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No sell off ‘on my watch’ says Dole

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‘Read my lips’: Emlyn Dole echoes fateful words

A TUMULTUOUS week of claim and counter claim about the Council’s plans on asset transfers reached its frenzied peak in the Chamber of County Hall on Wednesday, January 13.

First out of the blocks on Saturday, January 9 was Council Leader Emlyn Dole. Cllr Dole was plainly enraged and frustrated by press statements issued by Labour, whose members were in partnership with the Independents when – as The Herald revealed – secret negotiations were taking place to pass the balance of the lease to property speculators Loca Ventures. Claiming that plans to sell off Parc Howard were ‘an urban myth’, Cllr Dole continued: “Discussions about its future role should be held in a sensible climate and not be distorted by those seeking political gain by jumping on the nearest passing bandwagon. Labour’s Nia Griffiths MP and candidate Lee Waters really should know better. It shows how frustrated and desperate they’ve become. They’ve concocted an urban myth around an imagined threat to Parc Howard and even launched a petition on the basis of that myth. This is a very cheap shot even by their standards.”

The Council Leader did not address the tawdry saga involving his now fellow Executive Board Member, senior officers, ‘introducers’ and ‘investors’ that took place before he ascended to his current position. That was certainly not ‘an urban myth’ but cold, hard fact. The omission appears to suggest that Cllr Dole will not countenance any backdoor deals, as seemed to be made clear by his following words. Cllr Dole said that he was looking forward to meeting the Friends of Parc Howard, the Parc Howard Association and the Llanelli Community Heritage Group. “I won’t be asking them to run anything on our behalf, as this is a public park owned by the people – all the people. But as they are interested parties I’m keen to listen to, and share ideas about, how we can create an income that will allow us to sustain and safeguard Parc Howard for the benefit of ourselves and future generations.”

His press statement concluded: “Turning Parc Howard into a political football demeans an asset which is hugely precious to the people of Llanelli. Once again, I invite local Labour politicians to watch my lips: it will remain safely in the hands of the people to whom it was bequeathed.” After his combative statement, slating his political rivals for seeking to score political points, on Tuesday (Jan 12), Emlyn Dole met with members of the Llanelli Heritage Trust, the Parc Howard Association, and Llanelli Town Council. While Llanelli Town Council were happy for the press to attend the meeting, Councillor Dole’s office told us that his personal view was that it was a private meeting between organisations he had invited to attend. Accordingly, despite the Town Council’s welcome, press would not be allowed into the meeting. We waited outside the Town Hall for Councillor Dole. Upon his arrival we asked the leader if he had a few minutes to answer some questions. Mr Dole answered, “I Doubt it.” He did however return and requested that our camera was turned off before speaking to us. We began by asking the leader if Parc Howard would be taken off the asset transfer list. He replied “It’s a meeting for interested people around Parc Howard.

He continued by saying that communication with the public would, “be done through the due process. I have already made that clear in the press. I said in my second week of my leadership that Parc Howard stays in public ownership. We are asking local communities to invest in those assets. They can be run a lot better and more efficiently. Parc Howard is on that list for Llanelli Town Council to consider. Up until April they have an option on that. I am still waiting to hear if they want it or not. “If they are not then it comes back to me. I don’t quite understand what Lee Waters or the press doesn’t get about that sentence. I don’t quite get what anyone does not understand in that sentence. It stays on the asset transfer list until April. If it comes back I have to look at how we maintain it. It does not appear to be clear in mind of Lee Waters or Nia Griffith.” On the issue of local ownership of assets Councillor Dole said, “I agree that local ownership is always better. We put the precept up in Llannon in preparation for asset transfer.

As a community council we did our own lunch club, it is a lot better, it is better run by us as a community council than it was by the County Council. Whether they (Llanelli Town Council) take it on and I don’t think they will, it will remain in public ownership.” We asked if the people of Llanelli would be asked to pay twice for their parks, once through their council taxes and once through a rise in their precept. Councillor Dole replied, “No.” and continued, “It is up to Llanelli Town Council. I am told they are sitting on a pile of money. Use the money for the people of Llanelli. “Back in the reorganisation in the 90’s the West was paying their way on sports pitches Llanelli wasn’t. For some reason that hasn’t been addressed. People in Carmarthen West has been saying, hang on we are paying to support our own pitches and parks but we’re also paying to support Llanelli’s pitches and parks. It doesn’t matter how many there are it is the principle. If you are paying your way then we should all be paying our way or we should all be subsidised.” We asked if he was aware of the Loca Ventures episode and if he was worried that that episode may be repeated if the park was open for investors to take over. He replied: “Not on my watch.” Following the meeting the leader said it had been a positive meeting in the best interests of Parc Howard.

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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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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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