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Jill Evans: Shaping a new future for Wales

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Jill Evans: At her desk in Brussels

Jill Evans: At her desk in Brussels

JILL EVANS has been a Member of the European Parliament for Wales since 1999. She has been a member of the European Free Alliance group and serves as the first Vice-President of the Greens/EFA coalition group. 

In the current parliament, Jill is a member of the Committee on Culture and Education, the Delegation for relations with Switzerland and Norway, the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee, and the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Parliamentary Committee. She is Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for European and International issues.

After the UK voted to leave the European Union, we asked Jill to reflect on 17 years as an MEP. How does she feel about the referendum result? Why is she so committed to the EU? Why was it that Wales voted to leave? What did she think would change for Wales in the short term and after ‘Brexit’? And what now happens with her job as our elected representative?

“However each of us voted in the referendum on June 23, we must take the opportunity it presents to shape a new future for Wales. Wales must be a key player in the negotiations. We cannot let others decide our future for us.

“As someone who has worked all my political life to see Wales flourish and become an independent nation within the European Union, I was deeply disappointed by the result. There is no single reason to explain the vote, but without a doubt the Referendum campaign itself was one of the most negative and unpleasant I have ever been involved in. The positive case for the EU was lost in the shouting.

“I was inspired by a visit to the European Parliament in my early twenties. This unique project had brought countries together around the table who had previously shot at each other across the battlefield. I decided then I wanted to be a part of it. Since my election as an MEP, it has grown from 15 countries to 28, including much of Eastern Europe. It is a remarkable achievement.”

PEACE, CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT 

“I have worked to forge a new role for the EU, particularly a peace-making one. We don’t need a European army – we need a civilian corps made up of doctors, lawyers, teachers and others who can work in sensitive areas to prevent conflict developing.

“I also worked for an EU which recognised all the real nations of Europe – our languages and our cultures. For me, that is what the EU motto ‘United in Diversity’ really means.

“I waged a long campaign to get recognition of the Welsh language, and was eventually successful in 2011 when it was granted ‘co-official’ or semi-official status. No-one was prouder when the then Welsh minister Alun Ffred Jones addressed a Council of Ministers meeting in Welsh – speaking on behalf of the UK! I believe that bringing the EU closer to the people will make it more democratic and effective.

“Although I have been one of the critical voices calling for more action, there is no doubt that without the EU we would not have the international action against climate change that was agreed in Paris last year. As a member of the Environment Committee for several years, I helped shape legislation restricting dangerous chemicals, promoting renewable energy and recycling, controlling GMOs, getting better food labelling and much more. The EU affects our everyday lives in many ways.”

WORKING FOR WALES 

“For now, as your elected MEP, I continue with my work representing Wales in Parliament. I have always made it a priority to raise Wales’ profile at every opportunity and ensure that the laws passed were in our interests. The circumstances have changed, but my responsibility to my constituents has not. So I will do whatever I can to get the best possible deal for Wales when the UK leaves.

“I am very sad that we are walking away from such an exciting project. I believe that Wales benefits from the EU, not just in financial terms but in many other ways. I regret that my grandchildren might not have the freedom to travel, study and work in other countries and that our communities could lose out on the benefits we have seen through migration and the richness it has brought to Wales.

“But Wales has come a long way too. I still see our future as a successful independent nation – I hope in the European Union – but certainly in Europe and I will continue to campaign for that.”

CONFERENCE IN CARMARTHEN 

In the wake of the EU referendum result, Plaid Cymru are holding a Special Conference at the Halliwell Theatre in Carmarthen on Saturday (Jul 16) to discuss ‘Securing Wales Future’.

After conducting a whistle-stop series of public meetings across Wales, Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has outlined her vision. She proposes redesigning the political structures of the UK to create a new union of independent states working together for the common good. This would include an independent Wales. In the meantime, Plaid Cymru will reject the Green Party’s call to form a ‘progressive alliance’ of the Green Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru to fight the next general election.

While Leanne Wood has rejected the idea of a second referendum on Europe, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM Adam Price believes that a second vote should be held once the terms of Brexit are known.

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Llanelli Town Mayor hosted the Easter Family Fun Day

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Llanelli Town Mayor David Darkin and Mayoress Kim Darkin with Cllr Suzy Curry and Cllr John Prosser also Nia Nia Griffith MP

ON Saturday 20th April Llanelli Town Mayor hosted the Easter Family Fun Day in the Selwyn Samuel Centre Arena.

The day was a huge success and raised lots of money for the mayors chosen charities – the main charity bring CYCA which provides support to children and young people in Carmarthenshire.

