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Politics

Greens reject Welsh party

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Grenville Ham: Green Party voted down leader's plea

THE WALES G​REEN PARTY has rejected the opportunity to reconstitute itself as a Welsh Green Party, as opposed to a branch of the Green Party for England.

Members of the party rejected the proposal to strike it out on their own in a poll of members.

Current Green Party of Wales leader Grenville Ham was in favour of disentangling from the party in England.

Rather like other political parties –Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrat – the prefix ‘Welsh’ does not denote any separate legal existence from parties England.

Scotland has a separate Green Party, but the Wales Green Party has decided against independence.

Last weekend, the Green Party of Wales held a vote to decide whether or not it should remain a regional outpost of the Green Party in England.

In a poll of the Party’s membership of 1,500 in Wales, 64.8% decided to remain attached to the current party structure.

That figure appears overwhelming, but is rather less impressive when the turnout for the vote is factored in.

Of 1,500 Green Party members in Wales, only 20% turned out to vote.

A turnout of 300 means that around 194 Green Party members held sway over around 106 of their fellow party members in a vote which 1,200 members could not even be bothered to cast a ballot.

Where this leaves the Green Party as a relevant political entity in Wales is open to question; the argument could be advanced that if 80% of its members did not care enough about the party’s identity in Wales to register a vote either for or against forming a party with a specific Welsh focus, there have to be doubts about its long term commitment to formulating policies which address specifically Welsh issues instead of goals shared with the party in England.

Critics of the vote’s outcome have suggested that its result represents a missed opportunity for the Greens in Wales to address two separate problems which have persistently bedevilled the party in recent years: firstly, the perception that the Green Party has a ‘Lady Bountiful’ attitude to Wales and the Welsh; secondly, it’s failure to make any meaningful electoral progress.

On the upside, at least the Greens held a vote.

Community

A further two Pembrokeshire day care centres may close if petitions fail

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TWO PETITIONS, calling on Pembrokeshire County Council to keep day care centres in the county open have been launched, with the creator of one calling on all affected to unite together.

Earlier this year, senior councillors backed plans to close two of the county’s centres for older adults and those with learning disabilities, Portfield SAC, Haverfordwest, and Avenue SAC, Tenby; service users moving to other centres in the county.

The county council is currently changing care provision for older adults and those with learning disabilities, and fears have been raised recently that Pembroke Dock’s Anchorage day care centre is to close.

A series of engagement events have taken place at The Anchorage recently, outlining the reasons and the options in continued service.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “One young woman who attends ran out of the first meeting sobbing when she was told it was going to close.

“Another, at the second meeting, tried to address the meeting, but was so choked up at the thought of not seeing her friends any more she could hardly speak.”

It now is feared Narberth’s Lee Davies Day Care Centre and Crymych’s Bro Preseli Day Centre could also close, with concerns it is due solely to budgetary reasons.

An e-petition on the council’s own website, by John Llewellyn of Living Memory Group, entitled against the closure of the Lee Davies and Bro Preseli day care centres, has attracted some 254 signatures to date.

It states: “We call on Pembrokeshire County Council to Review the closure of the Lee Davies Day Care Centre at Bloomfield’s and the Bro Preseli Day Centre at Crymych.

“Staff at both day care centres were informed in mid-March that both facilities would be closing due to PCC budget cuts. Both centres are an essential outlet for the wellbeing of the attendees and their families.”

Change.org petition, called Save the Lee Davies Day Centre Narberth, has also been started by Kate Schofield, the twin sister of one of the centre users, which has attracted 186 signatures.

She says her sister has already seen “her beloved Avenue Centre close,” and could “lose her old and new friends at the Lee Davies Centre”.

That petition reads: “Pembrokeshire County Council are currently reviewing the day centre provision in Pembrokeshire.  They have posted some petitions where you can merely sign your name, but this is not proper consultation, and in reality decisions about services provided for older people and vulnerable adults many with complex learning disabilities are being made by councillors who are driven purely by budget savings.

“If we lose the Lee Davies Centre there will be little or no provision in south Pembrokeshire, The Avenue in Tenby has closed, The Anchorage will close very shortly and in Haverfordwest, Portfield has also been closed.

“Please sign, comment and share let’s show PCC that we care even if they clearly don’t.  We have until early June to make our feelings known, so please sign today.”

Kate added: “My sister has Down’s Syndrome and because of our age has always only had the option of day care services.

“Over the last few years she has, like the rest of us, come through Covid. The day, whilst out for a walk, she started laughing while hugging a tree because she couldn’t hug me will stay with me forever.

“She’s seen her beloved Avenue Centre close and now will possibly lose her old and new friends at the Lee Davies Centre, this is one of the many reasons I have raised this petition.”

Kate, who said she was moved to tears by the plight of Anchorage centre users, finished by saying: “I don’t believe PCC, and indeed the Cabinet Member for Social Care & Safeguarding, have any regard for older people with learning disabilities, profoundly disabled adults and indeed older people in general.

