LLANELLI MP Nia Griffith says that she has concerns over what she says are ‘behind closed doors’ business deals involving Carmarthenshire County Council. It follows the announcement that the Discovery Centre in Llanelli is to be handed over to Langland Bay Brasserie without allegedly having gone through an open tendering process.
Today’s revelations that Llanelly House has also been granted £350,000 by the county council in a ‘secret’ deal will do nothing to quell the MP’s concerns that whilst essential services are being cut a local business is being given large sums of money to remain open. The council awarded the money at a closed meeting in March 2017 and as a result now has representation on the board of trustees and a charge for the value of the £350,000 grant for a fixed period of up to 5 years.
Speculation was rife earlier in the year that Llanelly House was facing difficulties. This latest announcement confirms that all has not been well at the tourist attraction. A new head of house, Paul Carter, was appointed in August this year and has been making headway with new ideas, events and increasing the popularity of the venue.
Llanelli Online contacted Llanelly House and asked the following questions:
I can see the report on BBC Wales. It states that Llanelly House has been given a grant ‘behind closed doors’ in March. Could you possibly let me know who attended that meeting and who ultimately made the decision and on what basis?
The Executive Board of the CCC considered a detailed report on the position of Llanelly House, and an appraisal of the restoration project. The Executive Board with other partners agreed to support the House. We are not aware of who attended the meeting , but perhaps the CCC Press Office would be able to help.
Llanelly House has received a lot of funding so the question I would ask is what is going wrong if you are not making enough money to sustain the building – business?
The additional funding required was linked to the overspend on the project and the inability to repay loans taken out to progress the project to completion. It’s been a fantastic project, and is a great asset to the town centre. The detailed business plan referred to above demonstrated that sustainability was not the issue.
Could you tell me who the board members are on the board of trustees?
The current trustees, as detailed in Companies House, are myself (Alison Evans), Tom Lloyd, Susan Roberts, Joanie Spears and J.C. Williams
What plans do you have in place to ensure the sustainability of the business?
We have worked with our partners to create a credible business plan, and are monitoring our performance against the plan. You will have noticed the increase in footfall resulting from management changes (the appointment of out Commercial & Events Manager) and increase in marketing activity. Many of our events publicised for November and December are completely sold out.
Are you concerned that the council now has a charge on the building?
David Darkin highlights the fact that the business has been propped up by the council. As you will be aware most businesses are struggling and there are massive cuts in council services. What makes Llanelly House more valid as recipients for council money than say a local service providing care for the elderly?
Llanelly House was a strategic project for the much needed town centre regeneration under Llanelli Town Council and CCC.
You can watch our interview with Nia Griffith MP here: