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Is the tide turning at County Hall?

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Stinking: Raw sewage is released into the environment as system can’t cope

Stinking: Raw sewage is released into the environment as system can’t cope

CARMARTHEN COUNTY COUNCIL’S planning committee made a visit to the Grillo site in Burry Port on Tuesday (June 2). Members of the committee, including local councillors Patricia Jones and John James, were present during discussions, which took place on the harbour side and in a car park some distance from the site.

We asked Councillors Jones and James if they would answer some of our questions and they said that they would following the site visit. Neither Cllr. Jones, nor Cllr. James stayed to answer our questions.

This newspaper telephoned the leader Cllr. Emlyn Dole to ask why the councillors had left without answering our questions. He said: “They would have had to avoid you because of protocol. You should put those questions to the chair of planning.”

The Herald interviewed Cllr. Lenny by telephone. He told The Herald “I have just started as chair of planning and it is my intention to try and make the planning process and decisions as clear and transparent as possible. I would like to be more proactive in that I’d like to publish press releases on a more regular basis.”

The Herald asked Cllr. Lenny if he had read the environmental report by Waterman Quadrant.

“Yes”, he said, “That was included in the essential reading along with the host of comments from the various consultants like the NRW. I appreciate that this is a contentious site and not without challenges. As a post industrial site there is contamination in the land. The numerous conditions attached to the planning recommendation including the contamination will have to be complied with. In my view this is the primary consideration. Now according to the amended maps flooding should no longer be n issue on this site. In general I’d say that the LDP will take up a lot of agricultural land for house building and they don’t make any more of it. There is a genuine fear that food production might be affected by the disappearance of agricultural land. This is a brown field site and is the type of land Welsh Government would favour for development. Brown field land is not without its issues. The contamination aspect will have to be dealt with.”

The Herald asked Cllr. Lenny, ‘What legal advice has the council received from Welsh Water on the ongoing proceedings before the European Court and what measures will you put in place to deal with the already over capacity sewage system in the Bury Port area?

Cllr. Lenny replied, “I asked that question at yesterday’s meeting. We mustn’t forget that the committee is minded to approve. If a request to call in is received it is taken out of our hands. We are in a fairly ambiguous position at the moment. Yesterday’s decision wasn’t a decision as such. It was an agreement in principle if you like. The E.U. press release in March mentions places in England and it mentions Llanelli and Gowerton. Obviously we are well aware of the situation there. It is not a new one. Welsh water is playing catch up on this however they are implementing innovative and environmentally positive resolutions.”

We pushed Cllr. Lenny on the question, ‘Are you confident you will hold out to put measures in place to deal with the over capacity of the sewage system in the Llanelli area?

He told our reporter, “This is a large site and has to be seen in the context of the Llanelli and Burry Inlet area. The committee felt and were unanimously minded to approve all six applications. They supported the application should I say. This site cannot be left as it is. Pembrey and Burry Port town council were very much behind the development. There are challenging factors and these will have to be addressed. There will also have to be safety measures put in place for the railway.”

Cllr. Lenny was asked about comments made by local councillor Patricia Jones, which seemed to predetermine the outcome of the planning application. Cllr. Lenny said, “We have free predisposition as a condition under the Localism Act. What we have to how is that we have an open mind. If I may say so, one of the local members speaking to the evening post said ‘this must go ahead’. This is plainly predetermination but she is on the sub-committee. We also consult with our solicitor.”

When asked in what circumstances the council would take legal action to push through the development Cllr. Lenny replied, “At the moment the ball is very much in the Welsh Governments court. You will be aware that the Welsh Government is a partner on the site. This is a key site. The school is a key part of the site. I can’t pre-empt what the Welsh Governments decision would be nor the council’s decision would be regarding legal action. Given that all members were unanimous in minding to support the development the council would take all reasonable steps to try and implement the development.”

Cllr. Lenny was asked why the amount of money promised under a Section 106 agreement had been reduced and whether the council could renegotiate. He told the Herald: “It is a source of concern for me as a member of the planning committee. Before coming to the chair I would always challenge any reduction in Section 106 contributions and indeed any reduction in percentage to affordable housing. One part of the development has 20% and just 10% in the other one. I asked this question and the answer was that clearing the site of contamination is a prime factor in the cost hence the 10%. I was always challenge and question in affordable housing. As the county council is a partner in the housing venture I hope that the county council’s involvement in this development will make that 20% more watertight.”

Cllr. Lenny wanted to reiterate that the development had a positive side and said, “The Welsh government challenged the application previously on the flooding issue. I don’t know if there were lesser issues involved at that time. It hasn’t been called in they have put an Article 18 stop on it. This is a key site within the county due to it being a brown field site being vacant for many years. It has potential not only for housing development but also for employment and a much-needed Welsh medium school. This is a brown field site, which would take pressure off building on green field land. Despite the many problems on the site, it is a challenging site and they will have to be addressed, hopefully it will be a key site, which will give employment education and homes to people in this part of Carmarthenshire. Obviously the retail application is outline. Tesco asked for permission but as you are aware Tesco have their own issues at the moment and are closing smaller supermarkets at the moment. I am not sure where they stand in the context of this development.”

Our reporter asked Cllr. Lenny what kind of reassurances would local businesses get.

He said, “Lessons can be learned from what has happened in Llanelli. The Trostre development has damaged the town centre. In Carmarthen the development has been close to the centre and Carmarthen has become the fourth most successful commercial centre in Wales. Any large retail developer has to be close to the smaller shops so that they benefit from the extra footfall.”

Finally the Herald asked about the contentious issue of parking. Cllr. Lenny said, “We are looking a while down the road but there is enough elbowroom on the brown field site for parking and I would like to see any parking sites to be equidistant from any development and the small businesses.”

Carmarthenshire County Council issued a press release at 4:30 pm on (June 3). It reads,

REDEVELOPMENT OF BURRY PORT

Ambitious plans to redevelop Burry Port have moved a step closer today as the Welsh Government has lifted a stopper notice preventing approval of a major element of the proposals. Yesterday’s meeting of the county council’s planning committee unanimously voted that it was minded to approve six planning applications – for up to 230 homes at the former Grillo site, for infrastructure for that site, for a 134 unit housing development alongside the former Grillo site, for construction of a 330-place Welsh Medium Primary School off Burrows Terrace, for a commercial leisure development at Burry Port Harbour East, for employment space alongside Silver Terrace.

The council could not make a decision to actually grant permission following a Welsh Government intervention before the previous planning committee giving formal notice under Article 18 that it was not in a position to approve any of the six applications including the school. But today the Welsh Government removed the notice covering the plans for 230 homes on the Grillo site after deciding not to ‘call in’ the application for the Minister to decide, as the issues raised are of no more than local importance. A decision on the notices covering the other five applications will follow soon.

A decision approving the 230- home application can be released once the Section 106 legal agreement on community benefits is agreed. Planning committee members had visited the sites in Burry Port before yesterday’s meeting. There has been a long history to the issue with Welsh Government maps showing the area, at one time, liable to flooding. The County Council challenged this but the maps could not be changed in time for the area to be included in the Local Development Plan.

The Welsh Government has delayed allowing the council to make a decision so that the Minister can give careful consideration to the issues that prompted the stopper notice. Flooding is one of the concerns. The council’s executive board member for regeneration and leisure Cllr Meryl Gravell said, “Yesterday the planning committee decided that the local authority is minded to approve these developments and today the Welsh Government has lifted the notice preventing us making a decision on a significant part of the plans. It is brilliant news. We are supporting these schemes in order to deliver a longstanding economic strategy of providing jobs and enhancing the environment in Burry Port. We are hoping to see the notices lifted soon on the other applications and to seeing speedy progress made on the plans to take Burry Port forward.”

Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said, “This is excellent news. I’m pleased to see that the Welsh Government has moved quickly on this application and look forward to a quick lifting of the notices on the other five. Then we can move forward with the whole scheme. “I said at the beginning of my leadership that regeneration is at the heart of my vision for the county. Jobs, houses, and leisure are central to that.”

 

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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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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