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AM announces leadership intentions

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ELUNED MORGAN AM, Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, has announced that she would like to stand for election to be the next leader of the Labour Party in Wales.

Ms Morgan has made it clear that she believes a thorough debate should take place regarding the future direction of Labour Party policy in Wales and that the opportunity must be seized to renew the party in office through the election of a new leader.

The Former MEP and Former Shadow Minister in the House of Lords said: “Labour has been in power in Wales since the Assembly was established back in 1999; I believe that I would be the candidate to represent change in this election. I am a relatively new member of the National Assembly, but I have decades of broader political experience having represented Wales in the European Parliament for 15 years and served on the front benches in the House of Lords.

“The Party needs to focus unrelentingly on tackling poverty in Wales, and the way to do that is to grow the economy and provide quality jobs and training. The fall-out from Brexit will be the dominating issue for at least the next five years in Wales, and I feel that my 15 years’ experience as a Welsh MEP in Brussels has taught me how to negotiate difficult and conflicting positions.”

When Carwyn Jones announced his intention to step down last month, Ms Morgan launched a national listening exercise on an online forum, ‘Beyond the Bubble’, inviting people to share their ideas, hopes and visions for the future of Wales.

She emphasised the necessity of reaching out to all parts of Wales stretching beyond Cardiff Bay and the Labour Party in an attempt to develop new policy ideas to ensure that they are in tune with the people who are living and working in communities across the nation.

She went on to said: “The response to Beyond the Bubble campaign has been overwhelming. I have engaged with hundreds of people up and down the country, asking what matters to them and what they would like to see change. These grass-roots contributions will form the basis of a people’s manifesto, and it will be on this basis that I will seek formal support from my Assembly colleagues before the end of the summer.”

“I have been encouraged to stand as leader by many who have said that they would like to see a new, fresh and energised leadership in Wales heading into the next Assembly elections. I was extremely moved that many inspirational women who took part in the procession through the Cardiff streets yesterday expressed hope that I would stand. As this year marks a century since women won the right to vote, I feel that would be letting these women down if I did not put my name forward.”

Responding to the Wales Labour Party Executive’s proposal to undertake a review of the leadership voting system Ms Morgan said: “Whilst the form of the voting system must be a decision for the Labour Party in Wales, I feel that we need to move to a one member one vote system; although we must find a way of ensuring that the politically affiliated union voice is heard within that system.”

She added: “It would be a tragedy if the leadership election did not move beyond a debate of the mechanics of an internal voting system; Wales is confronting serious future challenges and we need to position ourselves to be a highly skilled and responsive economy with strong public services which takes account of the needs of the environment and future generations.”

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Milford Haven: Three residents win in Postcode Lottery

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THREE people in Milford Haven got a lovely surprise this morning (Jan 22) after waking up to the good news that their bank accounts will be boosted by £1,000 each, all thanks to their lucky postcode.

The Roebuck Close neighbours landed the lolly when SA73 1AS was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her congratulations and said: “What a terrific Tuesday for our players in Milford Haven who have picked up a prize today! I hope they treat themselves to something special with the windfall.”

A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised £382 million to date for 5,500 good causes across Great Britain and internationally.

Many good causes local to the winners have benefitted from the money raised, and the next opportunity to apply for funding will be on the 6th of February.

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Two men arrested following discovery of illegal slaughterhouse

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TWO men were arrested on Monday (Jan 21) after a multi-agency response to an illegal slaughterhouse in west Wales.

Police say that live animals were found living amongst carcasses.

As the investigation is ongoing, police have refused to comment where exactly the site of the illegal slaughterhouse was discovered.

Warning: Shocking image below.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police’s Rural Crime Team said: “Rural Crime team attended a call with multi-agencies to a report of an illegal slaughterhouse in West Wales.

“Live animals found amongst carcasses.

“Two males were arrested and enquiries are ongoing.

“At this early stage of the investigation we are not prepared to release further information.”

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Llangwm: Solicitor jailed for six years for £1m fraud

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A PEMBROKESHIRE solicitor who overcharged clients by almost £1m has been jailed this week for six years.

Edgar Stephen Thomas, aged 58, charged one client at the rate of £20,000 a week without doing any work at all.

Another was charged at £12,000 a week and went on to lose a total of £100,000.

Thomas, of Stephen’s Green, Deerland Road, Llangwm, admitted 23 offences of fraud and theft, which stopped only when his firm of Steve Thomas and Co was closed down by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

Jim Davis, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that Thomas got away with the frauds by deducting monies from the estates of deceased people without telling the beneficiaries.

“He grossly overcharged and then deducted the payments directly from the estates of deceased people,” he said.

“He helped himself without telling them what he was doing.”

The overcharging began in 2005 when he was asked to handle the estate of Richard James Rogers. He charged the estate £41,800 plus VAT but internal documents showed that as the work decreased his bills increased.

Thomas agreed overcharging that estate by £12,000.

Thomas went on to plunder many more accounts.

The most outrageous example, said Mr Davies, related to the estate of Audrey Williams, who died in 2013.

Thomas charged £127,250 plus VAT, sometimes raising–but not posting–two invoices a day. He agreed he had overcharged by £100,000.

Mr Davis said Thomas’ offending did not stop there. His firm was hired by Vaughan’s Radio, an electrical store in Haverfordwest, to handle the purchase of a business in Aberystwyth.

Thomas simply kept for himself £50,000 of the purchase price.

Mr Davis said Thomas had worked for Eaton Evans in Haverfordwest, rising to becoming a partner, before leaving to form his own firm in 2005.

His accounts had to be audited and as a result the SRA were alerted to fears that he was overcharging.

A detailed forensic examination of his accounts was carried out and the fears were confirmed, along with the discovery of a shortfall in his client’s accounts of £144,326.

There was then an administrative error at the SRA and the initial report was not acted upon until June 2014, when a second financial investigation revealed more fraud and he was later struck off.

In February 2015 Thomas was declared bankrupt.

Mr Davis said the SRA had reimbursed those who had lost because of Thomas’ fraudulent behaviour, but there remained the question of costs and whether he could be made to repay any of the money. An investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is underway.

Thomas’ barrister, Ian Ibrahim, said his client was now broke and all the money had gone on keeping his business afloat.

“His fall from a high place has been dramatic. His remorse is complete and utterly without qualification.

“He has lost everything and knows that he will go to jail today.”

Judge Keith Thomas said those who worked in the legal profession had to demonstrate the highest level of integrity because the public put trust in them, sometimes at the most stressful times of their life.

“Your victims have described your behaviour as disgusting and despicable.

“You were struck off in 2016 and have had to wait a long time for the process to be complete, but that is partly because you were not willing to admit the extent of your offending,” he added.

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