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Erw Las application has City Deal link

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A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for a halfway house for teenagers at Erw Las, Llwynhendy, is at a property owned jointly by Professor Marc Clement.

Professor Clement is the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales. He was sacked from his position as Dean of Swansea University’s School of Management earlier this year. His dismissal followed an internal disciplinary process which examined his involvement in aspects of the Wellness Project and relationship with its developer in a separate project.
Issues arising from that investigation are now the subject of an investigation by Tarian, the South Wales Regional Organised Crime Unit.
Professor Clement denies any wrongdoing.

The Land Registry shows he bought the house for a recorded price of £375,000 in July this year.

The purchase completed roughly at the same time as the planning application’s submission and weeks after the applicants for the development approached the local authority for pre-application guidance.

The application is in the name of a company called Freshstart Care Ltd.

Professor Clement is not shown as having any interest in the applicant company.

A search of Companies’ House Records reveals companies with similar names operating in the same general field as Freshstart Care Ltd – including a significant provider of post-16 care called Fresh Start Care Services Limited. However, none of the directors of the applicant company is connected with the latter, which appears to have nothing to do with the application before Council planners.

The application for the hostel on a residential street has provoked significant local opposition and a slew of letters of objection sent to the County Council.

Each of the letters shares a common theme: that the application is in an unacceptable area to even consider placing a youth hostel for young offenders.

One lengthy objection notes: ‘There have also been grave concerns expressed in neighbouring Swansea relating to the number of private children`s homes being opened in that area. This results in the transferral of children with complex behavioural problems from other areas, with consequent increasing demands on both police resources and council services within the recipient area. The expansion of such homes in recent years is a very lucrative option with substantial profits to be made which many believe is the premier reason for the current Llwynhendy application’.

The presence of recently released young offenders at the property, if planning permission is granted, also exercises a significant number of respondents.

One writes: “I find it inconceivable that a semi-detached property should be considered suitable as a rehabilitation home for young, individuals as there is bound to be regular audible disturbance certainly for the adjoining neighbour if not for those living further away.

I understand that there will be four youths guarded/rehabilitated by 6 adults. This ratio of supervision would be the envy of any prison in the land and just confirms my suspicion that we can expect trouble, even when they are closely supervised.

I find it very odd that the residents were not advised or consulted about this change of use by the current owners of Han Y Bont. I understand some internal changes have already been made at the property. This seems rather foolish and arrogant to assume that the residents would not object and that the council would rubber-stamp it as a fait accompli.”

Several objectors also note chronic parking issues on the road, exacerbated by Erw Las’ use as a rat run for traffic and by boy-racers, trying to avoid speed cameras on neighbouring roads.

A further objection notes that, contrary to claims that the property is not prone to flooding, it has a river at the side of the property and has been flooded on a couple of occasions and the surrounding area is made up of marshland.

The Herald covered the story of Erw Las residents’ flooding complaints in 2016. Those who spoke with us said they had suffered from flooding for the last six years, we’re unable to get any help and unable to get any insurance cover for their homes.

One objector alleges: “The property is already kitted out for the youngsters to move in, so are they aware of something which the community is not?”

Cllr Deryk Cundy wrote:
a. We have no understanding of the supervision or regulation of the use of this property.
b. There are no guarantees on the safety of the residents of the property whoever they may be.
c. There are no details about the qualifications of the staff employed here.
d. There are no controls by the Council on the suitability of what is delivered here.
e. There are no regular inspections by the Council on the Health and Safety of these children.

Llwynhendy County Councillor and Chair of Llanelli Rural Council, Sharen Davies, also objected and asked: “As the local County Councillor for the Llwynhendy Area, I would like to request a site visit, for the Planning Committee to be made aware of the Rural area and the inappropriate environment for this development. I would also like to speak at the full Planning Committee.”

Not a single response from neighbours favours the plan and nor does the Council’s own Child Services team.

