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In their own words: Your Mid and West Wales Assembly candidates

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AS THE Assembly elections approach, The Herald will be running a series of profiles of candidates as part of our coverage. For the first piece, we decided to concentrate on the first choice regional list candidates for each party. List candidates are sometimes viewed, incorrectly, as a vote for the party rather than the individual. This is compounded by a number of the first choice list candidates also standing for constituencies. An exception across Wales is Labour, which has insisted that candidates stand for one or the other. However, the majority of the candidates listed below are more likely to be elected as regional, rather than constituency, Assembly Members, and some of these candidates will be among the four mid and west Wales regional AMs. To keep things purely impartial, we asked each of the major parties’ first choice list candidates to provide us with a short biography and a short statement to the electorate. The results are as follows:

ALED DAVIES

CONSERVATIVE

aleddavies Born and raised on the family farm in Montgomeryshire Aled was educated at Llanfyllin High School before gaining a BSc Hons (Agriculture) at Bangor University. Following university, Aled worked as an advisor for the Ministry of Agriculture before returning to the family farm. The family farm is an upland beef and sheep unit, rising to 400m. Aled is married to Julie a high school teacher, they have four children, two of whom are still in school, one in primary and one at Llanfyllin High school, all four children have received their education through the medium of Welsh in a bilingual school. First elected to Powys County Council in 2008, Aled has served as chairman of Corporate Governance Scrutiny Committee and Audit Committee he is currently Chairman of the Montgomeryshire Committee and the Leader of the Welsh Conservative Councillor Group. He also has other roles as councillor, two of the most important are as member of Powys Community Health Council and High School governor.

STATEMENT

“Mid and west Wales has been neglected by Labour in Cardiff for too many years – we need change. A Welsh Conservative Government would, on day one, promote the Farming and Food portfolio to the senior cabinet position of Minister for Agriculture & Rural Affairs, not a junior or deputy position as is the case now. Farming families are the backbone of our rural communities. “A Minister for Mid & West Wales would also be appointed, a new position, which would listen to the views of the region, giving rural communities a voice at the heart of the Welsh Government. “Our schools and hospitals in rural Wales have not been funded adequately, Labour fails to understand that delivering services in the rural mid-west is more expensive, hospitals across the region have been downgraded and specialist services moved further away. “Welsh Conservatives have committed to a £20m Community Hospital Development Fund to encourage the innovative use of community hospitals across rural Wales. “Schools are naturally smaller in rural areas; this does not stop them delivering an excellent education to our children but they are being slowly starved of funding and many are closing. Councils top-slice schools budgets. “I want to see this changed – we must get the funding directly into the schools, where it makes the greatest impact, and give the Head and the Governors of a school the freedom to make a difference. “With the right support, mid and west Wales could be an economic powerhouse helping grow the Welsh economy. Through empowering local decisionmaking; helping business grow; supporting rural public services; universal access to high-speed broadband and mobile coverage and ensuring our farming industry is competitive, our rural communities can be revitalised. I am optimistic that rural Wales can deliver.”

ALICE HOOKERSTROUD

 GREEN PARTY

At 31 years old, Alice is the youngest leader of a political party in the UK. She was born and brought up in mid-Wales. She completed her early education in Welsh at her local primary school, and then attended her local high school, both in Llanfyllin. She now lives in Machynlleth. Before becoming the Wales Green Party Leader in January, Alice worked for Global Justice Now, where she supported groups across the UK campaigning for social justice. Alice’s background is in climate science research and communication, but in 2012 she decided to focus on solutions and took up a role at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. There she led a team which developed Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future; a radical but technically robust scenario showing how Britain could take the level of action necessary to meet the challenge of climate change. She went on to present the scenario to numerous campaigners, local and central government, NGOs and members of the public.

