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Politics

Carmarthenshire residents urged to use their vote

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RESIDENTS in Carmarthenshire are being encouraged to use their vote in the General Election being held on December 12, 2019.

Those who are yet to register to vote have until midnight on Tuesday, November 26, to sign up or lose the opportunity to have their say in the forthcoming election.

Acting Returning Officer for Carmarthenshire, Wendy Walters, is urging everyone to exercise their democratic right.

In particular, a call is being made to young people as Electoral Commission statistics show almost a third of 18-34 year olds are not registered to vote.

Those who have recently moved house are also being reminded to register to vote at their new address, with Electoral Commission data showing that only 36 per cent of those who have moved in the last year have re-registered with their new details.

“You can’t vote unless you’re registered to do so,” she said. “It’s vitally important that everyone has the opportunity to have their say in this General Election. It is quick and easy to register, and as always our electoral services team is on hand to help anyone in need.”

Information about the General Election, details about how to register, how to apply for a postal or proxy vote, a list of Carmarthenshire polling stations, and more, can be found online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/generalelection2019

Further advise can be sought if needed from the Electoral Services Unit on 01267 228889.

Follow Carmarthenshire County Council on Facebook and Twitter for information updates in the run up to the election, and for results as they are announced.

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Community

Living Wage Week highlighted during Kidwelly launch

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Plaid Cymru Mid and West AM, Helen Mary Jones visited Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire to launch Living Wage Week locally.

PPLAID CYMRU Mid and West AM, Helen Mary Jones visited Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire to launch Living Wage Week locally.

The company is a champion of the Living Wage movement in Carmarthenshire, and the visit emphasised the importance of employers adopting the Living Wage for their workers.

Speaking at the launch Helen Mary Jones AM said:

“A big thank you to Burns Pet Food for hosting the Living Wage Celebration in west Wales. It’s very fitting that we are here today in the headquarters of this pioneering company that was established to provide a much-needed focus on nutrition, health and natural ingredients in animal food. Animal welfare is at the heart of everything for the firm. Their ethical emphasis also extends to the Burns workforce.

“The organisation is the first champion of the Living Wage Movement in Carmarthenshire; what a privilege and a responsibility that brings and one that John Burns and his staff have taken on board with energy and commitment.

“Everyone here at Burns is a passionate advocate for paying a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and we are delighted they hosted the event to help encourage and inspire as many employers in the region as possible to take up the mantle and follow their excellent example.

“Living Wage Week is about celebrating our Living Wage Employers – thanking them for making such a difference in people’s lives. It’s also about helping our friends and colleagues in other organisations who are also in favour of fair pay and want to learn as much as possible about what it means to become accredited Living Wage Employers.”

In addition to the advocation of the Living Wage implementation across Wales, Helen Mary Jones AM congratulated the 224 Living Wage accredited employers and celebrated the achievement in a statement of opinion in the Senedd. The statement has been signed by Labour and Plaid Cymru members.

Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly kicked started the celebrations of The Living Wage Week, which runs from 11th November to 17th November 2019.

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Community

Free advice drop-in on EU Settlement Scheme

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FREE advice about the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme is being made available to EU citizens in Carmarthenshire.

A mobile team from Newfields Law, who provide a specialist immigration advisory service, will be on hand at a drop-in event in Carmarthen Library on Monday November 11 from 2pm to 5pm.

The UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme means EU citizens and their families have to apply to secure their rights to continue living and working in the UK.

Free online applications have to be made by December 31, 2020, in the event a no-deal Brexit.

If a Brexit deal is agreed, the application deadline will be extended to June 30, 2021.

At the drop-in event in Carmarthen Library on St Peter’s Street, experts from Newfields Law will advise on eligibility for settled and pre-settled status, and documents needed to support applications.

Members of the team will also be available to discuss any post-application queries people may have, including questions raised by the Home Office.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, said: “Statistics show there are about 7,000 EU nationals living or working in Carmarthenshire.

