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Politics

Senedd repeats calls for ceasefire in Gaza

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THE SENEDD reiterated calls for an end to the horrors of the Israel-Hamas war.

Peredur Owen Griffiths led a debate on the conflict almost six months on from the Senedd voting in favour of Plaid Cymru’s calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Responding to criticism that the Senedd should concentrate on matters in Wales, and within its powers, he stressed that Welsh citizens have been directly affected by events in Gaza.

The South Wales East MS raised the example of Gillian and Pete Brisley, from Bridgend, who tragically lost their daughter and granddaughters in the Hamas attack on October 7.

He said: “I have attended prayers next to a man in Dar-ul-Isra mosque who has lost over 20 members of his immediate family in Israel’s war on Gaza.”

Mr Owen Griffiths told the chamber the latest death toll stands at 1,139 Israelis and 34,979 Palestinians killed, according to Al Jazeera.

He said: “In reality, the death toll is likely to be much higher, as more and more bodies are pulled out of the rubble…. This is devastation and sorrow on an unimaginable scale.”

The MS said the response from people in Wales has been clear: “Not in our name,” but he warned that that passion and determination has not been matched by Welsh ministers.

Mr Owen Griffiths suggested the Welsh Government has changed its tune, now calling for an immediate ceasefire, despite all ministers abstaining in November’s vote.

He called for “long-overdue” sanctions on Israel and an end to arms shipments, urging firms and pension schemes to stop fuelling or sustaining the conflict.

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth called for an end to the atrocities, a ceasefire, sanctions, and a massive increase in humanitarian aid.

He said: “We cannot allow the world to forget the horrors of this war. We can’t forget those killed and taken hostage on October 7, and we demand their release.

“And we must never forget the tens of thousands killed and still being killed in Gaza, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing destitution, malnutrition and homelessness.”

John Griffiths said his constituents want an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of hostages, humanitarian aid, and the beginnings of a long-term political solution.

The Newport East MS said humanity must prevail over the terrible carnage.

Echoing the UN secretary-general António Guterres, who urged people not to be bystanders, Mr Griffiths was heartened that Welsh people have protested and made their voices heard.

Plaid Cymru’s Sioned Williams warned that 73% of the 34,000 people killed in Gaza are women and children, according to the UN.

She urged the Welsh Government to take a stand by calling out the “appalling, unjust and illegal” treatment of women and children in Gaza.

While international affairs is non-devolved, the South Wales West MS pointed out that Welsh ministers made statements on the appalling invasion of Ukraine.

Jenny Rathbone told the chamber Israel has killed more journalists in Gaza in 200 days than all the journalists killed in the second world war.

The Labour backbencher, who represents Cardiff Central, said the occupying army has a duty to care for civilians but this has not been met in Gaza nor the West Bank.

She urged the US to insist on an immediate ceasefire by withholding all military aid to Israel.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, who represents Dwyfor Meironionnydd, urged the Welsh Government to ensure no arms or components from Wales are sold to Israel.

The Plaid Cymru MS said: “Those who defend the actions of the state of Israel say that that state is protecting itself – but killing 35,000 people is not an act of defence.

“It’s not an act of defence to kill a third of them being children.

“It’s not an act of defence to bomb patients in hospital and it’s certainly not an act of defence to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching a population that is about to starve to death.”

Plaid Cymru deputy leader Delyth Jewell, who previously worked for Action Aid, raised grave concerns about the safety of former aid worker colleagues trapped in terrible conditions in Gaza.

Lesley Griffiths said foreign policy is not devolved but Welsh ministers are cognisant of the real and lasting consequences of the horrifying conflict on communities in Wales.

Ms Griffiths, who was appointed culture and social justice secretary in March, said the Welsh Government’s position remains that it wants to see a ceasefire as soon as possible.

She told the debate on May 1 that spikes in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in Wales have not been as bad as first feared, but there have been some isolated hateful incidents.

Ms Griffiths warned that Wales has not donated to alleviate suffering in Gaza because the Disasters Emergency Committee has been unable to launch an appeal.

She said Welsh Government calls to explore a Gaza resettlement scheme to help those most in need have been met with short shrift by UK ministers.

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Community

Changes to housing scheme once feared to have been sold to Birmingham backed

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Amendments to previously-granted plans for a Pembrokeshire housing estate, which was once feared to have been sold off to Birmingham City Council, have been given the go-ahead.

Back in 2022, Wales and West Housing and construction partners Jones Brothers (Henllan) Ltd were granted permission by Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee for a 50-home social housing estate on land off Maesgwynne Lane, Fishguard.

That permission, subject to the completion of a S106 planning obligation, was finalised in early 2023.

The 1.7-hectare site is being developed into a mixture of one-bedroom flats, one-bedroom bungalows, two, three and four bedroom houses.

