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Clandestine meetings at hotel

Jon Coles

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Llanelli Town Council met this week to discuss the selling off of Parc Howard, above.

Llanelli Town Council met this week to discuss the selling off of
Parc Howard, above.

DETAILS are emerging of secret meetings between a Carmarthenshire County Council cabinet member, Carmarthenshire County Council officers and the Parc Howard Association at a local hotel.

Llanelli Town Council met on Thursday (Jun 4) to discuss the selling off of Parc Howard. The mansion and the grounds it resides in were gifted by Sir Stafford and Lady Howard Stepney to the town in January 1912 and after conversion into a park it was opened by Lady Howard Stepney on her first wedding anniversary on Saturday September 21 1912.

The Parc Howard Association exists to work with current owners Carmarthenshire County Council to maintain and improve the facilities at Parc Howard in accordance with the spirit of the original gift.

The Herald received an email stating: ‘It is a venture supported by the CCC but foisted onto the Town Council in a bid to avoid publicity. It is the usual thing with CCC whereby they try to place Community Councils in a position that if they do not support the suggestion they receive bad publicity in respect of any failure to save anything’.

It is suggested that in the meeting agenda there is a figure for cost and that is well above the tender process within the European Union for tendering. The Herald understands that Carmarthenshire County Council suggests that a joint venture with the Town Council is seemingly preferable.

This latest revelation is not the start the new council leader would have wished for.

At a meeting of Llanelli Town Council on Wednesday (Jun 3) councillors were asked a number of questions regarding the latest revelations.

The Howard family with the local council acting gifted Parc Howard to the children of Llanelli as care taker or trustee. These responsibilities were taken on by previous councils and councillors who set a precept for the maintenance of the park; this situation was inherited by Carmarthenshire County Council in 1995 and now they seek to abdicate this responsibility in a totally unacceptable manner which may even breach European Legislation regarding the tender process which has to be applied for such large invested sums of money. County Councillors including cabinet members have to pay regard to the Nolan Principles in Public Life when taking steps to enter into any kind of venture where the money involved is greater than the European Legislation allows.

Does the county council and councilors including the cabinet member with responsibility know about the legislation?

It was felt that if they did not it was a very strange situation, as the County Councillors present and the Town Councillors present knew about it.

A meeting with county council officers and county members of the previous administration had been part of a public meeting of the town council just a few months ago where none of the elements now proposed in this letter and report were aired or voiced.

Was it the intention of the county council to place the town council in an invidious position where the council was seen to be un-supportive of the plans and thereby take all the blame for the failure of the scheme?

The scheme supported by the independent councilors including the cabinet member, the chair of Parc Howard, a recent UKIP candidate for parliament, has now been inherited by the new coalition of Plaid and independents this issue needs to be dealt with by the new Plaid administration.

On the issue of tendering according to legislation

The letter from the interested party states that the County Council had led them to believe that the Llanelli Town Council had agreed to take over the Park and that there could be a joint venture with the Town Council. In doing this did the County Council hope to have a single company take this on via the Town Council without tendering; or was the plan to place all the burden and costs onto the Llanelli Town Council for something that is legally and essentially the responsibility of the County Council.

Parc Howard Association

This organisation had been involved in the plans put forward by this company and had been involved in consultation talks and meetings with the company and council officers and members, which did not include include public consultation or any real dialogue with the Llanelli Town Council on the proposals. The Chair of Parc Howard has and is organising further meetings for consultation with the Parc Howard Association and possibly the company and possibly County Council officers; however the chair did not invite or make it known to the Town Council officiate members of that committee that such meetings were taking place. These people are unelected volunteers who have no mandate from the people of Llanelli to discuss disposal of this Parc or any other property of the Carmarthenshire County Council. Indeed the only elected members with any responsibility were not made aware of any meetings this included the Two County Council Members for the Lleidi ward where Parc Howard is situated. The chair of the association is organising a public meeting on Saturday afternoon at Parc Howard at 2:15 PM. to discuss the plans for Parc Howard, As the county council administration own the venue then presumably the organization have their blessing.

The Town Council decided to send a letter to the County Council expressing their concerns and reminding the county who actually is the trustee and body capable and responsible for making and taking decisions on the matter; and those include full consultation and abiding by European legislation, abdication of such matters cannot happen neither can directing any company towards the Llanelli Town Council be considered of any joint venture agreement as the due diligence issues are the County Council’s and the new administration’s responsibility.

Llanelli Town Council will certainly wish to see a beneficial outcome to the whole affair and would act within the law and its responsibilities to its electors and council tax payers in order to ensure the probity of any such venture in the best interests of Llanelli Town and Carmarthenshire in protecting the inheritance gifted to the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.

The prospective sale of Parc Howard is extremely contentious in Llanelli and has brought Nia Griffiths MP into the fray stating: ‘I am sure that people in Llanelli will be as horrified as I am to learn that UKIP’s Ken Rees, has been in secret talks about selling off Parc Howard. Back a few years ago, when I took the initiative and re-established the Parc Howard Association, the County Council’s Leisure Chief Ian Jones assured us that Parc Howard was Carmarthenshire’s “Jewel in the Crown” and not an asset they would even discuss transferring to the Llanelli Town Council, never mind sell off. Although we know that they have subsequently talked about transferring it, for Ken Rees to be in detailed talks with one purchaser is an affront to the people of Llanelli, and breaks every rule in the book. These talks must stop now’.

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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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