ON MONDAY (Mar 7) The Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant visited Llanelli to look at the work being carried out on a groundbreaking ‘Arbed’ fuel poverty programme. The Welsh Government-backed Arbed 2 project is run by Melin Homes.
Welsh Labour’s Warm Homes Arbed and Nest programmes have continued to provide energy improvements and advice. During 2013/14 alone improvements were made to over 9,000 homes through the Welsh Labour Government schemes, giving each household estimated savings of up to £500 a year on their energy bills.
In addition they are creating jobs, apprenticeships and partnerships across Wales, resulting in an impressive return for the Welsh economy. Despite the huge contribution home insulation makes to curbing climate change and improving people’s well-being, the Tories now spend only £3.52 per household in England compared to £31.31 per household invested by the Welsh Labour government.
We asked the Minister what the purpose of his visit to Llanelli was.
He explained: “What we are doing here is seeing great opportunities not just for local people but for the broader community and local economy. Employing local people, supply chains helping to support this initiative. I am actually speaking to residents who will benefit from this work in the long term.
We are tackling issues around climate change. It isn’t just about insulation it is about the whole green growth economy for Wales. We have to make clever investments. We have to do things differently. It isn’t just about insulating homes, this will boost the economy. Green Growth Wales is a very important opportunity.”
During his visit the minister called in on Bigyn resident Dianne Rudall to chat about what affect the work being carried out on her home was having on her life. Mrs Ruddall told the Minister that she suffered from a heart condition and always found the house to be cold and had to have the heating on for most of the time.
She said: “It helps me with my bills and it is good for the area. As soon as the chance to have the work done came available I went for it.”
Carl Sargeant told us, “Mrs Ruddall was very happy and she was telling us how the guys were operating locally on the work on the homes and she is looking to it being finished so that she can stay warm in her own home.”
We asked the Natural Resources Minister what the future of the project would be if Labour did not get into power at the elections.
His response was uncompromising: “I don’t recognise the issue should Labour not get in because we are very positive that we are out to win all the seats and we are fighting very hard with Lee Waters in this area. All schemes are at risk if Labour does not get back in because we know that the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have different views on what we should be investing in.”
The Herald asked the Minister about the issue of importing materials into Wales to burn rather than looking at home grown alternatives. He replied: “What we are doing here is that we have a really great environmental credential. We have just introduced an environment bill and groundbreaking legislation alongside the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act for making sure we are protecting the environment.
“I was part of the COP21 discussions in Paris in December where we made our commitment in changing the way we deal with issues around the environment. It is up to everybody to make their own little piece of Wales better.”
We reminded the Minister of Plaid Cymru’s claim that the Labour Government were not doing enough to help British Steel in reducing their energy costs and asked what could be done to help.
The Minister told us: “The U.K. Government have to come to the table with answers for TATA Steel and particularly in Port Talbot. The issue there about energy pricing is something they should address. Edwina Hart, with Carwyn Jones, is taking the fight to the U.K. Government.
Asked about what Labour’s plans were for future renewable energy and whether Wales needed its own biomass plants, Mr Sargeant declined to give a direct answer. Instead he re-affirmed Labour’s commitment to ostensibly green power: “We are already pro renewable energy in Wales. Whereas the UK Government are promoting fracking. We have introduced a moratorium here in Wales.”
Mr Sargeant concluded: “We know where we want to be with our energy opportunities. There is something about micro generation and community generation as something that we should be exploring for the future.”
PH Balance help arrest alleged sex offender
A 51-YEAR-OLD male was arrested in Llanelli last Sunday (Sept 08) in connection to an alleged sexual offence.
Paedophile Hunting group PH Balance South Wales admitted to being involved with trapping the suspect through the use of a decoy. According to PH Balance’s recent Facebook post, the man had arranged a meeting with PH member Dobby who was acting as as a 14-year-old boy online. The man had shown up to the Llanelli town centre to allegedly take the young boy shopping.
Dyfed-Powys Police arrived swiftly on scene and placed the alleged offender in handcuffs before taking him to the station in the back of a police vehicle.
A spokesman for Dyfed-Powys Police told the Llanelli Herald: “On Sunday, September 8, we received allegations from a group in respect of a man in the Swansea area, which related to offences involving children. Officers arrested a 51-year-old man on suspicion of meeting a child following grooming, at Eastgate Llanelli, the same day.”
The spokesman added: “The man has been bailed from police custody with conditions.”
Becoming Deputy Chief Constable ‘a huge privilege’
CLAIRE PARMENTER has been announced as the new Dyfed-Powys Police Deputy Chief Constable, describing it as a ‘huge privilege’.
DCC Parmenter, who grew up in Llanelli but now lives in Carmarthen, has worked her way through the ranks since joining the force as a PC 26 years ago.
She said: “Becoming the Deputy Chief Constable within my home force is a huge privilege for me, I hope this will inspire other officers and staff to achieve whatever they want across the service.”
