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Wood and Farage on top at Question Time

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ON THURSDAY (Feb 11) BBC’s Question Time came to Y Ffwrnes. Facing the questions was a panel consisting of the Leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood, Conservative MP Stephen Crabb, First Minister Carwyn Jones, Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage and comedian Romesh Ranganathan.

If Hughie Green had been at Theatre Fwrnes with his ‘clapometer’ he would have declared Nigel Farage the winner of Opportunity Knocks for having the loudest applause on introduction by David Dimbleby and on answers to a number of the questions. The panel were asked four questions from the audience, the first being from Alice Lee who asked: “Who is wrong 53,000 junior doctors or Jeremy Hunt?”

Nigel Farage said: “The object of the Government was to address a problem. The problem was that more people were dying on the Saturdays and Sundays. The government’s objective to try and get the NHS to be as safe and brilliant as it is seven days a week is the right one. They have gone about it in an insensitive matter.”

Leanne Wood answered emphatically: “I agree with junior doctors. Doctors work seven days a week now. They take it as an insult when your government says they are being lazy on the weekends. There are protesters outside Welsh hospitals because of Welsh Labour’s centralisation plans. The First Minister is in denial that we don’t have enough staff in our hospitals. We have fewer doctors per head of the population than many other countries. I welcome his plan to say he plans to recruit more doctors.”

Stephen Crabb said: “The government and doctors want the same thing. How do we address the weekend effect. The current contract everyone agrees is not fit for purpose.”

Carwyn Jones turned the focus to the NHS in England addressing the Secretary of State for Wales saying: “When you have junior doctors on strike it is a sign of abject failure. We have never had a time when doctors have had to stand outside hospitals with placards saying save the NHS. We want to make sure our people get the right access to health services. Come to Wales you will be treated with respect.”

There was plenty of heated debate between the panelists on the issue of the NHS leading David Dimbleby to instruct Carwyn Jones and Nigel Farage to stop talking over each other so that the audience could actually hear what each was saying.

The First Minister Carwyn Jones was out maneuvered by Leanne Wood and Nigel Farage, while the Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb struggled to answer a simple question on NHS statistics put to him by both Leanne Wood and David Dimbleby. The next question came from Sally MacDonald who asked why the bankers were bailed out and whether the steel industry should be bailed out.

Leanne Wood responded: “I think that the steel industry is as important to Wales as the banking industry was to the whole of the UK I think that both Governments on both ends of the M4 should be doing everything possible to look at finding a solution to protect jobs and the industry. It is hugely important to Wales. 18,000 jobs are in steel in this country. It is 3.2 billion pounds of value to our economy. Plaid Cymru has put forward a proposal for the welsh government to continue to consider taking a public stake in the steel industry to get over this temporary situation and make sure those jobs are secure.”

Stephen Crabb rejected Leanne Wood’s call for nationalisation of the industry and said: “It is hugely concerning for workers and family. That true for every country on Earth where steel is being produced. The idea of Nationalisation sounds appealing. Is tax payers’ money being used right now to support the steel industry. Yes it is.”

Leanne Wood reminded Stephen Crabb that he was opposed to tariffs on Chinese steel. She said: “You cannot say on the one hand that you want to protect Welsh steel from Chinese dumping while at the same time there are people from your government trying to make sure that tariffs are not imposed on Chinese steel.”

On the issue of whether the government could nationalise the steel industry Nigel Farage said: “You asked the question why the government is not supporting or bailing out the steel industry. The answer is it can’t. It is impotent and it has given away the power. Carwyn Jones interrupted and asked if he had spoken to TATA.

Nigel Farage dodged the question and responded with an attack on the First Minister’s position on the value of sterling: “You thought the pound was going up when it is going through the floor, so for goodness sake give me a break please.”

Carwyn Jones kept repeating himself at least 8 times asking: “Have you spoken to TATA?”

The UKIP leader evidently found answering a yes or no question too difficult and continued: “We are not in charge of the steel industry, the financial industry of the fishing industry, we have surrendered control of our nation and this referendum gives us a chance to take back control of those industries. The answer is to stop the Chinese dumping large amounts of steel onto the market at levels that are unacceptable and unfair.”

The next question came from Jennifer Rowland who asked: “Would Brexit be a way of controlling immigration?” Romesh Ranganathan said that his biggest issue with immigration was the scaremongering tactics with regards to immigration. He said that Mr Farage had said that we needed to get control of our borders and pointed out that some terrorists were home grown and that there was a sense of fear being created by politicians.

Nigel Farage said that we now have an NHS service which was available to 508 million people. He said: “If we look at hospitals or school, our public services cannot cope. Brexit is the only way we can control immigration. It is actually irresponsible to have a total open door. What I want to do is exit the political union, have a trade agreement and have an Australian points system.”

Stephen Crabb said: “He’s the man who said he feels uncomfortable hearing foreign accents on a train. He is a master of pressing the button on fear. Nigel tries to reduce everything to a secret formula called Brexit. The world is on the move and that is the truth of it. The vast majority of people who come into this country want to work and that is a boost for our economy. We want people to come and work.”

Leanne Wood said she was in no doubt that it was in Wales’ best interests to remain in the European Union. She said that we had to separate the types of immigration we were talking about. She continued: “The Immigration which is not related to membership of the EU is people coming from war torn countries coming here as refugees. We need to differentiate between the two.

“My concern about this debate is the way in which the scaremongering takes place and the way in which we are all encouraged to divide and rule. While we are all blaming immigrants for all of our ills, our eyes are not looking at those people who are very very wealthy avoiding tax. If they were paying the right tax there would be enough resources for everyone.”

Carwyn Jones said that every single person in the room and that every person watching was a descendant of an immigrant. He asked: “Where do we draw the line?”

He continued: “People are afraid of immigration and what it means for them and their jobs. People are coming having seen their families killed and butchered. To think that the European Union can bury its head in the sand and think that it is all going to go away is just not going to work. We have to think carefully about what this means and so for me, immigration is a European issue that needs a European solution.”

The final question came from Myra Arthurs who asked ‘Should MP’s pay rise faster than nurses a n d teachers?’ David Dimbleby reminded the panel that AM’s were getting a £10,000 pay rise.

Carwyn Jones answered first saying that it should not. He said there is an independent panel which decides AMs’ pay: “What I would like to do is have a system where our pay increases are pegged to teachers, nurses or doctors. He was asked what he was going to do with the £10,000. He said he would continue to do what he has always done and give a substantial amount to charity.”

Leanne Wood said that she would not take the £10,000 pay rise as she had not taken the £23,000 pay rise as leader. She said that people were losing public services and libraries and that people are reliant on food banks in 2016. She said: “People cannot accept that when politicians take a huge pay rise.”

After the programme, Leanne Wood spoke to The Herald and said: “It’s was great to be able to take part in the BBC Question Time programme from Llanelli. There were some fabulous contributions from a very well informed audience. It’s great for Llanelli and the new theatre Ffwrnes for such a prestigious programme to be shown from there. The audience did Llanelli proud.”

The Herald also caught up with Nigel Farage who told us he had hugely enjoyed his evening in Llanelli: “What it shows me that with this referendum coming in June people are beginning their minds up and really wanting a debate.”

He spoke about recent European measures to limit the number of fish Welsh fishermen could land saying: “I am an angler, my son’s an angler. I fish out of Swansea for bass. You’re telling me that on the odd good day we have we can’t take a fish home for tea. It is going to a huge amount of damage to Wales. Calling all anglers, vote to leave.”

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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues

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POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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