SHOULD the Swansea Bay area have its own driver-less metro system?
That is the view of Llanelli Assembly Member Lee Waters, who appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show this week (Mar 18),
Lee Waters outlined his vision for the world’s first fully automated metro system, and he says it should serve our local area.
Interviewed by Arwyn Jones earlier today, Mr Waters said: “The key for getting people to replace car journeys with public transport is having what we call a turn up and go public transport system. And that’s clearly not the case in Wales. In parts of Llanelli, the last bus leaves at 4pm – you’re just not going to persuade people to give up their cars under those circumstances. The question then is, how can we realistically create a turn up and go public transport system in Swansea Bay?
“We need to think imaginatively.
“The UK government expect automated vehicles to be on sale in three years time. This is happening quickly. Let’s not try and create a Manchester or a Sheffield type tram system – we’re thirty years behind the curve on that. Let’s try and leapfrog and establish the Swansea Bay Region as a test bed for this new technology.”
The driver-less system proposed by Lee Waters would employ fast-emerging technologies, including driver-less, low carbon bus transit systems. Maps and timetables would be replaced with public transport apps, with vehicles ‘learning’ over the time the most efficient routes to take. And door-to-door services could even feature.
Cautioning against a carbon-copy of the Cardiff and the Valleys Metro, the Llanelli AM called on those tasked with drafting the initial plan to match the boldness of the Swansea Bay City Region bid.
“The Cardiff and Valleys Metro is moving very slowly, because it’s so complex. For the next five years, you’re not going to see many additional services because of the time it takes to convert track to light rail. All prerequisites to getting a rail system working in a different way. I think what driver-less technology offers us, is a chance to not bother with that and instead having these car-sharing, lift-sharing pods taking us where we want to go.”
The Welsh Government have recently agreed to fund the development of a ‘strategic outline case’ for improving public transport provision across the region. The budget allocation is the first step in deciding whether or not to pursue the 10-20 year vision for a Swansea Bay Metro.
Mr Waters welcomed the funding provision, but warned against fixating on journey time savings to London – stating:
“There’s a broader economic point to this – I don’t want Llanelli and the Swansea Bay area to be a commuting pad to Cardiff. Instead of sending people out of our area, we need a public transport system that creates viable and vibrant communities.”
In appealing for an ambitious approach to be taken, the Assembly Member contended: “For too long we’ve played catch up. We take ages, and too often the result is pretty shoddy.
“So let’s not do that again. We’re starting from an almost blank sheet of paper, let’s go straight to the future solution.
“This change is happening at pace and we need to be all over it.”
Removing Plan B rules ‘a headline to distract from Boris failings’ says Drakeford
FIRST MINISTER Mark Drakeford has said the decision to end “Plan B” restrictions in England next week is not part of a “careful, long-term plan” but it’s a “headline to distract people’s attention from the Prime Minister’s failings.”
Wales will complete the move to alert level zero on 28 January First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed unless the public health situation changes for the worse.
He said the phased plan to gradually relax the alert level two measures and move back to alert level zero will continue.
The Welsh Conservatives have called for the immediate removal of the vaccine passport scheme, restrictions on businesses such as the rule of six in pubs, ditch all social distancing and the removal of mandatory face masks in schools.
Critics have questioned the Welsh Government policy to ease restrictions at a slower pace than England.
Boris Johnson announced earlier this week that England’s Plan B measures are to end from next Thursday, with mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports both dropped.
But that announcement came as the Prime Minister faced mounting pressure to resign amid allegations of parties held at Number 10 during lockdown.
Mark Drakeford said the move in England to ditch those restrictions was not part of a carefully thought-out plan, speaking to BBC Radio Wales he said:
“I don’t think anybody watching objectively at what has happened in England could imagine that their decisions have been made by careful attention to public health advice and with some sort of long-term plan in place.”
“Their announcements this week are entirely due to the astonishing mess that they find themselves in and an effort to find some other headline to distract people’s attention from the Prime Minister’s failings.”
Mr Drakeford said: “Here in Wales we’re in a very different position, we’ve got a government that is capable of making decisions in line with the advice, to do things in the way we’ve done throughout the pandemic, step by step following the science, making sure that we are keeping people in Wales safe.”
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Mark Drakeford said it was “very hard to see how the Prime Minister survives.”
“Even if he were to survive, he will just limp on because he’s never going to escape the damage that this week has done to his reputation.”
“From my point of view, the thing that worries me the most is the fact that the UK Government is frozen by the impact of what has happened to them.” He said.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WALES?
