TOWN’S FLY PLAGUE... ONE YEAR ON

Llanelli Star - - FRONT PAGE - Christie Ban­non @christieba­n­non_ christie.ban­[email protected]­line.co.uk 01792 545522

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

Coun­cil­lor Sean

Rees (right)

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.”

To find more lo­cal sto­ries, break­ing ak­ing news and up­dates, d visit our web­site: waleson­line.co.uk/ llanelli

AMG Re­sources, in Llanelli, was thought to be the source of the in­fes­ta­tion.

Pic­ture: Jonathan My­ers

Amanda Carter’s Llanelli home was plagued by flies.

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