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Carmarthenshire Council keen to introduce new ‘public spaces protection order’ in Llanelli

Stepney Street in Llanelli town centre, pictured on November 21 (Pic: Richard Youle)

PLANS to give police more powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in Llanelli, including a requirement to hand over drug-taking equipment, have received widespread backing.

Carmarthenshire Council is looking to introduce a three-year “public spaces protection order” to replace the existing one which expired at the end of September.

These orders enable councils to clamp down on behaviour in a defined area which is having a detrimental impact on the community’s quality of life. The new order planned for Llanelli includes North Dock and covers a larger area than the previous one.

The council’s place, sustainability and climate change scrutiny committee unanimously supported the proposal at a meeting on November 23. Cllr Karen Davies, who chaired the meeting, said: “I know how desperately it is needed within the Llanelli area and obviously we are quite happy to support officers.”

A report before the committee said alcohol was confiscated 312 times during the first three-year order. It added that there were 1,074 drug and alcohol-related incidents in Llanelli in 2021 and 2022, although the true figure was thought to be higher.

While it’s not an offence to drink alcohol in the area covered by the order, police can require people to cease drinking or hand over their alcohol if they believe it will have a detrimental effect on the surroundings. Failure to do so could lead to arrest and a fine of up to £500.

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Dyfed-Powys Police requested that the confiscation element of the new order should encompass drug paraphernalia, including legal highs. The maximum fine for not complying would be £1,000. But the order wouldn’t apply to needles in their original packaging, to mitigate the risk of needle-sharing.

Additional powers of dispersal may be added to the order in due course, depending on the outcome of an ongoing court case.

The council’s cabinet is due to make a decision on the order at a meeting on December 11. If approved, it would be implemented as soon as signs telling people about it are ready.

Businesses which spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service backed the plans. Andrew Marzano said town centre anti-social behaviour had got worse in the seven years he had run Marzano’s restaurant in Cowell Street. “The town is known for it,” he said. “It’s off-putting – you’ve got elderly people coming in.”

Mr Marzano didn’t disagree that most town and city centres had their issues, but added: “We see it day to day. It’s in your face.” The loss of shops, he added, hadn’t helped. He praised the loyalty of his customers. “It’s fantastic,” he said.

Amy Howells, the owner of ladies’ clothes shop Amy’s, said she also supported a new order. “We have been very fortunate here in Cowell Street,” she said. “I have spoken to community support officers when there has been a little bit of trouble.” She added: “The town needs help.”

Amanda Davies, the owner of bike shop On Your Bike, in Stepney Street, said any measure to improve safety in the town was welcome.

But she didn’t think anti-social behaviour was a huge issue at present. “I have seen it worse,” she said.

Lesley Richards, the chairwoman of business group Ymlaen Llanelli, said it fully supported the order. A majority of people and groups also backed it during a public consultation earlier this year. One respondent described the town centre as “post-apocalyptic”.

A new addition coming soon to the town centre will be the revamped former YMCA building in Stepney Street, following a multi-million pound renovation. It’ll be home to commercial units, offices and flats. Meanwhile, the Llanelli Christmas parade takes place on Saturday, December 2.