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Plaid lose another AM

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NEIL McEVOY, the controversial Cardiff AM, has been expelled from Plaid Cymru’s Assembly Group.

Mr McEvoy had been suspended from Plaid Cymru in September last year, while the Party investigated him over allegations regarding his conduct while an AM.

That suspension followed Neil McEvoy’s refusal to toe the line on his party’s policy on ending the sale of council houses in Wales, to which he is opposed.

Mr McEvoy is the second of Plaid’s AMs to now sit as an independent, joining former leader Dafydd Elis Thomas, who quit the party group in 2016.

Plaid now has ten Assembly Members.

The Cardiff AM has had a tempestuous relationship with his fellow Plaid Cymru members.

A former member of the Labour Party, he has said: ​”​I never quite fitted into Labour; I was too working class, too dark, too outspoken and rejected top down, centralised politics.​”

Last August, Neil McEvoy launched a barely concealed direct attack on Plaid leader Leanne Wood’s approach in the Welsh Assembly, claiming the party was ‘irrelevant’ to Wales’ young people; and telling nation.cymru: ‘Let’s stop hearing “Would the First Minister agree…” questions from Plaid and bin the cosy pairing system, where we have prior agreement on how many votes the Government will win by’.

In December, the AM suggested that he was a victim of ‘groupthink’ in the Assembly, for refusing to ‘bend the knee’ and maintaining his own independence of thought.

However, comments made in press conference on Tuesday (Jan 16) appear to have exhausted the Plaid group’s patience with Mr McEvoy.

He is reported to have claimed that as the party had referred allegations against him to the standards commissioner, the party’s investigation had concluded. In addition, he said that it appeared there was one rule for one AM and another for others in the group.

He referred to other Plaid AMs who had questioned party policy in the past or backed other parties without any suspension or disciplinary action against them.

A spokesperson for the Plaid Group said that Neil McEvoy’s behaviour had left colleagues feeling ​’​
undermined and demoralised​’​ and that ongoing issues were distracting Plaid Cymru AM from getting on with their work of serving the people of Wales and holding the Labour government to account.

A Plaid Cymru Assembly Group spokesperson said: “The Plaid Cymru Assembly Group has taken the decision to permanently expel Neil McEvoy from the group. The decision was unanimous.

“A statement issued by Neil McEvoy today is full of errors. Firstly, it makes inaccurate claims about the reasons for his suspension from the Assembly Group. “As was stated at the time, Neil McEvoy was suspended for breaching standing orders and the Group’s Code of Conduct through unacceptable behaviour.

“Secondly, Neil McEvoy’s public statement this morning saw him once again peddle untruths about the way in which the Plaid Cymru Assembly Group operates. Such comments only serve to smear the reputation of colleagues and underline the insincerity of Mr McEvoy’s alleged desire to return to the Group.

“In this context, Mr McEvoy is being expelled due to an irrevocable breakdown of trust.

“His ongoing behaviour has left Assembly Member colleagues feeling undermined and demoralised.

“Plaid Cymru representatives’ loyalty first and foremost is to the people of Wales. We will not be distracted from our work of serving them to the best of our ability by such deliberate and sustained sabotage.”

Mr McEvoy responded: “It is with real regret that I have been forced out of the Plaid Cymru group.

“I was elected to be a Plaid Cymru Assembly Member after votes from thousands of people who wanted me to not do politics as usual.

“My focus has always been on holding the Labour government to account and it will continue to be so. I’ve never been interested in fighting with my own colleagues.

“Democracy in Wales is broken and Labour is the party that broke it. But I firmly believe that Plaid Cymru is the party who can fix it.

“We need to bring in more working class and diverse people into our party. We need to help the people who have never considered voting for Plaid Cymru before. That’s what I’ve tried to do.

“I’ll keep representing those people who have been left behind and given up on politicians.

“We’re not all the same. There are people who really care. I grew up on an estate in Cardiff and I made it to the Assembly. I hope that inspires people to know that anything is possible.

“Politics is about ideas but it’s also about personalities. We don’t always get along but there is always the bigger picture.

“Wales is a great country. It needs a great government and I’m going to keep doing all I can to make sure we get one.”

Neil McEvoy claimed that he was still in the dark about why he was expelled from the Plaid group and had received overwhelming support from his local party and had been compelled to file a subject access request against Plaid Cymru to receive details of allegations made against him.

