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Who’s who at Parc Howard

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350px-Parc_Howard_museum_-_geograph.org.uk_-_143410THE FORMER leader of Lewisham Council has had an interesting – not to say, chequered – business career.

At one time, Mr Sullivan hoped to become the first directly-elected mayor ‘of a London borough and was pretty much at the forefront of the then burgeoning market in public private partnerships.

In the mid-1990s, he founded Serviceteam which specialised in outsourcing council services and is now part of the multinational Veolia Group.

After ending his association with Serviceteam, Mr Sullivan was reportedly involved in setting up a series of recruitment companies, several of which were liquidated having failed to submit accounts to Companies House.

In more recent times, Mr Sullivan has been a director of Place Leisure Developments, Weston Bay Ltd, Place at Weston Bay Ltd, Place Energy Ltd, and Place Advisory Ltd. All of those companies have been struck off the register of Companies House, while a sixth – Hexham Place Ltd – was voluntarily wound up.

A petition to wind up Loca Ventures Ltd was dismissed in December 2014.

Listed as a former director of Loca Ventures Ltd, he remains very much involved with another former board member of Loca Ventures, Nick Spysznyk, with whom he has also been a director in a number of companies, including some of those listed as wound up above.

Nick Spysznyk

M r Spysznyk appears to be very much the person negotiating with the council and setting out the details of Loca Ventures offer to take Parc Howard off its hands. Despite not being a director, Mr Spysznyk appears to speak on the company’s behalf on a number of t opics.

We have seen an email sent to members of the tenants’ association at a South Devon holiday park purporting to be from Mr Spysznyk in which he threatens to call in the police to investigate allegations, which are denied absolutely, that Loca Ventures and its shareholder SIB Global are somehow concerned in the sale of unregulated investments by a third party. While the email address for that correspondence is the same as that used to communicate with this newspaper, the postal return address is Valiant House, 2nd floor, 4 -10 Heneage Lane, London EC3A 5DQ. Among the host of businesses registered at that address, not one is shown as associated with Mr Spynsznyk. Included in those businesses’ number is the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

In an email to Llanelli Town Council’s clerk dated May 20, Mr Spysznyk writes: ‘We have held discussions with Jonathan Fearn and Wendy Walters in relation to an offer made to Carmarthenshire County Council. Initially we presented a larger regeneration proposal that we have now scaled down… Our proposal has stalled based on the offer to the Town Council to take over management and maintenance’.

Evidence that negotiations have been ongoing for some time is given by the way a document relating to Parc Howard and showing Loca Select Villages and Carmarthenshire County Council as parties to a proposed agreement has been framed by reference to a second development at Ffos Las.

‘Based on the above Parc Howard proposal being accepted by the Council a modern contemporary four star hotel at Ffoslas (sic.) would be constructed commencing in May 2015’.

No hotel construction has begun at Ffos Las.

The same document details a further company, KMS, as being an ‘integral part of the Loca Group’.

An extensive search of companies records and linked companies to Loca Ventures within the same group reveals no company called KMS listed as part ‘a group’ of companies under the Loca brand.

In fact Loca Ventures itself is shown as majority owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, SIB Global Inc, while other Loca companies at the same registered address were incorporated last year and show only one director, a Miss Rifat Mukhtar.

Loca Ventures Ltd shows a net worth of – £39,730 and cash at the bank under £1,000. Its registered office is wholly owned by a company based in the Cayman Islands.

Tony Rees

Described as ‘an introducer’ by Mr Spysznyk to this newspaper’s editor, former journalist Tony Rees was formerly involved in a consortium that sought to take over Birmingham City FC.

Mr Rees attended the public meeting of the Parc Howard Association and described himself as an associate of those interested in taking Parc Howard off the County Council’s hands.

However, our reporter has seen an email dated March 26, which contains some hair-raising comments by Mr Rees.

Firstly, the email states that the Executive Board meeting in April was scheduled to discuss the proposal by Loca Ventures in relation to its proposed takeover of Parc Howard. No record of such discussion exists and the item does not appear on the Executive Board agenda for any meeting after March 26.

Secondly, the email goes on to read: ‘Should you or specific Park Association members require a remunerated role in the project going forward, I am certain this could be organised’.

The Herald makes no suggestion that any Park Association committee members have been swayed by that apparent offer.

Mr Rees appears as a 50% shareholder, with former Swansea City Director Peter Day, in Keep Right On Ltd and also as David Anthony Rees as concerned with Mr Day in a company called Blu Chip Ltd. Both companies list their field of activities as ‘93199: Other Sports Activities (not Inc Activities Of Racehorse Owners)’

Ken Rees

‘Working with all to maintain and improve Parc Howard’s facilities in accordance with the spirit of the or iginal gift’.

That is what the Parc Howard Association website says is the Association’s aim.

UKIP’s General Election candidate, Mr Rees is Chair of the Parc Howard Association. In his electoral address, the would-be MP wrote: ‘Local Government needs to listen to the people in giving local people the final say on major planning decisions in their ar eas’.

