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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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Ceredigion gritters prepare for Winter with a visit from ‘Goldie’

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AS WINTER maintenance training preparations continue, a specially-painted golden gritter named ‘Goldie’ visited Ceredigion on 2 October to mark Econ Engineering, UK’s biggest manufacturer of gritters, 50th anniversary.

‘Goldie’ is spending the autumn visiting local authorities across the UK as they prepare for the winter ahead.

Ceredigion County Council prepares for winter all year round; salt replenishment starts in early June to ensure that by the time winter begins stock levels are up to approximately 10,000 tonnes. This is the amount of salt that gives Ceredigion the resilience it needs if it cannot secure additional salt supplies during the winter season in a timely manner.

The winter service fleet is operated by 51 qualified gritter drivers and maintained by 9 mechanics who all work on a rota basis over the winter period. There are 10 primary gritting routes covering 437km of Ceredigion’s roads, including the Trunk Road network.

One of the first tasks for the winter service team is to ensure that over 400 Grit bins across the county, which are for the motorist to use, are filled and any damaged bins replaced. Depending on the severity of the winter and the availability of resources, these bins may need to be replenished again during the season.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services and Housing. He said: “Although autumn has just begun, our staff have been preparing for winter for many months already and now are taking the next step to ensure our winter fleet is ready for any frosty occurrence. Training is being completed and maintenance checks are being carried out on the gritters. Our fleet consists of 10 frontline gritters, 5 situated in each of the north (Glanyrafon) and south (Penrhos) depots and 7 reserve gritters.

“The decision as to whether gritters are deployed depends on what information is received from MetDesk, our weather forecast provider. Each day during October through until the end of April, the council will receive three forecasts a day. This information is analysed by a group of experienced duty officers, who are on duty 24hrs a day, to determine whether a gritting run is required or not.

“Having Goldie here has been a timely reminder that winter is on the way and the council is doing everything it can to minimise disruption to travelling over the winter. If you are a motorist, it’s also time for you to be mindful of how you should prepare for winter too – in the way you drive during icy conditions.”

Andrew Lupton Econ Engineering Sales Director said, “Econ Engineering has worked with Ceredigion for many years now and we’re delighted that Goldie has been able to make a guest appearance as preparations for winter get into full swing. Ceredigion has always shared Econ’s own belief in the important role that technology and innovation can play in keeping winter roads safe and the council has taken great care to specify that their Econ vehicles are fitted with the most up-to-date technology. We have fitted the fleet of gritters with high-tech kit including navigation aids for the drivers, which ensure gritting routes are treated accurately across the region, both maximising road safety and minimising the impact of salt on Ceredigion’s environment.”

For more information on Highways During Winter and advice on driving in Winter go to https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/travel-roads-parking/highways-during-winter/

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Trains could be opening from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth

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THE REOPENING of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway is not only possible, it’s now on the cards. This was the message of a meeting at Plaid Cymru’s Annual Conference in Swansea, arranged by Ben Lake MP, Elin Jones AM and Traws Link Cymru.

The meeting came after the publication of the Welsh Government’s rail strategy document, ‘A Railway for Wales – Meeting the needs of future generations’, in which the Welsh Government states that it wants to ‘improve connectivity on the nation’s key corridors – especially the western corridor from Ynys Môn to Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Swansea Bay.’

Over the years, Plaid Cymru has secured commitments by the Welsh Government to invest in scoping, feasibility and technical studies. It has also made several manifesto pledges to reopen the line.

The inclusion of the rail route in the Welsh Government’s rail strategy document is a major step as it lists, for the first time, that the re-opening of the line is part of the Welsh Government’s overall transport plan for Wales.

Ben Lake MP said:

“I am grateful to Mike Walker and Geraint Blayney for preparing such a detailed presentation, and indeed to the entire campaign for working so diligently to ensure that this important proposal receives the attention and consideration it deserves.”

Elin Jones AM said:

“It’s great to see that the campaign to reopen has now for the first time been given official status within a Government transport strategy.

“Whilst Welsh Government had commissioned both a scoping study and a full technical feasibility study for the reopening in recent years, it is only now that they have included the line as part of its future thinking.

“It will be for Westminster Government under the current devolution settlement to fund new rail infrastructure, but Welsh Govenrment has a role in ensuring that it is high on the agenda for rail investment.”

Mike Walker, a campaigner for Traws Link Cymru said:

“Following the Feasibility Study into the re-opening of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway that was published in 2018, and which showed that there are no insurmountable engineering problems associated with the re-establishment of the line, Traws Link Cymru is further encouraged by the recent document released by the Welsh Government  “A Railway for Wales: Meeting the needs of Future Generations’.

“This outlines future Strategic Corridor Developments for Wales including enhanced connectivity from Ynys Mon, through Dolgellau, Aberystwyth and Carmarthen, to Swansea and South West Wales. For the first time, the Welsh Government has publicly acknowledged the need for a north-south rail corridor, a key element of which is the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen line that has been the focus of the Traws Link Cymru campaign.

“The onus is now on the Welsh Government to accept that the re-opening of this railway line is a transport priority for Wales, and to seek funding from Westminster to deliver the project.”

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Hate Crime Awareness Week 2019

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NATIONAL Hate Crime Awareness Week will take place from October 12 – 19  this year. Ceredigion County Council is highlighting the campaign by reminding residents of what is a Hate Crime and signposting people to the necessary support; whether they may be a victim or a witness to a hate crime incident.

Ellen ap Gwynn is Leader of Ceredigion County Council and Members’ Champion for Equalities. She said: “We will not tolerate any form of Hate Crime in Ceredigion. Everyone should be respectful of each other’s individual characteristics and beliefs. This national week of raising awareness is an important reminder to us all that we need to live in harmony with each other to make our communities safe and prosperous places for our residents to live in without fear.”

Hate crimes may be physical or verbal attacks, threats or insults that are motivated by the victim’s age, disability, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, sex or gender identity or sexual orientation.

Hate crimes can be any criminal action that is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice and hatred.

Kay Howells is the Mid and South West Wales Community Cohesion Coordinator. She said: “Hate crimes often go unreported, leaving offenders free to commit further offences. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime, please make sure that it gets reported. By reporting these offences a picture of the number, type and range of incidents taking place in Ceredigion can be recorded, enabling resources to be targeted in order to deal with them.”

If you are in immediate danger call the Police by dialling 999 (non-emergencies 101).

You can make a report online using the Victim Support website, http://www.reporthate.victimsupport.org.uk/ this can also be made anonymous if that’s better for you.

Alternatively, you can call Victim Support directly 24 hours a day on 03003 031 982. If you would like support they can arrange this at the same time as making the report.

Visit the council’s Hate crime page for more information: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/your-council/strategies-plans-policies/equality-diversity/hate-crime/

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