A gate, which has been compared to a modern day ‘toll gate’ placed at Machynys blocking off a popular car park with visiting and local cyclists and walkers was agreed to by two local councillors.
According to a response to our questions from the County Council, Cllr Jon Prosser (Lab) and Cllr Louvain Roberts (Lab) agreed to the gate and barriers being put in place on Monday (Jan 21).
Llanelli Online contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to ask if plans had been submitted for the gate and on what basis or evidence the gate was installed? We also asked whether local people had been consulted and on what grounds and evidence the gate and barriers were erected.
A spokesperson for Carmarthenshire County Council said: “It’s important to point out that this is not a designated car parking area and the ground is not of a quality for cars to park on. There have been incidences of vehicles accessing the Millennium Coastal Path via this area of land which is compromising safety.
“Our Outdoor Recreation Team needs to maintain access to this area without obstruction – this will help to ensure public safety on council property. There is still free access to the beach via foot, by bike etc.
“Both local members were consulted and were in agreement. The local members are Cllr Louvain Roberts and Cllr. John Prosser.”
Neil Thomas, Senior Outdoor Recreation Manager, said: “This area of land is not a designated car parking area and the ground is not of a quality for cars to park on.
“There have been incidences of vehicles accessing the Millennium Coastal Path via this area of land which is compromising safety.
“Our rangers also need to maintain access to this area without obstruction for maintenance, to deal with emergencies and help to ensure public safety.
“This was an operational decision, and did not require planning permission.
“Of course, members of the public can still access this area of the path on foot or by bike, and can also use the designated car parks along the Millennium Coastal Path – the nearest to this location being the North Dock.”
People took to social media to express their discontent with the erection of the gate. Jude Dale who lives in Machynys said: “We live in Machynys and am absolutely disgusted they have closed the car park. Don’t know who the council consulted, but it wasn’t us! We objected to the double yellow lines when they were put in too. These beaches belong to everyone and access to them.”
Sarah Taylor said: “It’s got to be about money. They don’t want anyone to park for free! Closing this off means people are forced into the chargeable car parks!!!”
Sue Jennings commented: “This area was being used by the people of Llanelli long BEFORE the houses and residents went there – it was a favourite place for me until the houses went up spoiling the coast!”
Mark Lowe agreed with the sentiments saying: “For years we have used this spot almost on a daily bases to do a 3 mile walk with our dogs. This in affect is common land as it has been used by local people for many years. To fence it off is theft. The local houses only have rights over their own land.”
Local councillor Sean Rees said: “Despite reports that Councillors are in favour, some of them in the area may be but as one of the Town Councillors, I have not made a request for this gate to be put in place. In fact, the first I heard of this happening was reading this press article.”
We contacted Cllr John Prosser and Louvian Roberts for a comment. We asked: Were plans submitted for the gate and barriers? Why did you agree to the gate and barriers and on what evidence did you believe it was needed? Who did you consult?
Cllr Roberts said: “No comment.”
John Prosser, County Councillor for the Glanymor ward of Llanelli, said: “After numerous complaints from local residents, we reported the safety issues with excessive parking on the waste land behind Pentre Nicklaus estate to Carmarthenshire County Council. After reviewing the safety concerns raised by residents, Council officers took the decision to block access to the land.”
Local councillor Sean Rees said: “Despite reports that Councillors are in favour, the County Councillors for the area may be but as one of the Town Councillors, I have not made a request for this gate and pillars to be placed in their current location. In fact, the first I heard of this happening was in the local media.
“Parking on the road itself has been a problem although by putting up a gate and pillars, I can’t help but feel this will now escalate the problem further as double yellow lines are already being ignored and cars will try parking in the surrounding residential area.
“What Machynys needs is a small parking area that’s not an issue for the majority, easy to maintain which keeps cars safe off the corner and the double yellows. If cars are accessing the coastal path, then maybe have some sort of barrier not a gate nearer the path itself. I’m very concerned yet again about the lack of consultation with residents in our area.”
Llanelli Online Cartoonist Ashley Thomas had this to say: