An Ammanford councillor is claiming that the people of Ammanford are being betrayed by the very people they elected based on a manifesto, which he says they have reneged on. County Councillor Kevin Madge made the claims in a telephone call to Llanelli Online as the Executive Board were meeting to discuss the future of some public buildings in Ammanford.
Speaking to Llanelli Online Cllr Madge said: “They (the executive board) are going to sell off buildings within Carmarthenshire. In Ammanford it is the Town Hall and the library. The plans to close them will mean a loss of jobs. I think there is a building in Spilman street that will go and one in Llanelli. My concern is that they are getting rid of buildings and giving opportunities to private individuals. It is selling off the family silver. They are spending from the reserves. They can’t fund the full capital programme. They are on a mission to get rid of public buildings which have been in our ownership for generations. These are buildings that the public have paid for. There are 30 or 40 well paid jobs involved. If they move them the Amman Valley will lose out. Those people spend money in Ammanford. I am watching to see exactly what they are going to do.
Asked if the people of Ammanford were being properly represented Cllr Madge said: “We have an executive board making decisions with very little representation in Ammanford. David Jenkins is on the board but the problem is that when they wanted to buy the Guild Hall they found the money. They found half a million for the repairs but now they can’t find the money to keep buildings open in Ammanford. This is becoming a ‘Carmarthencentric’ council. The councillors in Carmarthen think they are running the council. We cannot sell our public buildings off. They need modernising. Ammanford deserves better than one little office somewhere. At the end of the day there was enough reserves when I was leader. They have gone on a spending spree and they have not costed the schemes properly. There is a black hole in the capital programme.
Asked who was driving the decision making process he said: “When I was leader Plaid Cymru criticised me for not having debates in the chamber. Since Plaid has been in power they have failed to have proper debates.
Asked if he thought the Executive Board had figuratively become ‘lapdogs’ for the CEO he said: “We have gone backwards. The council is not open and transparent any more. We have only just had an election and within three months they are doing this, which was not in their manifesto. They will be held to account by the people of Ammanford. This is a betrayal of the people who voted for them.
We asked Cllr Madge if he could see a time when the Executive Board would go against the CEO and call for full council debate on issues like those he alleged were being decided upon for the town of Ammanford.
He said: “ The Labour Party have stood up to officers recently when we voted to stop the pay increases at the top level. If these proposals are approved I will be organising a protest. The Independents are not innocent either. Some of them don’t act like independents. I believe they need to be held to account too. Whatever Plaid want they seem to be going along with. Mark James has done a lot for Carmarthenshire but the council needs to be held to account.
We don’t have another election for another five years and that is worrying given that they are rubber stamping these sales. I am totally opposed to selling off these buildings, which house public services. It is unacceptable for them to fund their pet schemes with this money and destroy communities at the same time.”
Llanelli Online contacted the County Council and asked them to comment on the allegations made by Cllr Madge.
Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “I would like to reassure people that we remain fully committed to the regeneration and future of Ammanford and the surrounding area. I am working with the town centre task force in order to achieve this, and I will be bringing forward plans shortly which will provide more detail.
“Regardless of what happens to the Town Hall or any other building in Ammanford, none of which has been decided I must stress, my intention is to open a Hub in the town centre, to mirror that of the one set up so successfully in Llanelli. It will not only be more accessible to people, it will also help increase footfall in the town.”
Cllr Mair Stephens said: “No decision has yet been taken. The principal of the report is to look to ways of working more efficiently, including more efficient use of our buildings, while retaining appropriate local access and retaining council presence in our main centres.
“All the potential properties identified in the report would be subject to further detailed assessment in terms of future use of the buildings and any movement of staff. The report has been deferred for further review, and may be subject to change.”