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What next for West Wales?

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Simon Hart: Striking a balance is important Adam Price: Wales ‘faces biggest economic challenge since the 30s’ Nia Griffith: Labour must promote stability

Simon Hart: Striking a balance is important Adam Price: Wales ‘faces biggest economic challenge since the 30s’  Nia Griffith: Labour must promote stability

 

AFTER WALES joined England in voting to leave the European Union on Thursday (Jun 23) , subsequent talk has focused on what the future has to offer for the country.

While Ceredigion voted to remain in the EU, both Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire voted Leave by a higher proportion than the national average.

In Carmarthenshire, it has been suggested that a Leave majority in Llanelli, as well as a 55-45% majority vote for Brexit in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire , were the main reasons why the county as a whole voted out. It is thought that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr voted Remain, although post -polling sampling results had not been confirmed at the time of going to press.

Of the five MPs and nine AMs representing Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire, only one – UKIP’s Neil Hamilton – was in favour of leaving the EU.

The result swiftly led to David Cameron’s resignation, and calls for Jeremy Corbyn to resign – following a referendum he didn’t particularly want – swiftly grew within the party, leading to mass shadow cabinet resignations after Hilary Benn was sacked for reportedly trying to engineer a coup.

Among those to resign was Llanelli MP and former Shadow Secretary of State for Wales , Nia Griffith, who said in her resignation letter that, while she recognised Mr Corbyn’s huge mandate from voters and the ‘fresh thinking’ he had brought to the Labour Party, she lacked confidence that he was capable of uniting the party in readiness for a possible snap election.

Speaking after the referendum results were announced, Ms Griffith said : “Labour must do everything we can as the official opposition in Westminster to promote stability in the markets, and to push for Britain to have the best possible terms for an exit from the EU.

“Our immediate priority for Wales is to ensure that the way Wales receives funding from the UK Government is reformed and that funding is increased to make up for the money that we currently receive from the EU .

“We must seek workable agreements with the EU that give our manufacturing companies the confidence to remain in the UK, and that is of particular importance to us here in Llanelli, so that we can safeguard jobs.”

Plaid Cymru leader , Leanne Wood , has talked about the prospect of a referendum for Welsh independence following the result. However, this is far less likely to be realised than it would be in Scotland.

Not only has support for Welsh independence always been significantly lower than it is on the far side of Hadrian’s Wall – less than 10% – but more crucially, Wales also voted in favour of leaving the EU. Holding, never mind winning, a referendum in these circumstances would be close to impossible.

Local Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards spoke of a ‘radical reconfiguration of powers ‘ .

“We cannot allow the UK to continue to be dominated by Westminster,” he added, criticising the Leave campaign for having ‘absolutely no plan for the future of the UK or our economy ‘ .

“Plaid Cymru’s role will always be stand up for the best interests of Wales and her people.

“We will do all we can to protect our communities and defend the Welsh national interest.”

Simon Hart MP, who had also supported remaining in the EU, said that an important issue would be striking a balance between the large numbers of people who voted for each side. “75% of people in the younger age bracket voted Remain and it’s important that what we do represents their fears and aspirations as much as it does the Leave group,” he added. He also emphasised that it would be in the interests of local businesses for the uncertainties regarding the country’s future to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Adam Price made no bones about the scale of the task ahead for Wales and the UK . The Plaid Cymru AM said: “Without doubt , Wales now faces perhaps the biggest economic challenge it has seen since the 1930s.

“There is an almighty challenge ahead. It would be wrong of anyone to try to undermine the seriousness of the problems our economy now faces.

“I stand ready to play my part in helping protect the people of Wales.

“I am delighted that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr communities did record a Remain vote. Had the Labour party not lost the support of its core voters across the county , then we would have certainly seen Carmarthenshire as a whole vote to Remain a member of the EU.”

Eluned Morgan AM, who had been actively campaigning for Remain across Mid and West Wales, said she was ‘hugely disappointed’ with the result.

“But we live in a democracy and that is what the people have decided,” she remarked. “During our campaigning , we heard loud and clear that people are very worried about the difficulties struggling communities face.

“Our message that this was not about Europe but about working even harder to ensure we continue to invest in our communities to drive up investment, to create jobs, simply did not get across.

“This was made particularly hard for us having just come out of a gruelling Assembly election campaign. It will now be harder to make the economic investment we need , but what that means in practice is that we’ll need to work even harder, including taking into account the clear geographic as well as class division rifts that this referendum has shown us.

“We need to connect. We need to listen – t hat’s what I’ll be continuing to do in Mid and West Wales. This result will have devastating economic political and constitutional effects on our communities for generations to come .”

Curiously, her concerns were not shared by Neil Hamilton AM or the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives , Andrew RT Davies. Mr Hamilton described June 23 as ‘a historic day for Wales and democracy.’

“A decisive majority of Welsh people rejected the outrageous campaign of scaremongering and brow-beating by the political and big business elites,” the UKIP Senedd leader added. “David Cameron presided over this and, having failed, he had to resign. George Osborne should now follow him without delay.”