STATEMENT

 “It feels great to be standing in mid and west – where I was born and brought up; my home – and where the Wales Green Party has an excellent opportunity to win our first Assembly seat in May. “Almost a quarter of people in Wales live in relative poverty – the same as it was at the beginning of the seventeen years of our Labour Government. “I think we need to shake things up, and look for opportunities to build a better future for our communities. “Wages in lower-paid jobs haven’t gone up for decades. People move away for work. Libraries and schools are being closed down. Environmental impacts like frequent flooding show up a lack of action on climate change, and a failure to build resilient communities. “But it could be different. We can create sustainable, decent jobs by investing in renewable technology to provide clean energy, supporting local businesses, and insulating our homes. We can provide health and social care that fits our communities’ needs, save local schools, and link our communities with better bus and train services. “As an Assembly Member for mid and west I will fight for all of these, for a better future in mid and west.”

JOYCE WATSON LABOUR

 Joyce has been Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales since May 2007. She sits on three Assembly committees: Enterprise and Business, Environment and Sustainability and Petitions. Joyce chairs the Assembly crossparty groups on construction and human trafficking. Joyce has strong links to the region. She was educated at schools in Manorbier, Cosheston and Cardigan; and ran small businesses in Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, before returning to education at Pembrokeshire College and Swansea University. Joyce works with the construction sector and small businesses to promote apprenticeships, and champions the International White Ribbon Campaign, working with the National Federation of Women’s Institutes to recruit high-profile men to speak about domestic violence. She is a finalist for this year’s national Womenspire Award, for services to public life. Joyce represents Wales on several international bodies. She is a Welsh Governmentnominated member of the European Committee of the Regions and chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Wales branch. She is also Labour’s Assembly representative at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and Council of Europe Congress. Before entering the Assembly, Joyce was leader of the Labour group on Pembrokeshire Council. A Welsh learner, she is married and has three children, one grandson and one granddaughter.

STATEMENT

“I am proud of Welsh Labour’s record of delivery, despite deep cuts to Wales’ budget by the Tory UK Government. “With the doctors’ strike in England – the first in the history of the NHS – still rumbling on, the Welsh Labour Government can be proud of its record of delivering improvements today and investing for tomorrow, while always rejecting privatisation. “Our election pledge to create 100,000 high-quality apprenticeships for people of all ages will build on the huge success of Jobs Growth Wales, which has already helped 15,000 young people find work and enabled businesses to grow. “Meanwhile, thousands of university students have been protected from rising tuition fees, spared £22,000 of debt. “This week, with the ongoing fallout from the botched Budget and disability cuts, we are reminded once again why Wales needs a strong, progressive government. “Labour has delivered for Wales. We have the ideas and the ideals to continue that success. These are our promises to you: free childcare for working parents; tax cuts for small businesses; 100,000 quality apprenticeships; a new treatment fund for life-threatening illnesses; double the capital limit for people going into residential care; and an extra £100m to improve school standards.”

WILLIAM POWELL LIBERAL DEMOCRAT

William Powell was elected as the first Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales in May 2011. He has served as Shadow Minister for the Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs and is also the longest serving Chair of the Assembly’s Petitions Committee. William attended Talgarth Community Primary School and Gwernyfed High School, gaining a Modern Languages scholarship at Pembroke College, Oxford. He lives on the family farm in the Brecon Beacons National Park. He is a qualified teacher and has taught French and German in Wales and the Marches, latterly as Head of German and European Officer at Hereford Sixth Form College. William has served as a Powys County Councillor since 2004 and has been active in rural regeneration projects, and instigated the restoration of Talgarth Mill. He is also a primary and secondary school governor. An Executive member of the Lloyd George Society, William led a recent successful campaign to secure core funding for the Lloyd George Museum at Llanystumdwy, also in his Mid and West Wales region. William was a founding Board Member of Wales in Europe and is an active Member of Wales Council European Movement, which he chaired for over a decade. He is a strong advocate of Wales and the UK remaining in a reformed European Union.

