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The ghosts of Llanelly House

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screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-06-48GERAINT HOPKINS is known in many parts of the world as ‘The Snakeman’. He has appeared in films and on TV on numerous occasions.

Geraint’s passion for snakes and other creatures, which at best are most people’s worst nightmares, extend into the paranormal, ghosts, ghouls and the macabre. ITV’s Phillip Schofield named him the ‘Gothic Ghost Hunter’. Geraint is able to tell many a story of ghosts who frequent a large number of properties across Wales but more specifically in his home town of Llanelli.

The Herald caught up with the Gothic Ghost Hunter at one of his spooky retreats, where he spilled the beans on one such ghost, who is rumoured to haunt Llanelly House.

Mira Turner was a servant at Llanelly House in the mid 1800s. Nothing unusual about that. Numerous girls went into servic e in the large houses in the Llanelli area at that time. There were even hiring fairs around the county where parents would take their sons and daughters in the hope that they might find work on a farm or at one of the large homes.

Mira would have gone into service, possibly as a naive young woman housed in a small room at the top of the building, where other servants might have dwelled. Of course, if you throw a lot of people together of the opposite sex, something will inevitably develop.

The theory Geraint puts forward is that Mira had a relationship with the house butler, Charles Howells. As anyone who ha read a trashy novel or watched old films knows, the butler always ends up ravaging the young servant girls or the lady of the house. It is a plausible theory so far.

Geraint claims that Mira has haunted Llanelly House since her death in 1851. The sightings have been handed down through history. They range from members of staff at the house claiming to have seen Mira walking down the stairs to recent visitors claiming that they felt a cold presence in the building.

Stories have circulated that Mira had taken a quantity of the poison laudanum after being found to be with child through the attentions of the butler. One explanation suggests that she fell down the stairs at Llanelly House having taken the poison. Geraint asserts that there is a definite presence on or around the stairs at Llanelly House.

Another version of the story is that having taken a swig of the poison, which we cannot rule out was not put there by that cad the galloping butler, poor Mira leapt from the window and landed with a splat on Vaughan Street. A recent local press release hailed a photograph of the said ghost, which had been taken by an ‘elderly gentleman’ who believed he had captured the ghost of Mira Turner. The internet quickly revealed the photo to be the product of that horrifying ghoul ‘an app’.

There is a record of Mira being buried on August 9, 1851, that we are certain of. She was a mere 22 years of age and her body lies in an unmarked grave near to the Georgian House. Cleaners, painters and decorators and other upright tradesmen and women of the town have said that they have caught sight of Mira at the house.

Geraint had the opportunity to look investigate the house long before what it is today: fully restored and the centrepiece in Llanelli’s history trail.

Armed with a ghost buster’s toolkit and enough electronic gadgets to fill a Maplins store, Geraint left no table cloth unturned as he crept through the house in search of vibrations, smells and gusts of wind. It is a good job he hadn’t visited The Herald offices or he would have found all of that in abundance.

Geraint has not been able to go back to the house to investigate since the renovations have taken place. However, the area of Llanelli in which the house is situated is synonymous with ghosts.

Geraint told us that there is also a horse drawn coach, which has been seen careering out of control down the hill at Gelli On and in some instances has driven clean through and out the other side of those who claim to have seen it. The coach, he told The Herald, was part of the funeral cortège of Sir Thomas Stepney, another name associated with Llanelly House.

The Herald has been known to frequent Llanelly House on occasions and we have indeed been up the stairs and into many of the rooms for various exhibitions.

In relation to the Sir Thomas Stepney coach, we were told: “You could hear the hoof beats pound as they raced across the ground. And the clatter of the wheels as they spun round and round. And the horse galloped into Stepney Street with a crest upon his chest. It was the funeral coach of Stepney and the fastest in the west.”

There really is only one way to find out if this is truly a tale to be feared.

Llanelly House is open for business most days and hosts a range of exhibitions upstairs and downstairs.

Geraint’s last words of warning to us were: “If it vibrates, smells bad and you feel a gust of wind, get out of there quick.”

Wise words, whether you suspect the presence of the undead or not.

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Plans for Cross Hands Health Centre to go before Welsh Government

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AN OUTLINE Business Case for the development of a Wellbeing Centre to be based in Cross Hands is to be resubmitted to Welsh Government, Hywel Dda University Health Board is pleased to announce.

The business case outlines our intention to develop an integrated health and social care network of services for the Amman Gwendraeth area and the construction of a Wellbeing Centre. If approved, the centre will provide a base for health and care services which will accommodate two local GP practices (Tumble and Penygroes), a library, family centre, community pharmacy and also community police support officers and voluntary sector groups.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we deliver some health and care services. Hywel Dda University Health Board has been working with partners and stakeholders to refresh the business case for the development to ensure that these continue to be fit for our population’s health and care needs both now and in the future.  It is anticipated that the Business Case will be resubmitted to Welsh Government in Spring 2022.

Rhian Dawson, Integrated System Director for Hywel Dda University Health Board and Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to refocus on the development of the Wellbeing Centre in Cross Hands. This will not only be an asset for Cross Hands but will benefit Carmarthenshire as a whole. While it is unfortunate that the pandemic has delayed our progress, it has also demonstrated the importance of delivering services as close to home as possible.”

It is anticipated that the Centre could potentially be complete in 36 months from the approval of the Outline Business case. 

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Boris Johnson apologises over latest No.10 party revelations saying it was ‘work event’

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THE PRIME MINISTER says he thought party in March was a ‘work event’ but concedes he should have stopped the gathering on May 20, 2020.

In Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday (Jan 12), he apologised to the public and said that “I wish that things had been done differently on that night.”

But Boris Johnson said that Labour will have to wait for the outcome of an inquiry to know the exact details of what happened that night.