“They talk about stress and mental health but have no regard to what they are doing to carers and attendees across these centres.”

She finished: “We need to all join forces, Lee Davies, Bro Preseli and The Anchorage to fight PCC.”

Kate may be contacted on 01646 651049.

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Pembrokeshire County Council is working with trustees at both Lee Davies and Bro Preseli in order to maintain current service provision wherever possible.

“The services remain committed to develop a hybrid social enterprise model during 2024/25.”

Anchorage plea: A plea by a concerned parent to keep the “safe and happy place” Anchorage centre open – which had also attracted a council e-petition – was recently heard at a full council meeting.

Responding at that meeting, Cabinet Member for Social Care & Safeguarding Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “All service users of the Anchorage will be offered alternative day centre arrangements in order to preserve their independence and also to support the caring needs of their families, these assessments are still taking place and are likely to continue to do so at least until the end of May.”

The anchorage petition, which closed today, May 24, attracted 402 signatures.

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Business

Saundersfoot centre site redevelopment scheme withdrawn

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PLANS for the redevelopment of an ‘eyesore’ piece of land in the centre of Saundersfoot, which the local community council feared would “set a precedence for future overdevelopment,” have been withdrawn.

The proposals for the vacant brownfield site between the rear of the former Cambrian Hotel building and the rear of the town houses in Milford Terrace were to create 24 new homes and a 445 square foot commercial unit space fronting on to Milford Street.

Its new developers said it would ‘fill the void’ and ‘re-establish a strong streetscape’.

An application to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park planners, by Ventura Properties (Saundersfoot) said it would feature one, two, three and four-bed town houses and apartments.

The site, currently used for informal car parking, is a mix of gravel and tarmac finished land that includes a small access road to the rear of the Cambrian Hotel, which would be maintained the applicants have said.

The proposal sought to complete the mixed development of houses, apartments, commercial space and the redevelopment of the Cambrian Hotel which was granted permission in 2012.

Although the previous developer delivered the town houses and alterations to the Cambrian Hotel, the remainder of the approved development of 16 residential dwellings was not completed.

The previous developer has sold the site to the current applicants on that basis.

The developers have previously stated: “Approximately half of the site remains undeveloped, under-utilised and is a clear ‘gap’ that contributes negatively to the amenity of the local centre. The plot stands vacant (brownfield), previously used as the car park for the old Cambrian Hotel and remains somewhat of an eyesore.

“This proposal seeks to fill the void left along the southern edge of Milford Street. It proposes commercial units to the ground floor and apartments over on the prominent local centre facing street frontage.”

A mix of town houses and apartments was proposed to the heart of the site.

However, concerns were raised by Saundersfoot Community Council, which did not support the scheme.

Issues raised included the impact on the character of the village’s conservation area, road safety issues, and “even more commercial buildings being offered in a village where new business properties are empty or applications for the change of use are being made to this Planning Authority”.

It warned: “If this application were to be approved by the Planning Authority, the Saundersfoot Community Council are concerned that it would set a precedence for future overdevelopment, which does not preserve nor enhance the character or appearance of a historic village within a conservation area.

“Saundersfoot Community Council does not support this planning application and requests that the planning authority consider refusal of such.”

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News

Lib Dem Ceredigion Preseli candidate launches election campaign

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THIS weekend, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have launched their election campaign for Ceredigion.

The leader of the Welsh Lib Dems Jane Dodds MS joined the party’s parliamentarian hopeful Mark Williams for a door knocking session in Aberystwyth, speaking to local constituents ahead of the election.

Mr Williams, who is standing in his home constituency, will be hoping to regain his previous parliamentary seat which he had held from 2005 until 2017.

As part of his election promises, Mr Williams has vowed to help the region realise its full potential by championing the voice of residents in parliament and putting their interests first.

Commenting, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said: “I am delighted to be here today in Aberystwyth to help launch Mark’s campaign for Ceredigion Preseli.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Mark for quite some time now and I know him to be a dedicated and capable politician who will always put the interests of his constituents first.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the campaign to get him back into Parliament so that he can help us as a party deliver meaningful change to this country.

I want to serve as a voice for the community by championing efforts to protect our beautiful natural environment as well as pushing for greater economic growth.

This election is not only an opportunity to kick the Conservatives out of Westminster, but it is also our chance to send a message to the Welsh Labour government and their Plaid Cymru partners that Wales will not put up with their nonsense for much longer.”

Commenting, the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for Ceredigion Preseli Mark Williams said: “I am very much looking forward to getting started in delivering on my promises of change for the people of this region.

Ceredigion is a wonderful place to live but it has, for far too long now, been overlooked by both the Conservative government in Westminster and Welsh Labour in Cardiff Bay.

I believe that this constituency and its residents deserve to have a strong voice to champion their needs in parliament, and as my previous track record as a former MP for this area shows, I am more than capable of being this voice.”

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