Sunday, 30 July 2017

1911 - the history that should have never happened but did!

Why does Wales get a bad deal? Why is this country the poorest in the UK by far. The inference is that the Welsh deserve it. Even welsh born and raised politicians have rubbished the country's history and lack of talent. Wales need guidance and protection from the ambitions of its inhabitants. Those who live here don't deserve a fair share - if they had "real drive" they would surely have left and never come back ! Suppressing the "wrong" history is apparently a national pastime. Even recent events may be spun as something completely different.


Neil Kinnock is an example of a man who did reasonably well in the UK sphere but was not renowned for his support of Wales, the project. His views on Welsh History were not far off the sentiments my children learned at school in history lessons. Their teachers do not have had much to work with, the Romans, the Tudors and the Second World war with welsh involvement as footnotes.

Those of us old enough to have been supporting the miners in the Miners Strike of 1984-5 realised that it was primarily a successful attack by Margaret Thatcher on a troublesome are of the UK economy -a  unionised heavy industry. In Wales it was a  large part of  the economy and surely deserved preservation. There was not the environmental concern of today about fossil fuels and the destruction of the industry was political. Welsh Labour supporters through those long months were waiting for the Labour leader to support the strike, especially in his own country. A touching sentiment, but forlorn. Interesting quote above where he airs his views on what he sees as a distinct lack of history in Wales.

Remarkably a local Secondary School in Llanelli once did do a local history project on 1911 and I had not even heard of those events  before my eldest child brought it  home. Mysteriously none of  my 3 younger children who attended the same school subsequently studied the 1911 events - they must have misplaced the project documents.

You might think that history its something fixed in the past and interpretation may alter but not the facts.  You would be wrong. The events of 1911, uniquely played out in Llanelli, and the massive attempts to suppress the facts and distort the truth, chillingly shadows the modern day distortions and cover ups of government blunders we currently see all over the world. Such is the ignorance about Llanelli 1911 that after the Centenary we decided to carry on with a few events every year to keep the memory alive of what really happened.

I recently heard that a member of the public had gone to Llanelli Library to obtain some information on the subject of the 1911 Strike.  He was told that they had no books or information. The gentleman at the desk dealing with the query remarked that "We wish it had never happened".

I happened to have donated 30 books on the subject on behalf of the the 1911 committee to them 5 years ago! Where could they be? I suspect some of the hundreds of bilingual books we got printed with a Heritage Lottery Grant  and sent to every Carmarthenshire school may also have disappeared.

As someone who is no stranger to controversy I found the 1911 Centenary Commemoration strangely double edged. The first reaction against remembering 1911 I found ,was opposition on the grounds that the history was shameful and showed that the people of Llanelli were capable of rioting and looting. A less common but more deeply disturbing attitude is that a good welsh nationalist like myself should not be involved in working class history as it's an "English" subject.

The basic story is:
The first National Railway Strike was called in August 1911. Railwaymen were paid so little that they could not support their families despite 70 hour working weeks. The majority of other workers in Llanelli were significantly better off and there was a great deal of sympathy for the strikers. The UK government mobilised 57,000 troops to keep the railways and ports open.

The railway was the major transporter of  UK goods and the GWR line through Llanelli was transporting massive food imports coming in from Ireland .

Huge pickets blocked the station crossing gates despite the efforts and bayonets of police and troops. Llanelli was the  only place in Britain where the trains were completely halted. Liberal Home Secretary Winston Churchill sent in more troops. Railway still blocked. A local magistrate read the riot act and finally the troops shot onlookers, killing 2 of them. The crowds should have disbursed but instead ran at the troops who spent the rest of their trip to Llanelli barricaded in the station. Some of the townspeople took advantage of the situation  to attack property owned by the local magistrates and the Railway companies. Ironically, by this point the strike had been settled.

Grave in Llanelli's Box Cemetery of an English labourer shot in the back garden of his lodgings.
Local Historian John Edwards.who wrote the book "Remembrance of a Riot" , the first comprehensive account of the events, says the emphasis on the looting, rather than the shooting, was the political reaction from the start and the incident is still locally known as the "Llanelli riots"as if it was some random criminal event. We still have an uphill struggle.


