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Politics

Plaid plot Wales’ way post-Brexit

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PLAID CYMRU Leader Adam Price has said that it is time for Wales to focus on “new opportunities” in a “new landscape” as he shifts his party’s position on Brexit ahead of the UK leaving the EU on Friday.

The Plaid Cymru Leader made his remarks delivering a keynote speech on Beyond Brexit: Charting a new course at the Pierhead building on Monday, January 27.

Speaking ahead of the speech, Adam Price said that whilst “we weren’t all leavers” the UK and Wales would now be leaving the EU and that there was “little point” in fighting “yesterday’s battles”. He said that it would be the “red dragon of Wales” taking back control and that Plaid Cymru would set Wales on a new course in a post-Brexit Wales.

Adding that “simply defending the status quo” was no longer enough, the Plaid Cymru leader said it was “time to focus on the new opportunities in the new landscape” and that a “positive post-Brexit plan for Wales” with more powers for the Senedd would be needed to “tackle and solve Wales’ economic problems”.

Mr Price said that Wales could have powers to vary corporation tax or VAT after it leaves the EU. Under EU rules, countries must apply a minimum standard VAT rate of 15%. He added that powers over public procurement rules could be devolved to Wales alongside a government “Made in Wales” and “Buy Welsh” programme.

The Plaid Cymru Leader pledged that his party’s offer on health, education and the economy “is the same” to those who voted leave or remain, “wherever in Wales” they lived adding that leaving the EU would not mean “leaving the hope of a new Wales behind”.

Wales, and the rest of the UK, will be leaving the EU on January 31.

Speaking ahead of his keynote speech, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price AM said: “We weren’t all leavers but we are all leaving now and there is little point in continuing to rehearse these arguments or fighting yesterday’s battles. That, to me, is emblematic of future-facing Wales. It is the Red Dragon of Wales that will be taking back control, and if Plaid Cymru has anything to do with it, eventually setting us on a new course.

“Simply defending the status quo is no longer enough. It’s time to focus on new opportunities in the new landscape. Northern Ireland has a special status. The north of England will see a lot of investment. Scotland will be a continued focus because of the movement for independence. We need a positive post-Brexit plan for Wales and a stronger Senedd with more powers to tackle and solve Wales’ economic problems.

“We could have new flexibility over tax – such as powers to vary corporation tax or VAT for key sectors like construction and tourism. We could also secure power over public procurement rules to allow to support our foundational economy programme based on a local import substitution alongside a government-backed Made in Wales and Buy Welsh programme.”
Adam Price said it was time to turn the “power grab” into a “power gain” and take advantage of some of the “flexibilities” afforded to Wales outside the European Union including:

· The ability of the Wales Development Bank to allow to lend without the constraints of state aid rules
· Devolve power over corporation tax, capital gains tax on property, the apprenticeship levy and the air passenger duty.
· Develop new procurement rules to support our foundational economy.
· Create Welsh freeports at key ports and airports.
· Welsh work permits as part of a Welsh migration system.

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price added: “Instead of focusing on the losses from the Single Market, we have now to start to focus on the new opportunities in the new landscape. We must ditch the old sense of resignation: when England catches cold, Wales catches pneumonia. It’s time instead to dose up on some economic Vitamin C – inject the Welsh Vavavoom into our new way of thinking.

“Leaving the European Union does not mean leaving the hope of a new Wales behind and for those of us who want to channel our positive energy we can turn the next fifteen months into Wales’s transition period.”

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Politics

Paul Davies Plays Cancer Strategy Jenga

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Preseli Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Paul Davies recently met with representatives of Cancer
Research UK and even had a go at their Cancer Strategy Jenga! Mr Davies heard how there are around
2,700 cancer cases per year in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area and that to achieve better
outcomes for patients, the Welsh Government needs to tackle preventable risk factors and address
shortages in the cancer workforce.

Mr Davies said, “It was a pleasure to speak to Cancer Research UK about how we can improve cancer
services and patient outcomes for those affected by cancer in Pembrokeshire. I enjoyed playing the
Cancer Strategy Jenga and learning about the different ‘planks’ that an ambitious cancer strategy for
Wales should have. Thanks to research and improvements in diagnosis and treatment, survival in the UK
has doubled since the 1970s so, today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer and hopefully that figure will
continue to rise. I will of course, be doing all that I can to call on the Welsh Government to bring forward
a cancer strategy – and one that makes a very real difference to patients and their families in Wales.”

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Community

Closing day approaching for deposit plan consultation

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The deadline is nearing for public comments on Pembrokeshire County Council’s replacement Local Development Plan – known as the Deposit Plan.

The public consultation on the Deposit Plan opened in January and will end at 4.30pm on Wednesday, 18th March.

The consultation has included seven drop-in sessions at locations around the county. Cllr Jon Harvey, Cabinet Member for Planning, said they had been well-attended and thanked members of the public for their feedback.

“We would encourage anyone interested in the future development of Pembrokeshire to participate in the consultation if they haven’t yet done so,” he added.

The Deposit Plan and related documents are available to view on the Council’s website at: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/local-development-plan-review/deposit

The Deposit Plan covers the area of Pembrokeshire excluding the National Park.

