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Trimsaran: Asset transfers in the spotlight

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Nia Griffith MP: Assets must be brought up to scratch before transfers

SHADOW SECRETARY of State for Wales, Nia Griffith MP chaired a public meeting at Trimsaran Rugby Club on Thursday (Jan 28) to discuss the future of the Miner’s Welfare Hall and the Trimsaran RFC changing rooms.

Both are threatened with closure if the local council and the community cannot find a solution to take over the assets and potentially fund their future.

Around 30 people attended the meeting and heard from representations including Nia Griffith MP, Sian Caiach (People First), Huw Woodford-Rock and Colin Davies of Kidwelly RFC.

Kicking off the meeting, Trimsaran RFC representative Huw Woodford- Rock said he thought that part of the Miner’s Welfare Hall should be demolished but that the main building was solid and should stay.

Huw told the meeting: “Trimsaran is now a designated primary rest and care centre in the event of floods.” Talking about the damage to the rugby club’s changing rooms, he said: “The council say they can’t do the repairs until the insurance people have been in. You have seen the recent floods and the insurance people are there the next day.

If the Club was looking to take over the facilities, Huw said: “The WRU in joint venture with Natwest will supply the club with banking staff to help with a business plan.”

Nia Griffith MP said: “I am sure most people are aware that the County Council is trying to get rid of their assets.” She asked if the community wanted to take on the responsibility of the assets. She continued: “Any of you who have been involved know how much hard work is involved. They key issue is to think of the uses you want it for when you look at a feasibility study. You have to think about whether it will be leased from the County or if the community council takes over the lease. If an independent body takes over, they may just disappear. The guidelines are that it has to remain where there is a clear ownership by County or Community Council.”

The representative of Kidwelly Park Association Colin Davies said that he had to lease their asset from the County Council: “Residents formed a Parks Association and all organisations were now responsible for the park.”

He continued: “We were the first to do this. We managed up to now through the generosity of local businesses, but we are struggling. If everyone does not pull together or you are wasting your time.

“We had to do it because the Town Council didn’t want anything to do with it. We were promised grants but we have not seen a penny of it yet. The County Council have said they will be giving us money in part payments.” Colin Davies concluded: “It has been a big saving for the County. They don’t have to employ anyone now. We were not being paid and we didn’t even have any machinery. We were fortunate that a businessman put some money forward. Pontarddulais RFC have gone through an Asset Transfer. The council paid them up front. It cost us £15,000 and we did the work ourselves. We had nothing from the County or the Town Council.” One member of the rugby club committee said that the club had been in communication with the County Council since January 2015: “We went to the Welsh Rugby Union and had to see a man called Geoff Roach who was sitting on the Asset Transfer Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council. “We had to go and see him to arrange a meeting with the County Council Asset Transfer Team. We met them on April 2, 2015. Don’t think for a minute they are trying to help you. If they had got away with it you would still be using the leisure centre to get the money to maintain the changing rooms. We have been active for the last 12 months in trying to get something done.”

Sian Caiach of People First said that she had a number of projects on the asset transfer list.

Addressing the meeting, she told the audience: “The county thought it would be a good idea to get rid of these assets. They offered £10,000 per project. We had 13 and had to drop a lot of them.”

She advised that Trimsaran RFC should negotiate as hard as they could and that they needed to get Meryl Gravel on their side as she had an enormous amount of influence.

Cllr Caiach continued: “A lot of assets are being neglected. We need to make sure the assets are looked after and handed over in A1 condition. We cannot be responsible for those costs right at the start. The council still own these assets and it is their responsibility. The whole idea is to make people take over the assets we already own and have paid for from our own council tax. That money will be diverted somewhere else and called a saving. There are councils and clubs who just can’t afford to do anything.

“Nobody knew that the policy of the County Council would be to get rid of everything. The County Council have not thought this through.”

Speaking after the meeting about the future for Trimsaran RFC and the county’s assets Nia Griffith told The Herald: “Trimsaran has a fantastic reputation for sport. The changing rooms are integral in being able to offer sport to all sorts of age groups. They do have the will and enthusiasm to take over those changing rooms. They are willing to sign a lease with the council but they want the facilities handed over in A1 condition. They need to be ready to be used by next winter.