This year's events :

August 17th  Free Entry to all at the annual 1911 Historian's Forum at Llanelli Rural Council 5 for 5.30pm  Speaker Robert Griffiths author of "Killing, no murder" book on 1911 events.

This is followed by Civic Reception for all guests by Chair of Council [Buffet and Drinks]. Venue: Llanelli Rural Council Offices, Vauxhall, Llanelli  SA15 3BD  tel. 01554 774103

August 19th  Commemorative March from Llanelli Station stopping at the site of the killings and on to the town centre.Gather 1.30pm for departure at 2.00pm. Speeches in Spring Gardens, Town Hall Square followed by wreath laying at Box Cemetery.

learn more at 1911llanellirailwaystrike.org.uk/
                                                                                                                   Siân Caiach

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Sospan Restaurant - Carmarthenshire Econonmics

Wales is often seen as a begging bowl economy. Apparently unable to survive without hand outs and with insufficient power, resources and/or influence to help itself. The story of Llanelli's generously subsidised fine dining venue illustrates the strange and wonderful ways in which even our supposedly locally "controlled" Councils are encouraged to give away their land and source funding for selected
businesses. Exactly how these projects are formulated is mysterious, but they are often related to or associates of other organisations and projects who also bask in the sun of public funding. No surprise there. Those who know and experience these systems are also likely to use this knowledge for other projects.

The imposing Pump House at North Dock, Llanelli, built at the turn of the 20th century and a listed building, found itself in a Waterfront  Regeneration Project Area. A use needed to be found which would preserve the imposing listed building.

 Bids were taken for developing the building. 3 were considered. {source FOIA/3789 CCC]

Developer A
£254,788  offered for site
£400,000 grant funding required.
Net  contribution grant required of £145,212

Developer B
Nil value for purchase of land.
£575,000 grant required

Developer C
Nil value for purchase of land
Nil grant required

CCC stated in the FOIA reply "However, it should be borne in mind that the award of contract was also based on a Cost and Quality submission, therefore the financial details would not have been scored in isolation."

After the bidding, the contract was awarded to Bendigo 9-10. a firm fronted by Rugby International players Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel. Planning permission was granted. A Plaza built to enhance the site as per my previous blog, but the use of the building was delayed for 2 years until 2010 to allow Welsh Water to try to upgrade the sewage drainage in the area.  The restaurant area itself has appeared odour free whenever I've visited the environs but not so the flats opposite on the other side of the dock so I suspect there are still residual problems in the area.

Of course I can't be sure which bid the Council accepted but I suspect the winners were Developer B.
A Cadw contribution and Business Development Grants and other subsidises were said to be in the region of £600,000 and further smaller grants were allocated  by CCC with £13,750 coming from the South West Wales local investment fund.[ FOIA/5249]

Recently a local resident noted that the car park for the Sospan was being extended onto public owned Council land and flagged this up with the council. The Bendigo 9-10 had paid around £30k for use of the original car park area. Originally CCC claimed there was no issue but later realised there was. This is the revised response

 "Carmarthenshire County Council officers were notified at the time of the recent works that the extension was in accordance with an agreed lease agreement. Since the time of our initial response on 19th April 2017 surveyors have checked the boundaries on site and we are now liaising directly with the owner as we believe there is additional land take. If additional land has actually been utilised the council will look to secure a sale at market value."

Such has been the success of the restaurant that a new venture subsequently opened at the Eastgate, the private owned but public funded Llanelli town centre development which was also briefly home to a business enterprise run by the Scarlets which ran up large debts. Robert Williams, Chair of WRW, local construction firm and member of CCC's constructors' framework, is described as a co-owner of both the Sospan and the newer B 9-10 . Close to the Sospan is the Dragon 24 new office complex, which has had difficulty in letting the floor space. WRW is occupying one of the units. 


B-9-10 was launched at East Gate Llanelli in December 2014 by the same rugby stars Dwayne Peel and Stephen Jones along with local entrepreneur Robert Williams. This set of units has also been difficult to fully let, and ask for very large rents compared with the other areas of the town. The high end Burger bar does not seem to have survived despite an enthusiastic launch...

