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M4 relief road cancelled after cost estimates rise to over £2 billion

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THE WELSH Government has ditched plans to build an M4 relief road.

After years of planning, a lengthy public inquiry, and extensive controversy both about the delays in making a decision and the potential environmental impact of the new road, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced his widely anticipated decision to cancel the project in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 4.

The M4 relief road was a marquee project for the Welsh Government; however, internal Labour politics slowed down progress towards a decision with the result that former First Minister Carwyn Jones passed the buck for the final decision to his successor. Mr Jones favoured the scheme, while Mr Drakeford was more equivocal about its prospects.

Originally proposed in 1991, the scheme was dropped by the Welsh Government in 2009 on grounds of cost (then an estimated £1bn) before being revived in 2011. The project secured UK Treasury support in 2013 and was approved by the then-Welsh Government Transport Minister Edwina Hart in 2014, with a completion date of 2022.

Since 2014, the road lingered in development hell through a raft of consultations and a public inquiry.

M4 decision: Drakeford slated for dither and delay

The First Minister’s decision to cancel the scheme raises questions about the huge amount of public money and government manpower expended on it. His principal objection is the same as that which led to the original scheme’s cancellation in 2009: money, or the Welsh Government lack of it/unwillingness to spend it.

Friends of the Earth Cymru director Haf Elgar said: “This is great news for Wales and the planet.

“As well as costing Welsh taxpayers over £2 billion pounds, this devastating road would have ploughed through the unique, wildlife-rich Gwent Levels, pumped more climate-wrecking emissions into our atmosphere, and ultimately caused even more congestion and air pollution.

“This decision is a testament to the untiring efforts of local residents who have opposed this plan over decades and is a clear signal that the Welsh Government is taking its climate emergency declaration and commitment to future generations seriously.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said: “This is a dark day for the Welsh economy. After decades of deliberation and over £40m spent, no problem has been solved today. Congestion and road pollution around Newport can only increase. Economic growth will be stifled, confidence in the region will weaken and the cost of an eventual relief road will rise

“Today’s announcement is a short-term measure that regrettably solves nothing and sends the message that Wales is not open for business.

“As the Welsh Government said at the public inquiry, the black route would emit less carbon emissions than the current road and the whole project would be carbon neutral by 2070. The wider south Wales region around Cardiff and Newport constitute only 4% of Welsh carbon emissions in total. That figure will now likely rise at a higher rate than if the black route had been built.”

On  his Facebook page, Stephen Crabb MP said: “They’ve bottled it. The Welsh First Minister’s decision not to give the M4 relief road the green light is short sighted and will be deeply frustrating for number of commuters, businesses and tourists.

“I’ve spoken to numerous Pembrokeshire businesses, from hauliers to tourism operators, who are all fully aware the damage the congestion around Newport does for our local economy. One Pembrokeshire haulage firm alone runs 40 lorries each way through the M4 bottle neck each day, with drivers calling it a ‘no go’ area between 7.30am and 10am in the morning and from 4pm to 6.30pm in the afternoon.

“This decision even contradicts the independent public enquiry led by a planning inspector which backed the project. This is a failure of devolution as the Welsh Assembly was supposed to help projects such as this get off the ground.

“I recently held a debate in Parliament about the importance of this project for the wider Welsh economy, so it is very disappointing that Mark Drakeford has dropped it especially as this issue has dragged on for nearly 30 years.”

Full in-depth coverage in The Herald this Friday

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‘Victims will be at heart of the organisation’ says re-elected’ – Dafydd Llywelyn

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DAFYDD LLYWELYN who has been re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys has said that he will ensure victims are placed at the heart of the Dyfed-Powys Police organisation as he prepares to start his second term in Office this week.

On Sunday 9 May 2021, it was announced that Mr Llywelyn won in the second round of voting, with first and second preference votes totalling 94,488.

Mr Dafydd Llywelyn told The Herald: “I am extremely pleased that I have been re-elected, and I’m grateful to the residents of Dyfed-Powys for putting their faith in me.

