THE CONSTITUENCY RESULTS are in and the election could not have gone much better for Labour, at least in the number of seats held.
As the Labour vote tumbled across Wales by around 7%, none of the opposition parties were able to make the step from being promising contenders to winners. Even where Labour shed a massive number of votes, such as in Blaenau Gwent, Labour hung on.
The big tests for Plaid Cymru, winning Llanelli and snatching Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire – the second and third most marginal seats in Wales – proved beyond them.
Lee Waters 10,267; Helen Mary Jones 9,885; Kenneth Rees 4,132; Stefan Ryszewski 1,937; Sian Caiach 1,113; Greg Smith 427; Gemma Bowker 355.
Helen Mary Jones was regarded as a hot favourite for victory in pre-election opinion polls, but where it counted – in the ballot box – the popular former AM came up short. Labour’s Lee Waters increased his predecessor’s slim majority to 382 after a hard fought ground war. One key local issue – the future of Trostre – strongly favoured the former journalist and Director of the IWA. In addition, resentment of the Plaid-led County Council combined with UKIP’s capacity to take non-Labour votes in parts of Llanelli town, were additional contributory factors to a widely unexpected victory.
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Angela Burns 10,355; Marc Tierney 6,982; Simon Thomas 5,459; Allan Brookes 3,300; Chris Overton 1,638; Valerie Bradley 804
In Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, confident noises, encouraged by opinion polls, were silenced as Plaid’s Education spokesperson in the last Assembly, Simon Thomas, failed to make headway against the incumbent Angela Burns.
In a smashing victory for the Conservative health spokesperson, Ms Burns nailed down a 3,373 vote majority over her nearest challenger, Labour’s Mark Tierney, with Simon Thomas 1,500 votes further back.
Chris Overton trailed in fourth with 1,638 votes, while former Pembroke Dock publican Allan Brookes received over twice as many votes for UKIP.
On a more positive note for Plaid Cymru, their candidates in Ceredigion and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr fared particularly well
Elin Jones 12,014; Elizabeth Evans 9,606; Gethin James 2,665; Felix Aubel 2,075; Iwan Wyn Jones 1,902; Brian Dafydd Williams 1,223
In the constituency she has represented for seventeen years, Elin Jones increased her majority, establishing a 2,400 vote lead over her closest challenger, the Liberal Democrats’ Liz Evans. Plaid’s health spokesperson had fought a tough campaign against her tenacious opponent, the County Councillor from Aberaeron.
Carmarthen East & Dinefwr
Adam Price 14,427; Steve Jeacock 5,727; Matthew Paul 4,489; Neil Hamilton 3,474; William Powell 837; Freya Amsbury 797
In Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, the towering figure of Adam Price gained a towering majority of 8,700 votes. Labour’s Steve Jeacock trailed in a very distant second. While Adam Price was a nailed on certainty to win from the outset, the scale of his victory, in which he seems to have hoovered-up core Labour votes.
Paul Davies 11,123; Dan Lodge 7,193; John Osmond 3,857; Howard Lillyman 3,286; Bob Kilmister 1,677; Frances Bryant 1,161
Preseli Pembrokeshire was, as widely predicted, a solid victory for incumbent AM, Paul Davies with a majority of 3,930 over Labour’s Dan Lodge. Both parties lost votes to UKIP candidate Howard Lillyman: Paul Davies shedding 3% and Labour 9% as Mr Lillyman polled 12%.
The impact of the changes to healthcare provision at Withybush Hospital and the unpopularity of those changes, has cemented Preseli Pembrokeshire as – for time being – a Conservative banker. There was no sign of Plaid Cymru’s John Osmond reaping any benefit either from his long-standing and consistent personal involvement in the battle to first preserve and then return services to Withybush, or from the decision of Chris Overton to stand in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.
The National picture after the constituency results
With only one constituency seat changing hands, it appears likely that Labour will not need a coalition partner to form a government. The fractured nature of its opposition and ability to cling on to key Labour/Conservative marginal constituencies mean that projections of significant seat losses by Carwyn Jones’s party were never likely to be met. In key marginal seats in North Wales, where the Conservatives had devoted considerable resources, UKIP stripped away votes from the Conservatives.
