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Scarlets in debt crisis

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Scarlets accounts reveal debt crisis

Scarlets accounts reveal debt crisis

THE ANNUAL accounts of the regional rugby company show that it incurred a loss of over £1.7m in the year to June 2014 and that Scarlets Regional Ltd now has a cumulative deficit of over £14m.

In addition, the report shows that the Scarlets are barely half-filling their stadium for home games. Parc y Scarlets capacity is 14,870. Average attendance at home games is recorded as being ‘over 7,000 per game’.

In light of the appalling figures, the accounts go on to set out that the region’s continued operation is possible only with the support of the WRU (through payments made to the region) and the continued willingness of shareholders to plough money into it. The region recently made what amounted to a debt for equity swap, by which larger shareholders increased their own holdings at the expense of small shareholders. The rights issue conditions also provided that first preference in any other offering would be given to those larger shareholders and not to supporters. While the Directors’ report is upbeat on the prospect of the future of the Scarlets region, much of that confidence stems from the agreement with the WRU continuing and the Scarlets providing sufficient international players who qualify to receive dual contracts from the Welsh governing body. The accounts reveal that the region spent £200,000 on battles with the WRU over the level of support offered to regional rugby and the dual contract issue.

More worrying, however, is the conclusion reached by the auditor – James & Uzzell Ltd. The auditor’s comments on the accounts point out ‘the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern’. The stadium, construction of which was largely bankrolled by the local authority, is given a ‘carrying value’ (the original cost of an asset, less the accumulated amount of any depreciation) of around £9.9m.

A particular thorny matter for the local authority is the fate of the Scarlets involvement in the Eastgate Centre, into which further considerable resources were ploughed by the authority.

Way back in December 2013, The Pembrokeshire Herald published details of the sale of a car park to the Marston’s chain of pubs. Carmarthenshire Council were the freeholders of the property while the Scarlets held a 150 years’ leasehold on it granted by the Council. The car park was originally ear-marked for a retail development, but instead was transferred to Marston’s for £850,000.

Controversy then arose in relation to the division of the sale proceeds between the Council and the Scarlets. The council received £200,000 for its interests and the Scarlets £200,000. Questions have been raised, however, about approximately £280,000 being given to the Scarlets for what are described as ‘allowable expenses’. The ‘expenses’ were allegedly used for paying off a commercial loan the Scarlets had taken out to fit out its shop and restaurant within Carmarthenshire County Council’s Eastgate development and were a further example of the council’s willingness to bankroll the rugby region with public money.

The Scarlets’ accounts disclose that the £280,000 ‘investment’ by the council in the Scarlets’ project at Eastgate has been written off as a complete loss by the region, who have also sublet the shop units. The region’s accounts imply that without the free rent period, which is coming to an end, the lease is not commercially viable.

Eastgate has never been fully let since opening.

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing

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Caws Cenarth award

A CHEESEMAKER from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.

Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.

Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.

Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”

Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth onto our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”

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