39 YEAR-OLD Lee Waters from Ammanford has put his name forward as a candidate to become the Assembly Member for Llanelli following the retirement of former AM Keith Davies earlier this year.
Lee is the Director of the Institute for Welsh Affairs, (IWA) and a former Chief Political Correspondent for ITV Wales and BBC Wales producer. He was a leading figure in the 2011 referendum ‘Yes for Wales’ campaign and before joining the Institute was Director of the influential green transport organisation, Sustrans Cymru, where he led the campaign for the world’s first Active Travel Bill, and oversaw a £20m portfolio of practical projects.
Born and brought up in the Amman Valley and educated at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth where he received a first class degree in politics, he has worked for politicians in the House of Commons, National Assembly for Wales and US House of Representatives in Washington DC where he was an English Speaking Union Capitol Hill Scholar.
After graduating he served as a speechwriter to the Secretary of State for Wales before joining BBC Wales as a producer of the flagship breakfast radio programme, Good Morning Wales. In 2001 he joined the ITV Wales political unit, presenting the weekly politics programme Waterfront and reporting as a lobby correspondent.
In 2011 he was asked by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to be his representative on the cross-party Yes campaign ahead of the referendum, and led on communications as campaign Vice Chair. For the past decade he has also been Chair of Governors of the highly regarded Barry Island Primary School.
The Herald unexpectedly bumped into Lee at Parc Howard on Saturday (Jul 25) along with Nia Griffith and a group of volunteers campaigning to keep the park in public ownership. The Herald took the opportunity of asking this newest of political candidates some questions about his views on Parc Howard and the political landscape in general. We began by asking him why he was standing for Assembly Member. He told the Herald: “I am frustrated with the way things are and rather than complaining and criticising I have decided to stand up and be counted and do something about it. That is why I have put my name forward as the Labour candidate for the Llanelli AM.”
We asked Lee why he was campaigning at the park and he told the Herald: “I’ve signed the petition and the good thing that has come out of this is it has forced the people of Llanelli to realise that Parc Howard’s future cannot be taken for granted. There is a threat and we can either sit back or allow private developers to carve this up for their interests or the town can come together in a conversation to decide what future they want for the park. Lots of people have grown up here and have happy memories of the park. We regard it as ours and it is very important to the town.”
Given the widespread reporting of the activities of the Parc Howard Association chairman Ken Rees we asked Lee if the park association needed a change of culture. Looking at the bigger political picture in the UK before turning to the issue of the PHA chairman Ken Rees, Lee told the Herald: “There is a big storm coming. We have only had half of the cuts. Places like this are under threat. We can’t just leave this to councillors and people who sit on committees. It needs to have a broader conversation about what we want for our community and how that is going to be paid for. We need to take some responsibility ourselves for our town. That is the positive coming out of this revolt against what Ken Rees and others have been doing behind people’s backs. It is important that the park belongs to the public but it is not reaching its full potential. We may not want it handed over to private interests but we want something better than we have got.”
With the announcements that community services in Carmarthenshire are going to face savage cuts the Herald asked Lee if the community cuts were unjust as opposed to the huge salaries and pay increases of county council executives. He gave a very definite answer, which we have not been used to from politicians in general for some time. He said: “It goes beyond that and it is a debate about what we want councils and governments to do. Quite clearly the Conservatives want to strip back the state to a bear minimum, give people tax cuts and let them fund what they see fit. There isn’t a place in that debate for the good of the community. What we can do here is forge a different future where we ask what do we want the community together to own and run to be there for everybody to have no mater what they are worth or what advantages in life they have grown up with. We can quarrel about the crumbs on the table or we can look at the bigger picture and ask what we want our community to have to help each other. Parc Howard can play a big part in that but it can’t be as it is now because we are not making the most of an asset. We need a debate about what the future should be for Parc Howard.”
If Lee is elected he will become one of a number of increasingly younger politicians to grace the Senedd senior by only six years to Plaid’s Bethan Jenkins who is still the youngest Assembly Member at age 33. Bethan took office in 2007 at the age of 29.
Council appoints demolition contractor ahead of exciting changes for Tyisha, Llanelli
CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has appointed a contractor to demolish housing blocks in Tyisha commonly known as ‘the Four Tys’.
