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Grillo site: Developer to cut community funding

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grilloAS REPORTED in last week’s Herald, the meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council’s planning committee which had been due to consider six planning applications – for up to 230 homes at the former Grillo site, was halted after an intervention by the Welsh Government.

The Head of Planning, Eifi on Bowen, told the meeting that the day before the meeting he had received an email from the Welsh Government referring to a letter from 2010 instructing the authority not to approve the Grillo application.

The instruction was in response to a request by a third party to call in the applications. On the morning of the meeting, with the committee due to proceed to discuss the plans in spite of the previous day’s email, the Head of Planning received an email from the Welsh Government directing the local authority giving formal notice under Article 18 that it was not in a position to approve any of the six applications including the school.

Legal advice tendered to the meeting by one of the council’s own legal offi cers warned members that if they proceeded to discuss the proposals and indicate their position, they were open to challenge on the basis that they would have predetermined the application. While the planning committee has decided to write to the Welsh Government expressing concern at the short notice given before the meeting, it is not clear on what basis they could proceed and why the Council had failed to take into account a preexisting and long-standing direction from the Welsh Government that it could not make a decision in relation to the site.

Committee members also requested that the Executive Board member for regeneration and leisure, former Council leader Meryl Gravelle, who appears to relish slapping down the Welsh Government from her seat on the moral high ground, writes to the Minister responsible, Carl Sargeant. Hengoed Councillor Sian Caiach told The Herald: “I am the councilllor who objected to the Grillo site application in Burry Port. The objection is in the public domain and could have been read out in the planning committee 23/4/15 but Mr Bowen, head of planning, chose not to do so.”

Cllr Caiach, explained: “My objection was properly registered, together with supporting documents. My concerns are environmental: the Grillo site is that of an old chemical factory and CCC have spent a great deal of money trying to get it developed, even going to court on behalf of its owners. The site is next to the estuary and taking away or neutralising the contaminated land must be done very carefully to protect the sensitive environmental site adjacent to it.” Expressing concern over the Council’s motives in pressing ahead with the development, Sian Caiach continued: “The land was I believe originally owned by CCC and sold on as a development site.

I am not sure, but the Council may have some residual liability to the developers if planning does not go through. The neighbouring sites are all to be sold off with planning permission to raise funds for the council except for the school site, which they will presumably keep. However, all of them are likely to add to the sewage problems locally.” Cllr Caiach concluded: “Interestingly the developers will now give much less money to the community than promised originally in 2008. As I pointed out in my letter to Eifi on Bowen, the Grilllo development originally [2008] promised around £700,000 for Burry Port. In the new plans this sum is halved and the £200,000 donation promised to the town council for the upkeep of the Memorial Park has been abandoned.

“This promise has been changed to allow the developer to provide this sum in work around the site to improve the public realm, which appears to be initiating landscaping and improving play areas after the homes are built. The town councillors must be very disappointed, as must the education department who have agreed to accept only £189,000 of Section 106 monies, compared to the original £360,000 for local schools.” Councillor Caiach’s previous interventions in the troubled scheme’s complex history received a frosty response from Burry Port’s own town council. Speaking in 2014, current Mayor Andrew Phillips suggested that “Her meddling, in a ward that she does not represent, has caused a great deal of damage to the ongoing development of Burry Port.”

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Swansea Building Society expands Cradock Street head office

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SWANSEA BUILDING SOCIETY has expanded its head office at 11/12 Cradock Street, Swansea, with the acquisition of the adjoining property – number 13. The refurbishment of the adjoining property is set to take approximately 10 weeks, with a move-in date scheduled for the end of January 2023.

The acquisition has been made to help accommodate the Society’s growing workforce, which has grown by 10 percent over the past year. Extensive work is now required on the new property, with a full refurbishment, new windows, and a new roof needed before it can comfortably accommodate the Society’s additional staff.

The move in date is set to tie in with an important milestone in Swansea Building Society’s history – it will celebrate 100 years as a mutual in 2023.

As it approaches this key landmark, the Society is enjoying a period of sustained and significant growth – the result of many years planning and investment. Its total assets, mortgage balances, savings, capital, and profits all reached record highs in the past year, passing the landmark £500 million in total assets for the first time.

It has also invested more than £1 million in its IT and back-office infrastructure, in a project that replaces all its hardware, considerably strengthens its cyber security, improves resilience with a remote disaster recovery site, and enhances the online offering it is able to provide its customers.