UKIP polled exceptionally strongly against Labour in the former industrial heartlands of the South Wales Valleys, regularly hitting 20% plus of the vote in those constituencies.
On an unremittingly grim night for the Liberal Democrats, the one highlight was Kirsty Williams’s performance in her Brecon and Radnor seat. Polling over half the vote and getting an 8,170 majority in the process. It seems very likely that UKIP’s likely success on the regional lists will see Ms Williams as the sole Liberal Democrat AM in the next Assembly.
During what must have been a disappointing night for her party, Leanne Wood, cashed in on her personal popularity to win RCT. The Plaid leader gained a majority of over 2,200 votes and 51% of the total number of votes cast. Her victory cost one of Labour’s senior figures, Leighton Andrews his seat. Mr Andrews, who had served as both Education and Public Services Minister in the Fourth Assembly, congratulated Ms Wood on her very personal victory.
The Burry Port Harbour Improvement wins top civil engineering award
THE BURRY Port Harbour Improvement has been announced as the winner of the Bill Ward Sustainability Award at the recent ICE Wales Cymru Project Awards held on Friday (30 September) at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.
The Bill Ward Award is presented to the project best demonstrating the principles of sustainability, i.e. social, economic and environmental benefits during delivery and on completion. The Judges were impressed with the way two major companies, Alun Griffiths and Atkins, worked hand in hand on the project with their client, Carmarthenshire County Council, to deliver the scheme to a fixed budget, within programme and to the complete satisfaction of historic port custodians Cadw.
Burry Port Harbour is made up of three historic (tidal) basins contained by vertical masonry walls and earth embankments. The 3 harbours comprise 1500m of masonry vertical walls and revetments, which had fallen into disrepair and collapse since its heyday transporting coal in the 1800’s.
The project is an ongoing, phased renovation with attention being given first to areas of instability. Displaced masonry has been recovered from the floor of the harbour and re-used. New materials have been chosen with care to ensure they are appropriate and will fit into the historic marine.
The work has safeguarded the historic masonry fabric for future generations, provided a safe harbour for the marina vessels and provided the waterside frontage for the Council’s vision to transform the harbour into a dynamic living, leisure and work hub for future generations.
Wales stands firm in support for Ukraine
IN THE latest update on the Ukraine crisis, Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt thanked all those households across Wales who have come forward to offer their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the War and encouraged more households to provide this vital support.
APPEAL FOR MORE HOST FAMILIES
The Minister for Social Justice said: “I’m delighted to say that over 5,650 people from Ukraine, sponsored by the Welsh Government and Welsh households, have already arrived in the UK.
“More than 8,200 visas have now been issued to people from Ukraine who have sponsors in Wales, so we expect the number of arrivals to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of Welsh households sponsored Ukrainians to arrive in Wales and committed to hosting them for at least six months.
“As we move into the autumn, we approach the end of that initial period.
“We hope hosts and Ukrainians will agree to extend many of those placements, but we need additional hosts to support those who cannot continue living where they are.
“To ensure a warm welcome to Wales, I’m inviting households across Wales to come forward and open their homes to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
“We’re immensely thankful to all those across Wales acting as hosts to Ukrainians, but more households must come forward.
“I completely understand that there are those who want to help but may not have the resources to do so, given the circumstances we’re all facing with the cost-of-living crisis.”
WALES WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE
Jane Hutt continued: “What we all know, and has been proven countless times, is that the people of Wales are one of the most generous across the globe, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate once again.
“The idea of hosting can be daunting. That’s why we have funded Housing Justice Cymru to provide a Host Support service which includes expert and reliable information, training, advice, and guidance for people hosting, or those considering hosting, Ukrainians in Wales.
“More information on sessions and training can be found on the Housing Justice Cymru website. We also publish regularly updated guidance for hosts and sponsors at gov. wales/ukraine.
“We still need many more households to consider whether they could provide a home for those in need. This would normally be a commitment to hosting for 6 to 12 months.
“If anyone is considering this, we encourage them to register their interest at gov.wales/offerhome, and to attend one of the ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru. You won’t need to continue the process if you decide it is not for you.
“We have also partnered with Airbnb.org to ensure very short-term emergency placements can be provided to prevent homelessness.
