TOWN’S FLY PLAGUE... ONE YEAR ON
THERE was a time in Llanelli when every shopping basket would likely contain a can of fly spray, if you were lucky enough to find any cans left on the shelves.
You wouldn’t have seen many open windows, even on the warmest of days, and you might even have seen people eating dinner in their cars.
The reason for this weird behaviour is still a stain on the memory for people living in the town.
For as the warm weather moved in on Llanelli last summer, so did a disgusting outbreak of flies.
What started off as a pesky issue in the Glanymor area quickly spread and took over households throughout the town, with residents as far away as Burry Port also complaining about the pests.
As swarms invaded countless houses, residents appealed for fly-killing equipment to be provided for free as they struggled to buy enough sticky strips, fly spray and swatters to combat the problem.
A public meeting was eventually called as members of the public voiced frustrations and demanded answers as to where the flies were coming from.
One resident was so fed up with the amount of flies plaguing her home that she brought along a sealed bag filled with thousands of them she had collected in just one day.
At the time, Llanelli resident Amanda Carter, who was campaigning for a solution, said: “We need action; we need compensation. Not every family in this community can actually afford to buy fly nets and fly zappers. I’ve spent £200 myself, which I can ill-afford.
“You can’t get fly spray or papers in town - they’ve sold out. We can’t cook in our kitchen, so we’ve been eating out and getting takeaways. We can’t afford that. It’s costing £20 to £25 every night just to eat food.”
After weeks of mystery surrounding the source of the plague and the accompanying misery, Carmarthenshire Council announced that a recycling plant close to the worstaffected areas in the town was the most likely culprit.
Glanymor ward councillor Sean Rees called for an investigation into the cause of the infestation in the hope of preventing it returning in the future.
Now, a year on from residents’ misery - has the problem finally gone away for good?
Ms Carter said: “It did die down after they cleared the alleged source, but in the last two weeks the back of Caroline Street [close to the alleged source] has been getting quite a few blue bottle flies.
“I’ve had a few in my garden when it’s been warm so we’ll have to wait and see.”
She explained that even during the warm weather back in April there had been nowhere near as many flies coming into residents’ homes.
“On a very hot day we had about seven flies in,” she added.
“We’re hoping that they won’t come back with the warm weather but in April we had nothing. I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance of them coming back.”
She remembers all too well how the plague felt at the time.
“We couldn’t breathe decent air. They were in our houses, kitchens, everywhere.
“I’ve got a white coloured kitchen and as soon as I was wiping it down black dots would be appearing. I had four industrial-sized fly zappers in my kitchen and it’s only small.
“There was nothing we could do.” Councillor Sean Rees said the community was refusing to give up on the issue “until we get the answers that we need and deserve”. He said: “The fly infestation caused so much misery, frustration, expense and stress for everyone in our area. “The authorities like to talk about what they did do, but they also need to be honest with themselves about those areas which re-quire improvement, particularly around communication. “For instance, we had skips
Our area is widely recognised for our community spirit. We will not be giving up on this issue until we get the answers that we need and deserve
located outside food establishments. There were press releases stating for residents to put out their rubbish to be collected, only for the next day for it to still be there, since no collection had actually been organised. Some would argue misinformation like this escalated the problems.
“There were no representatives from either the council or Natural Resources Wales at the two public meetings which were held in Seaside. Where is the accountability? Where is the compassion? Where is the apology that is due to our community?
“Residents’ views must be heard. There has been no evidence taken from any of us who have had or are continuing to have to cope with such disgusting conditions.”
Mr Rees said public health had to be a priority for the council.
He added: “We’re calling for the reinstatement of the pest control division after it was regrettably scrapped back in 2011.
“We’re calling for the return of our street litter bins which have been taken away over the years. We’re calling for a greater focus to ensure enhanced control measures are put in place so this never ever happens again.
“We will continue to work with the authorities where we can and will hold them to account.
“Our area is widely recognised for our community spirit.
“We will not be giving up on this issue until we get the answers that we need and deserve.”
Carmarthenshire Council announced last year it had handed over responsibility regarding the source of the infestation to Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
Since then, investigations have been ongoing to try and put a stop to the problem once and for all as some residents also complained about flies entering their homes in 2017.
A statement from Natural Resources Wales said: “AMG [recycling centre] has submitted an application to vary its existing site permit. The application is being determined and we have consulted all relevant statutory bodies to ask for their comments.
“AMG are working toward bringing their Llanelli site up to a standard that reflects what is expected of their new operation and because of this, the material they are currently accepting is minimal.
“In the time between now and the completion of the variation AMG is required to operate in line with the conditions of its existing permit and operating procedures to process the waste it accepts.
“We have been working closely with Carmarthenshire’s environmental health team to update them on the progress of the variation application and have made a joint visit to the Llanelli site to understand AMG’s work in removing obsolete equipment, demolishing buildings and testing existing infrastructure to gauge its effectiveness for future operations.”
AMG Resources did not wish to comment.
Meanwhile, residents are just hoping their fly nightmare is over.
“We are all praying to God it doesn’t come back. We’re all so paranoid that we see one fly and think ‘here we go again’,” added Ms Carter.
“I can see the recycling plant from my house and there doesn’t seem to be anything working there. There’s no machinery or activity.
“It’s still just the alleged source but we are still in the dark. It’s not good enough.”
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AMG Resources, in Llanelli, was thought to be the source of the infestation.
Amanda Carter’s Llanelli home was plagued by flies.