Along with this, the Society has invested in new talent across a number of departments including mortgage underwriting, IT, marketing, and the mortgage sales team. It has also employed several new customer-facing staff to help it support the increased footfall it has experienced at all its local branches in Swansea, Mumbles, Carmarthen and Cowbridge.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive at Swansea Building Society, said:

“The acquisition of number 13 Cradock Street is much needed to accommodate our growing head office workforce. When completed, the refurbished extension to our property will host 14 staff and allow us room for further expansion if needed.
“Our success and investment over recent years means that we are even better prepared to help our members plan their finances and get the savings and mortgage products they need for a better and more secure future. By increasing our staff, expanding our premises, and updating our IT infrastructure, we are better able to serve them with the financial advice and products that are right for them. It also means we can provide them with a choice of options about how they manage their finances – in person at one of our many branches or online – whichever is most convenient.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Leader, Swansea Council, said:

“The expansion of Swansea Building Society’s headquarters in Cradock Street is more great news for our city centre. The Society is a shining example of a successful, community-minded mutual, and to see it expanding its workforce, creating jobs, and bringing them right into the heart of the city is fantastic.
“Cradock Street is undergoing considerable redevelopment with the renovation and repurposing of the Albert Hall by Depot Swansea – directly opposite Swansea Building Society’s headquarters – into a multi-purpose venue. Renovation of this area is another example of how we are saving the city’s heritage for future generations in a way that is useful and meaningful to the people of Swansea. The city is undergoing an important phase in its regeneration, and organisations like Swansea Building Society play a vital role in ensuring that this regeneration is sustainable for the future.”

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BHF Cymru celebrates Heart Heroes across Wales

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BHF CYMRU is celebrating the inspirational people from Carmarthenshire who’ve been nominated in the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards 2022.

The annual awards ceremony returns for a fifth year on Thursday 1st December. The charity will honour incredible young heart heroes who’ve shown remarkable bravery and gone above and beyond to help others while coping with the devastating impact of heart disease, as well as CPR lifesavers, innovative fundraisers, corporate partners, research champions and healthcare heroes working in the NHS.

Winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London, with Vernon Kay hosting for the fourth time. He’ll be joined by celebrity judges including footballing legend David Ginola and Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie.

Healthcare Hero Nominee

Dr Lena Izzat from Llanelli has supported BHF Cymru to raise awareness of the Heart Attack Gender Gap in Wales. As a female cardiologist she has spoken out about the unconscious and systemic bias in the health care system which leaves women who have heart attacks less likely to get diagnosed and receive the best care. Lena has been integral to a campaign which has secured a commitment from the Minister for Health to tackle health inequalities in Wales.

Innovative Fundraiser Nominees

Lisa Pudner from Llanelli is a former Paralympian who raised over £2,000 for the BHF through a sponsored handcycle and walking event in memory of her friend Nest Davies. Nest died suddenly from a heart attack. Lisa was awarded a BHF Cymru medal in recognition of her achievements and said: “We did this for the BHF because they fund research into heart and circulatory conditions, and we want to stop other families and friends losing loved ones in the future.”

Lifesavers nominated as CPR Heroes for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a life-threatening emergency

  • Alun Sturley from Carmarthen who saved his father John.
  • Jean Thomas from Carmarthen, saved her husband Michael.

Head of BHF Cymru, Rhodri Thomas, himself from Carmarthenshire said: “The Heart Hero Awards are the highlight of our year, bringing together inspirational nominees from different walks of life and from every part of the UK. From fantastic children to remarkable pensioners, they all share such spirit and embody the very best of us.

“I’m proud and humbled that so many nominees are from Carmarthenshire, and I’m delighted to thank them for the amazing support they give the BHF and the motivation they bring to myself and the whole BHF Cymru team.

“Whilst we celebrate these brilliant Heart Hero nominees, we also thank each of our brilliant BHF supporters who power our lifesaving science and bring new hope to the 7.6 million people across the UK living with conditions such as stroke, heart disease and vascular dementia.

“I’m in no doubt that their dedication and selflessness will mean more lives will be saved from heart and circulatory disease, so thank you and congratulations to all our inspirational nominees”. 

The Heart Heroes Awards will be live-streamed at 8pm on Thursday 1st December. Register to watch the celebration online at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heartheroes

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Public Services Board seeks views to improve local well-being

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CARMARTHENSHIRE’S Public Services Board (PSB) is seeking residents’ views to find out what matters to them and their local communities.

The PSB has developed its Well-being Objectives and draft actions to deliver them, based on feedback received on its Well-being Assessment. The results of a survey at that time gathered views and helped shape the PSB’s understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors that impact the well-being of individuals and communities within Carmarthenshire.

Once again, residents are being asked to contribute to help public service partners develop Carmarthenshire’s Local Well-being Plan for 2023-28.

To help shape the future of well-being please visit: Current Consultations (gov.wales)

The survey closes on 25 January 2023.

Cllr Darren Price, Chair of the Carmarthenshire PSB and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “To deliver what is important to our communities, we need to their feedback and input. This survey is an opportunity for our residents to tell us if we, as public services, are on the right track to help create a better future for our children’s generation, and the generations to follow, as we strive to reach this goal.” 

Andrew Cornish, Vice-Chair of the PSB andChief Executive Officer / Principal of Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work so far. Our Well-being Assessment gives us a strong foundation on which to build our Well-being Plan and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in our involvement work for the preparation of the Plan.”

Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board is a partnership of public and third sector organisations working together to improve well-being across the county and includes Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales and other organisations.

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