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Restaurant plans for Guildhall

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PLANS for the future of an iconic Carmarthen building have taken a new twist after it was announced that the council executive board was set to consider a £1m private investment which would bring a high-end restaurant into the centre of town.

The executive board is to consider exciting proposals for a new restaurant and café bar at Carmarthen’s Guildhall that will see the historic courtroom retained and the surrounding areas of the building sensitively developed.

The company – which cannot yet be revealed – has approached the council with plans to invest in the building, introducing a restaurant and café bar whilst keeping the famous courtroom open for visitors.

The proposal, which would see 25 new jobs created in the centre of the town, will be considered by the council’s executive board members on December 18.

The announcement was made after rumours began to circulate that coffee giant Starbucks was due to step in. CCC clarified that this was not the company involved, and The Herald understands it is a rather more prestigious firm than this.

Executive board member for culture, sport and tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, said: “We have been approached by a private company with vibrant and exciting plans for the Guildhall. Their proposals would be an excellent and sympathetic re-use of this historic building. The restaurant and café bar would create an anchor in the centre of Carmarthen town centre, connecting the old and new areas of the town and generating increased footfall that will benefit independent traders in the old part of town.

“The proposal would see a quality sympathetic development that respects the rich history of the Guildhall and keeping the famous courtroom for people to visit and use, whilst giving it a new and sustainable lease of life. We hope it would add to the redevelopment of this part of the town centre and create a new momentum for further investment.”

He added: “This company has a track record of delivering quality developments elsewhere and we are excited to be in talks with them. Their proposal will come formally to the executive board in December where we will decide whether to proceed.”

Executive board member for resources, Cllr David Jenkins, added: “We bought the Guildhall with the intention of it being retained and re-used to support the wider regeneration objectives of Carmarthen town centre. This latest proposal is a vindication of our original decision, with private sector occupation of the building relieving the council of its financial liability whilst generating an income and adding to the vibrancy of the town centre. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the proposal in more detail.”

The decision to buy the Guildhall after HM Courts announced the decision to close the court was welcomed by a majority of councillors, though there were several dissenting voices especially from the Llanelli and Amman Valley areas.

These intensified after an exempt report was accidentally published which showed that the building needed improvements to provide access, along with roof repairs and maintenance estimated at £40-50,000 annually.

Local councillors, notably Alun Lenny, drew attention to the rich history behind the building, and suggested that a heritage use be found. While this new proposal would seem to provide a good compromise between maintaining the historic features of the old court and removing the financial burden, Cllrs Lenny and Gareth John are seeking an assurance that the stunning Crown Courtroom will be open to the public as part of the development.

Cllrs Gareth John and Alun Lenny had previously expressed great concern about the future of the 18th century building, which has annual running costs of around £125,000.

“We were delighted that the county council stepped in to buy this iconic building at a time when financial pressures on the authority are huge due to continuing austerity,” they said. “The maintenance costs are substantial, so we warmly welcome the news that a reputable commercial partner has been found to give it a viable future. However, it’s crucial that access for the public to view the stunning Crown Courtroom should be part of any deal, and we’re asking the council’s Executive Board to ensure that happens.”

The courtroom, with its impressive oak panelling and red-leather seating, the huge portraits of Generals Picton and Nott, is central to Carmarthen’s history, according to Cllr Alun Lenny, who is also Town Mayor. “Most people haven’t had the chance to see the courtroom, to stand in the dock where the Rebecca Riots’ ringleaders were sentenced to transportation in 1843, where Ronnie Harries, one of the last people to be hanged in Wales, was sentenced to death for murder in 1954. I hope that the proposed development will allow the public, with guided tours, to have this experience and learn more about our town’s fantastic history.”

“The proposed investment is a sign of continuing commercial confidence in Carmarthen as one of the most prosperous towns in Wales,” said Cllr Gareth John.

“It’s great news that a company is willing to invest £1m in providing a high-class restaurant in a central location, while at the same time safeguarding the integrity of this historic building. Guildhall Square stands in a central location between the old and new town shopping centres. Together with the impending Jackson’s Lane development, this will direct more footfall towards the small independent shops in the older part of town.”

Dyfed-Powys police have shown an interest in leasing part of the Guildhall as a town police station. “Now that Friar’s Park police station has closed, it’s essential we have a visible police presence in Carmarthen town centre,” said Cllrs John and Lenny. “When the news about the Guildhall broke, we immediately contacted Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn and are grateful to him for agreeing to meet us early in the New Year to discuss this and other policing issues in the town centre – including CCTV.”

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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