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Welsh Lib Dems plan to stimulate the rural economy

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Welsh Lib Dems plan to stimulate the rural economyNot enough is being done to help the economic recovery in rural Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will claim in their Assembly debate on Wednesday.

The Shadow Economy Minister, Eluned Parrott and Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, William Powell, will lead a debate calling on the Welsh Government to implement a three point plant to get the rural economy back on track.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Government to:

· examine a community bank structure to sustain the presence of local banks in rural communities, and to work with credit unions to increase lending to businesses;

· work with businesses in the agricultural, renewable energy and tourism sectors to identify ways to overcome barriers to increasing the supply of rural apprenticeships;

· make universal access to broadband an obligation for providers and to work with Ofcom and network operators to investigate the shared provision of infrastructure in rural areas to maximise coverage. William Powell AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Rural Affairs Minister said:

“As an Assembly Member that represents a huge rural region, I speak to many small and medium size businesses and they tell me that they feel that they are being left behind in the economic recovery. The rural economy faces significant challenges that urban areas do often do not encounter.

“Given Labour’s lack of understanding about the needs and concerns of rural Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on this government to implement a three point plan to give rural Wales a fighting chance of coming out of the economic downturn stronger. We want to see the Welsh Government examine how rural SMEs can have better access to finance, more apprenticeship opportunities and have increased access to the internet.

“In terms of banking services, rural Wales has endured a substantial number of branch closures. For our economy to grow it is essential that residents and small business owners have full and proper access to banking services just like any other part of the UK.

“Unfortunately, due to the rate of closures and a woefully inadequate broadband network, this is increasingly not the case – most notably across rural Wales. The Welsh Government must act swiftly to address this, and fully explore innovative options of branch management and ownership.

“It is a sad fact that Wales has a large proportion of premises in potential not-spots and the lowest availability of superfast broadband services. The majority of these premises are in rural Wales. “Broadband is key to everyday, business activities, from contacting customers, ordering supplies, sourcing new tariffs for energy and services or managing finances. Inadequate internet and mobile connections mean that many businesses in Mid and West Wales may be getting left behind, missing out on the benefits of being able to compete in new and wider markets.”

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister said:

“Jobs and economic growth remain a priority for the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

“It is vitally important that all parts of Wales, urban and rural, benefit from the economic recovery. For that to happen, Wales needs an economic plan which recognises the specific challenges and opportunities in rural areas.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that apprenticeships must play a key part in healing our economy. While there has been an increase in businesses expressing an interest in apprenticeships, this trend has been less apparent in rural areas. This must change. The Welsh Labour Government needs to be encouraging employers in all parts of Wales to take on apprentices and to show the benefits that this can bring.

“Sadly, according to Welsh Government statistics, the number of apprenticeships in Wales has decreased. We need to be giving people the skills that will allow them to build a career and become part of a high-skill, high-value economy in Wales for the future.”

 

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42 new officers for Dyfed Powys Police in the first wave of police recruitment

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DYFED Powys Police has a recruitment target of 42 new officers in the first wave of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to increase officer numbers across the UK.

The Home Office on Wednesday (Oct 9) confirmed the officer recruitment targets for every police force in England and Wales for the first year of the unprecedented drive to increase their ranks by 20,000 over the next three years.

Stephen Crabb, Preseli Pembrokeshire MP has said that this is ‘a strong start’ to helping Dyfed Powys tackle new forms of crime and keep West Wales as one of the safest parts of the country.

Following the Home Office announcement, Stephen Crabb said: “Forty-two additional police officers for Dyfed Powys Police is a strong start to strengthening frontline policing and making people feel safer.

I praised the good work local officers do in tackling County Lines drug gang in Parliament earlier this year and asked that additional resources be provided to help them stamp out this and other terrible crimes. I’m pleased the Prime Minister listened and is delivered on his pledge to increase officers numbers.”

Strengthening police numbers is a priority for the government, which is providing £750 million to support forces to recruit up to 6,000 additional officers onto our streets by the end of 2020-21, the first stage in this new uplift. This is thanks to the additional funding announced by the Chancellor in the Spending Review.

Every single police force in England and Wales will be able to recruit additional officers this year to help keep all of our communities safer.

All officers recruited as part of the 20,000 uplifts will be added to those hired to fill existing vacancies. They are also on top of the extra officers already being recruited because of the £1 billion increase in police funding for 2019-20, which includes money from council tax and for serious violence.

Government funding for recruitment in 2020-21 will cover all associated costs, including training and kit.

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Anti-Slavery campaigner receives medal

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A Pembrokeshire woman who has committed herself to combating modern slavery has been presented with the British Empire Medal.

Dr Anne Kelly of Saundersfoot was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June.

A Swansea University lecturer, she sits on the Dyfed Powys anti-slavery forum that meets in Carmarthen. Much of her work is done
through the Soroptimist International organisation.

Through her personal commitment, she is contributing to more victims of slavery being identified, recovered and supported as well as
bringing their perpetrators to justice.

It is partly through her determination and constant lobbying of MPs that the Modern Slavery Act became law in March 2015.

Dr Kelly was presented with the British Empire Medal by the Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, in a ceremony at County
Hall on Friday (Oct 11).

Dr Kelly was accompanied by family members.

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A letter and petition in support

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PUPILS from Milford Haven school were outside County Hall on Thursday (Oct 10) handing out letters to Councillors as they entered the main building to attend a meeting which had Milford Haven School on the agenda.

A PLEA TO DECISION MAKERS

Stevie Joseph, 14, who wrote the three-page letter said that it contained the reasons why she felt that the sixth form should stay open.
“The college is just not the same for some of us”, she said, “we need the pastoral care and support that a sixth form gives us”.

“The decline in pupil numbers is something we have noticed but Milford now has one of the biggest primary schools in Wales so its stupid to close the sixth form…. The numbers are going to go up. We should not close it now and then wait to see that improvement.”

Stevie’s classmate Rebecca said: “I would like to be in an environment where I know people. I have known these teachers for many years, and it will be weird [if I go to college and] they will not be there.”

PETITION AGAINST CLOSURE

A petition to Pembrokeshire County Council has been started on Change.org.

At the time of going to press around 500 people had signed.

Organiser Jenny did not give her last name but wrote on the page: “Milford Haven School may have to close the doors to their current sixth form department.

“The residents of Milford Haven hold the sixth form very close to their hearts as a lot of them attended themselves.

“As a community, we are all deeply saddened to hear this could be coming to an end. In previous years, this sixth form was thriving.

“As a collective, hundreds of thousands have been raised for Children in Need as well as other good causes and charities.

“Sixth form has provided pupils with vast amounts of opportunities and helped them to mature into respectable young adults. It has given students the chance to further their education in subjects they are extremely passionate about. In some instances, Milford Haven Sixth form has provided options that wouldn’t be offered anywhere else in the county.

“As it stands, if our sixth form was to close down, all pupils in year 11 and younger would have to attend either Pembrokeshire college or one of the last remaining sixth forms in the county which is Haverfordwest High which would be the closest in distance to attend.
“But in college you lose the family and community connection you have when you become part of the sixth form family.”

To sign the petition online click the link on the Pembrokeshire Herald Facebook page.

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