Mr Rees might want to reflect on how far his interaction with Tony Rees has thus far furthered that noblest of aims .

Council Officers

Head of Economic Development, Carmarthenshire County Council. Ms Walters appears to have been closely involved alongside Head of Corporate Property Jonathan Fearn

This being a major development, it would be unusual if their dealings with Loca Ventures and its representatives had not been approved at the highest level. It is not clear whether either Ms Walters or Mr Fearn are the officers who met with representatives of Loca Ventures at The Diplomat Hotel, Felinfoel.

Meryl Gravell

Former leader of Carmarthenshire Council and current Executive Board Member for Regeneration and Leisure. Cllr Gravell’s portfolio covers Parc Howard.

In a press statement on June 9, Cllr Gravell said: ‘From time to time we are approached by third party organisations who are interested in working with the authority, however, any considerations or such requests have to go through the appropriate democratic process’.

While our attempt to secure an interview or meeting with Cllr Gravell to discuss Parc Howard with her was unsuccessful, the Herald received a statement from her before we went to press. Cllr Gravell told us: “We have always tried to ensure that Parc Howard is available to the people of Llanelli, and that continues to be the case.”

She concluded: “It is too premature to be going into detailed discussions about any potential future developments.”

THE LLANELLI HERALD investigates the Parc Howard story [Alan Evans Reporting] from PEMBS.TV on Vimeo.

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Carmarthenshire County Council cracks down on fly-tippers

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council handed out a total of £4,350 in fixed penalty notices (FPN’s) related to fly-tipping last month.

17 FPN’s were issued as a result of CCTV footage at Carway recycling facility, resulting in a total of £2,675 in fines being given.

This includes:

  • £125 FPN issued to a Carway female for depositing a bag
  • £400 FPN issued to a Carway male for depositing black refuse bags, blue recycling bags and paint pots at the site on several different occasions
  •  £125 FPN issued to a Carway female for depositing a bag
  • £400 FPN issued to a Carway resident for depositing blue recycling bags and other items

Fixed penalty notices issued at other locations in the county include:

  • £125 FPN issued to a female for depositing a black refuse bag at Red Roses recycling facility.
  • £300 FPN issued to a Gorseinon resident who failed in his duty of care when he had his household waste removed by a person not registered as a waste carrier.
  • £400 FPN issued to a Llanelli resident for fly tipping after CCTV footage provided by a member of the public led to his identification.  The male was seen driving along the rear lane between James Street and Swansea Road in Llanelli where he was seen throwing a blue recycling bag from his moving vehicle into the lane.
  • £300 FPN issued to a Llanelli resident who failed in their duty of care after their waste was found in an overgrown verge/hedgerow in the rear lane of their street.  The resident claimed to have paid a male to dispose of their waste but failed to provide their details.
  • £300 FPN issued to a Llanelli business for failing to produce waste transfer notes after waste produced by the business was found illegally deposited in Swiss Valley, Llanelli. The business was issued a notice requiring them to produce waste transfer notes within 7 days which they failed to do. The business was also issued a legal notice to ensure any waste from the business is disposed of correctly in the future.  

Cllr Aled Vaughan Owen, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Decarbonisation and Sustainability said: “The introduction of CCTV at Carway recycling facility has enabled us to clamp down on the unlawful dumping of waste at this site. I hope this serves as a reminder that all waste deposited at our recycling facilities must be placed in the correct container, with all bags and boxed removed from the site.”

“The Council’s CCTV strategy will be extended to other recycling facilities in the county in the coming months to help combat instances of fly tipping in these areas.”

“I would urge anyone who needs to dispose of waste to do so responsibly. We have recycling centres at Nantycaws (Carmarthen), Trostre (Llanelli), Wernddu (Ammanford) and Whitland as well as a bulky waste collection service and weekly household waste collections. When paying for rubbish to be disposed of, please use a licensed business and ensure that you are given a valid waste transfer note when waste is collected.”

For more information on disposing of waste please visit Carmarthenshire.gov.wales/recycling

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Wales stands firm in support for Ukraine

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IN THE latest update on the Ukraine crisis, Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt thanked all those households across Wales who have come forward to offer their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the War and encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

APPEAL FOR MORE HOST FAMILIES

The Minister for Social Justice said: “I’m delighted to say that over 5,650 people from Ukraine, sponsored by the Welsh Government and Welsh households, have already arrived in the UK.
“More than 8,200 visas have now been issued to people from Ukraine who have sponsors in Wales, so we expect the number of arrivals to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of Welsh households sponsored Ukrainians to arrive in Wales and committed to hosting them for at least six months.
“As we move into the autumn, we approach the end of that initial period.
“We hope hosts and Ukrainians will agree to extend many of those placements, but we need additional hosts to support those who cannot continue living where they are.
“To ensure a warm welcome to Wales, I’m inviting households across Wales to come forward and open their homes to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
“We’re immensely thankful to all those across Wales acting as hosts to Ukrainians, but more households must come forward.
“I completely understand that there are those who want to help but may not have the resources to do so, given the circumstances we’re all facing with the cost-of-living crisis.”

