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Llandovery volunteers pressed into action

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Castle Fields playground: Below Llandovery Castle

Castle Fields playground: Below Llandovery Castle

LLANDOVERY has been short-changed again. This feeling rippled through Rhys Prichard Hall in Llandovery on Monday evening (Oct 10), as 60 or so residents debated, in a public meeting called by the Town Council, the future of three playgrounds.

Carmarthenshire County Council owns three playgrounds at Castle Fields, Maesglas and Green Lodge, but says it cannot afford to maintain them. The council wants another organisation – the Town Council, or a voluntary group – to take them over on a 99-year lease.

A new group, the Llandovery Community Sports Association, is now responsible for the town’s playing field, tennis courts and croquet/bowls lawn, after acquiring them from the County Council, also on a 99-year lease.

Sports facilities do have the potential to be self-financing, because teams will pay to play, but playgrounds are different. Should small children, or their parents, pay a fee for access to swings and climbing frames when parents already pay council tax? ‘What do we get for our money?’ many were thinking. There is no comprehensive school any more and sports facilities have all been transferred, except for the swimming pool, which loses £2,400 a week. Now the playgrounds will close unless local people take responsibility for them.

‘SHORT-SIGHTED’ ACTION

Glyndŵr Phillips voiced unease with the County Council’s spending priorities, suggesting that a portion of the money pumped into high salaries could instead maintain the playgrounds. And, he said, it would be short-sighted to close the playgrounds, because families who visit them also bring custom to local businesses. Castle Fields playground, especially, is popular with visitors to the town who stop in the adjacent car park.

“The playgrounds have been run down already,” said Mr Phillips. “Children should not be paying the price of austerity – I find it disgusting that we are even having this conversation about keeping playgrounds open.”

To applause, he said that the County Council’s decision to offload playgrounds was extremely short-sighted. Playgrounds are basic amenities which every town should have, he said.

Local County Councillor Ivor Jackson, convinced that Carmarthenshire would not negotiate on the issue, said the Town Council could take the lead and help form an association to take over the playgrounds. Past Town Mayor Cllr Gill Wright urged rapid action because the County Council’s offer of lump sum inducements, of twice the annual maintenance cost for each playground, is open only until March 31, 2017. After this date, the offer reduces to one year’s maintenance costs in each case, plus an improvement grant of £5,000. In 2016-17, the total lump sum would be £10,028; in 2017-18, it would be £7,514.

And from March 31, 2018, there is no offer. The playgrounds would no longer be maintained.

VOLUNTARY GROUPS CAN APPLY FOR GRANTS BUT TOWN COUNCIL CANNOT

Cllr Jill Blud, Deputy Mayor, said it would be possible for the Town Council to increase the precept to provide enough money to look after the playgrounds, but the Town Council could not apply for grants to improve the amenities. Voluntary organisations could apply for grants which, potentially, is a big advantage.

Llandovery’s mayor, Cllr David Long, chaired the lively meeting, and said he had already spoken to the mayors of Ammanford and Llandeilo about the potential for sharing machinery and equipment.

Economising where possible would be important because of unavoidable costs like public liability insurance and compliance with health and safety legislation.

A qualified volunteer offered to do risk assessments, and another could do some grass cutting. There was plenty of goodwill in the audience, as well as annoyance at the corner in which the County Council had penned them. One resident told the meeting that Green Lodge playground urgently needed money spent on it, to clean it up and fence it for improved safety.

Money-raising suggestions included space for corporate advertising and business sponsorship of items of play equipment, but the feeling was that playgrounds are not, and should not, be significant revenue generators.

The meeting ended with agreement that a community association should be formed, possibly with sub-groups for each playground, and with the Town Council leading the process.

W Glyndŵr Phillips was not brimming with hope. “In two or three years we will be back in the same place, short of money,” he said.

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Witness appeal after car is stolen and burnt out

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a car from a property in Lando Road, Burry Port, which was later found burnt out in Pembrey Country Park.

Officers are appealing for witnesses to the theft of the blue Ssangyong Rexton, which took place sometime between 5pm on Friday, 11th November, and 9am on Saturday, 12th November, and would like to speak to anyone who may have information or CCTV or dashcam footage.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: DP-20221112-109

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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