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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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Parents saving on average £350 on childcare per month

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Parents in Ceredigion have saved an average of £350 a month on childcare costs after the introduction of the Childcare Offer in September 2018.

Parents and guardians of three and four-year-old children living in Ceredigion can be eligible for the offer if they work the equivalent of 16 hours per week. This includes self-employed parents and seasonal workers.

The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services, Councillor Catrin Miles said, “It’s great to see that the Childcare Offer is having such an impact across Ceredigion in the first few months. The savings will only increase as more parents register for the scheme. This will have a real positive effect on the lives of many parents. I urge anyone who thinks they are eligible to find out.”

Ceredigion County Council manages the scheme in the county, and will manage the scheme in neighbouring counties as the scheme is rolled out in 2019. The Welsh Government fund the Childcare Offer.

Parents and guardians who want to see if they are eligible can visit the Childcare Offer page on the Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/ChildcareOffer.

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Police manhunt now extending beyond Dyfed-Powys region

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POLICE looking for a man who attacked a police officer on Saturday afternoon have evidence to suggest he has now left the Dyfed-Powys force area.

The investigation team is now working with other forces as the operation to find him continues.

The man has been wanted by Dyfed-Powys Police since Saturday, when he attacked a police officer who stopped the car he was travelling in. The officer stopped the car based on information that he was connected with criminal activity in other areas.

Extensive searches have been carried out in Ceredigion, using the armed response unit, dog unit and NPAS helicopter, and officers now have evidence to suggest he is in another area.

A second man who was arrested following the incident has now been charged.

Wayne Dobson, aged 29, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, criminal damage, aggravated vehicle taking and vehicle damage, and two counts of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent.

Chief Superintendent Peter Roderick said: “This has, and continues to be, a long and intense investigation, which now involves colleagues from other forces as efforts are focussed on locations outside Dyfed-Powys.

“We understand that there has been a high level of concern in our communities since Saturday afternoon, and we would like to thank the public for their patience as operations have been carried out across Ceredigion.

“Due to the nature of the enquiry, and information we have been working from, the level of detail about the wanted man that we have been able to release has been limited, but we have endeavoured to keep our communities updated as best we can.”

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CCTV to return to Aberystwyth

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ABERYSTWYTH is set to have it’s CCTV returned to the town.

The CCTV was scrapped in the town five years ago following a cost-cutting move by Ceredigion council.

Work is due to start this month with 10 state-of-the-art cameras, Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn have confirmed. The system was removed in 2014, despite strong opposition.

Rising crime rates and falling conviction rates, has seen a call for the reinstatement of the system ever since its removal.

Ceredig Davies, Aberystwyth Councillor has said: “Switching off the town’s CCTV cameras was a retrograde step, and as the councillor in whose ward all the cameras are located I looked forward to them being reinstated.

“I have had numerous conversations with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, on the matter and on behalf of residents and visitors to the town I applaud him on keeping his election pledge.”

When Dafydd Llewelyn took over from Christopher Salmon as Police and Crime Commissioner, he mad a key campaign pledge to return the CCTV to the town. Speaking on the reinstatement he said he was “very pleased” to stick to his promise.

He added “Aberystwyth is a busy town within the Dyfed Powys Police force area where CCTV is required to safeguard communities and assist in investigations.

“Crime mapping analysis has identified 10 locations for cameras for the town that I am delighted that work is to begin there very soon.

“A project of this nature is very intricate and complex. The CCTV project team is working team is working hard to keep the project moving along as swiftly as possible.

“Work starting in Aberystwyth marks the halfway point of the project.”

The removal of the old CCTV system is said to have saved Ceredigion council £150,000 a year.

The new CCTV system set to start in Aberystwyth is part of a larger project, which will see 120 cameras in 17 towns across the region by completion.

The images will be fed directly to a monitoring room at Dyfed Powys Police headquarters Llangunnor, Carmarthenshire where they will be monitored by dedicated staff.

Marie McAvoy, project manager said: “I am grateful to the team I work with for their continued determination to ensure this project is delivered for the benefit of the communities we serve.

“I am also grateful to Ceredigion County Council and North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency for their assistance and support in ensuring that this reinvestment in CCTV in Aberystwyth is delivered.”

Mark Collins, Chief Constable said: “I’m confident the system will prove to be an invaluable asset in preventing crime and responding to emerging incidents swiftly before they escalate.

“Evidence from the CCTV cameras will also no doubt prove an important investigative tool for officers.”

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