The new town centre restaurant was described as rugby themed "as it provides a stylish yet informal surroundings to enjoy delicious Welsh food and craft beers and even catch the latest Scarlets game on the big screen! The owners previously launched the multi award winning Sosban in Llanelli, which was most recently crowned Wales best place to eat by the National Tourism Awards, following their title as Wales’ best restaurant with the Good Food Guide, and The AA Guide’s Best restaurant in Wales title."  
One of several empty  units at the Llanelli Eastgate  

No information is available from CCC as to the number of promising young chefs placed at the Sospan for training. The food is very good by all accounts but expensive.

So how is the company doing?

 BENDIGO 9-10 is trading and listed at Companies House. It was planned to provide up to 20 local full time jobs. The current  employment figures are not available.

2016 accounts show a cash balance of £82K, net worth of £596,680, total current assets of £263,244,and total current liabilities of £135,901 with debt held by HSBC and Welsh Government.
This pattern of helping along local enterprises with procuring grants and added extras is perfectly legal and above board. However, although this project has provided a use for an old historic landmark it has not regenerated anything more than the area it stands on and its public plaza has certainly not attracted the public. It should be attractive to tourists but is remote and secluded from the the nearest tourist "hot spot" of  Llanelli Beach. It is not close to hotels and tourist routes and a long walk and short drive from the town. It may be that as a high end fine dining restaurant that makes little difference to trade as those who wish to eat the finest food and have the money to pay for it, may always make the effort.

However, as a reproducible model for expanding the local economy it is not useful. In fact the impression that only a few elite projects succeed in obtaining substantial public funding and  easy planning consent appears to discourage young entrepreneurs. As in much of Wales, there is no economic plan A, never mind a plan B, just build more homes for retirees and commuters. At least this will increase the Council Tax take, but little else.

Like much of Rural Wales, Carmarthenshire's sustainable industries are surely Tourism, Food Production [farming, food processing and packaging], forrestry and energy production.  The Public Sector is the major employer through Health, Education, Local Government etc. There are still some Llanelli engineering jobs, mainly related to the automotive industry but there is little sign of expansion in this area and similarly little prospect of expansion in the residual steel and other heavy industries. If there is any prospect of economic expansion we at least need a plan...  
                                                                                                                    Siân Caiach
Sospan :New Car Park in Foreground, Restaurant on left and the white building in the distance is WRW offices 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Pump House Ghost Plaza . Llanelli's unloved gift from the EU.

Think Plaza, think public square or market place......but this is the mysterious Pump House Plaza, Llanelli. The most lonely and empty plaza I have ever come across. Built on Council land by Carmarthenshire County Council all is not explained in the public documentation

 Part of the 2008-2013 "Regeneration Master-plan", the 2012 update states:

● Phase 2 Carmarthenshire Dock (i.e. Pumphouse Plaza has been recently completed to complement the private sector led restaurant development within the Pumphouse building itself).

Here it is in the 2011 publicity photo by Rodger Associates Ltd, who claimed the design and project "Inception to completion" and they certainly delivered a "plaza"

The Pump House Plaza June 2017
                                       


Another view,  June 2017 -weeds in cracks in paving, no sign of human life, Sospan Restaurant overlooks.


A few years on this lonely, unused place looks just the same but only the weeds seem to be utilising it. Far from the bustling public area as planned, it is clearly not being used as such. It was funded by a European Grant  administered by Carms County Council ,usefully adjacent to a local pet project,the Sospan Restaurant , itself developed with generous public funding by 2 former Scarlets' Rugby players via their company Bendigo 9-10.

 The Ghost Plaza grant was apparently bankrolled from the EU Green Seas/ Green Beaches fund. The Plaza is next to the  Sospan  Restaurant and across the road from the grade II listed North Dock which contains fresh water. An overflow from the Dock goes into a river which runs into an estuary which eventually flows into the sea. High levels of nitrogen compounds, probably mainly from poorly treated sewage mean that this estuary is often green with algal blooms and the North Dock water is frequently visited by the less attractive algal scum. Nearby are notices warning not to touch the scum.

 Could the County Council have misinterpreted the Green Seas issue and felt a large public space was needed close to such algal abundance.? The EU's reward for actual greenness in our coastal waters?

