh Government’s regulations and the Welsh public are trusted to make the right decision.

They also say they ‘look forward to engaging with Welsh Government again this morning and we hope consensus can be reached’.

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Llanelli Christmas Carnival goes online

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Preparations are underway to host the first ever virtual Llanelli Christmas Carnival. 

The carnival will go digital for the first time in its 42-year history due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings. 

Whilst there won’t be the usual street parade, people will be able to get into the festive spirit from the comfort of their own home. 

The online celebration will be hosted as an event on Discover Carmarthenshire’s Facebook page on Friday, November 13. 

Over the years, thousands of people have been involved in the Llanelli Christmas Carnival – either dressing up to enter a float in the parade, volunteering, or simply enjoying the atmosphere with generations of their families. 

They can still get involved this year by sharing photos and video to help people celebrate good memories and help others reminisce about carnivals gone by. 

There will be a broadcast of music from talented local performers who would usually sing from the main stage, and people will still be able to countdown to the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights. 

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table. 

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “It’s very unfortunate that we can’t hold Llanelli Christmas Carnival this year, but we’re determined to keep the spirit of the carnival alive. Let’s come together and celebrate one of the biggest events in Wales from the comfort of our homes – celebrate with generations of memories and look forward to a bigger and better carnival next year.” 

Sign up to attend Llanelli’s first virtual Christmas carnival – visit facebook.com/discovercarmarthenshire 

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Free Community Crime Prevention Kits to be distributed in Llanelli area

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OVER the coming weeks, residents from both the Ty Isha and Glanymor areas in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, will receive free crime prevention kits that will aim to deter offenders and make both communities safer.

The prevention kits have been purchased through funding that was secured from the Home Office’s Safer Street Fund by Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.

The funding of £195,673 that was secured by Mr Llywelyn will go towards measures proven to cut crime, and will include employing two Community Wardens; purchase of SelectaDNA kits, Community crime prevention activity support, Environmental improvements and Community Crime Prevention kits.

SelectaDNA kits and Bike register kits are two of the Community Prevention kits that will be distributed to residents within the local communities over coming weeks.

The SelectaDNA kits are property marking kits that include a unique formula of DNA, UV tracer and microdots, which people can use to mark their valuable household items, so that if stolen, police are able to trace them. 

Similarly, the bike register kits include stickers, frame markings and microdots to uniquely identify a bike.  Users can add descriptions and photos to ensure that in the event of a theft, their bicycle can be easily identified and returned by Police through the BikeRegister Scheme.

Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys said, “I am delighted that both these crime prevention kits have been purchased through the Safer Streets funding that I secured earlier this year.  Hopefully, as they are distributed over the coming weeks, we will see that they will have a positive impact within the area.  Criminals know that DNA is the police’s most powerful weapon in convicting criminals therefore the DNA fear-factor is highly understood and acts as a huge deterrent.

“I have invested significantly in the area over recent years with community grants I made available in addition to the new CCTV system that is in place across the town. These new crime prevention kits that have been purchased through the new additional Safer Streets funding will further build upon my work over recent years and I hope the residents will feel a positive difference in their communities.

Both Ty Isha and Glanymor areas are considered to be two of the most deprived areas in Carmarthenshire according to the Welsh Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation. The funding secured will focus on tackling all acquisitive crime such as burglary, vehicle theft and robbery within the identified areas.

PCC Llywelyn added, “Ensuring the security and safety of residents is a priority of mine – everyone deserves to live safely, and free from harm. Acquisitive offences are the crimes that the public are most likely to encounter, and they are estimated to cost society billions of pounds every year. There is strong evidence that these crimes can be prevented by tactics that either remove opportunities to commit crime or act as a deterrent by increasing the chances of an offender being caught. I now look forward to continue working closely with all partners that have supported us with our bid, to tackle these crimes in both areas and to ensure that they become safer environments for community residents.”

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