He explained that he would try and persuade the Standards Commissioner, Mr Justice Roderic Evans QC, to now hear allegations made by Plaid Cymru, even though they were over one year old, in some instances, and blamed the delay in dealing with allegations on his former Party’s internal procedures.

“What is really frustrating for me is that away from the bubble in Cadiff Bay the party in Cardiff is thriving,” he said.

“We’re being actively prevented from campaigning for Plaid Cymru by this nonsense, really.

“What we have is a culture of anonymous allegations, anonymous briefings, that are destroying people’s reputations.”

Local AM Simon Thomas expressed exasperation about the way events had unfolded.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales on Wednesday (Jan 17), he said: ​”​I think Plaid Cymru has been appalling with dealing with disciplinary issues.

“I think one issue that both myself and Neil McEvoy would agree upon is that this disciplinary process outside the group has dragged on for months without resolution.

“Neither of us would be happy about that.

“I would challenge the party more widely to look at disciplinary processes and to ensure that people selected as Plaid Cymru candidates do what they are signed up to do.”

Criticising his former colleague’s approach – and referring to the subject access order Mr McEvoy had obtained – Mr Thomas said​:​ “He’s perfectly at liberty to do so – it’s his legal right – but it doesn’t demonstrate to us a person wishing to work with us in the future.”

In spite of Plaid Cymru now having lost two of the AMs it was elected with in 2016, and in spite of the Conservatives being the largest single opposition party group, there are no plans to rearrange membership of key Assembly committees; something likely to be a sore point for the Conservatives.

In a comment to The Herald, UKIP leader Neil Hamilton said:​ ​”Plaid Cymru are so intolerant. They expel Neil McEvoy from their Assembly Group just because he believes council tenants should be able to buy their own homes. Home ownership is a bulwark of a free society.

“Neil McAvoy is an excellent, fearless AM with a mind of his own but Plaid clearly wants its AMs to toe the party line, rather than follow their conscience. UKIP AMs are not told what to do. They vote according to their principles.”

Read Matthew Graham Paul’s column on the situation here.

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Cold temperatures likely to lead to icy conditions

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A YELLOW weather warning is in place over Wales from 10pm tonight (Jan 16) and 11am tomorrow morning (Jan 17).

As temperatures drop, there is a strong chance of ice patches causing dangerous conditions for motorists.

Icy patches developing with wintry showers also affecting some areas.

What to expect

  • Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces
  • Probably some ice on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths
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Next stage of works to clear Cwmduad landslide

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PHASE two of the works to stabilise a landslide in Cwmduad has begun following the recovery of a lorry from the river below.

Carmarthenshire County Council is leading the operation to clear the site and re-open the A484 for traffic travelling between Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, following the landslide in October.

Phase one, which commenced before Christmas, created a safe zone for the recovery of a lorry that was swept in to the river during the storm.

That recovery took place earlier today (Monday, January 14, 2019).

Phase two, to permanently stabilise the embankment, involves complex drainage and geotechnical works.

The highway structure will then be assessed before any indication can be given as to when the road will re-open.

The council has thanked the community, and affected commuters, for their patience whilst site assessments and works have been underway.

Ruth Mullen, Director of Environment for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are now making progress in what has been a highly complex operation and legal process between the council, partner agencies and the landowner.

“We fully appreciate the impact this has had on the community, and we wish to reiterate that we have worked without delay to undertake site investigations in the immediate aftermath of the landslide, along with clearance and construction works to make the area safe.

“We are working as quickly as we can to re-open the road as soon as possible, and would like to thank those affected most sincerely for their patience.”

Until the road is re-opened, traffic will continue to be diverted along the B4333 Carmarthen – Newcastle Emlyn.

Additional bus services remain in place:

  • A shuttle service currently runs from Cwmduad to Tycoch to catch the 460 service at 7.25am, 9.35am and 10.55am. Return journeys are at 2.25pm and 4.45pm.
  • The 460 service is currently operating on a diversion route
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Three seriously injured in A40 crash

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for information about a collision which resulted in serious injuries.

The collision which happened on Sunday afternoon (Jan 13) involved a silver Ford Fiesta and a Silver BMW 120 and at approximately 4pm on the A40 between Pont-y-fenny and Whitland roundabout.

The Silver Fiesta was travelling towards Whitland and the BMW was travelling towards Carmarthen.

A 67-year-old woman has been taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

A 71-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were also taken to hospital suffering serious injuries.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, or was driving along the road around the time or with dash cam footage, is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, please text 07811311908. Please quote reference DP-20190113-199.

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