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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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Global Litter Charity has announced the date of its next Welsh litter picking event

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Uocean project Carmarthenshire weekend clean up taking place on Saturday 25th September 21 at Pembrey Country Park

THE UOCEAN Project, part of the Vayyu Foundation, which has set itself the target of removing 1 billion kilos of waste from the world’s oceans by 2030, will be holding its next litter collection taskforce event at Pembrey Country Park  in Carmarthenshire.

Everyone is invited to join The UOcean Project volunteers and to make a difference by collecting litter, especially plastics, which are polluting our environment and ending up in the world’s oceans.  The UOcean Project has highlighted the dramatic increase in litter from plastic bags to face masks since lockdown restrictions were lifted, making it even more important to clean-up and reduce waste pollution. 

Chris Desai, head of The UOcean Project commented. “Picking up one plastic bottle or single use face mask may not appear to be significant, but at each event we are collecting many kilos of plastic because more and more individuals are joining our litter picking teams.

RSVP TO JOIN WWW.THEUOCEANPROJECT.COM

The combined collections here and overseas are the only way to make a difference and start fighting back against pollution.” 

The UOcean Project organises litter pick-up teams who work across the UK, especially around coastlines, as well as internationally.  By organising volunteers into Chapters and providing them with the tools and equipment to pick up litter, they have already collected 53,000 kilos of waste which would have ended up in the seas.  

All volunteers are provided with the equipment needed to safely pick up litter so that it can be disposed of in the right way.  For more information about The UOcean Project please go to the website www.theuoceanproject.com

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Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in Llanelli

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the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous

Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in

POLICE are warning drug users in Llanelli to take extra care following information received that dangerous valium is circulating in the area.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/

Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children

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RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season

RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)  

Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.

“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children.  However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”

Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:

*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)

*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).

The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.

Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:

  • You are worried about your child.
  • Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
  • Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
  • Your child seems very tired or irritable.

Dial 999 for an ambulance if:

  • your baby is having difficulty breathing
  • your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
  • there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
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