Attendees were treated to taster sport sessions with Rugby Tots, a selection of songs from Shrek Jr from the Hive Theatre Company, magic and fun from Crazy Clayton and a very special visit from Belle who sung songs and played games with the children.

Emergency services information stalls

The event was supported by many local community groups and even had a fire engine pop in for a visit.

Asda llanelli donated some of the Easter eggs and a huge thank you to other raffle prize donors including Joe’s ice cream, hungry horse and berridge-Jones photography.

Cllr David Darkin would like to thank everyone who supported and gave their time to make the event the success it was.

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Wales’ Largest Ever Coastal Walking Festival Launches May

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THIS May a new walking festival celebrating seven years of the 870-mile coast path will take place. The festival’s aim is to encourage locals across Wales to get outdoors, meet new people and appreciate the beautiful Welsh landscapes.

Walks will cover seven coastal regions will be organised by the Wales Coast Path and Ramblers Cymru.

The festival not only aims to showcase Wales’ beautiful coastline and countless natural assets, the Wales Coast Path Walking Festival will also boost local tourism along the path whilst encouraging residents to come together to celebrate the country’s iconic coastline.

Taking place 4th -19th May 2019, the festival will feature over 40 new guided walks created by Ramblers Cymru. The festival programme has been specifically designed to suit all ages and abilities, with the majority of the walks free to join.

From fully accessible and short family walks tonature walks and more challenging hikes, the festival aims to encourage people to enjoy outdoor exercise while exploring Wales’ iconic coastline. All walks will be led by experienced guides offering insights into the unique wildlife, fascinating history and culture that can be found along the way.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “This festival is set to be an excellent addition to Wales’ Year of Discovery and a way for visitors and locals to discover more about our unique Wales Coast Path. I’m delighted that the guided walks will encourage people to find out more about the landscape, history and wildlife associated with the coastal path and will also be an excellent way to be active while discovering more of Wales.”

Local authorities for each of the seven coastal regions, which include South Wales, The Gower, Ceredigion, the Llŷn Peninsula, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen, and North Wales, will help support the event, along with partners National Resources Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and a number of charities including Keep Wales Tidy.

The festival, which coincides with Visit Wales’ Year of Discovery 2019, will follow a theme of discovery which will be prominent throughout. The Wales Coast Path is the world’s first uninterrupted route along a national coast and gives hikers access to undiscovered sections of the coast with stunning views, rugged landscapes and rare wildlife.

To learn more about the Wales Coast Path walking festival or book walks visit: www.walescoastpath.gov.uk

Register to attend the festival: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/wales-coast-path-walking-festival-2019-18812644097

Admission free (additional charges for linear walks where transport is required).

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Swansea Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposals for changes

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SWANSEA Bay City Deal leaders are supporting Neath Port Talbot Council’s proposal to amend some of their projects due to be part-funded by the £1.3 billion investment programme.

Any amended or enhanced projects, they say, will be progressed through City Deal governance and approval processes before submission to the Welsh Government and UK Government for consideration.

This follows on from the City Deal’s Joint Committee accepting all recommendations arising from two reviews into the City Deal, which included enabling flexibility in the investment programme to bring new projects in if they’re beneficial to the region.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee Chairman, says a Neath Port Talbot Council call for the City Deal to change approach is also being put in place.

Cllr Stewart said: “As a Joint Committee, we have accepted all recommendations from the City Deal reviews, and work is ongoing to implement them as soon as possible.

“These include the appointment of an independent programme director to manage the City Deal, as well as flexibility to amend or enhance projects forming part of the investment programme if they’re good for the region.

“The City Deal is still at an early stage of its development, but we’re doing all we can to make governance and project approval processes more efficient to speed up the investment programme’s delivery.

“It would be too great a risk for communities and businesses in Neath Port Talbot to miss out on City Deal investment, so we stand ready to help Neath Port Talbot Council move their projects forward.

“All City Deal partners remain committed to delivery. It’s widely recognised that the City Deal presents a once in a generation opportunity to create considerable economic growth and well-paid jobs across the region as a whole.”

The independent review into the City Deal commissioned by both governments recommended immediate approval for two City Deal projects – the ‘Yr Egin’ creative sector development in Carmarthen, and the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District.

Cllr Stewart said: “We expect funds to be released for these projects imminently.

“We also welcome Neath Port Talbot Council’s continued commitment to the regional Homes as Power Stations project, which will help people save money on their energy bills by introducing cutting-edge energy-efficient technology to both new houses and existing buildings throughout South West Wales.”

The Swansea Bay City Deal investment programme is due to be funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector. It’s being led by the four regional councils – Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea – in partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

The City Deal is projected to create over 9,000 high-quality jobs and give the regional economy a £1.8 billion boost in coming years.

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