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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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Community checks out new Carmarthenshire Policing Hub and Custody Suite

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn today (24.06.22) hosted an open doors event for local stakeholders at Dyfed-Powys’ new Custody Suite and Policing Hub, that is currently under construction at Dafen, Llanelli Carmarthenshire.

Planning permission was granted to the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner by Carmarthenshire County Council back in April 2021 for the proposed development, which is to be an ambitious sustainable construction, with a BREEAM excellence rating.

Wilmott Dixon, who are the Construction Contractor have been on site since autumn preparing for the first construction phases, with specific progress now beginning made on the development, that aims to be completed by May 2023.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “This is a major investment for us which will see an ambitious, modern, sustainable fit for purpose policing hub and custody suite that will meet the needs and expectations of modern policing. 

“During the planning application process between 2020 and 2021, we engaged widely with the local community,  and It was a pleasure to open the door, and welcome local community representatives to the construction site today, to show the progress that has been made to date.

“I’ve worked extremely hard with partners over recent years to ensure that we get to this position and I now look forward to seeing the construction work continue to develop at pace over the year”.

In being a BREEAM related development, the new build will offer a more sustainable environment, that aims to enhance the well-being of the people who work within it, and help protect natural resources.

Amongst some of the sustainable credentials of the new build will be a photovoltaic solar power installation to minimise the carbon footprint of the building; a rainwater harvesting facility for toilets and non-potable water, and electric car charging facilities.

Chief Inspector Richard Hopkin, Dyfed-Powys Police’s operational lead on the new build, said: “We feel very fortunate to be having a new build custody suite and hub coming to Llanelli.

“Our current Llanelli estate is old, so to see a new build that is being designed with such consideration for the environment and the wellbeing of our staff and the community within which it sits is really positive.

“The development will provide a fit for purpose, future proof solution which will complement the town centre Neighbourhood Police Team base.”

Ian Jones, Director at Willmott Dixon commented, “This is the first project that we have worked on with Dyfed Powys Police, and as part of what has being a collaborative partnership, we are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this development. 

“This is a purpose‐built, new custody suite to replace and supplement provision of custody within Carmarthenshire which will provide excellent facilities to meet the needs of modern law enforcement and detainee wellbeing for Dyfed Powys Police. 

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to welcome guests to the site to show them first-hand how construction is progressing.”

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Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’

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EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.

Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.

49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.

In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.

“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.

“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.

“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”

Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.

Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.

He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.

Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,

“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”

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M&S opticians opens its doors in Llanelli Parc Trostre

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MARKS & SPENCER has opened the newest branch of its M&S Opticians service, located in the retailer’s popular Llanelli store.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre will offer customers an expert opticians service, which includes a full eye health examination (OCT scan) for every eye test booked at no additional fee.

Free eye tests are available as an opening offer, as well as 15% off glasses and sunglasses for Sparks customers. There’s a wide range of designer brands to choose from including Mulberry, Prada, Joules, Kate Spade, Oakley, Police, Maui Jim along with leading lens manufacturers – Zeiss and Nikon.

Expert advice on contact lens fitting and wearing is also on hand, alongside a contact lens home delivery option. The store will also be home to a hearing aid audiologist who will be offering free hearing health checks along with latest hearing aid technology, including rechargeable models and mobile connectivity.

In addition to the physical experience in-store, customers can book appointments online here, as well as view, purchase and try on glasses via the innovative ‘virtual try on’ tool here

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre is the second optician service to open in Wales following a successful trial across ten UK cities, during which the service received a customer satisfaction rate of 96% and a customer recommendation rate of 96%.

M&S Llanelli Parc Trostre Store Manager, Aled Bonnell, said: “We’re always looking for ways to make shopping at M&S even more rewarding and feedback from our trial showed that customers loved the convenience of having an Opticians service in our store. We’re really excited to be opening our M&S Opticians in Llanelli and hearing what our customers think. The choice of different brands we’re offering is second to none and we have brilliant opening offers to suit all budgets.”

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