The demolition work, which is set to begin at the end of November, will enable the build of a modern, mixed-use housing development which meets the needs of the community, as well as improvements to existing homes and the creation of community facilities and green spaces for everyone to enjoy.
Cllr Linda Davies Evans, chair of the Transforming Tyisha steering group and cabinet member for housing said: “I am delighted that we have reached this important milestone in the Transforming Tyisha project. The demolition of the ‘Four Tys’ will evoke powerful memories for many people who have lived and worked in Tyisha, but will mean that we can develop the housing and facilities that the community wants, needs and deserves.Local residents and businesses who may be impacted by the demolition process will be contacted before any work begins and throughout the process 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.
Man jailed for assaulting three officers during arrest
THREE female officers carrying out their duties suffered injuries in an unprovoked attack at the hands of the man they were trying to arrest.
Officers had executed a warrant at the home of John Steven Knight, in Stafford Street, Llanelli, for an unrelated matter. Because the 37-year-old was not home, PC Jaye Blanco-Martin, DC Eleri Owen and colleague who does not want to be named, attended his work in Ammanford.
As officers spoke with Knight he was initially calm and compliant. But then he tried to unlock his phone.
The DC who is not being named said: “In fear that Knight was attempting to delete evidence and frustrate a police investigation I took hold of his left arm to try and seize the phone.
“Knight’s personality and attitude towards the officers changed instantly.
“He moved his phone to his other hand and immediately started to fight us. He was pulling away clearly trying to escape.
“Out of nowhere I felt a sudden push from Knight using his full body weight and as a direct result of this blow and I fell to the ground and hit my head. I immediately felt pain and discomfort to my head and it started throbbing.”
In the struggle, all three officers ended up on the floor having been shoved and thrown into furniture, walls and a door frame.
Despite Knight’s efforts, the officers were able to arrest him, although they were left with the marks to show they had been in a struggle.
One officer suffered a suspected head injury that required a CT scan, while all three suffered cuts and bruising to various parts of their bodies.
The officer added: “I was incredibly worried for mine and my colleagues’ safety. Knight was a well built and over 6ft and had the strength to take three officers to the ground with him.”
Knight appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on September 29, the day after his arrest, on September 28, when he was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Following the terrifying ordeal DC Owen said: “During the whole incident I was afraid not just for my safety but also my colleagues.
“That it was only three females with a male who was around 6ft 2ins resisting and assaulting officers made me feel vulnerable.
“I will never forget this, it will be something that stays with me throughout my career. I did not expect to go to work that day to be assaulted. I was just carrying out my duties.”
After a rise in such assaults, Dyfed-Powys Police has linked with Wales’ emergency services to launch the year-long ‘Work With Us, Not Against Us’ campaign.
It came after more than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Emma Ackland, said: “Assaults on police officers continues to increase and this is completely unacceptable. No officer should expect to come under any sort of attack when doing their best to serve the public and potentially save lives.
“It is vitally important that sentences given reflect the harm and upset caused to these victims – professionals doing their work.”
Town centre triumph as food festival returns
THE people of Llanelli treated themselves on Saturday, October 16 as Llanelli Food and Drink Festival returned for its third stint in the town centre.
Crowds turned out in droves as hot street food vendors and artisan producers lined the streets in the event organised by Ymlaen Llanelli, the town centre’s Business Improvement District (BID).
Chair of Ymlaen Llanelli, Lesley Richards, was thrilled with the event’s success: “The annual food festival is our biggest event, and it was great to see people excited for it to return after a year away. Our work at Ymlaen Llanelli is all about bringing people together in Llanelli town centre, so we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone that came along and made the day what it was. We can always rely on the people of Llanelli to bring the party!”
The sun was shining as festival-goers as they tucked into their treats and were entertained as a lineup of acoustic acts took to the stage in Stepney Square.
Children and adults alike got stuck into the food-themed crafty fun as the vintage pottery bus Annibendod offered Mad Hatter’s Tea Party pottery, while A Taste of Times Past hosted pickling and pasta-making workshops in St Elli Shopping Centre.
BID Manager, Mandy Jenkins, was pleased with the day: “It was brilliant to see town so busy, and we’ve had incredible feedback from our businesses who were choc-a-block on the day. On top of that, the public response has been phenomenal, so we really couldn’t be happier. Thank you Llanelli!”
Ymlaen Llanelli returns for some festive fun with Llanelli Reindeer Parade on Saturday, December 4.
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