KEITH DAVIES, Labour Assembly Member for Llanelli, has confirmed that he will not be standing for the party at the next Assembly Election in May 2016.
Mr Davies was elected in 2011, when he beat Helen Mary Jones by 80 votes.
The Herald caught up with Keith at his constituency office in Queen Victoria Road, Llanelli where we asked him a number of questions based around his life in politics.
With regard to Assembly Members, we asked Keith whether he thought that with fewer AM’s than there are members of Carmarthenshire County Council, there was a risk that AM’s time was spread too thinly. Responding, he told us: “I would like to see the number of AM’s increase because the workload has increased. The Assembly is now passing laws, which do not have to be approved by Parliament. But looking at your question another way, there are two different aspects to consider. There are committees of the Assembly, and you can only be on two or three of those, and there are cross-party groups which focus on single issues and draw together members from all sides of the political debate. I am off to Brussels on Wednesday and Luxembourg on Thursday. We are going to have discussions on European funding and we are going to have discussions with the European investment bank. Wales could gain if we have more involvement with the European Investment Bank.”
He continued: “Meanwhile, I represent the assembly in meetings on items like sex trafficking. I was amazed at the amount of trafficking that takes place right across Wales. It is a complex issue and the proceeds of organised crime also contribute to sex trafficking.”
We asked Keith about the impact of Labour’s General Election defeat in May on Wales, particularly whether the people of Wales are doomed to suffer at the hands of a Conservative government. Answering, he offered a trenchant view: “People are suffering now. You will have seen the anti-austerity marches over the weekend. We will have £12billion in cuts and that is unacceptable and I think the electorate have been shocked.”
However, Keith was more upbeat about Labour’s chances of recovering from its shattering defeat: “The Labour party is increasing its membership in every constituency since the general election. We have had 2,000 people join the Labour party in Wales following the election.”
He was particularly keen to draw a distinction between London and Welsh Labour in Cardiff Bay: “Whatever happens in Westminster the Welsh Labour government is trying to help people in poverty. You’ve got things like the independent living fund, which Westminster got rid of. We kept that in Wales. We have Flying Start and Communities First and we are trying to help get people out of poverty and back into education and work.”
On education, Keith told The Herald that he was optimistic about Wales’ education system. A former teacher, inspector and Head of Education for a local authority, he told us: “I am slightly suspicious of the Pisa results. GCSE results are improving in Wales. One of the problems we have had over the years is that academic subjects have been pushed and vocational subjects have been ignored. The Donaldson report will look at the complete curriculum. We are all different and children who have different strengths and weaknesses must have a choice. The curriculum should not tie them into a particular course of action.”
As a proud Welsh speaker who made his career before politics in education, Keith Davies was particularly passionate about the advances he had seen in Welsh-medium education: “I can go back a few years within Welsh medium education. I remember Lord Haycock telling us that trying to stop Welsh education is like trying to stop a steamroller. We opened a new Welsh medium school in Glamorgan every seven years. We have Welsh speaking schools in Llanelli and we may have another Welshmediumcomprehensive in Llanelli. Ever since I worked in Glamorgan I have supported the Welsh language. We now have our own language and our own education system in some areas where the Welsh language had almost disappeared. I have been able to give as much support to the Welsh language as possible.”
On the future of Llanelli in any reorganisation of local government, Keith favoured a merger to the east with Swansea, over reintegration within Dyfed Mark Two: “I have already said this to Leighton Andrews. I believe that the Gwendraeth Valley, the Amman Valley and Llanelli should be in with Swansea. The majority of people in this area would prefer if we moved in with Swansea and Port Talbot. We are in such close proximity to hospitals like Morriston and Singleton and that is somewhere we could be treated.”
Closing on a personal note, Keith told us that he was proud to have worked with SOSSPAN to retain a doctor led accident and emergency department at Prince Philip Hospital and his part in the fight to retain two local care homes within his constituency.
“It has been a privilege to represent my home constituency since 2011, championing Llanelli town and speaking up for everyone from Cross Hands to Kidwelly, Bancffosfelen to Burry Port. Throughout my working life, I have encouraged young people to work hard and reach their full potential. I believe now is the right time for the next generation to have the opportunity to represent the Llanelli Constituency.”
Llanelli choir in fine voice with £6,677 fundraiser for lifesaving charity
A SUCCESSFUL Llanelli choir has presented the Wales Air Ambulance with a cheque of £6,677 after nominating them for their charity of the year.
Côr Curiad Choir are no strangers to raising funds for charity – since their musical director Alex Esney took over in 1996/97 the ladies have raised over £105,000 for charity. Some of the good causes that have benefitted from the kind fundraising events include Teenage Cancer Trust, Marie Curie, Ty Bryngwyn Hospice, and the breast cancer unit at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli.
The choir, which consists of 46 females and a solitary male – accompanist Craig Oldham and musical director Alex, welcomes people of all ages. The youngest member is in her twenties and the eldest is 91. This includes mothers, daughters and sisters who all sing for Côr Curiad. They even have members who live outside of Wales.