“If you cannot host for more than 6 months but you could offer your property for up to 30 days at a time, you may also be able to contribute. Visit gov.wales/offerhome and follow the link to the Airbnb.org platform.”
Finally, the Minister stated: “We will continue to communicate with those who host Ukrainians, with updated guidance and information to support the valuable role you are undertaking.
“To all those that are already hosting and to those that are considering hosting, thank you, we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.”
WESTMINSTER MUST BACK HOSTS
DURING COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS
Conservative MS Mark Isherwood raised how the cost-of-living crisis affects Ukrainian refugees.
Where families had taken in those fleeing Russian aggression, he noted a risk of sponsorships not continuing beyond six months because the hosts cannot afford the rise in fuel costs.
He asked the Minister what discussions she’d had with the UK Government about increasing the £350 contribution to households who’d taken in Ukrainian refugees.
The Minister agreed with Mark Isherwood that ending a specific ministerial post dealing with refugees was regrettable.
She noted a lack of information from the UK Government over the summer months and since Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Government.
Ms Hutt said: “We asked for an increase at least to £500, or up again, doubling to £700 per month. An urgent decision is needed regarding this as they reach the end of their six-month period.
“That period is underway, so we’re writing to all hosts to see if they will continue.”
UK GOVERNMENT URGED
TO PICK UP THE PHONE
The Minister thanked Mark Isherwood for introducing her to a charity offering support in North Wales, Link, and hoped that he and his colleagues would bring pressure to bear on their Westminster colleagues to ensure those in need from Ukraine and those in Wales helping them received support.
She added: “I look forward perhaps that we might have some telephone calls from the Prime Minister and other Ministers to us in Government. We must engage with them and follow this through.
“There is a huge job of work to be done here. We’re taking responsibility in the way I’ve outlined, funding our welcome centres and paying thank-you payments to hosts if they support a family who initially arrived in Wales under the Ukraine family scheme.
“That’s not happening in England. The commitment that we’re making is considerable.
“I hope everyone will join us today, saying that we need to press for those answers in terms of financial support.”
THE THREAT OF HOMELESSNESS
Sioned Williams of Plaid Cymru raised the spectre of Ukrainian refugees becoming homeless in Wales due to a lack of financial support and the end of existing hosting and housing placements.
The Minister praised the work of local authorities across Wales supporting refugees.
She said: “There are very imaginative programmes. That includes a whole range of issues like repurposing empty buildings.
“Local authorities are really coming up with a whole range of ways in which we can support people, perhaps, from a welcome centre, or a host family, into that intermediate accommodation, and then on to other longer-term accommodation.”
Pembrokeshire currently houses around 200 Ukrainian refugees, with the demand for assistance outstripping the availability of suitable accommodation.
NOT ONE PENNY FROM WESTMINSTER
TO SUPPORT FAMILIES FLEEING WAR
Responding to a question from Mabon ap Gwynfor about problems housing family groups, Jane Hutt hit out at the lack of support from the UK Government and how it’s u-turned on a commitment to help families.
“The UK Government has never given a penny towards the family scheme.
“The former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in one of his last PMQs, actually said that he thought the Ukraine family scheme should get the same funding and support as the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It’s never happened.
“We have provided thank-you payments to people who are hosting Ukrainian families. It’s all Welsh Government money; it’s not UK Government, because they don’t provide a penny. And also, the British Red Cross—£246,000—who are actually supporting Ukrainian families who are hosting family members under the Ukrainian family scheme.”
On Wednesday, September 28, Eluned Morgan, Wales’s Health Minister, announced the continuation of free healthcare in Wales to Ukrainian residents displaced by the ongoing conflict.
The exemption will continue to apply unless there’s a significant change in circumstances in Ukraine.
Retired teacher, 75, dies following Saturday night incident in Burry Port
RETIRED teacher Peter Ormerod, aged 75, who suffered serious injuries in an incident in Burry Port on Saturday night (24 September) has sadly passed away earlier today.
His family have paid tribute to him, saying: “Peter was a well-respected teacher and member of the community.
“A very loved and loving father, grandfather, brother and friend.”
The family requests privacy at this difficult time.
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