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Concerns over future of Darllenfa Felinfoel

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FELINFOEL residents concerned about the fate of an iconic building have called for it to be preserved as ‘a rare survivor of our industrial heritage, and the spirit of self-improvement and community cohesion it represented’.

Built in the early 20th century, Darllenfa Felinfoel was formerly home to a library, reading room, theatre venue and community room where evening classes were held until recently.

However, after classes ceased to be held there, the future of the building appears uncertain, with it marked as ‘considering options for further use’ on CCC’s empty building list.

Local resident Rob Kenyon told The Herald that the centre ‘served many Felinfoel generations, and could play a valuable role in the future’.

“Felinfoel has already lost signature buildings like the old County Primary and Westfa House. Even Adulam chapel is now rumoured to be under threat. Losing the Institute would remove yet another example of local culture which tourists are invited to experience,” he added.

Mr Kenyon explained that the building was built in the early 20th century on land donated by the brewery. “The foundations and much of the masonry were done by local colliers after they came off shift,” he said.

Like other miners’ institutes across the south Wales coalfields, Darllenfau Felinfoel was a hub for the local community, offering further education, art classes, and concerts along with home economics lessons for families.

Many groups, including St John ambulance, used the building as their base, and during the Second World War the centre played a vital role in co-ordinating all the volunteer campaigns.

While Felinfoel now boasts a new, ‘well-equipped’ community centre, the old centre has a stage, which would mean that it could be used as a venue. Mr Kenyon suggested that this would boost the community of Felinfoel.

“A similar thing happened with the Collier’s in Ammanford, which used to be a similar sort of institute, and look at it now,” he added.

“The argument will be made that since the opening of the new community centre, the Institute is obsolete. That any financial audit would be pessimistic about its sustainability.

“However, this approach hardly if ever conducts a social audit of the wider financial gains to to community from such a positive influence.

“It is a fact that youth clubs and other programmed activities relieve pressure on hard-pressed social services like the NHS.

“Investment in this kind of project represents concrete support for a vibrant local identity and confidence in its future. Allowing it to disappear is unthinkable.”

Mr Kenyon told us that there was a lot of support for retaining the centre among local residents. “I knocked doors in y Fron, and everyone was completely in favour of it. They all said the same thing – the new place is very important, but Felinfoel is a bigger place now, and needs more places like this.”

Local county councillor Bill Thomas told us that the centre had been closed for over a year. “Our status is that we are still trying to get to the bottom of what is happening,” he explained.

“The building is held in trust by Carmarthenshire County Council, but as a result of various cuts, it is currently empty while they decide what to do with it.

“Everyone I speak to in the village wants to keep it as a benefit for the community,” he added. Bringing back evening classes was one of the potential uses that could be made of the 115-year-old building.

Cllr Thomas pointed out that in cases like this, CCC tended to look for community councils and organisations to take the building over. “That would probably be their preferred option,” he added.

“It is quite a big building though; it would be rather daunting for one group to take over alone.” He pointed out that the building would probably require some work, given that it has not been recently maintained.

“There has been a lot of interest from local people, who all have different memories of the building,” he added.

The Herald contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to ask whether they could clarify what the options being considered for the building’s future were, but had not received a response at the time of going to press.

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Police appeal following assault in Llys Glan Y Mor

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POLICE in Llanelli are investigating an assault which occurred in the vicinity of St Davids Close and Llys Glan Y Mor, Llanelli sometime between 9.00pm on Saturday 10th April and 1.30am on Sunday 11th April 2021.

A 45-year-old male was taken to hospital with facial injuries.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.
They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.
Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference DPP/0006/11/04/2021/01/C.

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Police trace burglar who left trail of oil leading to his home

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A MAN was charged with burglary after leaving a trail of oil from a stolen generator leading police from a victim’s home to his own.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers were able to quickly trace Dominic William Oliver after he went on an overnight burglary spree in Burry Port in March.

The force received reports of two garage burglaries and a theft from a car overnight on Monday, March 8, with a generator, fishing rods, and two bags containing passports among the stolen items.

The combined value of the items taken was estimated to be around £800.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “An officer attended the victims’ homes, and was made aware of a trail of oil, which was believed to have come from the stolen generator.

“She followed it along several streets – one of which was where Oliver had stolen two bags from a car – and discovered that it ended outside a property on Dandorlan Road.

“Oliver agreed to a voluntary search being carried out, and as officers entered the property they immediately noticed a rucksack with a distinctive pattern that had been described by one of the victims.”

The search was completed, with further items suspected to have been stolen recovered from the address, and the 31-year-old was arrested on suspicion of burglary within six hours of the incidents being reported.

While being conveyed to police custody, Oliver made a significant comment linking him to the theft of the generator.

He was charged with two counts of burglary and one theft, and appeared at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on Friday, April 30.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months, must complete a rehabilitation requirement, and must remain at his home address between 8pm and 6am for three months.

Sgt Davies said: “This was an excellent response, which resulted in the swift arrest and charge of Oliver, and the recovery and return of stolen property to the victims the same day the offences were reported to us.

“This has no doubt had a positive impact on the residents of Burry Port, who have commented positively on how the matter was investigated.

“Community engagement, patrols and a crime prevention leaflet drop was carried out following the investigation to offer reassurance and advice.”

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Further coronavirus restriction relaxations brought forward

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FURTHER changes to the coronavirus restrictions have been announced by the First Minister Mark Drakeford today.

The Welsh Government has confirmed further relaxations will be brought forward from 17 May to 3 May – including the resumption of indoor supervised activities for children, indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults, such as exercise classes, and the re-opening of community centres.

This means Wales will have completed the move to Alert Level 3 by Monday 3 May.

From Saturday 24 April, the rule of 6 will allow for up to six people from six households to meet outdoors, not including children under 11 years of age or carers from those households.

The Welsh Government has also confirmed the relaxations that will take place on Monday 26 April. Outdoor attractions, including outdoor swimming pools, funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen, while outdoor hospitality can also resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people will be able to take place and weddings receptions can begin again outdoors for up to 30 people.

Wales has the lowest coronavirus rates of the UK nations.  The successful vaccine programme continues with a higher proportion of people vaccinated in Wales than other nations of the UK for both first and second doses.

Changes from Monday 3 May:

  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities being able to reopen;
  • People will also again be able to form extended households with one other household.

Relaxations planned for 17 May will be brought forward to the 3 May, including:

  • The resumption of indoor supervised activities for children;
  • Indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults (such as exercise classes and swimming lessons);
  • And the re-opening of community centres.

The First Minister said:

“The sacrifices we have made continue to show results. By us all working together and sticking to the rules, combined with our vaccination programme, mean we continue to make progress. Rates of the virus continue to fall and the public health situation is improving. 

“Due to these efforts we are able confirm more easing of the restrictions from 26 April and for early May we are again able to bring forward some of our plans. However, this progress is dependent on all of us continuing to work together to keep Wales safe.

“At the last three-week review, I set out a forward-look of how the restrictions could continue to be lifted in the weeks ahead, if the public health situation remains stable.

“It will be for the incoming Welsh Government to confirm these arrangements at the next three-week review, which will be held on May 13 – a week after the election. It is my assessment that the hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes – will be able to open indoors from May 17, together with all other tourist accommodation, indoor entertainment and attractions.”

Further possible easements are subject to the public health situation remaining favourable.

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