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Jill Evans: Shaping a new future for Wales

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Jill Evans: At her desk in Brussels

Jill Evans: At her desk in Brussels

JILL EVANS has been a Member of the European Parliament for Wales since 1999. She has been a member of the European Free Alliance group and serves as the first Vice-President of the Greens/EFA coalition group. 

In the current parliament, Jill is a member of the Committee on Culture and Education, the Delegation for relations with Switzerland and Norway, the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee, and the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Parliamentary Committee. She is Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for European and International issues.

After the UK voted to leave the European Union, we asked Jill to reflect on 17 years as an MEP. How does she feel about the referendum result? Why is she so committed to the EU? Why was it that Wales voted to leave? What did she think would change for Wales in the short term and after ‘Brexit’? And what now happens with her job as our elected representative?

“However each of us voted in the referendum on June 23, we must take the opportunity it presents to shape a new future for Wales. Wales must be a key player in the negotiations. We cannot let others decide our future for us.

“As someone who has worked all my political life to see Wales flourish and become an independent nation within the European Union, I was deeply disappointed by the result. There is no single reason to explain the vote, but without a doubt the Referendum campaign itself was one of the most negative and unpleasant I have ever been involved in. The positive case for the EU was lost in the shouting.

“I was inspired by a visit to the European Parliament in my early twenties. This unique project had brought countries together around the table who had previously shot at each other across the battlefield. I decided then I wanted to be a part of it. Since my election as an MEP, it has grown from 15 countries to 28, including much of Eastern Europe. It is a remarkable achievement.”

PEACE, CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT 

“I have worked to forge a new role for the EU, particularly a peace-making one. We don’t need a European army – we need a civilian corps made up of doctors, lawyers, teachers and others who can work in sensitive areas to prevent conflict developing.

“I also worked for an EU which recognised all the real nations of Europe – our languages and our cultures. For me, that is what the EU motto ‘United in Diversity’ really means.

“I waged a long campaign to get recognition of the Welsh language, and was eventually successful in 2011 when it was granted ‘co-official’ or semi-official status. No-one was prouder when the then Welsh minister Alun Ffred Jones addressed a Council of Ministers meeting in Welsh – speaking on behalf of the UK! I believe that bringing the EU closer to the people will make it more democratic and effective.

“Although I have been one of the critical voices calling for more action, there is no doubt that without the EU we would not have the international action against climate change that was agreed in Paris last year. As a member of the Environment Committee for several years, I helped shape legislation restricting dangerous chemicals, promoting renewable energy and recycling, controlling GMOs, getting better food labelling and much more. The EU affects our everyday lives in many ways.”

WORKING FOR WALES 

“For now, as your elected MEP, I continue with my work representing Wales in Parliament. I have always made it a priority to raise Wales’ profile at every opportunity and ensure that the laws passed were in our interests. The circumstances have changed, but my responsibility to my constituents has not. So I will do whatever I can to get the best possible deal for Wales when the UK leaves.

“I am very sad that we are walking away from such an exciting project. I believe that Wales benefits from the EU, not just in financial terms but in many other ways. I regret that my grandchildren might not have the freedom to travel, study and work in other countries and that our communities could lose out on the benefits we have seen through migration and the richness it has brought to Wales.

“But Wales has come a long way too. I still see our future as a successful independent nation – I hope in the European Union – but certainly in Europe and I will continue to campaign for that.”

CONFERENCE IN CARMARTHEN 

In the wake of the EU referendum result, Plaid Cymru are holding a Special Conference at the Halliwell Theatre in Carmarthen on Saturday (Jul 16) to discuss ‘Securing Wales Future’.

After conducting a whistle-stop series of public meetings across Wales, Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has outlined her vision. She proposes redesigning the political structures of the UK to create a new union of independent states working together for the common good. This would include an independent Wales. In the meantime, Plaid Cymru will reject the Green Party’s call to form a ‘progressive alliance’ of the Green Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru to fight the next general election.

While Leanne Wood has rejected the idea of a second referendum on Europe, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM Adam Price believes that a second vote should be held once the terms of Brexit are known.

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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues

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POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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