PLANS for a new office development on Carmarthen Quay were revealed at an Executive Board meeting on Monday (Nov 30).
The Swansea-based Ethos Group made ‘an unsolicited approach’ to Carmarthenshire County Council, seeking to develop the area where the Quay Centre currently stands.
The future of the Quay Centre is currently uncertain; one of the proposals in the budget consultation is to review youth services provision at the centre, which according to CCC’s website, hosts drop-in centres for the young unemployed and is the base for Carmarthenshire Youth Service and a number of other organisations. The consultation is still open.
Introducing the motion Cllr David Jenkins said that the Chair of the Council and members of the Executive Board had taken the opportunity to visit the Ethos building in Swansea, and saw ‘an exceptional example of cooperative working which allowed small start-ups to develop businesses in the centre of town.’
Cllr Jenkins added that the Ethos Group sought an ‘exclusivity agreement’ which would provide them with the opportunity to get the project ‘worked up.’ The board was invited to consider redeveloping ‘in principle’ either through Ethos, or ‘working towards the relocation of the centre’s current users and openly marketing the site.’
“That is basically the decision before us,” he said.
Councillor Meryl Gravell said that she was ‘absolutely delighted’ and pointed out that talks with Rowland Jones – one of the members of the Ethos Group – had started in 2012.
“This is an opportunity to bring new businesses into Carmarthen – that is what we really need. Quality jobs so that we don’t have as much brain drain as we have in the past,” she added.
Discussing the ‘iconic’ appearance of the Ethos building in Swansea, Cllr Gravell said: “If you are attracting inward investment it is vitally important to have that iconic building. It gives out that openness and welcoming to the county.”
Mark James CBE agreed, and suggested that as the main gateway to Carmarthen it had to be a ‘rather nice looking building.’
Mr James also suggested that Ethos would be to gain funding from the Welsh Government, the EU and the private sector.
A summary said that the site represented a prominent redevelopment opportunity and ‘may also be of interest for other potential uses.’
It was acknowledged that the Town Council had previously expressed an interest in the existing building, as had a community group, which had ‘indicated interest in potential future asset transfer of the property for riverside uses.’
One of the community groups which use the existing building contacted The Herald after finding out about the Ethos proposal through local media. Steve Bright, the Chair of the Gwendraeth Paddlers, said that the club used part of the premises to store canoes, and as a changing room. The basement of the existing building was redeveloped for this purpose using grant funding within the last couple of years.
Mr Bright said that the Paddlers were part of the Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership, and through their qualified coaches, allowed young people the chance to try out different boats and gain experience on the water ‘in relative safety’.
It is thought that none of the groups who use the area regularly – including the coracles and the Carmarthen Boat Club, have been informed of the possible development.
“They are misguidedly jumping on to another white elephant saying that there’s no decent office space available when there are empty offices for rent along old station road and the Pensarn Creamery office has been empty for years,” Mr Bright told us.
“The claim that it will help business by drawing more people to the town centre comes while they charge exorbitant business rates, which rob inception businesses of their capital and don’t allow them to get a foothold. Yet again councillors meddle in business without any idea of who pays their wages and gilt-edged pensions while establishing another white elephant edifice to their incompetence.”
The Herald contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to ask whether the results of the budget consultation would be taken into account when deciding the future of the Quay Centre, but at the time of going to press had received no reply.
Swansea Building Society expands Cradock Street head office
SWANSEA BUILDING SOCIETY has expanded its head office at 11/12 Cradock Street, Swansea, with the acquisition of the adjoining property – number 13. The refurbishment of the adjoining property is set to take approximately 10 weeks, with a move-in date scheduled for the end of January 2023.
The acquisition has been made to help accommodate the Society’s growing workforce, which has grown by 10 percent over the past year. Extensive work is now required on the new property, with a full refurbishment, new windows, and a new roof needed before it can comfortably accommodate the Society’s additional staff.
The move in date is set to tie in with an important milestone in Swansea Building Society’s history – it will celebrate 100 years as a mutual in 2023.
As it approaches this key landmark, the Society is enjoying a period of sustained and significant growth – the result of many years planning and investment. Its total assets, mortgage balances, savings, capital, and profits all reached record highs in the past year, passing the landmark £500 million in total assets for the first time.
It has also invested more than £1 million in its IT and back-office infrastructure, in a project that replaces all its hardware, considerably strengthens its cyber security, improves resilience with a remote disaster recovery site, and enhances the online offering it is able to provide its customers.
Along with this, the Society has invested in new talent across a number of departments including mortgage underwriting, IT, marketing, and the mortgage sales team. It has also employed several new customer-facing staff to help it support the increased footfall it has experienced at all its local branches in Swansea, Mumbles, Carmarthen and Cowbridge.
Alun Williams, Chief Executive at Swansea Building Society, said:
“The acquisition of number 13 Cradock Street is much needed to accommodate our growing head office workforce. When completed, the refurbished extension to our property will host 14 staff and allow us room for further expansion if needed.
