COMMENTING on revelations in the Times (May 26) that all the companies which are interested in bidding for the Land Registry have links to offshore tax havens, Nia Griffith MP, has said that selling off the Land Registry to one of these companies risks a double whammy, with the taxpayer, losing out both directly on profits the Land Registry currently makes and on taxes due on the profits made by one of these companies.
The Llanelli MP joined PCS members and the campaign group 38 degrees in Westminster on Thursday (May 26) to hand over a petition with over 200,000 signatures to the UK Government, calling on ministers to abandon plans to privatise the Land Registry, which has its main offices in Swansea.
Nia Griffith explained: “Privatising the Land Registry would be nothing short of daylight robbery, robbing the taxpayer of millions of pounds. The Land Registry currently brings in nearly £100 million into the Treasury in profits each year, so it is madness to steal this from the Treasury and stuff it into the pockets of private contractors, who would probably then add insult to injury by hiking the fees and ripping off the public.
“Worse still we have revelations this week in the Times that all the companies which are interested in bidding for the Land Registry have links to offshore tax havens. So that would be a double whammy: we as taxpayers would not only lose out on the direct profit from the Land Registry, but we could find that the Treasury does not even get the tax due on the profits made by one of these companies from a privatised Land Registry.
“And who’s to say that this Tory Government wouldn’t be wilfully incompetent and sell off the Land Registry at a bargain basement price, as they did with the Royal Mail, depriving the public purse of the true value of this asset?”
Nia Griffith continued: “That’s before we come to the issue of trust: currently the Land Registry has a customer satisfaction rating of 98%, and people trust the Land Registry because they know it is impartial as only a government body can be. How could you possibly guarantee that there would not be conflicts of interest if it were a private company? Particularly a private company which has no qualms about using tax havens to deprive the UK taxpayer of monies owed.
“Would a private company keep offices in Swansea or would it be outsourced to some far-flung place where they cannot tell one Welsh name from another? Then there is the issue of data protection: I am advised that there would be nothing in law to prevent a private company selling on personal data to buyers who want the information.
“We must resist any attempt to privatise the Land Registry or to hive off the Land Registry into a ‘Government– owned company’ which could pave the way for privatisation.”
Police appeal after river death in Ystradgynlais
DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses following the death of a man in Ystradgynlais.
At around 10am this morning (16 January 2020), a man aged in his 60s was seen entering the River Tawe near Gorsedd Park.
He was rescued from the water near Trebanos Rugby Club, but despite the best efforts of paramedics, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin and HM Coroner have been informed.
His death is not being treated as suspicious, or linked to the adverse weather.
Our thanks go out to all who assisted in the response to this tragic incident, in very difficult weather conditions.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police in Ystradgynlais online by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Use reference: DP-20200216-217
New Body Cameras for Transport for Wales Staff
Last year alone, saw over 350 reported accounts of physical or verbal abuse against staff on trains in Wales and whilst this is a small number in terms of the overall passenger journeys, TfW are keen to further reduce this number as any incident should not be tolerated.
Antisocial figures in Wales show an improving trend in comparison with the rest of the UK and TfW has previously committed to providing CCTV at every station across the Wales and Borders network and already introduced additional security staff.
This trial is another step forward in reducing this type of behaviour and is being delivered in partnership with the British Transport Police.
The trial will include four different type of cameras, and after a review period, one company will be selected to supplying 300 across the network.
Ken Skates, Welsh Government Transport and North Wales Minister, said:
“Everyone has the right to work or travel on our network without the fear of abuse or threats. The rail staff there to help us are no different to our family and friends. They are working hard to get us from A to B, often in difficult circumstances.
“We must stamp out anti-social behaviour and do everything we can to support staff to do their jobs and let passengers make their journeys in a safe and pleasant environment.”
Daniel Hopkin, a frequent rail passenger on the Neath to Cardiff line added:
“It’s great that Transport for Wales are fitting their staff with cameras. I regularly travel between Neath and Cardiff on the train and I think that any improvements in safety will benefit customers.
“The railway station can be really hectic and the fact that staff will have body cameras should act as a deterrent to some of the occasional bad behaviour. Transport for Wales seem to be considering different ways to improve things for the customer and I find that encouraging as a passenger.”
Marc Clancy, Transport for Wales Conductor said:
“We have to deal with a range of people daily and most of our customers are grateful and polite. We work extremely hard to give our customers the best possible experience when using our services, however at times staff and passengers do experience occasional antisocial behaviour and abuse.
“The introduction of these cameras should act as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour, support assault prosecutions and boost public confidence in safety.
“They will provide our front-line staff with more confidence when dealing with difficult situations and abusive customers.”
BTP Superintendent Andrew Morgan, said:
“The safety of passengers and our rail industry colleagues is our absolute priority and we do everything we can to protect them.
“We fully support the introduction of body worn cameras for Transport for Wales’ frontline staff – we know from experience that body worn video is a fantastic piece of kit that helps us in securing convictions against those who target staff with unnecessary violence or abuse.
“We hope the introduction will deter anti-social behaviour and provide reassurance to rail staff as well as passengers.
Fortunately, these types of incidents are few and far between, however if anyone has any concerns while travelling, they can text us on 61016.”
Police appeal following fatal road traffic collision
“Dyfed-Powys Police is appealing for witnesses to a single vehicle road traffic collision which occurred on an unclassified road eastbound between Afon Dulais and Pantygwyn, Capel Dewi around 3pm on Saturday 8th February 2020.
Sadly the 50-year-old female driver passed away at the scene.
The vehicle involved was a 64 plate Grey Nissan NV200 Acenta.
If anyone has any information on this incident please contact Carmarthenshire serious collision investigation unit on the 101 number quoting reference 185 for the 08th February
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