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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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Carmarthenshire Labour targets Council reserves to fund Carmarthenshire school buses

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Plans have been unveiled by the Opposition Group on Carmarthenshire Council that would see the recently cut school routes being reinstated, along with an ambitious plan to purchase low emission buses over the next three years.

Carmarthenshire Labour, working alongside Nia Griffith MP and Lee Waters AM, have announced that they intend to force a vote on utilising the Council’s general reserves, which currently amount to around £10 million, in effort to support hard-pressed families and the local environment.

School pupils in Carmarthenshire have seen many of their school bus routes cut in recent months, as a result of the introduction of new regulations by the UK Government. The regulations, passed in 2000 and phased in over several years, restricts the types of vehicles the bus companies could use to ensure that all vehicles can accept wheelchairs. The changes have caused a number of school bus routes to be axed with around 500 pupils directly affected.

Labour state that temporarily funding the axed services could cost approximately £400k and would provide the necessary time needed to establish a long-term solution to the issue.

Alongside Carmarthenshire Labour’s plans to use general reserves to support the reintroduction of vital bus routes, the Group also intend to vote for £3 million of capital reserves to be earmarked for the purchase of ultra-low emission buses, laying the foundations for a new sustainable bus service for the county.

Councillor Rob James, leader of Carmarthenshire Labour, stated “I am proud to announce Carmarthenshire Labour’s ambitious plan to address the Carmarthenshire school bus crisis affecting hundreds of school pupils.

“Having spent months consulting with colleagues across the region, and working with families to find a solution, the self evident answer to this crisis is for Carmarthenshire Council to temporarily fund the bus services and set about establishing a long-term, sustainable solution.

“Carmarthenshire is at the back of the pack when it comes to connectivity. Communities, businesses and families across Carmarthenshire experience the daily struggles associated with years of underfunding on transportation. It is now our vulnerable children that are suffering from this Council’s inaction.The reinstatement of the school routes will safeguard and support our pupils to travel to their place of study.

“This is also an opportunity to address the poor connectivity and lack of public transport that have suffocated our county for many years. We can address the climate crisis, the bus crisis and drastically improve public transport in Carmarthenshire with this plan. I sincerely hope that the Plaid Cymru and Independent coalition back the proposals.”

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Politics

WG rejects UK’s EU Withdrawal Bill

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ON MONDAY, January 20, the Welsh Government published its assessment of the UK government’s Political Declaration, which accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and its priorities for our future trade, and broader relationship with the EU.
The assessment argues that, while the Welsh Government accepts that we will now leave the EU, changes to the direction of travel indicated in the Political Declaration are necessary to better protect the economic, social and environmental interests of Wales and the whole UK.
Counsel General and Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles said: “The UK government will soon begin negotiations with the EU on a permanent long-term agreement. This agreement is of vital importance to Wales. It will determine the basis of our future trade, and our broader relationship with the EU, for decades to come. The stakes could not be higher.
“The evidence is clear that the further the UK moves away from economic integration with the EU the greater the economic damage. The EU has been and will continue to be our most important trading partner and many businesses depend on integrated supply chains across the EU, which require frictionless trade.
“Given the overwhelming importance of the EU to our economy, the UK must prioritise continued barrier-free access to these markets over trade arrangements with other countries.
“We will continue to challenge an approach to the negotiations which prioritises the ‘freedom’ of the UK to diverge from EU regulatory standards above the well-being of the people of Wales. Such an approach would be deeply flawed and could result in lost jobs and lost investment in Wales. We need an agreement with the EU which reflects the interests of Wales and the United Kingdom.
“The UK government claims it wants to maintain high standards and we will hold them to their word. We will, therefore, oppose any agenda of deregulation, which will damage consumers’ interests in the long run.
“We reject a vision of Britain where the economy is based on a low-wage, low job security, low regulation model, which would lead to growing inequality. We need a strong, innovative outward-looking UK economy underpinned by mutual respect for the responsibilities of all governments of the Union.”
The Counsel General also stressed that the Welsh Government, like many other observers and the EU negotiators themselves did not believe it possible to achieve the right agreement in only a few months of negotiations.
He said: “We will continue to argue that the UK government should not close the door on an extension beyond the arbitrary deadline of December 2020. The priority must be achieving the best deal, not the quickest one”.
The Minister’s statement got short shrift from Conservative leader in the Senedd, Paul Davies, who responded: “Wales voted to LEAVE the EU. It’s as simple as that. Rather than engaging in political posturing, the Welsh Labour Government should respect the Welsh people’s wishes and get behind the withdrawal bill.”
Mr Davies’ remark received a tart response from former Welsh Government Cabinet Minister, Alun Davies, who enquired via Twitter: “So you would give any elected government a carte blanche to deliver its programme? And you’re a leader of the opposition?!”

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Politics

Voting age lowered in Wales

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A BILL to introduce a new name and lower voting age for Senedd elections became law last week.
The Bill which will introduce a new name for the National Assembly and extend voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds in the Welsh General Election become an Act of the Assembly on Wednesday, January 15, when it received Royal Assent.
After Royal Assent the Bill was officially transferred to the National Assembly’s Chief Executive and Clerk, Manon Antoniazzi by the First Minister, Mark Drakeford.
The handing over of the Bill to the Assembly Clerk in the Senedd Siambr marked a historic step which saw the Bill become an Act.
Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, Elin Jones AM, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly, Manon Antoniazzi and First Minister, Mark Drakeford.
Llywydd of the Assembly, Elin Jones AM, announced the status of the new Senedd and Election (Wales) Act at the start of the day’s Plenary meeting.
However, the contents of the Act – which introduces a new name Senedd Cymru / Welsh Parliament and extends the voting franchise to foreign nationals and 16 and 17-year-olds – will not come into force until early May 2020.
Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales says; “I am honoured to mark this significant chapter in the story of our Assembly with the passing of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill into an Act of the Assembly.
“In May we will have a new name, which will reflect our status as a mature legislature, and we will see the biggest extension to the franchise since 1969 – notably giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in the Welsh General Election for the first time in 2021.
“It is a moment of great pride to watch our Assembly evolve in order to continue to be at its best to serve the people of Wales.”

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