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.
Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize
LLANELLI HIGH STREET has been shortlisted in the Government’s Great British High Street Awards, in proud partnership with Visa, putting them in the running for up to £15,000.
After a rigorous selection process led by a panel of independent judges, the high street has been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, which celebrates high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.
The bid by Ymlaen Llanelli follows research commissioned by Visa in April 2019 demonstrating the positive impact that the local high street has on communities. The research found that nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) in Wales say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with nearly half (45%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason. Spending time with friends and family (25%) and offering a sense of community (18%) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people feel happier. The research also reveals that half of consumers (50%) feel that their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to Llanelli for being shortlisted for the Rising Star Award for this year’s Great British High Street Awards.
“Llanelli high street is a hive of activity, with food festivals, childrens’ days and community get-togethers all part of the local calendar. A great example of how high streets can bring a renewed energy to communities.
“People are happier when they can see their hard-earned cash support local businesses. That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.”
Sundeep Kaur, Head of UK & Ireland Merchant Services at Visa, added: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories. In particular, the desire to innovate stands out amongst this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.
“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”
Llanelli High Street is one of the 28 high streets that have been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, identifying high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify. 12 high streets have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the UK’s best high streets. All 40 high streets are now in the running to win a prize of up to £15,000 to be dedicated to a local high street initiative.
Head Teacher at Primary school in Llanelli suspended
THE HEAD TEACHER of a Welsh primary school has been suspended, it has been confirmed.
Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins, who is head at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, has been suspended from her duties at the school with immediate effect.
Governors at the school have been unavailable for comment, but Carmarthenshire Council confirmed the news this morning.
It is understood that the chair of the governing body is currently out of the country, and the council would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension.
The council’s director of education, Gareth Morgans, said: “School staffing is a matter for the Governing Body, however, we can confirm the headteacher of Ysgol Ffwrnes has been suspended.
“It is not appropriate to comment further.”
Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins has worked at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes for 23 years, taking up a post at the school in 1996.
She has been the headteacher there for almost 20 years, taking over the role in 2000. She has also worked as a peer inspector at Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales confirmed.
According to one local councillor, ‘serious concerns’ have been raised about the school in recent months.
“Local residents and parents have approached us raising serious concerns about the school in question,” said Carmarthenshire councillor Rob James.
“We are in dialogue with senior council officers to assert whether the allegations are credible and what action the council and governors have taken in response to these allegations.”
Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour
POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.
According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.
These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.
HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.
Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.
Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.
“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.
“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.
“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”
These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.
The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.
That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.
Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”
Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.
“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”
He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”
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