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Council will use reserves for road

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Carmarthenshire West Development.

Carmarthenshire West Development.

C A R M A R T H E N S H I R E COUNTY COUNCIL’s executive board could spend at least £4.5m of its reserves on constructing a link road for a speculative property development. The controversial housing development, to be situated West of Carmarthen and south of Pentremeurig Road, is beset by a number of logistical and environmental problems. The use of council reserves for the scheme, so soon after the budget row, has significant political implications. The council appears to be helping out private business interests while slashing services for the elderly and families. The plans were forced through by the council in the teeth of opposition from Carmarthen’s own Town Council, Dŵr Cymru, and neighbouring property owners. The Welsh Government’s Traffic Division has also expressed concerns about the development. In addition, the impact on Welsh language and culture was glossed by the authority’s planning committee when it considered the application.

The executive board’s willingness to consider dipping into council reserves to bankroll a project undertaken by a private company is in stark contrast to the stance it has taken on using reserves to cushion the blow of savage cuts to council services. At last month’s budget meeting, the Labour/Independent governing group voted down proposals to shield the most vulnerable from the effects of service cuts by using the council’s reserves, which are in excess of £130m. In addition, the Labour group – which is in coalition with Independents on the council – shows very little sign of delivering the expansion in social housing it promised to deliver in 2012. The Herald understands that primary access to the new development would be provided by the West Carmarthen Link Road. The road, which will consist of a two lane single carriageway road, will cross and link both development parcels on its route between the A40 Travellers Rest Junction and Jobs Well Road and College Road.

The new link road is needed to alleviate the strain placed on the existing road infrastructure. The cost of building the link road was intended to be funded by a roof tax (£12,500 per house) as the development went along. One of the first phases of development recently came before the planning committee. However, a last minute intervention from Cardiff Bay which put the initial stage on hold. Both the council and the developer appear to have adopted the surprising position that building 250 houses without the link road in place would not add significantly to traffic flows around the problematic College Road and Jobswell Road junctions. That position is flatly contradicted by the content of the Council’s own report on the original application, which states: ’The Head of Transport has raised no objection to the application, subject to the imposition of suitable conditions. These include amongst others the requirement that no more than 100 dwellings are constructed on the site PRIOR to the completion of the link road’. The Welsh Government has now placed a condition that only 60 houses can be built before the link road is put in. In order to retrieve the situation, Carmarthenshire planners are faced with Hobson’s choice of recouping the money shelled out from reserves in order to facilitate the development company’s preferred plan of construction.

Quite where this would leave the planned recoupment of the expense of building the road via the ‘roof tax’ is unclear, not least as part of the conditions for the construction of the new development include onerous obligations in relation to funding drainage and water for the homes on the site and preserving Tawelan Brook – a conservation area. In relation to the former, with Dŵr Cymru stating its infrastructure would not support the increased sewage and drainage flow, it is certain that an English water company will step in to the breach. The company behind the development, Carmarthen Promotions Ltd, is listed as having five directors. All of its directors appear to be involved in a number of property companies with minimal assets or cash flow recorded at Companies House. Four of the five listed directors appear to be concerned in substantial farming limited liability partnerships. All seem to be based in East Anglia and all were appointed directors in September 2014. As the development is a private one, the open market will determine price. It is, therefore, uncertain what effective steps the Council could take to recover the money spent on the link road in the event that the development does not proceed on the planned scale, or if issues arise with the development’s commercial viability at a later stage.

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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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