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RSPCA apologise for ‘making mistakes’

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Brian Thomas, FUW: Charity Commission ‘brushed concerns under carpet’

Brian Thomas, FUW: Charity
Commission ‘brushed concerns
under carpet’

THE FARMERS’ Union of Wales has welcomed Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) chief executive Jeremy Cooper’s apology for the charity’s adversarial and highly politicised campaigns – but says many ques­tions remain regarding the organisa­tion’s conduct and that of the Charity Commission, which is responsible for monitoring charities.

Mr Cooper told The Telegraph: “Of course we have made mistakes in the past, and we are very sorry about that. We have to be honest and admit the mistakes and acknowledge them.”

The apology comes after years of criticism and negative publicity led to a parliamentary inquiry and an independ­ent report recommending sweeping changes to the charity’s involvement with prosecutions.

Responding to the apology, FUW Deputy President Brian Thomas said: “For more than a decade the FUW repeatedly raised concerns about the conduct of the RSPCA in relation to its overtly political campaigns, and pur­sued a number of complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority and the Charity Commission, amongst oth­ers.”

Mr Thomas said that while the ASA had upheld complaints against the RSP­CA by the FUW, the Charity Commis­sion had, over a prolonged period, ap­peared to take a passive approach to the charity: “In response to serious com­plaints against the RSPCA the Charity Commission was generally dismissive and at times appeared to try and brush concerns under the carpet.

“Their passive approach to the RSPCA effectively gave the charity a green light to become more militant and more political, and we would argue that Mr Cooper’s public apology is at least in part a direct consequence of this fail­ure by the Charity Commission,” added Mr Thomas.

In 2012, the then Chief Executive of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant, described the charity as ‘the oldest law enforce­ment agency still in existence in this country’, and threatened to campaign to ‘stop consumers drinking milk’, if supermarkets were unable to differenti­ate between ‘badger friendly milk’ and milk from English badger cull areas.

Similar, more ominous threats were made during a 2012 BBC Panorama documentary on the English badger cull, during which Mr Grant said that: “The spotlight of attention will be turned on those marksmen [employed to cull badgers] and on those who give permission for this cull to take place. They will be named and we will decide as citizens of this country whether they will be shamed.”

In 2012, the FUW wrote to the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers expressing major con­cerns that ten police forces in the UK, including the North Wales and South Wales Forces, had agreements with the RSPCA which allowed the charity to access confidential and sensitive infor­mation about individuals contained in police records.

Concerns have also been expressed after the RSPCA tried to claim thou­sands of pounds for stabling and caring for horses which had been put down by the charity.

“A sinister shadow has been cast over the honourable roots of the RSP­CA and the important work done by its employees.

“The only way in which to redeem its reputation is through full transpar­ency, and a full investigation of the role played by the Charity Commission in allowing the organisation to fall into such disrepute,” said Mr Thomas.

A statement from the RSPCA struck a slightly more bullish tone than Mr Cooper’s interview: ‘We can assure you the RSPCA remains as committed as ever to speaking out for vulnerable animals.

‘We make no apologies for our campaigning work which has resulted in the introduction and amendment of many laws to protect our pets, wildlife, farm animals and animals used in re­search, but we accept we got the tone wrong sometimes. Likewise, we make no apologies for prosecuting people in instances where there is clear evidence of animal cruelty.

‘Following an independent review of our prosecution activity and in line with one of the recommendations of that review, RSPCA trustees agreed to change its policy and to pass suitable cases involving traditional hunts and suitable farm cases to the police for investigation enabling the Crown Pros­ecution Service to prosecute if appro­priate. However, we reserve the right to proceed with such investigations, if the authorities fail to act.

‘We are pleased that the number of prosecutions have dropped over recent years, highlighting that welfare is im­proving and educational messages are more available. We hope this is a trend that will continue.

‘We do however apologise for the specific incidents where we have got it wrong. As a charity we have limited resources and we are dealing with huge numbers of calls. We apologise for past mistakes where an investigation wasn’t carried out to the standard we would hope, both for the animal involved and their owners. The RSPCA has and al­ways will be committed to tackling cru­elty to animals’.

The Chief Executive of the Coun­tryside Alliance, Tim Bonner, said: “The Countryside Alliance welcomes the RSPCA’s commitment to focus on animal welfare, rather than pursuing an animal rights agenda.

“The Society’s decision not to pur­sue prosecutions against farmers and hunts is a sensible one, and provides further support for the argument that it should not prosecute criminal cases as a first resort at all.

“We believe that it would be bet­ter for the RSPCA and for animals if it concentrated on protecting welfare and investigating allegations of cruelty whilst allowing the police, CPS and other statutory bodies to make deci­sions about whether criminal charges should be brought.”

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How museums can help to shape the future of Wales

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ON DECEMBER 6, Ceredigion Museum hosted the launch of a new report. The Happy Museum report, ‘Welsh museums and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act’, shines a spotlight on the many ways that Welsh museums are responding to the goals of the Act.

Focusing on the work of six Welsh museums, the report shows the significant contribution museums can make through examples of current or recent practice. It also details the museums’ efforts to develop projects to respond to the Wellbeing goals.

Ceredigion Museum Curator, Carrie Canham said: “It’s an honour to have had such an important document for museums throughout Wales launched at Ceredigion Museum. Ceredigion Museum has been a Happy Museum partner for some years now. They’ve supported us to deliver projects that have had a positive impact on local people’s lives, so it’s great to put that in the context of the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015. This report shows how we, and other museums in Wales, are ahead of the game in responding to the Act and how much we have to contribute to the wellbeing of our nation.”

