Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Cross Hands question

The council's 'strategic economic vision' for Cross Hands appears to be becoming more of a mirage as the huge site earmarked for Sainsbury's, a new health centre, housing and 350 jobs continues to resemble a giant lunar car park.

Pic source - 'Cross Hands Re-development' Facebook page
The issue cropped up in a BBC Radio Cymru feature this morning with Labour Cllr Terry Davies leading the charge that councillors were being kept in the dark about what was being planned for the site, if anything. When Sainsbury's pulled out of the scheme a couple of month's ago they sold the site to investment company Conygar Plc for £2m, Conygar stated they would market the site for 'mixed-retail' and hoped to put in a planning application by February.

The council have refused to comment and Hywel Dda Health Board remain non-specific about timescales or budget for the new health centre. When this question was posed to them during one of their presentations to full council a few months back they refused to be drawn in to any firm commitment at all. It is also understood that Persimmon are having trouble selling the homes they have already built, let alone those they have yet to construct.

Back in October 2014 a very excited Kevin Madge welcomed this wonderful masterplan "which will bring so many benefits to Carmarthenshire, creating hundreds of much needed jobs". Roll forward to December 2015 and the diggers have gone and all that remains is a wasteland and not a job in sight.

October 2014
Moving slightly to the east and the access to the new KFC restaurant, just off one of the most dangerous roundabouts in Wales, is causing even more congestion and being described by members of the public, and councillors, as an absolute nightmare. The council's transport division has now decided to go and have a look at the problem for themselves as it seems, quite unbelievably, this wasn't done during the planning process.

The usual fuss and palaver about access, traffic flow and highway safety doesn't seem to have been fully considered prior to approval and some of us who are familiar with the roundabout have speculated that the planning officer who signed this off must have been particularly partial to a Boneless Banquet or two, wielding the rubber stamp with a Hot Wing and a prayer.

Moving south to Llanelli, the Herald video team have been touring other wastelands with Plaid Cllr Winston Lemon, and his dog. The areas in question, the North Dock Development Dream, or something like that, features a vast array of council-led office developments which, as Cllr Lemon and his dog point out, have remained largely unoccupied since they were built five years ago, not much further up the road is the equally seriously under-occupied Eastgate centre, a development much mentioned on this blog.

Pic source; Llanelli Herald
With millions of pounds of taxpayers money and EU grants pumped into the regeneration of Carmarthenshire over the years it makes you wonder who exactly has benefitted, and, for that matter, who has made the most profit...


Anonymous said...

Cllr Lemon attended 2 out of 15 meetings (according to C.C.Council website), so he is obviously in touch with happenings !!

Anonymous said...

I fear "special measures" beckons on the sky line. Time to be merry for Carmarthen County Council? I think not.

Anonymous said...

How long can Ministers in their ivory tower continue turning a blind eye to this disastrous council. How long do the long suffering tax payers of Carmarthenshire have to keep putting up with them. Ministers have been and are part of the problem because they do nothing in the face of overwhelming evidence of total chaos.

Cneifiwr said...

In fairness, Cllr Lemon has been ill, and it is good to see him back in harness.

A more interesting question is how Hywel Dda gets away with this sort of thing.
Over in Cardigan there have been years and years of delay in building a replacement for the existing hospital, which has been allowed to become very run down.

The debate had already been running for longer than most of us care to remember when up popped Sainsbury's with a plan to build a large supermarket, petrol station and some smaller shops on a green field site next to the town centre. The new hospital was supposed to be built on part of the same site. Eventually the bulldozers moved in, roads and roundabouts were built, and what had been a meadow with some nice old trees was transformed into an industrial wasteland.

Years more went by, and although Sainsbury's has never said it is pulling out, nobody is now expecting the plan to go ahead. Hywel Dda, meanwhile, has dragged its feet endlessly, and it began to look as though the new hospital would not be built either. Now it has finally given the go-ahead for what is in effect a glorified doctor's surgery, with no beds.

This may sound strangely familiar to people in Cross Hands, where the promised new medical centre turns out not to be even in the planning stage, and no budget has been allocated.

In both cases we have projects which were sold on the basis that hundreds of jobs would be created, with Hywel Dda joining in the marketing with promises of new facilities which turned out to be completely empty.

If Cardigan is anything to go by, Cross Hands will still be waiting for its new medical centre in 2025.

Anonymous said...

Cneifiwr, as a long time loyal reader of your blog I can't believe what you did!

You criticised the Labour/Independent Council administration through your web site for years then as soon as the Plaid Cymru administration took over CCC you decide enough is enough. Not even admitting that it was because you didn't want to criticise your Party.

Plaid's antics have also been so shabby since they took over that the absence of your blog and the political reasons you quit is even more pronounced!

You've written about the topic covered by Jacqui here on your blog before so why could you not carry on writing about general issues? Why should the criticisms no longer exist or topic be discussed now that Plaid is responsible for the council?

I don't want to appear entitled to read your blog but I was disappointed that you weren't up front about the reasons you quit when you did.

If you had said it was because Plaid took over then I would still think it was gutless and a copout, but it would at least be upfront.

Anyway, merry christmas to you and Jacqui.

Maybe in the new year you will realise that your public service duties are better served by informing the public via your blog than propping up Plaid Cymru and its awful regime.

Anonymous said...

Jacqui, I wish you a Happy Christmas and thank you for your hard work keeping us Carms residents up to date.

But it really is depressing reading for us all who voted Plaid expecting a better and more honest governance after the previous shambles. What a disgraceful arrogant bunch this council is. I don't think next year will be any better unless there is some sort of governmental inquiry, but I'm not holding my breath.

Diolch Jacqui a Nadolig LLawen

Anonymous said...

And a PS to Cneifiwr.

I used to enjoy your blog.
It was always well reasoned and fair but with a slight Plaid slant. Why not, it was a reasonable position to take.
The last lot of LabInds were dreadful and Plaid offered a great opportunity for fairness and openness.
Then Plaid unexpectedly gained control (after a big Labour cock up ) and weeks later you decided to stop your blog. A bit of a coincidence?
How about some comment from you on the current administration? I notice that even your response above seems to draw attention away to Cardigan etc. Hmmmmm

Bring your blog back Cneifiwr and start shearing a few Plaid sheep. Foxes don't seem to get them.

Cneifiwr said...

In response to my two former readers, I can understand why you feel that way. For the record, I joined Plaid Cymru some time after starting the blog, and I did so for a whole variety of reasons, only some of which were connected to the what was happening in the County Council.

As Jacqui can tell you, writing a blog like this takes a lot of time and effort. Writing opinion pieces is easy enough, but a lot of the posts involve a great deal of fact checking, reading and ceaseless searching and monitoring.

A growing workload away from blogging and some serious family medical issues, meant that something had to give. The general election and the change in the leadership of the County Council seemed like a good point to stop because they marked the beginning of a new chapter.

But following the ups and downs of Carmarthenshire County Council is addictive. Perhaps - just perhaps - Cneifiwr will sharpen up his shears and return to the fray in 2016. Stranger things have happened, especially in County Hall.

Nadolig llawen i chi i gyd.

Peter mash Morgan said...

Is anyone running a spreadsheet and database upon this..

Maybe we can make a spreadsheet up ourselves, and compare things..

This is exiting stuff, and kinda wanna check my IT skills againt a real world target.. where target = deviation from estimate - final

We can do a FOI request anyway..