Spokesperson for the choir Pat Hogson, said: “Now that Covid rules have started to relax a little we have been able to return to more outdoor events, but it will be so good to get back to the ‘new’ normal and do what we love most – to sing and entertain people and to start to raise money for charity again.
“We are able to do as much as we do for charity with the wonderful support of our families and friends and a solid group of supporters who come along to all our events.”
The choir’s music has been described by Pat ‘as varied as their age range’, they sing traditional Welsh and English pieces to Bohemian Rhapsody and songs from Disney, Lord of the Rings, Snow Patrol, Abba and Adele.
Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.
The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.
Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.
Last year saw the ladies held their first-ever virtual Christmas concert, which was a huge success in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance.
Katie Macro, Campaigns Manager for the Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Thank you to everyone at Côr Curiad Choir who despite the challenges that Covid presented to them, they found ways to raise funds for our lifesaving charity. Your support is much appreciated, and every donation is vital and goes towards keeping our helicopters in the air – for the people of Wales, when they need us most. Thank you to the choir’s supporter, friends and family who continue to support and enjoy their charity events.”
There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance.
These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com.
Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.
Four UK forces are piloting a new service to report sexual assault online
THE NEW online Rape and Sexual Assault reporting service is now live on the websites of British Transport Police, Merseyside Police, Dyfed Powys Police and Leicestershire Police.
It was created by the National Police Chief’s Council’s (NPCC) Digital Public Contact Programme (DPC) and launched on Tuesday 30 November.
The pilot will run for six weeks.
People wishing to report sexual offences have until now been directed to phone police forces, text 61016 in the case of British Transport Police, or dial 999 in an emergency.
If they do not require immediate police assistance, people – regardless of age or if they want to report the crime – will be directed online via their local force website.
They will find advice and details of charities and other organisations that can help. The forces will ask, if the person is willing, for details of what has happened. There is an option to report the offence anonymously. If reported anonymously, the police will only contact that person if there is believed to be an immediate threat to their life.
Det Ch Insp Sarah White from British Transport Police said: “We know from extensive research that there are a number of reasons why survivors and witnesses are not comfortable in reporting sexual offences to the police.
“One of the common factors remains the unwillingness to provide personal details. We understand this and have been working to look at how we can invite greater reporting, which can help us prevent further crimes and bring offenders to justice.
“Every report provides us with valuable information. And if people aren’t comfortable with making that report, then we want them to know how they can get the support and help they need.
“This new service in not only innovative in the way it has been designed – from the ground up in consultation with more than 40 organisations (including Rape Crisis, End Violence Against Women and the Survivors Trust) – but also in the way it is being deployed – online where people, especially younger people, increasingly are.”
When visiting the websites of those forces, options are available to report a sexual offence themselves, on behalf on another person, or as a witness. People can choose to report in English or Welsh.
If the pilot is successful, it will become a permanent reporting feature and will be available for other forces to adopt nationally.
Det Ch Insp White added: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring our railways are a safe place for people to travel and we hope this is just another tool in our armoury against sexual offending.”
British Transport Police has also been accredited by White Ribbon, committed to ending violence against woman and girls. It recently signed a pledge encouraging all men within the organisation to make a promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “As a White Ribbon accredited organisation, committed to ending violence against woman and girls, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Dyfed-Powys Police and we know how traumatic being the victim of a sexual offence is.
“We encourage victims to come forward to report incidents of this nature so we can thoroughly investigate the crimes whilst ensuring that all victims have the opportunity to be referred for specialist support. The ability to report a sexual offence online will provide another avenue for victims to come forward so we can help them and bring offenders to justice.”
New videos launched to support care for children and young patients
PARENTS, carers of children and young people are being reminded that they can still access 24/7 minor injury care for children at Withybush General Hospital, or during daytime hours at Tenby Walk-in Centre and Cardigan Integrated Care Centre.
Hywel Dda University Health Board has created a series of new information videos explaining the types of care that we are currently able to provide for children and younger patients following the temporary move of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush.
Minor injury units can treat adults and children over 12-months of age, with minor injuries such as the following:
Minor burns or scalds
Minor limb, head, or face injuries
Foreign bodies in the nose or ear
Minor injury units are run by an experienced team of highly skilled specially-trained emergency nurse practitioners, triage nurses and health care support workers. Some are located on main hospital sites, which have emergency departments as well, and others are in community-based health care centres.
Bethan Thomas, an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the Minor Injuries Unit at Withybush General Hospital, said: “Part of my role frequently involves treating children and young people with minor injuries, and we can do this quite quickly in the emergency department at Withybush so that those patients can return home having been seen and given care.”
Children with serious illnesses or injuries will be seen at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen or Bronglais General Hospital in Aberystwyth. In an emergency, please dial 999.
In the videos, which are available to view on the Health Board’s website, and on social media, Consultant Paediatrician Dr Didi Ratnasinghe also explains what parents need to be aware of and how to access care if their child has a respiratory illness, while fellow Paediatrician Dr Prem Kumar gives an insight into what to expect if your child needs to stay in hospital for treatment.
Emergency medicine Consultant Dr Nicola Drake provides an explanation of other childhood medical emergencies, and when parents need to call 999 for an ambulance to take a child to Glangwili or Bronglais.
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