Andrew RT Davies, while not campaigning particularly actively for Vote Leave, had publicly stated his support before the Assembly elections.

Speaking after the referendum result was announced , he said: “I am immensely proud to be part of a party which delivered this referendum to the people of the UK, giving them an enormous opportunity to determine the course of their future.

“The will of the people has today been declared, and the result marks an historic moment of positive change for our country.

“Wales has sent a clear message that it wants to be part of that change, and politicians of all stripes must now come together to deliver on this momentous constitutional decision.

“The campaign was not without its strong disagreements, and it is important that we reflect on those who voted and campaigned to Remain.

“What unites both sides of the campaign is our belief in in the democratic process and our love for our country.”

The question many people are asking is quite a simple one: What happens next? At some point, it is looking likely that Britain’s Prime Minister will sign the Article 50 agreement , which will trigger a two year exit timescale. What is looking even more likely is that the hand on the pen will not be that of David Cameron.

Mr Cameron, who only pledged the referendum in a (disastrously unsuccessful) attempt to unify Tory Eurosceptics and as a sop to potential UKIP voters ahead of the 2015 election, has no intention of going down in history as the PM who signed his country out of Europe.

The Conservative Party at every level is sharply divided on the issue, and while a majority of Conservative MPs backed Remain, the results of this referendum appear to mean that a Vote Leave supporter is likely to take the reins, especially as a majority of Conservative voters backed Brexit.

It remains to be seen whether there is any lasting impact on the financial security of the UK, though the plummet in the value of sterling on Friday morning has only partially recovered. Foreign holidays will be more expensive, and it is thought that grocery costs could rise as well.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of reported incidents of racially motivated attacks following the referendum, something the Leave campaign’s focus on immigration has been blamed for. However, there is no way of verifying this. Given that immigration was only ever partially the result of Britain’s EU membership, certain aspects of the campaign, including Nigel Farage’s infamous ‘Breaking Point’ billboards, were vilified for being misleading and for aggravating existing tensions.

If anything has been made clear by this referendum, it is an increasing unwillingness on the part of the British public to trust the word of politicians, combined with a feeling of dissociation from the political process.

Social media was full of comments from those who suspected the use of pencils in a ballot box was part of a Remain conspiracy – which possibly shows a certain lack of familiarity with voting procedure. However, the size of the turnout suggests that a number of people who do not regularly exercise their say in choosing their Member of Parliament, never mind AM, made the effort to vote on a subject that became increasingly emotive.

It will be interesting to see whether the Leave campaign will be capable of honouring their loosely worded pledges regarding immigration, NHS funding, and increased democracy should their leader Boris Johnson’s sidekick Michael Gove, become Prime Minister.

One thing is certain: While only 52% of voters voted Leave, closer to 100% will be looking to make sure that these promises are kept.

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Counting underway following police and crime commissioner vote

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COUNTING is under way to find out who will be the four police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in Wales today (Sunday, May 9).

Polls were held on Thursday for South Wales Police, Dyfed-Powys Police, North Wales Police and Gwent Police alongside the Senedd election on Thursday (May 6).

With the exception of the North Wales Commissioner, all the incumbents are running again.  

The rules of the election are that unless a candidate gets more than 50% of votes in the first round of counting, then all but the top two candidates are eliminated from the election, and secondary votes on the ballot paper are then counted.

In Pembrokeshire the count is taking place for the Preseli constituency and the West Carmarthenshire and South Pembrokeshire constituency at the County Show Ground.

When will the news Commissioner be sworn in?

The swearing of the oath will also take place today, Sunday (May 9), and the elected Police and Crime Commissioner’s new term in office will start on May 13.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Declaration of Acceptance of Office) Order prescribes the form of words that the elected Police and Crime Commissioners will be required to declare before they take office,” said a PCC spokesperson.

“The term of a person elected as a PCC at an ordinary election begins on the seventh (calendar) day after the day of the poll, and ends with the sixth (calendar) day following the subsequent poll.

“The term for incumbent PCCs should cease on May 12, and the newly or re-elected PCC will commence in office on May 13.

What is a Police and Crime Commissioner?

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were elected In 40 force areas across England and Wales. Every force area is represented by a PCC, except Greater Manchester and London, where PCC responsibilities lie with the Mayor.

The role of the PCCs is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They are responsible for the totality of policing.

PCCs aim to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area.

PCCs have been elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve.

PCCs ensure community needs are met as effectively as possible, and are improving local relationships through building confidence and restoring trust. They work in partnership across a range of agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime.

Who are the candidates?

Standing again: Dafydd Llywelyn

The incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, was elected as one of the two new Plaid Cymru PCCs during 2016’s election and is the PCC for Dyfed-Powys Police. 

The force covers over half the land mass of Wales and during the PCC elections had the highest turnout of all PCC elections at 49%.

Hoping to be re-elected, Dafydd is a former Principal Intelligence Analyst and worked within Police Intelligence for many years before, in 2014, moving to Aberystwyth University to lecture on Criminology. His career has provided him with considerable insight into core policing issues as well as an understanding of what the public want from the service. He has pledged to reinvest in CCTV and prevention activities and has refused to appoint a deputy.

