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Commissioner says public misled on funding

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THE WESTMINSTER Government has been accused of cutting Policing budgets by stealth leading to greater demands on Council Tax Payers to pick up the shortfall.

Last week, the Home Office announced an extra £300m in the Police budget to help pay for pension expenses and other costs.

Since 2010, central government funding to police forces has been cut by almost a third, in real terms, leading the number of officers to fall by 21,000.

The funding breaks down as:
• An extra £161m next year for England and Wales’ 43 police forces, which the Home Office says will protect police budgets in “real terms”. This brings the total to £7.8bn next year
• A £153m grant to help plug a shortfall in funding because of changes to pensions contributions
• Police and Crime Commissioners will also be able to increase the policing element of council tax.

This means households could pay an extra £24 a year for a Band D property, although local residents must be consulted first.

In one of his final acts as Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, Alun Davies AM responded to the announcement with a scathing attack on continuing cuts to Police budgets.

Mr Davies said: Responsibility for policing is not currently devolved. Welsh Government continues to believe in, and to make the case for, devolution of this important public service. The UK Government’s policy of austerity has imposed significant cash and real-term cuts to police funding over the last 9 years.

“The overall funding provided for this Settlement does nothing to reverse years of under-provision to enable police forces to maintain current levels of service and will require the Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales to make difficult choices in setting the level of their council tax precept. This will have a disproportionate impact on those council tax payers who will find it increasingly difficult to pay their bills.

“While decisions on the distribution of funding between police force areas are for the Home Office, I believe that police forces in Wales will be disappointed that the proposed Settlement neither supports policing in rural areas nor takes account of the additional responsibilities which policing the capital city for Wales entails.”

Local elected members Jonathan Edwards MP and Adam Price AM have blasted the Home Office after ministers claimed they were providing extra money for policing when, in reality, Tory ministers in London are expecting local taxpayers to pay more in their council tax precept.

Noting a claimed cash increase for Dyfed Powys Police of £8.1million “cash increase”, the Plaid pair point out that increase is dependent upon the Police and Crime Commissioner raising a Band D council tax precept by £24 per year.

Dyfed Powys already receives amongst the lowest funding from the Home Office of all 43 police forces in England and Wales with the council tax police precept already accounting for more than 50% of the force’s total funding.
Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament, Jonathan Edwards, echoed the comments of the Police Commissioner, saying that Tory ministers were being “deliberately deceptive”.

Assembly Member and Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price repeated calls for the devolution of policing, saying that Welsh police forces were missing out on £25million for every year that policing remained in the hands of politicians in London.

Jonathan Edwards MP said: “It’s quite galling to see the Westminster government claim it is providing extra cash to police forces when the sum it publishes is dependent upon local taxpayers plugging the gap through their police precept.

“Tory Ministers are being deliberately deceptive in telling us they’re providing extra money when in reality they are continuing to cut vital public services to the bone.

“Residents of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys already contribute more than half of the force’s funding but are being asked to put their hands in their pockets once again as London fails to deliver.

“The best way to protect our policing system is to remove it from the simplistic one-size-fits-all approach at Westminster and operate a system that is developed in Wales and works for Wales.”

Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price added: “For every year that policing remains in the hands of London politicians, figures show that Welsh police forces are losing out to the tune of £25million – around £13.5million in the case of Dyfed Powys.

“With Westminster now misleading the public on the amount of money it is providing, and with the public once again expected to pay more and more for less and less, the case for the devolution of policing to the National Assembly grows by the day and has never been stronger.”

Launching a public consultation on the proposed Police budget, Dafydd Llywelyn, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed-Powys force said: “After a frustrating delay, the Government’s provisional grant funding settlement has been announced, which sets out the position for Dyfed-Powys Police for the 2019/20 financial year.

“The way in which the Home Office and Central Government are misleading the public is disgraceful and I am very disappointed in the way this settlement once again shifts the burden onto local taxpayers. I continue to try and do the right thing to protect our communities but I feel we are being let down by the Government in London as their actions are likely to impact on our local services.

“I am currently consulting with the residents of Dyfed-Powys; asking if they would be willing to pay additional police precept to continue to safeguard our communities. Within the survey, I have outlined the impact of for Dyfed-Powys Police and its communities. My decision will be made by listening to local communities and the professional advice of the Chief Constable.

“I am working closely with the Chief Constable to critically review all aspects of the budget requirement. Given the scale of financial challenges that are faced, a precept increase will be unavoidable, but how much this is increased by should not be dictated by Government.”

