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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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Three charged with Aberaeron robbery

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FOLLOWING reports of a robbery in Aberaeron in July 17, along with an incident involving a knife on September 11, we can confirm that two men and a youth have been arrested and charged.

Dylan Tapp, aged 18 of Bow Street, and Christopher Samuel, aged 18 of Heol Isfoel, Llanrhystud, have been charged with robbery. Both have been remanded in custody.

A 17-year-old has also been charged and released on bail.

Our enquiries are ongoing. If anyone has any information about these incidents that they have not yet shared with us, please get in touch with Aberaeron CID:

Report online: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline

Email: 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk

Call: 101

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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Health

Local Businesses help raise astonishing £10,000 for Cardio-Respiratory Ward at Bronglais Hospital

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THE ORGANISERS of the 2021 Aberystwyth Businesspersons’ Lunch have donated the £10,000 proceeds to the Cardio-Respiratory Ward at Bronglais Hospital.

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Donogh McKeogh; Aled and Rose Rowlands;

John Davies’ widow Ann; Frank Bridle; John’s daughter and son, Angharad

and Rhodri; and Iestyn Leyshon

The lunch last December was in memory of well-known local businessman, jeweller and musician John Davies, who had helped organise the annual lunch for many years but sadly passed away just a few months before.

“John was such a lovely man, a pillar of the town and so well thought of, that we decided it was fitting that the lunch should be in his memory and that the proceeds should go to the cardiac unit where he had been treated for so many years,” said Aled Rowlands, who organised the lunch along with Frank Bridle, Layla Mangan, Gary Pemberthy, Huw Bates and Iestyn Leyshon.

“It was a very successful day, with nearly 200 people enjoying a lunch, comedian, band, auction and raffle. It was a fitting tribute to John who was such a big part of the town.”

John Davies joined his parents’ business at T J Davies at the age of 16 where he worked for 64 years after leaving Llandaff Cathedral School. He passed away in August 2021, at the age of 80.

John’s wife Ann and children Angharad and Rhodri said: “We were delighted at the generous amount that was raised in his memory at the Businesspersons Christmas lunch.

“Charity work was important to John, through his membership of the Lions Club and it is fitting that the money raised went to a department where he personally received such care and attention from Dr McKeogh and his team.

“John will be remembered not only as a businessman but also as a keen and talented trumpeter, playing with Aberystwyth Town Band, Aber Jazz and Philomusica, to name but a few, as well as playing carols with the Town Band every Christmas Day around Bronglais Hospital wards and care homes in the town.”

Pictured at the cheque presentation at Bronglais Hospital are (from left) Consultant Cardiologist Dr Donogh McKeogh; Aled and Rose Rowlands; John Davies’ widow Ann; Frank Bridle; John’s daughter and son, Angharad and Rhodri; and Iestyn Leyshon.

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Wales stands firm in support for Ukraine

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IN THE latest update on the Ukraine crisis, Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt thanked all those households across Wales who have come forward to offer their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the War and encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

APPEAL FOR MORE HOST FAMILIES

The Minister for Social Justice said: “I’m delighted to say that over 5,650 people from Ukraine, sponsored by the Welsh Government and Welsh households, have already arrived in the UK.
“More than 8,200 visas have now been issued to people from Ukraine who have sponsors in Wales, so we expect the number of arrivals to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of Welsh households sponsored Ukrainians to arrive in Wales and committed to hosting them for at least six months.
“As we move into the autumn, we approach the end of that initial period.
“We hope hosts and Ukrainians will agree to extend many of those placements, but we need additional hosts to support those who cannot continue living where they are.
“To ensure a warm welcome to Wales, I’m inviting households across Wales to come forward and open their homes to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
“We’re immensely thankful to all those across Wales acting as hosts to Ukrainians, but more households must come forward.
“I completely understand that there are those who want to help but may not have the resources to do so, given the circumstances we’re all facing with the cost-of-living crisis.”