The 2007 planning application for the Ghost Plaza was never put to the CCC planning committee and quietly approved by then head of Planning, Eifion Bowen through his delegated powers.

The area is not known for its pedestrian or any other traffic and currently a new restaurant car park extension is being built there for the Sospan. Double yellow lines prevent parking on the access roads to this area and the plaza is invisible to passing traffic on the coastal bypass and hard to see and too far away to be easily enjoyed by people visiting Llanelli beach on the other side of the dock. It is not signposted or advertised in anyway.

This land may not have been purchased by Sospan prior to build
The new car park extension

So why build a new and empty open space here at public expense? Could it be the old "grab a grant"
 culture - find a grant and invent a project to get the money?

Was it a serious artistic statement of the lonely desperation and emptiness of this neglected town?

 Maybe just some sort of joke? Or a test? Would anyone notice if a completely useless "public" area was quietly built on the margin of a depressed town?

Now, in contrast  the picture below is a real Plaza in Madrid. It has people, clearly a meeting place with good access and surrounded with hustle and bustle.It serves a civic purpose. But the Pump House plaza is a Public space without any public use and was the product of an environmental grant funded to improve the coastline without any obvious improvement to the coastal environment that I can see. This "gift" EU funding gives no obvious facility  to the locals but may have well funded the designer's and constructors who have built this curious area for Carmarthenshire County Council.

After all, it was part of a "Masterplan". Its just we don't know what the plan was really all about. This is the explanation provided in the report for the whole North Dock Project.  After reading it, I am none the wiser.............

2.12 Llanelli Waterside
    The activity within the Llanelli Waterside area is funded through the Joint Venture partnership between Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire County Council. The investment in infrastructure over this and previous Masterplan period has created attractive regeneration sites for development which have been taken up to date by both residential and commercial developers (e.g. Machynys West, Pumphouse Restaurant, Dragon 24 offices). Evidence suggests that creating a high quality environment can bring competitive advantage in the regional, national and global market place. The landscape quality influences an occupier’s perception of an area as a suitable location for their business and first impressions count, therefore, ensuring high-quality landscape treatments at gateways, entrances and along access roads are important investment for the long term as these help the potential occupier achieve a positive business image.

{As  to the Sospan Restaurant, the funding for that is another story which I'll post soon!}

A more conventional Plaza

Siân Caiach,

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Another election, and probably another one soon.

This May I lost my county council seat. Luckily I had realised I had probably lost at the verification of votes the night before, so had time to think things over. I still held my Llanelli  Rural Council Seat and will be seen joining the local chain gangs as vice chair of the that council this year and as chair the following year. The Rural Council selects its chairs on seniority and I've been a member since 2001. I was vice chair before but resigned when both the Clerk and some other councillors objected to my autistic child being my consort  after they started reading a book in a very boring WEA lecture. If there had been a spare book I would have taken it, I was asked me to change my consort but I decided to just pack it in. Now I've been around so long its my turn again. This time my mother is my consort and her right wing politics and embarrassing stories about my childhood will be far less likely to cause offence.

Losing my County Seat leaves me more time for other things, and completely free of any guilt from the actions of the assorted slime bags, ostriches,nice but dim, well meaning but ineffective and generally gutless former colleagues, most of whose company I honestly will not miss. Most importantly my ambition is to write up and finish researching a large pile of local issues which have been languishing around my home and computer. I hope to blog more frequently.

As to yesterday's election, after waiting up until the early hours of the morning to see results which were important to me in one way or another, I found the picture here from the post by my friend Gillian Anderson today in Aye Mac summed up my general viewpoint on the process also.


I'm getting older, and will be 60 later this year and recall my first political activity which was delivering election leaflets in the 2 elections of 1974, the first chapters in a slow, political car crash for Labour ending in the plague of 1979. I doubt this new government will live up to the "strong and stable" label.

I also cannot abolish the evil thought that Theresa May should grasp her only advantage in her probably short premiership and send in a brexit negotiating team containing at least half of her DUP new friends as I truly believe that after a few weeks of their company the EU would give us very favourable terms just to get rid of them!

