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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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£121k watersports funding announced for Llanelli beauty spot

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• Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Llanelli Rural Council & Canoe Wales has secured ‘Access to Water’ funding.

• Visitors will be able to enjoy paddlesports (canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding), windsurfing and angling.

• Site expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year.

The recent announcement of the development of the Swiss Valley reservoirs in Carmarthenshire has been given a boost with the confirmation of an ‘Access to Water’ grant from Welsh Government, worth £121k, that will enable visitor access to the Lower Lleidi reservoir for paddle sports and angling.

The funding will realise plans to bring back a range of paddlesports to the reservoir, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.  It will also enable bank angling through the creation of recreational zones.  A range of improvements to the surrounding infrastructure are also planned to include a boat wash for biosecurity and the creation of paths and a pontoon that allows easy access to water for people of all abilities, and the refurbishment of toilet facilities.

Developing the Swiss Valley Reservoirs is expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year to the site, in line with Covid19 regulations. The ‘Access to Water’ funding is an important milestone in achieving shared ambitions for the site, and to support the funding application, a survey of local canoe clubs, outdoor activity providers and anglers was conducted which found a strong demand for access to the water for their activities. The feedback was that this is likely to generate a huge amount of interest from clubs and providers given it’s ideal geographical location. The community adoption scheme means that local people are offering to invest their own time to help look after this jewel of a community asset, and care for it into the future.

The project is well placed to support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Whilst Welsh Water is not a public body, it is committed to working in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, Natural Resources Wales and Canoe Wales in the spirit of the legislation.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is an excellent example of a scheme which increases opportunities for outdoor recreation and provides safe access to water for people of all abilities.  The development of these reservoirs will enable local people and visitors to gain more enjoyment from this beauty spot in line with covid19 guidelines and help to support a green recovery in Wales.  I hope the success of this project will encourage development of many more similar opportunities over the coming years.”

Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “Access to blue space is proven to be positively associated with health and wellbeing. Swiss Valley is an important asset for the local community and visitors alike. This funding is a major milestone in our efforts to bring this cherished community asset back to its former glory and make it more accessible, for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

Jen Browning, Chief Executive of Canoe Wales, the national governing body for paddlesport in Wales, added, “Over the past eight months, we have seen an unprecedented amount of demand for canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, but the limited number of venues in Wales suitable for new paddlers has always been a major obstacle. This funding will ensure that Swiss Valley can play an enormously important role in making it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the water, and for many to discover a passion for paddlesport and develop a deep connection with the outdoors.”

Dave MacCallum, Specialist Advisor for Water Access & Recreation at Natural Resources Wales and Chairman of NAFW Access to Water Sub-Group said: “We are delighted to have been a part of this important collaboration which will open up these new waters for responsible, inclusive recreation in South West Wales. NRW is committed to doing all we can to enable more people to enjoy Wales’ countryside more easily and responsibly – to take advantage of the many health and wellbeing benefits that getting outside can bring. Benefitting from bespoke disabled paddle-sport access facilities and a Biosecurity station promoting and enabling the Check Clean Dry initiative, the Swiss Valley reservoir project paves the way for future access to Welsh still waters so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy their visits to some of Wales’ most spectacular landscapes”

Llanelli Rural Council Leader, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said “the funding is marvellous news for the community and will enable the council to develop its plans for the reservoir in earnest. Much of the preliminary work associated with the first phase of infrastructure improvements can now get underway, in fact some work has commenced already. The physical adaptations to refurbish the toilet block, visitor car park and access to the water to facilitate paddle sports and the angling fraternity is scheduled to be completed by March 2021, but work won’t stop there. Moreover, the community response to our plans for the reservoir has been overwhelming; the council has received a great deal of local and regional support and a number of interest groups and individuals have come forward to help us deliver our plans as well as to offer their services. This is greatly appreciated and bodes well for the future.”

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Llanelli Yodel colleague celebrates 30-year anniversary

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Beverley Smith, a valued member of the Llanelli depot’s team, is celebrating her 30-year anniversary with UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel.

Beverley joined Yodel in 1990, when it was originally known as Home Shopping Network, as an Inbound Sorter and then moved onto a Customer Service Support role over 28 years ago. Beverly supports the Llanelli Management Team, provides customer service to clients and customers alike and is always on hand to answer any driver queries.

To celebrate her anniversary, Kay Dodd, Service Centre Manager, presented Beverley with £750 of Very vouchers and ordered in a cooked breakfast to celebrate.

Customer Service Support Advisor, Beverley Smith commented: “My time with Yodel has been very fulfilling – constantly challenging – keeping me on my toes. I’ve been with the company so long that I remember having to write with a pen and paper and have to fax documents to the head office daily – I can’t say I miss those days!

“I have made many close friends during the 30 years at the business and I truly have enjoyed the hard working and happy atmosphere at Llanelli every day.”

Kay Dodd, Depot Manager, added: “Bev is a valued member of my team here at Llanelli, she provides excellent customer service to customers, clients and colleagues. She has a courteous and caring attitude and goes beyond her duties to ensure everyone has a positive experience at Yodel Llanelli. Thank you for everything Bev!”

To join Beverley and the team at Yodel’s Llanelli depot, or to find out more about working for Yodel, and the roles and training available, visit www.yodelopportunities.co.uk or text ‘Deliver’ to 84433. 

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Preparatory works to start at key Stepney Street Building

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Preparatory works are due to start on a key building in Llanelli Town Centre ahead of formal planning approval.

Number 49 Stepney Street is being redeveloped as part of a significant investment in the town centre to transform, regenerate and connect its key retails and leisure areas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has submitted plans which could see the former YMCA building retain much of its character whilst providing high quality living space and commercial units

The works would include the restoration of the front façade of the building, along with the retention of the perimeter wall, main internal structural walls and bringing back many original features such as the ornate staircase.

Subject to planning approval the rest of the building would be redeveloped to include two floors of commercial space on the ground and first floors, with eight two-bedroomed living spaces on the upper floors.

There will also be residents parking spaces on the ground floor.

The works currently underway will prepare the building for redevelopment and include stripping and clearance of old materials.

Carmarthenshire County Council leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “Many generations of people from Llanelli will have special memories of using this fantastic building over the years and it is such a shame to see it lay empty and falling into disrepair – we’re proud to be leading on this scheme to breathe new life into it once again.”

The council has already spent £4.5million buying empty shop units from private ownership, renovating and bringing them back in to use at affordable rental levels – all of them currently occupied by independent businesses

A Local Development Order has been put in place to simplify the planning process for property owners and potential investors

This project is being procured via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework. Carmarthenshire County Council has appointed a regional contractor who will develop the project alongside local supply chains.

For further information on this framework, email TSSWWRCF@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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