“Our success and investment over recent years means that we are even better prepared to help our members plan their finances and get the savings and mortgage products they need for a better and more secure future. By increasing our staff, expanding our premises, and updating our IT infrastructure, we are better able to serve them with the financial advice and products that are right for them. It also means we can provide them with a choice of options about how they manage their finances – in person at one of our many branches or online – whichever is most convenient.”
Cllr Rob Stewart, Leader, Swansea Council, said:
“The expansion of Swansea Building Society’s headquarters in Cradock Street is more great news for our city centre. The Society is a shining example of a successful, community-minded mutual, and to see it expanding its workforce, creating jobs, and bringing them right into the heart of the city is fantastic.
“Cradock Street is undergoing considerable redevelopment with the renovation and repurposing of the Albert Hall by Depot Swansea – directly opposite Swansea Building Society’s headquarters – into a multi-purpose venue. Renovation of this area is another example of how we are saving the city’s heritage for future generations in a way that is useful and meaningful to the people of Swansea. The city is undergoing an important phase in its regeneration, and organisations like Swansea Building Society play a vital role in ensuring that this regeneration is sustainable for the future.”
BHF Cymru celebrates Heart Heroes across Wales
BHF CYMRU is celebrating the inspirational people from Carmarthenshire who’ve been nominated in the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards 2022.
The annual awards ceremony returns for a fifth year on Thursday 1st December. The charity will honour incredible young heart heroes who’ve shown remarkable bravery and gone above and beyond to help others while coping with the devastating impact of heart disease, as well as CPR lifesavers, innovative fundraisers, corporate partners, research champions and healthcare heroes working in the NHS.
Winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London, with Vernon Kay hosting for the fourth time. He’ll be joined by celebrity judges including footballing legend David Ginola and Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie.
Healthcare Hero Nominee
Dr Lena Izzat from Llanelli has supported BHF Cymru to raise awareness of the Heart Attack Gender Gap in Wales. As a female cardiologist she has spoken out about the unconscious and systemic bias in the health care system which leaves women who have heart attacks less likely to get diagnosed and receive the best care. Lena has been integral to a campaign which has secured a commitment from the Minister for Health to tackle health inequalities in Wales.
Innovative Fundraiser Nominees
Lisa Pudner from Llanelli is a former Paralympian who raised over £2,000 for the BHF through a sponsored handcycle and walking event in memory of her friend Nest Davies. Nest died suddenly from a heart attack. Lisa was awarded a BHF Cymru medal in recognition of her achievements and said: “We did this for the BHF because they fund research into heart and circulatory conditions, and we want to stop other families and friends losing loved ones in the future.”
Lifesavers nominated as CPR Heroes for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a life-threatening emergency
- Alun Sturley from Carmarthen who saved his father John.
- Jean Thomas from Carmarthen, saved her husband Michael.
Head of BHF Cymru, Rhodri Thomas, himself from Carmarthenshire said: “The Heart Hero Awards are the highlight of our year, bringing together inspirational nominees from different walks of life and from every part of the UK. From fantastic children to remarkable pensioners, they all share such spirit and embody the very best of us.
“I’m proud and humbled that so many nominees are from Carmarthenshire, and I’m delighted to thank them for the amazing support they give the BHF and the motivation they bring to myself and the whole BHF Cymru team.
“Whilst we celebrate these brilliant Heart Hero nominees, we also thank each of our brilliant BHF supporters who power our lifesaving science and bring new hope to the 7.6 million people across the UK living with conditions such as stroke, heart disease and vascular dementia.
“I’m in no doubt that their dedication and selflessness will mean more lives will be saved from heart and circulatory disease, so thank you and congratulations to all our inspirational nominees”.
The Heart Heroes Awards will be live-streamed at 8pm on Thursday 1st December. Register to watch the celebration online at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heartheroes
Public Services Board seeks views to improve local well-being
CARMARTHENSHIRE’S Public Services Board (PSB) is seeking residents’ views to find out what matters to them and their local communities.
The PSB has developed its Well-being Objectives and draft actions to deliver them, based on feedback received on its Well-being Assessment. The results of a survey at that time gathered views and helped shape the PSB’s understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors that impact the well-being of individuals and communities within Carmarthenshire.
Once again, residents are being asked to contribute to help public service partners develop Carmarthenshire’s Local Well-being Plan for 2023-28.
To help shape the future of well-being please visit: Current Consultations (gov.wales)
The survey closes on 25 January 2023.
Cllr Darren Price, Chair of the Carmarthenshire PSB and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “To deliver what is important to our communities, we need to their feedback and input. This survey is an opportunity for our residents to tell us if we, as public services, are on the right track to help create a better future for our children’s generation, and the generations to follow, as we strive to reach this goal.”
Andrew Cornish, Vice-Chair of the PSB andChief Executive Officer / Principal of Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work so far. Our Well-being Assessment gives us a strong foundation on which to build our Well-being Plan and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in our involvement work for the preparation of the Plan.”
Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board is a partnership of public and third sector organisations working together to improve well-being across the county and includes Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales and other organisations.