Her policing career began in Ammanford in 1993, having just completed a BA (HONS) degree in Education at Cardiff.
“I was thinking of a career in teaching or policing, and decided to do my degree before making the choice,” DCC Parmenter said. “Policing was always in my heart, so when it came to it, it was an easy decision.”
As well as serving in a variety of uniform roles, DCC Parmenter has undertaken a number of secondments across UK Policing and beyond.
These include a role as national field officer with the National Policing Improvement Agency, becoming operational Chief Inspector in Avon and Somerset Police, and contributing to the national implementation of neighbourhood policing, for which she received a chief constable’s commendation.
She was promoted to Superintendent in 2010 and became lead for the Joint Emergency Services Group in Wales, leading and developing a number of blue light collaboration and resilience programmes, working closely with Fire and Rescue, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Welsh Government.
“I’ve always tried to look at the wider landscape of policing and how we work with partners to improve services to our communities,” she said. “These secondments have given me exposure to different ways of working and has broadened my outlook.”
DCC Parmenter returned to uniformed policing in 2012 and took up the role of Superintendent of specialist operations.
She later took over as BCU Commander for Carmarthenshire and Powys, and later took up the post of Chief Superintendent Head of Uniformed Policing for the force.
She is an accredited Strategic Firearms and Gold Public order commander and has won a Stonewall National award for her support of LGBT staff.
A mother of two, DCC Parmenter’s drive and dedication has not only led her to become a chief officer, but has also had a positive influence on her teenage daughters.
DCC Parmenter said: “My youngest daughter is 14 and she’s also keen to join the police. It’s nice to know that she looks at my career positively and can see how policing can make a real difference.
“I’m very proud to be a chief officer in the force I am from. Being able to effect the delivery of services in my home area, and to serve people in the area I live ensuring the best possible service, is a huge privilege.”
Looking ahead, DCC Parmenter’s aims are to keep delivering across Dyfed-Powys Police, and to ensure the force continues to improve and innovate.
She added: “I know Dyfed-Powys communities and staff very well, and I think we have got all the ingredients to be an absolutely outstanding force. I look forward to being a part of the chief officer team to deliver that.
“I’m really grateful to our staff and colleagues across the force, who have supported me throughout my career.”
Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Claire has shown outstanding commitment to our communities over many years and I am delighted to have her as my Deputy Chief Constable.”
MP calls for ‘fair funding’ for Wales
PLAID CYMRU Treasury Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has called for a radical rethink of how the nations and regions of the UK are funded through the establishment of an independent Office for Fair Funding.
Writing in Wales on Sunday, Mr Edwards said he would propose legislation – in the form of a 10 Minute Rule Bill – in Westminster which would establish the new expert-led, independent body.
The organisation would have a statutory obligation to deliver geographic wealth convergence, as well as for deciding on funding settlements for the devolved nations and regions of the UK.
Recent international data has shown that the largest difference in economic prosperity in Europe was between Inner London, the UK’s richest region (with a regional GDP average of 614% of the EU average), and West Wales and the Valleys, the UK’s poorest (with a regional GDP 68% of the EU average).
Disputes between devolved government and Whitehall relating to how nations are regions were funded could also be resolved by the independent body, Mr Edwards suggested.
For example, the dispute over HS2’s consequences for Welsh funding could be examined by the Office.
The greater the spending on HS2 the greater the proportional fall in funding Wales will receive.
This is due to ‘comparability factors’ – the measure Westminster uses to decide how much spending by a Whitehall Government Department relates to issues that are devolved.
Scotland and Northern Ireland get a score of 100% on the HS2 comparability factor, whereas Wales gets a 0% score (as confirmed in the British Government’s Statement of Funding).
This leads to a counterintuitive scenario where, as the Department for Transport’s budget increases to meet the spending requirement of HS2, Scotland and Northern Ireland will receive corresponding uplifts in the money it receives.
Whereas Wales’s overall comparability factor will proportionally decrease, meaning Wales will receive a smaller slice of the overall funding.
This will also mean that as spending accelerates on HS2 during the construction of HS2 the proportional disadvantage for Wales increases.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards said: “For decades, British Governments – red and blue alike – have tinkered around the edges of the broken economic system without challenging its fundamental problems.
“That is why, as a first step in rebalancing things, I am proposing a new law that would establish an independent Office for Fair Funding.
“The independent, expert-led organisation would be legally bound to deliver a fairer economic balance between the nations and regions of the UK.
“London and the south-east of England continue to act as a black hole, sucking in talent and investment from the rest of the UK.
“Things have got so bad that recent data has shown that the inequality between London and Wales was the worst in Europe.
“These inequalities have disfigured the UK economy to the point where we no longer have a ‘UK economy’ in any meaningful sense.
“The Office of Fair Funding is not a silver bullet. There is little hope on the horizon of a fundamental shift away from the over-centralised British State, but it could be the first step on the much-needed journey towards a fairer, more equal economy.”
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