Friday 14 September 2012

Call-in of supermarket plans: the end of the world as we know it - Updated

Kevin Madge, leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, has blown his top at MP Jonathan Edwards and AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas for persuading the Welsh Government to call in plans for two large new Sainsbury's supermarkets in the market town of Llandeilo and at Cross Hands.

The story was reported on the Golwg360 Welsh news service (here), but for a less balanced view, the council's Press Office has given it the full North Korean treatment with an unbelievably biased and slanted account. The opening sentence is enough to give readers a flavour of the piece:

"Plaid Cymru’s AM and MP are trying to stop a £60million investment with the creation of around 1,200 jobs in the Tywi and Gwendraeth Valleys, it has been revealed".

A Sainsbury's spokesman claims further down in this Pravda special that local people and politicians had been "overwhelmingly supportive" of the plans.

That will certainly come as news to many people in Llandeilo.

Their action was "inconceivable and inexcusable", Kev fumed, claiming that by persuading the Welsh Government to take a closer look at the plans, they were undermining the two developments which would create hundreds of construction jobs and include new housing, a doctor's surgery, a care home and the new Maes yr Yrfa Welsh medium school. All this was now at risk, he said.

If you have never tried to get a planning application called in before, it may be helpful to know that the Government applies strict criteria before it takes any application out of the hands of a council. When it does so, it is usually because there is something seriously wrong with the way an application has been handled by a council and it runs counter to national planning rules. Other reasons include a threat to national security, but that can probably be ruled out here.

In other words, the Welsh Government has convinced itself that there is very good reason to take a closer look.

Perhaps Kev should be directing his fire at Cardiff instead.

It will be interesting to see just how he has reached the conclusion that calling in planning applications for two supermarkets would put plans for the new school, etc. in jeopardy.

A large chunk of the funding for the school is coming from the Welsh Government, with the County Council providing the rest under its Modernising Education Programme.


Jonathan Edwards MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM have responded, accusing the council of wasting taxpayers' money on carrying out political attacks.

This is by no means the first time that the Press Office, with its 8 staff, has been used to smear opponents.

They added that Kevin Madge's comments in a joint declaration with the developer clearly showed that some of the Labour and Independent councillors were in the pockets of big business.

See BBC Cymru story here.


Jon said...

As you say, it is the exception that the Welsh Ministers take decisions on planning applications out of the hands of local councils. It is interesting to look at the WAG website which records all the current call-in requests. Nationally, the Welsh Government is considering 14 requests to call-in planning applications – no less than 5 of these are in Carmarthenshire. Needless to say, Carmarthenshire doesn’t have the largest number of applications in Wales, nor indeed the second largest – those are, unsurprisingly, Cardiff and Swansea. Last quarter, Carmarthenshire received 7% of the total number of planning applications (400 out of 5986), yet it has 36% of the call-in requests. It seems to indicate that it is not just Jacqui Thompson and Cneifwr who are unhappy about Carmarthenshire’s decision-making.

A trawl through the Planning Portal indicates that of the 7 Carmarthenshire call-in applications decided since 2009, 6 were dismissed. In all these cases the Council wanted to approve them. No wonder Kev is nervous about the supermarket schemes – their track record speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Edwards:
Carmarthenshire CC in the pockets of big business.


They added that Kevin Madge's comments in a joint declaration with the developer clearly showed that some of the Labour and Independent councillors were in the pockets of big business.

Emphasise on the word SOME.

now jonathan edwards has mentioned ccc which gives the impression that all of ccc are in the pockets...

or is it a vague interpretation?

then again, if the 'some' are representatives of ccc, is it collectively or in part?

they're all the same if you ask me.

what is in llandeilo? 2 supermarkets and the town shops that may be affected (reality is one of them will suffer, but people would like cheaper shopping at the end of the day).

crosshands has got two supermarkets, pioneer and aldi, plus the town shops.. no doubt that someone will be affected but people would like cheaper shopping at the end of the day.

the employment is short term on the construction side of things.

the employment on the retail side will be offset by the potential closures elsewhere.

so when leanne wood has her making your pledge for the future of wales, how can it be possible to pledge yourself if your opportunity has been taken away?

crosshands and llandeilo MUST be treated as seperate issues, one is semi urban and the other is rural.

so....what is the fishy smell? It can't be coming from the Llandeilo side as it's common sense to see what the potential problems are there, and if the feeling of support is overwhelmingly against sainsbury in Llandeilo (what the actual figure is i don't know and for what reason).

