A Llanelli businessman says that he feels abandoned and let down by police and politicians and that the town centre despite what he claims is misplaced investment requires a long term structured plan which addresses the issues of drug and alcohol abuse.
Leslie Gilbert who runs a jewellers shop in the Stepney Arcade pulls no punches when it comes to airing his views about the town centre. He has been campaigning for years to get improvements in the town especially in policing and in dealing with what he calls ‘a big drugs problem’.
Mr Gilbert contacted us on Saturday July 9th to tell us that there had been a fire at the Stepney Arcade, he alleges, deliberately started by ‘druggies’.
Mr Gilbert said that he believes that drug addicts built a fire out of a wooden chair, some rubbish and a plastic bin alongside the entrance to the arcade in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The fire service attended the scene shortly after 5am to extinguish the blaze. Police are studying CCTV footage from nearby premises.
Mr Gilbert said: “We cant open the shutter so traders are shutting down. We will have to close the shop. I had the Police and Crime Commissioner down two months ago and he agreed there was a problem in the town. The trouble is that the council have not knocked down the old building opposite, which is now full of vermin. The council had planning to demolish the building in 2017. They are destroying this town. It is firmly in their hands. It is now time for action.”
Asked what the impact the fire would have on his business Mr Gilbert said: “People are going to be losing money today. The arcade stinks of fire. To breathe it in gives you a headache. Some serious decisions need to be made by the police force and the council. They are responsible for that building. It is full of asbestos as well. They should take immediate action to open up the area instead of leaving this dosser’s paradise.”
Asked if he had approached his local politicians Mr Gilbert said: “I would say the willy nilly’s think this is all ok. I personally think they need to have a structured plan for Llanelli. It’s ok spending £3m on the YMCA but that money could have been given to landlords as grants to do properties up to get the commercial area working again.”
Asked what the solution to the town’s drug problem was Mr Gilbert said: “Quite simple. Boots make a lot of money out of the local drug addicts. They need to have a place out of town where they can get their methadone. I don’t care if boots closes down. We have enough properties where they could open a boots service for the drug users and alcoholics. They should be given an exclusion order not to come into the town centre. This is what is destroying business. Willy nilly councillors collecting pretty salaries who don’t do anything about the problems and who don’t have to work as hard as I do to make living.”