In its response, the Children’s Services Team write: “Carmarthenshire Children’s Services do not use private residential homes for looked after children so the proposed centre will be utilised by outside local authorities. Carmarthenshire is already a net receiver of a large number of looked after children and young people from other local authority areas – we currently have a population of out of county LAC almost the same size as our LAC population. We object to the planning application on the basis that this will contribute to an increase in the volume already entering and residing in the area.”

The application is certain to go forward for decision by the Planning Committee. It can expect a bumpy ride.

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Police appeal for information following alleged assault on a child

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POLICE are appealing for information after an alleged sexual assault on a child in Pembrey Country Park.

The police statement is as follows: “Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating an allegation of sexual assault by touching on a child, aged 6 years old, which occurred on Saturday afternoon, July 11, at a location in Pembrey Country Park, Carmarthenshire.  

“Officers immediately attended and searched the area.

“The suspect, who was unknown to the victim, is described as a white male with a tan, approximately 6ft tall, in his 40’s-50’s with short messy grey hair. He is described as wearing a blue t-shirt and a hat and carrying a black rucksack.  

“Officers are continuing to patrol the area and anniversary checks will be carried out.

“Anyone who has seen a male matching the description or anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: http://bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, by email at: contactcentre@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.”

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Local bus firms in protest drive over uncertainty

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HONK for hope is being backed by the coach operators surrounding the South West Wales area. 

They took to the roads around Haverfordwest, Carmarthen, and Cardigan in peaceful protest to support the call for help by coach operators during the corona virus pandemic.

Honk for hope is a national campaign to draw the public’s attention to the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the industry. It seeks to draw Governments attention to the dangerous position the coach and travel industry has fallen under, asking for them to take action.

Local coach companies, including Midway Motors, took to the roads to show their support to the campaign and to highlight the impact the pandemic has had on the industry and to ask for more support from the Government. 

The coaches and supporters met at the Carmarthen Park and Ride on July 14 at 11am to begin the drive. On the trip they visited Carmarthen at around 11.15am then headed to Haverfordwest for noon, finally reaching cardigan at 1.30pm.

Midway Motors spoke on their social media page: ‘Amazing to see so many local companies turning up to travel around Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. Nice to see so many people along the roadsides as well. Let’s hope for some good news from the Government in Westminster tomorrow.”

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Waters tells Welsh Tories to “Get Serious” in Senedd debate

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LLANELLI’S Member of the Senedd Lee Waters has criticised the Welsh Conservatives for trying to score points from the coronavirus crisis.

In a debate about transport in Wales, the Tories argued that the Welsh Government had failed to provide adequate support for bus operators during the pandemic, and were disappointed by the discouragement of flights from Cardiff airport due to the recently relaxed travel restrictions.

Lee Waters said: “These are serious times, but I am afraid this motion is not a serious response from the Tories. The honourable project to create the Welsh Conservatives appears to be dead. Week after week the WG has faced calls by the Tories to copy the latest back of the envelope announcement from Downing Street. Public health policy driven by press conference is not the approach of this government”

“While passengers have understandably stepped away from public transport, the WG has not. The Tories claim that the 95% drop in passengers is due to the “cruel five mile rule”, but the drops been the same in England. What’s the logic of that?”

The Member of the Welsh Parliament for Llanelli added “When we commit Welsh tax payers money to help distressed bus companies, that’s money not being spent in care homes, or on schools. So when we do use these limited resources, we expect something in return. A commitment to keep down fares and a commitment to keep the services passengers want.”

“We will make extra funding available for increased services when passengers are ready to come back, not when it suits bus company shareholders, who’ve clearly been lobbying the Welsh Conservatives” Lee said.

Discussing Cardiff airport, Mr Waters remarked that it was “An airport the Conservatives wanted us to let fail in private ownership. An airport that we rescued and revived, yet opposed each step of the way by the Tories. Our calls for the UK Government to help regional airports like Cardiff have been ignored, and that’s where the Welsh Conservatives should be focusing their firepower.”

In his closing remarks, Lee said “The Conservatives are criticising us for the recently lifted travel restrictions, despite voting for it.  So we’ve seen the true colours of the Tories today; prepared to put short term profit above public health, and again, we make no apologies for wanting to keep people safe.”

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