19-YEAR-OLD Stefan Ryszewski was Born in Felinfoel, Llanelli and attended Ysgol Y Strade. A fluent Welsh speaker, he is studying law at Swansea university.
So far, you might think,the above is not exceptional in and of itself. However, Stefan is the Welsh Conservative party’s nominee to stand for the Llanelli seat in May 2016. We began by suggesting that the public could think Stefan very young to be an AM.
Confidently, he responded: “People trying to encourage young people to become interested in and get into politics. It is strange that when young people do become interested and do get involved, the same people seem critical or wary. “We have to encourage young people into elected positions, otherwise how are we going to encourage our youth to get involved and engaged in politics? I have always taken a keen interest in local issues in Llanelli. I am a local lad and it would only be for Llanelli that I would like to stand. I studied politics to A level in school and that galvanised my interest.”
Llanelli is a Labour stronghold and we suggested that Stefan faced a tough task. Stefan shot back: “In Westminster, maybe, but it is not so much in the Assembly. It is only a majority of about 80 that the Labour Party has over Plaid Cymru. Yes, it is going to be tough and I am going to have to face challenges, but I am a local person and I want to show them what the Conservative message is all about.”
The Welsh Conservatives have never had much luck in Llanelli and so we asked Stefan whether he would be following the message from Westminster or from Wales. He told our reporter: “We will be giving a message from the Welsh Conservatives and the manifesto that we will bring out in due course. There will be issues we won’t agree on with the Westminster Government but you will also find that within the Labour Party.”
Stefan has tweeted that he was in favour of air strikes in Syria, what had made up his mind to support the call for military action? He said: “ I saw the people that were against the air strikes offering no alternative. They sat back and said they didn’t agree with air strikes but they didn’t offer an alternative for what the government should do. I voice my opinion, but as an Assembly candidate the discussions has to be on devolved issues. I would have voted for the air strikes if I was an MP but as an AM we don’t have that power to launch air strikes.”
The Herald asked Stefan what he believed were the issues facing the people of Llanelli. He was clear and targeted the cuts to public services which have taken place over recent years: “The issue facing the people of Llanelli are the cuts in the education budget. It is £18 million over three years. Yet the Council keeps on coming out with vanity projects. The Council’s priorities are all wrong.
“With our policy as Welsh Conservatives we would directly fund schools. That would be equivalent to £214 extra per pupil per school. It would probably be more when we consider the cuts that come into place. We want to give children in Wales the best opportunity in life. I know the issues the Welsh language faces here in Llanelli and I believe in aspiring to have the means to better yourself. I don’t think we suffer from a lack of ambition, I believe it is a lack of ambition from our elected representatives. Maybe people will see aspiration in a young person like myself. It is not fair to say the people lack ambition.”
An ambitious Strategic Plan has been produced for the next fifteen years. We asked Stefan for his view: “I welcome investment into Llanelli and Carmarthenshire but we need to look at priorities. We are seeing these cuts coming into areas like health and education. The discussion needs to take place with the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.
“We welcome jobs and growth but we need to give local businesses the opportunity to grow. If every business in Wales took on one extra person there would be no unemployment in Wales. “I take a keen interest in local politics and I have never seen this Strategic Plan document. I think that Plaid are hypocritical. Their campaign was based on free parking. They are now in a position to do so and we have been offered free parking between 3 and 5 o’clock. A lot of people will be picking their children up from school or just coming home from work at that time.
We need to offer people two hours free parking when they want them so they can come into the town and make their purchases. We showed Stefan some of the figures the Council is using to underpin its Strategic Development Plan and asked if he was impressed:“I would much prefer to see existing successful local business people getting first bite of any investment opportunities. We need to support local people and local businesses to grow. The figures we are seeing do not add up. I think we must welcome tourism but I am skeptical about where they obtain the figures in this document from. I will be making a request to find out more about them.”
The County Council plan to cut litter picking in Carmarthenshire but claim in the Strategic Development Plan that Llanelli will be cleaner as a result of their vision. We asked Stefan for his opinion: “We have had a lot of complaints about litter in streets. The council did respond but we shouldn’t have to complain to them. I will be doing litter picks as a candidate myself to show support for the workforce and show that we do need these people to clean our streets.”
We asked Stefan what he thinks is the key priority for Llanelli: “Not enough is being done to bring local businesses into town. I would like to see young people getting opportunities and as a Welsh Conservative Government we would abolish business rates of rateable businesses up to £12,000. We do need to give young people from whatever walk of life the means to go out and start up their own business. We need to make use of our existing empty buildings and help the town centre. We know the out of town developments have killed the town. We need to start promoting the town centre.
Stefan will be up against Lee Waters (Lab), Helen Mary Jones (Plaid) and Sian Caiach (People First). and he was diplomatic with his assessments of them: “I see them as all very strong candidates. Helen Mary has been an Assembly Member in the past with a track record. “I have my doubts over the town centre and Prince Phillip hospital. I would like to sit down with the candidates and discuss how we can work together for Llanelli. We will differ but that is all part of a good debate. I would like to discuss what our vision and share ideas. Llanelli really does need someone local and someone who is going to fight for Llanelli.
“ My Grandfather came over here after the war and my whole family live here. I am not from the landed gentry. Llanelli has never been a Conservative seat but I am here for a long time and hopefully I can change that.” Stefan was also very definite about what the County Council should be focusing their attention on. He said, “Parking is a real issue in the town and we need more free parking especially for elderly people. We need to give councils the opportunity to freeze council tax.
“It has risen here in Carmarthenshire by a substantial amount and yet services are still being cut. There are calls for savings but we need to make the council more efficient and accountable. The council tax is not there to put up just to raise money. “We need the best people we can get to run our councils. I would welcome more people from Llanelli on the executive board. I think that the council should be led by our elected councillors and represent us.
The executives have refused to cut their wages by 10% and that is a huge concern to me. They use the word ‘savings’ but they are CUTS. “They are using those cuts to fund other projects. It is all well and good making savings but we need to ring fence health education and the local economy. However the council tries to dress things up, a cut is a cut.”
Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June
ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.
A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.
An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.
The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.
Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”
If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.
All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.
It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.
Please check for local arrangements.
Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.
Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.
Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.
“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”
Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.
They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS
Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”
“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”
Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.
The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.
Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre
LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.
In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.
This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”
“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”
“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”
“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”
“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”
“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”
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