I have always been a nationalist. During the 2014 Scottish Referendum I worked for Yes in Dundee where I used to live and work, and later spent some time in the neighboring  Perth and North Perthshire constituency where, unlike in Dundee, where the "Yes" vote was the largest percentage in Scotland, it clearly was not going so well .They had a 60% No vote in 2014. This SNP seat was clearly at risk in an election where INDYREF2 was the major issue and the Tories doing well. Shortly after 3.00 am and after 2 recounts and despite a 20% swing from the SNP to the Tories, the SNP's Pete Wishart, a man of notable courage and persistence, won the seat by 21 votes. I shall be playing nothing but my Runrig CD's in the car for weeks.
                                                                                 Siân Caiach,

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Mystery of the Car Park - the Scarlets needed money and thanks to the council they got it

From previous blogs you will recall the high level of financial support from Carmarthenshire County Council for their pet project - The Scarlets Rugby Club and their even more amazing generosity to Nottingham based Leasing Company Henry Davidsons' Developments to whom the council gave away the Eastgate Llanelli, our Town Center Development after throwing millions of public money into the project. Then, remarkably, they managed to support both of their pet money pits in one single project - the Parc Y Scarlets Overflow Car Park Sale.

Ongoing development in 2016 when a hotel was being added to the Sessile Oak Pub on the left. Parc Y Scarlets  in distance. . 
Such is the web of mutual support in Carmarthenshire County Council that one pet project just has to help out another. The Eastgate has struggled to let out all of its shop units, the prices being pretty steep for Llanelli and anecdotally the management of the complex seem to prefer "national" businesses to local enterprises. However, the Scarlets were clearly an exception, were offered and occupied 2 East Gate units, a shop and a cafe, to promote the club, encourage visitors to the town centre and of course to make them some money.

Somehow the Scarlets ran up a shop fitting bill of nearly £300k with Eastgate Developers and leasing agents Henry Davidson Developments. I'm waiting for former Council Leader Meryl Gravell's memoirs to find out how this fine English firm got its claws into her.

Anyway, in order to pay off this debt the Scarlets and Carmarthenshire Council decided to sell a car park lease and split the profits, Due to the unfortunate fact that the Scarlets' new stadium has not managed to pack in thousands of new fans into the increased seating area provided, the overflow carpark was no longer needed but more cash was. However, the scandal was that although the Scarlets had been given the lease to the Car park for free, they got the lion's share of the proceeds as it was sold to Marsten's to build the Sessile Oak pub. The pub chain wanted to put up a hotel too, but it was originally declined by CCC to protect the hotel at the Eastgate. Now a hotel has been built on the car park as well, an unexplained u turn in that planning decision..

The ordinary county councillors generally treated like mushrooms, {kept in the dark and fed on manure} were told that the Authority would share the sale profits after the "usual disbursements" . The land registry showed that the car park lease was sold for £850k and CCC accounts showed that CCC got £200k. It turned out that after fees, valuation and paying off the Scarlet's debt to HDD, only £400k was left to be split, The usual disbursements in Carmarthenshire as you can see, are not exactly what one may expect. Following this heroic bailout the whole Scarlets' shop and cafe project folded, Was it ever a commercial proposition?

One sad issue of the whole case is when I pressed the Council's Executive Board member for resources and finance for an explanation of how half of £850k became £200k he told me the truth about where the money had gone. When I walked into his office to hear the explanation he was actually on the phone to chief executive Mark James who, even at the last minute, was trying to talk him out of spilling the beans. The same Jeff Edmunds, as leader of the Labour Group was later rejected out of hand by the Independents as a suitable coalition partner, presumably as he wasn't trusted to cover their backs,suspected of an unfortunate tendency to tell the truth.

The Scarlets have been under public scrutiny because of resentment by local residents of the huge amounts of public money spent on them , Like the car park deal there are other examples of County Council Executive financial decisions without scrutiny or clear explanation. More recently Llanelli House has benefited from a sudden and unexpected handout from the public purse of over £300k to fill an unexplained gap in their budget. Many more questionable hand outs have probably slipped under the radar.

