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£141m investment in fossil fuels criticised

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MASS data released this week by Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth (Oct 30) reveals that Pembrokeshire Council (as part of the Dyfed Council Pension Fund) has £64.8million of public money directly invested through workers pension funds in fossil fuel companies like BP and Shell with a further projected £76.5million in indirect fossil fuel investments.

The research shows that Pembrokeshire County Council has over 8% of its pension fund directly invested in fossil fuels, and money is invested into multinational fossil fuel companies including BP, Shell and BHP Billiton

Eleanor Clegg of Friends of the Earth said: “Many people working for Pembrokeshire Council will be concerned to learn that their future is tied up with such a risky and polluting industry. When governments do act to prevent dangerous climate change, the business model for fossil fuel companies will be over, and that day is fast approaching. And, if oil and gas companies keep on drilling in their final days, it will make climate change far worse – it is the right decision both financially and ethically for Pembrokeshire County Council to divest as soon as possible.”

This is the first time that the £231 billion investments of local government public money have ever been broken down and released publicly, and their exposure to fossil fuels quantified. The data shows that overall the 192 councils in the UK have £14 billion invested in fossil fuels via their pension funds. Three quarters of these direct fossil fuel shareholdings are in only ten companies, headed by BP and Shell.

80% of fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. Consequently, there has been growing concerns about the long-term financial risks of fossil fuel investments. A recent analysis found that California’s public pension funds, CalPERS & CalSTRS, incurred a combined loss of over $5 billion in the last year alone from their holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

Friends of the Earth said in a statement: “This data offers the residents of Pembrokeshire the information they need to ask why the Council is choosing to invest in risky oil, gas or coal. Instead the Council could reinvest this money into building new homes, clean renewable energy or public transport.”

Eleanor Clegg also told The Herald: “Most fund members and taxpayers won’t be happy to learn that their money is funding climate change. As local residents we’ll be calling on the council to stand on the right side of history and divest from fossil fuels.”

She added: “Oxford and Bristol City Councils have already taken a lead in making fossil free commitments, joining 40 cities internationally and larger institutions like the Norwegian Government Pension Fund. There are 389 institutions globally – including universities, faith groups, health groups and governments – that have committed to divest. Local residents who would like to join the local campaign to convince Pembrokeshire Council to divest from fossil fuels should get in touch.”

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council said in response: “Many commentators from the public and media get confused with the fact that it is the Dyfed Pension Fund and not Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire or Ceredigion individually. All investments are on behalf of the Dyfed Pension Fund – not any individual employer. There are approximately 50 employers in the fund.”

The spokesman added: “The Dyfed Pension Fund Statement of Investment Principles (SIP) details the Fund’s ‘Social, Environmental and Ethical Considerations’. Paragraph 5 states: The Pension Panel recognises that social, environmental and ethical considerations are among the factors which investment managers will take into account, where relevant, when selecting investments for purchase, retention or sale. The managers have produced statements setting out their policies. The managers have been delegated by the Panel to act accordingly.

“The Pension Fund is a member of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), which is one of the leading voices in corporate governance and responsible investment in the UK.

“Before making investments in fossil fuel companies the investment managers assess a wide range of factors, including, the political stability of the region where its reserves lie, the financial regimes it operates in, the life and quality of its reserves, its operational record, quality of the management, its financial strength, sensitivity to volatile energy prices and its market valuation.

 

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Police say ‘stop protecting’ murder suspect Steve Baxter

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JUST over two weeks ago Simon Clark, aged 54, was found dead at Grove Caravan Park in Pendine, Carmarthenshire.

Dyfed-Powys Police is continuing its manhunt for Steve Baxter, who is wanted on suspicion of Simon’s murder.

Baxter also known as Steve Tidy, Steve Rowley, Wayne Tidy or William Tidy, is aged 52, 5’5” (1.65cm) tall and has tattoos on his forearms – the name Chez and entwined circles on his left arm and a serpent on his right arm.

He has connections in the West Wales, South Wales, South West and North England areas of the UK.

Officers and staff are working round the clock to follow all possible lines of enquiry.

The independent charity Crimestoppers is also offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to the arrest of Steve Baxter and he has been added to the Most Wanted section of their website. Information would be taken by the charity anonymously.

Detective Superintendent Huw Davies said: “It’s over two weeks since Simon Clark was murdered at Grove Caravan Park, Pendine.

“The manhunt for Steve Baxter is ongoing and I must stress to the public that officers and staff are working round the clock to investigate all possible lines of enquiry that could lead us to him.

“I urge anyone with information of Baxter’s whereabouts to come forward. If you do not want to speak to police directly, you can speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, which is also offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to his arrest.

