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Protesters call for public services’ protection

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Outside the Senedd: Protestors gather

PUBLIC service workers from across the country gathered at the Senedd on Tuesday, October 24, to tell politicians that local public services will disappear completely without a serious injection of cash from the Welsh government.

UNISON’s mass lobby came ahead of Welsh Government’s announcement of its draft 2018-19 budget proposals later in the afternoon.

Members of the trade union made the case for fair funding for Wales and for an end to the public sector pay cap.

Just last week, UNISON labelled Welsh government’s local authority budget as ‘wholly inadequate’ which would result in the loss of thousands of jobs and could mean some councils become unsustainable.

Margaret Thomas, UNISON regional secretary said: “Ordinary people across Wales have suffered for far too long as a result of the UK Conservative government’s cuts. The vital local services we all rely on are being sacrificed in the name of austerity and this is hurting our communities. More than 25,000 local government jobs have been lost in Wales in the last six years and pressure has increased on NHS Wales as other public services struggle to keep pace with demand. We need Welsh government to be fighting on behalf of all of us to protect public services.

“Austerity has undermined the living standards of all public service workers and their families and this has taken money away from Welsh high streets. Healthcare workers, council employees, emergency service workers and others, have endured seven years of pay freezes or below-inflation pay awards. We are asking Assembly Members to back a call for an immediate end to the public sector pay cap.”

Ms Thomas continued: “We are very pleased to have had the support of the Cabinet Secretary for health Vaughan Gething, Mike Hedges AM, Hannah Blythyn AM, John Griffiths AM, Jeremy Miles AM, and David Rees AM in signing UNISON’s pledge to end the public sector pay cap now. We know that we have a lot of support from other Assembly Members too for an end to austerity and for fair funding for Wales.

“Today’s lobby of the Senedd is part of a concerted UNISON campaign to keep up the pressure on both the UK and Welsh governments to invest in public services and the public service workforce.

“Attention moves now to our 4 November #SaveOurServices rally in Barry, backyard of Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns MP. He and his Conservative government are not listening to ordinary people. We’ve suffered too long as a result of UK government cuts, our local public services are disappearing and the workforce hasn’t had a pay rise in seven years.

“We hope there’ll be hundreds at our family- friendly Barry event. We have music, poetry and comedy in what will be a loud and colourful demonstration with a serious message.”

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Politics

Elin Jones raises Fibre Ceredigion’s connectivity with Openreach

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ELIN JONES AM has attended an Openreach drop in session in the National Assembly of Wales to raise concerns about the lack of Fibre in areas of Ceredigion.

Elin Jones met with Openreach’s Partnership director in Wales, Connie Dixon, and Catherine Colloms, Director of Corporate Affairs. Elin also met with Openreach engineers and was shown the process undertaken in order to install fibres in people’s homes and businesses.

Elin Jones said:

“There are still many homes and businesses in Ceredigion that need to be connected to superfast Broadband. Many are in rural locations, but there are also whole villages and, in most cases, homes that are just at the end of the line and have fallen out of scope.

“More needs to be done to ensure that access to Superfast Broadband for premises across Ceredigion is equally available. I hope to meet with Openreach in the near future in Ceredigion in order to assess the challenges that they face in installing Fibre, but also for them to see the need in our communities for superfast.”

Connie Dixon, Openreach Partnership Director for Wales, said:

“We’re already working closely with the Welsh Government to bring fibre broadband to Wales and as a result of this partnership nearly 95 per cent of the country can access superfast broadband today. But we also know there’s more to do and we’re working hard to reach those properties that currently can’t access fibre broadband.

“We’re also committed to future-proofing the network with full fibre technology but in order to build a new full fibre network for Wales we’ll need the support from our public sector partners.

“It won’t be quick or easy, but action to reduce red tape and remove barriers will speed things up. Full fibre will open up huge possibilities for the Welsh economy and help answer long terms challenges like energy use, climate change and sustainable rural communities.”

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Plaid candiate votes to fight for police devolution

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AHEAD of the general election on 12 December 2019, Ben Lake, Plaid Cymru candidate for Ceredigion has outlined a commitment to continue to fight for the devolution of policing to Wales.

Between 2010 and 2018, the number of police officers in Wales fell by 9% – with rural Wales particularly hit due to the unfair funding formula used by the UK Government.

Plaid Cymru have announced that they will create a new £50m crime prevention fund to recruit 1,600 extra police officers through the devolution of policing. The proposals would see a greater police presence locally, and helping to root officers in their communities, rather than being stretched over large geographical areas with little resources.

Earlier this year a Welsh Government-appointed commission said Wales should have full control of its justice system, including powers to run policing – with further studies suggesting Wales’ four forces would be in line for £25m extra from the UK government if policing was devolved.

Ben Lake said: “Time after time, police budgets have been cut by the UK Government, meaning far fewer officers are available to police forces in Wales. Welsh forces and rural areas have been hit harder than those in the rest of the UK, due to an unfair Home Office funding formula.”

“Since my election in 2017, I have seen firsthand the detrimental impact this funding arrangement is having on Welsh police forces and communities, something I was glad to raise in Parliament.”

“We cannot expect a one size fits all approach police funding to work effectively across the whole of the UK, and as such, it is imperative that the criteria for the central Government grant are revised to reflect the demands and unique challenges faced by rural forces in areas such as Ceredigion.”

“It remains unacceptable that Wales is the only nation in the UK without powers over policing and justice, especially given the clear financial dividend that devolution would bring about.”

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Politics

Conservative Candidate for Ceredigion, welcomed Lord Nick Bourne back to Aberystwyth

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THIS week, Lord Nick Bourne of Aberystwyth, visited the University town to meet with Amanda Jenner, the Conservative Candidate for Ceredigion in the forthcoming General Election. Lord Bourne joined with members of the Aberystwyth University Conservative Society to support Amanda with her General Election campaign to be the next MP for Ceredigion.

Coincidently, Amanda Jenner and Lord Bourne have taken similar paths – both Aberystwyth University Law Graduates who have gone on to work in the Education sector before turning to politics.

Lord Bourne, until recently, was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Wales Office and was heavily involved with the Mid Wales Growth Deal.

Commenting on the Growth Deal, Lord Bourne said,

“One very important thing that we have been spending a lot of time on as a Government, is to ensure we get money into Mid and West Wales, including Ceredigion, particularly to motivate businesses here.”

“I personally hope that this extends to projects involving Aberystwyth University – who are already doing tremendous work, led by Elizabeth Treasure the Vice-chancellor, to ensure we have prosperity and sustainability.”

Amanda Jenner added,

“From speaking with businesses in Ceredigion, I can see that there are some fantastic opportunities here, including in the tourism and education sectors. If elected as your MP, I would be a strong voice in Westminster, fighting to ensure that the Growth Deal stays on track and that we get the levels of funding needed for the proposals put forward by the partners of the Growth Deal.”

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