AMMANFORD mayor Irena Hopkins has urged fellow town councillors to learn from mistakes from the past as they consider whether to take over parks and recreational areas.

Cllr Hopkins, who is serving a record fourth term as mayor, welcomed the council's decision to set up a meeting "with all interested parties" before deciding whether or not to agree to Carmarthenshire County Council's community asset transfer programme.

And she told colleagues they should heed the lessons of 1987 when the town council, concerned over the possible loss of the Civic Hall, decided to lease the property from Dinefwr Borough Council in a well-intentioned bid to try and make it financially viable.

Cllr Hopkins recalled that the hall re-opened as the Aman Centre in October 1987. "Unfortunately, expectation did not prove accurate and patronage dwindled, creating a financial burden which became a controversial issue in the council chamber," she said.

She added that heavy losses and "severe criticism" from the District Auditor prompted a referendum in 1991 to dissolve the town council – a vote that was passed by 901 votes to 100.

"Within three years Ammanford town council was re-established, but did not take any further interest in management or control of the centre," said Cllr Hopkins.

The mayor chaired a stormy council meeting on Monday night which she brought to a premature close after getting involved in a heated exchange with Cllr Chris Jones, who was among a group of councillors pushing for the asset transfer programme to be agreed to in principle.

Cllr Hopkins maintained more facts were required and suggested members were being "rushed" into making crucial and possibly far-reaching decisions by County Hall.

"I feel sorry for you all because you have been bullied ever since you joined this council," she said.

Her comment prompted Cllr Jones to reply: "And I feel sorry for you, because you're afraid of making a decision."

Cllr Hopkins responded angrily to the jibe and, as fellow councillors became involved in angry exchanges, abruptly brought the meeting to a close.

Cllr Jones said he would be making an official complaint to town clerk Miriam Phillips.