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Politics

Labour highlights £200m schools gap

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Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 11.00.08WELSH LABOUR this week (Apr 18) said the Assembly elections on May 5 represented an important £200m choice for Welsh parents.

During an election visit on Monday Welsh Labour’s Julie James contrasted her party’s pledge to invest a minimum of £100m in Welsh schools over the next term with the Welsh Conservatives ‘secret plan’ to turn every school in Wales into an academy.

She said the Tory plan would cost more than £100m and said the election was a clear £200m choice between the two main parties.

A plan in England to turn every school into an academy was announced in the March UK budget. It was also later revealed that the cost of converting each school into an academy was £66,000 per school. A similar move in Wales would cost £109m in legal fees and other costs.

Speaking on Monday (Apr 18), she said the plan would be ‘a disaster’ for Welsh Schools coming on top of a 12% cut to education and local government budgets that the Welsh Conservatives already had planned.

Julie James said: “Welsh Labour has been very clear about its ambitions for Welsh schools over the next Assembly term. We want to build a world class curriculum and teacher training system and move the Welsh teaching profession onto an all-Masters footing.

“To support this plan we will invest a minimum of £100m of additional funding in our schools over the next five years. This contrasts clearly with the secret Tory plan to turn every school into an academy, as they have done in England, needlessly wasting millions of pounds in the process.

“The UK Government have already admitted the cost of converting each school to an academy is £66,000 per school to cover the legal fees and other costs of the change.

“Indeed, we know that just days after the Chancellor’s plan was announced, solicitors and lawyers were already sending out letters to Headteachers offering to assist schools with their plan

“That is exactly what will happen here in Wales, we will see millions of pounds being leached out of Welsh schools. To convert every one of the more than 1,600 schools we have in Wales to an academy would cost more than £100m.

“So this election is a clear choice between a Labour Government led by Carwyn Jones that would invest in frontline teaching and learning and a Tory Government that would spend millions on a wasteful reorganisation.

“Of course this comes on top of the Tories existing plans to slash 12% off education and local government budgets meaning schools in Wales would be hit with crippling cuts at the same time as getting a huge legal bill through the post.

“The choice at this election is clear, it’s between a Welsh LabourGovernment that would invest an additional £100m in frontline funding or a Tory UKIP alliance that would waste £100m on academies and legal fees.

“This would have a devastating impact on Welsh school budgets; increase the workloads of our teachers and support staff and imperil the major curriculum changes schools are already planning.

“There is new momentum in Welsh education thanks to the reforms put in place by the Welsh Labour Government. Last year we saw record GCSE results, two thirds of Challenge Schools improving their results and the closing of the poverty attainment gap at every key stage of education.

“A Tory Government aided by their UKIP allies would imperil that progress and come at a huge cost to the futures of our young people.”

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Politics

Important information arriving ahead of elections

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IMPORTANT information about the Senedd and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May will be landing on all Pembrokeshire doormats this week.

Both the Senedd and Police and Crime Commissioner elections will be held on Thursday, May 6.

The letters will ensure electoral records are correct, detail how to add/change any entries and urge those who are not registered to do so before the deadline of midnight, Monday 19th April.

Please read the letter and check the details are up to date and only contact the Council if necessary.

You can register to vote at: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

For the first time, those who will be aged 16 or over on 6th May and are registered to vote can vote in the Senedd elections.

Foreign citizens who will be aged 16 or over on 6th May and are registered to vote can also take part in the Senedd elections.

For the Police and Crime Commissioner elections those aged 18 and over on 6th May who are registered to vote can cast their vote.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may wish to consider your voting options.

Polling stations will be open and will have undergone extensive preparations as well as ongoing monitoring to ensure that they are safe environments to cast your vote.

However, it is likely that more people than ever will wish to take up an option for a postal vote for the elections on 6th May.

Given the anticipated demand, please apply for a postal vote as early as possible to allow the Council’s elections team plenty of time to be able to process your application.

You can apply for a postal vote or proxy vote (someone you trust to cast your vote on your behalf) at: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/voter

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News

MS summoned to Court over tweet

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PLAID CYMRU’s Mid & West Wales Regional Senedd Member Helen Mary Jones has been summoned to appear at Swansea Crown Court.

HHJ Paul Thomas QC ordered Ms Jones to court after she retweeted a third-party’s post which expressed the hope a defendant in an ongoing murder trial would be convicted.

The tweet referred to the trial of 70-year-old Anthony Williams, who killed his wife shortly after the start of the first lockdown in March last year.

