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No Golden Arches for St Clears

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A PLANNING application for a McDonald’s restaurant in St Clears has been rejected by Carmarthenshire County Council’s planning committee.
The application included the construction of a Costa Coffee outlet on the same site.

The application for the fast-food outlet finally came before councillors for a final decision on Thursday, September 19.

The proposal caused an uproar in the St Clears community, attracting around 270 objections to the development against 28 broadly in favour of it.

Council officers recommended approval of the scheme even though the burger joint and coffee shop would lie outside St Clears’ development limits.

Officers also claimed that the alterations to the road layout around the restaurant would benefit an un-associated housing development scheduled for land adjacent to the site. The 50-home building scheme is within St Clears’ development limit.

Surprisingly for a business intending to make a profit from users accessing the site solely by car, planning officers accepted the contention that any increase in traffic would be marginal without addressing why – if such were the case – such a large site was needed for the restaurant and coffee house.

Officer suggested, in all seriousness, the building of a large fast-food outlet accessed just off the main A40 roundabout ‘could potentially benefit local businesses in the town whereby customers would decide to visit the town centre after calling at the development’. It is not clear whether the planning officers considered whether the existing Starbucks, also situated just off the A40, provided a measurable benefit to town-centre businesses.

Local experience, in which town centre businesses and banks have closed in recent years, suggest any benefit would be minimal.

Resident David Peterson told the Planning Committee that his concern was primarily with the placement of a fast-food restaurant in the town when there was a crisis of childhood obesity. He forcefully reminded councillors that one of the Council’s scrutiny committees had recorded shockingly high levels of obesity among young people in the County. He also reminded them that the Welsh Government was probing levels of childhood obesity in West Wales. He said the restaurant’s construction would run contrary to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

Bruce Wallace stressed that the development was outside the development limits for St Clears and that the only part of it within the LDP area was land designated for housing. He said the development was neither wanted nor needed by residents.

Speaking for the developer’s agent, Matthew Cox said the development was sustainable and had been held to the highest standard.

Planning Chair Alun Lenny read out a statement from Cllr Philip Hughes, the local councillor who was unable to attend the meeting.

Cllr Hughes expressed concern the traffic modelling exercise did not accurately address the actual traffic flow and could cause serious congestion to traffic entering St Clears.

Cllr Tyssul Evans picked up Mr Wallace’s words that the plans were outside the LDP limits from St Clears and that, apart from the site entrance, the whole development was outside the LDP limit.

Cllr Lenny asked the Head of Planning whether that was a material planning consideration. She confirmed the fact the development was outside the development was not necessarily a determining factor.

Cllr Joe Davies support Cllr Evans’ submission and added that the restaurant created the potential for a further parcel of land to be opened for development outside the LDP limit.

Head of Planning Llinos Quelch said that economic development land was not always within the LDP boundaries. That did not mean it was a straightforward refusal as the officer had set out his reasons why the development overrode the boundary consideration.

Cllr Sue Allen said the traffic data was incomplete, while Cllr Dot Jones expressed concern about the levels of pollution.

Cllr Carys Jones noted the prevalence of accidents in and around the main junction to and from the A40.

Cllr Alun Lenny expressed concerns about the reasons being advanced for refusal and asked Cllr Tyssul Evans to clarify whether the reason for the rejection he proposed was limited to construction being outside the LDP boundary.

Cllr Sue Allen asked that the application be deferred as the impact of the development had not been measured adequately against the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. Her proposal received no support from other members of the Committee.

Committee members voted unanimously to reject the plans with the only dissenting vote coming from Cllr Lenny, who again expressed concern the reasons advanced for rejection might not stand up to an appeal.

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Carmarthenshire towns win two prestigious awards

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has congratulated two local town councils for their success in the One Voice Wales Awards.

Pembrey and Burry Port Council won the Best Community Engagement category for the multi channels of communication it has set up which enables the community to participate in any decisions the council takes. It was also recognised for the shadow forums set up in both primary and secondary schools to ensure the younger generation have a voice.

Kidwelly Town Council won the Best Devolution of Service or Asset Project category for acquiring ownership of Parc Stephens play area from Carmarthenshire County Council in 2019 as part of the asset transfer process. Since then it has increased accessibility and inclusivity for a wide age range of children and includes a sensory garden.

Carmarthen Town Council was highly commended in the Best Annual Report category.

One Voice Wales is recognised by Welsh Government as the national representative body for Community and Town Councils in Wales, providing a wide range of services to our 634 member councils representing approximately 8000 councillors.

This year’s awards ceremony has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths who is responsible for liasing with town and community councils said: “I’d like to congratulate Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council and Kidwelly Town Council on winning the awards. It just goes to show the great work being done across Carmarthenshire and more importantly how we are working with the communities to meet their needs. I’d also like to congratulate Carmarthen Town Council on the commendation.”

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Woman arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply

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AN AMMANFORD woman has been arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers were on patrol in the Glanamman area on when they saw the woman driving a silver Peugeot away from them.

They were aware that the driver had no driver’s licence, and that she was suspected of being involved in supplying class A drugs in and around Ammanford.

Additional units made their way to her home, where the car was stopped. A search of the vehicle resulted in class A drugs being found, and she was arrested.

Further searches were carried out by the response team and dog unit. Around 16g of cocaine, some amphetamine, and some cannabis were found.

A 42-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply, possession and driving offences. The vehicle was also seized.

She has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Sergeant Walters said: “This was a very swift response to information relayed by colleagues who recognised the woman and were aware that she should not have been driving.

“Ammanford Neighbourhood Policing Team, response teams and the dog unit worked closely together to achieve a positive outcome.”

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Play equipment gifted to children with disabilities

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CHILDREN with disabilities in Carmarthenshire have been gifted play equipment by the county council during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 26 children are already making use of new play materials and outdoor equipment which are helping to maintain their health and well-being during the lockdown.

Items such as garden swing seats, paddling pools, tablets, sensory black out tents, trampolines are making a huge difference to them whilst staying at home.

It comes after funding was set aside for those identified by the council’s social workers or disability intervention staff as needing extra support, and subject to an assessment.

Anna Martin, whose son Finlay has benefited from a garden swing said: “Finlay has spent many an hour calmly swinging in the garden. It has been great for him to spend time with the family outdoors. Fin is like a ‘toddler’ and enjoys a cwtch and a nap so the fact that this turns into a bed has been a big hit! It has certainly perked him up during lockdown.”

Funds are still available and anyone who is supported by the council’s disability service can ask their support worker for an assessment.

The council’s executive board member for children’s services, Cllr Glynog Davies said: “The restrictions of the current lockdown have been a huge challenge for all families, but particularly for those with a child who is disabled or has autism. Our teams identified that for some families having extra play materials or outdoor play equipment could make a massive difference to children’s wellbeing. We established a process where staff from our specialist teams could assess if families would benefit from this type of help. We have been able to purchase and arrange delivery of a number of items so far and we’re delighted to see what a difference it has made.”

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