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Wood and Farage on top at Question Time

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ON THURSDAY (Feb 11) BBC’s Question Time came to Y Ffwrnes. Facing the questions was a panel consisting of the Leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood, Conservative MP Stephen Crabb, First Minister Carwyn Jones, Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage and comedian Romesh Ranganathan.

If Hughie Green had been at Theatre Fwrnes with his ‘clapometer’ he would have declared Nigel Farage the winner of Opportunity Knocks for having the loudest applause on introduction by David Dimbleby and on answers to a number of the questions. The panel were asked four questions from the audience, the first being from Alice Lee who asked: “Who is wrong 53,000 junior doctors or Jeremy Hunt?”

Nigel Farage said: “The object of the Government was to address a problem. The problem was that more people were dying on the Saturdays and Sundays. The government’s objective to try and get the NHS to be as safe and brilliant as it is seven days a week is the right one. They have gone about it in an insensitive matter.”

Leanne Wood answered emphatically: “I agree with junior doctors. Doctors work seven days a week now. They take it as an insult when your government says they are being lazy on the weekends. There are protesters outside Welsh hospitals because of Welsh Labour’s centralisation plans. The First Minister is in denial that we don’t have enough staff in our hospitals. We have fewer doctors per head of the population than many other countries. I welcome his plan to say he plans to recruit more doctors.”

Stephen Crabb said: “The government and doctors want the same thing. How do we address the weekend effect. The current contract everyone agrees is not fit for purpose.”

Carwyn Jones turned the focus to the NHS in England addressing the Secretary of State for Wales saying: “When you have junior doctors on strike it is a sign of abject failure. We have never had a time when doctors have had to stand outside hospitals with placards saying save the NHS. We want to make sure our people get the right access to health services. Come to Wales you will be treated with respect.”

There was plenty of heated debate between the panelists on the issue of the NHS leading David Dimbleby to instruct Carwyn Jones and Nigel Farage to stop talking over each other so that the audience could actually hear what each was saying.

The First Minister Carwyn Jones was out maneuvered by Leanne Wood and Nigel Farage, while the Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb struggled to answer a simple question on NHS statistics put to him by both Leanne Wood and David Dimbleby. The next question came from Sally MacDonald who asked why the bankers were bailed out and whether the steel industry should be bailed out.

Leanne Wood responded: “I think that the steel industry is as important to Wales as the banking industry was to the whole of the UK I think that both Governments on both ends of the M4 should be doing everything possible to look at finding a solution to protect jobs and the industry. It is hugely important to Wales. 18,000 jobs are in steel in this country. It is 3.2 billion pounds of value to our economy. Plaid Cymru has put forward a proposal for the welsh government to continue to consider taking a public stake in the steel industry to get over this temporary situation and make sure those jobs are secure.”

Stephen Crabb rejected Leanne Wood’s call for nationalisation of the industry and said: “It is hugely concerning for workers and family. That true for every country on Earth where steel is being produced. The idea of Nationalisation sounds appealing. Is tax payers’ money being used right now to support the steel industry. Yes it is.”

Leanne Wood reminded Stephen Crabb that he was opposed to tariffs on Chinese steel. She said: “You cannot say on the one hand that you want to protect Welsh steel from Chinese dumping while at the same time there are people from your government trying to make sure that tariffs are not imposed on Chinese steel.”

On the issue of whether the government could nationalise the steel industry Nigel Farage said: “You asked the question why the government is not supporting or bailing out the steel industry. The answer is it can’t. It is impotent and it has given away the power. Carwyn Jones interrupted and asked if he had spoken to TATA.

Nigel Farage dodged the question and responded with an attack on the First Minister’s position on the value of sterling: “You thought the pound was going up when it is going through the floor, so for goodness sake give me a break please.”

Carwyn Jones kept repeating himself at least 8 times asking: “Have you spoken to TATA?”

The UKIP leader evidently found answering a yes or no question too difficult and continued: “We are not in charge of the steel industry, the financial industry of the fishing industry, we have surrendered control of our nation and this referendum gives us a chance to take back control of those industries. The answer is to stop the Chinese dumping large amounts of steel onto the market at levels that are unacceptable and unfair.”

