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Meeting times will remain unchanged

Thomas Sinclair

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Carmarthenshire_County_Hall_from_across_TowyTHE TIMES of Carmarthenshire County Council meetings will remain the same following a lengthy debate.

Wednesday’s Extraordinary General Meeting was called to discuss the recommendations made by the Cross Party Constitutional Review working group (CRWG).

The council was recommended to undertake a survey by the Welsh Local Government Association.

Following the survey, the CRWG recommended that the majority were in favour of the existing arrangements.

However, that survey only received 44 responses from the 74 councillors.

Many members questioned whether it would be a good idea to hold the meetings at different times to suit other people and allow more to attend.

Cllr Callum Higgins said: “The feedback I have had from people who may have previously stood for council have found it very difficult to commit time to serve in the public. Varying times of council would improve the situation for some people who might be interested in standing but they cannot do so because of work commitments. It’s been this way for a while but it is something that needs to be looked at.”

Cllr Gwyneth Thomas added: “I think we need to be more flexible in order to attract young people. As someone who works part time it is easy to change shifts in order to be here but we have to be more flexible. This is the way it’s always been but it is time that we look at this and review this to try and include people who aren’t in a position to attend meetings.”

Cllr Giles Morgan said: “We could be far more pro-active in the times of meetings, it’s fair to say that we haven’t really tried it and that’s probably because it suits the majority but nobody can tell me we’ve tried it because we haven’t. I’ll be voting against this today because there should have been a half-way house, there should be a handful of meetings at a better time for people who are working.”

Cllr Darren Price told the chamber that he had suggested having late afternoon meetings on the survey but added: “I hadn’t taken on board the suggestion that we could split it and have some meetings in the morning and some in the afternoon. That would certainly help those who work full time.”

Cllr Andrew James added: “We have had 44 replies out of the 74 so if that’s the way it is, we have to listen to democracy. We have to be flexible but we also have to consider that there are just 24 hours in the day, if we are going to give a contribution here and seek the people that we represent, I think we have to remember how can we be at an evening meeting here, when we have meetings within the community. So before we make too many changes be careful what you wish for.”

Cllr Jeff Edmunds said: “What strikes me is what motivates people to become councillors. Why do you sit here? We all knew before we became councillors what that commitment was and I’ve got no preference so evenings could suit me but it could certainly suit a bias of people who work to have it in the evenings. However, that would go against family life and there are people who have other commitments in the evenings as well as their family lives. We become councillors because there is a motivation that drives us to become councillors and that’s not what time we have the meetings, I’m sure that it goes far deeper than that.”

Cllr Emlyn Dole added: “This process is ongoing annually at this council and it can certainly be reviewed again. We are looking at figures here but the biggest disappointment in the figures is that 30 councillors had no preference because they didn’t bother to respond to the survey. I expected 74 responses and that’s when we have the accurate figure.”

Cllr Tom Theophilus said: “During the winter months the members that represent the rural areas could be snow bound and we must remember that the rural areas are not gritted and therefore the roads will be very dangerous to travel at night time so I don’t think it would be wise to have evening meetings during the winter months.”

The majority of members voted in favour of keeping the existing meeting times while three abstained from voting.

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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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