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Lib Dems slam ‘botched’ scheme

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THE WELSH Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their “hapless treatment” of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.

The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 ‘document scanning’ centres instead.

For Holyhead, the closest ‘document scanning’ centre is Trafford.

According to an analysis by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Holyhead would face costs of £55 on the train for at least a six and a half hour round trip. The drive would be a 224-mile round trip costing around £56 in fuel.

The only document scanning centre in Wales is in Caerphilly. Travelling from Pembroke to Caerphilly and returning the same day by rail would cost £32.10 (the cheapest available fare at the time of enquiry), the cheapest off-peak fare from Aberystwyth would be £77.10 return. By car at an average of 40mpg, the cost of travel would be at least £27 to and from Pembroke, while from Aberystwyth the cost would be at least £25. Both car journeys represent round trips of over 180 miles.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “Too many people in Wales are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.

“For anyone who doesn’t have an android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in Holyhead, that means facing a 224-mile round trip and paying over £50 for the privilege. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable.”

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said: “Following significant pressure, the Prime Minister said there will be no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. How long did that commitment last?

“It is Conservative Ministers who have made a mess of Brexit. They should either pay the cost for EU citizens or change the application system and ensure EU citizens are made to feel welcome in the UK.

“Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to remain in the EU with a final say on Brexit.”

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Politics

Committee queries WG priorities

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A SENEDD Committee has questioned the legislative priorities of the Welsh Government on animal welfare.
The majority of members of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee support
A proposal from the Welsh Government to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales. However, the Committee has questioned why a ban on the practice should be prioritised over a range of pressing animal welfare issues, such as ‘puppy farming’.
Despite a series of scandals regarding the activities of licensed and unlicensed dog-breeders over many years, the Welsh Government has failed to take any action to curb puppy-farming and cut the amount of funding available to local authorities to enforce the existing law on dog breeding. By comparison, circuses are ‘a soft target’ for legislation, as so few perform in Wales.
Currently there no Welsh circuses with wild animals in operation but circuses from other countries do visit and can legally use wild animals in their acts.
The ban will affect only two UK travelling circuses which own a total of 19 wild animals.
The Bill applies only to wild, not domesticated, animals; it applies to travelling, but not static, circuses. Animals exhibited for entertainment purposes in settings other than travelling circuses will not be banned but will be regulated.
The Committee says it is unanimous in its continued support for the welfare of all animals but had not been able to come to a unanimous view on whether this Bill should proceed. As the majority of Committee members supported the Bill, it would recommend that the Assembly agrees the general principles of the Bill.
In its scrutiny of the proposed legislation, the Committee held a public consultation as well as hearing evidence from circuses, animal welfare organisations and the Welsh Government.
Chair of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, Mike Hedges AM said: “The use of wild animals in travelling circuses is an emotive issue. The Committee heard compelling arguments from both sides of the debate about the rights and wrongs of this practice.
“The fact that the Welsh Government has introduced the Bill on ethical grounds has raised some challenging questions, such as why is it ethically acceptable for wild animals to perform in other settings but not in circuses? Why is it ethically acceptable for domesticated animals to perform in circuses? Should any animal be expected to perform purely for entertainment?
“The Welsh Government has yet to answer some of these questions. We expect it to do so if the Bill progresses. While the Committee’s view on whether the Bill should proceed is not unanimous, a majority of Members support the Bill.”

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Politics

Locals praise new cash machine in Llandovery

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COUNTY Councillor for Llandovery, Handel Davies has praised the work of Mr & Mrs John and Laura Morgan who have installed a new cash machine at the Post Office in Llandovery.

The couple opened the new ‘Ystrad at The Bank’ post office in Llandovery in November last year following the closure of the former Post Office earlier in 2018.

Then in June of this year, Barclays Bank dropped another bombshell on the town when they announced the closure of the last remaining bank in the town and with it went the 24/7 cashpoint (ATM) facility.

The newly opened cash machine will provide a 24/7 service.

Plaid Cymru County Councillor for Llandovery, Handel Davies said: “I have nothing but admiration and respect for John & Laura. Having settled to live in the area only recently, in which time not only have they quickly established a thriving business at Ystrad Nursery and Agricultural Supplies on the A40 outskirts of Llandovery, but they have also demonstrated their amazing social conscience by personally reacting to the potentially devastating impact resulting from the Post Office and Barclays Bank closures upon the town.

“Showing remarkable concern for this injustice to the local community John and Laura once again stepped in when they decided to submit a planning application for a new ATM at the new Post Office. Believing this would be a relatively straightforward process, it unfortunately proved anything but the case. However, thankfully, almost a year from the day that the new Post Office was opened, the new ATM has finally been installed.”

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Politics

Pension Partnership announces ambitious new responsible investment policy

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THE WALES Pension Partnership (‘WPP’), the pooling entity for the eight Welsh LGPS Funds, has announced a new Responsible Investment (‘RI’) policy, highlighting its commitment to responsible investment and desire to be a leader in this area.

The new overarching policy was developed collaboratively by the WPP and its eight Constituent Authorities* and will be adopted by them all. At the same time, it will allow individual Constituent Authorities to maintain and develop their own RI policies.

Commenting on the development of the new RI policy, Chris Moore, Director of Corporate Services from the WPP Host Authority, says:

“Responsible investment policies are vitally important not only to the administration of our funds but to the future of Wales. We recognised how crucial it was for the WPP to establish its own responsible investment policy and aimed to ensure that all stakeholders of the WPP were represented in the policy’s development. Building support and gaining consensus among the Constituent Authorities was imperative. We needed to be sure that the policy was representative of the broad range of investment beliefs within the Pool. We are thrilled to have agreement on a policy that can now be implemented on behalf of the underlying Constituent Authorities. We are all highly committed to seeing this new ambitious RI Policy succeed.”

In its new RI policy, the WPP has agreed to prioritise a number of actions over the next 12 months, including developing a specific climate risk policy and engaging with its investment managers to develop an appropriate set of RI monitoring metrics.

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