In what has otherwise been an unusually quiet month for news from Carmarthenshire, Parc y Scarlets has come up with two interesting stories this week.
The first concerns the Scarlets' Red Room on the Eastgate development in the centre of Llanelli, which opened its doors in August 2013 thanks to a cash donation of £280,000 from Carmarthenshire County Council in what was termed "allowable expenses".
The Red Room was officially opened by council leader Kevin Madge who said, "There's no doubt that this wonderful facility will have a positive
impact on Llanelli and the surrounding areas and I wish you all the very
best of success for the future."
Cllr Madge later went on to praise this innovative venture as an example of how the council was helping to create jobs and increase footfall in the centre of Llanelli.
Unfortunately it seems that the jobs created at the Red Room may be rather short-lived. Still some way off its first birthday, it was reported on Twitter that the Red Room's staff have been given notice. The Scarlets responded by saying that it was business as usual, although not denying that the staff had all been given their marching orders.
Subsequent inquiries have confirmed that staff have indeed been told that they will have to look for employment elsewhere.
Local sources say that footfall in the Eastgate development has stayed stubbornly below expectations, and that the promised boost to other businesses in the town centre has yet to materialise. The owner of one local pub told the Llanelli Star recently that business was so quiet in town that he was having to close during the daytime.
The landlord had previously been assured by the council's top brass that Eastgate would not have bars and restaurants when it opened. Now he tells the local paper that Eastgate and Trostre are draining business away from the town centre.
Responding to the news about the partial closure of the Met Bar, Meryl Gravell said businesses up and down the country were struggling, before adding:
"as a council we are doing all we can to encourage footfall in the
town centre — we have invested £60 million to improve what we've got to
offer which has had a huge impact on the numbers of people coming in to
We are continuing to work with businesses at all ends of the town to make the most of this investment and attract new trade.
Having said that, I do believe that businesses need to be innovative to attract new customers and retain them."
In another innovative deal Parc y Scarlets is up for an award for tackling its energy use and carbon footprint after installing a solar array at the stadium.
The project was carried out by three firms in partnership with Parc y Scarlets. They include CWM Environmental, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carmarthenshire County Council, Hydro Industries and Dragon Energy Solutions.
Hydro Industries is based at the nearby Stradey Business Park in Llangennech. The business park was bought by the council for a knockdown price from the Ministry of Defence in 2009 and promptly resold to some private investors. Councillors were told at the time only that the private investors were "known to some of the officers".
It later emerged that the partnership was headed by David Pickering, chair of the WRU, and Mr Nigel Lovering. Mr Lovering is one of the directors and shareholders of Hydro Industries.
Dragon Energy Solutions is based not far away at Dafen, and has been in existence for less than a year. Despite its lack of a track record, it is impressive that the company was selected to take part in this major project.
So new is Dragon Energy Solutions that it does not yet have a website, although one is under construction.
Prior to setting up Dragon Energy Solutions, the two young-ish directors were involved in two other companies, both of which sadly had to be dissolved.