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Questions over development cash for communities

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CIL: Concerns raised that levy will be spent outside communities

CONCERNS over a new community levy for developers were raised at a meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council on Wednesday (Jan 13), as members of the Labour group expressed reservations about where the money raised by these levies would be spent. 

The Council was asked to approve plans to progress a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), and to authorize the production of draft charges, and a public consultation on the issue.

A report put before the meeting said that changes in legislation introduced in April would mean that if the council did not introduce a CIL, it would ‘potentially lose out on contributions from developers to fund vital infrastructure, required to implement the Local Development Plan allocations.’

The report suggested that it would only be viable to charge a CIL in certain areas of the county – namely, Llandeilo and Llandovery; Carmarthen; Llanelli; Ammanford and Cross Hands; and St Clears and Whitland.

A rate of £60 per square metre was recommended, and it was suggested that this should also apply to retirement housing.

Councillor Meryl Gravell (Independent), the Executive Board Member for Regeneration, said that the council was being asked to move to consultation, and that new legislation had ‘scaled back’ the scope of the Section 106 agreements. These are now limited to ‘affordable housing and on-site mitigation measures.’ Cllr Gravell also suggested that the levy, if implemented, would be ‘visited annually.

Councillor Alun Lenny (Plaid Cymru) said that any levy would have to be fair, rather than punishing smaller builders: “It is fair to say that, due to economies of scale, larger companies may be better able to accommodate this levy.

“But we must seriously consider the situation for smaller builders, especially family companies, perhaps in rural areas, who have got smaller margins.”

Cllr Lenny appealed for all groups affected by the proposals, including community councils and small builders, to take part in the consultation.

However, Councillor Anthony Jones (Labour) claimed that money from developments in specific communities could be spent elsewhere across the county, or in the future, west Wales.

Cllr Jones said that in seminars concerning the subject which were held last year, it was stated that Community Councils would receive 15% of CIL levies:

“I reverse the question – what is happening to the other 85%?” he asked. “Where is that going?”

Cllr Jones pointed out that there was no mandatory requirement to introduce a CIL, ‘so why are we doing it?’

“This is self-explanatory – it is a Community Infrastructure Levy. At the moment we are a community of Carmarthenshire. In the future we may become a much larger community – none of us know. So where will the money then go?”

Cllr Jones said that he had read the report, which was ‘very professionally put together as always.’

However he added that “I have read previous reports, and had the wool pulled over my eyes, and it cost my community dearly.”

In a slightly bizarre turn of events, Councillor John James (Labour) forced a vote on whether or not the public consultation should take place, something Cllr Hughes-Griffiths described as a ‘very strange situation’

“Is it being done for the sake of it? I don’t know,” he asked.

Chief Executive Mark James pointed out that there was no statutory requirement to implement the CIL, but pointed out that due to changes in the S106, ‘if you want to keep the money somewhere in the county you will need one of these.’

In response to Cllr Jones’ query, Mr James pointed out that Carmarthenshire CIL money could not be spent outside the county, and that in the result of a local authority reorganisation, existing monies would be protected.

In the interest of ‘clarity’ Labour leader Jeff Edmunds asked for it to be confirmed that after consultation the matter would be returned to the chamber – ‘to clear up confusion.’

Cllr Hughes-Griffiths replied that ‘there is no confusion – that is always the case!’

Council Leader Emlyn Dole pointed out that it was a Labour Government which introduced the CIL in 2008. “Do you want to make a deeper hole? Are you really going to vote against a public consultation?” he asked.

Cllr James then said that, having listened to the explanation from the Chief Executive, would withdraw his request. “I have the courage of my convictions,” he added.

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Community

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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