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Carmarthenshire bowls in crisis



Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 14.11.39THE FUTURE of bowls in Carmarthenshire is under immediate threat, according to the two people responsible for saving the County Council £250,000 when the football pitches were facing a similar future.

Mike Bassett and Kevin Francis are pedantic when it comes to facts and figures and they say that, even with the best intentions, the strategy being proposed by the County Council’s mathematicians and strategists to save the county’s bowling greens just won’t work unless a range of other factors are taken into consideration.

And it seems that they are not alone in their quest to find a solution to the possible demise of the county’s bowling greens and bowls clubs.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates AM told The Herald that there are various pots of money available to help sport in Carmarthenshire. However, both Mike Bassett and Kevin Francis claim that that money is not getting to the grass roots clubs because it is being held within the regeneration and leisure services department of the council.

We put this to the Deputy Minister and he explained the mechanisms of how money from the Welsh Assembly for sport is allocated.

Ken Skates said: “There is ‘calls to action funding’ which is specifically for new and innovative ways of engaging people who don’t traditionally take part in sport and physical activity to become more active in their lifestyles. That’s available to this area. There is also money, which is channelled by Welsh Government through Sport Wales to the National Governing Bodies as well.

“That is separate from the funding we have been talking about. That is specifically for the individual sports to engage with the communities and with people who wish to participate whether it be tennis, football, rugby or any of the national governing bodies.

“Then there is the money which is spent by local authorities, which is spent on sport and leisure services. Now that would be for local democracy to determine how the money is spent and that’s the sort of funding, which is directly and immediately applicable to a park like this.”

Mike Bassett and Kevin Francis explained the issues surrounding the allocation of money from the County Council. They told us that the issue in Carmarthenshire is that sports pitches and greens don’t come under the regeneration and leisure portfolio. They come under environmental services.

The pair said: “Hazel Evans explained to us that she doesn’t receive a penny of this pot of money to cover the maintenance bill for these facilities. This needs to change. Asking sporting clubs to cover the full cost of a facility through hire fees is not the answer. We have lost five football teams and now face losing bowlers since the inception of this policy.”

We put the concerns of Mr. Bassett and Mr. Francis to the Deputy Minister that many bowling greens will close if the present rate of increases in fees continues, in some cases doubling year on year.

The Deputy Minister told us: “This a major problem. There is some variation. I have asked the local authorities to do some work on this recently looking at the variations in pitch fees, well costs for all sports and leisure facilities. We have seen that in some areas there has been a considerable increase. Other local authorities have not increased their fees by anywhere near as some but there is a great variation so we are looking for a consistent approach.”

Mike Bassett told The Herald: “As previously mentioned, all outdoor sports clubs are being asked to cover the full costs of these areas. We managed to achieve this in Football, Rugby and Cricket, but the same model simply doesn’t work for the sport of Bowls. Carmarthenshire County Council’s policy means the membership fee for the coming season would have more than doubled in two years. This will inevitably result in more bowlers moving to private clubs or leaving the sport.”

We asked Ken Skates what could be done to save the bowling greens of Carmarthenshire from closure.

The Minister told us: “Bowling greens in particular have faced challenges in recent times in part because of the number of people who bowl on a regular basis. We need to increase the numbers of people who bowl.

“That is something I know not just government but various clubs and organisations are looking at as is Sport Wales. We need to increase the number of people who are actually active. The more people that are active the more people you have investing in the sport.”

Kevin Francis took issue with the council’s approach to elderly sports men and women: “Carmarthenshire County Council are ignoring the health benefits of this sport to our ageing population. They simply want bowlers to pay the full maintenance costs of the greens and the pavilions. Can you imagine a swimmer, table tennis player, squash player or badminton player being asked to cover the full cost of a leisure centre? Money is already set aside for these facilities from the Council Tax and WAG money.”

The Herald asked the Deputy Minister if there was any Welsh Assembly money available for bowls.

He replied: “It depends on what the money was for. If it was for a facility, it could come under a scheme such as community facilities programme. If it was a grant being sought for coaching that may be more relevant for Sport Wales.”

Mike Bassett questioned whether the council were actually actively seeking the grants. He said: “At the moment the only solution they are offering is to close greens and increase hire costs. Both of which are unworkable and unaffordable.”

Llanelli Labour candidate Lee Waters said that his father bowled and was considering quitting because of the rise in fees: “What we have seen with CUSC is that they have done a tremendous job on the football pitches. The council need to work with them and help them rather than being seen as an obstacle.”

Kevin Francis explained that he felt that he had been taken down the garden path by the council:“After saving this council over £250,000 a year, we feel that we have been marginalised and misled. All the areas we use are still on the asset transfer list and under threat of closure or third party ownership.”

Mr Skates concluded with a direct message for County Councils: “Be reasonable. Even if we have fewer people taking part in physical activity, even if it is considered as ‘soft’ – like bowls, gardening or walking – the consequence is that we are going to have to spend more on the health service because we are not going to have those preventative measures being taken up by people.”

Both Mr Francis and Mr Bassett told us that they believed that this argument is falling on deaf ears. Mr. Bassett concluded by saying : “Carmarthenshire County Council are only interested in the users of their outdoor sports facilities covering the full maintenance costs. They are not being reasonable at all and we are losing sports people and facilities as a result of this policy.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities



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

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



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:, by emailing 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

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Witness appeal after car is stolen and burnt out



DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a car from a property in Lando Road, Burry Port, which was later found burnt out in Pembrey Country Park.

Officers are appealing for witnesses to the theft of the blue Ssangyong Rexton, which took place sometime between 5pm on Friday, 11th November, and 9am on Saturday, 12th November, and would like to speak to anyone who may have information or CCTV or dashcam footage.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at:, by emailing, 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: DP-20221112-109

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting

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