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Labour candidates’ Facebook slurs slammed

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Surprised at level of public support: Helen Mary Jones

Surprised at level of public support: Helen Mary Jones

PLAID CYMRU’S AM candidate for Llanelli, Helen Mary Jones has expressed dismay at comments made about her character which have been made on the Facebook page of the Llanelli Labour candidate, Lee Waters by two other Labour AM Candidates.

Helen Mary Jones told The Herald that comments suggesting that she had made Facebook posts while under the influence of alcohol were upsetting and untrue.

The posts were made by Marc Tierney Labour candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembs and Vikki Howells the Labour AM candidate for the Cynon Valley.

Ms Jones said that she did not have a screenshot of the comments and that she has now blocked Mr Waters.

The Plaid Cymru candidate told The Herald: “Marc Tierney’s comment was a pun on my misspelling of the word ‘campaign’, when I inadvertently typed ‘campaign’. Mr Tierney pulling out the word ‘gin’, and made a suggestion about how much had clearly been consumed, in his view. “The other person was Vikki Howells. She said something agreeing and saying that she had got her red pen out. Basically they were mocking the spelling and suggesting it was caused by alcohol.”

The Plaid candidate continued: “I don’t want to make too much of a deal out of this. My Labour opponent Lee Waters shared one of my posts. I have been doing a campaign diary after I return home after campaigning. I wrote this post at around 11.30 pm on Friday evening as that is the time I got back home. I had some comments on it from the usual people.

“I came home late afternoon on Saturday and saw that two of Lee’s fellow candidates had made comments on my post suggesting that I must have been drinking when the status had been put up because the spelling was so poor.”

Helen Mary continued: “I am dyslexic. I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I don’t hide it either. It is important for people to see it is something you live with and something that doesn’t hold you back.

“Obviously I couldn’t have people suggesting in that public place that I would be posting on Facebook under the influence. It wasn’t acceptable.

“I went back to both of those people who made the posts and said, actually I am dyslexic. What I expected them to do was to apologise and remove the comments. They didn’t. One of them didn’t reply and one of them came back to me with a sarcastic comment.

I then had to post a status to Lee saying: ‘this has been said, it is not true, I have dyslexia, as we all know Facebook doesn’t have an auto correct’.”

Helen Mary Jones expressed surprise at the strength of the public response to the online abuse she had suffered: “What happened next really took me back. I had hundreds of messages saying that this was not fair and lots of messages from families and people with dyslexia and who face challenges more serious than mine. I have been really touched by those comments.

“What this has highlighted for me is the number of people living with difficulties we cannot always see. Perhaps we should all be a bit careful before we judge people. There are many people out there living successful lives suffering from mental health problems.”

The Plaid candidate concluded: “I wish those people had chosen to apologise. They didn’t. As far as I am concerned that is the end of it now. I am very grateful to the people who expressed their sympathy and it has reminded me how important it is that if I am elected how important it is to speak up for people who find it difficult to speak up for themselves.”

Labour candidate Lee Waters declined to off any form of apology for the comments posted on his Facebook page by other Labour candidates:“It is a fuss about nothing.”

Lee went on to claim: “A misunderstanding by Helen has now been blown out of all proportion. People are getting very stressed and tired during the campaign and this sort of thing happens. She left a message on Facebook late at night about her day. Someone left a teasing ‘jokey’ message about her spelling mistake. She wrote in reply, ‘I have dyslexia’.”

The Labour candidate explained: “I meant to like that comment as a show of solidarity for her. Somehow I managed to share the post rather than like.”

He continued: “I went to bed and woke up to find that all hell had broken loose. Helen had sent a subsequent message saying I had shared the post and people were making fun of her. “People have over reacted and there are some very unfair comments being made about me. He said he had not seen the comment referring to alcohol and that by the time he had checked it had been deleted.”

We contacted the Labour AM Candidate Marc Tierney to ask for an explanation of his comments.

Marc Tierney: No apology

Marc Tierney: No apology

Marc Tierney said: “This whole episode appears to be a misunderstanding. My comment was simply about the technology we take for granted playing up. It’s wrong to suggest now that it was personal or abusive.

“We’ve all had times when the spell-checker auto corrects something in error. In haste, it’s easy not to notice it. It looks like that happened with the word ‘campaign’ being replaced with something else.

“I don’t follow Ms Jones on Facebook, but when she later asked my advice on how to use the spell check function, I politely and respectfully explained how to do so.”

“So I’m at a loss as to why she might now believe there was some malice or personal attack behind what was, in reality, a swipe at modern technology letting us down.”

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Business offer Welsh Government help in ‘non-essential’ shopping row

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THIS morning (Tuesday, October 27), the Wales Retail Consortium, CBI Wales and Association of Convenience stores presented the Welsh Government joint recommendation to resolve the confusion over non-essential items.