How does a firm or institution qualify for the gravy train in Carmarthenshire? There seems to be a process which firmly encourages blindly throwing more of our money at pet projects that fail to make money as predicted in their original fantasy business plans and then desperately ask for more.

Is it just simply that failure to bail out these lame ducks will expose the original detail of the decisions to support them as flawed?


How many public bodies have the general motto" Never admit mistakes, never say sorry and hope you never get found out"? Quite a lot, I suspect.



Siân Caiach

  

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Guest Post - Ray Jones - his take on the Scarlets' funding issues

Ray Jones is a longtime community activist and one of the original "Stradey 9" who formed the Strady Residents Action Group - SRAG to oppose the building of a large residential development on the C2 flood plain at Stradey Park.


Ray "Duncan" Jones

 Ray writes:

Carmarthenshire Council have admitted spending over £25 million on the Parc- y-Scarlets Stadium. This does not include a loan of £2,6 million at an initial interest rate of 7%, later reduced to 3.5% and interest only, with full repayment of the capital sum in 2023.

The Council also made a contribution of £5.16 million from its reserves, and also funded a supposed 106 payment [usually used to fund local infrastructure of a new development] of £5.56 million to act as the club's contribution to the stadium. This loan was paid back, often in arrears, by Taylor Wimpey. The sum was based on the original 450 homes planned and after protests this was reduced to 355 so the developers may have ended up paying over the odds.

The new Stadium site was council owned and part developed for retail, the rest for the Scarlets.
Grants were given for their new training barn, £700,000 and the athletic track at the new stadium was supported to the tune of £750,000. The 150 year stadium ground lease with no rental payment unless there is considerable profit on ticket sales {never has been} is worth an estimated £5 million. So essentially free and eventually part of it sold on to finance other projects.

Deliottes were commissioned in 2007 to assess the Scarlet's business plan at the cost of £200,000. Deloittes assessed that the business plan was unlikely to succeed but the council still proceeded. The Scarlets agreed to set up an annual  "sink fund" for repairs of £25,000 but were allowed to default on it.

Later the Scarlets sold the lease on one of their car parks to Marsden's who built a pub and a hotel on the site and plan a "drive through" food and drink sales unit for the future. The Sale was for over £800,000 but the council, originally promised half the money, only got £200,000. Did that deficit include the almost £300,000 used to refit the Scarlet's shop and Cafe at the Llanelli  Eastgate, now both closed down?

Carms County Council were said to be paying £20,000 p.a. to employ a liason officer for them to keep in touch with the Scarlets.

The Council argued that the Scarlet Brand would bring both Pemberton and Trostre Retail Parks loads of business, They play at home 16 times a year - 11 home games in the Pro 12 and 4 in Europe. What happens the rest of the year?

Morrison's Supermarket paid the council around £25 million for their site but CCC paid a lot, some millions, to stabilise that site. Sold commercially the stadium site may have been worth £14-16 million. The Councillors were told the project would not cost the public a penny as it would be funded by the sale of this council land for retail and the Scarlets would be able to use the profit from the sale of land at Stradey Park to pay off their debts. This was then a figure of £9 million. Now it is more despite the money spent on them by the Council and selling the Stradey Park site for well over £9 million.     


Parc y Strade development : 355 homes mainly on a flood plain and elevated above ground level and  so increasing the risk of local flooding
  How much revenue has been lost with the Scarlets being given free rent and earning hundreds of thousands of pounds as the Council pay for the use of their facilities over very many years and the rental charges paid by all who use those same facilities?

Finally consider the the fairness in Carmarthen Town FC getting a grant of over £165.000 over 10 years and now applying for more, £150,000 for an all weather surface and Llanelli FC, "the Reds" who only owed £23,000 in debt being left to the mercy of being bankrupted and given a massive relegation [down 4 divisions to Welsh league division 3]. It could have been 8 if the Welsh FA had not stepped in.They then had to pay for their own signage and other local clubs, cricket, Tennis and Squash clubs face the same scenario. 

Ray "Duncan" Jones

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

St Illtyd's Way - can Carmarthenshire County Council turn back the Sea?

