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County Council filming bid fails

Thomas Sinclair

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FIALA BID to allow members of the public to film all council meetings was knocked back at Wednesday’s (Jun 17) Extraordinary General Meeting.

In 2014, the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) gave 39 recommendations to Carmarthenshire County Council who want to become the most open and transparent council in Wales.

The council commissioned a review and set up the Cross Party Constitutional Review working group (CRWG).

Wednesday’s EGM was called to discuss the recommendations made by the CRWG.

One of those recommendations proposed for the public to be allowed to film in meetings that are being broadcast by the authority.

However, a number of councillors felt that filming should be permitted at every council meeting.

Cllr Alun Lenny asked: “What’s the point if you’re allowed to film when the cameras are already filming? A number of us have in the past voted in favour of this because it is a reasonable step that will not cost the council anything and I would propose an amendment that we should permit filming in any meeting that is open to the public. Why not?”

Cllr Darren Price seconded the motion and added: “I feel strongly that we should, as a council, enable people to film any meeting.”

Cllr Sian Caiach said: “There were concerns that people could edit or film to show us in a bad light but for public meetings that are open to the public I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t film. We should actually have the confidence to be able to put up with things because people could film those who are not in the spotlight and they could film somebody sleeping or chatting but people don’t come here for that, they are here for the meetings. I think if we allow everything to be filmed we would be on better behaviour because if people are filming maybe we would behave ourselves with more dignity and concentrate on what is going on.”

Cllr Terry Davies said: “If someone films from the gallery they can only film certain members.”

Cllr Anthony Jones added: “Does this mean that I could film another councillor? I think having it done officially as a matter of public record is the correct and proper thing to do. I don’t want to see people wandering around trying to catch councillors out for their own gain.”

Cllr Glynog Davies said: “This is a public meeting, what do we have to hide? We are living in a different technological age and we have to be willing to move with that and we have to give permission.”

Cllr David Jenkins said: “We are saying that we will allow the public to film what is being webcast and yet in the same breath we are saying we should not let them film scrutiny committees and other things.”

Cllr Jeff Edmunds added: “We’ve all given permission for us to be filmed so that is not an issue. The concerns I do have are on health and safety aspects. It is in the public gallery where they will be coming with their cameras and people could be leaning over and I have a concern.”

Cllr Alun Lenny repeated his amendment saying: “We should permit the public to film any meeting of this council and its committees that are open to the public. Whilst acknowledging, in this chamber that there are health and safety factors that would have to be addressed before permitting that. This whole exercise has arisen out of the public perception that there is a control freakery culture within this council and what we have heard this morning, I am afraid to say, there are still people who want to control what people are allowed to film in the meeting. We want to be the most open and transparent council in Wales. If this is not accepted this flies in the face of our mission statement.”

The amendment was put to the vote but only 23 councillors voted in favour with 33 voting against.

The original proposal was then put forward to allow members of the public to film only when the meetings are being broadcast by the authority and this was passed.

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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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