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Grillo site: Developer to cut community funding

Thomas Sinclair

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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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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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Burry Port Harbour lighthouse overhaul tops council’s £2million investment

Carli Newell

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A £2MILLION investment in Burry Port Harbour is nearing completion, topped off with the iconic lighthouse getting a fresh lick of paint.

Carmarthenshire County Council is behind a range of improvements to maintain and restore the historic harbour which is one of the county’s most loved and well visited beauty spots.

Restoration of the Grade II listed harbour walls, undertaken under the guidance of CADW, will conclude within the next few weeks.

The council has also been working alongside The Marine Group, which operates the harbour, to improve mooring facilities. They are working closely with fishermen to bid for funding for new commercial pontoon infrastructure.

It will add to investment made over previous years which saw the council spend almost £1.5million on new pontoons, and over £300,000 in maintaining the harbour railings and bridge.

A local operator has agreed a lease for a cafe and public toilets on east side of Harbour, and the refurbishment of the old RNLI harbour office has recently started by The Marine Group (TMG) to create a harbour-side coffee house.

TMG has also invested in a state-of-the-art dredger which arrived at the harbour last autumn. Dredging is well underway and will continue until targeted depths are reached.

Boat lifting equipment and new fuelling points are also planned.

The council has introduced community safety officers to patrol the harbour assisting tourists and local people during the summer months, especially to advise around Covid regulations, as part of a tourism hotspot plan to take care of issues such as parking, litter, street cleansing, enforcement and signage.

Temporary car parking surfacing has also been laid on the east side along with new pay and display facilities ahead of a wider multi-million regeneration plan that will transform the harbour with a mix of housing, commercial and leisure space covering around 13 acres of prime development site.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We are proud of our continued investment in Burry Port Harbour. We are spending millions restoring and maintaining historic features that are much-loved by local people and visitors who come from far and wide to enjoy what the harbour has to offer.

“We continue to work closely alongside The Marine Group and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council to plan and prioritise works and ongoing maintenance. We are as keen as everyone else to ensure it is well-maintained and continues to be a place people can enjoy.

“We appreciate that there has been some upheaval during these improvement works but we ask people to understand that our investment will make Burry Port Harbour an even better place for the future.”

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