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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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Town centre triumph as food festival returns

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THE people of Llanelli treated themselves on Saturday, October 16 as Llanelli Food and Drink Festival returned for its third stint in the town centre. 

Crowds turned out in droves as hot street food vendors and artisan producers lined the streets in the event organised by Ymlaen Llanelli, the town centre’s Business Improvement District (BID).

Chair of Ymlaen Llanelli, Lesley Richards, was thrilled with the event’s success: “The annual food festival is our biggest event, and it was great to see people excited for it to return after a year away. Our work at Ymlaen Llanelli is all about bringing people together in Llanelli town centre, so we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone that came along and made the day what it was. We can always rely on the people of Llanelli to bring the party!”

The sun was shining as festival-goers as they tucked into their treats and were entertained as a lineup of acoustic acts took to the stage in Stepney Square. 

Children and adults alike got stuck into the food-themed crafty fun as the vintage pottery bus Annibendod offered Mad Hatter’s Tea Party pottery, while A Taste of Times Past hosted pickling and pasta-making workshops in St Elli Shopping Centre.

BID Manager, Mandy Jenkins, was pleased with the day: “It was brilliant to see town so busy, and we’ve had incredible feedback from our businesses who were choc-a-block on the day. On top of that, the public response has been phenomenal, so we really couldn’t be happier. Thank you Llanelli!”

Ymlaen Llanelli returns for some festive fun with Llanelli Reindeer Parade on Saturday, December 4.

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Police: New scientific evidence shows that David Morris was correctly convicted

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SOUTH WALES POLICE say that an independent investigative assessment into the Clydach murders in 1999 have shown that there is a scientific link between David Morris and a sock, widely accepted as being used by the offender during the killings.

David Morris was found guilty of murdering an entire family of four including two young girls.

But potential new witnesses, along with the views of experts, had given campaigners calling for his release fresh hope.

However Morris, 59, died in prison in August.

He spent 22 years in jail for killing Mandy Power, 34, her daughters Katie, 10, and Emily, aged eight, and her 80-year-old mother Doris Dawson.

A bid to again take his case to the Court of Appeal was rejected in 2018 by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

In July the Crown Prosecution Service said no information had been provided by the potential new witnesses to undermine the conviction.

The review, which was being overseen by Devon and Cornwall Police, was then expected to move on to look at forensic issues also challenged in a recent BBC television documentary about the killings.

Police say that the scientific examination of the sock has identified the presence of a mixed *Y-STR profile using technology which would not have been available to the original investigation team over 20 years ago.

While the presence of a link to Morris (or a male relative of his paternal lineage) and the mixed Y-STR profile has been identified, the science cannot determine how or when this profile was transferred onto the exhibit, but the conclusion of scientists is that it is “more likely” that Morris contributed to the DNA profile found on two different areas of the blood-stained sock than if he did not contribute DNA to them.

Following the tragic events in Kelvin Road, Clydach in June 1999, South Wales Police carried out an extensive investigation into the murders and the scale of the investigation was the largest and most complex ever undertaken by a Welsh police force.

In 2002, David Morris was convicted of the murders by a unanimous verdict at Swansea Crown Court. His conviction was overturned on appeal due to a conflict of interest by a defence solicitor. A retrial was held at Newport Crown Court in 2006 and Morris was convicted again. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The matter has been considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission as recently as 2018. Following a thorough review of the case material they decided not to refer it to the Court of Appeal as no new evidence had been identified.

In November 2020, legal representatives of Morris contacted South Wales Police requesting the release of various exhibits from the investigation.

This request was the subject of careful consideration and the force decided on a course of action which involved the appointment of an independent senior investigating officer and an independent forensic laboratory to oversee a forensic review of the case material.

This work – carried out under the banner of Operation Dolomite – has been led by experienced detectives Steve Carey and Ian Ringrose, supported by police forensic expert David Lloyd, all of whom are from Devon & Cornwall Police. An independent forensic science laboratory, Cellmark Forensic Services, was commissioned to carry out forensic work.

