39 YEAR-OLD Lee Waters from Ammanford has put his name forward as a candidate to become the Assembly Member for Llanelli following the retirement of former AM Keith Davies earlier this year.
Lee is the Director of the Institute for Welsh Affairs, (IWA) and a former Chief Political Correspondent for ITV Wales and BBC Wales producer. He was a leading figure in the 2011 referendum ‘Yes for Wales’ campaign and before joining the Institute was Director of the influential green transport organisation, Sustrans Cymru, where he led the campaign for the world’s first Active Travel Bill, and oversaw a £20m portfolio of practical projects.
Born and brought up in the Amman Valley and educated at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth where he received a first class degree in politics, he has worked for politicians in the House of Commons, National Assembly for Wales and US House of Representatives in Washington DC where he was an English Speaking Union Capitol Hill Scholar.
After graduating he served as a speechwriter to the Secretary of State for Wales before joining BBC Wales as a producer of the flagship breakfast radio programme, Good Morning Wales. In 2001 he joined the ITV Wales political unit, presenting the weekly politics programme Waterfront and reporting as a lobby correspondent.
In 2011 he was asked by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to be his representative on the cross-party Yes campaign ahead of the referendum, and led on communications as campaign Vice Chair. For the past decade he has also been Chair of Governors of the highly regarded Barry Island Primary School.
The Herald unexpectedly bumped into Lee at Parc Howard on Saturday (Jul 25) along with Nia Griffith and a group of volunteers campaigning to keep the park in public ownership. The Herald took the opportunity of asking this newest of political candidates some questions about his views on Parc Howard and the political landscape in general. We began by asking him why he was standing for Assembly Member. He told the Herald: “I am frustrated with the way things are and rather than complaining and criticising I have decided to stand up and be counted and do something about it. That is why I have put my name forward as the Labour candidate for the Llanelli AM.”
We asked Lee why he was campaigning at the park and he told the Herald: “I’ve signed the petition and the good thing that has come out of this is it has forced the people of Llanelli to realise that Parc Howard’s future cannot be taken for granted. There is a threat and we can either sit back or allow private developers to carve this up for their interests or the town can come together in a conversation to decide what future they want for the park. Lots of people have grown up here and have happy memories of the park. We regard it as ours and it is very important to the town.”
Given the widespread reporting of the activities of the Parc Howard Association chairman Ken Rees we asked Lee if the park association needed a change of culture. Looking at the bigger political picture in the UK before turning to the issue of the PHA chairman Ken Rees, Lee told the Herald: “There is a big storm coming. We have only had half of the cuts. Places like this are under threat. We can’t just leave this to councillors and people who sit on committees. It needs to have a broader conversation about what we want for our community and how that is going to be paid for. We need to take some responsibility ourselves for our town. That is the positive coming out of this revolt against what Ken Rees and others have been doing behind people’s backs. It is important that the park belongs to the public but it is not reaching its full potential. We may not want it handed over to private interests but we want something better than we have got.”
With the announcements that community services in Carmarthenshire are going to face savage cuts the Herald asked Lee if the community cuts were unjust as opposed to the huge salaries and pay increases of county council executives. He gave a very definite answer, which we have not been used to from politicians in general for some time. He said: “It goes beyond that and it is a debate about what we want councils and governments to do. Quite clearly the Conservatives want to strip back the state to a bear minimum, give people tax cuts and let them fund what they see fit. There isn’t a place in that debate for the good of the community. What we can do here is forge a different future where we ask what do we want the community together to own and run to be there for everybody to have no mater what they are worth or what advantages in life they have grown up with. We can quarrel about the crumbs on the table or we can look at the bigger picture and ask what we want our community to have to help each other. Parc Howard can play a big part in that but it can’t be as it is now because we are not making the most of an asset. We need a debate about what the future should be for Parc Howard.”
If Lee is elected he will become one of a number of increasingly younger politicians to grace the Senedd senior by only six years to Plaid’s Bethan Jenkins who is still the youngest Assembly Member at age 33. Bethan took office in 2007 at the age of 29.
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children
Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.
Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic. As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real. Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.
Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help. My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.
‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’
Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge. Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund.
‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most. I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’
If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb
Housebuilder launches Coronavirus move in package
A South Wales housebuilder has launched new incentives which mean homes are ‘ready to move into’ during the Covid-19 crisis – without the need for tradespeople or delivery people.
People in Wales are allowed to move into new build houses during the lockdown – and many people have successfully done so.
However, the limitations of social distancing can add extra stress when it comes to having things like dishwashers, washing machines and turf installed in the new property.
That’s why Persimmon Homes West Wales has launched a new incentive package which gives purchasers the chance to buy a house with white goods and flooring already in place.
Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “Our sales advisors have done a terrific job in talking with customers and guiding them through the buying process remotely, without the need of face-to-face meetings.
“It’s been a huge challenge, but we’ve risen to it – and Persimmon has sold more than 120 properties in South Wales during the lockdown period. We have customers moving into their new homes every week.
“But, understandably, some people are cautious about having too many tradespeople and contractors enter their home, even if they are doing their utmost to abide by social distancing rules.
“That’s why we have launched these new packages which mean people can turn the key, unpack and get on with enjoying their new home.”
The package includes carpets and vinyl throughout, turf in the back garden, sliding wardrobes, integrated fridge freezer, integrated washer/dryer, integrated dishwasher and £500 discount towards removal fees.
The deal is on offer at Glas Y Felin in Bridgend, Parc Yr Onnen in Carmarthen, The Bridles in Llanelli, Peterson Park in Pontyclun, Parc Brynderi in Llanelli and Allt Y Celyn in Rhos.
Persimmon’s marketing suites in Wales remain closed for the time being. Visit www.persimmonhomes.com or call 01792 229800 for details of homes available.
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