AS 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  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.”
Llanelli becomes a Covid-19 ‘health protection zone’
RESIDENTS in a large part of Llanelli are being put under new local restrictions in a ‘health protection zone’ following a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the area.
The town is seeing a concentrated spread of cases compared with other parts of Carmarthenshire – in the last seven days, 85 positive cases have been identified in Llanelli (151.6 per 100,000 of the population) compared to 24 cases in the rest of Carmarthenshire (18.1 per 100,000 of the population).*
Public Health Wales officials are expecting numbers to continue rising over the coming week.
Carmarthenshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board have worked with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to agree the temporary restrictions at sub-county level to try and halt the spread of the virus.
As of 6pm on Saturday September 26, 2020, residents living in defined parts of Llanelli will not be able to visit anyone else’s home, or accept visitors into their home, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ such as providing care for a vulnerable person.
They should not arrange to meet indoors with anyone who they don’t live with, and travel in and out of the ‘health protection zone’ will also be limited – people should not leave the area or travel into the area unless it is essential. Travelling in and out of the zone for a holiday is not considered a reasonable excuse.
People are being asked to wear face coverings anywhere where they cannot maintain a two-metre distance from other people, including collecting children from school, in addition to the rules which already require them to wear a face covering in indoor spaces like shops and on public transport.
All indoor and outdoor visits to residential care homes have also been suspended.
Students may still travel into and out of the ‘health protection zone’ to go to school or college.
People living in the defined area of Llanelli must work from home, and employers must take all reasonable steps to support staff to do so.
Indoor public spaces such as leisure centres should only be used by people living in the defined area.
Shops will remain open, but people living outside the defined area of Llanelli should avoid travelling to visit them and shop in their own locality wherever possible.
The specific wards covered in the defined area of Llanelli are:
- Swiss Valley
Although the pattern of increased positive cases is overwhelmingly concentrated in the Llanelli area where the restrictions have been strengthened, the whole of Carmarthenshire has now been put on alert, with a warning that the tighter restrictions may be extended if cases continue to spread.
Everyone – including those in the defined areas of Llanelli – is being urged to follow the national guidance around social distancing, good hygiene, self-isolation, testing and face coverings.
Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “It is worrying to see how sharply the number of positive cases has risen in the Llanelli area, and action has had to be taken to help stop the spread and break the chain of infections concentrated in this area to prevent a whole county lockdown.
“We must all do the right thing, follow the advice and protect each other. In parts of Llanelli, we’re asking people and businesses to make even greater sacrifices – we fully appreciate the impact this will have, but there is no other way. We must stop the spread.”
A mobile testing unit has been set up in Llanelli to manage the increased demand by local residents who have any of the Covid-19 symptoms – either a high temperature, a change or loss to taste or smell or a new continuous cough.
Reporting of positive cases in the town is fully expected to rise during the next two weeks with the increase in more targeted testing. But this is a positive indicator that cases are being identified and control measures put in place.
Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board Maria Battle said: “Our local community has given us such tremendous support during the past few months. To protect the health of our people, including the most vulnerable, and to ensure our NHS resources are available to provide people with the care they need; we need the help of our Llanelli population and wider community now more than ever before. Whilst hospital admissions have not yet increased again for COVID cases, we have seen a sharp rise in positive cases in the community, and in time this is likely to have an impact on hospital admissions. The very best way we can support each other and those we love, is to follow local restrictions, minimise our contacts, practice good hygiene and self-isolate and book a test if we have any COVID-19 symptoms.”
Increased testing capacity for residents in Llanelli is available by appointment at the following locations:
- Parc y Scarlets Car Park B, accessed via Trostre Retail Park, in Llanelli
- The Ty’r Nant site (next to KFC), Trostre, Llanelli
- The Carmarthen showground (signposted in both directions off the A40)
There should be no reason for Llanelli residents to travel excessive distances for a test, as there will be tests available in Llanelli and Carmarthen. Tests should be booked via the UK Portal. Any Llanelli residents experiencing difficulty booking a test locally via the UK portal can instead email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0300 333 2222.
Tir Coed build outdoor classroom for Cross Hands Primary
The local charity Tir Coed teamed up with Cross Hands Primary School to design and install a locally grown woodland shelter to enable primary school pupils to benefit from outdoor lessons-even when
the rain pours!
Last year Cross Hands Primary School received funding from Carmarthenshire is Kind for their intergenerational project. The project brought the schoolchildren together with older people in the community. Through intergenerational activities, everyone involved increases social connectedness, reduces social isolation, learns from one another and has a great time!
Before the lockdown, Tir Coed was contracted to lead a group mainly made up of parents from the school on a shelter-building course. The attendees would gain knowledge and skills and the children and the older people would be able to use the shelter, a third generation now included in this
fantastic project. The plans, however, had to change due to restrictions and in an effort to have it ready for the children when they returned to school, three intrepid Activity Leaders braved the wet August weather to build the beautiful shelter .
Studies have shown that being in the outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the Corona Virus. With this addition to their already impressive outdoor area, it is hoped that more learning can
take place outside the classroom. Deputy Head, Emma Walters said, “It looks amazing! I am very impressed with the shelter and I cannot thank Tir Coed enough for organising this. Additional covered space in the outdoors will mean that we can take more learning into our lovely nature
If you would like to find out more about the work of Tir Coed or have a project you would like our help with you can contact Nancy, the Carmarthenshire Coordinator: email@example.com
Local sailor taking on virtual London marathon
A local sailor based in the Falkland Islands will be taking on the Virtual London Marathon this October to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
Curtis Bowen, 24, from Llanelli, South Wales, was due to take on the London Marathon for SSAFA this April, but following the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, the race was cancelled.
Fortunately, the London Marathon team created the Virtual London Marathon in its place, allowing runners to take on the challenge virtually alongside thousands of other runners on the 4th October.
Curtis said: “It was a shame that the London Marathon couldn’t go ahead as planned in April, but I think it is amazing that I am still able to partake whilst being in the Falkland Islands. I’m the first person to ever run the London Marathon in the Falkland Islands.”
Curtis is currently serving in the Royal Navy, as a Leading Supply Chain Logistician, and has served for four years. His Father also served in the Royal Navy for twenty-three years.
The live virtual event on Sunday 4th October will invite runners to run the London Marathon in their own way, joining up to 45,000 runners up and down the country – and across the world – in the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, The 40th Race.
Curtis decided to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity after being an avid supporter of the charity and being inspired by his Father, Andrew, who raised over £6,000 for SSAFA.
“I chose to run the London Marathon for SSAFA to challenge myself and raise awareness for a great cause. My younger brother sadly took his own life a couple of years ago and I know that SSAFA are there to support those struggling with their Mental Health. I want to raise as much money as I can to support those struggling within the Armed Forces community.”
“My Father was also supposed to be running the London Marathon this year, but will now be completing the challenge virtually, alongside my brother, Luke, 12,000km away in South Wales.”
If you would like to support Curtis, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Andrew-Bowen-London-marathon2020
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