Labour Leader, Keir Starmer said Matt Hancock resigned when he broke the rules, and Allegra Stratton resigned for laughing about rule breaking. Why does the PM think the rules don’t apply to him. Boris Johnson says that is not what he said.

Starmer said the PM originally said he had been assured there were no parties. Then the video landed, and he pretended he was sickened by the parties. Now it turns out he was at the parties. Starmer added that it was his opinion that the public think he is “lying through his teeth”.

Tory MPs objected, on the grounds that MPs should not accuse each other of lying. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, defended Starmer, saying he is talking about what the public think.

Johnson said he does not accept that. He added a laywer should wait for the facts.

Keir Starmer said that he spoke last night to a woman, Hannah, whose father died last May. She met Johnson last year, and Johnson told her that he had done everything possible to protect her dad. Hannah now knows her father’s death certificate was signed on the day of the party. Does the PM understand how she feels?

Johnson said he understands how she feels. He wanted to apologise. But the government has been doing what it can to protect people. It has the most tested population in Europe. And it has had the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, and one of the fastest in the world. Apologising again, the PM said: “Whatever mistakes have been made on my watch, for which I apologise, that is the work that has been going on in Dowing Street.”

Simon Hart MP: We have to get to the bottom of this

Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, and MP for South Pembrokeshire and West Carmarthenshire, has become the first cabinet minister to publicly express concerns about the latest partygate revelations.  Simon Hart said this morning: “We’re in the middle of an investigation, that was set up by the PM to get to the bottom and to get to the truth about what was reasonable at the time and what wasn’t. It’s frustrating to have to rely on the investigation and we must be careful to not pre-judge that or what the PM will say in a few minutes’ time.

“The one thing I’m not going to do is make light of something that is unquestionably something of a significant public concern.

“I don’t live on a different planet. The frustration and the hurt and indignation and the incredulity that emerging stories like this produce. I’ve got, like everyone, family and friends asking me these questions. We have to get to the bottom of this.

“Judgment will need to be made about what happens next.”

There is some excellent detail about the No 10 party on 20 May 2020 in the Times today. The paper reports that Martin Reynolds, who sent out the email invitation to around 100 staff as the PM’s principal private secretary, became “panicky” in advance of the event, because staff were concerned it was against the rules, but decided cancelling the event would make things worse. The paper reports: “That afternoon, staff began preparations. A row of tables was set up on one side of the garden to act as a bar. In the garden itself more tables were set up in a layout to encourage people to observe social-distancing rules.

“Officials and advisers began arriving shortly after 6pm. While many stayed away, about 40 came. Many took up Reynolds’ suggestion in his email that they should “BYOB” — bring your own booze — taking a trip to the Tesco Express next to Westminster station. The drinks table was well stocked with gin, rosé, red wine and white wine, and guests began to arrive and mingle.

“Two sources said that the prime minister attended, with one saying he was “wandering round gladhanding people”. His fiancée Carrie Symonds, whom he married last year, also attended and was said to have been drinking with Henry Newman, then an adviser to Michael Gove and now a senior figure in No 10.

“The Times has been told that one senior official at the event joked about the risk of surveillance by drones, which was viewed as a tacit admission that the rules were being breached.”

Police in England issued 118,419 fines for breaking lockdown rules between 27 March 2020 and 17 October last year. That included 800 fines in the week when the No 10 party was held on 20 May 2020.

In London 17,745 fines were issued between March 2020 and October last year, including 113 for holding illegal gatherings of more than 30 people.

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, said: “Thousands of Londoners have been fined for flouting lockdown rules during the pandemic. It would be double standards of the worst kind for the police to turn a blind eye when those in No 10 have done the same.”

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards, questioned the British Government on the floor of the House of Commons this week with regard to the ongoing allegations facing the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

Allegations of a party held by government members and officials during May 2020 continue to plague the Conservative administration, with pressure mounting on the British Government over the past few days.

With an investigation into these claims commissioned, Jonathan Edwards MP questioned the government on what they believed would be an appropriate political sanction should the investigation conclude that a party was held and that the Prime Minister, or other Ministers attended.

The response came that it was not appropriate to comment on this hypothetical situation, and that they would await the results of the independent investigation.

Speaking outside the Chamber, Mr Edwards said: “I have been contacted my several constituents in the past few days outlining their shock, their disappointment, and their anger at the current allegations that this Government faces.

The stories they have shared with me of enormous personal sacrifice, of funerals held over video calls, and of elderly family members unable to see their loved ones in the flesh, have been emotionally powerful, and I thank them for sharing those experiences with me.

Should the allegations of Government Ministers attending a party at this very same period prove to be true, it will fly in the face of the collective struggle that everyday people have endured for almost 2 years now, and it will finally confirm what many of us here in Wales have already theorised: that the political ruling class in Westminster do not care about the citizens that they represent.”

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Llanelli Police Station to temporarily close for improvement work

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LLANELLI POLICE STATION will be closed from Monday, 10th January 2022 and will reopen on Monday, 31st January 2022 for work to improve the building to be undertaken safely.

During this time alternative arrangements will be in place for normal service to continue.

The front office staff will be working from Llwynhendy police station during this period to deal with public enquiries.

The Neighbourhood Policing Team will continue to work from a building alongside the police station and will be accessible as they are now.

Response officers will be continuing to work from the old police station to answer calls for service and will also be utilising Burry Port and Llwynhendy police stations.

The Public Service Point outside the police station will also remain working.

Police can also be contacted online at https://bit.ly/DPP101Online or by email at 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk.

Inspector Mark Davies said, “This level of investment in Llanelli police station clearly demonstrates our commitment to keeping a local policing base in the town and our desire to ensure our facilities are fit for operational use for the future.”

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