Following the death of David Morris on 20th August 2021, permission was given by his family to obtain a blood sample to allow forensic examinations to take place.

Assistant Chief Constable David Thorne, of South Wales Police, said: “The decision to carry out an investigative assessment did not constitute a reopening or reinvestigation of the murders, nor did it demonstrate any lack of confidence in the conviction of Morris and the subsequent case reviews. Morris was convicted unanimously by a jury on the strength of the prosecution case and independent reviews by the Criminal Cases Review Commission have never identified any evidence which would determine the conviction to be unsafe.

“However, the advancement of forensic technology has provided the opportunity for evidence-based answers to some of the questions which have been raised about forensic issues in this case, along with other matters raised by the BBC Wales documentary ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’. The appointment of Steve Carey and his team has ensured the review has been conducted with a layer of independence.”

The outcome of the investigative assessment has been communicated to the victims’ families, the family and legal representatives of Morris and others affected by this case.

Mr Carey said: “My team has carefully examined the issues raised and subject to the terms of reference for Operation Dolomite.

“In the opinion of the forensic scientist regarding these results – which were obtained from samples extracted from two separate areas of the sock at the time of the original forensic examination – it is more likely that David Morris (or a close paternal-line male relative of his) contributed DNA to them than if he did not.

“In relation to one sample, the lead forensic scientist has stated to me that in his opinion the low-level and incomplete mixed Y-STR result is as would be expected if Morris had contributed DNA to it. For another person to have contributed to it, the components must match by chance.

“The scientist would have a very low expectation of selecting a male individual at random from the Western European population having components in their Y-STR profile being represented to the same extent as those in the Y-STR profile of Morris.

“To test this, an evaluative tool developed by Cellmark Forensic Services showed that from a dataset of 9,357 Western European males, no-one is represented to the same extent as the component in the Y-STR profile of Morris.

“It should be noted that the results do not allow the scientist to interpret how the DNA got onto the sock and therefore whether this was through directly touching the item or indirect transfer but the identification of this link has been possible due to the development of technology which would not have been available to the original investigation team.

“This is significant as the sock was recovered from the murder scene and it was widely accepted that it was used by the killer.

“The outcome of the forensic assessment and completion of further actions have not established any information that undermines the conviction of Morris. In my view, as the independent senior investigating officer, the new findings from the samples taken from the sock support the existing evidence that originally convicted him.”

Operation Dolomite also investigated accounts provided by two witnesses who featured in the BBC documentary. They were interviewed by officers and several enquiries were conducted to try and corroborate and support their accounts.  All this evidence was shared with the Crown Prosecution Service. None of the information provided by the witnesses undermines the conviction of Morris.

ACC Thorne added: “Notwithstanding the fact that Morris has been convicted based on overwhelming evidence against him, South Wales Police has shown a commitment to providing evidence-based answers to the issues which have been raised about this case over many years.

“This commitment has now resulted in a forensic link between the convicted killer David Morris and an item of great significance which was recovered from the murder scene. South Wales Police commissioned the review in the hope that we could in some way provide closure for those most affected by the murders. In particular, those who lost three generations of the same family and have had to revisit those painful memories time and time again over the last two decades.

“The findings from Operation Dolomite will be shared with the Criminal Cases Review Commission to complete the due process and demonstrate transparency.  However, in the knowledge of the conclusions drawn from this review, South Wales Police would like to show respect to the family and those affected by these terrible crimes by finalising this case.

“Our thoughts as ever remain with the family of Mandy Power, her children Katie, aged 10, and Emily, eight, and her 80-year-old mother Doris, who still experience such painful memories even to this day.”

Following the refusal by the CPS to look at new evidence before David Morris died, Janiene Morris, one of David Morris’s two daughters, said: “This is another massive blow to dad’s case and as a family we just don’t understand it.”

