MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE?

The projects that could trans­form our town

Llanelli Star - - Front Page -

THE de­par­ture of the re­cently-com­pleted Welsh Wa­ter RainS­cape works has done won­ders for the ap­pear­ance of Llanelli for those com­ing from the town’s rail­way sta­tion.

The walls which sur­rounded the works, on Glanmor Road and Great Western Cres­cent, had stood quite no­tice­ably for the best part of two years.

But what are the other on­go­ing sagas in Llanelli which are in need of a swift res­o­lu­tion?

IM­PROVE LLANELLI’S RAIL­WAY STA­TION

It was an­nounced a year ago that the town’s rail­way sta­tion would be get­ting a much-needed makeover, and it has since re­ceived new toi­lets and wait­ing rooms.

Trans­port for Wales has since an­nounced that as part of its com­mit­ment to mid and South West Wales, more in­vest­ments will be made in Llanelli’s sta­tion in 2025, while sta­tions in Car­marthen and Machyn­l­leth will re­ceive in­vest­ments in 2021.

Sean Rees, coun­cil­lor for the Glany­mor ward, be­lieves that more needs to be done to im­prove the fa­cil­i­ties.

He said: “There is plenty more to do when it comes to im­prov­ing our rail­way sta­tion.

“The re­cent re­fur­bish­ment has seen the up­grad­ing of staff, dis­abled, gents and ladies toi­lets and new wait­ing rooms on both plat­forms. All of which need to be open for longer pe­ri­ods than at the mo­ment.

“These im­prove­ments do show what can be achieved through the ef­forts of our strong com­mu­nity cam­paign, and how our area has been proac­tive in iden­ti­fy­ing nec­es­sary im­prove­ments and bring­ing about change.

“For a town the size of Llanelli, the sta­tion re­ally ought to be staffed to a suf­fi­cient level, with CCTV to keep rail users safe and as­sis­tance avail­able should in­for­ma­tion be re­quired.

“The re­sponse seems to be ‘no they can’t, as a re­sult of an­ti­so­cial prob­lems.’ Why should the reck­less ac­tions of a mi­nor­ity re­sult in peo­ple who use our rail net­work be­ing pe­nalised?

“There also needs to be a greater fre­quency of ser­vices for West Wales, as cur­rently the fur­ther west you go on the rail net­work, the worse it gets.

“I will be meet­ing shortly with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Trans­port for Wales to dis­cuss all of this and how we can en­sure Llanelli gets its fair share of fur­ther in­vest­ment.”

FRESHEN UP THE TOWN BY DE­MOL­ISH­ING OR REN­O­VAT­ING ITS EYESORES

As much as East Gate makes Llanelli seem modern and rooted in the 21st Cen­tury, the same can’t be said for other parts of town.

Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil are aware of this, and three build­ings – Crown Precinct, the mis­er­able look­ing Ty Me­lyn, and per­haps most sadly the for­mer Siop y Werin – have al­ready been com­mis­sioned for de­mo­li­tion.

No. 10 Park Street, more com­monly known as Cir­cles, is set to be de­mol­ished in the com­ing days, with Siop y Werin not too far be­hind, with the coun­cil on track for com­ple­tion by the end of the year.

The coun­cil re­cently an­nounced that fol­low­ing a £4.5 mil­lion in­vest­ment, key lo­ca­tions in the town cen­tre were be­ing tar­geted for fur­ther im­prove­ments.

The in­vest­ment into buy­ing and ren­o­vat­ing un­der­utilised prop­er­ties from the pri­vate sec­tor aims to mod­ernise build­ings and then let them at an af­ford­able level of rent.

Mar­ket Street north, Mar­ket Street south and the YMCA build­ing are three of the key sites that the coun­cil wishes to de­velop.

Leader of the coun­cil and ex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion, Coun­cil­lor Em­lyn Dole said: “Con­fi­dence in Llanelli town cen­tre is grow­ing. We are mov­ing quickly ahead with our plans for re­gen­er­a­tion and are ac­tively mar­ket­ing a num­ber of key sites that have huge de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial.

“Like many high streets across the UK, Llanelli town cen­tre is not with­out its chal­lenges, but we are work­ing hard to en­sure we give the town the best pos­si­ble plat­form for suc­cess.

“We have re­cently spent £4.5 mil­lion buy­ing empty re­tail units from pri­vate own­er­ship and bring­ing them back into use at an af­ford­able rent, and I’m so pleased to see new in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses up and run­ning al­ready.”

Those who vis­ited Llanelli town cen­tre for the town’s first food and drink fes­ti­val were treated to the won­der­ful sight of Step­ney Street and Vaughan Street packed with vis­i­tors.

It’s ex­actly what we all want to see hap­pen­ing in Llanelli town cen­tre, and the place re­ally felt like it had rolled back the years.

