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Humanist minister denied role at remembrance ceremony

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Sian Caiach

LLANELLI TOWN COUNCIL have found themselves in a row over the upcoming remembrance service at the town war memorial.

Humanists UK member and Chair of Llanelli Rural Council Sian Caiach has spoken with The Herald newspaper to express her disappointment at having her request for her Humanist Pastor to participate in a remembrance ceremony denied.

The Town Council together with The Royal British Legion organise the Llanelli Remembrance Service. A request by Cllr Caiach was made for her humanist pastor to say a few words and lay a wreath have been rejected. The denial could force the council and Royal British Legion to update their policy for future events under the Equality Act 2010. The act states you must not be discriminated against because of your religion or lack of faith.

The Town Council has defended their decision.

Speaking to our reporter on the telephone, Gary Jones, the town clerk, said: ‘’A template has been utilised by the Royal British Legion for over 20 years and has worked very well.

“The parade contains veterans of an aging generation which must be taken into consideration. The request was made too late for adaptions to be made. However, we are looking at options for adjusting the timetable for next year’s ceremony.’’

Cllr Caiach an atheist, says she has previously been able to have her pastor join her in an official Rural Council capacity including her own civic ceremony. Accommodations have also previously been made, she argues, for fellow chairs who are without faith.

In an attempt to find a solution Pastor Androw Bennett, who is an experienced and well known humanist pastor has offered to restrict the bilingual remarks to just only one minute. Again this request has been denied, the Herald understands.

The Town Council has, we are told, offered Cllr Caiach and Pastor Bennett a private once the formal ceremony has concluded.

According to the councillor, this is not the first time Llanelli Town Council has appeared to have adopted a ‘Christianity only’ policy.

This is evident in their approach, she says, to their councillors civic ceremonies. She told The Herald: “All Town Mayors are only offered to select a Chaplain of Christian faith.

“Councillor David Darkin who is agnostic, was only offered a Christian chaplain for his Civic Ceremony which was run by the Town Council.

“With the town having its first Muslim Mayor, Councillor Shahana Najmi who is currently the Llanelli Council Leader, the policy is proving outdated.”

She added ‘’I really don’t accept  that in modern times this is appropriate behaviour where we strive to have a liberal and inclusive society which celebrates diversity.’’

The councillor says that she is determined to ensure there is no discrimination will be placing an official request with The Royal British Legion in preparation of next years service for equal recognition of a Humanist Celebrant to be included within the ceremony.

This November will be a celebratory milestone for Welsh humanists, as it marks the first time a leading officiate humanist celebrant Lorraine Barrett has been invited to speak at the official Welsh National Service of Remembrance, on behalf of the non-religious in Wales – with the same status as the Church of Wales and other religious groups.

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Drink driver was twice the limit

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A 46-YEAR-OLD man appeared before magistrates at Llanelli Law Court on Thursday (Nov 8) to face a charge of drink driving.

Matthew Francis of Gelli Deg, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to driving his Ford Focus in Llanelli on October 19, whilst over the drink drive limit.

Prosecutor, Sharon Anderson, said: “At 10.20pm police received a call from a member of the public. They were directed to his home address and found the vehicle of the driveway with Francis in the driver seat, and the keys in the ignition.

“He had driven back from a wedding and said he had 3-4 cans. He was arrested and later said he had 6-8 cans of lager and had placed the cans in the garden. Police checked the garden but there was nothing there.

“At half past midnight, Francis completed the intoxiliser and was found to have 70mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. He was spoken to in an interview and said the van was his and nobody else was insured.”

Magistrates fined Francis £120 and ordered him to pay £30 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs. He was also disqualified from driving for 17 months.

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Police operation to get uninsured drivers off the road

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THIS week Dyfed-Powys Police along with other forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taking part in Operation Drive Insured, in a week of enhanced operations to remove uninsured drivers from UK roads and help protect road users.

Uninsured drivers are often involved in a wide range of criminal activities. Every year the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) Police Helpline records hundreds of incidents where an uninsured driver is found without a valid driving licence or using an untaxed or stolen vehicle. Records also show a number of offenders are caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drivers without insurance are more dangerous than insured drivers and cause a high number of accidents. One contributing factor is because those driving with insurance are encouraged to display safer behaviour and meet road legal requirements to help keep policy costs down.

In 2017 MIB received 11,000 claims from victims of uninsured drivers, with hundreds of people who had suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

MIB supports victims of uninsured and hit and run drivers by providing a last resort for claims and compensation. The annual cost to compensate victims of uninsured drivers comes to over £100 million and is funded by the motor insurance premiums of all law-abiding motorists.

Neil Drane, Head of Enforcement at MIB, said: “A driver with no valid insurance has no legal right to be on the road and removing them undoubtedly makes roads safer. The increased activity during Operation Drive Insured should get more of these drivers off our roads.”

Using data from the Motor Insurance Database (MID) – a central record of all UK motor insurance policies – police are using ANPR cameras to easily identify and stop motorists that appear to be uninsured. MIB’s police helpline supports roadside officers by investigating further and liaising with insurers to confirm whether there is valid insurance in place or not.

Any driver found without insurance during Operation Drive Insured is likely to have their vehicle seized, get six points on their licence, a £300 fine and could face court prosecution. Police also plan to carry out checks for a range of additional road traffic offences.

Simon Hills, Inspector for roads policing operations at Thames Valley Police, said: “In my experience, drivers who willingly use vehicles without insurance are often committing secondary offences. These range in seriousness from minor road traffic offences, to driving whilst disqualified and other crimes such as drug dealing and burglary. The effective enforcement of uninsured vehicles allows us to deny criminals the use of the road and prevent further offending. Operation Drive Insured is a perfect opportunity for us to target our resources.”

If a member of the public suspects a person is driving without insurance, they can report it to their local police force or anonymously to CrimeStoppers.

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Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided says Labour

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THE FATE of Llanelli’s Schaeffler plant in Bynea seems to have been decided, Llanelli’s local Labour representatives concluded after meeting the management of the German manufacturing firm in an early morning meeting in the town on Friday (Nov 9).

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith, Assembly Member Lee Waters and Bynea Councillor Deryk Cundy met with Senior Vice President Dr Thomas Cebulla and Greig Littlefair, Schaeffler’s UK managing director, to discuss this week’s announcement that 220 jobs were under threat at the old INA Bearings plant.

“Very concerningly, in spite of our entreaties, it seems that their minds are made up,” Nia Griffith MP said.

Ms Griffith added: “They stressed to us that the demand for the tappets being made in Llanelli has fallen, and is expected to drop drastically as the product comes to the end of its life and as demand for diesel engines reduces, and the new turbo charged product has not enjoyed the take up that had been hoped for.”

Lee Waters AM said: “The managers told us that Schaeffler is a very big global organisation with 72 factories worldwide and that the Llanelli closure is part of a global consolidation. They said it was no reflection on Llanelli workforce but a reaction to the change in demand for the product made in Bynea”

Deryk Cundy, the Councillor for the Bynea ward of Llanelli where the plant is based, said: “We told them that we will do all we can to work with the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire Council to offer help if that would make a difference, but we were not encouraged by their response. It seems that their minds are made up.”

The Schaeffler executives stressed that Brexit was a consideration but not the decisive factor in this decision, pointing out that “we are a global business and global businesses want open borders and open trade”. They said Schaeffler had brought forward plans to consolidate their sites because of the uncertainty of the Brexit process.

Llanelli’s MP and AM have both called for the UK Government to prioritise giving business certainty in the Brexit negotiations.

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