19-YEAR-OLD Stefan Ryszewski was Born in Felinfoel, Llanelli and attended Ysgol Y Strade. A fluent Welsh speaker, he is studying law at Swansea university.
So far, you might think,the above is not exceptional in and of itself. However, Stefan is the Welsh Conservative party’s nominee to stand for the Llanelli seat in May 2016. We began by suggesting that the public could think Stefan very young to be an AM.
Confidently, he responded: “People trying to encourage young people to become interested in and get into politics. It is strange that when young people do become interested and do get involved, the same people seem critical or wary. “We have to encourage young people into elected positions, otherwise how are we going to encourage our youth to get involved and engaged in politics? I have always taken a keen interest in local issues in Llanelli. I am a local lad and it would only be for Llanelli that I would like to stand. I studied politics to A level in school and that galvanised my interest.”
Llanelli is a Labour stronghold and we suggested that Stefan faced a tough task. Stefan shot back: “In Westminster, maybe, but it is not so much in the Assembly. It is only a majority of about 80 that the Labour Party has over Plaid Cymru. Yes, it is going to be tough and I am going to have to face challenges, but I am a local person and I want to show them what the Conservative message is all about.”
The Welsh Conservatives have never had much luck in Llanelli and so we asked Stefan whether he would be following the message from Westminster or from Wales. He told our reporter: “We will be giving a message from the Welsh Conservatives and the manifesto that we will bring out in due course. There will be issues we won’t agree on with the Westminster Government but you will also find that within the Labour Party.”
Stefan has tweeted that he was in favour of air strikes in Syria, what had made up his mind to support the call for military action? He said: “ I saw the people that were against the air strikes offering no alternative. They sat back and said they didn’t agree with air strikes but they didn’t offer an alternative for what the government should do. I voice my opinion, but as an Assembly candidate the discussions has to be on devolved issues. I would have voted for the air strikes if I was an MP but as an AM we don’t have that power to launch air strikes.”
The Herald asked Stefan what he believed were the issues facing the people of Llanelli. He was clear and targeted the cuts to public services which have taken place over recent years: “The issue facing the people of Llanelli are the cuts in the education budget. It is £18 million over three years. Yet the Council keeps on coming out with vanity projects. The Council’s priorities are all wrong.
“With our policy as Welsh Conservatives we would directly fund schools. That would be equivalent to £214 extra per pupil per school. It would probably be more when we consider the cuts that come into place. We want to give children in Wales the best opportunity in life. I know the issues the Welsh language faces here in Llanelli and I believe in aspiring to have the means to better yourself. I don’t think we suffer from a lack of ambition, I believe it is a lack of ambition from our elected representatives. Maybe people will see aspiration in a young person like myself. It is not fair to say the people lack ambition.”
An ambitious Strategic Plan has been produced for the next fifteen years. We asked Stefan for his view: “I welcome investment into Llanelli and Carmarthenshire but we need to look at priorities. We are seeing these cuts coming into areas like health and education. The discussion needs to take place with the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.
“We welcome jobs and growth but we need to give local businesses the opportunity to grow. If every business in Wales took on one extra person there would be no unemployment in Wales. “I take a keen interest in local politics and I have never seen this Strategic Plan document. I think that Plaid are hypocritical. Their campaign was based on free parking. They are now in a position to do so and we have been offered free parking between 3 and 5 o’clock. A lot of people will be picking their children up from school or just coming home from work at that time.
We need to offer people two hours free parking when they want them so they can come into the town and make their purchases. We showed Stefan some of the figures the Council is using to underpin its Strategic Development Plan and asked if he was impressed:“I would much prefer to see existing successful local business people getting first bite of any investment opportunities. We need to support local people and local businesses to grow. The figures we are seeing do not add up. I think we must welcome tourism but I am skeptical about where they obtain the figures in this document from. I will be making a request to find out more about them.”
The County Council plan to cut litter picking in Carmarthenshire but claim in the Strategic Development Plan that Llanelli will be cleaner as a result of their vision. We asked Stefan for his opinion: “We have had a lot of complaints about litter in streets. The council did respond but we shouldn’t have to complain to them. I will be doing litter picks as a candidate myself to show support for the workforce and show that we do need these people to clean our streets.”
We asked Stefan what he thinks is the key priority for Llanelli: “Not enough is being done to bring local businesses into town. I would like to see young people getting opportunities and as a Welsh Conservative Government we would abolish business rates of rateable businesses up to £12,000. We do need to give young people from whatever walk of life the means to go out and start up their own business. We need to make use of our existing empty buildings and help the town centre. We know the out of town developments have killed the town. We need to start promoting the town centre.
