Saturday 24 August 2019

Where are Llanelli's reparations? We need compensation for the mismanagement of Carmarthenshire County Council

For the last 2 decades Carmarthenshire County Council has been led by senior officers and complicit county councillors who have imposed ridiculous schemes on the area, some of which continue to cause harm to the residents. The last scheme, the Wellness Development at Delta Lakes, is, at the time of writing, still under police investigation as there appears to be evidence of some fraud and bribery related to the project which failed to attract the millions in City Deal funding required to deliver the scheme.

 However, senior council officer Llinos Quelch has just approved planning for the whole scheme under "delegated powers", bypassing any open discussion by County Councillors on the future of the project. No doubt senior councillors and the new chief executive, Wendy Walters, will have been consulted.

This decision to go ahead with the project happened on the 6th August 2019 .Unusually, no triumphant press release was evident from the Carmarthenshire Council that the multi million pound super project was apparently "back on track" and that new money has been found.

Carmarthenshire's chief executive officer has retired and taken with him the "unlawful" pay increase and legal fees that the Wales Audit Office declared should never have been given to him. The Wellness project is currently under police investigation, which may also involve a former Council Leader as well as the former chief executive.

But what happens to the Residents of Carmarthenshire?. County Hall has been said to have a number of spectacularly lumpy carpets where the embarrassing failures have been swept underneath. But shouldn't they now be exposed, explained and. as much as possible, put right?

Plenty of empty shops in Llanelli 

Carmarthenshire's largest town, Llanelli , has been relatively neglected in recent years. The funding of the Scarlets Rugby Club and their new stadium has taken priority. A new Eastgate town centre leisure /entertainment development was not as successful as hoped, and the Wellness Development has been promising "up to 2000 new jobs" for some time but the public have never even seen the business case, so have no idea of how viable the scheme is or what these jobs are? The Council's Executive board decided not to release these details and the business plan itself may be under investigation.

A place to walk through rather than shop?

Llanelli town Centre has been “in trouble” for some time and like many other similar towns has become dominated by banks, food outlets and charity shops while local small businesses have struggled. More recently established larger businesses such as Wilkinsons and Holland and Barrett are leaving. There have been various local initiatives which have brought flats above shops back into use and tried to support local businesses and give temporary free parking. This has helped in several areas but not enough to turn around the decline.


The problems of the town centre are exacerbated by the existence of the large out of town retail sites at Parc Trostre and Parc Pemberton, both sites having extensive free parking and easy road access. Also, comparatively rents have been generally cheaper, with the offer of attractive deals and rates for the big companies. Many major retail businesses have relocated from Llanelli Town centre to the out of town retail parks over the years. However, in recent years even some of these large companies have failed to make a success of their units outside town and some totally failed commercially and closed.

It was clearly a tactical mistake to expand the out of town sites but the development of some of this area. Parc Pemberton, in the form of the sale of land to Morrison's, was also part of the plan to help finance and build a new stadium for the Scarlets and so arguments that there was not enough  retail capacity in the area to support it without harm elsewhere fell on deaf ears. Carmarthenshire County Councillors and their former chief executive, Mark James, were so committed to the future success of the Scarlets’ Rugby Club that little else mattered. Their scheme, along with the building of Parc Y Strade Housing Estate on a floodplain, was supposed to pay for the new Stadium and clear the Rugby Club’s debts but failed to do so  The Scarlets have been unable to make a profit ever since the move, and remain in debt years later, despite the original optimistic predictions. Full marks to Elli Councillor John Jenkins who pointed out the futility of excess retail outlets, to deaf ears in County Hall at the time. After all, Rugby Club Sponsorship was surely more important to councillors than anything else?


The business case for the new Eastgate new town centre development was that the new theatre , hotel, cinema, restaurants and pubs would attract shoppers from the out of town shopping areas some 2 miles, away,into the town itself. They would enjoy themselves so much that they would stay and patronise the older town centre every time they shopped out of town, despite the lack of parking. Personally, after shopping out of town, I would probably go home before the ice cream melted rather than go a further 2 miles out of my way and spend an evening of culture and dining in a town , which most people can't afford anyway. The Eastgate itself was gifted by the council to the developers? why? This means we don't even own the buildings and the Council pay £250,000 per year in rent for the council offices there. The area has since been sold on to a FTSE company for £12million. 

One big obstacle to revitalising the town centre is the lack of money in Llanelli. It is not a prosperous enough town to support enough spending in the shops in and out of town, for all of the outlets to survive. Many people would love all of the County Council town parking to be free all the time. The Council could also help by reducing Business Rates and Rents of their properties. It is only right that those who caused the problem should put it right.? Millions spent on the Scarlets failed to wipe out the club debts, and impoverished the County Council, which itself is impressively in debt.


 County Councils are not just for building Stadiums and giving grants and loans to privately owned rugby clubs,and giving free land and assets to developers.As well as being generous to the wealthy, they are supposed to look after the people who pay, through national and local taxation, for the Council and all its services.

I certainly agree that although the Council would lose out on some income if parking was free.But as  the County Councillors voted to build these out of town sites, give away the Eastgate, and suck the blood out of the remaining town centre, surely they should make amends? Free parking every day in Llanelli Town Centre would surely give back some advantage to our town centre!


And rather than continue spending on a scheme at Delta Lakes without even a business case, why not wait before they spend more millions there?  .Council money is our money, from our taxes, and such a shame that our elected councillors have been encouraged to throw it away on dubious schemes. Much of it is borrowed and we residents are paying interest on it every day.

Hollnd and Barrett store now closed in Llanelli

 Siân Caiach,


  1. All of this and yet the people of Carmarthenshire still vote Labour

  2. Thanks Anon 11.56
    As all of the three major political group in Carmarthenshire County Council, Plaid Cymru, Affiliated Independents and the Labour Party have all historically been quite complicit in all of this, its very hard to decide who to vote for if you are resident in Carmarthenshire.
    In theory, Plaid Cymru now runs Carmarthenshire County Council as they are the largest group and they have the support of the Affiliated Independents, a generally right wing group with little in the way of policy and direction.
    The Council Leader, Plaid's Emlyn Dole has been in favour of many of the dubious projects and still champions the Wellness Life Science Village despite the obvious setbacks in funding and credibility.
    Personally, I feel the quality and morality of councillors is the major problem, regardless of their affiliation. They are recruited primarily because of their party affiliations and tend to support party advantage rather than the electorate. Carmarthenshire is probably a more obvious basket case than other similar authorities, in my opinion, because the last chief executive helpfully arranged the ruling coalitions and selected a succession of "council leaders" likely to be manipulated by him and his senior officers. In the case of the Wellness project, events exposed the failings of the project before the Council could get the City Deal Funding and build the massive development as planned with public grants and borrowing. To save face the current administration will probably try to build something on the site.


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