“We understand there have been problems with asset transfer but you would think by now that they would have learned and the process should become straightforward. It needs to be efficient and the facilities need to be handed over in a way where they can be used with a proper lease agreement.”

Expressing reservations about the way asset transfers are being handled, the Llanelli MP continued: “The other issue is the concern about the asset transfer programme where the county is taking money from the reserves for vanity projects, things we don’t really need yet rather than making sure the assets they do have are up to standard. We want the repairs done and either kept on by the council or handed over fairly. What we don’t want is the neglect of these assets and deliberately letting them get run down whereby nobody can afford to get them done up. We have all paid for these assets. We need them repaired and the discussions to take place between all concerned to make sure the hand over can be cost effective and sustainable. The example of Kidwelly where they have worked so hard and have not had any financial help is awful. I will be pushing for that money to be released.”

Nia Griffith concluded: “Carmarthenshire is a land rich county. It is totally inexcusable to be using the green spaces in our communities for more housing. They provide opportunity for local people of all ages to get out get some fresh air and take part in exercise and enjoy the spaces. This is not a city where where it is difficult to find a space. We are blessed with a beautiful county. It is a worry and people are concerned.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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Coronavirus cases in Wales still lowest in UK says Health Minister

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WALES continues to have the lowest rate of coronavirus cases in the UK, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan said today. 

The minister said the number of confirmed cases in Wales is currently 9.3 per 100,000 people. 

Eluned Morgan said: “The number of people in hospital with coronavirus is at the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.  We have recently seen a period of 10 days where no new deaths from the virus were recorded – sadly Public Health Wales reported one death yesterday.

“These achievements reflect the hard work of people throughout Wales to keep themselves and their families safe.

“Over recent weeks we have however seen very troubling developments in relation to the so-called India variant of concern – or as the World Health Organisation has re-named it, the delta variant.  This is further proof that coronavirus has not gone away. 

“We have been carefully monitoring this new variant, which appears to be spreading in many parts of England.   We have identified a growing number of cases here in Wales, including a large cluster of cases in Conwy which is under close investigation.  

“This delta variant has the potential to become the next dominant strain of the virus in the UK.  We hope we can contain cases and prevent this variant spreading further but we expect the number of cases in Wales will continue to increase.

“Whilst the public health situation therefore remains good in Wales, the delta variant brings a new level of uncertainty.  It was in this context the most recent review of the coronavirus restrictions took place on 3 June. 

“Whilst Wales is moving to alert level one as previously signalled, we will now do this in a phased way.  

“Changes to the regulations from 7 June therefore focused on easing restriction on outdoor events and activities.  The risk of transmission is much lower outdoors and these changes will allow people to take advantage of the summer.”

Up to 30 people can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens, outdoor hospitality and public places.

Larger outdoor organised gatherings and events for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated can also now take place.  This includes concerts, football matches and sporting activities, like organised running groups. All organisers must undertake a full risk assessment and put in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing.

Finally, provision now allows for extended household to be made up of three households who can meet and have contact indoors.  This is an increase from two households previously. 

We will consider further changes to the regulations on indoor activity later in the month, if public health conditions allow.   In line with the coronavirus control plan, at alert level one this would mean the rule of six would apply for meeting indoors in private homes and in holiday accommodation.

We will also consider increasing numbers for indoor organised gatherings and restarting indoor events.

This phased approach will provide time for more data on the impact of the delta variant to become available.  It will also allow time for more people to be vaccinated, which remains our best route out of the pandemic.

I am extremely grateful to Health Board vaccination teams, local partners and the many volunteers across the country for the incredible progress of our vaccination programme. 

At this rate, and subject to supply, we expect to have offered all adults 18 and over their first dose by early next week and to have hit our 3rd milestone of an uptake of 75% in all of the age ranges by the end of June, a month earlier than expected.  In reality, the percentage of people who have taken up their offer of a vaccine is far higher, which was always our aim.

