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Parc Howard questions, but were there answers?

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350px-Parc_Howard_museum_-_geograph.org.uk_-_143410AT A COUNCIL meeting on Wednesday, May 11, Executive Board Member for Leisure and Regeneration brandished a piece of paper which, she claimed, provided proof that nefarious ‘Llanelli residents’ had scuppered the Council’s plans for refitting and refurbishing Parc Howard.

Cllr Gravell’s combative performance was in response to questions by Cllrs Bill Thomas and Jan Williams, both of whom have repeatedly pressed Cllr Gravell to substantiate her allegations of interference in the Council’s bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Speaking to The Herald following the meeting Councillor Thomas said: “We asked Meryl Gravell the questions and she never answered them. I gave the background, it is quite simple. She said at the last meeting ‘I was told’.

“We asked who told her. She waved a piece of paper in the air and said that she had a letter regarding the people of Llanelli scuppering the bid through objections over parking.”

Councillor Thomas told us: “I did not see that letter.”

CLAIMS ‘ABSOLUTELY CORRECT’

The Herald asked Cllr Gravell about the letter from HLF and asked her to confirm that the letter from which she read at the meeting supported her previous claims

Cllr Gravell replied: “That is absolutely correct. We had to put things straight. It is no good looking back to the past. I don’t know why they are harping on about it. We have to look to the future because it is a fantastic place. Today I was able to give them proof. What I said was correct. That is the end of it.”

The Herald asked if the letter could be made public upon request. She said, “I would probably have to ask HLF. If they are happy then of course.”

HLF: NO RECORD OF OBJECTIONS

Heritage Lottery Development Officer Adam Hutchings told us that he could not find any record of any communication to Meryl Gravell regarding any objections to parking from anyone in Llanelli once the bid was submitted: not from councillors, from residents, or members of the Parc Howard Association.

Moreover, Mr Hitchings confirmed that any objection to parking would have been a matter for the County Council and would not be in the remit of the Heritage Lottery. He also stated that should a letter between objectors and the County Council exist, it would have no influence over the bid as it would be regarded as a local political issue.

WHY THE BID WAS REJECTED

A report from HLF on the bid notes no interference in the bid once made. It states: ‘A considerable amount of community consultation had informed your proposals, but the work to prioritise your capital works and activities, deciding which to take forward and which to save for a future project, had not yet been done.

For this reason your grant request was high compared to other applications in the batch and works did not appear well planned.

‘The Parks for People programme expects schemes to focus on conservation of existing historical features of the park and costs should reflect this. Your application showed costs for new capital works that were more than double the costs of restoration work and this should be addressed if you hope to resubmit.

‘A lack of match funding meant that HLF’s grant rate was high. Further information on your fundraising efforts would have been useful.

‘Significant opportunities would be created through the project but the relationship between the new facilities at Parc Howard and those already existing at the Tywi Centre and Aberglasney (both of which have received HLF funding) was not described.

‘Estimated volunteer time and costs for activities were considered relatively low while professional fees for the development phase were considered high. We would not be able to cover the costs of existing council staff through the development grant unless they were to work above their normally contracted hours.’

A TRAIL OF LETTERS

In addition, The Herald has seen a copy of correspondence from HLF to Cllr Thomas addressing the specific point of whether any interference had taken place in relation to the Parc Howard funding bid.

That letter confirms: ‘We have found no record of meetings with, or contact from, the people listed in your query (residents, councillors, members of the Park Association, the local MP) either to support or to oppose the application. There was however a discussion with council officers on January 10 2014 to discuss the rejected application’.

Following Cllr Gravell’s claim, we contacted Mr Hitchings again and asked whether he was aware of further correspondence that would support it.

He told us: “I am afraid I really can’t add to my previous e mail (24.2.16) and the letter dated 21.4.14 to Helen Morgan both of which clearly set out the basis for the rejection. As far as I am aware nothing has changed. However, if anyone believes they have information from the Heritage Lottery Fund which is at odds with my responses to you I would find it helpful if a copy were to be forwarded to me.”

As Cllr Gravell avers that the material in her possession which suggests that there was interference by third parties from Llanelli in the HLF bid originated with that body, perhaps she will send that material to Mr Hitchings to jog his memory.

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Police appeal for witnesses after 20-year-old pedestrian tragically killed on A40

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses to a fatal road traffic collision on the A40 west of Carmarthen on Saturday (Sept 26) in which a 20-year-old man, a pedestrian, lost his life.

The police have asked The Pembrokeshire Herald to publicise this appeal.

A spokesman for the police told this newspaper: “At around 9.40pm, a white VW Transporter was in collision with a pedestrian on the A40 westbound, near the junction of Llangynog, Carmarthen.

“The pedestrian, a 20-year-old male, died as a result of his injuries.

“It appears the pedestrian had left his vehicle, a black Seat, following a single-vehicle collision further along the westbound carriageway shortly before.

The police have asked that if anyone has any information on either or both collisions, or may have been travelling along the A40 at the relevant time, please contact the serious collision investigation unit, quoting reference DPP-20200926-339.

This can be done by email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, by phone on 101 or by text: If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Llanelli becomes a Covid-19 ‘health protection zone’

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RESIDENTS in a large part of Llanelli are being put under new local restrictions in a ‘health protection zone’ following a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the area.

