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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

Give someone “the best gift” this Christmas by giving blood in West Wales

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A MOTHER who needed in-the-womb blood transfusions during her pregnancy and a man who depends on regular, lifesaving blood donations are encouraging communities across Wales to give “the best gift” this Christmas by donating blood.

The Welsh Blood Service is preparing to face Winter pressures on its services and is hoping their new Christmas campaign, “the best gift” will raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and the lifesaving difference it makes.

Last December over 900 donations of blood and blood products were needed across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire to provide care to patients at Prince Philip, Withybush, Bronglais and Glangwili hospital. 

These donations play a vital role by supporting a range of treatments from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and new-born babies during childbirth.

Blood donations were needed during both pregnancies for mother of two, Shelley Parry. After her own life was saved during her first pregnancy, Shelley received several more blood transfusions directly into her womb to keep her youngest daughter alive.

Shelley explains: “Receiving blood is truly the best gift we have ever received. We’re forever indebted as a family to those who have taken the time to donate. Without the generosity of blood donors, quite simply, we wouldn’t be parents. Thanks to their selfless act, we can look forward to Christmas together as a family.

“It only takes one hour of your time to donate, if you can, please consider donating.”

Also supporting the campaign is blood recipient Giggs Kanias. Since birth, Giggs has received over 1,000 blood transfusions as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder. Thanks to blood donors, Giggs is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family.

Giggs said: “I am so thankful to the incredible people who give blood. When I’m in hospital, I stare at the bags of blood being transfused into me and always wonder, who is the person that has helped me?

“I know the difference these people have made to my life and I’m so grateful to each and every one of them. Without their generosity, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be a dad, or have had the opportunity to see my daughter grow up. Receiving blood is truly the best gift anyone could ever receive.”

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “For patients like Giggs, receiving blood will be the best gift they receive this Christmas. It truly is the best gift you can give.

“Blood products have a short shelf life and is needed by hospitals 365 days a year, including Christmas day, to help support patients in need, which is why we can’t stop collecting.”

The Welsh Blood Service provides lifesaving blood products to 20 hospitals across Wales and four Wales Air Ambulance aircraft for use in emergencies.

Giggs and his daughter

Alan continues: “It is critical the service prepares. We need to build up blood stocks ahead of a potentially challenging winter, where seasonal illnesses and Covid-19 may exacerbate the usual winter pressures faced by the NHS.

“We are reaching out to communities across Wales to ask them to make a lifesaving blood donation and give “the best gift” this festive season.”

Do something amazing this Christmas. Give someone the best gift. Give blood. If you are aged 17 or over, book to give blood at: www.wbs.wales/Xmas21 or call 0800 252 266 today.

Appointments are available in Pembrokeshire on 7 December and January 6 and 20 in Tenby, 16 December and 27 January in Crymych, 20 December and 17 January in Haverfordwest, 10 January in Letterston Village Hall and 21 January in Milford Haven. 

Appointments are available in Carmarthenshire on 10 December in Pontyberum, 29 December and 13 January in Carmarthen, 28 January in Kidwelly Community Hall, 23 and 24 December and 4, 12 and 25 January in Parc Y Scarlets and 31 January in Llandeilo.

Appointments are available in Ceredigion on 14 December in Newcastle Emlyn, 14 January in Aberaeron and 18 January in Lampeter.

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News

Scrub removal at Pembrey to improve dunes for biodiversity

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If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

SCRUB provides a splash of greenery in our sandy spaces, but too much scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there. 

This winter Natural Resources Wales will be removing non-native, invasive plant species from areas of dune at Pembrey to help wildlife thrive.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system. Sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

Some non-native plant species, like the dense scrub plant sea buckthorn, are invasive and they are growing quickly in this dune system – spreading further across large areas of dune each year. 

Many of the dunes’ rare and specialist wildlife needs bare sand or low grassland habitat to survive and gets lost under or outcompeted by scrub. 

If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

Scrub removal in specifically chosen locations will help to restore the habitat types that these species need, and this work will play a part in ensuring the dunes at Pembrey have a healthy, biodiverse future. 

Improving the ecological condition here will increase this coastal landscape’s resilience to other threats, such as extreme weather events and changing conditions brought on by climate change in the future.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park around Car Park 8 and the second will take place on the foredunes in front of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW. 

It is scheduled to begin in the last week of November and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 5th December.

Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Sea Buckthorn control is important to improve the dune grassland habitats at Pembrey. Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have carried out this type of habitat management over a number of years which has resulted in restoring the area to a dune grassland rich with different species of plants. 

You can best enjoy this during the summer months within the Pembrey Burrows and Saltings Local Nature Reserve. As part of Dynamic Dunescapes, we are now continuing this work, which will result in an overall increase in dune grassland habitat.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said:

“Whilst scrub is a valuable habitat it does need management to maintain it in good condition for wildlife. Cutting back the scrub will ensure it does not spread into areas where it is not wanted and or where it can destroy other habitat.”

Dynamic Dunescapes is not the only project working to restore Pembrey’s important sand dunes. The EU LIFE-funded Sands of LIFE project, managed by (NRW), has also been undertaking sand dune management to improve conditions for wildlife in recent years. The two projects work closely to build on and support each other’s work.

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Community

Demolition of 4 Tys begins in Tyisha, Llanelli

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Four Tys

WORK to demolish the Four Tys housing blocks in Tyisha, Llanelli has started, marking the next exciting step in Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans to Transform the area. 

The demolition work is set to be completed by civil engineering contractor Walters over the next 20 weeks and will enable the build of modern, mixed-use housing which meets the needs of the community.

Improvements to existing homes and the creation of community facilities and green spaces will also form part of changes on the horizon for Tyisha. 

Cllr Linda Davies Evans, chair of the Transforming Tyisha steering group and cabinet member for housing said: “The demolition of the Four Tys marks an important step in the Transforming Tyisha project. Although this process will evoke powerful memories for many of the people who have lived and worked in Tyisha since the Four Tys were built in the 1960s, their demolition will enable us to provide the housing and facilities that the community needs.

Local residents and businesses who may be impacted by the demolition process will be contacted throughout to ensure minimum disruption.”

This forms a part of the council’s ambitious plans to regenerate the Tyisha ward and the wider Llanelli town centre area which is undergoing massive investment.

The council is also seeking a partner to develop new housing and create a vibrant community. An early market engagement exercise is currently live which gives potential partners the opportunity to express their interest in working with the council to transform the area.

Fresh and innovative ideas for this exciting project can be submitted to the council until December 7.

For more information on the early market engagement process or the council’s Transforming Tyisha regeneration project please visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/tyisha

The demolition of the ‘Four Tys’ forms part of the council’s ambitious Transforming Tyisha project which looks to regenerate the area through increasing community safety, developing housing and community facilities and improving the environment.

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