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The cost of connecting with Carwyn

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Vanity, all is vanity: Tories criticise Carwyn Connects

Vanity, all is vanity: Tories
criticise Carwyn Connects

A FREEDOM of Information Act (FOI) request made by Plaid Cymru has revealed that only 712 people across Wales attended 9 ‘Carwyn Connects’ events at a cost of over £13,000.
When the tour was announced in July 2015, the Welsh Conservatives claimed: “It’s a scandal that the public is being asked to fund Labour’s re-election campaign.
“It doesn’t take a cynical disposition to question Carwyn Jones’ decision to wait until the last year of this term to ‘connect’ with voters.”
The tour visited Carmarthen in November, an event attended by only 32 people, including our reporter Alan Evans. Following the event the First Minister conceded that it was not a great turn out, but said that he had enjoyed the variety of questions and that it was all about going around Wales and listening to Welsh people.
The detailed response to the FOI showed the numbers attending the individual meeting were as follows
Merthyr Tydfil – 80 Rhyl – 190 Bangor – 60 Newport – 50 Aberystwyth – 90 Swansea – 60 Mold – 105 Holyhead – 45 Carmarthen – 32
Individual costs were broken down as Venue hire – £2072 Refreshments – £961.80 AV and staging – £7583.10 Simultaneous Translation – £2450
One further event is planned for Neath in this month.
The Welsh Government has not incorporated staffing costs into its response to the FOI, claiming that the works form “part of the day to day work for staff within the Communications Division of the Welsh Government and there is no dedicated staff allocated to work on these events”.
However, the publication of the response to Plaid Cymru’s FOI has resulted in the exercise being branded a ‘vanity exercise’ by Welsh Tories: “We wholeheartedly support efforts to burst the Cardiff Bay bubble and ensure the voices of all are heard – no matter where they are in Wales – but communities will rightly question this overblown Labour vanity project.
“Public engagement and consultation should have been at the top of the agenda for years.
“Instead, Labour’s First Minister launched this expensive tour just months away from an Assembly election.”
The Welsh Government responded to criticism of the events: “All good governments listen to the people they serve. These events give people the chance to meet the First Minister, face to face, to talk through the matters which affect their daily lives – that should be welcomed, not derided.”

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Campaigners Thank Local MP, Ben Lake, for Championing Community Energy

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Today campaign group, Power for People, thanked local MP, Ben Lake, for holding a debate last night in the House of Commons to promote community renewable energy by creating a ‘Right to Local Supply’ in law.

Central to the debate was a proposed new law, known as the Local Electricity Bill, that Mr Lake is co-sponsoring and which is supported by 212 MPs. The Bill aims to help rebuild local economies whilst increasing clean energy generation.

If made law, the Bill would empower community-owned local energy companies to sell locally generated renewable electricity directly to local households and businesses.

Currently customers can only purchase electricity from nationally licensed utilities. The Bill’s supporters say this means money people use to pay their energy bills is not helping to rebuild local economies and local clean energy infrastructure.

Responding to the debate, Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, said, “It is certainly something that I as the Energy Minister will be willing to engage with and have a discussion about … I think that with a co-operative spirit, we can get very far.”

Campaigning group, Power for People, are calling for MPs and the government to make the Bill law and are leading a supportive coalition of organisations including Community Energy Wales, Community Energy England, Community Energy Scotland, WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB. 62 local authorities have also pledged their support.

Ben Lake, MP for Ceredigion, said, “A Right to Local Supply will empower and enable new community energy companies to sell energy that they generate directly to local people which will accelerate our transition to clean energy and help strengthen local economies. The Local Electricity Bill would enshrine this in law and I will do all I can to ensure it succeeds.”

Power for People’s Director, Steve Shaw, said, “We thank Ben Lake for holding a debate on the Local Electricity Bill in the House of Commons. If made law, the Bill would unleash the huge potential for new community-owned clean energy infrastructure and for this to boost local economies, jobs, services, and facilities in communities across Ceredigion, Wales and the rest of the UK.”

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Politics

Ceredigion MP urges UK Government to back Welsh farmers

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THE UK Government has rejected the latest attempt to require imported food to meet domestic legal standards from 1 January.

The Agriculture Bill – designed to prepare the farming industry for when the UK no longer has to follow EU laws and rules next year – returned to the Commons on Monday following amendments by the House of Lords.

During the debate on the Lords amendments in the Commons, Ben Lake MP stated: “This Government have long talked up the benefits of taking back control and of how, post-EU, we will be able to set the terms of our trade with the world. Those terms should be quite simple: UK market access for imports should be dependent on meeting equivalent UK food production standards. Without this safeguard, this Bill threatens the future prosperity of Welsh farming.”

The UK Government says EU rules banning imports of chlorine-washed chicken and other products will be automatically written into UK law once the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

But peers made a number of changes, including one which would give MPs a veto over sections in trade deals relating to food imports, which would be required to comply with “relevant domestic standards”.

They argued these changes were necessary to make it impossible for the US or other countries to export chlorinated chicken or beef injected with hormones.
However, MPs voted by 332 votes to 279 to back government plans to reject the amendment.

In response, Ben Lake MP said: “Last night, Plaid Cymru supported amendments that would have protected food standards in future trade deals and strengthened parliamentary scrutiny of trade negotiations.

“Yet again, the UK Government has let down Welsh farmers when given the chance to protect their livelihoods. Despite all their promises and manifesto commitments, the Government defeated the amendments, exposing our farmers to unfair competition and lower production standards in future trade deals.

“Plaid Cymru will continue to put forward a positive vision for our food producers based on a greater say for our devolved governments and the protection of food standards. This is not because we not only believe them necessary now, but because they are fundamental to our collective tomorrow.”

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Politics

Ceredigion Conservative Association Elects a New Chairman

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On the 18th September, the Ceredigion Conservative Association held its Annual General Meeting, attended remotely by Conservative Members from across the County. The Association was formally re-established and Patrick Loxdale was elected as the new Chairman.

Commenting on his new position, Patrick says:

“ I am very honoured to be given the opportunity to serve in this position. I believe passionately in democracy and the democratic process. The Welsh Conservatives came second in Ceredigion in last year’s General Election, increasing the Conservative vote share by more than the national average. It shows that Conservative values are widely held by people of all ages in Ceredigion, and it is important that we have a functioning local association, and strong candidates to allow their opinions to be heard.”

Patrick, whose family have lived in Llanilar for five generations, previously served as a Medical Officer in The Royal Navy for almost twenty years, qualifying as a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. From 2001 to 2016 he worked as an NHS Consultant in Devon. Moving back to Llanilar when his brother passed away, Patrick now farms from his family home and enjoys acquiring new knowledge in organic farming and rural management. Patrick adds:

“Ceredigion is a fantastic place to live, with a world beating environment. There are great opportunities for our future and our children’s security, prosperity and fulfilment here. Yet the Labour run Welsh Government continues to fail to grasp this and rarely provides any real focus outside of the M4 corridor! In next year’s Senedd election, the people of Ceredigion deserve a credible alternative choice; a choice that rejects both the on-going failures of Welsh Labour and the separatist ideology of Plaid Cymru. It is time for the people of Ceredigion to vote for the Welsh Conservatives.

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