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​ Aggressive ‘cowboy’ builder in court

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Stress made family ill: Dean Burchill with condemned orangery

A LLANELLI company director was found guilty of using aggressive behaviour to his customers and carrying out shoddy work this week.

Ioan Llyr Berry, director of Pearl Home Improvements, also admitted misusing quality marks when he appeared at Swansea Crown Court in a prosecution led by Carmarthenshire Council.

The court heard that a £13,500 orangery he built for one customer had to be demolished for safety reasons.

Berry, of Nightingale Court, Coedcae, was approached by three customers who wanted work carrying out in their property.

Dean Burchell paid £13,500 for him to build an orangery which now has to be demolished as it does not comply with building regulations and poses a significant risk of failure to the sewer and the property.

He also paid him over £2,000 as a deposit to construct a loft conversion which was not returned. Prior to agreeing for the works to be carried out, Mr Burchell was shown a copy of the company’s website that contained the TRUSTMARK logo. However, subsequent enquires found that the company was not a member of TRUSTMARK and therefore not permitted to use the logo.

Unfinished: Builder Berry was called ‘cowboy’ by judge

When Mr Burchell contacted Berry over the phone to express his disappointment at the works carried out, he became verbally abusive and told the consumer ‘ you had better watch your kids’.

Consumer B also contracted with the 33-year-old to build a conservatory which was never built and printed on the contract for works was the FENSA quality logo, neither the company nor Mr Berry are registered with FENSA.

Berry carried out works for Consumer C but used aggressive behaviour on two occasions when trying to obtain payment for the said works.

In summing up the case at crown court on Friday, Judge Chris Clee QC agreed with Consumer A’s referencing of Berry being a cowboy. He said: “I can’t think of a more apt description.”

Berry was convicted of five charges under the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations 2008 – two relating to misuse of quality marks, two relating to aggressive practices and one for poor workmanship. He was given a 12-month community order to run concurrently and his business was fine £10,000 for the five offences.

A compensation order has been made for £18,597.60 for remedial costs to Consumer A.

Mr Burchell contacted The Herald to explain the impact that Berry’s poor workmanship had on his family.

“My wife Alison and myself have four sons, and with the boys growing up, we felt we wanted more space,” he told our reporter.

“An orangery seemed an ideal idea, we had a few quotes and found Ioan Berry on Facebook and asked for him to come out and quote us a price. Things seemed to be reputable with him. He claimed to use the same team constantly to do the work.”

However, as the job approached completion, the Burchells noticed problems with all aspects of the build, from the roof to the floor.

“The plasterboard had been put right up to the window so you couldn’t open it, they’re sash windows. We had people working here on midnight up until Christmas,” he added.

In spite of Berry claiming that he had completed the necessary consultations with CCC and Dwr Cymru, the build was condemned by both.

“We signed the attic first and then the orangery, I had to take a loan out for this,” Mr Burchell said. “We paid in stages up to £13,500. Trading Standards have spoken to a surveyor and this orangery has to come down, there’s no doubt on that. Even the judge in court last Friday said that we have something that’s worthless.

“This has made my entire family ill, we’ve lost money, health and had far too many sleepless nights. We never realised we were dealing with such a cowboy. If me speaking out stops Ioan doing this to another then it’s some comfort. He has to pay us compensation now over a two year period even though he claims he’s bankrupt. He even misused logos on Facebook as he wasn’t registered.”

The council’s executive board member for public protection, Cllr Phillip Hughes, said: “This man conned an innocent consumer out of thousands of pounds and duped other customers into believing they were being provided with good quality work. Our trading standards and legal team have worked tirelessly to bring this man to justice. I hope this serves as a clear message to anyone thinking of carrying out shoddy work, using aggressive behaviour or ripping off their customers – we have the power to stop you in your tracks and we will.”

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First two cases of coronavirus in Carmarthenshire confirmed

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THE FIRST two cases of coronavirus have been found in Carmarthenshire, the Welsh Government announced today.