The town is seeing a concentrated spread of cases compared with other parts of Carmarthenshire – in the last seven days, 85 positive cases have been identified in Llanelli (151.6 per 100,000 of the population) compared to 24 cases in the rest of Carmarthenshire (18.1 per 100,000 of the population).*

Public Health Wales officials are expecting numbers to continue rising over the coming week.

Carmarthenshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board have worked with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to agree the temporary restrictions at sub-county level to try and halt the spread of the virus.

As of 6pm on Saturday September 26, 2020, residents living in defined parts of Llanelli will not be able to visit anyone else’s home, or accept visitors into their home, unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ such as providing care for a vulnerable person.

They should not arrange to meet indoors with anyone who they don’t live with, and travel in and out of the ‘health protection zone’ will also be limited – people should not leave the area or travel into the area unless it is essential. Travelling in and out of the zone for a holiday is not considered a reasonable excuse.

People are being asked to wear face coverings anywhere where they cannot maintain a two-metre distance from other people, including collecting children from school, in addition to the rules which already require them to wear a face covering in indoor spaces like shops and on public transport.

All indoor and outdoor visits to residential care homes have also been suspended.

Students may still travel into and out of the ‘health protection zone’ to go to school or college.

People living in the defined area of Llanelli must work from home, and employers must take all reasonable steps to support staff to do so.

Indoor public spaces such as leisure centres should only be used by people living in the defined area.

Shops will remain open, but people living outside the defined area of Llanelli should avoid travelling to visit them and shop in their own locality wherever possible.

The specific wards covered in the defined area of Llanelli are:

  • Bigyn
  • Bynea
  • Dafen
  • Elli
  • Felinfoel
  • Glanymor
  • Hendy
  • Hengoed
  • Llangennech
  • Lliedi
  • Llwynhendy
  • Tyisha
  • Swiss Valley

Although the pattern of increased positive cases is overwhelmingly concentrated in the Llanelli area where the restrictions have been strengthened, the whole of Carmarthenshire has now been put on alert, with a warning that the tighter restrictions may be extended if cases continue to spread.

Everyone – including those in the defined areas of Llanelli – is being urged to follow the national guidance around social distancing, good hygiene, self-isolation, testing and face coverings.

Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “It is worrying to see how sharply the number of positive cases has risen in the Llanelli area, and action has had to be taken to help stop the spread and break the chain of infections concentrated in this area to prevent a whole county lockdown.

“We must all do the right thing, follow the advice and protect each other. In parts of Llanelli, we’re asking people and businesses to make even greater sacrifices – we fully appreciate the impact this will have, but there is no other way. We must stop the spread.”

A mobile testing unit has been set up in Llanelli to manage the increased demand by local residents who have any of the Covid-19 symptoms – either a high temperature, a change or loss to taste or smell or a new continuous cough.

Reporting of positive cases in the town is fully expected to rise during the next two weeks with the increase in more targeted testing. But this is a positive indicator that cases are being identified and control measures put in place.

Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board Maria Battle said: “Our local community has given us such tremendous support during the past few months. To protect the health of our people, including the most vulnerable, and to ensure our NHS resources are available to provide people with the care they need; we need the help of our Llanelli population and wider community now more than ever before. Whilst hospital admissions have not yet increased again for COVID cases, we have seen a sharp rise in positive cases in the community, and in time this is likely to have an impact on hospital admissions. The very best way we can support each other and those we love, is to follow local restrictions, minimise our contacts, practice good hygiene and self-isolate and book a test if we have any COVID-19 symptoms.”

Increased testing capacity for residents in Llanelli is available by appointment at the following locations:

  • Parc y Scarlets Car Park B, accessed via Trostre Retail Park, in Llanelli
  • The Ty’r Nant site (next to KFC), Trostre, Llanelli
  • The Carmarthen showground (signposted in both directions off the A40)

There should be no reason for Llanelli residents to travel excessive distances for a test, as there will be tests available in Llanelli and Carmarthen. Tests should be booked via the UK Portal. Any Llanelli residents experiencing difficulty booking a test locally via the UK portal can instead email covidenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or by calling 0300 333 2222.

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Tir Coed build outdoor classroom for Cross Hands Primary

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The local charity Tir Coed teamed up with Cross Hands Primary School to design and install a locally grown woodland shelter to enable primary school pupils to benefit from outdoor lessons-even when
the rain pours!

Last year Cross Hands Primary School received funding from Carmarthenshire is Kind for their intergenerational project. The project brought the schoolchildren together with older people in the community. Through intergenerational activities, everyone involved increases social connectedness, reduces social isolation, learns from one another and has a great time!

Before the lockdown, Tir Coed was contracted to lead a group mainly made up of parents from the school on a shelter-building course. The attendees would gain knowledge and skills and the children and the older people would be able to use the shelter, a third generation now included in this
fantastic project. The plans, however, had to change due to restrictions and in an effort to have it ready for the children when they returned to school, three intrepid Activity Leaders braved the wet August weather to build the beautiful shelter .

Studies have shown that being in the outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the Corona Virus. With this addition to their already impressive outdoor area, it is hoped that more learning can
take place outside the classroom. Deputy Head, Emma Walters said, “It looks amazing! I am very impressed with the shelter and I cannot thank Tir Coed enough for organising this. Additional covered space in the outdoors will mean that we can take more learning into our lovely nature
area.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Tir Coed or have a project you would like our help with you can contact Nancy, the Carmarthenshire Coordinator: carms@tircoed.org.uk

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