WALES WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE

Jane Hutt continued: “What we all know, and has been proven countless times, is that the people of Wales are one of the most generous across the globe, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate once again.
“The idea of hosting can be daunting. That’s why we have funded Housing Justice Cymru to provide a Host Support service which includes expert and reliable information, training, advice, and guidance for people hosting, or those considering hosting, Ukrainians in Wales.
“More information on sessions and training can be found on the Housing Justice Cymru website. We also publish regularly updated guidance for hosts and sponsors at gov. wales/ukraine.
“We still need many more households to consider whether they could provide a home for those in need. This would normally be a commitment to hosting for 6 to 12 months.
“If anyone is considering this, we encourage them to register their interest at gov.wales/offerhome, and to attend one of the ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru. You won’t need to continue the process if you decide it is not for you.
“We have also partnered with Airbnb.org to ensure very short-term emergency placements can be provided to prevent homelessness.
“If you cannot host for more than 6 months but you could offer your property for up to 30 days at a time, you may also be able to contribute. Visit gov.wales/offerhome and follow the link to the Airbnb.org platform.”
Finally, the Minister stated: “We will continue to communicate with those who host Ukrainians, with updated guidance and information to support the valuable role you are undertaking.
“To all those that are already hosting and to those that are considering hosting, thank you, we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.”

WESTMINSTER MUST BACK HOSTS
DURING COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS

Conservative MS Mark Isherwood raised how the cost-of-living crisis affects Ukrainian refugees.
Where families had taken in those fleeing Russian aggression, he noted a risk of sponsorships not continuing beyond six months because the hosts cannot afford the rise in fuel costs.
He asked the Minister what discussions she’d had with the UK Government about increasing the £350 contribution to households who’d taken in Ukrainian refugees.
The Minister agreed with Mark Isherwood that ending a specific ministerial post dealing with refugees was regrettable.
She noted a lack of information from the UK Government over the summer months and since Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Government.
Ms Hutt said: “We asked for an increase at least to £500, or up again, doubling to £700 per month. An urgent decision is needed regarding this as they reach the end of their six-month period.
“That period is underway, so we’re writing to all hosts to see if they will continue.”

UK GOVERNMENT URGED
TO PICK UP THE PHONE

The Minister thanked Mark Isherwood for introducing her to a charity offering support in North Wales, Link, and hoped that he and his colleagues would bring pressure to bear on their Westminster colleagues to ensure those in need from Ukraine and those in Wales helping them received support.
She added: “I look forward perhaps that we might have some telephone calls from the Prime Minister and other Ministers to us in Government. We must engage with them and follow this through.
“There is a huge job of work to be done here. We’re taking responsibility in the way I’ve outlined, funding our welcome centres and paying thank-you payments to hosts if they support a family who initially arrived in Wales under the Ukraine family scheme.
“That’s not happening in England. The commitment that we’re making is considerable.
“I hope everyone will join us today, saying that we need to press for those answers in terms of financial support.”

THE THREAT OF HOMELESSNESS

Sioned Williams of Plaid Cymru raised the spectre of Ukrainian refugees becoming homeless in Wales due to a lack of financial support and the end of existing hosting and housing placements.
The Minister praised the work of local authorities across Wales supporting refugees.
She said: “There are very imaginative programmes. That includes a whole range of issues like repurposing empty buildings.
“Local authorities are really coming up with a whole range of ways in which we can support people, perhaps, from a welcome centre, or a host family, into that intermediate accommodation, and then on to other longer-term accommodation.”
Pembrokeshire currently houses around 200 Ukrainian refugees, with the demand for assistance outstripping the availability of suitable accommodation.

NOT ONE PENNY FROM WESTMINSTER
TO SUPPORT FAMILIES FLEEING WAR

Responding to a question from Mabon ap Gwynfor about problems housing family groups, Jane Hutt hit out at the lack of support from the UK Government and how it’s u-turned on a commitment to help families.
“The UK Government has never given a penny towards the family scheme.
“The former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in one of his last PMQs, actually said that he thought the Ukraine family scheme should get the same funding and support as the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It’s never happened.
“We have provided thank-you payments to people who are hosting Ukrainian families. It’s all Welsh Government money; it’s not UK Government, because they don’t provide a penny. And also, the British Red Cross—£246,000—who are actually supporting Ukrainian families who are hosting family members under the Ukrainian family scheme.”
On Wednesday, September 28, Eluned Morgan, Wales’s Health Minister, announced the continuation of free healthcare in Wales to Ukrainian residents displaced by the ongoing conflict.
The exemption will continue to apply unless there’s a significant change in circumstances in Ukraine.

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