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Veterans home scrapped due to ‘negativity’

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Lon Hir: Plans scrapped.

Lon Hir: Plans scrapped.

PLANS for a group home in Lon Hir, designed to offer homeless veterans a new start in life, will not now be acted upon, despite a successful appeal to the Welsh Planning Inspectorate. The original bid, by Christian charity Alabare, was to change a house in the cul-de-sac from a residential dwelling into a multiple-occupancy, catering for service veterans. Alabare run a number of homes across the country, and estimate that they have helped over 300 veterans in the past six years. However, despite the plans being recommended for approval by Carmarthenshire Council’s head of planning, they were rejected at a planning committee meeting on September 23 last year, citing ‘highway safety and the detrimental effect on the local community’ as reasons for refusal. Among the objections raised by residents were ‘potential noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour; loss of privacy and the proposal would dramatically affect local residents’ enjoyment of the peace and tranquillity they currently experience; totally wrong location for such a use; the road outside the property is unadopted and there is no lighting,’ and ‘there are two busy footpaths joining onto Lon Hir, which are designated safe routes to school’.

The comment regarding the school was described as ‘disgraceful’ by a council member in an interview conducted at the time. At the meeting a representative for Alabare pointed out that no formal complaints had been raised over the six years that they had been running homes across the country. Alabare then appealed the decision, and the Welsh Planning Inspectorate approved the plans. However, Alabare announced that they had decided not to press ahead with their plans for Lon Hir. In a statement, the charity’s Chief Executive Andrew Lord explained their reasons for this: “In all our homes our key priority has always been the welfare and care of homeless and vulnerable Veterans. Part of the support we provide is to help them to live in a community, integrating and positively contributing to life in their neighbourhood. We have spent a lot of time talking to people living in Lon Hir and have met people with strong feelings both for and against opening a Home for Veterans in their road. The positive opportunities offered by this house and location led us to pursue our planning application.

Despite our reassurances and 6 year track record of successfully supporting Veterans in communities across the South West, we have been unable to win around those immediate neighbours who have continually felt extremely negative towards our proposal and who have made it very clear that they would not welcome our staff or residents, nor would they wish to join us in any Community Forum. We are very sad that we have been unable to convince these neighbours of the merits of our proposal and benefi ts that it could bring to everyone in this community. It is therefore with a sense of sorrow that our Board of Trustees has today taken the decision not to proceed with the purchase of this property. Given the exceptional and continuing negativity of a small number of immediate neighbours, we no longer believe it will be in the best interests of our staff or potential residents to live at this address.

Our Trustees stand by the decision to take this planning application through to a successful appeal, as they do not wish the circumstances of this change in our plans to have a negative impact on the future development of Supported Housing for vulnerable adults in Wales. Ultimately we believe that Veterans should be afforded the same opportunities to live successful and fulfi lling lives as anybody else. Due to the length of time it has taken to complete this planning process, and in recognition of the needs of homeless Veterans in Carmarthen, six months ago we rented a number of Wales Homes for Veterans in the town. We are delighted that this has enabled us to help those who are vulnerable and in need of a home and our support.

We will continue to support Veterans in these homes, and will be looking to open Homes for Veterans in other areas in the near future.” Carmarthen veteran Lt Col John Skipper expressed his disappointment at Alabare’s decision, but added that he could understand their reasons. In a statement made to the press, he explained why projects like the proposed Lon Hir development are an essential part of provision for veterans of the armed forces: “This type of housing is of critical importance to Armed Forces veterans across the UK, assisting their transition back into civilian life. This transition can be made all the more diffi cult due to Service-related mental and physical health issues. It is a fundamental element in bringing the provisions of the Armed Forces Covenant alive. It also resonates with the recent 70th anniversary of VE day – we must look after those who have put their lives on the line, then and now. I know of many veterans in Wales who are struggling to make ends meet – servicemen to whom we owe an enormous debt for the freedoms we so often take for granted. It is important that a line is now drawn under this unfortunate issue: recrimination and attribution of blame serves no one.” Lt Col Skipper also refl ected on some of the issues raised by objectors: “This very unsavoury argument depicts the veteran as someone who can never be rehabilitated, which is rubbish. My biggest fear is that this will drive away people who would benefi t from this service.”

