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Nia reflects on Labour leadership

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‘Certainly supporting Owen’: Nia Griffith MP

‘Certainly supporting Owen’: Nia Griffith MP

THE LAST few months have been tumultuous for the whole country. 

We have had Assembly elections, resulting in the virtual wipeout of the Liberal Democrats and the election of UKIP to the Senedd; the vote to leave the EU; the departure of David Cameron; the selection of Theresa May as PM by default; resignations from the Shadow Cabinet; the sacking of major figures from the actual Cabinet; and now a Labour leadership election which was preceded by 172 Labour MPs voting they have no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

You’d almost think it was like House of Cards – or possibly snakes and ladders.

The Herald spoke to Nia and asked her for her thoughts on all things Corbyn. Nia was Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, until resigning from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, saying she lacked confidence in her Leader’s ability to achieve the sort of unity needed for electoral success.

We began by asking her about Owen Smith’s leadership challenge.

She said: “We want a satisfactory outcome. We want a strong Labour party that can actually face up to Theresa May, the new Prime Minister, and hold her and her team to account and also provide a real alternative for people in a general election. At the moment we feel we that we haven’t been able do that.

“We have tried very hard to make things work this year. We have to sometimes make really difficult decisions.

“Of course, it is not very nice for us at the moment. We really do hope to come through. I am certainly be going to be supporting Owen Smith. I think he is a new generation of very direct politicians. He tells you exactly what he thinks to your face. I think that is the sort of person we need to be really up front and taking Labour politics, sticking up for people and really taking that out to people.”

We asked why she had put her faith in Jeremy Corbyn if she did not believe that he possessed the qualities to be leader.

Nia reflected: “I think the truth of the matter is that many of people who supported Jeremy Corbyn last year and voted for him realise that, although we appreciate the ideas he has brought and the energy that he has brought and some of the enthusiasm he has engaged in with young people in particular, the fact of the matter is that we need a lot of qualities to drive that forward as a leader of the party. We have not seen that this year.

“It is very difficult I think to be catapulted from a rebellious backbencher to being in charge of an enormous organisation. I don’t think he really enjoys that side of it.

“What we need now is someone who can communicate with the party and bring everybody inside the party together and outside of the party in terms of taking the message not just to our supporters but across the whole spectrum of voters. If we are going to actually help people in Britain we need to help people from all walks of life. We need to have a programme of government that appeals to a wide cross-section, just as Sadiq Khan did in the London elections.”

On the machinations surrounding the voting system for the election of her Party’s leader, she said: “We have always had a six month rule that you have to be a member. It is a pity that we did not stick to that rule last summer.

“I am more worried about the opening up of a period of 48 hours for supporters to join up. I am suspicious that there could be people who have joined up to do us down in some way. They are called supporters and they do have a vote in this election.

“Obviously we are looking very carefully to make sure that there are not people there who stood against us in elections. That would be completely ridiculous We have a sneaky feeling that there will be people who will try to sneak in who do not have the interests of the Labour Party at heart.”

When what would happen if Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected, Nia was cautious: “I think that would be for us to decide then. The important thing at the moment is the debate inside the party about how you actually put your ideas into practice and what sort of leader you need to do that.”

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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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