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Plaid Cymru Conference in Llangollen

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(L-R): Adam Price AM, Professor Nigel Copner, Bethan Jenkins AM, Port Talbot Steel Worker Scott Bamsey

(L-R): Adam Price AM, Professor Nigel Copner, Bethan Jenkins AM, Port Talbot Steel Worker Scott Bamsey

LEAVING the European Union and ensuring the best future for Wales post-Brexit was the central theme amongst speakers and delegates at the Plaid Cymru Annual Conference in Llangollen last week (Oct 21-23).

The party faithful travelled from all corners of the nation to hear a series of key note speeches and debate party policy – a rare ritual at party conferences these days.

Amongst the speakers was Anglesey Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth, who called for a united voice in Wales to protect the country’s future after Brexit. He said: “We share one future.” – A reference to Plaid Cymru representing all citizens of Wales, irrespective of how they voted in the EU Referendum.

He said: “It’s interesting to note that the first Eisteddfod of Iolo Morgannwg’s revival took place in London – at Primrose Hill.

“Well, if back then in 1792 it was the voices of Welsh poets and singers filling the air, it’s time that London and the Westminster Government heard another Welsh voice – a united voice – uniting those who voted to leave as well as those that voted to remain in June’s referendum – a voice saying to the UK Government ‘deliver an exit that works for Wales as well as it possibly can’.

“Yes, Wales voted to leave, but I don’t think Wales wants to take leave of its senses when it comes to our economic future,” he added.

Motions debated at conference on the Friday (Oct 21) included greater emphasis on housing policy, tackling micro plastic waste, a citizen’s income and the steel industry in Wales.

Speaking on the steel motion and addressing a conference for the first time was new party member Scott Bamsey, a Port Talbot steel worker who wanted the party to support modernisation of the industry, and establishing a dedicated steel research and development centre in the new Innovation Campus at Swansea University.

Also commenting on steel over the weekend was Carmarthenshire Assembly Member Adam Price, who said: “The potential merger of Tata and ThyssenKrupp poses a significant threat to the steel workforce and the unions in the UK and Germany are rightly concerned. Both the Unite and Community unions, as well as the Welsh Government, have all noted their concerns at the potentially devastating effect on steel communities across Wales. The Chief Executive of ThyssenKrupp has himself said that such a merger would take capacity out of the steel industry.

“Protecting the steel industry in Wales is a priority and, in doing that, we need to protect the workforce. If Tata and ThyssenKrupp fail to commit to protecting jobs at existing Tata plants, then the UK Government needs to intervene to prevent the merger in order to safeguard the industry. No merger should be allowed to go ahead without assurances about jobs and the future of Tata’s plants,” he added.

Women’s pensions, local government reorganisation and the NHS were the key motion discussions on the second day of conference (Oct 22), as well as the address from Party Leader, Leanne Wood AM.

Arfon Jones, a former police inspector who was elected as Plaid Cymru’s Police and Crime Commissioner for the North Wales constabulary in May 2016, took to the conference stage to outline his priorities to tackle substance misuse, domestic abuse, modern slavery and greater transparency and answerability in the police force.

He revealed his determination to break the cycle of re-offending. Mr Jones said: “65% of boys whose father is in jail offend and children with imprisoned parents are twice as likely to suffer mental health problems and do less well in school.”

Partnership working to reduce re-offending by ensuring that ex-prisoners were successfully reintegrated into society was a priority. “Although not directly a police matter, ensuring that former offenders don’t repeat their previous criminality is essential if we’re going to break the cycle and make our society safer. That also means using our £12m budget for reducing substance misuse across the region as wisely as possible,” he added.

Plaid Cymru’s programme for the local council elections will be focused on empowering Welsh communities, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood told conference delegates.

Ms Wood said that after the vote to leave the European Union, it was more important than ever that we empower communities to take local control and become more self-sufficient.

Hers is the only party with a plan to protect and secure the Welsh national interest after the vote to leave the European Union, Leanne Wood said, calling on Plaid Cymru members keep unity in order to take her optimistic message to people ahead of the local elections.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: “The way we will survive and thrive post-Brexit is by doing more for ourselves. By being more self-sufficient. More co-operative in our approach.

“You can expect to see from us from next May a ‘programme of opportunity’ – to get our communities into being ready and resilient for the new situation we are in.

“Plaid Cymru’s role has always been to protect and secure the Welsh national interest. Despite the challenges and uncertainties thrown up by Brexit, we are optimistic.

“We have a clear and detailed policy programme which is designed to build our nation and give confidence to our people.

“Alone out of all of the parties in the Assembly, the Party of Wales responded to the EU referendum vote in a way that shows we are ready and up for the challenge.

“Like me, you support Plaid Cymru because you believe in Wales. You believe in our capacity to look after our best national interests.

“Conference, let us take this message of conviction from this hall today, out into our communities.

“Plaid Cymru will make a difference. And Wales will move forward, stronger.”

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Man arrested for illegal fishing in Teifi valley

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A MAN has been arrested after environmental crime officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) spotted an illegal net in a mid-Wales river.

The officers were conducting a routine patrol of the River Teifi on Thursday (May 14) when they came across a net in the water.

Following an investigation carried out in partnership with Dyfed Powys Police, a man was arrested on suspicion of illegal fisheries offences in the Teifi valley.

