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Vigils in west Wales for murdered Jo Cox MP

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CEREDIGION LABOUR PARTY organised a series of vigils for murdered MP Jo Cox  in Lampeter, Cardigan and Aberystwyth this weekend.

The Banner of Love, on which people were invited to write messages reflecting on the tragic killing of the Labour MP, travelled with the vigil collecting messages of love, support and unity from across Ceredigion.

Jo Cox had only been an MP for one year but was known for her work for immigrants and for women and for her support for the people of Syria and Gaza. She was one of a handful of MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership  election last year and in doing this she played a vital part in the revitalisation of the Labour movement in the UK and here in Ceredigion. She was also an active pro-European campaigner.

The Ceredigion Jo Cox vigil culminated in Aberystwyth on Sunday morning with a minutes silence led by Alex Mangold from Ceredigion Labour Party. Representatives from five political parties were present amongst a crowd of 50 to 60 people, keen to pay their respects to Jo Cox and find solidarity with others in their shock and disbelief. It was an emotional event, with tears from some, but it was also uplifting and inspirational.

Alex Mangold spoke of Jo Cox’s desire to realise an inclusive society and the need to stand together and work together to create the kind of society that Jo would have wanted.

The Banner of Love is collecting messages in Welsh and English from people of all ages and backgrounds across Ceredigion. A message from a little girl in Cardigan reads simply “Lots of love from Ella”. 15 year old Cyffin from Lampeter wrote out Jo’s words from her first speech in the House of Commons, “We are far more united and have far more in common than things that divide us”.Other messages say “We stand with you in sisterhood and loss”, “We have lost one of our best”, “Diolch am weithio mor galed i wneud y byd yn le jwell”,

“Thank you for inspiring us”, “Mewn undod mae nerth. Dewn at ein gilydd i barhau dy waith”,”Your voice will forever be heard”, and “Peace, Unity Light. RIP Jo.”

The former Labour Mayor of Cardigan David Grace wrote a message from himself and Linda, his wife which read “Your message must live on – it’s all our responsibility to make sure it does.” Alice Hooker-Stroud, Chair of the Welsh Green Party wrote “Love + hope. United for a better future in your rememberance. Heddwch.” Lisa Francis of the Conservative Party, Elin Jones AM Plaid Cymru, and Alec Dauncey Welsh Lob Dems also wrote messages.

Labour AMs Joyce Watson and Eluned Morgan wrote messages on the banner in Cardigan today (Monday) where they were attending a Labour IN campaign meeting at the Guildhall.

Eluned Morgan AM said today about Jo Cox, “‘Jo  Cox’s energy, commitment and enthusiasm to support the most vulnerable and weakest in our society was an inspiration to us all. We must  honour her memory through learning to respect each others opinions even if we disagree.”

Joyce Watson AM said: “Jo Cox was a humanitarian who showed compassion for all those who needed it. She strove to unite humanity for the greater good. We owe it to her to keep that humanity alive in her name.”

The Banner is going to Aberaeron this evening (20 June), to the Ceredigion Labour Women’s Forum.

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Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit

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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.”

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Social media used to groom children young as six

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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.

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Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion

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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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