She said at the time that the evidence of a taxi driver who had sighted unidentified people near the murder scene had been discounted. In all, she said there were three witnesses that had placed others near the murder scene on the night of the killings.

“We’ve never met them and don’t want to because we want to do things properly. These witnesses have was not involved with anyone in the case and have absolutely no reason to lie. I cannot express how angry and frustrated we are right now. It is so frustrating, but we’re not going to take it lying down”.

Speaking in July, Janiene said: “He is up and down. He has good days and and bad days. Sometimes he is just exhausted with everything that is going on. We are looking forward to seeing him.”

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Moving the Welsh Economy Forward: “A Team Wales recovery, built by all of us” – Economy Minister

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT will pursue a progressive economic policy that focuses on better jobs, narrowing the skills divide and tackling poverty, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, will say today.

At a hybrid Economic Summit, the Minister has invited businesses, trades unions and local government leaders to discuss how Wales can create a stronger, fairer, greener economic future.

In setting out his vision to move the Welsh economy forward, the Minister will commit to extending a Team Wales model to offer ‘as much certainty as possible’ for businesses facing a volatile recovery.  

He will promise a new era of partnership to strengthen regional economic development, a delivery plan to back the everyday economy and wide ranging support for workers in a fast changing economy.

The Welsh Government will work with unions and business to develop it’s ‘something for something’ approach so that Welsh public money is wedded to action on fair work, decarbonisation and skills.

The Minister will also start a conversation about the long term demographic challenge facing the Welsh economy. The proportion of the population aged 16 to 64 years old in Wales has been decreasing year-on-year since mid-2008 – and could be just 58% of the population by 2043.

In response, Welsh Ministers’ approach will be geared towards creating an economy where more young people feel confident about planning their future in Wales thus supporting job creation and more dynamic local economies.

The Welsh Government will set out a vision of what makes Wales an attractive place to live, study, work and invest – including the quality of life in an inclusive, open and green nation.

The Welsh Government will also call on the Chancellor to demonstrate the UK Government’s ambition for Wales by honouring promises made on EU successor funds, backing major renewables such as tidal energy and investing in Welsh research and development.

Later, the Minister will visit a family-run business that’s received Welsh Government support to grow, before delivering a speech to a predominantly virtual audience of business, trades unions and local government leaders and other partners at Transport for Wales’ new HQ in Pontypridd.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “The Welsh Government is taking bold action to build a stronger, fairer, greener Welsh economy. It has taken a Team Wales effort to keep Wales safe and we will deliver a Team Wales Recovery, built by all of us. 

“A strong Welsh recovery will be based on the principles of fair work and sustainability as we invest in the industries and services of the future.

“As we face the headwinds of Brexit, I am determined that our credible plans will offer as much certainty as possible to help businesses plan ahead. 

“A new era of partnership for stronger regions, a young person’s guarantee, a plan to back our everyday economy and collaboration with world leading, advanced manufacturing. This is the cause for optimism for the future we are building in Wales.

“My ambition is to make Wales a place where more young people feel confident in planning their future here. You don’t have to get out to get on, make your future here in Wales.”

The Welsh Government’s approach includes:

  • Investing in our people – through the Young Person’s Guarantee and a strong employability and skills offer, including Apprenticeships;
  • Supporting those furthest away from the Labour market to find work. The upcoming Employability Strategy will highlight the support available for individuals, particularly those most impacted by the pandemic and furthest away from the labour market;
  • Accelerating the adaptation to new skills which are required for skilled, secure jobs, not least in the area of low carbon. The current recruitment challenge has also shown there is a need for some quick action on skills in certain sectors;
  • Exploring how we retain our graduates and talent in Wales by building strong linkages with universities, and between universities and businesses;
  • Support start-ups, including graduate start-ups, with possible incentives in some areas;
  • Ensure we have firms grounded in Wales who can provide future opportunities;
  • Wales can also benefit from the opportunities for far greater remote working and flexible commuting options.
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