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Drakeford confirmed as First Minister

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MARK DRAKEFORD was confirmed as the new First Minister after a vote in the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday (Dec 12).

Carmarthen-born Drakeford succeeds Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader, after Jones resigned on Tuesday.

Mr Drakeford, 64, has styled himself as a ’21st Century socialist’, and throughout his leadership campaign promoted continuity and stability as a candidate, having worked as a Welsh Government special advisor under Rhodri Morgan and being the only Welsh Government cabinet minister to support Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for the UK Labour leadership in 2015.

The AM for Cardiff West has been in the Assembly since 2011, becoming Health Minister in 2013 before becoming Finance Secretary in 2016.

Mr Drakeford grew up in Carmarthen, and was educated at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys. He then went on to study Latin at the University of Kent, before working as a probation officer and Barnardos project leader in west Cardiff.

Mr Drakeford went on to pursue a career in academia, lecturing at Swansea University, and then becoming a professor of social policy and applied social sciences at Cardiff University.

His first experience of electoral politics was as a councillor on the old South Glamorgan County Council, before serving the Cardiff ward of Pontcanna between 1985 and 1993.

Mr Drakeford was one of the two candidates, alongside Eluned Morgan, to have produced a manifesto during the leadership campaign, setting out many of the policies he hopes to introduce. These include an extension of the smoking ban to outdoor areas such as restaurants and town centres, the cutting of emissions through greater emphasis on public transport and building on Superfast Cymru – a scheme to rollout 733,000 homes and businesses across Wales.

The manifesto also proposed installing drinking fountains across Wales, double allotments, and piloting a ‘baby bundle’ – similar to baby box schemes in other countries with a package of essential items.

Mr Drakeford also suggested introducing a committee to advise the Welsh Government on the Hinckley Point power plant in Somerset, as he has spoken of his scepticism regarding nuclear power.

The new First Minister has also backed proposals put forward by economist Gerry Holtham to fund elderly social care in Wales through a tax. An annual review of PFI contracts across the Welsh public sector would be introduced, and the 22 councils across Wales would be kept as they are.

One issue that has been subject to much debate is the potential for the M4 Relief Road, but Mr Drakeford’s manifesto does not mention it specifically. Instead, it states a commitment to dealing with congestion, citing the A40 in Mid and West Wales, the A55 in the North and the M4 in South Wales.

The other two leadership candidates, Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan, had both backed another referendum on whether the UK leaves the EU, yet Mr Drakeford is less set on another vote, saying he would only back it should the final deal fail to protect workers’ rights.

As Finance Secretary, Mr Drakeford has been in charge of much of the Welsh Government’s approach towards Brexit so far.

In Wednesday’s vote, Mr Drakeford was backed by 30 AMs, with 12 voting for the Conservatives’ Paul Davies and nine supporting Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.

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New all-inclusive cycling facility at Pembrey Country Park opens

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CYCLING for all ages and abilities is now available at Pembrey Country Park.

Some 38 new cycles including wheelchair transporters, wheelchair cycles, adult tricycles, hand cycles, two-seater side by side and four-seater cycles have arrived at the park’s ski and activity centre.

The purchases and new timber clad storage facilities were funded by the Welsh Government through its Integrated Care Fund (ICF) and a Play Sufficiency Grant funded children’s cycles. The project was delivered by Carmarthenshire County Council’s leisure team and learning disability services.

In addition to the cycles, a new fully equipped ‘Changing Places’ disabled changing and shower room which includes a full ceiling track hoist system and electrically operated shower/changing bed has been installed.

The council’s executive board member for leisure services, Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “This has been made possible thanks to partnership working between Welsh Government, the council’s learning disability and leisure services. It’s yet another step forward in our plan to provide access to cycling for all abilities and as part of our wider vision to become the Cycling Hub of Wales.”

Already Pembrey Ski and Activity Centre is recognised for its ski for all facilities and regularly holds high profile events for all abilities.

The council’s disability ambassador, Cllr Jane Tremlett said: “We are delighted that we are able to offer a fully inclusive cycling facility at Pembrey Country Park. Already it has been a tremendous success in increasing the number of individuals accessing cycling as well as attracting out of county groups.”

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Road closed in both directions following collision between car and tractor

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THERE was a collision between a car and a tractor with a trailer at just past 12am today (Friday, June 21).

The road was closed in both directions from St Clears to Carmarthen while emergency services dealt with the incident.

Two men – the driver and passenger of the car – have been taken to hospital. One is in a critical but stable condition.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, who hasn’t already spoken to the police, is asked to contact the serious collision investigation unit at Dyfed-Powys Police on 101.

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Parc Howard shortlisted for national award

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PARC HOWARD has been shortlisted for the prestigious Family Friendly Museum Award.

Charity Kids in Museums awards the prize annually to one museum, gallery, historic home or heritage site in the UK that goes the extra mile to provide a great experience for families.

Throughout April and May, families across the country voted for their favourite heritage attraction on the Kids in Museums website. It is the only museum award to be judged by families.

A panel of museum experts whittled down over 800 nominations to a shortlist of 15.

The museum will now be visited by undercover family judges who will assess the museums against the Kids in Museums Manifesto. Their experiences will decide a winner for each award category and an overall winner, our Family Friendly Museum of the Year 2019.

The council’s executive board member for cultural services, Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “It really is exciting times for Parc Howard Museum. To have been nominated for such a prestigious award is just superb and is testament to the family friendly environment we have been working to create within the museum.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in October.

Emmajane Avery, Chair of Kids in Museums, said: “It’s great to see Parc Howard Museum on the shortlist for this year’s Family Friendly Museum Award. To make it to the shortlist in our most competitive year yet is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the hard work staff have put in to create an enjoyable experience for families. We were inspired by how this ambitious museum works with community organisations to bring the museum to families on a low income. We wish the museum the best of luck in the next round of judging.”

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