Since then, rumours surfaced that the development had been sold off to Birmingham City Council for overflow housing, dismissed by the developers as having “no truth whatsoever”.

Wales & West Housing rubbished the claims saying that they are completely untrue.

“There is no truth whatsoever in this rumour,” a spokesperson for Wales & West Housing said earlier this year.

“We are very much continuing our development of the site off Maesgwynne Lane. We’re working with our construction partners Jones Brothers (Henllan) Ltd to build 50 new homes for affordable rent on the site, as approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee.

“The development is being funded by Wales & West Housing in partnership with Pembrokeshire Council and Welsh Government.

“When it’s finished, we’ll be working with Pembrokeshire County Council to let them to local people who are most in need of homes they can afford to rent.”

Birmingham City Council added at the time: “This is not something we are aware of here, so it appears to be an inaccurate rumour.”

Amendments to the previously-granted scheme were recently submitted to county planners by Jones Brothers (Henllan) Ltd, with minor changes to roofing and other visual alterations.

In approving the amendments, a report for planners stated: “The proposed amendments are not so significant as to have a greater impact than the approved scheme; there will be no detrimental impact visually or in terms of local amenity; no third-party interests would be disadvantaged; and there will be no conflict with national or development plan policies.”

The amendments were conditionally approved.  

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News

Plaid Cymru leader visits Pembrokeshire to support local candidate

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RHUN ap Iorwerth, leader of Plaid Cymru, made a notable visit to the Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency this week to lend his support to the party’s candidate, Cris Tomos. The visit saw ap Iorwerth joining Tomos and his supporters as they canvassed the area, discussing their vision and plans for the local community.

Cris Tomos, the local candidate for Plaid Cymru, has articulated a clear and ambitious agenda aimed at leveraging the economic opportunities presented by green and renewable energy. He emphasised the necessity of reinvesting the benefits derived from these initiatives back into local services and creating new skills training programmes to ensure that residents can secure quality jobs within the burgeoning green economy.

“Revenues generated from the Celtic Sea floating wind development should be channelled into a ring-fenced economic fund for Pembrokeshire,” Tomos stated. “This would enable the establishment of new start-up companies and the expansion of existing green economy businesses, offering competitive salaries to local people.”

Tomos highlighted the significant financial gains expected from the green revolution, pointing out that the Crown Estate in West Wales stands to benefit substantially. However, he expressed concern that the current financial structure means these funds would go directly to the Treasury in London. “We must fight now for the retention of this funding to remain in Wales,” he asserted, “and ensure it is focused on providing quality jobs, housing, and public services for the people of Mid and South Pembrokeshire.”

Looking towards the future, Tomos outlined the potential positive impacts of this revenue, including the construction of new affordable, energy-efficient homes and the financing of threatened services such as day centres and libraries. He also stressed the importance of offering more practical support for families living in poverty, a situation exacerbated by what he described as the “austerity and mismanagement of the economy by the current Conservative government in Westminster and the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay.”

The visit from Rhun ap Iorwerth marks a significant boost for Tomos’s campaign, reinforcing Plaid Cymru’s commitment to addressing local issues through sustainable economic development and community-focused initiatives.

The following people have been nominated for election as a member of the UK Parliament for Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency:

Hanna Andersen (Women’s Equality Party);

Alistair Cameron (Welsh Liberal Democrats);

Stephen Crabb (Welsh Conservative);

Stuart Marchant (Reform UK);

James Purchase (Green Party);

Vusi Siphika, (Independent);

Cris Tomos (Plaid Cymru);

Henry Tufnell (Welsh Labour).

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News

One week left to register to vote

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ANYONE wanting to vote in the general election on July 4, must be registered to vote before the deadline on midnight 18 June. 

Voters can apply online at gov.uk/register-to-vote. It takes just five minutes.

Voters have a range of options – they can vote in person, by post or by appointing someone they trust to vote in their place, known as a proxy vote. The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on 19 June. The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is a week later, 5pm on 26 June.

For the first time at a UK general election, voters will need to show photo ID at a polling station. To find out which ID you can use in the polling station, visit the Electoral Commission website.

If you do not have one of the accepted types of ID, you can apply for free ID at Applying for a Voter Authority Certificate | Electoral Commission or by completing and submitting a paper form to your local authority. You must apply by 5pm on 26 June, to be able to use the Voter Authority Certificate on 4 July.

Craig Westwood, Director of Communications at the Electoral Commission, said: “It is important that people check they’re election ready ahead of upcoming deadlines. All voters must be registered, and some may need to apply for a postal or proxy vote or free ID. Registering to vote is quick and easy, and can be done online.

“Voters will need to show photo ID at polling stations for this general election. Anyone who does not have one of the accepted forms of photo ID can apply for free ID online or by completing a paper form and submitting it to their local council.”

Information about the new requirement and all your voting options can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website.

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