Monday 7 April 2014

News round up; Parks, schools and care homes

The South Wales Guardian reports on the latest saga over the council's 'Community Asset Transfer' programme, not quite the community spirited vision the title suggests, but a cost shifting exercise to persuade town and community councils to take over the parks and playgrounds. If they are unable to raise the funds through the local precept or find another way to maintain these public amenities then it is quite possible they will be lost.

'Tempers flared' at a recent meeting of Llandeilo Town Council when the matter was discussed and advice from One Voice Wales (the advisory body to local councils) urging extreme caution and consultation with the local electorate, was produced. Fortunately, Town and County councillor, Edward Thomas, a member of Pam's ruling Independent Group in County Hall, was on hand to ensure One Voice Wales was ignored and the correct path of One Voice Pam was followed....

Penlan Park, Llandeilo
If further proof should be required that it is the school itself rather than shiny new premises which ensure a sound education the latest Estyn report for QE High in Carmarthen confirms it. Overall, the standard is 'adequate', which is nothing to shout about. QE High was opened in 2008 as part of the County's 'vision' for education.

In Llandeilo, work has commenced on the controversial new secondary school in Ffairfach, (although irritating roman and bronze age artefacts keep turning up which are delaying matters). Apparently the contemporary design will provide a 21st century education....who needs teachers when you've got top spec aluminum cladding eh?

Site of the new school in Ffairfach where concerns regarding flooding were dismissed.....
....and work has now commenced... (pic source; West Wales News Review)
....and incidentally, my grammar is far from perfect but shouldn't official council reports relating to education always be double checked for grammatical accuracy?

It looks like the council have finally had their way and closed St Paul's care home for the elderly in Llanelli. (This information is published in a report to next week's Social Care Scrutiny Committee). Campaigners have fought hard over the last few years to retain the council run facility but the 'reconfiguration' of elderly care came up again in the budget.

In attempt to avoid further opposition the Executive Board made a premature announcement in the Llanelli Star in January that £7m had suddenly been plucked from thin air to fund an Extra Care Scheme in Llanelli to replace the homes. This was before any final decision on closure had been made. I blogged about this here.

St Pauls, Llanelli

Pembrokeshire Council is again in the spotlight as the BBC reported that EU funds for commercial property grants are being withheld from Pembrokeshire businesses until the outcome of an investigation by Dyfed Powys Police. The discrepancies were uncovered through the investigative persistence of blogging councillors, Mike Stoddart and Jacob Williams.

In Carmarthenshire, the Wales Audit Office have already raised concerns over the the way this council awards and monitors grants. Our County Hall, naturally, publicly dismissed the criticism as petty. Hmm. It still remains to be seen whether the European Commission will launch a full investigation into the possible breach of EU State Aid rules over the funding of Scarlets Regional Ltd.

Carmarthenshire council would definitely benefit from a couple of similarly curious blogging councillors...

And finally, I stumbled upon a set of Minutes from Carmarthen Town Council from March 2013 where it was noted that the Mayor had written to the Chief Executive, Mark James following the libel case in the High Court. It would seem he either had a poor grasp of location, or there was something else going on we knew nothing about...;

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