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Carmarthenshire Council approves £86.9m capital budget for range of projects

CAPITAL spending on projects like a health and well-being complex in Llanelli and new schools have been approved by Carmarthenshire councillors.

They agreed a £86.9m capital budget for 2024-25, although delays to projects would result in a lower amount being spent during the year.

The Plaid-Independent administration had already endorsed the capital proposals and there were no surprises at the budget debate at full council on February 28.

Nearly a third of the capital budget – £28.1m – is earmarked for new school builds, while the under-construction health and well-being village in Llanelli – Pentre Awel – will get £13.9m. This will help fund the first of four zones at the complex and include a new leisure centre.

Meanwhile, there is £9m of UK Government money for town centre regeneration in Llanelli, although no plans on how it will be spent have been published, while £2.5m is earmarked for the new Carmarthen Hwb development at the town’s former Debenhams store.

Plaid cabinet member for resources, Cllr Alun Lenny, said the capital programme – worth nearly £193m over the next five years – would develop Carmarthenshire’s economy and create jobs.

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He said it was “disappointing” that the council was having to allocate £2m of its own money to pay for road repairs because it hadn’t received a grant for this from the Welsh Government.

Labour councillor Rob James said the “good news story” didn’t make mention of the borrowing needed to fund the capital budget and the associated costs of financing that borrowing.

He added that a long-awaited £3.5m upgrade of the grade two-listed Oriel Myrddin gallery, Carmarthen, was now going to cost the council an extra £1m.

“It does not seem to be a demonstration from this administration that they are getting value for money,” he said.

Fellow Labour councillor Kevin Madge said he felt it was an exciting capital budget, although he said there were no specific new school builds identified in the budget.

Other capital spending in 2024-25 includes £5.5m for new vehicles such as refuse lorries, road gritters, and minibuses, a £5m loan to arms’-length waste operator Cwm Environmental to develop its waste recycling site at Nantycaws, near Carmarthen, £2.3m to upgrade homes for people with disabilities, and £472,000 for new washing facilities and upgraded electric hook-ups at Pembrey Country Park.

Plaid council leader Darren Price said he supported the Oriel Myrddin redevelopment because people needed different reasons to visit town centres as retain trends changed, but he accepted project costs were rising.