The survey can be completed here: http://bit.ly/policepreceptconsultation

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Council appoints demolition contractor ahead of exciting changes for Tyisha, Llanelli

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has appointed a contractor to demolish housing blocks in Tyisha commonly known as ‘the Four Tys’.

The demolition work, which is set to begin at the end of November, will enable the build of a modern, mixed-use housing development which meets the needs of the community, as well as improvements to existing homes and the creation of community facilities and green spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Cllr Linda Davies Evans, chair of the Transforming Tyisha steering group and cabinet member for housing said: “I am delighted that we have reached this important milestone in the Transforming Tyisha project. The demolition of the ‘Four Tys’ will evoke powerful memories for many people who have lived and worked in Tyisha, but will mean that we can develop the housing and facilities that the community wants, needs and deserves.Local residents and businesses who may be impacted by the demolition process will be contacted  before any work begins and throughout the process 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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Man jailed for assaulting three officers during arrest

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THREE female officers carrying out their duties suffered injuries in an unprovoked attack at the hands of the man they were trying to arrest.

Officers had executed a warrant at the home of John Steven Knight, in Stafford Street, Llanelli, for an unrelated matter. Because the 37-year-old was not home, PC Jaye Blanco-Martin, DC Eleri Owen and colleague who does not want to be named, attended his work in Ammanford.

As officers spoke with Knight he was initially calm and compliant. But then he tried to unlock his phone.

The DC who is not being named said: “In fear that Knight was attempting to delete evidence and frustrate a police investigation I took hold of his left arm to try and seize the phone. 

“Knight’s personality and attitude towards the officers changed instantly.

“He moved his phone to his other hand and immediately started to fight us.  He was pulling away clearly trying to escape.

“Out of nowhere I felt a sudden push from Knight using his full body weight and as a direct result of this blow and I fell to the ground and hit my head. I immediately felt pain and discomfort to my head and it started throbbing.” 

In the struggle, all three officers ended up on the floor having been shoved and thrown into furniture, walls and a door frame.

Despite Knight’s efforts, the officers were able to arrest him, although they were left with the marks to show they had been in a struggle.

One officer suffered a suspected head injury that required a CT scan, while all three suffered cuts and bruising to various parts of their bodies.

The officer added: “I was incredibly worried for mine and my colleagues’ safety.  Knight was a well built and over 6ft and had the strength to take three officers to the ground with him.”

Knight appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on September 29, the day after his arrest, on September 28, when he was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Following the terrifying ordeal DC Owen said: “During the whole incident I was afraid not just for my safety but also my colleagues.

“That it was only three females with a male who was around 6ft 2ins resisting and assaulting officers made me feel vulnerable.

“I will never forget this, it will be something that stays with me throughout my career. I did not expect to go to work that day to be assaulted. I was just carrying out my duties.”

After a rise in such assaults, Dyfed-Powys Police has linked with Wales’ emergency services to launch the year-long ‘Work With Us, Not Against Us’ campaign.

It came after more than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Emma Ackland, said: “Assaults on police officers continues to increase and this is completely unacceptable. No officer should expect to come under any sort of attack when doing their best to serve the public and potentially save lives.

“It is vitally important that sentences given reflect the harm and upset caused to these victims – professionals doing their work.”

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Town centre triumph as food festival returns

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THE people of Llanelli treated themselves on Saturday, October 16 as Llanelli Food and Drink Festival returned for its third stint in the town centre. 

Crowds turned out in droves as hot street food vendors and artisan producers lined the streets in the event organised by Ymlaen Llanelli, the town centre’s Business Improvement District (BID).

Chair of Ymlaen Llanelli, Lesley Richards, was thrilled with the event’s success: “The annual food festival is our biggest event, and it was great to see people excited for it to return after a year away. Our work at Ymlaen Llanelli is all about bringing people together in Llanelli town centre, so we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone that came along and made the day what it was. We can always rely on the people of Llanelli to bring the party!”

The sun was shining as festival-goers as they tucked into their treats and were entertained as a lineup of acoustic acts took to the stage in Stepney Square. 

Children and adults alike got stuck into the food-themed crafty fun as the vintage pottery bus Annibendod offered Mad Hatter’s Tea Party pottery, while A Taste of Times Past hosted pickling and pasta-making workshops in St Elli Shopping Centre.

BID Manager, Mandy Jenkins, was pleased with the day: “It was brilliant to see town so busy, and we’ve had incredible feedback from our businesses who were choc-a-block on the day. On top of that, the public response has been phenomenal, so we really couldn’t be happier. Thank you Llanelli!”

Ymlaen Llanelli returns for some festive fun with Llanelli Reindeer Parade on Saturday, December 4.

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