Stefan will be up against Lee Waters (Lab), Helen Mary Jones (Plaid) and Sian Caiach (People First). and he was diplomatic with his assessments of them: “I see them as all very strong candidates. Helen Mary has been an Assembly Member in the past with a track record. “I have my doubts over the town centre and Prince Phillip hospital. I would like to sit down with the candidates and discuss how we can work together for Llanelli. We will differ but that is all part of a good debate. I would like to discuss what our vision and share ideas. Llanelli really does need someone local and someone who is going to fight for Llanelli.
“ My Grandfather came over here after the war and my whole family live here. I am not from the landed gentry. Llanelli has never been a Conservative seat but I am here for a long time and hopefully I can change that.” Stefan was also very definite about what the County Council should be focusing their attention on. He said, “Parking is a real issue in the town and we need more free parking especially for elderly people. We need to give councils the opportunity to freeze council tax.
“It has risen here in Carmarthenshire by a substantial amount and yet services are still being cut. There are calls for savings but we need to make the council more efficient and accountable. The council tax is not there to put up just to raise money. “We need the best people we can get to run our councils. I would welcome more people from Llanelli on the executive board. I think that the council should be led by our elected councillors and represent us.
The executives have refused to cut their wages by 10% and that is a huge concern to me. They use the word ‘savings’ but they are CUTS. “They are using those cuts to fund other projects. It is all well and good making savings but we need to ring fence health education and the local economy. However the council tries to dress things up, a cut is a cut.”
Station Road: Off-licence refused alcohol licence
AN OFF-LICENCE on Llanelli’s Station Road has been refused an alcohol licence by Carmarthenshire County Council after councillors decided it could add to the area’s crime and disorder problems.
The Licensing Committee’s decision has been upheld after the applicant, who runs the shop Kubus, appealed to the courts.
The applicant, Aram Mahmood, had asked the council for permission to sell alcohol at his shop between 9am and 9pm Monday to Sunday.
However councillors felt that granting the licence would contravene the authority’s Cumulative Impact Policy, which creates a presumption against the granting of premises licences in the Station Road area, due to anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled crime issues.
A Dyfed Powys Police representative said Station Road is still identified as a crime and disorder hot spot, and a Drinking in Public Places Order (DPPO) is in place.
During April 2017 and March 2018, 164 anti-social behaviour incidents were recorded in Station Road, over a quarter having occurred within licensed premises.
A fifth of all related crime and 13 per cent of all alcohol related anti-social behavior incidents recorded in Llanelli town occurred in Station Road.
Over 40 alcohol related violent crimes were also recorded there during the same period.
Although there are now fewer premises selling alcohol in Station Road, statistics show there is still a high level of alcohol related crime and disorder in the area.
The applicant told the committee that his main customers were families wishing to buy Polish and European foods and products.
He told councillors he had ordered a CCTV system and assured them that the management of alcohol would be well controlled by staff, though believed that his customers would not cause problems.
The licensing committee’s decision was upheld following the applicant’s appeal to Llanelli Magistrates Court.
Justices found that there was no evidence of exceptional reasons to justify departing from the Cumulative Impact Policy and were satisfied with the committee’s decision.
Cllr Kevin Madge elected as new county council Chairman
THE new chair of Carmarthenshire County Council said he will work tirelessly during his term of office.
Cllr Kevin Madge, member for Garnant, takes the chain of office whilst celebrating 40 years as a councillor.
Taking the chair, Cllr Madge paid tribute to outgoing chairman Cllr Mansel Charles, member for Llanegwad, saying he had fulfilled his duties with passion.
Cllr Madge will chair the council for the next 12 months, with Cllr Ieuan Davies, member for Llanybydder, as his vice chair, and his wife Catrin as his consort.
“I’m very much looking forward to the year ahead, I will do my best for everyone. I will work tirelessly,” he said.
Cllr Madge has chosen the Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks and emergency food provision for people in crisis, as his Chairman’s Charity of the Year.
The Chair is the first citizen of Carmarthenshire County Council, and is elected at the Annual General Meeting.
Duties include chairing full meetings of the council, representing the council at formal and ceremonial occasions, welcoming visitors to the county, and attending and supporting events organised by local people and organisations.
Cllr Madge has been a county councillor since 1996, and a member of Cwmaman Town Council since 1979.
He also serves as chairman of the Royal British Legion Garnant branch, Garnant Family Centre and Cwmaman Meals on Wheels, and is a member of Amman Valley League of Friends.
He represents the county council on the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, and the Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm Community Fund, and is on the governing body of Ysgol Y Bedol.
A former pupil of Amman Valley School, Cllr Madge has worked in the Amman Valley throughout his life, most recently as agent and researcher to Dr Alan Williams MP until 2001.
A keen football supporter, he has served as chair and president of Cwmaman Football Club and spent 25 years as a Welsh League and Neath and District football referee.
He is married with two children and three grandchildren.
‘UK Government should work with the Welsh Labour Government on Tata’
LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.
Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.
During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.
Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”
“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”
Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.
Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”
Nia Griffith AM said ““This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.
“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”
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