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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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Ongoing success for Carmarthenshire sixth form students

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THE HIGH quality of support and guidance received by sixth form students across  Carmarthenshire’s schools continues to impact positively on the standards achieved at both AS and A Level.

The number of entries for AS and A Level examinations continues to increase, bucking the national trend and preparing students well for their future learning and career pathways.

The commitment and dedication shown by our students and their schools has resulted in nearly 78% of students achieving A*-C grades, reflecting an increase of 1.8% in comparison to results in 2017 and remaining comfortably above the Welsh national average of 73.8%.

Almost a quarter of the grades awarded, 24.8%, are A*- A, ensuring that our pupils are well placed when competing nationally for university placements, apprenticeships and career opportunities.

The improved outcomes are also reflected in the AS Level grades with 91.8% of entries being awarded an A-E grade. The increasingly effective learning opportunities on offer to our AS students have ensured a 4.6% increase in the A-E pass rate over the last three years.

The results have been warmly welcomed by Carmarthenshire County Council which has congratulated both students and schools, acknowledging the many inspiring opportunities that these encouraging grades will enable our young people to access.

Cllr Glynog Davies, Executive Board Member for Education, said: “Education in Wales is currently undergoing an exciting period of change and reform, reflecting the changing needs of our communities. The AS and A Level grades achieved by our pupils this year reflect, yet again, the successful partnership working between students, families, schools and the county council, equipping students with an aspirational range of learning opportunities. Students are very well prepared by our schools for the demands of the AS and A level examinations and they achieve highly as a result.”

“On behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council I wholeheartedly congratulate all of our students on the progress that they have made and on the grades that they have achieved. We wish you every success for the future.”

Director of Education and Children’s services, Gareth Morgans, added: “Our schools continue to prepare our students exceptionally well for the reformed AS and A Level qualifications that they have been working so hard towards over the last 2 years. The results achieved across Carmarthenshire this year once again reflect the dedication of our students, developing considerable resilience and a positive work ethic that will equip them well in their future studies and careers. I would like to sincerely congratulate them on all that they have achieved.”

“It is also pleasing to note the ongoing trend of 100% pass rates for both the Welsh first and second language courses, as well as in history, government and politics, English Language and literature and physical education, for example.

“The number of students achieving A*-A grades increased favourably this year, by 2.8%, reflecting the high expectations that we, and our schools, have of our young people.

“Warmest congratulations to all who have contributed so positively towards today’s success. Our students have many exciting decisions to make as they embrace their future journeys.”

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Adam Price AM to launch his leadership campaign

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PLAID CYMRU Assembly Member, Adam Price, will officially launch his campaign to be the new leader of Plaid Cymru today (Aug 17) in which he will outline his vision for Wales in 2030 with ‘seven steps to independence’ which, he will say, is a ‘clear and credible path to an independent Wales.

Mr Price will tell party members that the time ‘to talk in vague terms about independence as a long-term goal is over’.

Adam Price is expected to say: “The process of nation-building that will lead to independence has to start now without delay.

“Semi-policies and soundbites will not get us there.

“Welsh politics writ large can be seen as a battlefield between those with old ideas, new ideas and no ideas.

“Welsh independence is the biggest, most transformational, most radical idea of them all.

“Anyone who seeks to lead our party needs to set out a credible plan as to how we achieve it.”

In his ‘Seven Steps to Independence’ Adam Price will outline his plan which includes the election of a pro-independence government; passing a Wales 2030 Referendum Act; reducing Wales’ fiscal gap to 6% and increasing the Welsh economic growth rate by 1-1.5%.

Adam Price says the necessary legislation for an independence referendum will also provide for the holding of a referendum earlier than 2030 if the Welsh Government so chooses.

Speaking ahead of his launch in Carmarthen on Friday night, Assembly Member Adam Price said: “There is a growing number of people that are coming to the view that the only way in which we can face the challenges and grasp the opportunities of a changing world is to change Wales.

“And that change can only come through the most fundamental change of all:  to own our own future as a people and a nation.

“Independence is the reason I joined Plaid Cymru and the reason I have remained a member for 36 years.  I have always been consistent that we should make it our express purpose to achieve an independent Wales, and sooner not later.

“Independence can never be the safe or ‘middle of the road’ option.

“When we have tried to avoid saying anything that might frighten the voters we ended saying nothing at all.

“Over the coming weeks I hope to be able to convince party members that in electing me as the new leader of Plaid Cymru we will have a clear and credible path to an independent Wales.”

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Red Roses: MP asks drivers for crash stories to improve safety

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A LOCAL MP is asking drivers who have had crashes or near misses on the A477 junction to Red Roses to contact him following another smash on Saturday (Aug 11).

Philip Huw Davies posted on the Facebook group ‘Red Roses Village’ about a car which ploughed into him as he was waiting at the junction.

He says the driver of the other car mistook the section of road as a slip road in the rain.

Mr Davies said: “So our lovely junction to the A477 claimed my 4WD as its latest victim on Saturday when I was ploughed into by this car that mistook it for a slip road in the torrential rain.

“I’ve written to the Trunk Roads Authority asking if they’re waiting for a fatality before addressing the matter. I also went to see the MP yesterday and he’s going to speak to the Minister of Transport and the Assembly Member for transport.

“I’m also pretty tired of the abuse and aggression I get from drivers behind me when I’m slowing down enough on the main road, to take the junction safely.”

Mr Davies said he called an ambulance for the father of the other driver as he was bleeding from the nose. As a result he was transported to hospital by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Now Simon Hart MP is asking for others who have had crashes or near misses to contact him with details.

Mr Hart said: “A lucky escape for the occupants of these two cars at the Pendine junction on the A477.

“There has been a lot of local concern about it yet Welsh Gov say they haven’t collated three years worth of evidence yet, despite that timescale elapsing nearly a year ago.

“So anybody else with experiences of this junction, let me know!”

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