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Llanelli residents affected by Thomas Cook collapse

Darren Harries

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MANY people from Llanelli have been adversely affected by the collapse of Britain’s oldest travel firm.

Founded in Market Harborough in 1841 by businessman Thomas Cook, the company organised railway outings for members of the local temperance movement. 178 years later, it had grown to a huge global travel group, with annual sales of £9bn, 19 million customers a year and 22,000 staff operating in 16 countries.

But all that came to an end on Monday (Sept 23), the Civil Aviation Authority announced that Thomas Cook was to cease trading.

Sheree Jenkins’ family, Thomas Cook customers, are left stranded out in Turkey with no end in sight to their troubles. Speaking to the Herald, she said ”My family are in Turkey, my partner and 3 kids, and are due home Thursday but no flights are labelled as ‘go ahead’.

“8 days into the holiday and being told to pay £1170 to stay in the hotel or they will be kicked out. They are ATOL protected but feel they have no help at all and no one cares for them. They had already paid £3588 for the holiday and the children are distressed and crying.

“We are so stressed it’s unreal, my children are currently sitting outside with tears running down their faces absolutely heartbroken because we have been thrown out. The sun is beaming on us all in 32-degree heat .

“If it was me and my partner, I wouldn’t care but my kids are distraught and so stressed here along with heartbroken. All they want to do is go home and never want to go on holiday again.

“With this being our first family holiday too hearing that from my kids has made me feel absolutely terrible. It is a disgrace”.

The modern Thomas Cook was in stark contrast to what the company used to be. The firm’s fate was sealed by a number of factors including financial, social and even meteorological issues.

As well as weather issues – a super hot summer meaning people were more likely to have a staycation – and stiff competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines, there were other disruptive factors, including political unrest around the world and many holidaymakers had become used to putting together their own holidays and not using travel agents’ package deals.

In May, Thomas Cook reported a £1.5bn loss for the first half of its financial year, with £1.1bn of the loss caused by the decision to write down the value of My Travel, the business it merged with back in 2007.

It is believed that Brexit was also a key factor in the disruptions with customer bookings as they awaited the fate of their country’s travel policies.

The airline company was then forced to be put up for sale in the hope that they could attain some much-needed funds to keep the company afloat.

Surprisingly, the airline company had seemed to have acquired a deal with Chinese company Fosun but the creditor banks issued a last-minute demand that the company find an extra £200m which proved too costly in the end to find a solution for Thomas Cook.

The Government was asked for a bailout of £250m, which was denied.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this on the Today programme: “I fear it would have kept them afloat for a very short period of time and then we would have been back in the position of needing to repatriate people in any case. The company’s large debts and High Street-focused business made it a poor candidate for survival”.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the company had “ceased trading with immediate effect” and it has also triggered the biggest ever peacetime repatriation, aimed at bringing more than 150,000 British holidaymakers’ home.

The tour operator’s failure puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK and many from Pembrokeshire.

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£100,000 of cannabis plants seized in west Wales police raid

Thomas Sinclair

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POLICE seized cannabis plants worth an estimated £100,000 during a warrant near Ammanford.

Dyfed-Powys Police searched a home in Garnant on Wednesday, July 21, where 100 plants were discovered to be growing in the front room and two bedrooms.

Given the number and maturity of some of the plants, officers estimate the quantity of cannabis growing to be worth around £100,000.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “This was a significant seizure of cannabis plants, which were growing in a sophisticated set-up across three rooms.

“Our investigation is ongoing into who is responsible, as there was nobody present at the time of the warrant, and we are carrying out all possible lines of enquiry to identify a suspect.

“I would like to thank all officers involved for showing great teamwork during the warrant and subsequent enquiries.”

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://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/2891/21/07/2021/02/C.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

(Picture above: File Image)

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development

Carli Newell

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A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.

Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.

The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.

“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.

“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”

Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.

Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.

“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”

The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.

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