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An interview with…..Paul Davies

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an interviewLocal AM Highlights the Importance of “Vital” Local Hospital Services

AS part of our continued series of interviews with local high profile politicians, The Herald this week spoke to Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Paul Davies.

The Herald started by asking what a typical week is like for an Assembly Member.

“I am the Deputy Leader of the Welsh Conservative Assembly Group and the Shadow Minister for Finance, as well as the constituency Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire. Usually, I am based in my constituency office in Haverfordwest on Mondays and Fridays. This provides me with an opportunity to engage with my constituents on local issues such as health services, planning, education and housing. It also allows me to attend local events and set up meetings with local groups and organisations. I travel to Cardiff on a Monday evening, ready for plenary business which takes place on a Tuesday and a Wednesday. On Thursdays, I am usually in a Committee session. As the Welsh Conservative Spokesperson for Finance, I am a member of the Assembly’s Finance Committee. On this Committee, we scrutinise the use of resources by the Assembly Commission or Welsh Ministers”.

On the subject of local issues, Paul Davies had this to say, “The biggest issue that I have dealt with is the threat of downgrading services at Withybush hospital. This issue has been the largest in terms of correspondence from constituents. Maintaining access to hospital services based locally is vital to the safety and convenience of the people of Pembrokeshire. I have also been campaigning for the dualling of the A40 in Pembrokeshire. There are a number of economic benefits to dualling the A40 for businesses in the area. It would certainly provide job opportunities and it would help make travelling to Pembrokeshire much easier for residents and for the thousands of visitors who come to the area each year. I have also received a great deal of correspondence from constituents regarding the lack of Broadband provision in Pembrokeshire”.

Asked how an AM balances local and national duties within the job, Mr Davies said, “Each week brings different challenges and demands, and while I take my role as the Shadow Minister for Finance very seriously, it is far more important that I am working on behalf of the people of Preseli Pembrokeshire, raising local issues whenever the opportunity arises”.

He went on to discuss the nature in which the Conservatives can maintain an effective opposition, “As the perennial opposition, we are committed to holding the Welsh Government to account and to scrutinising Welsh Ministers’ policies. I believe that we are a constructive opposition, and that we make every effort to do our job as the people of Wales’ watchdog. That is why we, as a group, have put forward a number of policies throughout the Fourth Assembly to help serve the people of Wales. For example, last year, I launched our flagship Finance policy “Invest Wales” which looked to support small and medium sized enterprises and to stimulate the local economy, by establishing a system of geographically accountable Welsh regional investment ‘banks.’ Some weeks later, the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, himself recognised these challenges and said that Labour in England would seek to establish a network of regional banks, if elected, to help small business get access to finance. As a result, the Minister for Economy and Transport committed to reviewing Finance Wales’ financial products so that they are as attractive as possible to businesses, and that process is still ongoing”.

The Herald asked what it is like to be a part of the election process and what the best and worst parts of the job are,

“I’d like to think that I’m a realist and the risk of losing any election comes with the territory of the job. I will, of course, continue to work to the best of my ability for the people of Preseli Pembrokeshire, and they will have the opportunity in 2016 to have their say on my performance as their local Assembly Member. The best aspect of my job is the opportunity to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds. I don’t think that I would get this opportunity in any other job. The worst aspect of my job is the continual frustration of being in opposition”.

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Crime

Eight bungling police officers ‘raided’ home of autistic child ‘by mistake’

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THE FATHER of an autistic child has told of his horror as police officers smashed down his front door to execute a search warrant.
But it soon became apparent that as many as eight bungling officers had carried out the raid on the wrong address.
Michael Williams, 32, has taken to social media to share his experience, which he says has left his non-verbal son, 7, having nightmares.
Michael explained that when police smashed their way into the property they shouted for the father and his special-needs son to ‘Get down on the floor’.
“It was a frightening experience, seeing the door come in – and to be forced onto the floor without an understanding of what was going on,” said Michael.

Police raid on a domestic property (File photo)

SOCIAL MEDIA

Michael posted onto Facebook about the incident, receiving hundreds of shares. He said: “Where [can I] start with this mess – at 9am last Saturday (Jan 21) the police broke through my flat door with a warrant for a drugs search which in-fact was the wrong address and wrong person.
“You’ve effectively broke into my house with no warrant for the wrong person and address!
“My son was next to me on the sofa when this happened- anyone that knows me, or my son knows he is autistic and non-verbal. He is now Petrified of the police, he now has nightmares, the set back this is going to be for him is massive, we can’t ask him if he’s okay, we can’t explain to him how the force we pay to ‘protect’ us forced their way through our door with no valid reason or warrant (again the address on the warrant was across the road)
“For any child [this would have been] frightening for a child that’s nonverbal and autistic well it doesn’t bear thinking about!
Michael added: “Not once did the police check the Council Tax records or electoral board which would have shown mickey as a vulnerable child due to how complex needs.
“The police have offered no satisfactory reason to why they didn’t check things properly!
“I have seen the warrant the warrant address is in fact for across the road from me!
“I still have a door that won’t shut properly I probably have a child now that will be scared to come back because of the damage our fine ‘police force’ have done.
“How the hell the police forced entry in to a house (around 8 officers) with no warrant – there is more which I’m not ready to disclose until the ‘investigation’ is over, then again the police will always look after the police and that was evident today when I was told ‘the police done nothing wrong’
“Dyfed Powys police should hang their heads in shame! It’s disgusting what’s happened!
Michael finished his Facebook post by saying: “I would love this to be shared so no other child is made to jump out of their skin in their own home!
“The explanation you’re offering to this blunder isn’t good enough!”

