Sunday 11 August 2013

Cheap-shot lies

Roughly three weeks ago Carmarthenshire County Council, or rather someone in the chief executive's department, reacted volcanically to suggestions that the council was planning to privatise parts of Pembrey Country Park and the Millennium Coastal Park:

"This is same old same old rumour and fabricated diatribe that is resurrected every few years that has absolutely no foundation at all. It is a downright and cheap-shot lie that the park is for sale, designed to provoke anxiety."

Roll forward a couple of weeks, and the council publishes the annual report of Cllr Meryl Gravell, Executive Board member responsible for regeneration. This is what she had to say about the council's plans for the two parks:

"We are looking for partners to help execute infrastructure improvements; events and activities; and accommodation solutions in the parks. Almost 30 expressions of interest have been received, and interested parties are invited to visit the parks and discuss their ideas during June, with the intention of making formal tender offers afterwards." [Cneifiwr's translation]

Millennium Coastal Park
Meryl's use of the term "accommodation solutions" is particularly interesting and suitably vague. Are we talking about campsites, caravan parks or hotels?

Responding to Unison's concerns (the full text of the press release which sparked the hysterical outburst can be found below), the council's Head of Leisure said,

"The authority has no intention of selling off the PCP or the MCP, and neither could it."

But as the Unison statement hints, what the council could do and has done repeatedly with favoured partners, is to offer very long leases on land, as often as not on extremely favourable terms.

Leases of 100 or 150 years may not technically be selling off land, but they amount to the same thing, and no private developer is going to invest significant amounts of capital to build e.g. a hotel on a short-term lease.

We are probably in for a long wait to discover the identities of the 30 ventures which expressed interest in grabbing a slice of the action, but it is likely that they will include a generous helping of familiar rugby boardroom figures and other persons "known to the officers". Who knows, perhaps Meryl's favourite former footballer, Robbie Savage, may put in another appearance.


Unison Press Release

Keep Pembrey Country Park and our coastline in public hands

Unison Carmarthenshire is growing increasingly concerned by Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans for Pembrey Country Park and the Llanelli coastline (Millennium Coastal path).

In an open invitation to private companies and investors the Council proposes that they could “Take on and improve existing facilities”, “Add holiday accommodation” and offer alternative use for areas – this is not an exhaustive list of proposals, but it does give a clear indication that the Council seeks to privatise the area and turn over a valuable and appreciated local resource to investors, whose sole intention would be to develop the area for their own profit.

While we do not disagree in principle with the development of the area, we do not understand why the council would seek outside investment when it could borrow the money itself and any profits from the area could be distributed back into the local community instead of lining the pockets of big businesses. There is a very real risk of developers being given the land for a pittance, applying for and receiving planning rights, which would boost the value of the land and simply cashing in.

We intend to ask Llanelli Trades Council, Trades unions, community and environmental groups, local councillors and AM’s and MP’s, anti-cuts and action groups, to come together to oppose this sell off and force Carmarthenshire County Council to reverse its decision to turn over vast swathes of our coastline to private developers whose last interest would be the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.
We will be holding Public Meetings after the summer holidays to discuss the current proposals and formulate a strategy to defeat them. We invite all the above and the general public to attend these meetings and to get involved in a campaign to keep Pembrey County park  and our coastline in the public sector -where councillors are democratically accountable for the stewardship of our assets. We urge everyone to get involved to safe our services.


Anonymous said...

I am a regular user of the park and the caravan facilities.

There are two campsites in the park, one on the outside (run privately) and one on the inside (run by CCC). The campsite on the inside had no showers and had to be booked in groups. The cafe was also pretty dire and hardly ever open.

This year it's pretty obvious that some private investment has come in, the cafe has had some money ploughed in and the internal campsite now has showers and can be used by single caravaners rather than rallies only. Common sense seems to have applied in this case, get someone in who can run a business and take a cut of the profit for the rest of the park users to see an improvement.

From what I've read abut Unison's press release, they would be against even a privately run cafe in the park. You have to ask yourselves whether we want the County to be concentrating on running these facilities when they are struggling to provide social care? Another facility in the park which could do with being privately run is the ski slope; what the hell do CCC know about running ski slopes? it's daft that it's being subsidised by the tax payer as it is. lease it privately and take a cream of the profits!

We'll have to see what actually is proposed for the park, but i think there are some great opportunities to invest in the place while keeping the general dog walking and picnic areas in public hands.

Anonymous said...

Wake up sheeple, we are sleepwalking into privatisation!

Is this a freudian slip? "South Llanelli is undergoing a phenomenal transformation and there's no better place to learn about the exciting new development plans ... Proposals for new homes, offices, light industrial buildings and much, much more ..."

And what do readers make of this?

Anonymous said...

Agree with earlier comment - is it not better for the County to concentrate on running the statutory services such as Education & Social Care , Council employees do not have industry experience to run leisure / public entertainment area Look what a mess the firmer Soviet Socialist Republic got themselves into so is that what Unison wants- a return to chaos and confusion with shop stewards running businesses

Anonymous said...

Re. Anon 17.20
This pseuds corner rubbish written about the so-called Llanelli Waterside must have been written by a deluded fantasist, who had been partaking of dodgy substances. The North Dock housing resembles communist era Eastern European 'social housing', the office spaces are stll mostly unused and The Delta Lakes (New Dock, filled in with household trash in the 1980s) is yet to see any development at all.

Anonymous said...

@ 14:42 and 23:27 - "get someone in who can run a business" like Towy Church you mean??? What experience does this cult have of running a bowling alley? Be careful what you wish for!