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Politics

Three Labour police and crime commissioners elected in Wales

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FOUR police and crime commissioners have been elected in Wales. The results have been announced after the Police and Crime Commissioner elections took place on Thursday.

Labour now has three of four of Wales’ police and crime commissioners (PCCs) after Andy Dunbobbin secured a gain for the party in north Wales.

The other three PCCs were re-elected and between them all, they decide how £760m of Wales’ police budget is spent.

The voting system used means unless a candidate gets more than 50% of votes in the first round of counting, all but the top two candidates are eliminated from the election – and secondary votes on the ballot paper are then counted.

PCCs are elected representatives who work to ensure police forces in England and Wales are running effectively.

They replaced police authorities in 2012 and were intended to bring a public voice to policing.

The UK government insists PCCs are not there to run local police forces but to hold them to account and respond to the needs of the public.

The roundup for each police force area is as follows:

South Wales

Alun Michael is now one of three Labour P&CCs (Pic BBC)

First round:

Alun Michael (Labour): 177,110

Steve Gallagher (Conservative): 102,465

Nadine Marshall (Plaid Cymru): 82,246

Mike Baker (Independent): 37,110

Callum Littlemore (Liberal Democrats): 19,907

Gail John (Propel): 13,263

Second round:

Alun Michael (Labour): 48,353

Steve Gallagher (Conservative): 25,379

Alun Michael has been re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner by the communities of South Wales for the third time.

The result of the election for the post was declared earlier today at the Memo Arts Centre in Barry.

Mr Michael said: “I am pleased to have had the support of the electorate across South Wales and to have been re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the third time.  A great deal has been achieved through some very difficult years for policing but I am very keen for us to build on the firm foundations that we have put in place, and I shall be saying more shortly about my plans and ambitions for the next three years.   

“While the past 12 months have been immensely difficult for everyone, we have worked with partners in Welsh Government and Local Government to keep the people of South Wales safe and the close joint working has brought about some very positive developments as has the cooperation between all parts of the Criminal Justice System in Wales so I want to thank the public, the members of my own team and to the Chief Constable, Jeremy Vaughan, and officers and staff across South Wales Police.  Together we must now face  challenge of recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic while at the same time working hard to reduce and prevent crime in our communities and deal with new and emerging demands that have an impact on policing.  I relish the challenge and now that the election is over I will work with the Chief Constable to pursue our shared ambition of giving the communities of South Wales the best possible police service.  We will pursue that aim, along with the aim of preventing harm, by working with our partners, always achieving more together than we can achieve alone.”

Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said: “I would like to congratulate Alun Michael on his re-election as the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.  I have enjoyed a very positive working relationship with Alun over several years and I look forward to continuing our work to keep the communities of South Wales safe.  My focus remains on leading the force in addressing the challenges in our communities, including serious violence and knife crime, domestic abuse, drug dealing and protecting the vulnerable. By continuing to work with the Commissioner’s Team and in partnership with other organisations we can continue to protect the public and look after those who need us most.”

Gwent

Jeff Cuthbert gives his acceptance speech at Gwent count (Pic: Herald)

First round:

Donna Cushing (Plaid Cymru): 29,392

Jeff Cuthbert (Labour and Co-operative Party): 75,775

Paul Harley (Independent): 13,601

Hannah Jarvis (Conservative Party): 52,313

Clayton Jones (Gwlad – The Welsh Independence Party): 2,615

John Miller – Liberal Democrats: (7,640)

Second round:

Jeff Cuthbert (Labour and Co-operative Party):16,841

Hannah Jarvis (Welsh Conservative Party): 8,223

Jeff Cuthbert said: “I am delighted to be able to serve Gwent as Police and Crime Commissioner for another term and would like to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to vote in the election.

“I must also thank my deputy, Eleri Thomas, who I propose to re-appoint as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, and my colleagues at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for their work over the last five years.

“Working together with the Chief Constable of Gwent Police and key partners we have achieved much over the last term of which I am incredibly proud. Together we have worked to ensure that we are protecting the most vulnerable in our society, building greater cohesion within our communities, and that Gwent Police officers and staff have the resources they need to protect and reassure our residents to the best of their ability.

“I know that we still have much to do and in the coming weeks I will begin working on my new Police and Crime Plan for Gwent that will set out my priorities for the next three years

Dyfed Powys

Dafydd Llywelyn signs note of acceptance (Pic DPP)

First round:

Jon Burns (Conservatives): 69,112

Dafydd Llywelyn (Plaid Cymru): 68,208

Philippa Thompson (Labour): 48,033

Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats) 17,649

Second round:

Jon Burns: 8,209

Dafydd Llywelyn: 26,280

Dafydd Llywelyn issued the following statement:  “I am extremely pleased to be re-elected as your Police and Crime Commissioner.  As your current Commissioner, operational, front-line policing has, and always will come before party politics. I have a strong track record of delivering on my promises and of listening to the communities of Dyfed Powys. I am proud of what I have achieved since 2016, but there is still so much to do.

