02/25/2024

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

BY day Matthew Jones investigates environmental crime in Neath Port Talbot, which involves liaising with councillors as and when problems arise.

Mr Jones now wears a councillor hat after winning the by-election in Swansea’s Llansamlet ward.

“I’m very pleased, it was a great result for myself,” said the 45-year-old.

Cllr Jones hasn’t hung about – the day after his winning vote was confirmed last Friday he was out in Birchgrove looking into a long-term flooding issue.

Being a councillor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Thick skin doesn’t go amiss, and phone calls at odd hours of the day need answering or returning.

Cllr Jones said: “It’s something I’ve been interested in doing for a long time and am happy to get involved in where I live.”

The married father-of-two will continue his full-time role as a waste enforcement officer for Neath Port Talbot Council – and it’s a job he enjoys.

Investigating fly-tipping, for example, involves gathering evidence, conducting interviews and working with the legal team.

Neath Port Talbot Council issued 35 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping in 2019-20 and carried out 16 prosecutions. Swansea Council issued six fines but didn’t prosecute anybody at that time.

Cllr Jones said he didn’t want to comment on Swansea’s figures, but felt that any council would be well-placed to try and tackle the crime, although he said they didn’t have a statutory duty to do so.

Prior to last Thursday’s by-election, which followed the move of former councillor Mo Sykes to family in Ireland, Cllr Jones said he would like to organise environmental action days and fun days in the ward if elected. He also wanted to upgrade play areas and shop fronts.

Cllr Jones is now one of four councillors serving Llansamlet.

Another new elected member in Swansea is Hannah Lawson, who was one of nine candidates contesting a vacant seat in the Castle ward following the death early last year of Cllr Sybil Crouch.

“I’m really privileged that I’ve been given the opportunity to represent Castle ward,” said Cllr Lawson. “It’s such a great ward – very creative and diverse.”

Castle has a population of nearly 21,000 and covers the city centre, Sandfields to the west, Mount Pleasant, Waun Wen to the north and Swansea Marina to the south.

The area has its share of deprivation and anti-social behaviour issues, but also a lot of enterprise and spirit.

Cllr Lawson said problems like substance abuse and anti-social behaviour were complex, and often related to poverty and mental health.

“These are issues that are not solved overnight,” she said. “You’ve got to be realistic.”

Cllr Lawson said it was important for the council to work with the police and other organisations and charities which operated in the city centre area.

On other issues, she said she would like to explore the idea of a skip amnesty to try to reduce fly-tipping, and see if environmental health teams could remove dumped rubbish from the Long Ridge area of Mayhill.

Waunarlwydd is home for the 43-year-old, but her partner lives in Mount Pleasant. She is one of four councillors serving Castle.

“There’s so many fantastic things going on (in Castle), despite the issues we have been talking about it,” said Cllr Lawson.

“The communities there are very supportive of each other, and people have stepped up to help each other out.

“That’s really given me a lot of positivity and hope about the future of the ward.”

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