It identifies a need for 6,800 new homes between 2017 and 2033 (425 a year) including 2,000 affordable homes. This growth will be distributed across the Plan area in accordance with a whole County strategy, which promotes sustainable development.

Residents can look at the Deposit Plan text and maps to view proposals in their area. The Plan proposes revised town and village boundaries (known as settlement boundaries) and a range of sites are allocated for different land uses, including 70 sites for housing. It also identifies a range of industrial sites (known as Strategic Employment Sites), local employment sites and two quarry sites.

The Deposit Plan seeks to respond to the challenges of climate change by including policies and designations to protect sites and species that are of importance for their biodiversity and nature conservation interest, open spaces and Green Wedges.

New growth is directed to sustainable locations. Proposals for vulnerable uses are directed away from flood risk areas and new development will be limited in areas at risk because of climate change. All new dwellings will be built to high quality, energy efficient designs and will incorporate charging points for ultra-low emission vehicles. Three sites are allocated for solar photovoltaic arrays.

The Deposit Plan and related documents are available to view on the Council’s website at: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/local-development-plan-review/deposit

Hard copies are also available at County Hall, Haverfordwest, in Pembrokeshire County Council Customer Service Centres and in local Libraries, during normal opening hours.

• If you wish to have your say on the Deposit Plan you can do so using the Representations Form available online at the above website address, or in paper format from County Hall, Haverfordwest. This form should be used for making comments wherever possible.

• Please email your representation forms to ldp@pembrokeshire.gov.uk or post to The Development Plans Team, County Hall, Freeman’s Way, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, SA61 1TP by 4.30pm on Wednesday, 18th March 2020.

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News

Pembrokeshire MP calls on Government to Secure Access to Cash

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Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb has joined the Association of Convenience Stores, British Retail Consortium, Federation of Small Businesses, Positive Money and Responsible Finance in urging the Chancellor to use next week’s Budget to secure long-term access to cash across the UK.

Stephen Crabb has endorsed action on access to cash in a private letter to the Chancellor submitted today (Thursday). The letter outlines that to secure long-term access to cash, the Chancellor should use his Budget to:

• Reverse the arbitrary cuts to LINK interchange fees paid by banks to fund the network
• Exempt free-to-use ATMs from business rates bills
• Recognise that ATMs are the only infrastructure through which to guarantee national access to cash

ATM closures and big banks leaving communities behind are threatening the future of cash. Research commissioned by the Payment Systems Regulator shows that ‘the majority of consumers use cash regularly’ while the Access to Cash Review has found that eight million adults would struggle to cope in a cashless society.

Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “In many rural areas cash machines have been disappearing at an alarming rate despite the fact that lots of people still prefer to use cash. Many small businesses have yet to make the move to contactless or digital payments because mobile and internet coverage is so weak in rural areas. There is a danger of cash deserts emerging in areas where there are no ATMs or bank branches. I hope the Chancellor and his team at the Treasury consider what steps need to be taken to address these trends”.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We acknowledge the growth in digital payments but access to cash remains crucial for the millions who still rely on it for essential purchases. We need a planned approach to changing payment methods instead of the haphazard removal of free to use ATMs from communities.

“Cash back is not a workable replacement for the whole ATM network and comes with costs and security risks for businesses. We need the Chancellor to take action at the Budget to reverse cuts to interchange fees and exempt free to use ATMs from business rates that are making them unsustainable for ATM operators and local shops to host.”

British Retail Consortium Head of Payments Policy Andrew Cregan said: “Cash accounts for almost 40% of retail transactions and is important to many vulnerable people, especially as a tool for budgeting and control. Government should safeguard consumers’ access to cash by ensuring retailers are fairly rewarded for providing cashback services to customers and protecting the viability of free-to-use ATMs.”

Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Cash is the payment method of choice for millions of small business customers, and millions more see it as an important part of the payments mix. There are some straightforward steps that the Chancellor can take on Wednesday to bolster our rapidly declining cash infrastructure. Removing business rates on free-to-use cash points is a good starting point. This a prime example of the many stifling quirks that exist within the archaic rates system. Equally, if the Treasury wants more small businesses to offer cashback, it must ensure they are given sufficient financial support to take that on.”

Positive Money Executive Director Fran Boait said: “After being bailed out by the public, banks have repaid the favour by slashing support for free ATMs, making us pay to access our own money. The Chancellor must stand up to banks’ cost-cutting in the Budget and make sure it is them and not the public who pay for Britain’s cash machine network.”

Responsible Finance Chief Executive Theodora Hadjimichael said: “The perils of relying on a single payment method have been illustrated by the weaknesses of digitalised financial systems, and the rapidly decreasing availability of free-to-use cash machines leaves million of people struggling to make payments, including the elderly and vulnerable. Paying for access to cash can compound the poverty premium for low-income families who rely on cash for their day to day budgeting and spending. It is critical that the Chancellor acts now to secure long-term access to cash across the UK.”

LINK, the ATM network body, is required under Specific Direction 8 from the Payment Systems Regulator to ensure the ongoing availability of access to free-to-use ATMs for consumers across the country. However, LINK’s own data shows over 500 free-to-use ATMs are closing every month and one-in-ten areas no longer have free access to cash via an ATM despite LINK’s commitments under the Financial Inclusion Programme.

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