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Parc Howard: Funding ‘failure’ queried

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Parc Howard: Future looking promising?

Parc Howard: Future looking promising?

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER FOR REGENERATION was questioned by councillors over statements she is said to have made concerning the failure to gain Heritage Lottery funding for Parc Howard in a council meeting on Wednesday (May 11).

Llanelli Labour councillors Bill Thomas and Jan Williams both questioned Cllr Meryl Gravell on the matter.

As The Herald has previously reported, questions were raised over the accuracy of a statement concerning a Heritage Lottery fund application in an Executive Board meeting on January 4.

In that meeting, Cllr Gravell said, regarding the application, which could have brought in £5m of grant funding: “Unfortunately the local people went behind our backs to the lottery to say they didn’t want this to go ahead, and they’ve always been against having a car park there, which in itself would bring in a lot of money in order to help support and keep the park open.”

This was queried by Cllrs Thomas and Williams at a subsequent council meeting, when Cllr Gravell responded by saying that ‘was the information I was given at the time.’

First up was Cllr Thomas. His question was as follows:

“During the past 18 months the Cabinet Members have made a number of statements on the failure of this bid for grant aid to the Heritage Lottery Commission.

The main thrust of these statements reported in the press during interviews and press releases are as follows:

  1. Local Members had attended meetings with the Lottery Commission causing the bid to fail.
  2. Local Residents had meetings with the Lottery Commission causing the bid to fail.
  3. Local People in Llanelli had objected to the Lottery Commission causing the bid to fail.
  4. Llanelli people & the local MP had consultation meetings causing the bid to fail.

In the press the words attributed to the situation were that in general Llanelli people had ‘scuppered’ the bid and it was their own entire fault.

In the last two Council meetings the Cabinet Member replied to these questions and I quote, ‘That is what I was told and I stand by it’

Will the member now inform the County Council who told her this, when she was informed, and if there was any documented evidence provided to her to prove that position statement?”

Cllr Gravell responded by saying that as Cllr Thomas was now Mayor of Llanelli Town, perhaps he would now take over Parc Howard.

She claimed that she was ‘delighted’ these questions had been asked, because it gave her an opportunity to answer, which she did, in some depth.

In relation to the first point made, she asked whether there was any record of her saying this, claiming she had not. She also denied ever saying that the local MP had in any way been involved in ‘scuppering’ the bid. In both these cases she asked Cllr Thomas what his evidence was for these claims.

However, regarding the claims that local residents and members had objected to, and met with, the Heritage Lottery Commission, causing the bid to fail, Cllr Gravell said that ‘local members are also the local residents.’

“And yes, I have said on a number of occasions that a few people did meet with the Heritage Lottery. During all this time both local members were kept fully briefed at all times,” she added.

She reiterated her claim that she had attempted to get the registrar moved to Parc Howard to make the place into a wedding venue, but claimed that opposition to putting a car park on site made this unfeasible.

She added that she had managed to find ‘a pot of money’ via the Chief Executive to spend applying for the HLF funding, but ‘despite hopeful signs from the HLF officers, the bid failed.’

Cllr Gravell also appeared to accuse Cllr Thomas of questioning the integrity of council staff: “It is sad to see the opposition once again questioning the integrity of the staff. I don’t mind them questioning my integrity, but it does hurt when they question that of the staff,” she added.

Cllr Gravell then said she would provide the proof that was asked for, reading from correspondence with the HLF which said:

“With regards to the application in general, HLF continues to receive queries and complaints in connection to the car parking proposal. We have provided clear advice that car parking facilities and ground size are not a pre-requisite requirement for making a Parks for People submission, and that any new facility being proposed must be based on clear evidence of need.

“I am sure you will agree that this is not a helpful start to the project, and we would strongly advise you to seriously consider postponing any application submissions until you are satisfied that all stakeholders are on board with the proposals.”

Cllr Gravell rather pointedly remarked that HLF officers at the moment ‘are very very helpful with us for applications for funding for the museum at Abergwili.’

“It is all about taking the opportunity when it rises,” she added.

However, Cllr Thomas remarked that the question had not been answered, and pointed out that they had the letters from the HLF which said that the bid failed because it failed to meet the criteria.

“Either I’m getting the wrong information, or the Executive Board Member is having the wrong information,” he added. “They [the HLF] gave us two dates to go back and apply.”

Cllr Thomas also asked Cllr Gravell to clarify that Parc Howard was still in the ownership of CCC, and that they were responsible for its future.

Cllr Gravell said that she had not implied otherwise, although the council had written to Llanelli town Council asking if it would behappy to take over the running of the park.

“On January 21 the Heritage Lottery Commission confirmed that there had been an opportunity to resubmit the bid for Park Howard with support from The Wales Development Team. The dates for resubmission were February 28 2014 & August 31 2014. As a result of this failure the Leader of the Council has had to find £250K for essential maintenance at Park Howard this money could have been used to further enhance the bid as potentially a match funding application.

“Can the executive Board member explain why this was not taken up including an explanation from the Executive Board member for the failure to take up the opportunity offered for a second submission of this wonderful project?”

Cllr Gravell said that she had answered the question about why the bid had not been resubmitted, and added that the maintenance funding had not been included in the original bid, because it was ‘not deemed eligible’.

She stated that the £250,000 spend was ‘not related and was always planned’.

Cllr Williams then asked why despite ‘clear criteria which informed applicants not to request costs for their own officials, and to place importance on heritage maintenance issues, the bid entered by Carmarthenshire breached both of these rules.’

She asked whether the application would be resubmitted or altered. “Things have moved on with Parc Howard, we now have a new committee and that committee are much more receptive to what is going on. “We meet regularly with Cllr Emlyn Dole,” she added.

“Parc Howard is the jewel in the crown in Llanelli, and people want to know as much as possible is being done.”

Cllr Gravell said that she thought the park was important for the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire, which was why she had tried to get more revenue in.

“I don’t know if we have lost out now, because the HLF has turned course towards Carmarthen,” she added.

However, she added that ‘I am sure together we will do whatever we can.’

Chairman Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths agreed that there is currently ‘cooperation and a great deal of work going on involving the Leader and the Executive Board with regard to Parc Howard.

“I recently attended an event organised by the local committees, and it looked very promising for the future, so I would kindly ask members to forget the past, because things are certainly moving forward,” he added.

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Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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