The next question came from Jennifer Rowland who asked: “Would Brexit be a way of controlling immigration?” Romesh Ranganathan said that his biggest issue with immigration was the scaremongering tactics with regards to immigration. He said that Mr Farage had said that we needed to get control of our borders and pointed out that some terrorists were home grown and that there was a sense of fear being created by politicians.

Nigel Farage said that we now have an NHS service which was available to 508 million people. He said: “If we look at hospitals or school, our public services cannot cope. Brexit is the only way we can control immigration. It is actually irresponsible to have a total open door. What I want to do is exit the political union, have a trade agreement and have an Australian points system.”

Stephen Crabb said: “He’s the man who said he feels uncomfortable hearing foreign accents on a train. He is a master of pressing the button on fear. Nigel tries to reduce everything to a secret formula called Brexit. The world is on the move and that is the truth of it. The vast majority of people who come into this country want to work and that is a boost for our economy. We want people to come and work.”

Leanne Wood said she was in no doubt that it was in Wales’ best interests to remain in the European Union. She said that we had to separate the types of immigration we were talking about. She continued: “The Immigration which is not related to membership of the EU is people coming from war torn countries coming here as refugees. We need to differentiate between the two.

“My concern about this debate is the way in which the scaremongering takes place and the way in which we are all encouraged to divide and rule. While we are all blaming immigrants for all of our ills, our eyes are not looking at those people who are very very wealthy avoiding tax. If they were paying the right tax there would be enough resources for everyone.”

Carwyn Jones said that every single person in the room and that every person watching was a descendant of an immigrant. He asked: “Where do we draw the line?”

He continued: “People are afraid of immigration and what it means for them and their jobs. People are coming having seen their families killed and butchered. To think that the European Union can bury its head in the sand and think that it is all going to go away is just not going to work. We have to think carefully about what this means and so for me, immigration is a European issue that needs a European solution.”

The final question came from Myra Arthurs who asked ‘Should MP’s pay rise faster than nurses a n d teachers?’ David Dimbleby reminded the panel that AM’s were getting a £10,000 pay rise.

Carwyn Jones answered first saying that it should not. He said there is an independent panel which decides AMs’ pay: “What I would like to do is have a system where our pay increases are pegged to teachers, nurses or doctors. He was asked what he was going to do with the £10,000. He said he would continue to do what he has always done and give a substantial amount to charity.”

Leanne Wood said that she would not take the £10,000 pay rise as she had not taken the £23,000 pay rise as leader. She said that people were losing public services and libraries and that people are reliant on food banks in 2016. She said: “People cannot accept that when politicians take a huge pay rise.”

After the programme, Leanne Wood spoke to The Herald and said: “It’s was great to be able to take part in the BBC Question Time programme from Llanelli. There were some fabulous contributions from a very well informed audience. It’s great for Llanelli and the new theatre Ffwrnes for such a prestigious programme to be shown from there. The audience did Llanelli proud.”

The Herald also caught up with Nigel Farage who told us he had hugely enjoyed his evening in Llanelli: “What it shows me that with this referendum coming in June people are beginning their minds up and really wanting a debate.”

He spoke about recent European measures to limit the number of fish Welsh fishermen could land saying: “I am an angler, my son’s an angler. I fish out of Swansea for bass. You’re telling me that on the odd good day we have we can’t take a fish home for tea. It is going to a huge amount of damage to Wales. Calling all anglers, vote to leave.”

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Tir Coed build outdoor classroom for Cross Hands Primary

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The local charity Tir Coed teamed up with Cross Hands Primary School to design and install a locally grown woodland shelter to enable primary school pupils to benefit from outdoor lessons-even when
the rain pours!

Last year Cross Hands Primary School received funding from Carmarthenshire is Kind for their intergenerational project. The project brought the schoolchildren together with older people in the community. Through intergenerational activities, everyone involved increases social connectedness, reduces social isolation, learns from one another and has a great time!

