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New Shadow Welsh Secretary speaks to The Herald

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‘I will hold the government to account’: Nia Griffith

‘I will hold the government to
account’: Nia Griffith

NIA GRIFFITH MP has been appointed Shadow Welsh Secretary of State to Wales in a shake-up of the opposition frontbench, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Leader. We asked Nia how she received the news that she had been chosen to become Shadow Welsh Secretary. She said, “I had a phone call for Jeremy asking me if I would like to serve in his shadow cabinet and then he offered me the post. “It is a great privilege for me taking on the post. It is an exciting and challenging time. It isn’t going to be easy at all. My family and friends are delighted and I would like to thank everybody for all their lovely messages and their kind words.”

Corbyn has defied expectations

 The Herald asked the Shadow Welsh Secretary whether she believed that Jeremy Corbyn would bring a new approach to politics and whether he would survive demonization by the Tory press. She replied, “I think Jeremy has already defied expectations in his resounding victory. He is completely unperturbed by this onslaught from the press and he continues to stand by his principles fight for what he believes in. “He will incur immense wrath and ridicule from some areas of the press. What Jeremy has done is that he has spoken to people who are fed up and who care deeply about things but who have been put off by the convention of presentation. “Today (Wednesday, Sept 16) at Prime Minister’s question time, I think he took the Prime Minister surprise by asking him to adopt a different style to PMQ’s. Already he is showing that you can be strong in a different way by taking up questions that he has asked people to email him and he had 40,000 replies. Of course there will be people ready to criticise but I do think he will bring a very humanitarian approach to many issues.”

The refugee crisis

The role of Shadow Welsh Secretary will see Nia taking on more responsibility for a wider community. We asked her how she will be responding to the refugee crisis as Shadow Welsh Secretary. She told us: “I think the general public were very clear about what they wanted us to do. Yvette Cooper spoke up for us as shadow home secretary and shamed the government about its attitude and the dehumanising nature of Tory rhetoric about refugees. “We need to keep the pressure up. Today we had a statement in the House of Commons on migration. We need to impress on Cameron the need to cooperate with other European countries about what to do with the arrivals in Southern Europe in countries like Greece. Lebanon and Jordan has an enormous number of refugees. “The UN says they do not have the money and they will run out of food so it is no wonder they want to flee the country. It is really important that we keep challenging the government to get a solution at source but we can’t ignore the people who have arrived in Southern Europe as well.”

The justice system

Changes to the criminal justice system have been wreaking havoc in communities across the country. The practice of levying charges against those accused of offences has drawn sharp criticism from solicitors, barristers and judges that they lead those who find themselves into repetitive crime, costing the tax payer more in the long term as they are imprisoned for offences that begin as minor criminal acts. We asked Nia if she would be looking at trying to influence some changes regarding the criminal justice system in particular. Focusing on the justice system in its widest sense she said: “I think there are some very serious issues in relation to justice not least of which, has been the cuts to legal aid. That is the first thing we need to look at in terms of getting justice for people. “We also need to look at the charges being imposed at employment tribunals. We have issues about courts being closed and how easy it will be for people to access justice at all in rural Wales. We have major worries about cuts to police including cuts to the police helicopter. “There is no doubt about it that it is going to be harder and harder for the ordinary person to get access to justice. I will be speaking up for the whole of Wales and I will be visiting many areas of Wales. My experiences in Llanelli inform me and I find that the issues facing us in Llanelli are the same for those in the Rhondda and in North Wales for example.”

Holding the government to account

The Herald asked Nia Griffith what the key issues facing the people of Wales were and which issues she would be focusing on in her new role. She told The Herald: “The key areas of policy in Wales are health and education and they are devolved. Our colleagues at the Welsh Assembly will be driving those forward. “I am focusing on non-devolved issues like Child Tax Credits. The Prime Minister promised he would not make cuts in Child Tax Credits over and over before the election. Well, we can now all see what that promise was worth. That money now is going to be sucked out of Wales. “We are talking about a quarter of a million families in Wales who are going to lose about £1,000 a year. It is going to be taken out of our local communities. That would also mean two hundred million pounds less in our High Streets. Think of the knock on effect that is going to have. “We need to hold the government to account about what’s happening in Wales in the non-devolved areas, that’s my role as Shadow Secretary of State to Wales.” Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “I’d like to offer my congratulations to Nia Griffith and Owen Smith on their appointments. Nia has done a great job as Shadow Welsh Minister already, and this elevation is well-deserved. Her stand-out result in Llanelli in May tells you all you need to know about her campaigning ability. I know that she will make sure that Wales’ voice is heard loud and clear in Westminster. As the first Labour woman to hold the post either in Government or as Shadow Secretary of State, I can’t think of a better person to make that bit of history.”

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Statement regarding decision to close Mariners Surgery

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board has confirmed that Meddyygfa Minafon is to close their branch surgery, Mariners Surgery, from 31 Dec 201 owing to the need to bring together services for the whole practice population in Meddygfa Minafon and Trimsaran Surgery.  