Welsh Government have said the latest public health data “suggests Wales has passed the peak of the omicron wave and coronavirus cases are falling back to levels similar to those seen earlier in the autumn” adding “There have also been reductions in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital”.
From Friday 21st January, Wales will move to alert level zero for all outdoor activities.
- Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events.
- There will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities and events.
- Outdoor hospitality will be able to operate without the additional measures required introduced in December, such as the rule of six and 2m social distancing
- The Covid Pass will continue to be required for entry to larger outdoor events attended by more than 4,000 people, if unseated, or 10,000 people when seated.
- The Covid Pass is required in all cinemas, theatres and concert halls which are currently open.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The latest figures show we have passed the omicron peak and we can continue to lift the alert level two protections as part of our careful and phased plan.
“We will lift the limits on the number of people who can gather for outdoor events. We remain cautiously confident the public health situation is heading in the right direction and next week we will be able to complete the move to alert level zero unless the situation changes for the worse.
“We are in this position thanks to the efforts of everyone in Wales and our fantastic vaccination programme. It is important that everyone continues to follow the rules and the guidance to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including taking up the offer of a booster vaccine if they haven’t already done so.”
On Friday 28th January, Wales will complete the move to alert level zero.
- Nightclubs will re-open.
- Businesses, employers, and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
- The general requirement of 2m social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces will be removed.
- The rule of six will no longer apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas, and theatres.
- Licensed premises will no longer need to only provide table service and collect contact details.
- Working from home will remain part of advice from the Welsh Government but it will no longer be a legal requirement.
- The Covid Pass will continue to be required to enter larger indoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, and concert halls.
The self-isolation rules for everyone who tests positive for Covid and the face-covering rules, which apply in most public indoor places will remain in force after 28th January. The next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 10th February, when the Welsh Government will review all the measures at alert level zero.
Meat Loaf dead: Bat Out of Hell singer dies aged 74
SINGING legend Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 after a stellar career spanning six decades.
Born Marvin Lee Aday in Texas, but known as Michael Lee Aday thoughout his life, he shot to fame with his powerful, wide-ranging voice.
The rock veteran sold millions of albums worldwide, with the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy among his most popular musical offerings.
He was honoured with the Hero Award at the annual Q Awards music ceremony in 2016, which he dedicated to everyday heroes and called on people to “bring love back into this world”.
In a heartbreaking tribute posted on the star’s official Facebook page, it was revealed the star passed away on Thursday night with wife Deborah by his side, The Sun reported
The statement reads: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side.
“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.
“His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 Million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World. Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.
“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.
“We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”
Meat Loaf’s cause of death has not yet been revealed.
His colourful career saw him not only wow fans with his music, but also with his theatrics as he appeared in more than 50 movies and television shows – including the 1997 film Spice World.
Written and produced by Jim Steinman, singles from Bat Out of Hell, Two of Three Ain’t Bad and Paradise by the Dashboard Light, were both certified platinum in 2018.
He sold more 100 million albums worldwide.
The rock star was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, forming his first band Meat Loaf Soul in the 1960s.
In 2016, he was forced to deny he had dead or almost dead as he had been plagued with health issues and rumours that he had died after collapsing on stage in June that year.
A cause of death will not be released.
Food help available for projects in Llanelli and Carmarthen
A great opportunity is opening up for food projects in Llanelli and Carmarthen. Food distribution charity FareShare Cymru is expanding further into West Wales and is looking for charities and community groups that provide food as part of their project.
FareShare Cymru currently redistributes quality surplus food and drink from the food industry to over 170 community groups and charities based between Newport and Swansea. The surplus food benefits services such as homeless hostels, community centres, refugee centres, primary schools etc.
FareShare Cymru turns the environmental problem of food waste into a social solution. They aim to maximise the social impact of food that would otherwise go to waste; encouraging members to provide a service that is more than just food handouts and that tackles the causes of food poverty rather than just the symptoms.
FareShare Cymru offers a competitively priced membership scheme to provide a weekly provision of a variety of meat, dairy, fruit, veg and ambient produce.
It’s vital for a lot of the older diners who perhaps wouldn’t come out otherwise. But without Fareshare, that might not be able to happen. We couldn’t necessarily go out and buy all the produce you provide us. We couldn’t afford to. – Liam Turner, volunteer chef at Cornelly Luncheon Club
This growth is happening thanks to a grant from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Fund, which aims to divert waste from landfill.
Expanding into West Wales has been on our agenda for some time and we are grateful to the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme for supporting us to be able to do this. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant it is more important now than ever to get good, nutritious food to those who need it and to support community resilience. – Katie Padfield, Head of Development at FareShare Cymru
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