Monday 8 June 2015

Parc Howard - for the people of Llanelli? - Updated

(Later update, 11th June here)

Update 10th June;
The story takes another twist in this week's Llanelli Star [11th June; The article has now been removed] with Loca Ventures Ltd ( Google them for background...) claiming that if they can't have Parc Howard then they won't be able to build Robbie Savage's luxury hotel at Ffos Las. This is nonsense.

It is interesting that they are behind the hotel and one wonders just how far they are progressing...all set to take over Pembrey Country Park as well perhaps?
Secondly, the article features Meryl Gravell promising that the Town Council (if it can afford it) will have first shout to run Parc Howard.

Let's bear in mind that Ffos Las was one of Meryl's dreams, you may also remember that the Ffos Las developer was granted planning permission for 528 homes...and Robbie Savage appearing on the scene a couple of years ago was her icing on the cake...

There are two possibilities here, either the council is far more deeply involved with Loca Ventures than it's letting on...or Loca Ventures know exactly which buttons to press. We'll wait and see.

Update 8th June; A short video by Alan Evans  concerning to the crisis over Parc Howard and the recent public meeting;

As I said at the end of this post, there will be further details emerging at the end of the week.

A furore has been brewing in Llanelli over the future of Parc Howard. This historic mansion and grounds were gifted to the people of Llanelli back in 1912 and converted to a park. The mansion now houses the popular Parc Howard museum. Carmarthenshire Council, as trustees, are responsible for it's management and maintenance.

Parc Howard, Llanelli

The mansion house requires a substantial amount of work and the council, having blown all their money on the Scarlets, the evangelicals and the chief exec's legal wrangles can't afford to repair it.

Alongside the county council, the Parc Howard Association (PHA) is a separate committee of volunteers set up in 2011 when the county council first mooted plans to close it. The PHA "exists to work with current owners Carmarthenshire County Council to maintain and improve the facilities at Parc Howard in accordance with the spirit of the original gift".
To cut a rather long story short it appears that the Council, along with the Chair of the PHA, Mr Ken Rees, (lately the local UKIP hopeful in the general election, but once an ally of Meryl on the council Indie benches), have been making plans to offload the mansion to a private company either freehold or on a long, 250 year, behind closed doors.

In fact there was talk of private meetings having been held between Mr Rees and the prospective buyers in a hotel somewhere...this bit of information led other members of the PHA to call for his resignation.

According to the Llanelli Star, the private company, Loca Ventures Ltd, wish to take over the mansion as a commercial enterprise for weddings, conferences etc. The council would retain the park, for now. The museum would be relocated elsewhere by the company, apparently.

No one, it seems, was aware of any of this prior to a public meeting held on Saturday. To make matters worse, it turned out that Mr Rees had invited a representative, or an 'associate', of Loca Ventures to sit in on the public meeting.

Loca Ventures Ltd is based in Warwickshire and Google provides us with a glimpse of an interesting also appears to be connected to much larger company based in the British Virgin Islands.The Star understands that the company has already met with the council's interim Assistant Chief Executive Wendy Walters and the Head of Corporate Property and no doubt Exec Board Member for Regeneration, Cllr Meryl Gravell has her hand in these arrangements,,.

Local councillors and more importantly, the good folk of Llanelli who are, of course, the true custodians appear to have been kept in the dark over all these meetings and proposals.
This is a popular venue for the town and locals are disgusted that underhand attempts are being made to offload it from under their noses.

All are agreed that a way forward needs to be found, but whatever the solution, and the formation of a trust is one preferred option, it must be the result of a transparent and democratic decision, or even a properly run open tender by the Council should they really want to get rid of it - not secret trysts in hotels or secret meetings in County Hall.

Quite clearly matters have been moving quietly along with the County Council for some time, with or without Mr Rees, and it's about time their true intentions were made clear. To that end the meeting concluded with the suggestion that Meryl Gravell be invited along next time to provide an explanation and answer some questions....

A report on this story appeared in this week's Herald, and the Llanelli Star has also reported on the public meeting held on Saturday. There will be a further, detailed account of recent events in next Friday's Herald.


Anonymous said...

Gelli Aur was sold off with all sorts of private ambitious ideas and what state is the building in now.

Anonymous said...

So it seems that the mystery man has also promised that Swansea FC and the Scarlets are supporting this bid! REALLY? Wonder what the Swans an Scarlets have to say being involved in such a blatant breach of EU legislation.

Anonymous said...

Can always rely on the Llanelli Star for the truth

Redhead said...

Maybe the newspaper should look into Loca Ventures - they seem to have an interesting history.

Anonymous said...

Loca Ventures was M2 developments (and other names)prior to becoming Loca, take a good look at Stoneleigh holiday park in East Devon, they took the existing owner for over 1m and me personally for 64k and lots others. (same person fronting all company's) probably with new backer (Rich Arab is the usual) with links to Virgin isles, I would not trust Loca to run a kids race! Smoke and mirrors im afraid.

Anonymous said...

not a rich arab but