“To serve as a Police and Crime Commissioner is a privilege that carries great responsibility, and an honour that I do not take lightly.   I will ensure that the safety of our communities and the voice of victims are placed at the heart of this organisation as I look to support the Force to recover from the pressures put upon us in the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

On Friday 7th of May, it was announced that Dyfed-Powys Police had been issued with an accelerated cause of concern, after failing to make improvements in crime-recording practices highlighted by HMICFRS in 2018.

During his first visit to Police Headquarters since the elections, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said that he was disappointed despite being given assurances that improvements were being made in line with HMICFRS recommendations.

“Since 2018, I’ve been re-assured by the Chief Constable and the Force’s Chief Officers that improvements were being made in relation to crime recording, and I’m extremely disappointed and concerned that despite my scrutiny over the years, it has been confirmed by HMICFRS that there are still significant failures, but I am pleased however, that improvements are already being made.

“The residents of Dyfed-Powys should expect that reports of crime are recorded and investigated, and I will move swiftly over coming weeks to appoint a Chief Constable who will continue to address this issue and who will focus on placing victims at the heart of Dyfed-Powys Police”.

Additional MOJ Funding

The Police and Crime Commissioner was pleased to announce that additional funding had been secured by his Office to support organisations that provide support to victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Dyfed-Powys.

“We have already this week heard the news that we have been successful in our application to the Ministry of Justice to secure approximately £450,000 of additional investment into services for high risk victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Dyfed Powys.

“This is in addition to our annual victims grant and the uplift we secured last year for sexual abuse services, which allowed us to develop outreach services aimed at our rural communities and older victims in particular.”

“I am disappointed with the HMICFRS findings, and will ensure that we fully understand the position that we find ourselves in and the investment that I make as a Commissioner into services for victims provides the necessary level of support.  I want residents to feel confident that they have a Force that meets the needs and expectation of our local communities.”

“The public have put their trust in me, and I will repay that trust by holding the Chief Constable to account for addressing the HMICFRS’s concerns.”

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Plaid’s Dafydd Llywelyn re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner

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THE NEW Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed Powys Area has been announced.

Incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales, has been re-elected for a second term.

The election was held Thursday, 06 May 2021, at the same time as the Senedd Cymru elections.

In order to follow all coronavirus regulations, the count for this election was held on Sunday, 09 May 2021.

The announcement was made in Ceredigion, at the Ysgol Bro Teifi, Llandysul.

Dafydd Llywelyn, was first elected as one of the two new Plaid Cymru PCCs during 2016’s election and is the PCC for Dyfed-Powys Police. 

The force covers over half the land mass of Wales and during the PCC elections had the highest turnout of all PCC elections at 49%.

Mr Llywelyn is a former Principal Intelligence Analyst and worked within Police Intelligence for many years before, in 2014, moving to Aberystwyth University to lecture on Criminology. His career has provided him with considerable insight into core policing issues as well as an understanding of what the public want from the service. He has pledged to reinvest in CCTV and prevention activities and has refused to appoint a deputy.

Standing against him were three other candidates – Jon Burns (Conservative); Philippa Thompson (Labour) and Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats).

The results for Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner’s elections were as follows:

1st Round

Jon Burns (Conservatives); 69,112

Dafydd Llywelyn (Plaid Cymru); 68208

Philippa Thompson (Labour): 48033

Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats) 17649

2nd Round

Jon Burns: 8209

Dafydd Llywelyn: 26280

This was the third time police and crime commissioner elections have been held. The election was originally due to take place in May 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new PCC term begins on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
  • set the force budget and determine the precept;
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.
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Tregaron man charged with rape following large scale search for suspect

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POLICE in Ceredigion have confirmed that man has been charged following the large police presence and search in the Lampeter area on Thursday, May 6.

A police operation was launched after an allegation of a serious sexual assault.

Officers have now confirmed that 45-year-old Saul Henvey, of Tregaron, has been charged with rape.

He is due to appear at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court on Monday, May 10.

Detectives dealing with the case that they would continue to provide specialist support to the victim.

A spokesperson said: “We would once again like to thank the public for their assistance in this investigation.”

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