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Carmarthenshire

Council builds more than 100 new homes as part of £300m plan

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Carmarthenshire Council say that they will have delivered a total of 119 new council homes by the end of this financial year.

The council say that providing quality, affordable homes is a key priority got them, and that an investment of over £300 million will support the delivery of more than 2,000 additional homes across the county over the next five years.

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The Housing Regeneration and Development Delivery Plan will also help to grow the local economy and regenerate communities by creating much-needed jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships in the construction industry.

Last year the council built eight new two-bed semi-detached houses in Maespiode in Llandybie and converted the former Hafan Croeso residential home in Glanamman into two self-contained flats, and shared accommodation for five people.

A further four new housing developments and a total of 106 new houses will be completed over the next few weeks  – a total investment of £223million and just the start of a programme of affordable house building not seen since the 1970s.

The first to be completed and to go on the housing register is a 14-home site in Garreglwyd, Pembrey. A mix of two and four-bedroom properties, the houses were designed by the council’s in-house property design team and the contract awarded via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework (SWWRCF) to local builder TRJ Ltd. It also includes a new bridge over the river to link the site with the cycle path.

The first phase of four new homes will soon be available for council tenants to rent on land near Dylan in Bryn, Llanelli. The remainder of the 32 homes will be released in phases over the next two months. The development, again designed by the council’s in-house property design team, includes 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council.

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A development of 32 homes will be completed in Glanmor Terrace in Burry Port by the end of March, along with a further 28 homes at site in Gwynfryn in Ammanford, built by local contractor Morganstone via the SWWRCF.

All the new houses are fitted with modern kitchens and bathrooms, they have exceptionally high levels of insulation to help minimise heat loss and are fitted with renewable technology including solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and battery storage helping to provide lower energy bills for tenants.

The developments in Garreglwyd, Dylan and Gwynfryn have all been part-funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The site in Glanmor Terrace has received funding through Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme (IHP) and the houses have been designed with a greater range of measures that will reduce both energy use and carbon emissions, supporting the council’s commitment to tackling climate change and becoming a net zero carbon local authority by 2030.

Constructed by TRJ Ltd, the 32 homes have all been built with timber frames and have external wooden panels, which means the carbon footprint of these buildings is very low. They have also been built to Passivhaus standard, which adopts a whole-building approach to provide a high level of occupant comfort using very little energy for heating and cooling. There are solar panels installed on every roof, connected to batteries which in the summer will be capable of supplying electricity off grid 24 hours-a-day. Each property has an electric vehicle charging point, all lighting is LED and have a MVHR (mechanical ventilation heat recovery system) so they are very energy efficient.

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As part of the development, a new public car park has been provided in Glanmor Terrace and additional parking bays created in Silver Terrace, as well as a public open space with landscaping and benches, which is linked to the new development by a footpath.

All four developments have created eight new jobs for people that were previously unemployed, as well as four apprenticeships and 19 work experience opportunities.

The Housing Regeneration and Development Delivery Plan was today (Monday, February 14)  approved by the council’s Cabinet and shapes the future plans for housing in Carmarthenshire for the next five years, building on the success of the council’s current affordable housing delivery plan.

It will also support economic growth by investing over £300 million into communities and directly supporting businesses, people and places as part of the council’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

A consultation exercise carried out last summer saw more than 2,500 responses, and these views have been used to help develop the plan.

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As well as building more council homes, the plan includes working with housing association partners to deliver more new build schemes, buying stock that suits its needs, working with developers to ensure a range of affordable homes are built as part of private developments and bringing empty homes back into use.

The council will also actively work with landlords to encourage them to make their properties available at affordable rent levels, including bringing more private sector homes into the management of its in-house social lettings agency Simple Lettings.

Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “This new five-year delivery plan will see the greatest development of new council homes in the county since the 1970s, three generations ago.

“The plan is exciting and bold, supporting the delivery of over 2,000 homes in our communities. We have already exceeded the targets in our first five-year plan, produced in 2016, which delivered over 1,000 homes, nearly a year ahead of programme. This plan sets out an even greater ambition.

“The homes delivered through this plan will be for rent and sale in all areas of our county, including rural and urban areas. We will provide homes for all household types, including families, older people, single people, couples and households with specialist needs. Our developments will include a mix of property types, including apartments, bungalows, large and small family homes.

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“But it’s not just about building homes – the homes we build will have a design where the quality and the way they look is distinctive, and sustainable in terms of their carbon footprint. Our new homes will create communities with a real sense of place that people of all ages are proud to call home.

“And the investment we are making will have a huge impact in stimulating the economy, creating jobs for local people and supporting the county’s recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic.”

In 2015, the council became the first in Wales to suspend the Right to Buy to retain its declining housing stock, and built a number of bungalows – the first local authority housing to be built in Wales since the 1980s.

