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Severn Bridge tolls to be axed by Christmas

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FOLLOWING up the commitment made by the Prime Minister Theresa May, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has confirmed that all tolls will be scrapped with free flow traffic on the Prince of Wales bridge and the original Severn Crossing between Wales and England ahead of schedule on December 17, 2018.

After 50 years of tolls of up to £20 per vehicle, Theresa May’s Conservatives chose to scrap tolls for the 25m vehicles per year using the crossings that support the key route between South Wales and the West of England.

The Secretary of State for Wales confirmed that, ahead of the great festive getaway, tolls will be abolished completely and permanently to make way for a new economic powerhouse between South Wales and the West of England.
The decision will, for the first time, combine the economic might of a growing Welsh economy and the West of England to further spread prosperity across the United Kingdom.

Regular commuters will enjoy free flow journeys and save over £1,400 per year in toll charges from mid-December – transforming the economic opportunities on both sides of the Severn. It is estimated that scrapping tolls will provide an immediate benefit of over £100m per year for Wales, over a billion pounds of economic benefit to Wales over the next decade.

Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, said: “My number one aim when I became Secretary of State for Wales, was to do away with tolling that for half a century has restricted and distorted the growth and connections of the Welsh economy. Wales will be more open for business than ever after the Conservatives deliver on this commitment. Scrapping tolls before the festive period is an early Christmas present for hard-working commuters who will be £1,400 per year better off.

“This is just the start of my plan to pursue yet more growth for a stronger and a better-connected Wales. Scrapping the Severn tolls is an example of the Conservatives ensuring that all four nations of the UK thrive after Brexit, in doing so, transforming the joint economic prospects of South Wales and the West of England.

“This direct intervention will guarantee that links are strengthened and enhanced between the natural economic areas of South Wales and the West of England.”

Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “By abolishing tolls for 25million annual journeys between two nations, the Conservatives are sending a positive, open-for-business message. Toll-free, free flow journeys between both communities will drive further economic benefits to all areas surrounding the crossings and the key economic centres in Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Newport and across to Swansea and West Wales.

“By removing a major added cost of doing business between Wales and England, the Conservatives continue to deliver on improving the economic prospects of working people. With this major step, we are encouraging a close bond between two nations as part of the United Kingdom, whilst driving economic growth right across the country.”

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Llanelli ‘Banksy’: Mayor covers graffiti rat in protective plastic

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LLANELLI Mayor David Darkin believes graffiti found on charity shop wall could potentially be a Banksy.

The piece has been covered with protective plastic by the council while they determine the authenticity of the piece.

David Darkin, Mayor of Llanelli told this newspaper: “I was approached by a local artist Roz Moreton, who believes the artwork is a Banksy in an attempt to preserve the piece.

Roz who studied art in Bristol and lived in London has said she has been exposed to numerous Banksy works including his rats on Westminster Bridge, and spotted the ‘rat’ straight away.

Darkin added “She first spotted the graffiti around ten years ago, but she kept her findings to herself so that she could go back and visit the work.

“It was only after the recent news of the incident in Swansea, where part of a suspected piece of Banksy artwork was stolen, that she decided to approach me to ask for help to protect the piece”.

The art dealer who bought Banksy’s ‘Season’s Greetings’ which appeared on a garage in Port Talbot in December, has met with the mayor in Neath to view images of the artwork.

John Bradner, Essex based gallery owner, paid six figures for the Port Talbot addition, is planning on visiting the site to see the piece for himself.

Mr Darkin added “After showing John Bradner the images he is fairly confident that the piece is Banksy’s work, the fact it was spotted ten years ago ties in with ‘Banksy’s rats’ which was his theme at the time when they appeared across industrial towns.

“Mr Bradner called me yesterday and asked if there was anything else I can do to preserve the piece until he comes to view it in a few weeks to check its authenticity.”

Speaking on the piece Councillor John Jenkins said “Fingers crossed it is a Banksy, but worst-case scenario it isn’t and is still a talking point and people still come and see him.”

Speaking to Mr Darkin he said no attempts have been made yet to contact Banksy to confirm the piece as far as he is aware.

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36 charges relating to chemicals and components for making bombs

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A 33-YEAR-OLD male  is facing 36 charges relating to chemicals and components which can be used to make bombs.

He was remanded in custody at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday (Feb 15)

The man, from Port Talbot, was arrested in October 2017 in an operation between counter terrorism officers, South Wales Fire and Rescue and The Welsh Ambulance Service.

Detective Superintendent James Hall said no known links to terrorist offences or groups were found. The man will appear in court again at a date to be fixed.

He has also been charged with possessing a taser and manufacturing and possessing class A drugs.

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University makes formal criminal complaint

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A FORMAL criminal complaint has been by made by Swansea University, as part of the ongoing investigation into the issues surrounding the recent suspension of four members of staff.

South Wales Police said: “Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police can confirm that they have received a complaint which is currently subject of consideration by both forces.”

Last November, the university’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Richard B Davies, Dean of the School of Management Prof Marc Clement, as well as two other members of staff, who have not been named, were suspended.

Prof Davies has been suspended for alleged gross negligence whilst Prof Clement was suspended for alleged gross misconduct. Both individuals have denied any wrongdoing. Registrar Andrew Rhodes confirmed at the time that this action was taken after an internal investigation.

In a statement, the university said: “Swansea University has been in regular dialogue with the authorities since November 2018 based on the findings of our initial investigation. A formal criminal complaint has been made and the matter is with South Wales Police and Dyfed Powys Police. We will of course continue to co-operate fully with them. Our processes, which are being carried out by an independent investigating manager, are ongoing.”

The investigation has looked into the academics’ involvement in both the £200m Life Science and Wellbeing Village project in Llanelli, and a £600m plan for a private medical university and hospital in Kuwait.

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