The two patients in the Carmarthenshire local authority area had recently returned together from northern Italy.

It comes as the Hywel Dda Health Board which serves the area opened two centres to test for coronavirus, one in Cardigan and one in Carmarthen.

The health board announced it had opened the testing centres to “help protect the health of our communities”, while also saying that centres could be opened in other areas across the health board.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that a total of nine patients in Wales had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID -19) today, bringing the total to 15.

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Council unveils ambitious housing plan

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has unveiled major plans to build more council homes and further improve its existing housing stock, including an ambition to move towards ‘carbon neutral homes’.

Executive Board approved an impressive Carmarthenshire Homes Standard (CHS+) business plan this week (February 24, 2020) in a commitment to build on a £286million programme it has already delivered to bring council homes in the county above the Welsh standard for social housing.

Pending Full Council approval in March, the council has outlined its intentions to commit £49million to continue the CHS+ programme whilst developing a new standard to further improve the energy efficiency of their homes, aiming to cut and off-set carbon emissions to ensure homes are warm, cheap to run, and easily adapted to cater for people’s changing needs.

As part of this vision, the council is planning to improve the fabric of houses so that they become more energy efficient. It will also harness off-grid sustainable energy solutions, such as wind and water, and has committed to planting 1,000 trees to off-set carbon emissions.

The council has also made a new commitment to invest £52million building more homes over the next three years as it works towards returning its housing stock to levels last seen in the 1990s.

The new programme will link to the council’s wider strategic regeneration initiatives, including developments in the Tyisha area of Llanelli, town centres and key rural towns.

The administration’s previous promise to deliver 1,000 more affordable homes is just 15 homes short of the target it set itself for 2021, including the completion of its first major new-build development since the 1970s in Pembrey, and the phase-one completion of a second development in Bynea.

Cllr Linda Evans, Executive Board Member for Housing, said the investment would not only improve living conditions for existing tenants and provide more quality affordable homes for local people, but will also contribute to providing employment and training opportunities in the local construction industry.

“The plan is very ambitious – we are building new homes and working with tenants and key partners to ensure Carmarthenshire is at the forefront of the decarbonisation agenda,” she said. “Carmarthenshire is one of three authorities working with Welsh Government to look at measures to decarbonise our homes, and this work will start in the next few months.

“The fact that we have been able to invest in our homes, we’ve been able to build suitable homes and adapt homes for people and their families is very impressive – there’s more to do, but we are ready to take the challenge. It’s a very exciting time.”

Delivery of the council’s ambitions depends on an average rent increase of 2.7 per cent, working out at roughly £87 a week for a two-bedroom home – the second lowest rent level for social housing in Wales and significantly lower than private rented accommodation.

The council will also seek £6.1million from the Welsh Government’s major repairs allowance fund.

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Llanelli: Notice of Motion follows school transport concerns

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A NOTICE OF MOTION will be discussed at Llanelli Town Council on Wednesday (Mar 4) following the concern of many parents over the loss of school transport for their children.

The motion will be proposed by Shahana Najmi, Town Council Leader and Councillor for the Lliedi Ward and seconded by Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward.

The motion reads as follows: “Recent changes to UK legislation have led to the cancellation of many paid-for school transport with the consequence that many Llanelli school children are now expected to walk many miles often along unsuitable routes to get to School.

“This has only highlighted the need for change to how school transport is delivered. We believe that all children whether they pay or not should be able to access safe and effective school transport to enable them to get to and from school to a point safe and a reasonable distance from their home.

“We therefore write to the Ministers for Transport and Education at the Welsh Government to ask them to support a new School Transport Policy here in Wales that complies with UK legislation and ensure that children here in Llanelli are not expected to walk miles to school in often adverse weather conditions and often on unsafe and unsuitable walking routes.

“We also write to Carmarthenshire County Council to ask them to do all in their power to ensure that children in Carmarthenshire have access to appropriate school transport and consider all options available to them to ensure acceptable provision.”

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