“Your safety is my top priority. I want to ensure that the Dyfed Powys Police Force remains one of the safest places to live in Wales and England.”

North Wales

Andy Dunbobbin winner at the count in Flintshire (Pic FCC)

First round:

Mark Young (Independent): 15,907

Andy Dunbobbin (Labour): 69,459

Lisa Wilkins (Welsh Liberal Democrats): 10,149

Pat Astbury (Conservative): 75,472

Ann Griffith (Plaid Cymru): 67,672

Second round:

Andy Dunbobbin (Labour): 28,575

Pat Astbury (Conservative): 14,677

The new Police and Crime Commissioner for the North Wales Police area is Labour’s Andy Dunbobbin.

He said: “Visibility in our communities would be my top priority. We all want to be safe and secure – this really matters to us. Having a more visible police presence would reassure our communities and help towards us reclaiming the streets. I also feel that more visibility on social media platforms needs to happen and I would work collaboratively, cross-party to challenge social media companies so the police can take further action.

“There has been a decade of unprecedented cuts in policing and to Welsh Government from the Conservative UK government. This is why the Welsh Labour Government’s investment in additional PCSOs has been so vital – and why I’m so pleased the Welsh Labour manifesto has a pledge to deliver 100 more. Whereas the Conservatives have said they will end the funding for this scheme – meaning a loss of 500 PCSOs from patrolling Welsh streets.”

Mr Dunbobbin’s victory comes after the previous PPC Arfon Jones announced he would not stand again after being elected in 2016.

On Sunday the 46-year-old was elected after standing against four other candidates: Patricia Astbury, Conservative, Ann Griffith, Plaid Cymru, Lisa Wilkins, Liberal Democrats and independent candidate Mark John Young.

He won with 98,034 overall votes defeating Conservative rival Pat Astbury by 7,885 votes after second preference ballots were added in.

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News

Drakeford says Wales is not immune to Indian coronavirus

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MARK DRAKEFORD,  First Minister for Wales, has warned that Wales will not be immune from the Indian coronavirus variant as it becomes the dominant strain in England and Scotland.

He was speaking at the Welsh Government’s coronavirus briefing as he detailed the results of the latest three-weekly lockdown review and announced that large outdoor events are set to go ahead once again.

He also urged people to come forward to get vaccinated, even if they had missed their appointment, saying it remained the best defence against the virus – even the new variant.

He said: “It is never too late to be vaccinated in Wales – if you are not yet one of the millions of people to have had a vaccine, you can still arrange an appointment. There are details on our website about how to do that.”

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wales remain at less than 10 cases per 100,000 people, which continues to be the lowest rate in the UK. This reflects the hard work of people throughout Wales to keep themselves and their families safe.

Our vaccination programme also continues to make extraordinary progress. More than85% of the adult population has now received their first dose of the vaccination and nearly half have completed the two-dose course.

However, the emergence and the spread of the more transmissible delta variant in parts of the UK – most notably in North West England – is a cause for concern. There are just under 100 cases in Wales, including a cluster in Conwy but we expect these numbers will increase.

We have the headroom to move to alert level one but we will do this in a phased way, focusing on outdoor events and activities in the first step. This phased approach will provide time for more data on the impact of this variant to become available and for more people to be vaccinated.

The changes to coronavirus regulations from the 7 June will therefore include:

  • Up to 30 people can meet outdoors, including in private gardens, outdoor hospitality and public places.
  • Larger outdoor organised gatherings and events, such as concerts, football matches and sporting activities, like organised running groups, will be able to go ahead for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated. All organisers planning events and activities must undertake a full risk assessment and put in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing.
  • Up to three households can form an extended household.

We will consider further changes to the regulations on indoor activity later in the three-week cycle, if public health conditions allow. These will include:

  • The rule of six for meeting indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation.
  • Increasing numbers for indoor organised gatherings and restarting indoor events.
     
  • Opening ice skating rinks.

We have reviewed the Public Health (Protection from Eviction) (No.2) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 and decided these will remain in place up for the time being but not exceeding June 30. We are considering further options to strengthen support for tenants. In the meantime, we would urge all tenants struggling to pay their rent to speak to their landlord and contact Citizen’s Advice Cymru or Shelter Cymru for further help and support.

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Politics

Voter registration opens for Welsh Youth Parliament elections

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YOUNG people across Wales are being encouraged to get involved with their Welsh Youth Parliament by registering to vote in the 2021 Elections in November.

The registration process opened yesterday, Thursday, June 3, on the Welsh Youth Parliament website.

