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Delyth Evans: Business and young people a priority

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As part of a series of interviews with local parliamentary candidates standing at the general election in May, Deputy Editor Jon Coles spoke to
Delyth Evans, Labour candidate for South Pembrokeshire and West Carmarthenshire.

42 DIMOND STREET at 2pm, Pembroke Dock was the appointment. And I was late. Having abandoned the idea of Fish Week, the delythevanscouncil had instead elected to host the International Festival of Road Works across Pembrokeshire.

Through the door of the campaign office, which used to be a shop, and there are some bare tables a few chairs and Delyth Evans on the phone trying to find out where I am. Quick introductions and apologies are in order. Time is a precious commodity for an election candidate and she has places to be.

The purpose of the interview is to find out more about the person who wants to unseat incumbent Conservative Simon Hart. Bearing in mind the time constraints, we move briskly to business.

“I was brought up in Carmarthenshire.” Delyth opens: “I was a journalist who worked for the BBC and HTV for ten years. When I felt I could no longer be politically neutral in my job, I left to join the Labour Party. I was very lucky to work for John Smith when he was Labour leader. I was John’s speechwriter for two years, he was a very good man, who died very suddenly. I left politics before returning to sit in the Welsh Assembly during its first term. I had very young children and it was tough combining a political career with being a parent. After the Assembly, I worked for a charity focussing on helping women from difficult backgrounds access employment and other services.”

The challenges facing a candidate – any candidate – in the current climate are well-known and we asked Delyth Evans her view about them: “The main challenge is that people think politicians are the same. There is a cynicism about politics and disengagement by the electorate. The biggest challenge for politicians is dispelling the notion that we are all the same. Someone said to me recently that politicians never seem to have had any work experience outside politics. I would say that I certainly have a lot of work experience and a broader life experience upon which to draw.”

Looking at Carmarthenshire West and South Pembrokeshire, Delyth was clear as to the task that would face a new member: “For this constituency, the major challenge is the regional economy. I am convinced that what is needed is a government that is prepared to intervene to help businesses. The market alone, which is the current government’s approach, cannot and will not work. There are different choices the government could make that would make a positive difference to their lives.”

On local businesses and issues that affect them Delyth Evans had spoken with them about their priorities: “I spend a lot of time talking to local businesses and try to find out what local businesses need from government to help them grow. As an MP, my role will be to support and help businesses get the best deal from government.”

On the European issue, Delyth is eager to make a clear statement about the importance of Europe to local businesses: “Europe – and our future trading relationship with Europe – is often raised with me. Businesses are clear about the importance of European markets to them. The Tories are, in my view, playing fast and loose on the issue. Businesses need certainty and, for their own reasons, the Conservatives are creating uncertainty.”

On her personal priorities, she expresses a similarly clear viewpoint: “Young people are a priority. It’s about helping them find opportunities in their own areas without moving away. It’s about things like apprenticeships, training, housing – on which Labour has very good proposals: it is important that young people’s voices are heard and that they are engaged in the political process and on political issues. One of the things I am very keen on is to get young people to vote and to participate. It is not just about getting them to vote for me, but to vote.”

On the thorny issue of voting, the measure of the challenge is not lost on her: “Most of the people I speak to tell me they haven’t made up their mind about how they are going to vote. An awful lot of people have an open mind and are waiting to be persuaded. My job, if you like, is to persuade them to vote for me. I’ve been the Labour candidate here for over a year. It has become a lot easier to engage with people on the issues as the election has drawn nearer. People are now focussed on May’s election.”

As for what would come after a possible Labour victory, she told The Herald: “The main challenge a Labour government would face would be how to get real growth back into the economy. Austerity is making harder for new businesses to succeed and for the economy to grow. That is why we cannot afford another five years of a Conservative government. In Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire the focus needs to be on encouraging high skilled jobs in new technologies. Labour is talking about creating a regional investment bank to support new businesses. For young people it is very much getting those apprenticeships and training opportunities. Labour is looking at vocational training equivalent to A Level and beyond. It is vital the building blocks are in place to help us capitalise on economic growth and be ready for the future.”

The difficult ground in the constituency was not shirked: “The issues that come up most often are jobs and health. That’s what comes up on the doorstep. People do not like it when English politicians, like David Cameron, run down the NHS and the NHS in Wales. Any other party in power in Wales would have had to make similar, if not the same, decisions about the health service in Wales as those decisions were based on clinical guidance. I agree with the idea that part of the problem is the failure of the Health Board to communicate properly about its strategy. I spoke with Bernadine Rees, the Chair of the Health Board this morning, and we discussed that point. I know that the Board is currently holding a series of public engagement events across the area and that the feedback being generated from those is being taken on board in terms of how the Board can better communicate. There was always going to be huge opposition to services being moved and I completely understand that. What we need to know now is that there will not be continuous revolution; that Withybush’s future is secure; that the right model is in place for the future. There is a job to be done to reassure people about that.”

Read part two of this interview in next week’s edition of The Herald.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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Kill the Bill protest to take place in Haverfordwest on Saturday

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INDIVIDUALS and activists from local groups, including Extinction Rebellion Pembrokeshire, Stand Up to Racism West Wales, Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly and Reclaim These Streets Pembrokeshire are campaigning against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and are to hold a demonstration against the Bill at 1pm this Saturday April 17, in Haverfordwest.
One of the organisers told  The Herald: “This is an enormous piece of draconian legislation that includes significant expansion in police powers to curtail the right to protest. The right to peacefully assemble and protest are a fundamental part of any democracy; empowering people to have their voices heard, in addition to holding the Government to account. These rights are universal –they protect peaceful and legitimate protest whatever the cause.
“The events at the Clapham vigil and at demonstrations over the last few weeks are a dangerous indication of what the future of protest will look like if the police powers bill gets through parliament.”
A local campaigner, a mother and grandmother said “We are in the process of losing a fundamental part of our democracy, It is important we protect it for future generations. We have messed up so much of their future already-we need to hold the Government to account”.
Aspects of the Bill include:
  • The power for Police forces to shut down protests that they deem too disruptive at their own discretion.
  • Up to a 10-year sentence for demonstrators considered to be causing a “public nuisance”.
  • The power for police forces to impose start and end times on static protests of any size.
  • The power to expand stop and search powers, which already discriminate against marginalised communities. If you live in the Dyfed Powys police area, you are 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black than white.
  • Up to 10-year sentences for damage to public monuments’ Police powers will be expanded and custodial sentences increased to “protect” women.
  • These measures are not sufficient to prevent violence and are troubling, considering some police officers’ involvement in cases of violence against women. Significant restrictions on where protests around Parliament may take place.
  • The elevation of trespass from a civil offence to a criminal offence, meaning police and courts can give harsh sentences to Travellers.
  • Increased power of police to seize vehicles and homes from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities and demanding proof of permission to travel.
  • The bill will criminalise a way of life for these communities.
A peaceful, Covid-compliant march and rally will be taking place in Haverfordwest on Saturday April 17 , assembling at Picton Fields at 1pm.
People will be asked to wear masks and keep to social distancing regulations.  It is one of a number of protests being organised nationally on the same day against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.

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