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New Shadow Welsh Secretary speaks to The Herald

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‘I will hold the government to account’: Nia Griffith

‘I will hold the government to
account’: Nia Griffith

NIA GRIFFITH MP has been appointed Shadow Welsh Secretary of State to Wales in a shake-up of the opposition frontbench, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Leader. We asked Nia how she received the news that she had been chosen to become Shadow Welsh Secretary. She said, “I had a phone call for Jeremy asking me if I would like to serve in his shadow cabinet and then he offered me the post. “It is a great privilege for me taking on the post. It is an exciting and challenging time. It isn’t going to be easy at all. My family and friends are delighted and I would like to thank everybody for all their lovely messages and their kind words.”

Corbyn has defied expectations

 The Herald asked the Shadow Welsh Secretary whether she believed that Jeremy Corbyn would bring a new approach to politics and whether he would survive demonization by the Tory press. She replied, “I think Jeremy has already defied expectations in his resounding victory. He is completely unperturbed by this onslaught from the press and he continues to stand by his principles fight for what he believes in. “He will incur immense wrath and ridicule from some areas of the press. What Jeremy has done is that he has spoken to people who are fed up and who care deeply about things but who have been put off by the convention of presentation. “Today (Wednesday, Sept 16) at Prime Minister’s question time, I think he took the Prime Minister surprise by asking him to adopt a different style to PMQ’s. Already he is showing that you can be strong in a different way by taking up questions that he has asked people to email him and he had 40,000 replies. Of course there will be people ready to criticise but I do think he will bring a very humanitarian approach to many issues.”

The refugee crisis

The role of Shadow Welsh Secretary will see Nia taking on more responsibility for a wider community. We asked her how she will be responding to the refugee crisis as Shadow Welsh Secretary. She told us: “I think the general public were very clear about what they wanted us to do. Yvette Cooper spoke up for us as shadow home secretary and shamed the government about its attitude and the dehumanising nature of Tory rhetoric about refugees. “We need to keep the pressure up. Today we had a statement in the House of Commons on migration. We need to impress on Cameron the need to cooperate with other European countries about what to do with the arrivals in Southern Europe in countries like Greece. Lebanon and Jordan has an enormous number of refugees. “The UN says they do not have the money and they will run out of food so it is no wonder they want to flee the country. It is really important that we keep challenging the government to get a solution at source but we can’t ignore the people who have arrived in Southern Europe as well.”

The justice system

Changes to the criminal justice system have been wreaking havoc in communities across the country. The practice of levying charges against those accused of offences has drawn sharp criticism from solicitors, barristers and judges that they lead those who find themselves into repetitive crime, costing the tax payer more in the long term as they are imprisoned for offences that begin as minor criminal acts. We asked Nia if she would be looking at trying to influence some changes regarding the criminal justice system in particular. Focusing on the justice system in its widest sense she said: “I think there are some very serious issues in relation to justice not least of which, has been the cuts to legal aid. That is the first thing we need to look at in terms of getting justice for people. “We also need to look at the charges being imposed at employment tribunals. We have issues about courts being closed and how easy it will be for people to access justice at all in rural Wales. We have major worries about cuts to police including cuts to the police helicopter. “There is no doubt about it that it is going to be harder and harder for the ordinary person to get access to justice. I will be speaking up for the whole of Wales and I will be visiting many areas of Wales. My experiences in Llanelli inform me and I find that the issues facing us in Llanelli are the same for those in the Rhondda and in North Wales for example.”

Holding the government to account

The Herald asked Nia Griffith what the key issues facing the people of Wales were and which issues she would be focusing on in her new role. She told The Herald: “The key areas of policy in Wales are health and education and they are devolved. Our colleagues at the Welsh Assembly will be driving those forward. “I am focusing on non-devolved issues like Child Tax Credits. The Prime Minister promised he would not make cuts in Child Tax Credits over and over before the election. Well, we can now all see what that promise was worth. That money now is going to be sucked out of Wales. “We are talking about a quarter of a million families in Wales who are going to lose about £1,000 a year. It is going to be taken out of our local communities. That would also mean two hundred million pounds less in our High Streets. Think of the knock on effect that is going to have. “We need to hold the government to account about what’s happening in Wales in the non-devolved areas, that’s my role as Shadow Secretary of State to Wales.” Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “I’d like to offer my congratulations to Nia Griffith and Owen Smith on their appointments. Nia has done a great job as Shadow Welsh Minister already, and this elevation is well-deserved. Her stand-out result in Llanelli in May tells you all you need to know about her campaigning ability. I know that she will make sure that Wales’ voice is heard loud and clear in Westminster. As the first Labour woman to hold the post either in Government or as Shadow Secretary of State, I can’t think of a better person to make that bit of history.”

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New ward extension opens at Werndale Hospital

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WERNDALE Hospital opens its £1millon ward extension, featuring a suite of new spacious patient en-suite rooms and additional light and airy ward space for new nurses’ stations, new technology and medical equipment, in pleasant and comfortable spaces. 

Werndale is part of Circle Health Group, the UK’s largest provider of private healthcare. The group is carrying out a £125 million redevelopment programme across its 50 hospitals in the UK.

Werndale has a strong history in the village of Bancyfelin, where is has been serving the local communities of Wales for over 32 years.

James Davies, Wales and Scarlets rugby player, from Bancyfelin, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening on Monday 1st August. His nickname “Cubby”, is reference to his brother’s nickname, “Fox”; this refers to the Fox & Hounds pub their parents ran in Bancyfelin, the village where they grew up. Staff and consultants were given the chance to view the new extension, with a small gathering to mark the occasion and celebrate all the hard work that has gone into this project over the last 12 months.

Jacky Jones, Executive Director of Werndale Hospital said: “The investment programme is an exciting opportunity to expand what we can offer to patients at Werndale. Our staff and consultants are delighted with this expansion which will allow us to meet the private healthcare needs of patients and families in Wales and will decrease waiting times which will positively impact the patient’s experience. Having the new patient rooms here increases our ward capacity by 20%, it is a great investment”.

Gaynor Llewellyn, Director of Clinical Services said: “At Werndale we are committed to continuous improvement of clinical facilities and services. We continually invest in the hospital so that we can offer our patients and consultants reassurance when they visit us for treatments”.

Werndale Hospital is seeing increased demand for its services across all specialities particularly orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Nearly 4,000 patients had surgery at Werndale Hospital, Bancyfelin during 2021 and the new investment will enable ward capacity to be increased by 25 per cent.

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M4 closed westbound following lorry fire near Swansea

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A SECTION of the M4 near Swansea was shut on Monday (Aug 8) due to a vehicle fire.

The westbound section of the motorway, between junction 47 at Penllergaer and junction 48 at Hendy closed.

Emergency services were called to the scene, and there was queuing traffic in the area.

Traffic monitoring service Inrix reported: “M4 Westbound closed, queueing traffic due to vehicle fire between J47 A48 (Penllergaer / Swansea West Services) and J48 A4138 Pontardulais Road”

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Police appeal after Llanelli assault: victim required hospital treatment

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating an assault which occurred on Regalia Terrace, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire at about 12.05am, Sunday 3rd July.

The victim required hospital treatment.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the person in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the person is, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DP-20220703-011

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

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