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Nia reflects on Labour leadership

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‘Certainly supporting Owen’: Nia Griffith MP

‘Certainly supporting Owen’: Nia Griffith MP

THE LAST few months have been tumultuous for the whole country. 

We have had Assembly elections, resulting in the virtual wipeout of the Liberal Democrats and the election of UKIP to the Senedd; the vote to leave the EU; the departure of David Cameron; the selection of Theresa May as PM by default; resignations from the Shadow Cabinet; the sacking of major figures from the actual Cabinet; and now a Labour leadership election which was preceded by 172 Labour MPs voting they have no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

You’d almost think it was like House of Cards – or possibly snakes and ladders.

The Herald spoke to Nia and asked her for her thoughts on all things Corbyn. Nia was Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, until resigning from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, saying she lacked confidence in her Leader’s ability to achieve the sort of unity needed for electoral success.

We began by asking her about Owen Smith’s leadership challenge.

She said: “We want a satisfactory outcome. We want a strong Labour party that can actually face up to Theresa May, the new Prime Minister, and hold her and her team to account and also provide a real alternative for people in a general election. At the moment we feel we that we haven’t been able do that.

“We have tried very hard to make things work this year. We have to sometimes make really difficult decisions.

“Of course, it is not very nice for us at the moment. We really do hope to come through. I am certainly be going to be supporting Owen Smith. I think he is a new generation of very direct politicians. He tells you exactly what he thinks to your face. I think that is the sort of person we need to be really up front and taking Labour politics, sticking up for people and really taking that out to people.”

We asked why she had put her faith in Jeremy Corbyn if she did not believe that he possessed the qualities to be leader.

Nia reflected: “I think the truth of the matter is that many of people who supported Jeremy Corbyn last year and voted for him realise that, although we appreciate the ideas he has brought and the energy that he has brought and some of the enthusiasm he has engaged in with young people in particular, the fact of the matter is that we need a lot of qualities to drive that forward as a leader of the party. We have not seen that this year.

“It is very difficult I think to be catapulted from a rebellious backbencher to being in charge of an enormous organisation. I don’t think he really enjoys that side of it.

“What we need now is someone who can communicate with the party and bring everybody inside the party together and outside of the party in terms of taking the message not just to our supporters but across the whole spectrum of voters. If we are going to actually help people in Britain we need to help people from all walks of life. We need to have a programme of government that appeals to a wide cross-section, just as Sadiq Khan did in the London elections.”

On the machinations surrounding the voting system for the election of her Party’s leader, she said: “We have always had a six month rule that you have to be a member. It is a pity that we did not stick to that rule last summer.

“I am more worried about the opening up of a period of 48 hours for supporters to join up. I am suspicious that there could be people who have joined up to do us down in some way. They are called supporters and they do have a vote in this election.

“Obviously we are looking very carefully to make sure that there are not people there who stood against us in elections. That would be completely ridiculous We have a sneaky feeling that there will be people who will try to sneak in who do not have the interests of the Labour Party at heart.”

When what would happen if Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected, Nia was cautious: “I think that would be for us to decide then. The important thing at the moment is the debate inside the party about how you actually put your ideas into practice and what sort of leader you need to do that.”

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Scrub removal at Pembrey to improve dunes for biodiversity

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If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

SCRUB provides a splash of greenery in our sandy spaces, but too much scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there. 

This winter Natural Resources Wales will be removing non-native, invasive plant species from areas of dune at Pembrey to help wildlife thrive.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system. Sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

Some non-native plant species, like the dense scrub plant sea buckthorn, are invasive and they are growing quickly in this dune system – spreading further across large areas of dune each year. 

Many of the dunes’ rare and specialist wildlife needs bare sand or low grassland habitat to survive and gets lost under or outcompeted by scrub. 

If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

Scrub removal in specifically chosen locations will help to restore the habitat types that these species need, and this work will play a part in ensuring the dunes at Pembrey have a healthy, biodiverse future. 

Improving the ecological condition here will increase this coastal landscape’s resilience to other threats, such as extreme weather events and changing conditions brought on by climate change in the future.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park around Car Park 8 and the second will take place on the foredunes in front of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW. 

It is scheduled to begin in the last week of November and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 5th December.

Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Sea Buckthorn control is important to improve the dune grassland habitats at Pembrey. Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have carried out this type of habitat management over a number of years which has resulted in restoring the area to a dune grassland rich with different species of plants. 

You can best enjoy this during the summer months within the Pembrey Burrows and Saltings Local Nature Reserve. As part of Dynamic Dunescapes, we are now continuing this work, which will result in an overall increase in dune grassland habitat.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said:

“Whilst scrub is a valuable habitat it does need management to maintain it in good condition for wildlife. Cutting back the scrub will ensure it does not spread into areas where it is not wanted and or where it can destroy other habitat.”

Dynamic Dunescapes is not the only project working to restore Pembrey’s important sand dunes. The EU LIFE-funded Sands of LIFE project, managed by (NRW), has also been undertaking sand dune management to improve conditions for wildlife in recent years. The two projects work closely to build on and support each other’s work.

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Demolition of 4 Tys begins in Tyisha, Llanelli

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Four Tys

WORK to demolish the Four Tys housing blocks in Tyisha, Llanelli has started, marking the next exciting step in Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans to Transform the area. 

The demolition work is set to be completed by civil engineering contractor Walters over the next 20 weeks and will enable the build of modern, mixed-use housing which meets the needs of the community.

Improvements to existing homes and the creation of community facilities and green spaces will also form part of changes on the horizon for Tyisha. 

Cllr Linda Davies Evans, chair of the Transforming Tyisha steering group and cabinet member for housing said: “The demolition of the Four Tys marks an important step in the Transforming Tyisha project. Although this process will evoke powerful memories for many of the people who have lived and worked in Tyisha since the Four Tys were built in the 1960s, their demolition will enable us to provide the housing and facilities that the community needs.

Local residents and businesses who may be impacted by the demolition process will be contacted throughout to ensure minimum disruption.”

This forms a part of the council’s ambitious plans to regenerate the Tyisha ward and the wider Llanelli town centre area which is undergoing massive investment.

The council is also seeking a partner to develop new housing and create a vibrant community. An early market engagement exercise is currently live which gives potential partners the opportunity to express their interest in working with the council to transform the area.

Fresh and innovative ideas for this exciting project can be submitted to the council until December 7.

For more information on the early market engagement process or the council’s Transforming Tyisha regeneration project please visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/tyisha

The demolition of the ‘Four Tys’ forms part of the council’s ambitious Transforming Tyisha project which looks to regenerate the area through increasing community safety, developing housing and community facilities and improving the environment.

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Serious assault in Ruby’s Bar Llanelli being investigated by police

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POLICE are investigating a serious assault which occurred in Ruby’s Bar, Llanelli, between 10:40pm and 11pm on Saturday, November 20.

A 35-year-old man received injuries which required hospital treatment.

A 31-year-old female and a 36-year-old male have  been arrested on suspicion of assault. Both have been released on bail pending further police enquiries.

Anyone who witnessed, or took footage of, the incident, or anyone who has any information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DP-20211120-336.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.’

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