Tuesday 15 January 2019

A Banquet of Consequences - first course for Carmarthenshire County Council.

"Sooner or later, we all sit down to a banquet of consequences" -Robert Louis Stephenson.

Quite a banquet of consequences should be served soon at Carmarthenshire County Council. Sitting in the Carmarthenshire County Council Planning meeting on January 10th my companion drew my attention to a text on her phone. Mr Mark James, the CEO, was retiring, it said.

I then had to make a presentation of my objections to the current plans for the Llanelli Wellness and Life Sciences project at Delta lakes. I felt I should say that although I had only known Mr James as an arrogant, control freak with a degree of malice , I wished him well. The chair of committee became agitated and interrupted me, presumably to point out that the resignation of  Mr James was not a planning  consideration.

In fact , without Mr James we would not have been discussing the merits of the plans at all. This was on of his "babies" , the revitalisation of the economy of Llanelli by the building of a huge industrial estate themed on life sciences. private healthcare services and a couple of previously promised developments, a new care home to replace one shut down by the council, and a new leisure centre to replace the ageing, existing one in the town centre.

My main objection was related to the actual site and the effect on the traffic pollution in my ward, with air pollution already at dangerous levels but not enough to get CCC to do anything about it other than monitor it. They cant afford a single "No Idling" sign in Sandy road, gridlocked twice a day and spewing emissions into my community in a heavily populated residential area, but have already borrowed £200 million to finance this apparently dodgy scheme  before approval by the City Deal overseers. Even my own County Councillor, Cllr Penny Edwards [Labour] voted for this scheme on the day, rather than get on the wrong side of Mr James.

Badger faced sheep 

The suspension of Swansea Academics involved in the Delta Lakes Scheme and investigations are about to start from the Wales Audit Office, Auditor General and the UK City Deal Authorities, did not dampen the enthusiasm from the sheep-like planning committee for this project. As the case was already "called in" they could not pass it but only say they were minded to do so.

 Earlier, in correspondence, Planning chair Alun Lenny reminded me the outcome in the case of Stradey Park, a planning application on a flood plain also called in by the the Welsh Government and subsequently passed. It was allowed to pass by the Welsh Government when Taylor Wimpey  threatened the Welsh Government with a multi-million pound civil case and minister Jane Davidson capitulated despite the plans being against WG policies.

None of the developers of the Wellness project are going to do that, and CCC is unlikely to threaten the Welsh Government with using the £200 million they have borrowed to build this palace of wellness, to sue our own Government.

 Even though, in the planning  meeting, addressing the councillors, I pointed out the major problems with the scheme and even  informed  them that the planning officer who presented it on the day had, for some reason, withheld important negative information from  them  (in a letter from Natural Resources Wales of 9th January) the sheep approved the scheme.It made no difference,

  I intend to find out on whose authority that information was suppressed. Only a severely edited quote of the letter was given to the committee suggesting NRW were now "on side" when the truth was they were "minded to object". I could not find this letter on the list of documents CCC deposited online,and was tipped off by another source. How much other information has the planning committee been "spared" so not to confuse then into the "wrong" decisions?

The failure of CCC to produce a business plan suitable to be released to the councillors was not mentioned..After a fantasy "fly through" presentation of a plan whose funding is in doubt, where "partners"  have fled, some are under investigation ,and basic planning considerations have been ignored, it made no difference to the councillors present. The three planning committee members who stayed home and sent their apologies may well have had done so to avoid the issue.

We do not know the full facts as to the reasons for Mr James' retirement, he's going in June, allegedly. The decision on the planning permission is on hold due to representations from myself and others to the Assembly on planning grounds. which at least the Welsh Government feel should be looked at.

Was the postponement of the "Dream" swamp project the last straw for Mr James? No doubt we will find out. Now his power is waning, some may be looking at other strange happenings at Carmarthenshire County Council. The Banquet may have many courses.

Siân Caiach,


  1. As with Prime Ministers who tell us well in advance that they are retiring and therefore lose a lot of their influence and power one can only hope that the same fate befalls on Mr James - come on councilors - say what you mean, do what is right, rather than pretend to be a mushroom and fed .....

    1. Couldn't agree more with Teifion. The dark lord is going. Good riddance, he will not be missed. His vindictive narcissistic personality has caused misery to many. Not just the public either. Councillors and officers have suffered under this dictatorial dreadful man. Time for democracy, truthfulness, objectivity, and importantly, common decency to return to the running of this authority. Those that have committed misconduct yet been protected by him might now be exposed. It's high time.

  2. I particularlylike your final paragraph Sian, I had no trust for the welsh government under 1st. minister Jones so maybe the wind of change will sweep away the dust and a full enquiry be held pertaining to the multiple planning irregularities which have been allowed. Further I think the roles of the police through an extended period should be investigated, since their support of James and Dole has been constant despite the obvious injustices also the ngligence of the Ombudsman.


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