The three industry bodies’ statement expresses the hope that the Welsh Government, ‘will agree to these recommendations and the people of Wales can refocus all their energies on respecting the Fire Break’.

The recommendations come in response to confused and confusing messaging from the Welsh Government, which allowed its public health message to be drowned out over the weekend by rows over whether toasters, Lee Childs novels, and size 16 jeans were essential items for customers. The confusion was not helped by a mistaken tweet by supermarket giant Tesco which claimed women’s period products were not essential items when they are and always have been.

The WRC, CBI Wales and ACS believe their recommendations will fulfil retail’s role in tackling the spread of the virus while allowing for discretion to be used on an individual basis – as recommended by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in a tense press conference yesterday, http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/61929/welsh-health-minister-defends-retail-restrictions/.

The business bodies recommend:

  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.
  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases
  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs
  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer
  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.
  • These recommendations would mean non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores – but large notices are placed in front of the products and in communal spaces informing customers of the Welsh Government’s regulations and the Welsh public are trusted to make the right decision.

They also say they ‘look forward to engaging with Welsh Government again this morning and we hope consensus can be reached’.

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Llanelli Christmas Carnival goes online

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Preparations are underway to host the first ever virtual Llanelli Christmas Carnival. 

The carnival will go digital for the first time in its 42-year history due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in line with current Welsh Government guidance and increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus linked to large gatherings. 

Whilst there won’t be the usual street parade, people will be able to get into the festive spirit from the comfort of their own home. 

The online celebration will be hosted as an event on Discover Carmarthenshire’s Facebook page on Friday, November 13. 

Over the years, thousands of people have been involved in the Llanelli Christmas Carnival – either dressing up to enter a float in the parade, volunteering, or simply enjoying the atmosphere with generations of their families. 

They can still get involved this year by sharing photos and video to help people celebrate good memories and help others reminisce about carnivals gone by. 

There will be a broadcast of music from talented local performers who would usually sing from the main stage, and people will still be able to countdown to the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights. 

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table. 

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “It’s very unfortunate that we can’t hold Llanelli Christmas Carnival this year, but we’re determined to keep the spirit of the carnival alive. Let’s come together and celebrate one of the biggest events in Wales from the comfort of our homes – celebrate with generations of memories and look forward to a bigger and better carnival next year.” 

Sign up to attend Llanelli’s first virtual Christmas carnival – visit facebook.com/discovercarmarthenshire 

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Free Community Crime Prevention Kits to be distributed in Llanelli area

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OVER the coming weeks, residents from both the Ty Isha and Glanymor areas in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, will receive free crime prevention kits that will aim to deter offenders and make both communities safer.

The prevention kits have been purchased through funding that was secured from the Home Office’s Safer Street Fund by Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.

The funding of £195,673 that was secured by Mr Llywelyn will go towards measures proven to cut crime, and will include employing two Community Wardens; purchase of SelectaDNA kits, Community crime prevention activity support, Environmental improvements and Community Crime Prevention kits.

SelectaDNA kits and Bike register kits are two of the Community Prevention kits that will be distributed to residents within the local communities over coming weeks.

The SelectaDNA kits are property marking kits that include a unique formula of DNA, UV tracer and microdots, which people can use to mark their valuable household items, so that if stolen, police are able to trace them. 

Similarly, the bike register kits include stickers, frame markings and microdots to uniquely identify a bike.  Users can add descriptions and photos to ensure that in the event of a theft, their bicycle can be easily identified and returned by Police through the BikeRegister Scheme.

Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys said, “I am delighted that both these crime prevention kits have been purchased through the Safer Streets funding that I secured earlier this year.  Hopefully, as they are distributed over the coming weeks, we will see that they will have a positive impact within the area.  Criminals know that DNA is the police’s most powerful weapon in convicting criminals therefore the DNA fear-factor is highly understood and acts as a huge deterrent.

“I have invested significantly in the area over recent years with community grants I made available in addition to the new CCTV system that is in place across the town. These new crime prevention kits that have been purchased through the new additional Safer Streets funding will further build upon my work over recent years and I hope the residents will feel a positive difference in their communities.

Both Ty Isha and Glanymor areas are considered to be two of the most deprived areas in Carmarthenshire according to the Welsh Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation. The funding secured will focus on tackling all acquisitive crime such as burglary, vehicle theft and robbery within the identified areas.

PCC Llywelyn added, “Ensuring the security and safety of residents is a priority of mine – everyone deserves to live safely, and free from harm. Acquisitive offences are the crimes that the public are most likely to encounter, and they are estimated to cost society billions of pounds every year. There is strong evidence that these crimes can be prevented by tactics that either remove opportunities to commit crime or act as a deterrent by increasing the chances of an offender being caught. I now look forward to continue working closely with all partners that have supported us with our bid, to tackle these crimes in both areas and to ensure that they become safer environments for community residents.”

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