"This is same old same old rumour and fabricated diatribe that is resurrected every few years that has absolutely no foundation at all. It is a downright and cheap-shot lie that the park is for sale, designed to provoke anxiety."
Roll forward a couple of weeks, and the council publishes the annual report of Cllr Meryl Gravell, Executive Board member responsible for regeneration. This is what she had to say about the council's plans for the two parks:
"We are looking for partners to help execute infrastructure improvements; events and activities; and accommodation solutions in the parks. Almost 30 expressions of interest have been received, and interested parties are invited to visit the parks and discuss their ideas during June, with the intention of making formal tender offers afterwards." [Cneifiwr's translation]
|Millennium Coastal Park|
Responding to Unison's concerns (the full text of the press release which sparked the hysterical outburst can be found below), the council's Head of Leisure said,
"The authority has no intention of selling off the PCP or the MCP, and neither could it."
But as the Unison statement hints, what the council could do and has done repeatedly with favoured partners, is to offer very long leases on land, as often as not on extremely favourable terms.
Leases of 100 or 150 years may not technically be selling off land, but they amount to the same thing, and no private developer is going to invest significant amounts of capital to build e.g. a hotel on a short-term lease.
We are probably in for a long wait to discover the identities of the 30 ventures which expressed interest in grabbing a slice of the action, but it is likely that they will include a generous helping of familiar rugby boardroom figures and other persons "known to the officers". Who knows, perhaps Meryl's favourite former footballer, Robbie Savage, may put in another appearance.
Unison Press Release
Keep Pembrey Country Park and our coastline in public hands
Unison Carmarthenshire is growing increasingly concerned by Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans for Pembrey Country Park and the Llanelli coastline (Millennium Coastal path).
In an open invitation to private companies and investors the Council proposes that they could “Take on and improve existing facilities”, “Add holiday accommodation” and offer alternative use for areas – this is not an exhaustive list of proposals, but it does give a clear indication that the Council seeks to privatise the area and turn over a valuable and appreciated local resource to investors, whose sole intention would be to develop the area for their own profit.
While we do not disagree in principle with the development of the area, we do not understand why the council would seek outside investment when it could borrow the money itself and any profits from the area could be distributed back into the local community instead of lining the pockets of big businesses. There is a very real risk of developers being given the land for a pittance, applying for and receiving planning rights, which would boost the value of the land and simply cashing in.
We intend to ask Llanelli Trades Council, Trades unions, community and environmental groups, local councillors and AM’s and MP’s, anti-cuts and action groups, to come together to oppose this sell off and force Carmarthenshire County Council to reverse its decision to turn over vast swathes of our coastline to private developers whose last interest would be the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.
We will be holding Public Meetings after the summer holidays to discuss the current proposals and formulate a strategy to defeat them. We invite all the above and the general public to attend these meetings and to get involved in a campaign to keep Pembrey County park and our coastline in the public sector -where councillors are democratically accountable for the stewardship of our assets. We urge everyone to get involved to safe our services.