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Wronged pensioners’ compensation hopes dashed

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Trisha Breckman in her cottage garden: Next door to the neighbours from hell

Trisha Breckman in her cottage garden: Next door to the neighbours from hell

TRISHA BRECKMAN (73) thought that 13 devastating years were coming to an end.

She thought that, having received a full apology from Dyfed- Powys Police for being wrongly arrested several times for alleged harassment, and after the evidence she and partner Eddie Roberts (79) had amassed of victimisation by neighbour Andrew Thomas, a scrap metal dealer, and his late wife Karen, their lives might return to normal. She thought that evidence of their victimisation by Carmarthenshire County Council and by the police might be the start of an unhindered path towards compensation for stress, ill health, and the loss of the opportunity to start a cattery business for which she and Eddie had planning permission.

How wrong she was. The council is denying any liability.

WHISTLE BLOWERS

The pensioner couple, from Pantycastell Fach, Maesybont, were whistle-blowers about failings in Carmarthenshire’s planning control activities, failures later corroborated by a planning inspector and by the Public Services Ombudsman. In response, the County Council labelled the duo as persistent complainers and officers were instructed not to respond to them.

Trisha and Eddie bought Pantycastell Fach in 2003, in total ignorance of complaints on file in Carmarthenshire’s planning department about unauthorised industrial activities at the neighbouring farm, Blaenpant, where a haulage business was operating without planning permission – a fact which the planning department opted to deny, despite filmed evidence to the contrary. Quarrying, welding, scrap metal cutting, tyre burning and other industrial processes were also taking place.

Trisha was arrested five times for allegedly harassing Andrew Thomas and the late Karen Bowen Thomas, although filming shows Trisha and Eddie being harassed, probably in retaliation for telling the council about industrial operations on Blaenpant next door. The stress and costs of trying to tackle the harassment, which included the installation by Andrew Thomas of motorway-style crash barriers to narrow the access track to Pantycastell Fach, and the erection of lockable gates across the track, meant that the planned cattery business was never launched.

ZURICH MUNICIPAL TAKES THE CLAIM

The sorry saga, which was catalogued in The Herald’s August 26 issue (p.10), led Trisha to a meeting in April with County Council Chief Executive Mark James to discuss compensation. On May 16, Stephen Morgan, in the Audit, Risk and Procurement Department at the County Council, wrote to Trisha Breckman confirming that the ‘matter has been referred to the council’s liability insurers, who are Zurich Municipal… the Carmarthenshire team at the insurers will be dealing with your claim’. The letter states in bold type: “The basis for the claim is that there has been fault on the part of the council, and it is therefore necessary for you to prove that they have been negligent in law.”

The letter ended with a warning about preventing and detecting fraud.

WEIGHTMANS’ ‘SUCCESSFUL TRACK RECORD OF DEFENDING A WIDE VARIETY OF CLAIMS’

June, July and August went by, and Trisha heard nothing, so she decided to phone Zurich for an update on progress, only to learn that Zurich has passed the claim on to lawyers Weightmans LLP, whose website says: “The Weightmans local government team provides defence and supporting legal services relating to all civil claims against local authorities.

“We have a successful track record of defending a wide variety of claims including simple trips and slips, professional negligence claims against social services and education departments, stress, harassment and bullying claims, human rights cases and officials’ indemnity matter (sic).”

CLAIM REDUCED TO ‘LOSS OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY’

This week, Trisha Breckman spoke to Andrew Cooper, a partner in Weightmans and head of their National Public Sector Group. She then received an email from Mr Cooper saying: “When we spoke, you said that you had suffered losses and injury as a result of the council’s actions. I explained to you the type of evidence that you needed to produce in support of any such claim. Indeed, it would be very helpful if you could provide an idea of the amount of the financial losses which you wish to recover. You said that your proposed business did not get going because of the council’s negligence so it would be very helpful if I could see:

Any projections for your business, especially those provided to the bank: as discussed, you cannot recover the income lost as of course you would also have costs associated with your business. You can, though, seek loss of profit.

Any evidence substantiating those projections.

Any correspondence with the bank about a loan.

The dates when you seek losses from.

Tie-in the dates from when you seek losses to the dates of any negligence by the council.

We discussed the fact that this is a ‘loss of chance’ claim as there was no guarantee that your business would be successful.

You also said that you had suffered injury, so if you have any medical evidence, for example from a GP or psychiatrist, that would be helpful.”

COUNCILLOR: COUNCIL’S NEGLIGENCE CAUSED UNTOLD DAMAGE

Cefin Campbell, Trisha’s local County Councillor who has given strong support to her and Eddie, is disappointed at the attitude adopted by the council’s insurers and the insurer’s lawyers.

He told her: “My worry is that the insurance company is missing the point! The loss of earnings from your proposed cattery is not the main issue here but the untold damage that the council’s negligence has had on your physical and mental health.”

He added: “You deserve some form of compensation for your suffering and this is what should be emphasised more than the loss of opportunity from your aborted business!”

