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Parc Howard: Call for chair to resign

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Controversial: Ken Rees

Controversial: Meeting chair Ken Rees

AT A MEETING of the Parc Howard Association on Tuesday (Jul 14), Ken Rees survived a vote of no confidence in his leadership on the casting vote of the Association’s vice chair. Mr Rees was allowed to vote for himself in the ballot, which showed the depth of divisions in the Association’s committee.

After the meeting, Parc Howard Association member Catriona Waldron, who backed the calls for the one time UKIP candidate to step down, contacted the Herald.

Ms Waldron detailed the process of voting on the night and told the Herald: “I didn’t expect to win and I didn’t. The vote was close, 5 for and 5 against. Margaret Gimblett, the vice-chairman (who was in the chair) used her casting vote for Ken Rees. Ken was allowed to vote for himself. It was all extraordinarily unpleasant.”

Ms Waldron explained: “Ken was entirely unrepentant; he said he had been acting in the best interests of the park and the people of Llanelli and he was supported without reservation in this by the Association’s ‘old guard. Eldon Phillips, our press secretary (where has he been for the last two months?) left the meeting, declining to participate in such controversial proceedings on the grounds that he is a clergyman. Another committee member lost his temper and shouted at me ‘none of this matters anyway.”

The fact that Ken Rees remains chairman appears to leave the way open for him to continue negotiations with a company, which, as The Herald exposed has no track record of heritage development, despite the many claims it has made to the contrary to the County Council.

It appears that there has been some reigning in of Mr Rees by the association. Phil Lawler, the Association’s secretary, has written to Ken Rees and told him that if he ever attends meetings with Loca Ventures Ltd that he should not present himself as representing the Parc Howard Association.

Loca Ventures Ltd were the company purportedly offering to take over Parc Howard and turn it into a wedding venue.

The Herald exposed a number of issues surrounding this company including their rocky financial background, their offer of remuneration for individuals on the Parc Howard Association and their apparent links with a Sharia Law centre in Nuneaton. Central to the deal appears to be Nick Spysznyk who the Herald exposed (June 19) as the main person in negotiations with council officials regarding the future of Parc Howard and subsequent proposals for the development of Ffoslas and the Pembrey Country Park.

Mr Spysznyk appears to have been in negotiations with Carmarthenshire County Council officers Wendy Walters and Jonathan Fearn as far back as May this year while local elected council members were kept in the dark.

During the public meeting at Parc Howard (June 6) people attempted to ask Ken Rees questions over his involvement in clandestine meetings with Loca Ventures Ltd as well as his attempts to influence a public meeting where an ‘introducer’ for Loca Ventures Ltd, Tony Rees, was in the audience.

At that meeting Ms Waldron was constantly interrupted by the chair when she attempted to expose the chair’s involvement with Loca Venture. Mr Rees banged his gavel on the table constantly and at one point Ms Waldron was only allowed to speak following the insistence of Councillor Jan Williams that her questions must be heard.

In a telephone call to the Herald Ms Waldron said that the committee meeting (July 14) was farcical and resembled a soap opera. Asked why she was calling for the resignation of Mr. Rees she said: “This was something I felt I had to do, having said publicly in the meeting in the mansion house that I would call for his resignation. A lot of people have watched your (Herald) video online and asked me when I was going to do it.”

Mr Waldron explained she was not alone in her incredulity about the actions of the Association chairman and his close associates on its Committee.

Ms Waldron told the Herald: “I will resign now and sadly the new people that I had persuaded to join the committee – Phillip Lawler, who is a professor of Economics, David Phillips, a lawyer and judge and Hugh Davie, a Museums Officer in Swansea – people who I thought would bring some expertise and campaigning zeal to the committee have said that they will not stand again at the AGM in September. They have had enough. Most of the committee’s activity consists in correcting minutes and we have been made to feel that we are outsiders. We in fact join a long list of people who have joined the committee over the last few years and left, marginalised by the Officers (as they always call themselves) and despairing of achieving anything. The PHA committee is really a self-serving and self-perpetuating clique and I no longer think that it is capable of acting as a vehicle to campaign for the park.”

Ms Waldron told us she had asked for documents relating to a company known as ‘KMS’, a company associated with Loca Ventures Ltd, as did Cllr Bill Thomas. Their requests were refused.

Ms Waldron summed up her feelings on events surrounding the less than transparent approach of the Parc Howard Association and her future aspirations for the park. Ms Waldron said: “I actually feel liberated to campaign for the park. There is a group of volunteers meeting on Saturdays to clear the rose garden and I shall be helping out with Nia’s (Griffith) petition and ‘Support the Park’ day on July 25th when I intend to have a dog petition – they use the park, so they can bark for the park. We will be photographing paw prints and raising a contribution to the fighting fund.”

Ms Waldron closed by complimenting The Herald for its coverage of events at Parc Howard.

She concluded: “I’m getting on the train to London to visit my son in half an hour. I have to take the Llanelli Herald with me these days – he is very impressed. When I showed him the edition with the revelations about the sheikh, he couldn’t believe it. Gavin is an economist at the House of Commons. “Mum, he said, “It’s far more exciting than Westminster!”

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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