Alan Evans reporting
ON AN EXTRAORDINARY night in British politics Carmarthenshire was no different to many parts of the U.K. with twists, turns and surprises.
Carmarthenshire voters returned Nia Griffith (Labour), Simon Hart (Conservatives) and Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru) as their MP’s for the next 5-years.
Jonathan Edwards said: “It’s an incredible feeling, we’ve been working for this moment for five years. The work began to win this the night after the election in 2010. All that work has come to fruition. For the Conservative party to talk of the common interest within the UK doesn’t tally with their election campaign where they have demonised the people of Scotland and the people of Wales for daring to think that they could have a different future to what Westminster serves us time after time. They have boxed the Labour party into a corner. The Westminster elite views our country as a second-class nation and that is why we need more Plaid Cymru MP’s in Westminster fighting our corner. It is only going to be three this time.”
Whereas in Scotland the SNP took the majority of seats. Here in Wales Plaid Cymru only managed to hold on to their three existing seats. Ceredigion was a close call with only a 3,067 difference between Plaid and the Lib Dems. The surprise of the night was UKIP’s Ken Rees pushing the Conservatives represented by Selaine Saxby into fourth place. One can only speculate about the result had those voters opted for Plaid Cymru. Plaid’s Jonathan Edwards increased his majority in Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr taking 15,140 votes as opposed to Labour’s Callum Higgins taking 9,541 votes. It was a similar story only in reverse as Labour’s Nia Griffith took 15,948 votes as opposed to Plaid’s Vaughan Williams taking 8,853 votes.
Labour’s Nia Griffith said: “I’m very honoured to be re-elected. I see this as a duty and a real responsibility. Obviously I will be working with everybody whether it is working with colleagues in Parliament or whether its working with the community here it is not something you do on your own. This is part of being a team, part of being pat of your community and trying to get your very best for them. It was a very challenging situation and it was an interesting selection of candidates. Things can change very quickly anyone of those could have taken a considerable number of votes from me. I’ve had experience so perhaps that has helped Working with people in the community is the way forward.”
In a very emotional acceptance speech Jonathan Edwards told The Herald: “The story of the night undoubtedly is events in Scotland and the landslide victory of the SNP. All the political ingredients that have led to the result in Scotland also exist here in Wales. An arrogant and self-serving Labour establishment and a rising progressive alternative in the national party. What’s happened in Scotland tonight will happen in Wales. It is the duty of the exciting crop of young politicians emerging through the Plaid Cymru ranks to achieve that goal beginning next year in the National Assembly elections. The job of Plaid Cymru MP’s will be to ensure the best possible deal for Wales and our communities in the new political landscape. The old union is now dead. If the British state is to survive a new arrangement between the countries of the UK will have to be forged. I look forward to returning to Westminster with a strong mandate given to me by my home communities, an increased majority. I’d like to close by thanking my opponents and wishing them the very best for the future. I’d like to dedicate this victory to nurse Price from Llandybie who passed away earlier this week aged 94 and Irene Lloyd from Brynamman who died last week. Both Plaid Cymru stalwarts for their entire adult lives. Nights like this for Plaid Cymru are only possible due to the contribution of people like them.”
Labour have been the biggest losers on the night and there were strong views expressed by many of the candidates particularly on the labour led local authority. Candidates told me that discussions on the local authority had been a key issue on the doorstep.
Selaine Saxby (Conservative) said: “Someone needs to hold the council to account for the state they have allowed the town centre to get into.”
Vaughan Williams (Plaid Cymru) said: “93-years of one party is a long time and there is an ambition for change in the town.
Dr. Sian Caiach (People First) said: “There are a lot of local issues. People are concerned with council cuts. People need proper representation. Our policy is to consult people and reflect their views. We seem to have an officer led council. Some people have allowed themselves to be talked into things, which they shouldn’t have. If you have a one party state and that party is not an excellent party it is easy for things to become stale.”
Matthew Paul (Conservatives) said: “People are realising that labour have taken things for granted in too much of Wales for too long. It is a message to Labour. Even if you have places where you thought you could pin a red rosette on a donkey and still come back with a result that situation may not last forever.”
Nia Griffith told The Herald: “Obviously there has been this review and the council is going to try to implement that. It is a bit like turning round the Titanic. It’s not going to be that easy to do it all immediately. Rebuilding a reputation takes a very long time. They recognise there is a huge amount of work to do. There are no silver bullets for the town centre. I don’t think it’s easy to find solutions because we all know that everybody wants their cake and eat it. They want to shop on the Internet, they want to shop at Trostre and at the same time they still expect the shops in the town centre to be there. Quite clearly the trade is in three different places now. It is not going to be easy and we do have to think of different ways we want to make our town centre a place we want to go to. It is important to take local people’s ideas into consideration.”