“It’s like having to start all over again,” said Trisha Breckman. “Far from accepting the findings of the police, the planning inspector and the Ombudsman, the council seems to be set on defending itself against our claim. To press ahead, we really need to have a legal team of our own, but after all that has happened, and the legal bills to we incurred in the fight to prove our innocence, there is no way we can afford new legal costs.”

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Cymraeg

Colin Jackson bydd ddysgu Cymraeg

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GYDA medal Olympaidd yn ei feddiant, mae Colin Jackson wedi arfer a hyfforddi’n galed er mwyn cyrraedd yr uchelfannau. Ond sut fydd pencampwr y byd gwibio a chlwydo yn delio gyda’r her o ddysgu Cymraeg?
Mae Colin, a gafodd ei fagu yng Nghaerdydd, wedi cael ei enwi fel y trydydd seleb i gymryd rhan yn gyfres newydd sbon ar S4C yng Ngwanwyn 2020 sef Iaith ar Daith.
Bydd Colin yn un o bump seleb – gan gynnwys Carol Vorderman a Ruth Jones – sy’n mynd ar daith i rannau gwahanol o Gymru gyda mentor adnabyddus sy’n gallu siarad Cymraeg, i geisio dysgu Cymraeg.
Yn achos Colin, y cyflwynydd teledu a radio Eleri Siôn yw’r mentor ac mae’r ddau yn ffilmio yn Aberystwyth a Chaerdydd dros y dyddiau nesaf.
Fel rhan o Iaith ar Daith, mae’n rhaid i bob un o’r selebs gyflawni nifer o sialensiau – ac un o rheini i Colin yw dangos ei fod yn gallu deall ac ymateb i gyfweliad yn y Gymraeg.
Colin, wedi galw mewn yn stiwdios y BBC yn Aberystwyth ac yn westai arbennig ar sioe Ifan Jones Evans ar BBC Radio Cymru ar ddydd Llun, 3 Chwefror.
Yn siarad cyn y sialens, fe ddywedodd Colin: “Dw i bach yn nerfus ac yn poeni braidd. Nerfau yw fy ngelyn pennaf! Dw i’n teimlo’n rhwystredig iawn os dw i methu dod o hyd i’r geiriau i fynegi fy hunan.
“Ond dw i’n gobeithio bydda i ac Eleri yn cael lot o hwyl. Dw i’n gobeithio bydd lot o chwerthin a bydd Eleri yn mwynhau’r profiad yn ogystal â helpu fi ar y daith. Fe fydd hi’n atgoffa fi o’r pethau dw i wedi anghofio ac yn gwneud imi ail-adrodd pethau ac i wir gael teimlad o’r iaith.”
Dywedodd Colin ei fod e eisiau dysgu Cymraeg oherwydd mae’n genfigennus o’i chwaer, yr actores Suzanne Packer, a’i gallu hi i siarad Cymraeg.
“Mae fy chwaer yn dysgu ac yn gwneud yn dda iawn. Dw i’n gweld bod siarad Cymraeg yn helpu hi gael perthynas mwy agos gyda Chymru. Dw i’n teimlo bod y gallu gyda fi ond bydda i’n cymryd y peth yn ara’ deg. Erbyn adeg yma blwyddyn nesa’ fe fydda i’n rhugl!”
“Mae gen i real chwant i ddysgu Cymraeg – dw i’n meddwl bod rhaid i chi wir eisiau gwneud e – mae’n rhywbeth sy’ tu fewn i chi,” meddai Colin.
A sut mae Colin yn teimlo am wneud y cyfweliad ar sioe Ifan Evans?
“Bydd yn teimlo fel y cyfweliad hiraf dw i erioed wedi gwneud!”, medd Colin. “Ond dwi’n edrych ymlaen. Cyn belled bod Ifan yn siarad yn araf a dyw’r cwestiynau dim yn rhy gymhleth bydda i’n iawn – fe wna i oroesi!”
Yn gynharach y mis yma, fe gyhoeddodd S4C bod y cyflwynydd Carol Vorderman a’r actores ac awdur Ruth Jones yn cymryd rhan yn Iaith ar Daith.
Un o dasgau Ruth oedd dysgu sgript a chael rhan ar yr opera sebon poblogaidd Pobol y Cwm a dydd Sul diwetha’, cyflwynodd Carol y tywydd ar S4C.
Cadwch lygaid allan am fwy o newyddion ar Iaith ar Daith dros yr wythnosau nesaf pan fydd dau wyneb cyfarwydd arall yn cael eu datgelu ynghyd â’u mentoriaid.
Os fethoch chi ymddangosiad Ruth ar Pobol y Cwm ar ddydd Mawrth, Ionawr 21 gallwch chi ddal i fyny ar S4C Clic neu BBC iPlayer

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Politics

Locals praise new cash machine in Llandovery

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COUNTY Councillor for Llandovery, Handel Davies has praised the work of Mr & Mrs John and Laura Morgan who have installed a new cash machine at the Post Office in Llandovery.