The report was developed through a partnership between Happy Museum and Ceredigion Museum, Monmouthshire Museums, Cardiff Story Museum, Oriel Môn, Storiel and Wrexham County Borough Museum and Archives. The project was supported by the Welsh Government through an accreditation support grant from the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales,

The Director of Happy Museum Project, Hilary Jennings said: “The Future Generations Act in Wales is an exemplary piece of legislation and museums in Wales are responding across the board to its seven goals.  We hope that the work of these Welsh museums will provide inspiration for the potential of museums worldwide to work in support of the wellbeing of people, place and planet.”

Happy Museum project supports museum practice that puts wellbeing within an environmental and future-facing frame. It rethinks the role that museums can play in creating more resilient people, places and planet.

The six Welsh museums worked with the Happy Museum over six months, to deepen their understanding of their Future Generations Act obligations. They also looked at the ways that they were already responding to the goals, planning new activities and embedding ways of working that would improve how they meet the goals of the Act.

The new report draws together all this learning as a resource and inspiration for museums across Wales – and to help them demonstrate their response to meeting the goals of the Act.

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Drakeford confirmed as First Minister

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MARK DRAKEFORD was confirmed as the new First Minister after a vote in the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday (Dec 12).

Carmarthen-born Drakeford succeeds Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader, after Jones resigned on Tuesday.

Mr Drakeford, 64, has styled himself as a ’21st Century socialist’, and throughout his leadership campaign promoted continuity and stability as a candidate, having worked as a Welsh Government special advisor under Rhodri Morgan and being the only Welsh Government cabinet minister to support Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for the UK Labour leadership in 2015.

The AM for Cardiff West has been in the Assembly since 2011, becoming Health Minister in 2013 before becoming Finance Secretary in 2016.

Mr Drakeford grew up in Carmarthen, and was educated at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys. He then went on to study Latin at the University of Kent, before working as a probation officer and Barnardos project leader in west Cardiff.

Mr Drakeford went on to pursue a career in academia, lecturing at Swansea University, and then becoming a professor of social policy and applied social sciences at Cardiff University.

His first experience of electoral politics was as a councillor on the old South Glamorgan County Council, before serving the Cardiff ward of Pontcanna between 1985 and 1993.

Mr Drakeford was one of the two candidates, alongside Eluned Morgan, to have produced a manifesto during the leadership campaign, setting out many of the policies he hopes to introduce. These include an extension of the smoking ban to outdoor areas such as restaurants and town centres, the cutting of emissions through greater emphasis on public transport and building on Superfast Cymru – a scheme to rollout 733,000 homes and businesses across Wales.

The manifesto also proposed installing drinking fountains across Wales, double allotments, and piloting a ‘baby bundle’ – similar to baby box schemes in other countries with a package of essential items.

Mr Drakeford also suggested introducing a committee to advise the Welsh Government on the Hinckley Point power plant in Somerset, as he has spoken of his scepticism regarding nuclear power.

The new First Minister has also backed proposals put forward by economist Gerry Holtham to fund elderly social care in Wales through a tax. An annual review of PFI contracts across the Welsh public sector would be introduced, and the 22 councils across Wales would be kept as they are.

One issue that has been subject to much debate is the potential for the M4 Relief Road, but Mr Drakeford’s manifesto does not mention it specifically. Instead, it states a commitment to dealing with congestion, citing the A40 in Mid and West Wales, the A55 in the North and the M4 in South Wales.

The other two leadership candidates, Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan, had both backed another referendum on whether the UK leaves the EU, yet Mr Drakeford is less set on another vote, saying he would only back it should the final deal fail to protect workers’ rights.

As Finance Secretary, Mr Drakeford has been in charge of much of the Welsh Government’s approach towards Brexit so far.

In Wednesday’s vote, Mr Drakeford was backed by 30 AMs, with 12 voting for the Conservatives’ Paul Davies and nine supporting Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.

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Are you a £1m Euromillions winner? Time is running out to redeem prize

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A LAST ditch attempt is being made to locate a mystery local winner of an unclaimed £1 million pound lottery ticket.

Time is running out to find the owner of the winning ticket from the Euromillions draw bought in Ceredigion on June 22, 2018 – with Millionaire code MDLG 86259.

The winner has until Wednesday, December 19 to claim their life-changing prize.

Andy Carter, senior winners’ advisor at The National Lottery, said: “Time really is running out for the winner of this prize, but we are still hopeful that someone will come forward to claim the money. We’re urging everyone to check their old tickets or look anywhere a missing EuroMillions ticket could be hiding. This life changing prize could really help to make dreams become a reality.”

If no-one comes forward with the winning ticket before the prize claim deadline, then the prize money, plus all the interest it has generated will go to help National Lottery-funded projects across the UK.

The National Lottery changes the lives of individuals as well as communities – players raise, on average around £30 million for National Lottery-funded projects every week.

Euromillions UK Millionaire Maker creates two UK millionaires in every draw. For every EuroMillions line played, UK players automatically receive a Millionaire Maker Code printed on their ticket.

Ceredigion alone has around 1,675 individual National Lottery grants that have been awarded to help projects across the arts, sports, heritage, health, education, environment, charity and voluntary sectors.

With all National Lottery draws, players only have 180 days from the day of the draw to claim their prize if they have the winning ticket. Anyone who has any queries or who believes they have the winning ticket for any of The National Lottery draws within the 180 day deadline should call the National Lottery line on 0333 234 5050 or email help@national-lottery.co.uk.

Anyone concerned about lost or unchecked tickets may like to consider either setting up a National Lottery Direct Debit or playing online at www.national-lottery.co.uk.

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