At the scene, officers retrieved the net which contained seven dead sea trout.

David Lee, NRW’s North and Mid Wales Operations Team Leader, said:

“Thanks to the excellent work of our officers and Dyfed Powys Police we were able to prevent further damage to the Teifi sea trout population.

“We take any activity that threatens sea trout and salmon extremely seriously and this is especially true of illegal fishing.

“Nets can potentially capture large numbers of fish and given the current challenges facing stock numbers currently every sea trout or salmon taken represents another blow to our efforts to protect these iconic fish.”

Despite the current Coronavirus lockdown, NRW officers are continuing to patrol Welsh rivers and people are encouraged to check that fish they buy locally – particularly through social media – are from a legitimate source.

If you see any suspicious or illegal activity on our rivers please report it to the NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.

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Mother-daughter foot patrol brings 30 year career to a poignant end for Chief Inspector

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AS Chief Inspector Nicky Carter ended a 30 year career in policing, there was no better way to do it than going out on patrol with her daughter.

And for PCSO Charlotte, taking to the streets of Lampeter with her mum was a fitting way to mark her first six months at Dyfed-Powys Police.

Patrolling together in uniform was something the mother-daughter pair had long imagined, with PCSO Carter wanting to join the police from a young age.

The 19-year-old said: “I joined in September 2019, and have wanted to be a part of Dyfed-Powys Police since I can remember. I was inspired by my mum working in the force, and thought it would be a great career.

“I’m really glad I joined before she retired, as it gave us the opportunity to go out on foot patrol in the town where mum had been the local Inspector. It was really lovely.”

Embarking on a career she’d planned since childhood, PCSO Carter took the chance to gain valuable advice from her mum – whose experiences on the frontline inspired her to join.

“Mum has told me to always treat people as I would wish to be treated,” she said. “That’s something I’ll take forward with me.”

“I’m six months in now, and I enjoy dealing with the public and offering reassurance to people in the communities of Lampeter town and surrounding areas.”

For former CI Carter, the foot patrol drew a 30-year career – starting at North Wales Police – to a poignant close.

She ended her time at Dyfed-Powys Police in her home division of Ceredigion, transferring to Aberystwyth in 2006 to take up an inspector post.

Despite admitting there will be concerns for her only child as policing inevitably comes with risks, it was a career she encouraged.

She said: “I was very proud of Charlotte wishing to join Dyfed-Powys. As I retire I still consider that policing offers tremendous job satisfaction and I know that the organisation looks after and cares for its staff.

“I encouraged her to find out about the PCSO role before she applied, and also encouraged her to attend an open evening in Ceredigion to speak to staff. I wanted her to make an informed decision to join the organisation.

“As a parent and a former officer, it is natural to be concerned about what may occur when Charlotte is at work. However, the training, mentoring and support from staff and supervisors is second to none, so that offers me reassurance.”

Looking back at 30 years in policing, CI Carter has achieved plenty to inspire her daughter – and other women thinking of joining. From being a founding member of female networks in two forces, and a committee member of the British Association of Women in Policing, she has also proudly contributed to local and national work to ensure all staff reach their full potential.

She was humbled to receive a leadership award from Chwarae Teg in 2017, and represented chief officers at the International Association of Women Police awards in Alaska in 2019, where two Ceredigion officers were rewarded for their bravery.

When it comes to passing on her wealth of experience to her daughter, the former CI urged her to always consider her own wellbeing as well as that of the community.

“The most important advice I have given Charlotte is to look after herself and her wellbeing as whilst policing is a very rewarding role, it is one that can be both challenging and stressful at times,” she said.

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Ben Lake MP “disappointed” after Agriculture Bill amendment on the standard of food and agricultural imports is rejected by House of Commons

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The UK’s new Agriculture Bill was put before MPs on Wednesday (13 May) for the final time as it reached the Report Stage and Third Reading.

Alongside farming unions and campaign groups, Ben Lake MP has lobbied for the Bill to include a number of important amendments. One of the amendments sought to introduce a legal requirement that agricultural or food products imported into the UK under future trade agreements would need to be produced or processed according to equivalent animal health, welfare and environmental standards as those required of UK prodcuers.

This amendment, in the form of New Clause 2, and which was tabled by the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Neil Parish MP, was rejected by the Commons. All Plaid Cymru MPs supported the amendment and Ben Lake MP said he was “disappointed” that the house did not vote in favour of an amendment to prevent the importation of products produced to lower animal health and environmental standards, and which in turn would have supported the high standards of Welsh produce.

Ben Lake MP said:

“Without this amendment there remains no legal requirement for future UK trade agreements to ensure that any agricultural or food imports are produced to the same standards as those required of domestic producers.

“Farmers in Wales strive to produce quality food in a sustainable manner, but the failure to include this amendment to the Agriculture Bill risks undermining these efforts by keeping the door open to imports produced to lower environmental and animal welfare standards.

“I have always argued that in order to protect our own high standards it is crucial that a level playing-field is maintained in relation to imports, and that farmers in Wales are not put at a disadvantage by having to compete with imports that are produced to lower standards. I sincerely hope that this amendment will be adopted by the House of Lords, so that the House of Commons has another opportunity to support it.”

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