Before the lockdown, Tir Coed was contracted to lead a group mainly made up of parents from the school on a shelter-building course. The attendees would gain knowledge and skills and the children and the older people would be able to use the shelter, a third generation now included in this
fantastic project. The plans, however, had to change due to restrictions and in an effort to have it ready for the children when they returned to school, three intrepid Activity Leaders braved the wet August weather to build the beautiful shelter .

Studies have shown that being in the outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the Corona Virus. With this addition to their already impressive outdoor area, it is hoped that more learning can
take place outside the classroom. Deputy Head, Emma Walters said, “It looks amazing! I am very impressed with the shelter and I cannot thank Tir Coed enough for organising this. Additional covered space in the outdoors will mean that we can take more learning into our lovely nature
area.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Tir Coed or have a project you would like our help with you can contact Nancy, the Carmarthenshire Coordinator: carms@tircoed.org.uk

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Local sailor taking on virtual London marathon

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A local sailor based in the Falkland Islands will be taking on the Virtual London Marathon this October to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

Curtis Bowen, 24, from Llanelli, South Wales, was due to take on the London Marathon for SSAFA this April, but following the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, the race was cancelled. 

Fortunately, the London Marathon team created the Virtual London Marathon in its place, allowing runners to take on the challenge virtually alongside thousands of other runners on the 4th October.

Curtis said: “It was a shame that the London Marathon couldn’t go ahead as planned in April, but I think it is amazing that I am still able to partake whilst being in the Falkland Islands. I’m the first person to ever run the London Marathon in the Falkland Islands.”  

Curtis is currently serving in the Royal Navy, as a Leading Supply Chain Logistician, and has served for four years. His Father also served in the Royal Navy for twenty-three years.

The live virtual event on Sunday 4th October will invite runners to run the London Marathon in their own way, joining up to 45,000 runners up and down the country – and across the world – in the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, The 40th Race.

Curtis decided to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity after being an avid supporter of the charity and being inspired by his Father, Andrew, who raised over £6,000 for SSAFA. 

I chose to run the London Marathon for SSAFA to challenge myself and raise awareness for a great cause. My younger brother sadly took his own life a couple of years ago and I know that SSAFA are there to support those struggling with their Mental Health. I want to raise as much money as I can to support those struggling within the Armed Forces community.”

“My Father was also supposed to be running the London Marathon this year, but will now be completing the challenge virtually, alongside my brother, Luke, 12,000km away in South Wales.”

If you would like to support Curtis, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Andrew-Bowen-London-marathon2020

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NHS COVID-19 app launches across Wales

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People are being urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

The app launches today [Thursday 24] after positive trials and will be a useful tool when used alongside Wales’ successful manual contact tracing system.

It will be available to those aged 16 and over, and forms a central part of the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

The roll-out of the app in Wales coincides with a national campaign around how people in Wales can best support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme, including only getting a test if they are showing symptoms; self-isolating when required; and working with local contact tracers if they are contacted.

Wales’ contact tracing system – which is a publicly-run service and locally delivered – is working well and has seen a very high contract and trace rate. Latest stats show 94% of cases are being successfully contacted.

The app works by logging the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other.

The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a test if needed and get your test results.

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“The launch of the NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of Wales’ coronavirus response, supporting the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme. The more people who download and use this app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We have worked closely with the app development team to ensure it works seamlessly across Wales and England, providing people with the right advice based on where they live. In Wales, the app will complement our existing contact tracing and testing services and will further support our co-ordinated response to COVID-19 at both a local and national level.

“I strongly encourage everyone in Wales to download and use the app to keep Wales safe.”

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth. These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.

The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.

Today the UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

In a joint statement Apple and Google said:

“We built the exposure notifications system to enable public health authorities in their efforts to develop apps to help reduce the spread of the virus while ensuring people can trust in the privacy-preserving design. We are committed to supporting the government’s effort to launch an app based on this technology.”

Whilst the app will be a major support for the contact tracing system, Welsh residents are being reminded to continue to keep Wales safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:

• Always keeping a distance
• Washing hands regularly
• Working from home wherever possible
• Following local restrictions
• Following the rules about meeting people
• Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.

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