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Council’s cool reception for ice cream parlour

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Shirl’z: Council says each case is looked at on merit

Shirl’z: Council says each case is looked at on merit

THE PROPRIETORS of a vintage-style ice cream parlour, due to open on Nott Square next month, faced an unexpected setback last week, when they were visited by planning enforcement officers.

However, following an outcry on social media, Carmarthenshire County Council has said that it will try to work with Shirl’z Old Fashion American Ice Cream Parlour to ensure that the business can still go ahead.

Mark and Debbie Thompson took over the premises on the corner of Nott Square by the Guildhall in December of last year: “We phoned the council planning department and said what we were going to do,” Debbie told us.

“They said we wouldn’t need to apply for a change of use if we were just selling ice cream, but if we were selling hot dogs we would need one. They said it should be okay .”

The couple began renovating the shop, with the intention of turning it into a retro-themed fifties Americanstyle diner. A grand opening, featuring live music and a classic car display was planned for March 19.

However, following a visit by planning enforcement officers on Friday (Feb 5) they were told that this would not be possible. Shortly afterwards, the following sign was put up in the shop window: ‘Shirl’z old fashion American ice cream parlour will now not be opening due to the reasons below.

‘Today we had a visit from Carmarthen Council Planning department informing us that we will not be allowed to open due to the area being classed as a conservation area and no food is allowed to be sold.

‘When we pointed out that within 30 yards there are 6 different places selling food and another one (a foreign bakery) had just been approved he refused to answer . When we also informed him that our application hasn’t been put in yet he told us that if we do it will be refused along with any appeal, so thanks to planning enforcement officers along with Carmarthen Council, they have cost the local economy 10 jobs and decided to keep another derelict empty shop in Carmarthen T own C entre.

‘Shirl’z will now go to a town outside of Carmarthenshire where the Council welcomes new business.’

This led to a heated response from other traders and residents. Fellow Nott Square business Splash described the news as ‘devastating’ on social media. “Nott Square could have become a real destination again,” they added.

A number of other people criticised the council for the decision, leading CCC to respond on F acebook, saying that ‘ officers are however working with the new occupants to see if a positive outcome can be achieved by clarifying (a) what the new occupants are seeking to use the unit for and (b) what might be acceptable in planning terms given the policy states that anything bar A1 use would not be acceptable ‘.

However, Mark told us that at the time when this was posted, he had received no contact from the council other than the phone call in December (which they instigated) and the visit from enforcement officers on Friday. “Our first ‘correspondence’ was via someone else’s F acebook page!” he added.

A representative of the planning department did contact Mark the following day. Mark said that he was told that they could serve ice cream and hot dogs at the site, subject to planning approval, but restrictions would be placed on opening times and the number of customers.

“We’re not looking at cramming people in – I’ve already planned the layout of the booths – but I asked what if, for example, we were allowed ten customers and had nine, and a woman and her child came to eat? Would they have to wait until someone left?” he wondered.

Mark told us he was ‘not condemning’ Carmarthenshire County Council: “The problem is that the philosophy of local authorities is out of date,” he added. “They don’t need so much A1 retail ( the current classification of their shop ) but at the minute food still sells in town centres.”

The couple had high praise for local MP Simon Hart. “We emailed him on Saturday, not expecting to get anything back, but within a couple of hours he was in touch saying that he would look into it, and we were in contact a couple of times over the weekend,” Mark told us.

Mr Hart agreed with Mark’s claim that council planners need to be more flexible: “My view has always been that some Council planning departments need to change their mindset. Too often the default position is one of ‘no chance’ whereas it should be ‘let’s see how we can get this to work’, especially where the creation of new jobs is concerned. And this is quite often at odds with other Council departments – eg those responsible for inward investment etc – who are keen to facilitate new, interesting projects.

“We all realise that planning conditions are important but so is the creation of new career opportunities.”

Carmarthenshire County Council head of planning Llinos Quelch said: “The council was made aware early last week that new signage advertising ice cream, burgers and hot dogs had gone up on 6, Nott Square, which is a unit in a conservation area, and has recently become vacant.

“Officers visited the premises to establish, due to the wording of the sign, whether the proposed use of the unit was a move away from the A1 (retail use) permission currently in place for the shop and would thus require planning permission.

“Planning permission for a change of use from retail (use class A1) to use class A3 would be required if a formal cafe/take away were to be developed.

“In the Carmarthenshire Local Development Plan the site is located in the prime frontage area where the emphasis is to retain A1 retail uses, and change of use to cafe/takeaway would be contrary to Policy RT2 of that Plan.

“Officers are currently working with the new occupants to see if a positive outcome can be achieved by firstly clarifying what the new occupants are seeking to use the unit for and then subsequently looking at what might be acceptable in planning terms given the policy states that anything other than A1 use would not be acceptable.

“In deterring applications where the sale of food is to take place each case is looked at on its own merits as to whether a change of use from retail is required or not, based on the Use Class Order. The operations of the individual business such as the proportion of hot food sold, the nature of cooking/heating of products on site and whether food/drink are consumed on or off the site are some of the contributing factors towards the assessment of whether it remains primarily within the A1 use class or not.