WALES WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE

Jane Hutt continued: “What we all know, and has been proven countless times, is that the people of Wales are one of the most generous across the globe, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate once again.
“The idea of hosting can be daunting. That’s why we have funded Housing Justice Cymru to provide a Host Support service which includes expert and reliable information, training, advice, and guidance for people hosting, or those considering hosting, Ukrainians in Wales.
“More information on sessions and training can be found on the Housing Justice Cymru website. We also publish regularly updated guidance for hosts and sponsors at gov. wales/ukraine.
“We still need many more households to consider whether they could provide a home for those in need. This would normally be a commitment to hosting for 6 to 12 months.
“If anyone is considering this, we encourage them to register their interest at gov.wales/offerhome, and to attend one of the ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru. You won’t need to continue the process if you decide it is not for you.
“We have also partnered with Airbnb.org to ensure very short-term emergency placements can be provided to prevent homelessness.
“If you cannot host for more than 6 months but you could offer your property for up to 30 days at a time, you may also be able to contribute. Visit gov.wales/offerhome and follow the link to the Airbnb.org platform.”
Finally, the Minister stated: “We will continue to communicate with those who host Ukrainians, with updated guidance and information to support the valuable role you are undertaking.
“To all those that are already hosting and to those that are considering hosting, thank you, we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.”

WESTMINSTER MUST BACK HOSTS
DURING COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS

Conservative MS Mark Isherwood raised how the cost-of-living crisis affects Ukrainian refugees.
Where families had taken in those fleeing Russian aggression, he noted a risk of sponsorships not continuing beyond six months because the hosts cannot afford the rise in fuel costs.
He asked the Minister what discussions she’d had with the UK Government about increasing the £350 contribution to households who’d taken in Ukrainian refugees.
The Minister agreed with Mark Isherwood that ending a specific ministerial post dealing with refugees was regrettable.
She noted a lack of information from the UK Government over the summer months and since Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Government.
Ms Hutt said: “We asked for an increase at least to £500, or up again, doubling to £700 per month. An urgent decision is needed regarding this as they reach the end of their six-month period.
“That period is underway, so we’re writing to all hosts to see if they will continue.”

UK GOVERNMENT URGED
TO PICK UP THE PHONE

The Minister thanked Mark Isherwood for introducing her to a charity offering support in North Wales, Link, and hoped that he and his colleagues would bring pressure to bear on their Westminster colleagues to ensure those in need from Ukraine and those in Wales helping them received support.
She added: “I look forward perhaps that we might have some telephone calls from the Prime Minister and other Ministers to us in Government. We must engage with them and follow this through.
“There is a huge job of work to be done here. We’re taking responsibility in the way I’ve outlined, funding our welcome centres and paying thank-you payments to hosts if they support a family who initially arrived in Wales under the Ukraine family scheme.
“That’s not happening in England. The commitment that we’re making is considerable.
“I hope everyone will join us today, saying that we need to press for those answers in terms of financial support.”

THE THREAT OF HOMELESSNESS

Sioned Williams of Plaid Cymru raised the spectre of Ukrainian refugees becoming homeless in Wales due to a lack of financial support and the end of existing hosting and housing placements.
The Minister praised the work of local authorities across Wales supporting refugees.
She said: “There are very imaginative programmes. That includes a whole range of issues like repurposing empty buildings.
“Local authorities are really coming up with a whole range of ways in which we can support people, perhaps, from a welcome centre, or a host family, into that intermediate accommodation, and then on to other longer-term accommodation.”
Pembrokeshire currently houses around 200 Ukrainian refugees, with the demand for assistance outstripping the availability of suitable accommodation.

NOT ONE PENNY FROM WESTMINSTER
TO SUPPORT FAMILIES FLEEING WAR

Responding to a question from Mabon ap Gwynfor about problems housing family groups, Jane Hutt hit out at the lack of support from the UK Government and how it’s u-turned on a commitment to help families.
“The UK Government has never given a penny towards the family scheme.
“The former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in one of his last PMQs, actually said that he thought the Ukraine family scheme should get the same funding and support as the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It’s never happened.
“We have provided thank-you payments to people who are hosting Ukrainian families. It’s all Welsh Government money; it’s not UK Government, because they don’t provide a penny. And also, the British Red Cross—£246,000—who are actually supporting Ukrainian families who are hosting family members under the Ukrainian family scheme.”
On Wednesday, September 28, Eluned Morgan, Wales’s Health Minister, announced the continuation of free healthcare in Wales to Ukrainian residents displaced by the ongoing conflict.
The exemption will continue to apply unless there’s a significant change in circumstances in Ukraine.

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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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