The results were as follows:
Nia Rhiannon Griffith (Labour) 15,948
Vaughan Williams (Plaid Cymru) 8,853
Ken Rees (UKIP) 6,269
Selaine Saxby (Cons) 5,534
Cen Phillips (Lib Dems) 751
Guy Smith (Green Party) 689
Sian Caiach (People First) 407
Scott Jones (TUSC) 123
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru) 15,140
Callum Higgins (Labour) 9,541
Matthew Paul (Conservatives) 8,336
Norma Woodward (UKIP) 4,363
Ben Rice (Green Party) 1,091
Sara Lloyd-Williams (Lib Dems) 928
£1 billion deal set to solve poor mobile coverage
BEN LAKE MP has worked with cross-party MPs in recent months on a campaign calling for a Shared Rural Network to extend mobile rural coverage to hard-to-reach areas.
On Friday, 25 October, a £1bn plan between the UK’s four main mobile phone companies and the UK Government was unveiled with the aim of banishing these signal dead zones. The proposed deal – which includes EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – promises to get 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025.
The new plans for all operators to share phone masts to improve UK coverage is a world first. It will mean EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will invest £530 million in a network of new and existing phone masts they would all share and which any mobile user can access, and which would be supported by £500 million investment from the UK Government.
72 cross party MPs, including Ben Lake, wrote to the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright MP asking him to support a Shared Rural Network which would significantly improve rural coverage and enhance economic, educational and leisure opportunities in rural areas.
Mr Lake said “This is fantastic news. It will make a huge difference to so many people in my constituency where, in some areas, there is no mobile coverage at all. It will put an end to the frustration felt by thousands of people who currently feel cut off and mean people will get good mobile signal on the go wherever they live, work or travel and it will have a big impact on the local economy.
“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet with the Secretary of State to press the case for allowing newly constructed Home Office masts to be utilised as part of this new programme, something that would expedite progress in areas such as Ceredigion.”
The current Digital Secretary, Nicky Morgan said “We are determined to make sure no part of the country is left behind when it comes to mobile connectivity. We are closing in on a deal with the mobile network operators so those living in rural areas will be able to get the fast and reliable mobile coverage they need and deserve. Brokering an agreement for mast sharing between networks alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they’re with.”
A final agreement between UK Government and the mobile industry is expected early next year.
Successful first year for the Childcare offer
PARENTS of 400 Ceredigion children have taken advantage of the Childcare Offer in its first year. The scheme has been running in Ceredigion since September 2018 and has saved parents almost £850,000 in childcare costs so far.
The Childcare Offer for Wales is a Welsh Government funded scheme, which provides 3 and 4 year olds with a combination of 30 hours of Foundation Phase Nursery education and childcare. The offer is available to working parents of three and four year olds for up to 48 weeks of the year.
To be eligible, a child must be aged three or four and the parent or guardian must earn the equivalent of at least 16 hours at national living wage or national minimum wage; or receive specific caring benefits.
Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “It’s great to see that the Childcare Offer is having such an impact across Ceredigion in the first year. The Childcare Offer is not only a fantastic opportunity for parents, but it is also an opportunity to provide better sustainability for childcare providers.”
A dedicated team of staff has been developed within the Ceredigion County Council to administer the offer in the county and on behalf of Carmarthenshire, Powys and Pembrokeshire county councils. Ceredigion County Council is the delivery authority which processes all parent applications and deal with payments to childcare providers.
The cost of childcare can be a significant burden for working parents. A scheme like this has really made a difference to families’ financial situation. One parent who has taken advantage of the offer said, “It’s helped us quite a bit. There was a bit of work to do to set it up and find the paperwork, but once that was all done, it was really easy. All you have to do is take the child to the childcare setting each day and pick them up at the end of the day!”
“The Childcare Offer has meant that the money we’ve saved through the offer has enabled us to give our children other experiences.”
The application form for parents and carers to apply for the Childcare Offer is available on the Ceredigion County Council website: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/children-young-people-services/childcare/childcare-offer-for-wales/childcare-offer-application-form/
Childcare Offer applications for children born between 1 September 2016 and 31 December 2016 can be submitted from 4 November 2019.
As part of the application process, parents/carers will need to provide the following evidence:
· Copy of child’s birth certificate
· Proof of address (latest Council Tax Bill or an utility bill dated within the last 3 months
· Last three months’ payslips for all applicants,
· Or, if self-employed a copy of your most recent self-assessment tax return form. Alternatively, if you are relatively new self-employed person provide proof of your Unique Tax Reference number from HMRC.
Parents or childcare providers in Ceredigion who require further information should contact the Ceredigion Childcare Unit on 01545 570881
Environmentally friendly electric sweepers replace old diesel models
CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has replaced old diesel street sweepers with new electric powered models.
The new electric sweepers replace diesel ones which have been in use for many years and had come to the end of their useful life. The new sweepers will mainly be used in Ceredigion’s town centres to help keep the streets clean. The electric sweepers will be better for the environment and will be cheaper to operate.
Councillor Dafydd Edwards, is the Cabinet Member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “These new sweepers will be of great benefit in supporting the efforts of our Street Cleaning Team to keep Ceredigion’s towns clean. As part of Caru Ceredigion everyone can play their part in this by dealing with their waste including litter, cigarette ends and dog waste responsibly and legally. This would be a huge help in keeping Ceredigion clean and ensuring it remains a great place to visit, live and work as well as maintaining the positive profile it deserves.”
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