Friday 27 April 2012

Election round-up: the gloves are off (Part 1)

A couple of weeks ago, the BBC's Dragon's Eye programme looked at the bizarre way in which a small group of evangelical Christians in Carmarthen have been given massive financial support by the County Council to build a bowling alley and what will effectively be a new church. Nobody from the council could be found to explain the decision, and the chief executive declined to comment, claiming that it would be wrong for him to do so in the run-up to the council elections.

Although there are many issues in the election campaign, it is fair to say that the Towy Community Church's project is not one of them.

With a week to go before the elections, the chief executive has however weighed in to give his views on the controversial Stradey Park housing development, which is very much an election issue. There campaigners have been fighting a long campaign to halt the proposed development of 355 executive homes, which they argue will increase the risk of flooding for existing residents.They also say that the plans do not include any affordable houses.

Campaigners have now lost their latest bid to secure a judicial review in the Court of Appeal, and the council's press office has sprung into action to record the chief executive's joy, as he blasts opponents of the scheme:

This has been an unnecessary waste of time and money, and we shall be seeking to recover our costs on behalf of the council taxpayers of Carmarthenshire. It has also meant a delay in the payments agreed with Taylor Wimpey to the County Council.
We hope that Taylor Wimpey will now get on site as soon as possible to build much needed new homes, including affordable homes, for the people of Llanelli.
This is yet another unfortunate example of a small group of people in Llanelli trying to stop any development taking place; this includes the new school for Furnace and the development of derelict land such as the Grillo site.
This is costing Llanelli much needed construction jobs and investment at a time when it is sorely needed. It is also denying the children of Ysgol Ffwrnes the opportunity to have first class facilities in which to learn.

Bearing in mind that the Furnace school project is also politically contentious, this casts his reluctance to speak about the Towy Community Church project in a very odd light.

Staying in Llanelli for a moment, Cneifiwr has seen a copy of a letter written on behalf of Labour's Cllr Keri Thomas. Cllr Thomas has been seriously ill for the past year, and has been unable to attend any council meetings. That has not prevented him from seeking re-election, however.

A concerned resident wrote to Cllr Thomas to ask him where he stands on the Stradey Park development.

Back came a reply dated 19 April 2012 on council paper saying that he would give any new planning application for the site due consideration, but he could not comment since no new application had yet gone in (this refers to the campaigners' contention that Taylor Wimpey will need to submit a new planning application because the old one has now lapsed).

Strangely, the letter was signed on his behalf with a "pp" signature, Cllr Thomas apparently not being well enough to write his own name.


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