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Laugharne Luxury Lodge plan hits pothole

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THE OWNERS of a luxury lodge development in Laugharne face potential enforcement action from Carmarthenshire County Council. The company is alleged to have built a substantial roadway across fields near the development without planning permission.
Milkwood Spa, due to launch this autumn, is located on a site with a chequered planning history. It is located in a prominent position overlooking Carmarthen Bay and the village of Laugharne.
The current developers, UK Luxury Lodges, acquired the site from its previous owners after their attempts to get development going on the site stalled.
UK Luxury Lodges says the development will be the first resort of its kind in the region; welcoming guests after an investment upwards of £30 million.
Laugharne and nearby Pendine are popular tourist destinations, but with a track record of insecure, poorly paid employment. Speaking to us earlier this year Sharon Hurley, a director of the company behind the project, told us that she hoped the lodge and spa development would help create up to 110 new jobs in the area.
Past developments and proposals for developments have run into problems concerning their environmental impact and their effect on the local landscape.
A previous owner obstructed and extinguished a public footpath. The footpath was not relocated. No enforcement action took place over its loss.
Concerns also exist about the disturbance to a nearby scheduled monument and the area around the lodges and spa. Ironically for a project using the ‘Milkwood’ brand, developers have received local criticism for removing a significant number of mature trees to facilitate the development and damaging the landscape which is one of the locality’s chief selling points.
Issues of traffic, local parking solutions, heavy plant using residential roads, and blocked footpaths also exercise some residents.
Before we published our original article in August, we carried out an extensive search of the site’s planning history.
The County Council’s planning portal recorded no objections to the location’s development either when initial outline planning was granted for developing the location by its previous owner, or when it was acquired by the current owners in 2013 when reserved matters were dealt with under application number W/30157.
Concerning the wider conservation questions, one letter, about the linked application number W/33378, is blank on the Planning Portal.
We are assured, however, objections were raised.
A conservation area application had been submitted and approved and that the statutory consultees Cadw, Dyfed Archaeological Trust raised no objections to the development in so far as it affected the scheduled monument on the site.
When we questioned Ms Hurley about those prior concerns about development, she told us: “Creating a property that honours and celebrates the existing natural environment is so important to me and the team is working closely with local planning authorities to ensure the conservation of the surrounding historic environment.”
However, earlier this week, The Herald received a series of photos which show a permanent roadway being dug out across green fields. Machinery still being used on the works is plainly visible in some of the photos, as is the extent of the hardcore base and gravel laid over the top in some sections.
No planning permission exists for such development. Whether Carmarthenshire County Council, Cadw or the Dyfed Archaeological Trust would have been quite so supportive had they been aware of plans to dig a roadway across a green-field site in a prominent and sensitive landscape is open to question.
We asked Carmarthenshire County Council to comment on the roadway’s construction.
Head of Planning Llinos Quelch said: “We have been alerted to potentially unauthorised works on this site and we are dealing with it as an enforcement matter. Investigations will continue and appropriate action taken.”

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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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