“The occupants of Unit 6 have been advised to hold off from submitting a planning application until they have advice back from the council in order that they can amend/ add to any application as appropriate prior to submission.

“The council has kept in regular contact with the new occupants of the unit following the visit on Friday and advice has been issued regarding the way forward with an offer to meet up further to go through any proposed application. Once there is clarity around the exact nature of the operations to be carried out within the new unit, more detailed advice can be given as to what approvals may be required. That dialogue with the owners will continue.”

Meanwhile, Mark and Debbie are continuing to redecorate the premises, and are ‘hopeful’ that they will still be able to open on March 19: “It’s moved from a definite ‘no’ to ‘see how it goes’,” Mark added.

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crime

Police launch public appeal following Carmarthenshire burglary

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating a burglary at a property in Ponthenry.

People broke into a shed at a home in Victoria Road at around 8.30pm on Monday, 31 October, before leaving after spotting a CCTV camera.

They returned at around 10.15pm and again at around 10.55pm.

During their raids they tooka green Wolf motocross helmet with a full face with a peak and line green motocross goggles.

Officers are appealing for help to identify two people they would like to speak to over the incident.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DPP/0756/01/11/2022/02/C. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Morrisons Foundation supports children’s charity with grant for vital equipment

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The Morrisons Foundation supports registered charities that make a positive difference. They recently awarded national children’s disability charity, Cerebra, based in Carmarthen, a grant of £11,109.

This will fund the creation of writing slopes through the Cerebra Innovation Centre, which is partnered with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and designs wonderful toys and equipment to help children living with a brain condition to learn and play.

The writing slopes are designed to help children who struggle with posture and fine motor skills. They also aid children with writing, drawing and hand control. Ross Head, Product Design Manager at the Cerebra Innovation Centre explains;

‘The slopes include a lovely wipe-clean surface for children to experiment with mark making, their own set of pens and a clever lid-free pen store to remove the challenge of removing lids for some children. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do and funding like this is so important to allow us to push boundaries and provide vital equipment that looks beautiful.’

At the start of 2022, the Cerebra Innovation Centre highlighted that they anticipated the need for an additional 20 writing slopes for children. Cerebra Fundraising Manager, James Hay then worked with the grants team at the Morrisons Foundation, who were delighted to support this project. David Scott, Morrisons Foundation Trustee said:

‘Cerebra is dedicated to helping families who have a child with a brain condition to discover a better life together, that’s why I’m delighted that we’ve been able to provide this support. The specialised writing slopes will make a huge positive impact on children with sensory and mobility issues, providing a great opportunity to develop their skills, which will last a lifetime.’

Grants like this are a vital source of funding for Cerebra so that they are able to continue to support children living with a brain condition and their families who face challenges every day. The Cerebra Innovation Centre is one of the many support services provided by the charity that so many families have come to rely on. James Hay adds;

‘Thank you so much to the Morrisons Foundation for this generous grant! We are over the moon as we know how much this project will change young lives. These are particularly challenging times for charities and so this funding from Morrisons for the creation of 20 writing slopes is warmly welcomed.’

You can find out more about Cerebra and how they help children and families by visiting www.cerebra.org.uk 

Writing Slope
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White Ribbon campaign supported by Carmarthenshire County Council

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is again showing its support for the White Ribbon campaign, which takes place on Friday, November 25 and is followed by 16 Days of Action.

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

While domestic abuse affects both sexes, the largest number of violent incidents involve men against women. But ultimately male violence against women is everyone’s issue, not just women’s.

The council was awarded White Ribbon UK accredited status for the first time in 2018 and is continuing to work to tackle such violence.

White Ribbon flags will be flying at County Hall in Carmarthen and town halls in Llanelli and Ammanford on White Ribbon Day (Friday, November 25). County Hall will also be lit up on the evening to show support.

The council is working alongside partners to raise awareness of the campaign across the county – from sports clubs, joint visits with the Police to licensed premises, our leisure centres and libraries to bus stations.

With this year’s White Ribbon Day falling on the same week as the start of the FIFA men’s World Cup, there has never been a better time to come together and start playing as a team to end violence against women and girls.

The council will be raising awareness of the campaign at special events including a Walking Football session at Amman Valley Leisure Centre on November 30 and at “An Evening with Sam Warburton” at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on White Ribbon Day (November 25).

Cabinet Member responsible for Community Safety, Cllr Philip Hughes, said: “It’s vital that we raise more awareness about domestic abuse so that anyone affected can get help and support from one of our local services.”

Support locally can be found at: Threshold (Llanelli) on 01554 752 422 or www.threshold-das.org.uk; Calan DVS (Ammanford) on 01269 597 474 or www.calandvs.org.uk; Carmarthen Domestic Abuse Service on 01267 238 410 or www.carmdas.org and Goleudy on 0300 123 2996 or www.goleudyvictimandwitnessservice.org.uk or call the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or visit https://gov.wales/live-fear-free for free advice and support 24/7

For more information on the White Ribbon campaign visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk

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