“As a council, we hugely value their contribution to the county – not just economically, but for their role in boosting Carmarthenshire’s cultural diversity.

“That’s why we’d encourage all EU nationals living and working here to apply to this UK Government scheme as soon as possible to ensure their rights are protected after the UK leaves the European Union.”

Carmarthenshire County Council will also soon be providing an assisted digital service at its customer service Hwbs in Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford to help EU nationals with their applications, if needed.

This service will include equipment to scan biometric documents like passports and national ID cards.

Visit www.eusswales.com for more information about the EU Settlement Scheme and details on further advice and support.

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Politics

Snap election builds in unfairness

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A SNAP General Election is unlikely to break the break deadlock, the Electoral Reform Society has warned
The ERS says results are likely to be ‘clear as mud’ when it comes to translating voters’ preferences, with ‘vote-splitting, wasted votes and unfair results on an industrial scale’.
One in four (24%) voters are planning on voting ‘tactically’ – rather than for their first choice – increasing the likelihood of random results under Westminster’s winner-takes-all voting system, according to BMG polling for the Society.
When the same question was asked before the 2017 general election, 20% of people said they’d opt for someone who was not their first choice.
Westminster’s voting system rests on a handful of marginals changing hands: “Eleven seats were won by less than 100 votes in 2017. North East Fife was held by the SNP by just two votes. Such are the vagaries of the system that the Conservatives could have won an absolute majority based on just 533 extra votes in the nine most marginal constituencies.
“A working majority could have been achieved on just 75 additional votes in the right places. Two very different outcomes based on less than 0.0017 per cent of voters choosing differently,” the Society’s 2017 election report noted.
Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “Few believe a third General Election in the space of four years will ‘fix’ the current impasse: the only agreement seems to be that there is yet more volatility coming our way, with parties hoping to gain from the chaos.
“It’s amusing to remember that Westminster’s voting system is supposed to deliver ‘strong and stable’ government. It has totally failed to do what it says on the tin, and no wonder – people are rightly shopping around, but this two-party system is totally unable to cope.
“This election is likely to see ‘tactical’ voting on a scale never seen before, alongside widespread ‘vote-splitting’ and candidates getting in on fractions of the vote.
“First Past the Post voting is now an engine of volatility, which could make the current problems even worse. We could see a ‘wrong winner’ election – where the biggest party did not win the most votes – another hung parliament, and wasted votes in the millions. It’s time to join other advanced democracies in backing a fair voting system where seats match votes.
“This must be the last election conducted using Westminster’s scandalously unfair electoral system. It’s time for Westminster catch up with the rest of the world, with proportional representation and an end to the disaster of winner-takes-all voting.
“Whatever the case, this election will be a ‘hold your nose’ ballot, with one in four feeling forced to vote tactically for their second or third choice.
“A snap election guarantees nothing but an unfair lottery for voters. Let’s build a democracy fit for the 21st century, with an electoral system that encourages cooperation, not gridlock.”
ERS analysis of the 2017 election found that millions of people’s votes were thrown on the electoral scrapheap. 68% of votes had no impact on the result – representing 22 million votes going to waste.
Professor Sir John Curtice told LBC today that this election is likely to see a very high number of votes for parties other than the traditional ‘big two’.
In June, he told the ERS: “There is little doubt that Britain’s traditional two-party system is facing its biggest challenge yet in the wake of the Brexit impasse. If that challenge persists it would seem inevitable that there will renewed debate about the merits of the first-past-the-post electoral system.”
The latest YouGov poll puts Labour and the Conservatives on joint support of 59% – far below their 82% reached in 2017.
The ERS is calling for a proportional voting system for Westminster, the Single Transferable Vote system used for Scotland’s local elections and elections in Ireland.
The warped nature of the system is reflected by the fact that in 2017 it took 43,000 votes to elect a Conservative MP, 49,000 for Labour, nearly 200,000 per Lib Dem and over 500,000 votes for the Greens’ single MP. It took just 28,000 votes per SNP MP and 29,000 per DUP MP. The SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats support PR.

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