STATEMENT

 A health service that works for you “As Welsh Liberal Democrats, we will get more nurses on our wards to improve patient care, make it quicker and easier to see a GP and end mental health discrimination. I am urging Welsh Government and the Hywel Dda Health Board to restore a 24 hour paediatric service to Withybush Hospital, to improve the chronic parking problems at Glangwili and to ensure public transport access to the new Integrated Healthcare Centre at Cardigan.” A better education for our children “The Welsh Liberal Democrats will reduce class sizes to 25 and increase funding for the pupil premium that we secured from Welsh Government for pupils from the most deprived backgrounds. We are fully committed to Welsh medium education and to giving parents a choice of school for their children.” A sustainable rural economy – and green growth “We will deliver a more sustainable economy and promote community energy, thus minimising impact on the Welsh landscape, whilst safeguarding energy security. Supporting farming, particularly in relation to a simplification of CAP/RDP payments, is essential – this relies totally upon our continued membership of the European Union. Welsh Liberal Democrats will promote succession planning, rural housing through a fundamental reform of TAN 6 and thus ensure the survival of the family farm.”

SIMON THOMAS PLAID CYMRU

Simon Thomas was first elected to the National Assembly at the 2011 election as a regional member for mid and west Wales. He topped the mid and west list for May’s election and is candidate in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. He has been a member of Plaid Cymru’s five-strong Shadow Cabinet since 2014. Simon is Shadow Minister for Education, Skills and the Welsh language. Simon also speaks for the party on Public Services and Local Government. Simon was MP for Ceredigion from 2000 to 2005. In Parliament, he spoke for the party on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Transport, International Development, Energy, Culture Media and Sport. He was one of the longest serving members of the Environmental Audit Committee and was recognised as a constant advocate for the environment and sustainable development. He was a development manager for Technium in Pembrokeshire, before being appointed senior special advisor to the One Wales Government, advising the Deputy First Minister and other Plaid Cymru Ministers. He was educated at Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School and Aberystwyth University, where he initially trained as a librarian. He is married and has two children. He enjoys walking, reading and spending time with the family.

STATEMENT

 “I’ve made my home in this region, raised my children locally so what happens here matters to me as a resident. “As your Assembly Member I’ve fought to save our hospital services in Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Haverfordwest. To restore services and cut waiting times Plaid Cymru would invest in an additional 1000 doctors and 5000 nurses. “The Mid and West region will decide whether we elect a new Welsh Government – you have it in your hands on the May 5 to be the change Wales needs. “People are crying out for competent leadership so that we can create prosperity, repair the Welsh NHS and give our young people the best start in life. Plaid Cymru wants to create wealth and share wealth to build a fair nation which can stand on her own two feet. No other party has the success of our country at the heart of its endeavours. “Wales has got what it takes to be a success. You deserve a Welsh Government that wants Wales to achieve. “Wales needs a new government to end a legacy of failure since 1999. The Party of Wales will provide the leadership needed to strengthen our NHS; create and share wealth.”

NEIL HAMILTON UKIP

 Born into a South Wales mining family (my grandfathers were miners and my father, a mining engineer), I went to Amman Valley Grammar School and Aberystwyth University where I studied politics & economics. Then, I studied law at Cambridge and became a barrister. I joined the ‘Anti-Common- Market League’ way back in 1967. All my adult life I have fought to preserve the UK from the bureaucratic and unaccountable ‘European Super State’. In 1983 I was elected an MP and became Minister for Corporate Affairs at the Department of Trade & Industry. My wife, Christine, worked with me throughout as PA and Secretary. Since leaving Parliament in 1997, I have made a new life as a broadcaster, journalist, stage performer, speaker and independent businessman. In 2002, I joined UKIP, as the only Party unambiguously sharing my view that Britain is Better Off Out. ‘Hiraeth,’ a word which exists only in Welsh, has drawn me irresistibly back to my roots and I hope a new chapter of life is opening. Christine and I look forward to working together for the interests of Wales if I have the privilege of being elected to the Senedd on May 5.