A year later, in 2016, it launched its affordable homes plan to deliver 1,000 additional affordable homes in the county by 2021 by building new, buying from the market and converting empty buildings – which was delivered a year ahead of schedule.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole said the plan recognises the role of housing development and investment in stimulating the overall economic growth of the county – even more critical as we recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We have set clear goals and actions for the next two years that will support the recovery of the county’s economy, and increasing the supply of homes is recognised in the plan as a key driver of economic recovery and growth,” said Cllr Dole.

“This plan sets out our housing regeneration priorities for the next five years, stimulating economic growth and helping our economy and communities become stronger than ever before.

“We will ensure that we deliver the right homes in the right places, and this includes providing affordable homes for young and working aged people in both rural and urban areas, helping them to remain in the county, increasing footfall in our towns and protecting the Welsh language and culture in rural areas.

“It supports the development of our strategic regeneration sites throughout the county by delivering more homes for rent and sale, such as the multi-million-pound Pentre Awel development, which will create mixed tenure assisted living accommodation for older people with support and care; and the Transforming Tyisha project, which will deliver new mixed-tenure modern homes in the community.

“We are investing more than £300million – this will support local businesses and the supply chain, creating and safeguarding jobs and helping to replace those jobs that have been lost.”

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Cabinet Member with responsibility for climate action Cllr Ann Davies said building new energy-efficient homes played a significant part in the council’ s efforts to tackle climate change.

“Developing energy-efficient new homes, with the latest renewable technology helps support the council’s net zero carbon targets and the circular economy,” she said.

“We are also supporting our tenants to live more sustainably which forms a large part of our net carbon zero agenda. As well as helping them live in environmentally friendly homes, we are making their homes warmer and more comfortable, and cheaper to run by reducing their energy use and therefore their bills.

“We need everyone to make an effort and do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint,  however small, it all helps, this is why we launched Prosiect Zero Sir Gâr in November.”

The council is planting a tree in the garden of every new home it builds to off-set carbon emissions, as part of its commitment to become net zero carbon by 2030.

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Cabinet Member for the Environment Cllr Hazel Evans explained how important it was that council was able to procure highly experienced and qualified contractors for its new housing developments through the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework (SWWRCF).

Cllr Evans said: “The framework is managed by Carmarthenshire County Council on behalf of the South West Wales regional local authorities (Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea Council) and provides a competitive procurement platform and solution to public sector construction works.

“All our contracts for our new housing developments are awarded through the framework and this provides a number of benefits, both for the council, as well as for the contractors themselves.

“A number of local contractors have gained a place on the framework, and we are committed to maximising community benefits across the South West Wales Region including creating jobs for local people, training opportunities and apprenticeships in the construction industry.

“I am delighted that these new housing developments have created new jobs for those who were previously unemployed, and provided apprenticeships for our young people.”

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(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Ammanford

Man who filmed rape on Ammanford victim’s phone changes plea mid trial

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A man who filmed himself raping an Ammanford woman on his victim’s phone has changed his plea to guilty midway through his trial.

Cameron Hassan, aged 31, of no fixed abode, attacked the woman, raping her as she slept on 21 August 2021.

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Hassan had been on trial at Swansea Crown Court after denying any wrongdoing. However, after the jury was shown the video of the attack and hearing the victim was going to give evidence yesterday (Tuesday, 10 May), Hassan changed his plea to guilty.

Investigating Officer DC Sophie Lambert from Dyfed Powys Police said the victim had shown great strength and determination throughout the investigation.

“I must commend her tremendous courage in coming forward and the tenacity shown throughout the investigation,” she said.

“We hope this case demonstrates that Dyfed-Powys Police acts on serious allegations such as rape and sexual assault with officers working tirelessly to secure justice for victims.

“If you are suffering because of similar abuse, please contact the police, or if you would rather speak to someone in confidence, New Pathways are an independent charity that will support you through every step of the investigation.”

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New Pathways can be contacted at 01685 379 310 or email enquiries@newpathways.org.uk

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Carmarthenshire

Women’s Tour of Britain returns to Carmarthenshire

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The countdown is on before the world’s top women riders will race through Carmarthenshire as part of the Women’s Tour of Britain.

Some 108 cyclists will race through the County to the finishing line on top of the Black Mountain between Llangadog and Brynamman as part of the stage five event on Friday, June 10.

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The route will be starting from Pembrey Country Park at 10.45am and riders competing for the title will go through Pinged, Carway, Pontyberem, Horeb, Llansawel, and Llangadog.

A rolling road closure will take place along the 65-mile route which will come into action at 10.45am until 1.50pm.

Roads will be re-opened once the cyclists have passed through. A full road closure will be in place over the Black Mountain from 5am-5pm.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and across Europe with a helicopter camera crew following the race.

The Women’s Tour departs on Monday, June 6, and coincides with the final day of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The race will culminate with a prestigious finale six days later on Saturday, June 11.

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Pembrey Country Park previously hosted the Grand Départ of the men’s Tour of Britain as well as the overall finish of the Women’s Tour in 2019.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters said: “We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host this top cycling event. Previous years have brought an immediate economic boost to the tourism sector as well as providing a great deal of positive media coverage.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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