The couple opened the new ‘Ystrad at The Bank’ post office in Llandovery in November last year following the closure of the former Post Office earlier in 2018.

Then in June of this year, Barclays Bank dropped another bombshell on the town when they announced the closure of the last remaining bank in the town and with it went the 24/7 cashpoint (ATM) facility.

The newly opened cash machine will provide a 24/7 service.

Plaid Cymru County Councillor for Llandovery, Handel Davies said: “I have nothing but admiration and respect for John & Laura. Having settled to live in the area only recently, in which time not only have they quickly established a thriving business at Ystrad Nursery and Agricultural Supplies on the A40 outskirts of Llandovery, but they have also demonstrated their amazing social conscience by personally reacting to the potentially devastating impact resulting from the Post Office and Barclays Bank closures upon the town.

“Showing remarkable concern for this injustice to the local community John and Laura once again stepped in when they decided to submit a planning application for a new ATM at the new Post Office. Believing this would be a relatively straightforward process, it unfortunately proved anything but the case. However, thankfully, almost a year from the day that the new Post Office was opened, the new ATM has finally been installed.”

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Community

Mobile library services put in place for Cross Hands

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OPTIONS are being explored for a temporary home for Cross Hands Library, pending a proposed permanent move to a purpose-built facility within the town.

The library will leave its current home at the Cross Hands Cinema building during December following expiry of a lease agreement.

Services will be provided from Carmarthenshire County Council’s mobile library from Saturday, December 7, until a new temporary premises is found.

It will provide a comprehensive range of reading materials along with iPad access to online services and will operate during existing Cross Hands library hours – 10am-5pm Mondays and Thursdays, and 10am-1pm on Saturdays.

The council said it welcomes suggestions from members of the public and businesses about a temporary solution.

Longer-term, there are proposals for the library to be permanently based at a new Health and Wellbeing Centre planned for the Cross Hands area.

Ian Jones, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Head of Leisure, said: “We would like to thank people for their understanding whilst we work towards the permanent provision of a modern, fully-equipped, and purpose-built library service within the Cross Hands area.

“We will shortly be leaving our current home at Cross Hands Cinema, and thank the trustees for welcoming us over the last few years.

“Our mobile library service will be operating in the area from late December, offering a good range of reading and audio material, as well as digital access for our customers.”

The current provision at Cross Hands Cinema will come to an end on December 7.

For further information, email libraries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 01269 598360.

Gwasanaethau llyfrgell teithiol ar waith yn Cross Hands

MAE opsiynau’n cael eu hystyried ar gyfer cartref dros dro i Lyfrgell Cross Hands, hyd nes y gwireddir y bwriad i symud yn barhaol i gyfleuster pwrpasol yn y dref.

Bydd y llyfrgell yn gadael ei chartref bresennol yn adeilad Sinema Cross Hands yn ystod mis Rhagfyr ar ôl i gytundeb prydles ddod i ben.

Bydd gwasanaethau’n cael eu darparu o lyfrgell deithiol Cyngor Sir Caerfyrddin o ddydd Sadwrn, 7 Rhagfyr, hyd nes y bydd safle dros dro newydd yn cael ei ganfod.

Bydd yn darparu amrywiaeth gynhwysfawr o ddeunydd darllen ynghyd â mynediad i iPad i gyrchu gwasanaethau ar-lein. Bydd yn gweithredu yn ystod oriau presennol llyfrgell Cross Hands, sef rhwng 10am a 5pm ar ddydd Llun a dydd Iau, a rhwng 10am ac 1pm ar ddydd Sadwrn.

Dywedodd y cyngor ei fod yn croesawu awgrymiadau gan y cyhoedd a busnesau ynghylch ateb dros dro.

Yn y tymor hir, mae cynigion ar gyfer lleoli’r llyfrgell yn barhaol mewn Canolfan Iechyd a Llesiant newydd sy’n cael ei chynllunio ar gyfer ardal Cross Hands.

Dywedodd Ian Jones, Pennaeth Hamdden Cyngor Sir Caerfyrddin: “Hoffem ddiolch i bobl am eu dealltwriaeth wrth inni weithio tuag at ddarparu gwasanaeth llyfrgell pwrpasol a pharhaol sy’n fodern ac yn cynnwys yr holl gyfarpar angenrheidiol, a hynny yn ardal Cross Hands.

“Cyn bo hir byddwn yn gadael ein cartref presennol yn Sinema Cross Hands, a hoffem ddiolch i’r ymddiriedolwyr am ein croesawu ni dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf.

“Bydd ein gwasanaeth llyfrgell teithiol yn gweithredu yn yr ardal o ddiwedd Rhagfyr, gan gynnig amrywiaeth dda o ddeunydd darllen a sain, yn ogystal â mynediad digidol i’n cwsmeriaid.”

Bydd y ddarpariaeth bresennol yn Sinema Cross Hands yn dod i ben ar 7 Rhagfyr.

I gael rhagor o wybodaeth, anfonwch neges e-bost at llyfrgelloedd@sirgar.gov.uk neu ffoniwch 01269 598360.

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