Over the past four years, the Health Board sought the views of patients, the Community Health Council and other stakeholders on the proposed closure, and held a well-attended drop-in event in Ferryside in which patients spoke about the impact of any closure, including concerns about travel and transport and access to GP appointments. The Health Board has written to all affected patients this to explain the decision and to keep them updated on further developments.
Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care for Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “As a Health Board we recognise that the decision to close Mariners Surgery will be very disappointing for many patients. Unfortunately this branch surgery has been without a GP service since 2016 with patients travelling to nearby Meddygfa Minafon in Kidwelly for GP appointments and nurse-led chronic disease clinics.
“Following a review of how services are used by patients at the surgery, services at Mariners Surgery are being relocated to Minafon and Trimsaran Surgeries to sit within the multi-disciplinary teams led by the GPs to ensure that patients see the most appropriate professional for their needs, such as a Pharmacist or Physiotherapist. We have listened to patients’ concerns about the services at Ferryside and are working with Ferryside Social Enterprise Group to continue the weekly phlebotomy clinics at Calon-y-Fferi and a Social Prescriber will be holding regular clinics, also in Calon-y-Fferi. 
“We would like to thank all those patients and local stakeholders who engaged with this exercise and shared their views, including by online petition. Several challenging issues emerged from this and the Health Board will continue to work positively and proactively with the community to identify and support opportunities to deliver services locally from Meddygfa Minafon and the local Community Pharmacy.”

Patients who wish to speak someone regarding any concerns they might have can do so by contacting 0300 0200 159.
Patients are reminded that services are also available through local community pharmacies who offer a range of expert services. 
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Our election prediction: No change for west Wales, same MPs will be elected

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COUNTING of ballots is underway at the Pavillion at the Pembrokeshire County Showground, Haverfordwest and in Llanelli at the Selwyn Samuel Centre.

Exit polls from the BBC and Sky News predict a Conservative majority of over eighty seats, with Labour predicted to slip as low as 191 MPs, come the end of tonight’s count

We’re live throughout the night from the County Showground, Haverfordwest, and the Selwyn Samuel Centre, Llanelli, to bring you rolling coverage and news as it unfolds for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Llanelli, Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

We are predicting the following results:

Preseli Pembrokeshire – Stephen Crabb, Conservative, Hold
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire – Simon Hart, Conservative, Hold
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr – Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru, Hold
Llanelli – Nia Griffith, Labour, Hold
Ceredigion – Ben Lake, Plaid Cymru, Hold

Effectively, we predict no change in members of parliament for any of the constituencies in west Wales.

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Outreach Van stationed as police commissioner responds to ‘community concenrs’

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn has instigated additional partnership working in Llanelli in response to local concerns relating to substance misuse.

Dyfed Powys Police is proudly teaming up with Dyfed Drug and Alcohol Service (DDAS), Carmarthenshire County Council and CrimeStoppers Fearless campaign in order to engage with members of our community on a new outreach van, in order to support and signpost those in need during the festive period.

Each agency will be travelling together to Station Road in Llanelli in a new outreach van on Thursday December 12 and Monday December 16, and will be parked opposite the Premier store between 5pm and 9pm on both days.

Funded by Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, DDAS will be offering:

•          BBV Testing for HIV, Hep B and C

•          Referral into DDAS for treatment

•          Naloxone kit dispensing

•          Harm reduction advice

•          Drug and alcohol education via drug box, beer googles, scratch and sniff cards

•          Information on safer alcohol consumption over Christmas

Officers from the council’s Homes and Safer Communities department will be in attendance to give information and advice on a range of issues including the regeneration plans for the Tyisha ward and how residents can have their say. They will also be able to advise on various housing options; and people will be able to discuss in confidence any housing matters they may have, for example, in relation to anti-social behaviour or noise nuisance.

The council’s Communities for Work team will be offering:

•          Support to develop your skills and gain experience

•          Acquire the training and qualifications you need

•          Find the right job

•          Basic IT support

•          Support with CVs and job applications

•          Volunteer and work placement opportunities

•          Health and wellbeing support

CrimeStoppers Fearless campaign workers, who are a dedicated young person’s charity which support young people in giving information about crime 100% anonymously, will also be on board the van and keen to engage with any young person in the area.  They will be educating youths about County Lines and the impact crime can have on their lives.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn stated: “I hope that this innovative delivery style of a dynamic outreach approach to substance misuse can become the norm in Llanelli in order to reduce the harm to individuals and the community. I continually listen to the communities I represent and respond.”

Dyfed Powys Police officers will also be on hand at different intervals to offer crime prevention advice and listen to and provide help and support for any issues you experience in your community.

Chief Inspector Chris Neve of Dyfed-Powys Police said: “I am grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner and our partners for their support in this new initiative, which I hope will be seen as a valuable opportunity for the communities of Llanelli to engage with the services involved. I encourage anyone who requires support and advice from any of the agencies, or would just like to chat with any of them, to come along and visit the van on either date. This really is an important opportunity – and we all as a collective want to help as many people in need as possible.”

The council’s Head of Homes and Safer Communities Jonathan Morgan said: “This is an excellent opportunity for the community to speak to our officers first-hand about any issues they may have or any advice they may need on housing matters. We have exciting plans to transform the Tyisha ward and the community is a big part of that, we want to make Tyisha a better place to live and work for everyone.”

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