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Council will use reserves for road

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Carmarthenshire West Development.

Carmarthenshire West Development.

C A R M A R T H E N S H I R E COUNTY COUNCIL’s executive board could spend at least £4.5m of its reserves on constructing a link road for a speculative property development. The controversial housing development, to be situated West of Carmarthen and south of Pentremeurig Road, is beset by a number of logistical and environmental problems. The use of council reserves for the scheme, so soon after the budget row, has significant political implications. The council appears to be helping out private business interests while slashing services for the elderly and families. The plans were forced through by the council in the teeth of opposition from Carmarthen’s own Town Council, Dŵr Cymru, and neighbouring property owners. The Welsh Government’s Traffic Division has also expressed concerns about the development. In addition, the impact on Welsh language and culture was glossed by the authority’s planning committee when it considered the application.

The executive board’s willingness to consider dipping into council reserves to bankroll a project undertaken by a private company is in stark contrast to the stance it has taken on using reserves to cushion the blow of savage cuts to council services. At last month’s budget meeting, the Labour/Independent governing group voted down proposals to shield the most vulnerable from the effects of service cuts by using the council’s reserves, which are in excess of £130m. In addition, the Labour group – which is in coalition with Independents on the council – shows very little sign of delivering the expansion in social housing it promised to deliver in 2012. The Herald understands that primary access to the new development would be provided by the West Carmarthen Link Road. The road, which will consist of a two lane single carriageway road, will cross and link both development parcels on its route between the A40 Travellers Rest Junction and Jobs Well Road and College Road.

The new link road is needed to alleviate the strain placed on the existing road infrastructure. The cost of building the link road was intended to be funded by a roof tax (£12,500 per house) as the development went along. One of the first phases of development recently came before the planning committee. However, a last minute intervention from Cardiff Bay which put the initial stage on hold. Both the council and the developer appear to have adopted the surprising position that building 250 houses without the link road in place would not add significantly to traffic flows around the problematic College Road and Jobswell Road junctions. That position is flatly contradicted by the content of the Council’s own report on the original application, which states: ’The Head of Transport has raised no objection to the application, subject to the imposition of suitable conditions. These include amongst others the requirement that no more than 100 dwellings are constructed on the site PRIOR to the completion of the link road’. The Welsh Government has now placed a condition that only 60 houses can be built before the link road is put in. In order to retrieve the situation, Carmarthenshire planners are faced with Hobson’s choice of recouping the money shelled out from reserves in order to facilitate the development company’s preferred plan of construction.

Quite where this would leave the planned recoupment of the expense of building the road via the ‘roof tax’ is unclear, not least as part of the conditions for the construction of the new development include onerous obligations in relation to funding drainage and water for the homes on the site and preserving Tawelan Brook – a conservation area. In relation to the former, with Dŵr Cymru stating its infrastructure would not support the increased sewage and drainage flow, it is certain that an English water company will step in to the breach. The company behind the development, Carmarthen Promotions Ltd, is listed as having five directors. All of its directors appear to be involved in a number of property companies with minimal assets or cash flow recorded at Companies House. Four of the five listed directors appear to be concerned in substantial farming limited liability partnerships. All seem to be based in East Anglia and all were appointed directors in September 2014. As the development is a private one, the open market will determine price. It is, therefore, uncertain what effective steps the Council could take to recover the money spent on the link road in the event that the development does not proceed on the planned scale, or if issues arise with the development’s commercial viability at a later stage.

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Farmer moved cows illegally

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A WEST Wales farmer has been ordered to pay £5,500 for moving cows without passports from England and abandoning them on a farm near Carmarthen.

Paul Taylor, of Wheel Farm, Worfield in Shropshire, admitted five charges of cattle offences when he appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court.Carmarthenshire County Council was first made aware of the offences when they were alerted by a farmer who woke up to discover eight cows had appeared on his land.