STATEMENT

UKIP wants us to get our country back. Other parties think Wales is better governed from Brussels than Cardiff. Nonsense! Our Government hands over £55m of our money to the EU every single day. As a self-governing country, we could spend it on the NHS, social care and schools. We could control immigration too. 508 million EU citizens have the legal right to live and work here.Very soon, 80 million Turks also get visa-free entry. Uncontrolled immigration adds a city the size of Cardiff to our population every single year. This drives down wages, raises rents and house prices and squeezes hospital and school places. UKIP totally opposes NHS privatisation. We want more choice in education, with technical/ vocational schools as in Germany and grammar schools for those who want an academic environment. Crazy EU-driven energy taxes make heavy industries like steel uncompetitive, pricing Welsh workers out of their jobs. UKIP will abolish these energy taxes, which add £200 a year to our household electricity bills. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy costs us £2 for every £1 we get back. Outside the EU we can boost support for Welsh farmers, slash bureaucracy and form-filling whilst giving consumers a better deal.

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Police urge visitors to ‘check the rules’

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POLICE in Powys are reminding people to check the rules before they travel, as tourists from the Midlands, London and Bristol continue to visit despite lockdown restrictions.

Last weekend more than 1,000 cars were turned around by police in the Brecon Beacons after visitors attempted to access the area around Ystradfellte known as ‘waterfall country’.

Many of those stopped claimed they thought the rules around travel were the same as in England, while others had deliberately flouted them.

Seventy-two per cent of people reported for breaches of Covid-19 restrictions in Powys since March 27 have been from outside the police force area.

“I would like to thank the communities of Powys for their cooperation in recent months in complying with requirements of the Covid 19 legislation and also reassure them we are still working hard with our partners to police the restrictions that remain in place across Wales,” said Superintendent Steve Davies.

“Our officers have worked hard to engage with the public at every opportunity throughout these unprecedented times by explaining what we are doing and why, and encouraging people to make the best choices to protect public health in Wales.

“But where people have clearly flouted the rules we have dealt with them appropriately and issued fines.”

He said officers will continue to conduct stop checks throughout Powys and across the force area this weekend.

In England, people can now travel an unlimited distance for exercise and to access so-called ‘beauty spots’.

But the Welsh Government has said people must remain local – ideally not travelling further than five miles from their home – for exercise or limited leisure pursuits, and this also applies to anyone travelling across the border.

Wales’ three national parks – which include popular sites such as Snowdon, the Elan valley and the Pembrokeshire coast – currently remain closed to the public, as do all National Trust car parks and properties.

The latest Welsh Government advice is available at gov.wales/coronavirus.

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‘Check in, Catch up and Prepare’ All school’s in Wales prepare to enter next phase

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ALL children will have the opportunity to “Check in, Catch Up, Prepare for summer and September”, the Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced today as she published details of the next phase for schools in Wales.

It is proposed that all schools will start the next phase on 29 June, with the term extended by a week, therefore ending on 27 July.

In the next academic year, beginning in September, the intention is that the autumn half-term break will be expanded to two weeks.

In each school there will be a phased approach. Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks. It is expected that this will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time, though schools may need time to reach this level of operation.

There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates. This time will include online and personalised classroom experience, getting children and teachers ready for a similar experience in September.

Next week, the Welsh Government will publish guidance to support schools, as well as further and higher education institutions. This will include information on managing their facilities and logistical arrangements, including buildings, resources, cleaning and transport.

The Government is also today publishing a paper from its COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, representing the latest understanding of the virus with respect to children and education.

Further Education colleges are ensuring that appropriate measures are being taken to re-open for face-to-face learning from 15 June. They will prioritise those students requiring licence to practice assessments and vulnerable learners. This follows close working with Government and the joint trade unions.

Guidance for childcare providers will also be published in the next week, supporting them to increase the numbers of children in attendance alongside schools.

Kirsty Williams said:

“My announcement today gives schools three and a half weeks to continue preparing for the next phase.

“We will use the last weeks of the summer term to make sure pupils, staff and parents are prepared – mentally, emotionally and practically – for the new normal in September.

“29 June means there will have been one full month of test, trace and protect, which will continue to expand. I can also announce that teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody-testing programme. As we continue to keep Wales safe, this approach will be critical.

“The evolving science suggests that warm weather and sunlight gives us the best opportunity to ensure more time in school. Waiting until September would mean almost half a year without schooling. That would be to the detriment to the wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people.

“This is and has been a worrying period for us all. I know that many will feel apprehensive. We have not rushed this work and this decision.

