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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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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Family tribute to Carole Patricia Fowler

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Carole was a teacher for 30 years at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Llanelli. She loved children and they loved her. 

As one of her past colleagues said: “I know she made such a difference to every child she taught.” She was very popular with staff and well respected and loved by parents. She was dedicated and conscientious, always 100% for the children. She led the music there and was always popular with her guitar accompaniments for services and concerts. 

Likewise, she was a valued member of the choir at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Gendros, Swansea, where she would often accompany hymns with her guitar and gave guitar lessons to the children in the church’s Saturday Music Club. She was also a keen member of Côr Persain, Ammanford. 

She was talented, loved and in demand. A convicted and devout Catholic all her life, through good and bad.

Carole was an avid and very gifted crocheter and was always crocheting or knitting something for someone. She had been spending her time recently, during the Covid crisis, crocheting NHS teddies in scrubs and rainbows, with many given to practising nurses. Carole had recently started learning to make bobbin lace. She was also capable of some very decent sewing, too. 

She was also learning Welsh, doing ‘pilates’ and was considering taking up yoga lessons as well.

She was a busy lady! As one of her work colleagues said of her: “She was wise, strong, beautiful, generous, devout and feisty. And I loved her for all those qualities.”

Above all, she was an immeasurably loved Mam, daughter, sister and a doting Mamgu and so much loved by her fiancé. Having been together for 14 years, they would have been married last July 20th had covid allowed! 

Her premature passing at 61 is tragic and she is already sorely, painfully missed. She leaves behind a huge chasm in so many hearts that cannot be filled.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, o Lord, may perpetual light shine about her, may she rest in peace.”

If anyone witnessed the collision or may have been travelling on the M4 at the relevant time, please contact the Serious Collision Unit quoting police reference DPP-20210113-317

Police can be contacted either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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