I DON’T FEEL SAFE AT HOME

Michael now says has handed his notice to his landlord, stating that he no longer feels safe in his home and that it’s not a safe environment for his children.

Michael added that all he wants is answers. He would like to be able to sit down and speak to the officers responsible, instead of via email.

POLICE RESPONSE

Dyfed-Powys Police responded to the incident with a brief official statement. They said: “We can confirm that the Professional Standards Department has received a complaint, and this is currently in the process of being assessed and formally recorded under the Police Reform Act 2002.

“The Professional Standards Department will be in contact with the complainant to explain how the complaint will be handled, and the matter will be allocated to a suitable complaint handler for review.

“The outcome will be communicated with the complainant who will have a right to review if he is dissatisfied with the outcome”.

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Business

Planning approved for change of use in Tenby’s ‘drinking quarter’

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THE RESTROSPECTIVE planning applications made by Mike Evans were granted approval by national park planners.

A former national park member who changed of use of historic buildings without permission was unrepentant about making a retrospective application.

Since last July, former stables in Tenby’s Sergeant’s Lane have been rented out to be used as a seating area for the nearby Harbwr Brewery.

A planning application seeking retrospective change of use of the Grade II listed buildings and previously derelict and overgrown stable yard for the serving of food and drink, made by by Harbwr Brewery owner Mike Evans, was approved by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority planners on Wednesday, 1 February.

The application – recommended for conditional approval – was brought to the National Park’s Development Management Committee as Mr Evans was a recent member of the national park authority.

Also approved were works to the listed building roof.

At the meeting, members expressed concern about the retrospective native of the application, made by a former member of the planning committee.

Ted Lewis of nearby Rock Terrace raised concerns about potential waste and officers’ support for the retrospective application, claiming Mr Evans had shown “a complete failure” to abide by conditions imposed on a previous application.

He also referred to recent references to Sergeant Lane as being Tenby’s “drinking quarter,” adding: “I was horrified at that, if it becomes a ‘drinking quarter’ it will drive out local residents.”

Former county councillor Mr Evans, unrepentant at the retrospective nature of the application, said the area had been transformed from one of “pigeons, rats and dog [mess],” to one with five thriving businesses.

He said the development was providing “good, exciting and well-paid jobs,” adding: “At the core of everything we do is sustainability, we do nothing to harm the area and community we live in. At our own expense we clean and maintain the lane regularly.”

He described retrospective planning applications were “a legitimate route for planning,” adding it was the usage of the buildings that “has evolved,” rather than structural changes.

Tenby Civic Society has previously raised concerns about potential noise nuisance to nearby residential properties.

Until the late 1990s, many of the buildings on Sergeants Lane were used as warehousing and stores for Hermann Thomas and Co Plumbers.

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News

MP’s call for better County rail links to boost tourism

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has called on the Welsh Economy Minister Vaughan Gething to improve rail services into Pembrokeshire as a vital step in boosting the number of overseas visitors to the County.

Mr Crabb claimed that too many West Wales services do not carry on beyond Carmarthen, while other services are cancelled or delayed. The MP has previously written to the Train operators about the quality and reliability of rail services to and from Pembrokeshire.

During the meeting of the Welsh Affairs Committee, which he chairs, Mr Crabb said Pembrokeshire is “Wales’s outstanding tourist destination”.

During this final evidence session of the Committee’s inquiry into Wales as a global tourist destination, Welsh MPs quizzed Minister Gething MS, as well as UK Government Tourism Minister, Stuart Andrew MP, and Patricia Yates the Chief Executive of Visit Britain about what steps they are collectively taking to boost tourist numbers in Wales. Recent data findings show that Wales currently underperforms when it comes to attracting international visitors in comparison to the rest of the UK.

Questions regarding Welsh Government’s proposed Tourism Tax; the performance of Visit Britain and Visit Wales in marketing Wales successfully; and transport connections into Wales were put to the panellists.

Commenting after the Committee hearing, MP Crabb added:

“During the summer months, people flock from all over the world to visit Pembrokeshire’s beautiful coastline, it is a fantastic visitor destination for individuals and families alike. But, for many, car travel remains the only reliable option for travel to the County due to the poor rail services.”

“Far too many services stop short at Carmarthen or are cancelled. Welsh Government must urgently look to increase the number of services available, as well as the quality of train services if we are to compete on the global tourism market.”

The committee session can be watched in full here: Parliamentlive.tv – Welsh Affairs Committee

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