Unless i'm missing something completely due to other things to do, i am in the dark of any opposition against crosshands except the distributor road and traffic issues (if there are any)

why did ccc refuse sainsbury in ammanford again? (anon 2)

Anonymous said...

think i've sussed out what's happening with the sainsbury 80% and the missing 30m.. crosshands has got leekes. people buy televisions from leekes. the drop has to be something that costs a lot of money to achieve that level.
if you have a populate of 4,000 spending 7,500 annually, that cahieves the figure. 40,000 visitors to leekes means 750, 80,000 means £325. they shouldn't apply the same principle to Llandeilo though, they are tow seperate scenarios. if that is the case with leekes, there is no skullduggery with the figure on the crosshands side of things :-( Leekes sell things like homeware, tv, kettles, plates, towels, that kind of thing (a2)

Anonymous said...

dam, i typed out another reply, but i put it in the thick of it..

so, it can't be because of the electrical goods side..well, a proportion of it. If you look at the overall 36m, you may assume it's split halfway. Llandeilo has less people but more high st shops, but crosshands has more people with less high st shops but have 3 supermarkets.

i would think a 26m/10m split would be fair assumption.
If crosshands has 26m, say 10m for the coop, 5m each for lidl and farmfoods.. people shop at aldi and farmfoods for a reason, economical. and they aren't going to shift because of sainsbury. it's inevitable the co-op would bear the brunt. if that closes, the building is large. the carpark is large. you're looking at a football field size i wouldn't like that to be derelict. Have ccc really thought this through? they must have..surely. the sainsbury site is next door to the co-op. about 400 metres or so (a2)

Anonymous said...

uh oh.. i have read the retail impact report for the cross hands sainsbury. at first i spotted something mysterious which was headed 'other stores'. that could mean just about anything from lands end to.... all jokes aside, that probably means carmarthen, pontardulais tesco.
the overall impact is 33m, but if i take off the mysterious stores, ammanford tesco etc, the actual immediate impact is 7.26m, and it would be lower if the aldi and farmfood shoppers stay put.

the llandeilo figure seems to be 4.8m

if the aldi/farmfood shoppers stay put, the overall impact for the two stores is 8.3m

Sorry to bring you this news but i don't see any other info in it to contradict the original assessments, even if they were conducted by different firms.

the assessments take into account of locality, secondary and outside.
with llandeilo, you had people shopping in ammanford tesco.
also in the crosshands table, they had ammanford tesco down but specifically mentioned the impact cost of 7.43m.

Llandovery is classed as impact even if it is 13 miles away, whereas ammanford to crosshands is 6 miles. if the council have massaged the figures to exclude carmarthen and llanelli out from the equations, that would be understandable.

what it seems like they did was to include llanelli tesco and asda which is 11 miles from crosshands and falls under the impact banner, just the same as llandovery is 13 miles from llandeilo.
I don't understand what the 'others' are as carmarthen is 11 miles from crosshands, pontardulais is 9 miles.

Being realistic, why travel 11 miles to llanelli tesco if you can go to ammanford 6 miles away. but llanelli is tesco extra and may wish to go to other shops as well.

so my theory of leekes and televisions is way off course - disregard that, but was worth looking at just in case.

at least the bottom of the mystery is known now. there is nothing fishy about the report, except that bit in the crosshands assessment. 13.4m worth so i'm assuming that is meant as carmarthen tesco and morrison.
what i didn't notice in the report was llanelli morrison which a little unusual. (a2)