Chair­per­son of Ym­laen Llanelli, Les­ley Richards said: “It was a fab­u­lous event for the town, which brought in lots of vis­i­tors old and new. The at­mos-

phere was amaz­ing, and lots of our town cen­tre busi­nesses re­ported be­ing very busy, which is just what we hoped for. “Events like this are a show­case for what the town has to of­fer per­ma­nently as we have so many bril­liant busi­nesses here. New vis­i­tors come to town for one of our events and then re­turn when they see what’s on of­fer.

“Lots of peo­ple have been telling us how much they en­joyed it and how lovely it was to see the town so busy. We will def­i­nitely be look­ing at do­ing the event again next year.”

FILL­ING THE TOWN CEN­TRE

A num­ber of units in the town cen­tre re­main empty as they con­tinue to com­pete against the con­tin­u­ing suc­cess of Parc Trostre re­tail park on the out­skirts of town.

Bar­gain Buys is one of the most re­cent shops to leave the town cen­tre, while oth­ers in­clud­ing Marks & Spencer and Vi­sion Ex­press are just two on the list of busi­nesses that have re­lo­cated.

Pres­i­dent of Llanelli Cham­ber of Trade and Com­merce David Darkin said: “A vi­brant town cen­tre is im­por­tant as the heart of a com­mu­nity which is why hav­ing oc­cu­pied build­ing in the town cen­tre is so im­por­tant.

“Empty shops in the high street can be found up and down the UK and abroad, a symp­tom of the rise of e-com­merce.

“It’s im­por­tant, there­fore, that we seek to di­ver­sify the uses of town cen­tre premises in or­der to keep them as a thriv­ing cen­tre to the com­mu­nity.”

THE CAUSE OF THE FLY IN­FES­TA­TION

It caused mis­ery for many across the town in the sum­mer, and last month Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales ex­plained that the fly in­fes­ta­tion may have orig­i­nated in Eng­land.

The en­vi­ron­ment body has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of the in­fes­ta­tion which blighted the town dur­ing the pro­longed spell of warm weather.

It emerged that scrap metal busi­ness AMG Re­sources Ltd was the prob­a­ble source of the prob­lem, as NRW stated that it was work­ing with them to re­duce the chance of the flies re­turn­ing.

Res­i­dents were forced to buy sticky strips, fly spray and count­less other prod­ucts in a bid to rid their homes of the pests, and de­manded an­swers as to why it took so long to lo­cate the “most likely” source.

Coun­cil­lor Sean Rees de­clared that the prob­lem “must not be al­lowed to ever hap­pen again”.

At the time he said: “A task and fin­ish group should be set up within the county coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­men­tal and pub­lic pro­tec­tion scru­tiny com­mit­tee to launch a full-scale in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause, to see what lessons can be learned and what steps are now be­ing put in place to tackle any fu­ture prob­lems should they arise.”

REGENERATING STA­TION ROAD

Sta­tion Road’s de­cline is some­thing that is widely ac­knowl­edged – but a hefty cash in­jec­tion could soon start to im­prove that.

Sev­eral peo­ple liv­ing and work­ing in Sta­tion Road were asked to iden­tify prob­lems that had brought about its de­cline, and each of them fo­cused on one is­sue in par­tic­u­lar: drugs.

In Llanelli, the town cen­tre and Sta­tion Road have been ear­marked for fund­ing, with Welsh Gov­ern­ment money com­ple­ment­ing other re­gen­er­a­tion projects in­clud­ing the £1.3 bil­lion Swansea Bay City Deal, which takes in Car­marthen­shire.

Coun­cil­lor John Jenk­ins pre­vi­ously de­scribed Sta­tion Road as a poor in­tro­duc­tion to the town for peo­ple dis­em­bark­ing at Llanelli sta­tion.

“When you get off at Llanelli train sta­tion, this is your en­trance to the town of Llanelli,” Mr Jenk­ins said.

“It needs to be im­proved greatly – a con­cen­tra­tion of low-cost hous­ing, and the as­so­ci­ated prob­lems that come with that, have made this a very un­wel­com­ing gate­way, so I think ac­tion needs to be taken.”

Re­fer­ring to the in­vest­ment, coun­cil leader Em­lyn Dole said: “The Llanelli pro­pos­als are fo­cused around the core town cen­tre and Sta­tion Road area with a view to build­ing upon the good work and in­vest­ment pre­vi­ously made via the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s for­mer Vi­brant and Vi­able Places ini­tia­tive.”

Pic­ture: Jonathan My­ers

Coun­cil­lor Sean Rees says more needs to be done to im­prove fa­cil­i­ties at Llanelli’s train sta­tion.

Coun­cil­lor John Jenk­ins on Sta­tion Road, Llanelli, which he says needs im­prov­ing.

Pic­ture: Robert Me­len

The old Siop y Werin site, one of the empty shops in need of ren­o­va­tion.

Pic­ture: Adrian White

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