It takes just 5 minutes, and registration will remain open until November 12.

This is an opportunity for Wales’ young people, aged 11 – 18 years old, to use their voice in choosing the Members who will represent them and their area in the next Welsh Youth Parliament.

This will be the second Youth Parliament, made up of 60 young people in Wales to represent different areas and backgrounds.

By meeting regularly, consulting with young people and conducting inquiries, they discuss the issues that matter most to young people to bring their views to the attention of the elected politicians of the Welsh Parliament.

The online election in November will choose 40 Members to represent all regions of Wales, the other 20 Members will be put forward by partner organisations to ensure a diverse representation.

The application process for interested partner organisations is also now open.

Organisations and charities are invited to apply to work with the Youth Parliament and to have a representative among the 60 Members.

Talulah Thomas and Cai Thomas Phillips, former members of the Welsh Youth Parliament, hosted an online panel discussion to mark the opening of voter registration which coincided with the Urdd’s Eisteddfod T.

The panel session focused on the importance of young people’s relationship with democracy.

A month since 16- and 17-year-olds were able to vote in the Senedd 2021 Election for the first time, getting involved with the Welsh Youth Parliament is one way that young people can make sure their voices continue to be heard.

Talulah Thomas, former Member for Clwyd South, says; “Be part of a Youth Parliament which gives us a voice on the issues that matter now and in our future. Register now to be able to vote in the Election, send in your ideas for topics and I also encourage you to consider standing to be a member too. When the opportunity comes. Go for it – be part of something great!”

YOUR FUTURE –  THE ISSUES THAT MATTER

With the opening of voter registration, young people are also asked to put forward their suggestions for topics they would like to be prioritised by the next Youth Parliament. A form is available online for young people to contribute to the conversation and highlight the issues that matter most to them and their communities.

Last time, the Youth Parliament chose to prioritise three topics: Mental Health, Life Skills in the Curriculum, and Littering and Plastic Waste, holding inquiries and publishing reports to present to the Welsh Government.

Cai Thomas Phillips, former Member for West Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire says; “Young people’s voices need to be at the heart of important decisions as we emerge from the pandemic; a better way of working, economic recovery after COVID and tackling environmental degradation. I really hope the next Youth Parliament will take their chance to look at these issues and much more. It’s an amazing opportunity for anyone to give new ideas and opinions to the decision makers.”

Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS encouraged Wales’ young voices to get involved in their Welsh Youth Parliament; “The first Welsh Youth Parliament showed us how passionate young people are about the issues which matter to them and their communities. Their voices need to be heard now more than ever.

“I encourage young people across Wales to get involved, to register to vote and be part of the conversation about the topics that should be prioritised by the next Youth Parliament. Your voice is powerful, and your views are important to us all.”

More information about registration, topics and how to be part of the Welsh Youth Parliament are available on the website – https://youthparliament.senedd.wales/

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Politics

Cummings slates Government, Johnson, and Hancock

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“THE TRUTH is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its Government in a crisis like this.

“When the public needed us most, the Government failed.

“I would like to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for themistakes that were made and for my own mistakes at that.”

Dominic Cummings’ opening statement to the Covid-19: Lessons Learned Committee of the House of Commons is an attention-grabbing one.

The rest of his evidence was no less damning of Westminster’s response in the early days of the pandemic.

It revealed a government in which discussions at Cobra meetings, supposedly the most secure and confidential of briefings, were routinely leaked to the media. It showed a PM who went away on holiday as the crisis broke. The Government failed to follow the logic of the science presented to it and took weeks to understand the pandemic’s capacity to overwhelm the NHS.

And – as Mr Cummings said – ‘unbelievably’ we have a government whose response to the crisis at a critical time was put on the back burner to deal with a complaint by the PM’s fiancé about a disobliging story about her dog.

CUMMINGS HAS PAPER TRAIL

Suppose Mr Cummings, like so many others, made his assertion without a paper trail. In that case, his remarks could be interpreted as so much self-serving nonsense and a study in revenge. However, he has the paperwork, the email trail, the journal entries, the secret WhatsApp chats to back up his account.

His story got extra heft by his clear expression of regret that he had not obtained an independent view of the Government’s data earlier. When he did deliver data to those outside Downing Street, the extent of the crisis became apparent. 

He made it clear the Government could have got better insight sooner and taken steps towards lockdown six weeks before it did.

The Prime Minister maintained ‘this new swine-flu thing’ was less of a risk than economic damage from overreaction throughout February, even as infections and deaths escalated.

However, the data was wrong. According to Mr Cummings, had the models been checked against live data from Intensive Care Units concerning Covid infections, it would’ve been evident the models presented to the Government and upon which it based its decisions were totally flawed.