Mr Williams had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

However, while the trial was ongoing, a domestic violence campaigner tweeted:: “Another perp using the ‘I just snapped’. It is complete b******t! As so many of us will know, there would have been history of domestic abuse.
“I hope this jury finds him guilty of murder. Rest in peace, Ruth.”
On Saturday, before the jury returned its verdict, Ms Jones shared the tweet.

There was no history of domestic abuse and no suggestion of it was raised during Mr Jones’ trial.

When the Jury returned to Court on Monday, HHJ Paul Thomas said: “It’s come to my attention that, over the weekend, there have been some highly inappropriate comments made on social media about this case.
“I should make it abundantly clear that those comments have not come from anybody connected with the case and, having been shown the contents of one such piece of social media, they clearly don’t have any idea about the evidence in this case or the issues in this case.”
None of the jurors saw the offending post and continued their deliberations.

On Monday afternoon, the jury acquitted Mr Williams of murder.

By retweeting the remarks made by a third party, the risk existed that the jury could have been influenced and their decision-making compromised.

On Thursday, Helen Mary Jones will have the chance to explain her actions to Judge Thomas in person.

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News

UKIP politicians vow to overturn new smacking ban in Wales

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UKIP Wales has announced that it is committed to repealing the Welsh Government’s controversial ‘Smacking Ban’ ahead of the Senedd Elections, and that this will become part of its manifesto in Wales.

The ban on reasonable chastisement was introduced in January 2020 by Labour’s Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan. The legislation removes the defence of “reasonable punishment” in cases of common assault.

UKIP Leader and Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales, Neil Hamilton, said: “Parents know what is best for their children, not politicians. Members of the Senedd need to get a foot in the real world, outside the Cardiff Bay Bubble and listen to the public.

“[The ban] received huge criticism when it was railroaded through the Senedd against public opinion. When consulted, up to 75% of parents in Wales opposed the restrictions that prohibited them from reasonably disciplining their children.

“The policy is practically impossible to enforce and is estimated to cost the taxpayer £8 million. It is another example of the Cardiff Bay politicians overextending themselves and forcing their own virtue-signalling morality on to the people of Wales.

“Senedd politicians from all parties have forgotten they are not the boss – the public are. As Members of the Senedd, their job is to represent their constituents not police how parents bring up their children.

“The Government must do everything possible to protect children from physical and psychological abuse. But this legislation has done, and will continue to do, nothing to stop cases of serious abuse. Instead, it penalises parents who take reasonable steps to discipline their children.

“In this year’s Senedd Elections, UKIP is standing up for parents to raise their children free from interference from an overarching, self-righteous political class in Cardiff.”

Pembrokeshire-based UKIP councillor Paul Dowson said: “In my opinion this is plain and simple common sense. It has cost the taxpayer 8 million pounds for a bill which is simply unenforceable.

“This over-woke labour Welsh government made up of out of touch ministers have no right to tell the public how to discipline their children.

“The latest generation have recently gone through the education system where there are no serious consequences for bad behaviour, the parents have been restricted regarding punishing bad behaviour, and the curriculum promotes 99 different genders along with a whole host of other WOKE topics above common sense and basic respect.
“Our future begins with our children and we need to be allowed to discipline our kids in a way which we see fit even if it does include a smack on the ass when required.

“The sooner we regain control of society the better.

“No better place to start than with bringing our children up properly instead of following the Drakeford formula. His own son is a prime example of poor parenting.”

Cllrs Dowson’s view is at odds with the NSPCC. The children’s protection charity said in a press release: “This is a remarkable achievement which closes an outdated loophole and finally gives children in Wales the same legal protection from assault as adults.”

Conservative AM Ms Finch-Saunders said: “With this bill the state is now stepping into the private lives of families”.

She added: “Through the involvement of the police and social services… this smacking ban this will potentially have far reaching consequences for us all.”

Julie Morgan, Deputy Social Services Minister, said it was a “historic day” after members passed the law with 36 votes for, 14 against.

Ms Morgan had campaigned for years for a ban and had broken the Labour whip over the issue when the Welsh Government did not support it, in 2015.

She said at a press conference after the vote: “This is not about the government telling parents how to raise their children or about criminalising loving parents,”

She added the government had listened to the “vocal minority” who opposed the move, but that removing the defence of reasonable punishment “is the right thing to do”.

“The children of Wales now have the same protection as adults in Wales have.”

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