“The three and a half week period before the next phase also gives us time to keep watch on developments elsewhere and provides further check-points to review evidence and the roll-out of testing.

“This is the best practical option that meets my five principles which underpin my decision making.

“I am also convinced that it is only by returning to their own school that we will see increased attendance from our more vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

“Working together we will secure equity and excellence for pupils as they check in, catch up, and prepare for summer and September.”

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Four further coronavirus cases confirmed in Hywel Dda area

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THE LATEST figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) reveal four new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the Hywel Dda Health Board Area.

As of today, June 2, Carmarthenshire identified three new cases, Pembrokeshire has one new case and none in Ceredigion, meaning the new totals stand at 732, 279 and 42.

Wales now has a total of 14,121, with 67 new cases and seven additional deaths recorded, bringing the death total to 1,354.

With Hywel Dda reporting 61 deaths to date.

Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “Contact tracing continues in Wales as part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy. Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come in contact with an individual with Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to prevent the risk of others spreading the infection in our communities.

“Anyone who has a positive Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) test will be contacted by a team of contact tracers, and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms.

“Please keep a note of your activities so you can easily remember your whereabouts on a given day, along with who were in contact with. You do not need to have any concerns about providing names to the tracing team. This is for everyone’s benefit and we are grateful for your continued cooperation.

“If you are asked to self-isolate, you should also comply with this request to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Tracers are trained staff and personal information that you provide will handled in line with data protection regulations and will not be shared widely.

“Over the last few weeks, Public Health Wales has been setting up the methods and guidance for how contact tracing will operate. We will continue to work closely to support local health boards and local authorities in delivering contact tracing.

“Welsh Government’s revised lockdown arrangements also continue. People from two different households in the same local area can meet up outdoors, provided they continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

“The announcement adds that, as a general rule, people should not travel more than five miles from home. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading as people begin to travel more.

“Revised lockdown arrangements also apply to people in Wales who have been told to ‘shield’ from the virus. They are able to go outside and meet people from another household, provided they keep a two-metre distance.

“Future relaxation of lockdown measures will also be dependent on everyone following advice set out in the ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy, including self-isolating when required.

“Information about the symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) to look out for is available on the Public Health Wales website, or members of the public can use the NHS Wales symptom checker.

“Anyone experiencing Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms can now apply for a home testing kit using the new UK online portal. For further information and a link to the booking website, visit: www.gov.wales/coronavirus or www.llyw.cymru/coronafeirws. This will be supported by a national 119 phone service, through which people can also order a home test.

“We are encouraging everyone to download the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Symptom Study app, which has been supported by Welsh Government. The app allows users to log daily symptoms to help build a clearer picture of how the virus is affecting people. For more information, including how to download the app, visit covid.joinzoe.com.

“As part of wider support measures for families, Public Health Wales is offering all parents, parents-to-be, grandparents and care-givers free access to a series of online courses designed to help them understand the development and emotional milestones of their children, covering everything from pre-birth to late teens.

“To get access users just need to visit www.inourplace.co.uk and use the code ‘NWSOL’ if you live in North Wales, and ‘SWSOL’ if you live in Mid, West or South Wales.

“Public Health Wales is also continuing working to address the negative impact of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of people in Wales. Our latest campaign, ‘How are you doing?’ is now live and offering practical advice from phw.nhs.wales/howareyoudoing.

“Anyone with a suspected coronavirus illness should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. They should only contact NHS 111 if they feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, their condition gets worse, or their symptoms do not get better after seven days.

“Only call 999 if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, do not call 999 just because you are on hold to 111. We appreciate that 111 lines are busy, but you will get through after a wait.

“We also want to reinforce the message from NHS Wales that urgent and emergency care services for physical and mental health are still open and accessible.

“For parents, if your child is unwell and you are concerned you should seek help. If you have urgent dental pain you should still call your dentist. If you have a health complaint that is worrying you and won’t go away you should call your GP practice. If you or a family member are seriously ill or injured you should dial 999 or attend your nearest Emergency Department.”

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