We are currently recognised as the world Leader amongst countries over 1 million inhabitants.  We have vaccinated more than 86.5% of the adult population with their first dose and nearly half have completed the two-dose course.

Yesterday I published an update to our COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy. 

The updated strategy looks back at what has been achieved to date and sets out preparations for what comes next, potentially including a booster for our most vulnerable citizens and a vaccine for children and young people. We are also planning to reoffer the vaccine to those who did not take up the original offer. The roll out of second doses will also continue.

To underpin this delivery, an online system will be established in the Autumn to allow people to book appointments convenient for them. This system could potentially be used for other vaccinations moving forward.

Wales’ successful Test, Trace, Protect service was established a year ago.  The Welsh Government has allocated an additional £32m to health boards and local authorities to extend contact tracing until the end of March 2022. This increases the total Welsh Government investment in contact tracing this financial year to £92m.

On 2 June we also published a refreshed Test, Trace, Protect strategy setting out how the service will adapt and respond to the pandemic in the months ahead.   This includes strengthening and enhance the tracing of variants of concern, as well as the management and quarantine of people returning to Wales from red and amber-list countries.

On 20 May I set-out plans for a £100m investment to kick-start the health and care system’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This money will provide for new equipment, staff, technology and ways of working to help health boards increase capacity and cut waiting times. 

As we begin resuming non-emergency care following the pandemic we have an opportunity to create a health and care system fit for the future.

Following the three week review of the restrictions on international travel, we are following the same traffic-light approach to international travel as the rest of the UK.

From today Portugal has been moved from green to the amber list. This decision follows increased concern in the spread of variants, including a mutation of the Delta variant, and the risk posed of bringing these back to the UK if people are not required to quarantine. 

Seven countries have also been added to the red list, including Egypt and Sri Lanka.

I have today described some of the most recent developments in our ongoing efforts to tackle coronavirus.   It remains vital we continue to work together to keep each other safe and to keep Wales safe.

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Strength of Police evidence led prolific drug dealer to admit possession with intent to supply

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THE strength of evidence gathered by police within hours of a man being arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply led to an immediate guilty plea and a prison sentence.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers worked swiftly following the arrest of Sanjit Sanghera, from Llanelli, putting together a file of evidence proving the defendant had been involved in the supply of illegal substances in Carmarthenshire since 2018.

Officers trawled the 21-year-old’s phone after cannabis and cocaine with a potential street value of up to £10,000 were found during a warrant at his home in School Road, Morfa.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Clatworthy said: “Thorough digital enquiries uncovered reams of messages in which senders asked for availability and prices of specific substances.

“When printed, there were 32 pages of messages, all of which suggested the user of the phone was involved in the supply of cocaine and cannabis from September 2018 to May 2021, with messages as recent as the day before the warrant was executed.

Drugs seized by Dyfed-Powys Police

“These messages gave us clear evidence that Sanghera has been a prolific dealer in the area for a number of years. Coupled with the amount of substances seized from his house, they led to an immediate admission from the defendant.”

Officers raided Sanghera’s home on Wednesday, May 19 as part of an investigation into wider drug supply in Carmarthenshire.

Bags containing cannabis and cocaine were found in the garden shed, where it was established the defendant had been running his supply business.

Further substances were found hidden in biscuit jars in kitchen cupboards.

DS Clatworthy said: “A full search of the property resulted in over £4,000 in cash, along with more than half a kilo of cannabis and around 41g of cocaine being seized.

“This is well in excess of what we would expect to find for someone’s personal use.”

The substances were tested within hours of the warrant, and all proved positive for cannabis and cocaine.

Sanghera was charged with possessing class A drugs with intent to supply, possessing class B drugs with intent to supply, and acquiring, using or possessing criminal property – namely £4,227.

He admitted all three offences when he appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court the following day, and was sentenced to 26 months in prison at Swansea Crown Court on Friday, June 5.

DS Clatworthy said: “Excellent work from a number of departments resulted in a very early guilty plea thanks to the strength of evidence obtained while Sanghera was in custody.

“I would like to thank all officers involved for their efforts, and for the part they played in disrupting an organised crime gang operating in Carmarthenshire.”

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