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West Wales activists participate in demo during COP26 Climate Conference

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CLIMATE activists from the Cardigan and Pembrokeshire area have been rounding up world leaders at COP26 Climate Conference – and taking them in chains to the police cells! To be a bit more precise, the activists WERE the world leaders in chains, in some street theatre in Glasgow.

Members of Cardigan and Pembrokeshire Extinction Rebellion (XR) groups were wearing huge masks which were caricatures of some of the planet’s most criminal climate offenders. 

The masks, moulded in latex, were made by Bim Mason. Bim is a lecturer, performer, author and one of the UK’s leading mask-makers. He co-founded Circomedia, the circus theatre school in Bristol in 1994 and moved to Angle, in Pembrokeshire, just before the first lockdown. Since then he has been involved with XR groups in Cardigan, Fishguard and Carmarthen. 

Adam Price speaks with activist Jane Mansfield at the demo outside JP Morgan Bank (Image Herald)

Bim explains, “The aim of this piece was to name and shame those leaders and influencers who have got us into this climate catastrophe, by denying the science, delaying action or double-dealing, mainly in order to keep themselves in power. In Glasgow, the crowds booed the leaders and cheered at the fantasy of them being arrested.”

Another Cardigan XR member, Jane Mansfield, was involved in protesting outside JP Morgan Bank – a major funder of fossil fuels which are the main cause of the climate change crisis. She has also been able to meet with people from all over the world, learning about how climate change is already causing terrible suffering in so many communities in the Global South. 

“We need to push our governments to provide these most vulnerable developing countries with the funding which they promised but have not delivered,” she said. “This is basic climate justice and it is essential to help the countries which are the least responsible for climate change but are suffering the most from its effects. The funding is needed to enable them to cope with climate damage, and to develop using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. This has been agreed at previous COPs but has not been realised.”

Jane also managed to speak to Adam Price MS, the leader of Plaid Cymru, and to discuss the urgency of the situation and the ways in which Wales can play its part. He put the situation starkly: “We’re talking about an existential issue, like the future of the planet. And for me, as a new parent of two young children, then every day as a politician I’m thinking constantly about what I can do to bequeath to them a liveable planet. It doesn’t get bigger than that.

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Milford Haven: Police investigating sexual assault

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POLICE are investigating an incident of sexual assault which occurred in Hakin, Milford Haven.

Milford Haven Police say that the alleged incident took place in Croft Avenue on February 7, 2023 at around 19:50hrs.

If anyone is able to give any information regarding this incident please ring 101 quoting reference DPP/0956/07/02/2023/02/C.

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Pembrokeshire County Council faces less bleak finances than previously expected

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL faces a less bleak financial position than had previously been expected, to the tune of nearly £10m, members of a schools committee have heard.

At the February 6 meeting of the Schools and Learning Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack, presented outline draft 2023-’24 budget proposals to members.

He told members an updated draft budget was to be reported to the February meeting of the council’s Cabinet after a previously feared funding gap of £28m was now smaller, at £18.6m, due to a higher settlement from Welsh Government.

An expected 3.5 per cent settlement ended up being 7.9 per cent, which meant some expected cuts were now unlikely to happen, he told committee members.

“A large number of the most severe cuts are now very, very unlikely; we’re now looking at a deficit of £18.6m, it’s not as severe as it was.

“The officer team is looking at how that funding gap could be closed with budget savings and with different levels of council tax.”

Members heard the budget is expected to be addressed through an increase in council tax – potentially in the area of 7.5 per cent – along with significant cost reductions.

Director of Resources John Haswell said: “It was a better settlement, but still an £18.6m gap; this isn’t a one-year issue, this is an issue over the medium-term plan, over £50m over the four-year period.”

He said that Pembrokeshire, having the lowest council tax rates in Wales, meant that each potential percentage increase returned less than other local authorities.

Members heard papers listing the latest budget proposals for Cabinet discussion are expected to be released soon, in advance of the February 13 meeting.

Members agreed to defer making any recommendations to Cabinet, pending the release of the revised papers.

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Welsh Freeport competition heats up with Senedd vote

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ON WEDNESDAY, the Senedd will hold a debate regarding freeports as the competition for UK and Welsh Government funding nears its conclusion.

Currently, three bids are in from across Wales for a chance to benefit from £26 million of direct UK Government funding, as well as reduced taxes for businesses in the freeport area. A Welsh freeport could see up to 16,000 jobs created and further investment or the local area into the billions.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS said:

“Benefits of a freeport cannot be understated, bringing much needed jobs and investment into some of the most deprived areas of Wales.

“The UK Government put the challenge to Wales to submit exceptional bids, and Wales has delivered.

“All three bids would help to transform their local communities in different ways. It’s essential that the UK and Welsh Governments work together to deliver that second freeport for Wales, maximising the opportunities that these bids have to offer.”

The three Welsh Freeport bids are:

  • The Celtic Freeport (covering Pembrokeshire to Neath) which has estimated that it would create over 16,000 new jobs and up to £5.5 billion in new investment.
  • The Anglesey Freeport would support up to a £1 billion contribution to UK GDP by 2030, while also creating up to 13,000 new, high salary jobs in Ynys Môn.
  • The Newport Freeport (including Cardiff Airport) is aiming to increase non-passenger revenues to 50%, ending their reliance of passenger generated income.

The UK Government stated that “if a truly exceptional proposal were presented at the bidding stage” than a second freeport would be funded.

The Welsh Conservative debate reads:

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Recognises the opportunities for freeports to energise the Welsh economy, create high quality jobs, promote regeneration and investment.

2. Notes that three bids from Wales have been submitted for consideration by the UK and Welsh Governments.

3. Calls on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to deliver two freeports in Wales, recognising the truly exceptional proposals submitted and the transformational benefits they can deliver for the Welsh economy.

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