We may all know the tale of  King Canute who failed to turn back the sea. Less well known is the Celtic Saint Illtyd who was quite a religious superstar in his day, he had the sea under control. He is commemorated in many place names and also in St Illtyd's Way, a 64 mile long footpath for hikers which incidentally passes my home. The Way travels from Pembrey Country Park through Rural East Carmarthenshire via Mynydd y Gwair to Margam Country Park in Neath Port Talbot.

St Illtyd's church, Pembrey. Carmarthenshire, originally on the coast but now surrounded by homes built on reclaimed land.
St Illtyd was very popular. Setting up his HQ religious commune and college at what is now known as in English as Llantwit Major- Llanilltud Fawr in Welsh. Not surprisingly, as he specialised in coastal settlements, the sea became a problem here. As the community's sea walls failed repeatedly God had the solution. He instructed Illtyd to wave his crozier at the naughty sea which was permanently frightened away. Things were simpler in the 5th Century. It was a miracle.

Now the Sea can really get in the way in Carmarthenshire's coastal city deal.

Grant grabbing and permission to borrow was seen by many local government civil servants and councillors as a fine way of increasing council incomes. The trouble was making up the projects to fit the applications tended to leave a few white elephants hanging around, some quite expensive both financially and politically ,Much of the spending seems to have little in the way of tangible results for the local populations. Hence the deaf ears in much of Wales to the argument of the vital need for EU funding to continue.

Now there's a different game in town,, the City Deals. Here in Carmarthenshire the Council is the lead body in the Wellness ARCH Project AKA Wellness and Wellbeing Neuro/Life Science village and a few other similar descriptions. Here is one official description from a press release:

What is a Wellness and Life Science Village?
This project is a first for the country and brings together health, science and enterprise to regenerate the area and also help people live healthier lives for longer.
The project concept was derived last year from work undertaken by under ARCH alongside Carmarthenshire Council. ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is a partnership between Swansea University and ABMU and Hywel Dda health boards. By coming together the three organisations are aiming to transform the way healthcare is delivered in South West Wales. ARCH brings together the health service and innovation and research to find a new way of meeting the challenges the NHS faces.
The village could see lifestyle and leisure facilities, primary and community-based healthcare and specialist residential care integrated with university research and education space. There will also be business facilities to encourage economic growth.
A feasibility study, funded by the Welsh Government, is currently being carried out for the scheme at Delta Lakes. The site, adjacent to the coastline, has been chosen as the perfect place to deliver the project, which is expected to create 1,000 jobs.

                                                               *********************
Llanelli is a low lying town where most of South Llanelli has been reclaimed from the sea over the past 2 centuries. With global temperatures expected to raise by at least 2-4 C by 2100  and tide lines to rise by 4-6 metres building on land already requiring tide locks to stop the sea coming in twice a day seems a little short sighted?  Delta lakes, looking at the research by Climate Central, may well be permanently under water  before the end of the century and at risk of tidal surges producing floods  prior to going under. It is clearly in a potential danger area. Why throw money at a site which may only last a few decades?
Speaking back in 2015 Professor Ian Hall, head of Earth and Oceanic Science at Cardiff University said:
"It is clear that as the rate and total amount of Sea level rise increases in the coming years the impact of this change will be increasingly felt".
"Our Coastlines and the communities living on them will become increasingly vulnerable. In Wales, adapting to future sea levels will require a combination of increased flood protection for certain high value coastal assets but an acceptance that abandonment and relocation is inevitable for some"
There is no sign on the plans I've seen of extensive flood protection being part of this construction.You can make almost any building flood proof to a certain level but it is expensive and the projected builds look rather open and decorative rather than a fortress against the sea. Why build in an area of risk knowing the possible consequences?
This is an aerial view https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8iNZH5r8Os  of the site as it is now prior to building and you will see that it is flat, very near the sea and even has standing water on areas which are not the actual lakes, It probably has not been built on historically since industrial times because its suitability was thought far from ideal. With global warming accelerating it may now be even less suitable. Could the County Council, financially liable for project delivery, end up with an expensive case of trench foot? Perhaps that Crozier is at hand somewhere?
As the press release says:

'Nothing of this scale has been tried in Wales before'

An Artist's Impression

                                                                                                         Siân Caiach