Council investigations soon established they had belonged to a former owner of the farm who had sold them on.In a prosecution led by Carmarthenshire County Council, the court heard that Taylor had purchased 11 bovines that came from a farm in Carmarthen – only three had passports. It is illegal for cattle to be moved without a passport or licence.He then arranged for HF Pugh and Sons hauliers to transport them from the farm in Llanddarog onto his farm in Shropshire.

Further investigations by animal welfare officers revealed the cows were owned by Taylor. Taylor panicked and moved the cows back to the farm where they came from. He was then approached by council officers and tried to cover up by giving false information claiming the cows were never dropped off at his farm.In mitigation Taylor said he had been duped by a 3rd person and that he bought the cattle in good faith and was told they all had passports. He panicked when he found out they didn’t have passports and should not have been moved off the farm at Llanddarog. He decided it would be best if the animals were returned to the farm from where they had come.

He also accepted that he had lied to the officer in a telephone call and email but he felt he was between a rock and a hard place as the regulatory offences had been committed and he didn’t know what to do. He accepted he should not have lied and was remorseful for this.

He was of clean character and a number of character references were placed before the court for consideration.For moving the eight cows from his farm that was on a six-day stand still period for disease control purposes was fined £300; for moving eight cows without passports to a Llanddarog Farm, and not being tested for TB prior to been moved, £500; providing false information to a council animal health officer, £300; failing to produce registration documents for the eight cows, £300; failing to notify the secretary of state the movement of three bovines on to Wheel farm, Bridgenorth, Shropshire, £300 and failing to notify the secretary of state of the movement of three bovines off Wheel Farm £300. He must also pay £3,418 costs and £50 victim surcharge.John Herbert Pugh, of Wood View, Craven Arms, Newcastle in Shropshire admitted providing a false transport document to a council animal health officer.

He was fined £500 and told to pay £3,418 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

In mitigation, Pugh said he moved the animals as he had been informed by a 3rd party that the bovines had passports. When he found out they hadn’t and shouldn’t have been moved, he panicked and produced a false transport document.

He accepted that he should not have done this and admitted lying after he was asked for a formal statement off a council animal welfare officer.

Pugh had not been before a court previously and had worked in the industry for a number of years.

Character references were also produced on his behalf.

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Beware of unlicensed taxi drivers this Christmas party season

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A WARNING has been sounded about rogue taxi drivers as the Christmas party season approaches.
Carmarthenshire County Council licensing officers are urging people to stay safe when they use a cab.
They fear unlicensed drivers will be cashing in as growing numbers of people need taxis over the busy festive period.
Cabbies will be in high demand over the coming weeks as partygoers decide to drink and not drive. More people are also out shopping and the cold and wet weather means less will be inclined to walk home or wait at bus stops.
Licensing officers at Carmarthenshire Council have joined forces with the police to raise awareness of the problem and to carry out joint enforcement across the county during this busy period.
Residents are being warned they are not insured if they travel in an unlicensed cab, and people are being urged to check out cars and their drivers before they get in.
Licensed drivers will have been DBS checked, trained on how to safeguard members of the public, and should always wear identification badges.
Taxis are usually parked at known ranks, or their numbers can be found in various directories online.
Hackney carriages, which can be flagged down by the roadside, always have a roof sign, which is illuminated when they are available for hire.
They also display two identifying white door stickers and a white plate on the back bumper.
Taxis should display a list of fares for passengers and be fitted with meters, which should always begin with an initial charge of £2.20 before 10pm and £2.40 afterwards.
Private hire vehicles can only be pre-booked and not stopped in the street.
They carry two identifying yellow door stickers and a yellow plate on the back bumper.

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People trapped in cars after multi-vehicle accident

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A SERIOUS multi-vehicle crash has caused a Carmarthenshire road to close.

The accident happened at around 6.10pm on Tuesday (Dec 10) on the A476 at Heol Morlais.

The A476 Swiss Valley to Llannon road is currently closed in both directions

Emergency services remain at the scene.

BBC Wwles Today said three people were trapped in their vehicles.

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