“Someone knows where he is or has been in the last two weeks. Please stop protecting him. Simon Clark’s family deserve to see all those involved in his death brought to justice.”

Four people have been charged in connection with the murder: Jeffrey Stephen Ward, aged 40, from Pendine, has been charged with murder; Linda Mary Rowley, aged 52, from Pendine, has been charged with assisting an offender (murder); Kirston Macklin, aged 52, from Newport, Gwent, has been charged with assisting an offender (murder) and Julie Louise Harris, aged 46, from Tonypandy, has been charged with assisting an offender (murder).

If you see Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 999. Do not approach him.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101 immediately.

To pass on information anonymously, contact Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through the non-traceable anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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National Adoption Week – Can you give a child a home?

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HAVING a caring family and a place they call home is what a lot of children take for granted; however, there are children in Ceredigion who are still looking for a home of their own. As part of National Adoption Week, which is happening between 15 and 21 October, people are being asked to consider opening their homes and their hearts to those waiting for a family.

An information evening is being held in The Atom, 18 King Street, Carmarthen, on Friday, October 19 from 6pm-7.30pm. The Cabinet Member with responsibility for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning and Champion for Children and Young People Councillor Catrin Miles said, “This is a great opportunity for prospective adopters to find out more about the process of adopting children in the county who are waiting for loving, permanent and stable homes. It will also be a chance to meet other prospective adopters.”

Adoption Mid and West Wales has adoption teams covering the four local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys. Their aim is to make sure that children grow up as part of a permanent, loving family from childhood through to adulthood.

Sara*, from Ceredigion has spoken of her experiences of going through the adoption process and welcoming two children into her loving home, “Just two years after submitting our application to adopt, two little hurricanes arrived at our house and turning it into a noisy, happy home full of fun. The first stage of the application was to attend three days of training, over a period of 6 weeks. The training was important and an eye-opener for all kinds of reasons but it was perfect for focusing the mind to make sure we really wanted to adopt. We had excellent support from our social worker, but the process itself was long and challenging and we had to wait and wait while legal processes were going on. Although it was so difficult at that time, looking back it was worth every minute. The hardest thing for us was that there were months between seeing the children for the first time and receiving confirmation that they would come to us to live. This was an exception, the process is usually quicker.”

“In our experience creating and maintaining a good relationship with the foster family is crucial. They are a source of information and support. Before the children came to live with us, we needed over a week of presentations in the foster family’s home – this time is key but full of weight, pleasure, tiredness and emotion. That was months ago and now the children are happy and bubbly with us in their new home and enjoy being part of a loving group of family, friends and relatives. They enjoy going to the local school and Welsh learning was not a problem for them, they even dream in Welsh now!”

“Adoption is a great journey that is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult and it is important to understand and accept that before venturing on the journey. It is also important to take advantage of all support, training and advice on offer. There are many challenges ahead, a lot of disappointment and tears but more importantly, much laughter, love and happiness fills our lives now and in the future. Go for it.”

In the last year (2017-18), 29 adopters were approved through Adoption Mid and West Wales. These include married couples, unmarried couples, single people and same-sex couples. There is always the need for more adopters to come forward as demand for adoption placements has increased this year.

For more information, visit www.adoptionmwwales.org.uk. You can also follow Adoption Mid & West Wales on their Twitter page, @adoptmw_wales.

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Residents sought for involvement into Pen Dinas project

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RESIDENTS are being sought for involvement in the Pen Dinas Hillfort project.

Grant funding for improvements to Pendinas Hillfort has been successfully secured by Ceredigion County Council and as part of the project, the Council is seeking for local residents to express their interest if they would like to be involved in the work. One of the Council’s Community Access Officers will be on hand to talk further about the project on Saturday, 20 October at the Hub, Penparcau Community Centre between 10:30am and 1pm.

The project will provide greater access to a site of historical importance namely Pen Dinas Hillfort, Local Nature Reserve and Scheduled Ancient Monument. It will also improve links to the Ystwyth/Rheidol Cycle Trails, the Ceredigion and All Wales Coast Path and other local amenities and attractions. Improving the path width and surface will increase access to a wider cross-section of residents and visitors and target current barriers to the countryside.

Councillor Rhodri Evans, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economy and Regeneration said, “The news that we’ve been successful in securing this bid is fantastic and on behalf of the Council, I thank all the residents who submitted feedback to the application. We are looking for anyone who has an interest in the site and would like to be involved with how this project progresses. This is the perfect opportunity for residents to be part of something that will make a big difference to both residents and tourists alike.”

To express an interest to be involved in the project or to receive further information, email Eifion.Jones@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01545 570881.

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