Saturday 8 November 2014

A Land Grab

Earlier this year Carmarthenshire county councillors were surprised and disturbed to see that Swansea Business Improvement District and Swansea Council were among those objecting to plans to develop five units as fast food outlets, cafes and restaurants at Parc Trostre, Llanelli's out-of-town shopping centre.

Town councillors in Carmarthen were also alarmed because they fear that under Welsh Government proposals, responsibility for deciding certain types of commercial planning applications would in future be handed to panels made up of private sector interests and others, such as the Swansea Business Improvement District. This would mean businesses in Swansea deciding who should be allowed to set up business in Carmarthenshire and the rest of the so-called Swansea Bay City Region, with local people and representatives having little or no say in the matter.

Cllr Alun Lenny (Plaid) said at the time that under the proposed regional planning system Swansea city centre would want to be the driver for economic development.

But it's not just Swansea retailers who are eying up Carmarthenshire as a sort of colonial hinterland which could give the city's economy a useful shot in the arm.

Here is a report of the Leader of Swansea Council, Rob Stewart, in response to the Welsh Government's proposals for reorganising local government.

Having mulled things over in a seminar, Swansea's overwhelmingly Labour councillors would like to see the city's boundaries expanded to take in Llanelli, Neath Port Talbot and the Swansea Valley. Or as they put it, their preferred option would be:

"The Establishment of a Swansea Bay Authority which encompasses the natural boundaries of communities which would identify with the Swansea Bay City Region. This model would follow the industrial heartlands of South West Wales and would include the neighbouring regions of Llanelli and the Swansea Valley together with Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. This preferred model would be based around the economic development and regeneration of South West Wales."

This proposal to create a large new fiefdom under perpetual Labour rule has now gone off to Labour's Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews.


Anonymous said...

There is a movement that would say let Swansea have Llanelli but as long as they take the debt for Parc Y Scarlets & the rest of the money pit that is Llanelli !!!

Jac o' the North, said...

To begin with, it could be argued that what is being proposed is a natural unit, a contiguous urban-industrial area. With all the 'infilling' going on between Swansea and NPT, Swansea and Llanelli separated by just a river, a single authority would be no more than accepting the reality on the ground.

As for creating a "new fiefdom under permanent Labour rule", I'm not so sure. Labour only regained control of Swansea at the last elections. Plaid has a good presence in Neath and hopes to win Llanelli at both the Westminster elections next year and the Assembly elections in 2016. Throw Ukip into the mix and it becomes clear that Labour is not the unchallenged power it once was in this area. And probably never will be again.

Whether this constitutes a "land grab" (presumably by Swansea), I'm not sure you're right there, either. I'm prepared to bet that talks were held with Labour councillors in both NPT and Llanelli before this document was produced by Swansea council. And as you have reminded us on more than one occasion, there are strong secessionist tendencies at work among the brothers and sisters in Llanelli. Whereas Plaid Cymru, with Llanelli removed, should be able to win a Carmartheshire-Ceredigion, or a revived Dyfed authority.

Finally, if the 'Welsh' Government is serious about a city region other than Cardiff then it must support this obvious merger.

Anonymous said...

It seems to make sense to me however dont count on anybody having a sensible conversation with Llanelli Labour.

They would be eaten alive by the Swansea Labour Party - I don't think they should even by allowed to sit under the Labour banner the way they have conived with the conservatives masquerading as independents.

I have said for a very longtime that the Llanelli Labour group have had it in there power to change the current council but have sat on there hands and allowed themselves to be sha**d on a daily basis by Pam and her crew.

How many true labour people would have actually voted to deny themselves the right to ask suplamentaries for gods sake !!

I would hate the fate of Carms County Council to be in the hands of Carms Labour Party as you can guess.