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Driving tests on hold as instructors strike over safety fears

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A NUMBER of driving tests were cancelled this week after union members held a two-day strike, citing a refusal by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to acknowledge the dangers of the new Driving test and a demand that staff work up to 90 minutes a day without pay.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) struck on Monday and Tuesday (Dec 4-5) amid concerns about the new tests. The new driving tests, introduced on Monday, include an element of testing learners on the use of a Sat-Nav, as well as other changes.

PCS members are also expected to travel from their homes to remote or distant test centres, without being paid for up to one and a half hours per day.

PCS Organising Officer Steve Donoghue said: “I have spoken to one member who lives in Carmarthen and usually covers the tests that are delivered there. He is regularly asked to cover driving tests in Aberystwyth. Whereas previously staff were paid for the time it took them to travel from their substantive place of work to these locations, they will now not be paid for the first 45 minutes each way. This is clearly a case of the DVSA trying to cut budgets at our members’ expense. The blame for this disruption lies squarely with the DVSA and the Department for Transport due to their insistence on imposing changes to terms and conditions on staff which have been rejected by the vast majority of staff in recent ballots.”

There was a picket line outside the Test Centre in Llanelli on Monday morning, which was supported by Unison, Llanelli Trades Council and the Llanelli Constituency Labour party. All tests booked for Monday and Tuesday were cancelled.

PCS Branch Treasurer Paul Dallimore said: “we regret any inconvenience caused to learners whose tests have been postponed. However, we are committed to making sure that our concerns over the Sat-Nav element of the new tests are properly Health & Safety checked before going live. Examiners have been told to put the Sat-Nav bag in the foot well whilst conducting the test, putting candidates, examiners and other road users at risk in an emergency if the said bag was to get trapped under the dual controls. In addition, local routes have been found to have serious flaws in the directions given by the Sat-Nav itself so examiners have to tell candidates to override the instruction as it is incorrect.”

Responding to the strike action, DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “The fact PCS is trying to undermine the launch of the new test by calling for strike action shows a shameful disregard for both road safety and learner drivers who have worked so hard to be ready to take their test.

“The new driving test has been designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving. Rail fares to go up by 3.4% from the New Year ‘It is one step in helping reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads.

“During the last 3 years the changes – which are welcomed by most examiners, road safety experts, disability groups and instructors – have been developed and trialled extensively with a wide range of our staff, learners and other organisations. Over 4000 candidates were involved in the trial.

“I met with PCS on November 2 and they turned down my offer of mediation, although our offer still stands. This means that we cannot move forward together to resolve this dispute, for the sake of our staff and customers.”

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Carol Vorderman joining BBC Radio Wales this summer

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BBC RADIO WALES has announced a brand new presenter is joining the station for summer 2018. Television personality Carol Vorderman will this weekend join the station for Sunday Morning with…

Carol is the latest high profile name to present the programme, which started on June 22.

The programme will feature a mix of music and conversation.

Carol will present Sunday Morning with… on July 22 and 29, and August 5, 12 and 19.

Carol Vorderman said: “I can’t wait to get started. The programme will have cheek, mischief, laughing and a lot of it. All number quizzes are banned. I’ll have lots of guests on with me, so it should be a good laugh”.

Previous presenters of the Sunday morning slot include Eve Myles, Connie Fisher, Colin Jackson, Suzanne Packer and Lucy Owen.

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Police concerned about missing man

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CONCERNS are growing for 75-year-old Samuel Geler Thomas, who has been missing from his home in Llanelli since July 10.

Mr Thomas is described as around 5’ 6-7” tall and bald. He was last seen wearing khaki jeans, a white t-shirt and white and black Puma trainers.

He is believed to have left his house between 6am and 6.30am on July 10. Enquiries have established that his bus pass was last used on the X2 service in Porthcawl at around 7.40am on July 12, and there was a potential sighting in St Mary’s Street, Cardiff, on July 13.

Anyone with information that could lead to Mr Thomas’s whereabouts is urged to call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101, quoting reference 522 of July 10.

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Lucy’s Law gets support from AMs

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AN EVENT calling for the introduction of ‘Lucy’s Law’ was held in the Senedd last Wednesday (Jul 11).

Assembly Members Eluned Morgan and Vikki Howells sponsored the event in support of an immediate ban on the sale of puppies by pet shops and other third-party commercial dealers, in response to growing concerns from animal charities that not enough is being done to prevent illegal breeding and animal cruelty.

The sale of puppies through commercial third-party dealers both sustains and is dependent upon the existence of ‘puppy farms’, where puppies are bred for maximum profit and with minimal regard for animal welfare.

Although very few high street pet shops sell puppies these days, the third-party trade remains significant across the UK with dealers operating from a diverse array of premises including private homes and puppy superstores. Evidence suggests that the trade sources puppies bred in Wales.

According to animal charity, CARIAD, a ban is the essential first step towards ending the practice of farming dogs for profit with little or no regard for their welfare or their fitness as family companions. Stress, increased risk of disease, poor breeding practices and irresponsible selling tactics are all associated with the method of third-party puppy selling.

Respected Vet and campaigner Marc Abraham spoke during the event at the National Assembly for Wales, he said:
“It simply isn’t enough to license puppy sellers, we must have a full and complete ban, to stop the trade and supply of dogs bred on such an extensive scale. Lucy’s Law will help to change the way dogs are bred in this country. It will make the process more transparent and raise standards, improving the economy and employment opportunities. This is a revolution in dog breeding and it will do wonders for the reputation of Wales as a responsible dog breeding nation.”

Eluned Morgan AM said: “There are many documented cases of puppy farming, particularly in the region I represent. Puppy smuggling is also an issue with several reported cases of puppies entering our ports from Ireland. The adoption of Lucy’s Law in Wales sends a strong message that as a nation we expect the highest animal welfare practises and that the cruel act of puppy farming can be consigned to history. I want us to be ambitious and to take the lead on this legislation which I hope will be a real possibility following this event in the Senedd.”

Vikki Howells AM said: “I am pleased to be jointly hosting this event today with important contributions from Pup Aid and CARIAD and Marc the vet who has done so much to raise awareness of Lucy’s Law across the United Kingdom and now here in Wales too.”

Legislation relating to Lucy’s Law is devolved to the Welsh Government under the 1956 An

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