PLAID’S Leanne Wood has set out her plans to support small businesses in a meeting in Cardigan in support of ‘Small Business Saturday’, which takes place today.
Speaking at an informal question and answer session with local residents at the Fisherman’s Rest Café in the town, the Plaid Cymru leader set out her party’s plans to boost small businesses. This includes a focus on buying locally so that public bodies give more contracts to local companies, keeping money in the local economy and creating up to 50,000 extra jobs in Wales, a business rates relief scheme which would reduce costs for thousands of businesses in Wales, and helping small businesses access the finance they need by establishing a Welsh Business Bank.
The Party of Wales leader was in Cardigan as part of her ‘What Next for Wales’ tour, a nationwide series of meetings to present Plaid Cymru’s vision for the 2016 Welsh Elections, and to listen to people’s views.
Leanne Wood AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru, told The Herald: “Here in Cardigan, as in so many towns across Wales, there is more that can be done to ensure a thriving high street, and a prosperous future for small businesses in the area.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Wales’ economy. They make up 98% of all Welsh businesses. But the decline in footfall on our high streets proves that that the economic recovery is not reaching all parts of our communities.
“The competition posed by large multi-national companies and by internet trading makes it very difficult for small, local traders to compete, but a Plaid Cymru government would put forward a series of measures to support businesses and help them succeed.
“Small local firms generate 58% more economic benefit for local economies than large firms. The figures speak for themselves; it’s vital we support our small businesses.”
Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion, added: “I was delighted to welcome Leanne Wood to Cardigan. We both agree that the town has a lot going for it, but that there’s more that can be done to help small firms.
“I’ve worked with Cardigan Traders on their long-running campaign to cut business rates; Plaid Cymru’s plans would be a major step forward in this regard. Parking is an issue that also needs looking at. I’m pleased that Ceredigion towns will benefit from free town-centre parking over the Christmas period, and we need to look at creative ways to help potential customers to access our high streets.”
Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit
AS PART of their annual summer visit to Wales, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Ceredigion next month.
From July 2-6, Charles and Camilla will tour the country, undertaking over 20 engagements across the country.
On July 3, The Prince of Wales will visit Dà Mhìle Distillery, Llandysul, the first organic distillery in the UK approved by the Soil Association, where he was previously gifted the thousandth bottle to be produced by Dà Mhìle.
The Prince of Wales will also visit St. Gwenog’s Church, Llanwenog, and view their unique carvings created by Joseph Reubens, a Belgian World War One refugee. His Royal Highness will also meet members of their local community.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s fourteenth annual Summer visit to Wales will feature celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of The National Health Service and the marking the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales railway line amongst other events.
A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince and The Duchess are really looking forward to their annual summer visit to Wales where they will be celebrating key anniversaries for the National Health Service, the Heart of Wales railway line and the 90th anniversary of Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisation. Their Royal Highnesses relish the opportunity to meet members of the community who are making a difference to Welsh life.”
Social media used to groom children young as six
CHILDREN as young as six in Wales have been targeted across an array of online platforms in the first year following the introduction of anti-grooming laws.
A law of Sexual Communication with a Child came into effect in England and Wales on April 3, 2017, after an NSPCC campaign, and in the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police forces – amounting to nine grooming offences per day.
A total of 274 offences were recorded across the four Welsh police forces in the same period.
More than half of the offences in Wales were logged by South Wales Police (158) with 53 in North Wales and 44 in the Gwent force area.
Dyfed-Powys Police supplied data for the period between October 2017 and April 2018 when 19 offences were recorded.
In Wales, grooming offences were recorded on 23 different platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat comprising the top three most-commonly used with more than 120 taking place using those platforms alone.
Ninety-one crimes were reported in Wales against boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, while 56 offences were recorded against children aged 11 and under. The youngest victim recorded was just six years old.
Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, the UK Government’s digital secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.
The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe.
It is calling on Government Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow; Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites; Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports; Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.
It comes ahead of the charity’s annual flagship conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Wednesday June 20 in London and has the theme Growing Up Online.
Contact offences such as rape and sexual assault were among those recorded in connection with grooming offences.
Mared Parry, from North Wales, was sent sexual messages from men 10 years older than her on Facebook when she was aged just 14.
Mared, who has waived her right to anonymity, was groomed to send semi-naked pictures to them.
She said: “At the beginning it was messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ But as the weeks went on, they started sending messages that were more and more sexual. It was so subtle; that’s why it is so easy for an online chat to slip into being so wrong.
“If I didn’t reply or speak the way they wanted me to, then they would say: ‘You’re just too immature for me’. They were so manipulative, but you don’t even notice it.
“Looking back at it now, it’s scary to think that I sent semi-naked pictures to older guys. It could have gone a lot further.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.
“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.
“I urge digital secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.
“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”
In Wales, NSPCC Cymru has called for the Welsh Government to co-ordinate and progress efforts to keep children as safe in their online worlds as they are offline.
Last year, Welsh Government announced plans to produce a children and young persons’ online safety action plan.
The NSPCC hopes it will deliver practical help and support for schools, parents and others in Wales involved in child protection online when it is published.
How Safe Are Our Children? takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, London on June 20-21.
Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion
CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has been awarded £100,800 from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund to finance capital works in four play areas across Ceredigion.
On June 19, the Council’s Cabinet authorised the project’s commencement.
The four play areas are Ponterwyd Play Area, Llanon Tennis Courts, Llanddewi Brefi Play Area and Cardigan Skate Park. The money will improve playing and leisure opportunities in these areas.
The full cost of the work is estimated to be £126,000, with the grant contributing 80% of the cost and the town and community councils will provide the remaining 20%.
The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Catrin Miles, said, “Quality and safe playing opportunities are important to the county’s children as well as for their parents. I’m delighted that the Cabinet could authorise such a project and I’m sure the play areas will be well used after being improved.”
The project may start from July 18, 2018 and must end by April 30, 2019.
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