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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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Praise for seamless services provided to Ukranian families in Ceredigion

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THE USE of the Urdd centre at Llangrannog as a welcome centre for Ukrainian refugees has been praised.

Following the surge in refugees fleeing war in Ukraine in early 2022, the first Welcome Centre of its kind was quickly set up in Ceredigion.

The Urdd Gobaith Cymru Gwersyll at Llangrannog was selected as a location by the Welsh Government and it was opened on 28 March.

During the next four months, up until 31 August when the centre was officially closed, 72 Ukranian families were supported through a multiagency delivery group.

A paper compiling Ceredigion County Council’s contribution to the Welcome Centre was presented to cabinet members on 4 October, as well a letter of appreciation by the First Minister of Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Together with partners, you have played a critical role in ensuring Wales has lived up to our ambition of being a Nation of Sanctuary. The Llangrannog Welcome Centre was a real example of the extraordinary warm Welsh welcome we have been able to offer to our new Ukrainian friends.

“Your efforts have demonstrated the Team Wales approach so characteristic of our joint effort to support people seeking sanctuary.”

‘Tears when they left’

Councillor Bryan Davies, leader of Ceredigion County Council praised the “integrated and seamless way” that agencies worked together to support the 72 Ukrainian families.

“Most were worried about their families in Ukraine, their future, how they would be able to find a job in this country and secure permanent accommodation. They were also very concerned about getting their children into school.

“We received consistent feedback that the Urdd and Council staff at the Welcome Centre were helpful, friendly, and always there to help. They valued the quality of the accommodation, felt safe and that the help with obtaining key UK documents was invaluable to them.

“Some stated that they were in tears when they arrived from Ukraine, and were in tears when they left Llangrannog, having received such excellent care and support.”

Lowri Jones, director of the Llangrannog Urdd Gobaith Cymru Centre, added: “Humanitarian support has been at the core of the Urdd’s work since our establishment in 1922. The Welcome Centre at Llangrannog would not have been possible without the support of Urdd members and schools enabling us to open our doors to families from Ukraine.

“The partnership working with Ceredigion Council, Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board meant that the multiagency team allowed us to offer the best support for the families in their time of need.”

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt has thanked Wales households who have come forward to offer their homes for Ukrainians fleeing the war and has encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

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Ammanford suffer narrow loss against Newport

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AMMANFORD suffered their third successive defeat at home to second placed Newport by the narrowest of margins, just three runs separating the sides in a 500 run thriller at the Park.

Newport won the toss and elected to take first knock. Their innings was defined by a 148 run middle order partnership between Imran Hassan (112no) and Mujahid Ilyas (57).

Ammanford were looking down the barrel of another 300+ target until the return of Saihaj Jaspal (3-26) and Dan Roberts (1-32) to the attack slowed down the run rate. Owen Davies and Josef Davies also picked up a wicket each as Newport closed on a hefty 259 for 6.

Ammanford’s response began perfectly with a 131 run opening partnership between Kurtis Marsh (78) and Andrew Salter (44).

Dan Roberts continued the good work but four wickets fell in quick succession before the arrival of skipper Alun Evans at the crease.

The match was well within Ammanford’s grasp had these two managed to stay together but the departure of Roberts (39) left the burden firmly on Evans’s experienced shoulders.

An unbeaten 43 from the captain wasn’t quite sufficient and Ammanford fell an agonising three runs short of their target on 256 for 8.

Ammanford have now lost against the top three clubs in Premier 1, but in each case have shown an
eagerness to challenge and the talent to support that eagerness.

The rest of the summer beckons encouragingly, beginning with a visit to Port Talbot Town next Saturday, May 28.

Ammanford seconds earn six wicket win

AMMANFORD seconds returned from Stradey Park with a straightforward 6 wicket victory over Llanelli.

Having put Llanelli in to bat, the Ammanford bowlers made short work of dismissing the Llanelli batters for 100 in 27 overs.

Sara Phillips (22) provided Llanelli’s main resistance. Chief wicket taker for Ammanford was Matthew Davies with 4 for 37, whilst Fin Jeffries, Sam Potter and Iwan Matthews picked up a couple each.

Ammanford overtook the Llanelli total within 23 overs for the loss of four wickets, thanks in the main to opener Eirian Morgan (25), with support from Fraser Benjamin (17) and Tiaan Evans (16no).

Player of the match was undoubtedly Llanelli’s Sara Phillips who crowned a fine all-round performance
with figures of 3 for 29.

Thirds suffer heavy defeat

AMMANFORD thirds suffered a heavy 135 run defeat at the hands of visiting Dyffryn at the Rec.

Dyffryn scored a formidable 245 from their 40 overs, due to fine knocks from Phil Paisey (95) and Rhodri Morgan (47).

Toby Davies took 3 wickets for Ammanford, whilst Jac Davies and Dafydd Evans picked up a couple
each.

Ammanford’s reply never really got off the ground, and they collapsed to 110 all out in 27 overs, thanks to impressive bowling from Lloyd Jones with 7 for 22. Opener David Lumb top scored with 20.

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JON COURTENAY: Live in Carmarthen

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The funniest show with a piano

Jon Courtenay’s 2021 UK Tour “WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT” which is coming to The Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen on Monday 1st November.

“WONDERFUL…YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED HARD FOR YEARS AND NEEDS A BREAK AND I’M SURE YOU WILL GET A HUGE REACTION FROM THIS, I PROMISE YOU.” Simon Cowell

Following his enormous success as the first Golden Buzzer act ever to win Britain’s Got Talent, Jon Courtenay is delighted to announce that he will be setting out on his debut tour of the UK in 2021.

“ONE OF THE BEST GOLDEN BUZZERS WE’VE EVER HAD ON THE SHOW.” Amanda Holden

Long before triumphing in the 2020 final, Jon was a powerhouse live performer with decades of experience touring the world. Become part of Jon’s journey of a lifetime where you will roar with laughter, maybe shed a few tears and definitely be inspired by his music and the hilarious tales of his family, relationships and life on tour. With a soundtrack including all his Britain’s Got Talent songs and music spanning the classics to rock n roll, Jon’s side-splitting show will leave you with a happy heart and a huge smile on your face.

This will definitely be a rip-roaring night of music and comedy that you’ll never forget!

“IT’S FUNNY, IT’S TOUCHING, IT’S UNIQUE TO YOU…THAT WAS UNBELIEVABLE.” David Walliams

Jon Courtenay originally hails from Ipswich but now lives in Mossley, Greater Manchester with his wife Emmah and two sons Nathan and Alfie. He started his stage career as a comedy magician but gradually the magic made way for the piano. Even before he won Britain’s Got Talent, Jon was already a powerhouse live performer with decades of experience touring the world. He is also one of the rare British performers to be asked time and time again to perform in America. His originality and remarkable stage presence have led to hugely successful shows in the corporate market as well as on all the major luxury cruise lines.

Although Jon’s show is continually evolving, his sense of humour remains the same and he has now created a truly original experience for every audience.

“MAGICAL…YOU NAILED IT MY FRIEND. YOU TICKED EVERY SINGLE BOX.” Alesha Dixon

For more information go to theatrausirgar.co.uk or call 0345 226 3510

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