Standing against him are three other candidates – Jon Burns (Conservative); Philippa Thompson (Labour) and Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats).

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
  • set the force budget and determine the precept;
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.

How the voting works

If there are more than two candidates, the Police and Crime Commissioner is elected under the supplementary vote system: 

  • A voter can vote for a first and second choice candidate they want to elect.
  • If a candidate obtains more than 50% of the first choice votes, they will be declared elected.
  • If no candidate obtains more than 50% of the first choice votes, all candidates except for those in first and second place are eliminated.
  • The ballot papers showing a first preference for one of the eliminated candidates are checked for their second preference.
  • Any second preference votes for the remaining two candidates are then added to their first preference votes and the candidate with the most votes is elected.

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Multiple RNLI lifeboats launched to aid yacht in distress

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THE NEW QUAY RNLI lifeboat has rescued a stricken yacht, with the casualty evacuated by helicopter. 

On Saturday (May 8) New Quay lifeboat ‘The Frank and Lena Clifford of Stourbridge’, was paged at 9.06am by HM Coastguard to search for a yacht in difficulty 10 miles west of Aberystwyth with two persons on board. 

The Mersey class lifeboat launched at 9.20am with seven volunteer crew members on board to search for the 9m vessel, which had travelled up from Pembrokeshire, in a moderate south-westerly wind. 

The yacht, on passage from Fishguard to Aberystwyth, was experiencing mechanical and communications problems, and had failed to berth in Aberystwyth marina due to the tide. The severely fatigued crew had raised the alarm by mobile phone when they realised they were in trouble, struggling with the winds and poor visibility.  

Daniel Potter, New Quay RNLI Coxswain said, “We proceeded to the position given but on arrival another position was given 10 miles further north, and then again 5 miles north east. We searched for over an hour for the vessel as they had become lost in the deteriorating weather conditions. Barmouth lifeboat was also requested to launch but stood down as we located the vessel.  

“When we located them, we had to act quickly as we found her close to shore and in danger of going aground on the reef near Tywyn. I had one opportunity and we took it, we set up a tow and pulled her into deeper water.  

“We then requested to launch Aberdyfi’s lifeboat to assist us with getting crew on board as we had concerns over the health and wellbeing of the stricken vessel’s crew. Two volunteer crew from Aberdyfi and one from New Quay boarded the yacht. They assessed the casualty and it was decided as a matter of urgency to evacuate one of them. We requested an immediate helicopter evacuation, and HM Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 936 arrived and transferred the casualty to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. 

“It was quite an ordeal for the yacht, but it wasn’t over as we had to get the last of the crew members and the boat to safety. Aberdyfi lifeboat then transferred another one of our crew onto the yacht when they took theirs off and returned to station, and we began the tow to Aberystwyth.  

“On approach to Aberystwyth we requested assistance from Aberystwyth lifeboat who launched and met us outside the harbour to transfer the tow into the marina, and to deliver us much needed supplies, fish and chips! 

“We then headed home and returned to New Quay by 6pm, nine hours after launching. It was a very long day in difficult conditions. However, it was a fantastic effort by everyone, and we want to say a big thank you to all lifeboats and crew involved, and the helicopter. It was an amazing team effort by all.” 

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Operations Manager added, “We would like to give our thanks to all the lifeboat stations involved. It was a great joint endeavour by Cardigan Bay lifeboat stations. The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea and our volunteer crew are on call 24/7. Remember if you find yourself or see anyone else in trouble at sea or on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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Health

Update on local vaccinations for residents aged 18 to 39

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ALL adults aged 18 to 39 living in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire will be offered Moderna or Pfizer BioNtech for their first COVID-19 vaccine, Hywel Dda University Health Board can confirm.

Today’s announcement states, as a precaution, unvaccinated adults aged 30 – 39 years who are not in a clinical priority group at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, will be offered an alternative to the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, where possible.  This is already the case with adults under 30 years.

Fewer than 200 people under 39 are booked to receive a first Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine at the Picton Centre on Saturday 8 May. The health board is making every effort to contact everyone affected to offer a new appointment at a session offering the Moderna or Pfizer BioNtech vaccine.

All mass vaccination centres in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire will provide the  Moderna, Pfizer BioNtech and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines. Please attend your appointment as planned as your clinic will have the appropriate vaccine for your age.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We understand that today’s announcement may cause some concern. The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine, cases of blood clots with low platelet counts continues to be extremely rare and is thought to be a reaction to first exposure.  The decision to stop using the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 40 who have no clinical risk factors reflects the excellent progress we are making in bringing the pandemic under control and the increased supply of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. 

“If you have received a first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine without suffering any serious side effects, it is recommended that you should complete the course and receive the second vaccine when invited, irrespective of age, in line with JVCI advice.”

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has already saved thousands of lives and remains safe and effective for the majority of the population with over 1 million people have received the AZ vaccine since January.

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