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‘Still a force of nature’

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cynogdafCYNOG DAFIS, former MP, former AM, a man of renowned high principle and strong views. Officially recognised as the first Green MP. A man described to The Herald as ‘very much still a force of nature’ and one never afraid of expressing views strongly held in equally strong, clear language.

We asked Cynog Dafis for his insights on one of the largest, if not the largest, issue facing Wales at the moment, the EU referendum scheduled for June 23. We were delighted when he accommodated our request and here’s what he had to say:

FOR WALES AND FOR EUROPE, LET’S STAY IN THE EU by Cynog Dafis

Cynog told us: “The tragedy of the current debate about Britain and Europe is that it is conducted in terms of them and us. The European Union is about us: all the peoples of Europe, working together for the common good. The growth of this common identity over the last sixty years has been vital in keeping the European peace and the strengthening of democracy.” He continued: “Solidarity is a fundamental principle of the EU. Richer countries contribute resources to help raise the economic performance of poorer ones. Britain and Germany, rich countries, are ‘net contributors’ – they contribute more than they receive.

“Wales, as a poorer nation within the rich British state, receives much more that it contributes. This is as it should be. The EU created the Structural Funds for precisely this purpose. They have been, as in the case of Ireland, highly successful. That they have been less so in Wales has more to do with failures of Welsh Government than with the Funds themselves.” Cynog Dafis was scornful of claims made by those who wish to leave the EU: “Eurosceptics argue that Britain outside the EU would provide equivalent support for nations and regions like Wales. There is no reason to believe them.

Britain under Margaret Thatcher dismantled regional development policy and presided over the economic decline of Wales and Northern England. Britain has led the charge within the EU for cuts to the structural funds and support for agriculture, so vital for our rural economy. “Outside the EU Wales would be left to the tender mercies of a right-wing London Government whose priority is London and the English South and regards the notion of solidarity with derision.” On the issue of EU bureaucracy, Cynog Dafis provided robust analysis: “Eurosceptics also complain about EU regulation, sometimes with reason.

European regulations however require approval by the European Council of Ministers of which Britain is among the most powerful members and are subject to modification by member-state parliaments (and indeed in many cases by our own National Assembly). “Outside the EU there would still be regulation, to protect the environment and workers’ rights and to promote health and safety. It us the easiest thing in the world to ‘blame Europe’ for decisions, sometimes unpopular, which are important for the general good. Surely it makes sense for the countries of Europe to make these decisions jointly, rather than seek selfish competitive advantage by cutting corners and lowering standards.” On the challenges facing the European Union, Cynog was clear: “The EU today is under pressure as never before.

Migration both within and from beyond Europe’s borders raises serious and complex issues, economic, social and humanitarian. These have been exacerbated by the rapid expansion of the EU following the collapse of communism. Including countries with weaker economies like Greece within the Euro was a major strategic error.” And on Britain’s future he was trenchant: “For Britain to leave the EU would intensify, not solve, the crisis at a time when above all we need stability, cooperation and joint protection against a whole range of threats, including terrorism. It would further destabilise Europe when cool-headed reform is what we need. Everyone would lose and Wales would be among the biggest losers.

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Proposed work on dangerous Dorglwyd Junction set to be delayed

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ELIN JONES AM and Ben Lake MP have expressed their frustration following a recent statement from the Welsh Government noting that work on the A487 Dorglwyd junction from Comins Coch, would be delayed.

The junction has witnessed several crashes and close-calls over recent years, with local residents calling for the development of a roundabout or similar traffic-calming measures.

The Welsh Government announced in September 2016 that a feasibility study would be undertaken by the following Summer as to consider potential options to improve the junction.

However, a recent letter from Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP noted: “We are aware of the issues at the junction and an improvement scheme has been within our upgrades programme for some time. Unfortunately, due to limited financial resources and competing priorities, it has progressed slowly.”

“We are currently reviewing the scope of a possible improvement and considering solutions which are affordable and minimise environmental impact. When we are in a position to present outline solutions, a workshop with local stakeholders will be held. This is likely to be in early 2019.”

Elin Jones AM said: “Whilst I do welcome such clarification from the Cabinet Secretary on the next steps for Dorglwyd junction, it is disappointing to read that no major works for the transformation will happen due to the expense of the project. It is positive however to see that a smaller scale improvement is now to be pursued, with consultation likely to be undertaken in early 2019.”

John Roberts, local Ceredigion County Councillor for Faenor ward, added: “I share both Elin Jones’ and Ben Lake’s disappointment at the response from Ken Skates AM. The original plan was to encapsulate a more global project including the Llanbadarn bypass therefore we need to be more realistic in our aspirations for Dorglwyd corner. Having discussed the project on site with both Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP last week we were of the opinion that a much smaller project which could solve the Dorglwyd issue was feasible and be much cheaper than the present scheme. We will wait for the consultation period in 2019.”

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Museum lights up the past

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CEREDIGION MUSEUM has had a full refurbishment of its lighting thanks to £116,558 of grants from Welsh Governments Museums Archives and Libraries Division and the Rural Community Development Fund.

Museum Curator, Carrie Canham, said: “Lighting has been a problem for us for some time; the system was so old that we couldn’t get new bulbs for some of the fittings. Also, we love to put on theatrical and musical performances at the museum but we couldn’t create an atmosphere with just strip lights and footlights. We’ve now got great stage and display lighting and it’s transformed the whole experience for our audiences.

“The new lighting system is all LED, so not only does it look much better it is also more suitable for the more delicate exhibits and it saves us money on our lighting bill.”

The lighting was designed and installed by DBNAudile, who specialise in museum lighting.

The team managed to install the system with minimal disruption to visitors.

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KeolisAmey awarded Wales and Borders Rail contract

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KEOLISAMEY is pleased that the Welsh Government has announced its intention to award the contract to operate the Wales and Borders rail service and the South Wales Metro to KeolisAmey.

Upon successful completion of a 10-day standstill period, the contract will run from June 4, 2018, to October 14, 2033, with rail services transferring on October 14, 2018.

This standstill period is normal procurement practice.

KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey.

KeolisAmey currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which has one of the best records in UK rail – consistently better than 99% reliability. Additionally, we operate and maintain Greater Manchester’s Metrolink – the largest tram network in the UK.

Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said: “This will be a transformative new rail service for Wales and its borders which will see Keolis once more combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey’s engineering excellence.

“We look forward to the successful completion of the procurement process – this exciting contract will deliver for all of Wales. The procurement process was rigorous, resulting in transformative solutions for the benefit of all in Wales, and indeed, future generations.

“While the proposed changes won’t happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government.”

Andy Milner, Amey’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s DLR – we are honoured to be asked to operate the Wales and Borders service.

“This is a great opportunity for us to use our joint capabilities to deliver a first-rate service for Wales. We will be focused on working with Transport for Wales to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.”

KeolisAmey is unable to make any further comment until the procurement process has concluded and the contract has been awarded.

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