Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Midweek news bulletin

As Cneifiwr reported earlier in the week, Welsh Minister Carl Sargeant has refused to call-in the 289 home development in Penybanc, double the number allowed under the current Development Plan. He appears to be continuing his ministerial 'non-intervention policy' as he did when in charge of Local Government. Well, as far as Carmarthenshire Council are concerned anyway.

Plaid AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas reacted angrily and said that "the decision by the Welsh Government shows that planning policies are not worth the paper they’re written on. It looks as though planning authorities are free to ignore development limits whenever they want.” 

One complaint brought by the objectors was that they had been reassured by planning officers that no decision would be made at the committee meeting, though this is denied. The South Wales Guardian opinion reminds council leader Kevin Madge that he promised to order the council's monitoring officer to investigate whether there had been any breach of procedure.

Rather like his calls for a public inquiry into the Ammanford police station PFI scandal, everyone's still waiting....

There is growing discontent in the nearby town of Llandovery. As I have mentioned, the most important and largest community asset, Pantycelyn  secondary school is now closing, thanks to our county council (and with no thanks to the local county councillors who failed to raise a murmur), to be replaced by the new superschool 14 miles away in Ffairfach, Llandeilo.

To add insult to injury, the town's small but perfectly formed museum unceremoniously shut it's doors the other day causing panicked resident to scramble for their artefacts before the rest were bundled into a container and plonked round the back. The historians and volunteers who have been running the museum for sixteen years had a bit of a shock. The Town Council have now promised to find a temporary home for all the exhibits as soon as they can.

The future of the museum and Heritage Centre, which was subsidised by the county council, was subject of a consultation last year. Funded by a £9965 grant and run by the Llandovery Partnership, a group formed from local business and other interested parties, including the County and Town Council and the National Park, none of the three options put forward proposed closure, despite the fact that the grant was awarded to;

"achieve a Centre that will Showcase and celebrate the rich heritage of Llandovery and the surrounding area, provide a comprehensive tourist information service for the Brecon Beacons National Park and Carmarthenshire and be a competitive attraction which will attract a range of audiences and encourage repeat visitors, residents as well as tourists."

With that in mind, the alternative use for the Heritage Centre has been met with some disbelief. Somebody, or some organisation, has convinced the Partnership that what Llandovery really really needs is a business-hub, or hot-desk centre which is what it will now become.

Llandovery is not the next Wall Street, the main event of the week is the livestock market and even those in the cut and thrust of rural business have heard of smartphones. And as for tourists, there's now one less reason to stop and browse round the town. Perhaps they'll suddenly need a hot-desk.

Let's also hope, if there's a sudden need for a comfort break, the public toilets are still there. Rumours are circulating that the council contractors Danfo are considering leaving town....

Lastly, Carmarthenshire Council were very pleased with the viewing figures of the council meeting webcast last week (and available to watch at your leisure here). Press releases have been in abundance just to remind everyone how inspired they were to come up with this wonderful idea all on their own....

In fact they've broken records, with 551 fascinated viewers tuning in and had the 'highest figures for any authority in the UK for its first webcast' Who'd have thought it eh? I'll make sure I promote the next one too.


Anonymous said...

Llandovery Town Council are the elected representatives of the people of Llandovery and have assured the people of Llandovery that the Heritage Centre will be retuned once the refurbishment work is completed. Why are you creating a controversy when none exists and why is LATRA a unelected body seeking to overshadow the duly democratic elected organisation that has for years represented the town !!

caebrwyn said...

Anon 23.20
Thanks for your comment. If recent letters and articles in the local press are anything to go by the controversy already exists.
Everyone has the town's interests at heart and controversy and debate as to plans for its future growth and prosperity from residents, businesses, town council, etc is a very healthy development.
Apathy, not controversy is a community's worst enemy.

Anonymous said...

As an employee of the aforementioned company that services your public toilets we are unaware of us 'leaving town' for some time.

caebrwyn said...

@Anon 10.14
Thank you, I'm glad to hear it. Relieved, in fact.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the comments above. Complaints need to be directed at Llandovery town council, and although they probably Didn't communicate it effectively the heritage center will be open. Do I really need to say that you shouldn't believe what you read in the papers (or blogs)

Tessa said...

Yep. Talking Shop. Bet they're all really busy doing it too, driving around to attend lots of meetings, clocking up travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses on top of their vast salaries. Producing (glossy & expensive) volumes of procedures, policies and other such nonsense. Little of any practical use.

Babs Woollon said...

In what way are LATRA seeking to overshadow the democratically elected Town Council? We have great respect for the majority of our town cllrs who have a thankless task at the best of times. We flagged up the storm of protest over the closure of the museum after being inundated with complaints. What were we supposed to do? Wait for a riot? We then agreed to refrain from press coverage and to not circulate our members - to give them a chance to speak to the press and protestors and to limit the damage caused. We responded to their press coverage a week later. Organisations like LATRA spring up when a community feel that they have no voice - and no choice - in decisions which affect their lives. In other words, when democracy fails them. Several town cllrs have intimated they had 'no choice' other than to agree to close the museum and were obliged to keep it all a secret from the community - which begs the question as to who was putting the pressure on. Can we assume that it was an unelected body?

This 'commotion' was not created by LATRA, the press or bloggers. Our town council have had to take all the flak and have promised to reinstate the museum asap. Good on them! When you say the Heritage Centre will be returned, what do you mean? By all accounts barely a shred of heritage will be in it.

A democracy allows free debate and public consultation. If there had been an opportunity for open debate on the feasibility study, (which did not recommend mothballing the museum), then this unhappy situation would probably not have arisen.