NO PLANNING

In a withering assessment, Dominic Cummings said the more people criticised the plan, or lack of one, the more people on the inside believed their critics lacked knowledge.

If there’d been proper scrutiny and interrogation of what Ministers were being told, “we would have figured out at least six weeks earlier that there was an alternative plan”.

The original plan, he said, was “complete garbage”.

More than that, the Department of Health’s ‘plan’ amounted to no more than a press release.

The Department of Health was ’a smoking ruin’, he claimed. There was no plan for shielding, support, emergency procurement. The Department of Health failed to appreciate the size of the crisis and stuck to its normal procurement channels until it was almost out of PPE. The Department of Health refused to buy ventilators because their price had risen.

He suggested a proposal – seriously advanced for consideration – that people hold the equivalent of ‘chickenpox parties’ was met with disbelief by scientists who had to point out that chickenpox was not killing hundreds of thousand people worldwide.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hancock.jpg
Matt Hancock: Accused of lying to colleagues and the public

HANCOCK BRANDED A LIAR

Dominic Cummings turned personal fire onto Matt Hancock, who remains the Secretary of State for Health.

He accused Mr Hancock of lying and that the Health Secretary’s conduct merited his instant dismissal.

He had earlier mentioned the Health Secretary’s denial that the Government pursued a herd immunity policy that formed a vital element of the Government’s then-approach.

Dominic Cummings said Matt Hancock “for lying to everybody in multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room and publicly”.

Crucially, Mr Cummings said the Cabinet Secretary (Mark Sedwill, the UK’s most senior civil servant) told him and the Prime Minister that he did not trust Matt Hancock to be truthful. He had notes of the meeting in which that remark was made.

Mark Sedwill, Mr Cummings claimed, told Boris Johnson that the cabinet system was not set up to deal with a minister like Matt Hancock, who – he alleged Mr Sedwill said – repeatedly lied in meetings.

He alleged Mr Hancock deliberately delayed implementing a proper track and trace system to meet an arbitrary testing target.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is borisness.jpg
Like the Mayor in Jaws: Media-obsessed PM didn’t stop foreign travel

JOHNSON DUCKS THE QUESTIONS

As the Committee took a break, Prime Minister’s Questions opened in the House of Commons.

Asked about Dominic Cummings’ evidence, the Prime Minister failed to deny key allegations from it when asked by opposition leader Kier Starmer.

Instead, Boris Johnson deflected the questions by referring to a public inquiry. Mr Johnson refused to give a date for that inquiry’s start.

Mr Johnson seemed to decide poking the hornets’ nest would invite further disclosures from Mr Cummings, more damning than the testimony already given.

The picture Mr Cummings painted was chaos at the heart of Government, institutional complacency, lack of expertise in the key departments, and – tellingly – a Prime Minister and Cabinet with only a tenuous grasp on the urgency of the situation.

Given a chance to plan for different scenarios and allocate adequate resources, the Prime Minister and other key ministers preferred to look on the sunny side, hope for the best, and expect something to turn up.

The PM took his opportunity to have a holiday.

Nothing Mr Cummings said was more telling than his revelation that the reason the UK did not enter lockdown sooner was the Government – including the civil service – did not have a plan. The part of the civil service supposed to deal with civil emergencies couldn’t cope because it lacked expertise in the response it was supposed to handle. Planning was always based on a peak of the virus twelve weeks in the future from the date of any meeting.

The pandemic’s first wave peaked in late April. The Government, as late as March 14, planned for a peak in June.

JOHNSON LIKE THE MAYOR IN JAWS

Mr Cummings’ account of a shielding plan drawn up over two all-night brainstorming sessions after the lockdown’s announcement was hair-raising. At the eleventh hour it emerged the UK hadn’t taken account of vulnerable groups’ protection.

As the pandemic raged and demands made to put a brake on overseas travel, Dominic Cummings claimed the PM didn’t want one. He painted a picture of a media-obsessed Boris Johnson swayed by press campaigns against taking preventative action.

Mr Cummings explained Mr Johnson’s behaviour was like the Mayor’s in Jaws. He wanted to keep the beach open, even as the shark ate the swimmers.

On a broader topic, Dominic Cummings criticised a ‘crackers’ political system that allowed people like him and Boris Johnson to exercise such power during an emergency when they were unqualified to deal with one.

Mr Cummings’ tarter observations about the ability of the UK’s political parties included a stinging attack on how political parties select and support their leaders.

To summarise his view: he suggested the problem with the political system in this country is that voters had a choice between people like Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson at the last election.

He concluded from that statement that the parties need to look at themselves to find out why they put ‘that sort of person’ forward for office.

That’s an issue beyond the current inquiry’s scope. ‘Teflon Al Johnson’ will be very grateful it is after Wednesday’s hearing.

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