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Rescuers attend to injured construction workers in New Dock Street

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A MULTI AGENCY rescue operation is underway in Llanelli involving all three emergency services after an incident at a construction site.

Workers have been at the New Dock Street site, working for around three years, The Herald understands.

The Herald has been told that a piece of plant malfunctioned causing the emergency, which happened earlier this evening (Mar 19).

Four fire engines and three ambulances are at the scene, our reporter said.

A specialist line rescue team is involved in the recovery operation.

An eye-witness told the press that three workers have been affected.

The source said: “Concrete had just been mixed and had been poured into a skip which was then lifted using a machine. The concrete was being lowered into the hole, it’s probably about 20ft and then the machine toppled over.”

He added: “Two men climbed out of the hole on their own and as a precaution the third man was told to stay down there. The workers were told to leave the site as a precaution.”

At least one person has been seen being taken away in an ambulance.

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Llanelli: Met Bar incident investigated

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AN INCIDENT which resulted in a 51-year old man having to go hospital is being investigated by Dyfed-Powys Police.

The man has been discharged from Glangwili Hospital but police are looking in to how the incident happened and how the man fell down some steps.

The incident happened outside the Met Bar in Llanelli on Saturday night (Mar 16).

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Herald: “At approximately 10.55pm on Saturday March 16, officers responded to reports of an injured man outside The Met Bar, Station Road, Llanelli, after he’d fallen down some steps at the location.

“Ambulance was at scene, and the 51 year old man was conveyed to Glangwili Hospital with what was thought to have been a serious head injury. He was then later discharged from hospital, and the head injury was no longer believed to be serious.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact police by calling 101 and quoting DPP/3011/16/03/2019/02/C. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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Reports damning for City Deal management

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THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City Deal.

The first report released, prepared on behalf of the UK and Welsh governments, written by Actica Consulting, suggests a combination of concerns over funding and of the “much-publicised concerns on the wellness village (Delta Lakes, Llanelli, the single largest project) could cause a loss of confidence within the region”

In the meantime and, The Herald understands, over the anguished objections of the Regional

Office/Carmarthenshire County Council, the second report – an internal review – was circulated to county councillors in Pembrokeshire this morning.

The second report makes for grim reading.

The report lays bare the amount of distrust between the City Deal partners, particularly between Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils on the one side, and Carmarthenshire County Council on the other.

Each report highlights deficiencies in the management of the Deal, which Carmarthenshire County Council and its controversial CEO Mark James are meant to lead.

Familiar to those who have kept a close watch on the activities of Carmarthenshire County Council are complaints of a lack of transparency and openness in the way the City Deal has been managed to date.

Particular criticism is made of two key aspects of the project: that under Mr James’ leadership the Deal has failed to consider the City Deal as a truly regional opportunity and focussed on building individual, local projects of limited regional value; the second major criticism is the failure of leadership given to the project and an abject lack of clear financial processes and accountability.

In spite of an attempt to spin the ‘success’ of two elements of the deal, Swansea Waterfront and Yr Egin, it is worth noting that Yr Egin was only tacked on to the City Deal when already underway because UWTSD revealed it couldn’t afford to complete the project on its own as it had promised.

Cllr Rob James, the Leader of the Labour Group on Carmarthenshire County Council told The Herald late on Friday afternoon: “I am pleased that this review has highlighted many of the concerns that we have raised on governance.

“Frankly, the report validated our actions to date.

“Trust has broken down between partners and public confidence in one of the projects, in particular, has taken a big hit.

“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt and this report highlights several of them. I now hope that the administration in Carmarthenshire consider the review in full and ensure that radical changes on governance are delivered immediately.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, said: “This review was carried out alongside the UK and Welsh Government’s independent review of the City Deal programme and sought to assure that it will deliver full economic benefits for the region.

“The findings and recommendations of the internal review will be formally considered by the SBCD Joint Committee at the next meeting.

“Looking to ensure governance is as robust as possible reflects that we’re still in the very early stages of a 15-year programme, but we’re ready to support any recommendations that would benefit the region’s economic prosperity in future by speeding up the City Deal’s delivery.”

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