I WAS disappointed by the inaccuracies in the recent letter (June 16 – ‘Make the most of it’) regarding the public meeting recently held in St. Davids about the joint application fronted by the St Davids Peninsula Community Land Trust (CLT) for Premier Inn.

In the two years since the establishment of the CLT, this was the first consultation of the community that the CLT claim to represent, despite the fact that the CLT constitution requires it to actively engage members of the community in its work and ensure that they remain engaged in the development and operation of the CLT.

Further, the CLT is obliged, as a registered social benefit society, to run its business primarily for the benefit of people who are not members of the society, and also in the interests of the community at large and finally the CLT, like all properly constituted organisations is required to hold annual general meetings – it has yet to do so.

The public meeting on June 1 was called by the No to Premier Inn (NOPi) for two reasons.

The first was the lamentable degree of detailed and accurate information being made available about the proposed scheme; secondly, it was NOPi’s response to the CLT directorate’s view that NOPi did not represent wider community feelings.

So NOPi arranged a meeting to discuss issues that should have been part of a process of CLTs ongoing process of consultation since its inception.

The invitation to the meeting was agreed by both NOPi and the CLT and the people who attended came as a result of leaflet delivery and poster advertising across the five parishes covered by the CLP.

The format of the meeting was agreed by both parties with an independent chair and equal time being given to representatives from both the CLT and the community and while the CLT speaker implied that Premier Inn representatives were barred from the meeting.

It was previously made clear by NOPi, that even though Premier Inn had their opportunity to present their case over two days (to the CLT and the St Davids City Council and then to the wider community), no-one would be excluded and others could be present to provide factual input.

Further, a local businessman was given time to speak on behalf of the proposal and took up more time than had been previously agreed between the parties for their respective cases to be made and a representative of the planning consultants employed by Premier Inn spoke at length about the generous contribution Premier Inn were making to the joint application (omitting to mention any figure that his clients would be having to spend anyway), resisting confirmation, until pressed by the audience, that Premier Inn are planning to provide restaurant and bar facilities and informing the attendees that if Premier Inn were refused permission, they would appeal, thus drawing out the process and sowing further division.

Regarding the impact on vested interests, not only will a 40 per cent increase in beds make a significant impact on local family-run businesses, but Premier Inn’s aggressive pricing strategy, starting at £35 a night will also probably wipe out a number of current providers who both generate and recycle business locally.

No goods and services will be sourced locally by Premier Inn (they will be trucking in supplies) – another thing that needed to be prised out of Premier Inns planning consultant – taking money out of the local economy and distributing profits to their shareholders. Whose vested interests benefit from this?

Regarding employment opportunities, as Premier Inn will not confirm that the jobs they will have available will be full-time and permanent (across peak and low season), it will be in competition with other local employers, who are currently experiencing considerable difficulty recruiting both full and parttime staff and although Premier Inn will no doubt offer a career path to some, there will only a very limited number of trainee managerial staff employable at any one time in St Davids.

Finally, not only do the CLT directors admit that they haven’t prepared a business plan for the building of the houses, but there are no plans of any kind for a swimming pool, merely hopeful intentions and the statement that should the joint application fail plans for affordable and social housing will, at best, be delayed several years or, at worst, fail completely is more CLT misinformation and scaremongering.

Watch this space, if for no other reason than on more than one occasion NOPi have been told by a local elected representative that like it or not, Premier Inn is coming!


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