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Shadow Education Minister Responds to Western Mail ‘Nonsense’.

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AngelaBurnsSpeaking exclusively to the Pembrokeshire Herald, Shadow Education Minister and Pembrokeshire South Carmarthen West AM, Angela Burns, hit back at the Cardiff based Western Mail, which ran a critical article about her children’s school placement.

The Western Mail’s feature questioned, via a political source as they put it, Mrs Burns decision to send both of her children to a Cardiff based school rather than a ‘local’ Pembrokeshire School. However, Mrs Burns has responded by pouring scorn upon their ‘political source’, claiming that when she had pressed the newspaper reporter at the Western Mail further it was clear that their article had been based on just this one contributor alone, rather than from a number of sources. She went on to explain to the Herald,

“ I was initially contacted by the Mail who indicated it was regarding an issue of office hours. It transpired they wished to speak about my children. He (the Western Mail reporter) stated that ‘people’ had told him that my children were not being educated locally (in Pembrokeshire). He went on to say it was on my Facebook page.”

The Assembly member then pointed out that actually she did not have a current Facebook page and had not used the social network for nearly two years. Responding to the Western Mail’s criticism of her decision she said,

“ This isn’t really a new story anyway. My children moved up with me to Cardiff a year and a half ago and they now go to a local state primary school, not a private school, in the next village to where we reside when in Cardiff. The alternative would be for them to stay in Cosheston, our home in Pembrokeshire”.

The minister went on to explain the issues with her children remaining in Pembrokeshire whilst she worked away four days a week in Cardiff:

“In the first term of the Assembly I was in Cardiff for maybe two days a week, but now it is for four days a week. If they remained in Cosheston they would just see me at weekends. As my husband is also busy with several jobs it would mean employing a nanny for most probably three to four days a week. We talked to our children, aged seven and ten, and they made the decision that they wanted to be with Mum all week. They are two young girls who need their Mum, even more so as they get older, and this way (by moving them to Cardiff in the week), we don’t need a nanny and they spend more time with mum and dad. They want a normal ‘mum’ to do ‘normal’ mummy stuff, and now with more responsibility this term, I am working four days a week in Cardiff over forty-three to forty- four weeks a year over a five year term. I didn’t want to miss them growing up and, though I am really priviliged to represent my constituency, I don’t want to do it at the expense of my children.They are young for such a short time and it isn’t like my husband could take on the role, so a nanny would have been needed, which is not an ideal situation. It (working away from home) can take a toll on a family and I didn’t want it to happen to my family”.

Mrs Burns also pointed out to the Herald that, as she works and lives in Cardiff, as well as in Pembrokeshire, her children were attending schools for which she contributes. She questioned the motives of the Western Telegraph, by stating, “If I were male or in Westminster, where it is common practice for MPs’ families to move with the MP, I don’t think they would have been so critical.”

Angela Burns also explained the system whereby AMs are able to work away from home in Cardiff.

“ We have the right to a second home and we have an allowance provided by the Assembly. It is seven hundred pounds a month and from this we pay our rent, council tax, electricity, etc. I actually rent a house for nine hundred pounds a month and I personally pay the difference.”

She hinted that the Western Mail may have another agenda, as she believes they are an anti-Assembly paper, and suggested that other Assembly members, and the Assembly, have been unfairly criticised in the past.

“I have been touched by all the support I’ve had (since the Western Mail article) from Labour, Plaid, the Liberals and Cabinet ministers who have all said what a load of nonsense this is. This all stemmed from one person!”.

Earlier this year the Western Mail wrote articles criticising the Welsh Government’s refurbishment of its Ty Hywell building in Cardiff Bay, as well as highlighting their alleged shortcomings in how grants are awarded.

 

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Community

Consider the benefits of living in a community-led housing scheme

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NO one could have missed the Extinction Rebellion protests around the world in recent months, but a little-known low-impact eco-community in Pembrokeshire is also working hard to spread the sustainability message.

The Brithdir Mawr community grow their own food, generate their own electricity and provide low cost rented housing, as well as sharing ideas, resources and skills with people who want to learn more.

More than 100 people have lived there over the past quarter of a century and the current residents have an innovative way of living.

One such resident is Lea Trainer. He moved here a few months ago and feels the move has changed his family’s life for the better after he left his job as a project manager in London: “My wife Kirsty and children Brianna and Frankie have been here since June but the community has been around for more than 25 years. My wife brought the children here last year for an educational trip and they were texting me about birds and insect-spotting and I had a bit of an epiphany.

“Our life is incomparable to before. We now live a lower impact life and have reduced our footprint on the Earth. I’m learning all the time about nature, renewable energy. It’s fantastic to be part of a community contributing towards the development of a regenerative culture, farming using organic methods and preserving and increasing biodiversity.

Living at Brithdir Mawr has also brought personal benefits to Lea: “Now I can spend quality time with my children and my wife. I’ve already noticed a real difference in the children. They have really developed their personalities and freedom of expression. They know much more about nature and have really come out of their shells in the time that we’ve been here.”

“Each day is different here. We do all meet as a community at 11 for coffee and then again for dinner. Some people have part-time jobs, others will tend to the garden and our children are home-schooled. We have a community day each week where we do activities together, like apple-picking.”

Brithdir Mawr is being supported by the Wales Co-operative Centre, which has been supporting and championing the growth of co-operative and community-led housing since 2012. In April this year, it launched its Communities Creating Homes programme which aims to stimulate demand for community-led housing throughout Wales. The programme is funded by the Nationwide Foundation and Welsh Government.

With more than 30 schemes already in place across Wales, communities can be created for various purposes and shared visions. Where some schemes have been created to make housing more affordable for residents, others have been developed for people who want improved eco-friendly lifestyles.

Meanwhile, Brithdir Mawr community is planning for the future. It has been there for 25 years but wants to make sure it’ll be there for future generations and continue the message of sustainability by purchasing the lease for the 80-acre site. The residents have launched a crowdfunding campaign to try and raise funds to buy the land they live on and are hoping to raise £1million to purchase the site.

Go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-brithdir-mawr for more information and how you can support Brithdir Mawr. Visit https://wales.coop/co-operative-community-led-housing/ for more information on community-led housing schemes and how they work.

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Firefighters tackle blaze at St Clears

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A FIRE broke out in a commercial garage at Lower St Clears this morning (Monday).

Firefighters were called to the fire in Bridge Street at around 8.18am. Crews from Carmarthen, Whitland, Tenby, Crymych and Pembroke Dock attended to tackle the blaze.

A spokesperson for the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Firefighters extinguished the fire using four breathing apparatus, two hose reel jets, two thermal imaging cameras and one safety jet. Two environmental kits and small gear were also used by crews during the incident.

“The police, ambulance service and Western Power were also in attendance. The fire service left the incident at 11.33am.”

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Haverfordwest man accused of robbing a teenage boy

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A HAVERFORDWEST man is to stand trial accused of trying to rob a 13-year-old boy.

Ry Robert Williams, aged 27, was before Judge Keith Thomas at Swansea Crown Court today via a video link with the city’s prison where he is being held on remand.

Williams, of Peregrine Close, denied attempting to rob the youth of an unspecified amount of money on July 5. Judge Thomas said on Friday (Nov 15) that his trial would begin on January 30 and Williams was further remanded in custody.

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