DURING the last couple of decades consultants have cashed in on hundreds of thousands of pounds from the county council providing advice on how to improve towns and villages. Some are questioning the logic of having so many consultants being brought in to tell people what they need to do when the people who actually know what needs to be done are not being asked to do anything. Confused? Have no fear, Cllr Kevin Madge is a former leader of Carmarthenshire County Council and not only does he own an attache case full of documents harking back to a time when Meryl Gravell was on the throne at County Hall but he has an opinion on how the council can save money on consultancy fees.
Cllr Madge claims that the latest consultancy is duplicity and a waste of money. He also called for anyone who may have information on misuse of public money to come forward with allegations and proof. Cllr Madge says that consultations have already taken place at a high cost for towns across Carmarthenshire and questioned why more feasibility studies are needed.
Cllr Madge was speaking in Ammanford Town Centre where he said that following consultations street furniture which had been paid for has not appeared.
Clr Madge said: “Summer is going to go before they even put one chair in this town centre. The infrastructure was bought last year for the town centre. Where is it? I am calling on the town council and whoever has that furniture to bring it out. If they can’t prove where it is then the police need to be called in. Public money needs to be accounted for.”
Plaid Cymru councillors recently claimed that Carmarthenshire’s town centres were in need of investment and redevelopment because of years of neglect under a Labour led administration. Kevin Madge says that austerity and cuts handed down by Westminster were the reason for the demise of town centres. The Plaid led administration are forking out £126,000 on feasibility studies for the three towns.
Historians like Byron Rogers who likened Carmarthen to a ‘shed town’ might write another story with chapters on planners allowing monstrous sheds to be built under the guise of out of town shopping centres. The stranglehold supermarkets were allowed to place on towns squeezing out old and independent small businesses, the closing of the cheap jacks market stalls, the removal of historic buildings and the bulldozing of pretty town squares bordered by box hedging. One thing is certain. Progress is a double edged sword upon which, some will prosper and some will fall by the wayside. Council’s have made cuts to departments which once cleaned the streets and managed the parks and gardens. Change is going to come albeit from the copy book of the consultants. One wonders how many of them have lived and breathed in any of Carmarthenshire’s towns or run a small business.
Cllr Madge is not the only one who notes the urgency to rejuvenate Ammanford High Street, which come in the top ten worst high streets in the UK in 2021.
Top 10 worst high streets 2021
1. Girvan, South Ayrshire
2. Bristol – Baldwin Street
3. Chepstow, Monmouthshire
4. Cardigan, Ceredigion
5. Southsea, Portsmouth
6. Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
7. Ammanford, Carmarthenshire
8. Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
9. Canning Town, east London
10. Newtown, Powys
(Source: Harper Dennis Hobbs)
Cllr Madge said that under his watch the council set up the multi million pounds Crosshands development, town centre investment in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford, a new £15 million Ffwrness Theatre, investment in Llanelli and Ammanford libraries, and £3 million on Ammanford, Carmarthen and Llanelli sports centres.
You can watch the full interview with Cllr Kevin Madge here.