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‘Stronger action ‘ needed o ver refugee crisis

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UK must show leadership: Nia Griffith

UK must show leadership: Nia
Griffith

NIA GRIFFITH MP WRITES FOR THE HERALD

MANY of you, will, like me, have been shocked, long before the events of this last week, at the appalling tragedy of refugees dying on the shores of Europe, and very disturbed at the negative attitude of some politicians and some sectors of the press.

It is clear that many people in the UK would want to offer a welcome to refugees after the unimaginable hardship they have suffered, and are already contributing through established charities like Oxfam to the work that they are doing, both in the countries neighbouring the areas of conflict, and on the shores of southern Europe.

Here in Llanelli there has already been a positive response to join in a UK-wide campaign for churches and local organisations to show their support by displaying banners and signs on their buildings, as well as on social media with the simple logo #refugeeswelcome. You can also post pictures of yourselves holding a sign saying #refugeeswelcome. This is a particularly opportune time, as we return to Parliament this week, and European leaders prepare to meet again, as this will help to put pressure on government ministers, and show the refugees themselves that we do want to help, and want the UK to do more.

Together with church and community leaders, we are organising a non-partisan public vigil to take place at 6 pm on Thursday 17th September in Spring Gardens. If anyone wants to participate in the shoebox appeal, they can leave things at my office at 6, Queen Victoria Rd, Llanelli and we will ensure that they are passed on to the correct channels.

I can assure you that I am using my time in Parliament this week to urge government ministers to make sure that the UK lives up to its long tradition of offering help and support to refugees, starting by attending a cross-party vigil in Westminster Hall on Monday morning and following up with parliamentary debate and questions.

Of course we do have people who need help in our own country and we must help them too, but they are largely problems of inequality and the need to redistribute wealth more fairly, and we remain a very rich country—the 20th wealthiest in the world and the sixth biggest economy. We are not only a wealthy country; we are still a very influential country and therefore should be taking a much more positive lead on the refugee crisis on the world stage.

We should be showing leadership on this issue, firstly as MPs here, and then together with our EU partners. In the case of Syria, Turkey has taken in 2 million refugees, Lebanon has 1 million (in a country with only four million people) and Jordan hundreds of thousands likewise. We should be working out there and taking our share of refugees directly, and thus avoiding people falling prey to the most dreadful exploitation and journeys, often ending in tragedy. We also need to help more in southern Europe.

If the UK upped the number of Syrian refugees it has taken from 200 to 10,000, this would mean some 600 for Wales, so 30 – 40 for Carmarthenshire – perhaps 7 or 8 families. These are enterprising people, who would, as soon as they are allowed, be wanting to work hard and contribute to our economy.

Working together with the other 27 EU countries, we could organise similar help on the borders of the handful of other countries where people are fleeing violence (where again it is the neighbouring countries ….. often very poor ones with enough of their own problems …… taking in the majority of refugees and desperately in need of help).

These are problems that are not going to be solved in a week: I can assure you that I will continue to pursue this matter long term.

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Thousands of dead fish in river Afon Dulas pollution incident Download

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NATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) can confirm that more than 2,000 fish have been killed due to a slurry pollution incident in West Wales.

Officers have been on site taking samples and conducting fish surveys since the incident was first reported on the River Dulas near Capel Isaac in Carmarthenshire on Monday (8 July).

An estimated three miles (4.7 kilometre) stretch of the river has been affected and has had a major impact on invertebrates as well as fish – mainly brown trout but also bullhead, eels, lamprey, stone loach, minnow and salmon.

Ioan Williams, Natural Resource Management Team Leader from NRW, said:

“Protecting Wales’ waterways and the plants and animals that depend on them is a massive part of the work we do which is why people can report pollution incidents to us 24/7.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm that the total number of fish that were killed is significant and will have an adverse effect on the river for years to come.

“We can also confirm that there has been a significant impact on invertebrates in the river.

“Our staff have been working tirelessly to gather evidence about this incident and we will use that evidence to consider future legal action.

“Incidents such as this shouldn’t be happening.

“We work very closely with the farming industry to make sure they understand the devastating and long-term damage that pollution causes and what steps they can take to prevent it from happening.

“It is completely unacceptable and irresponsible that a small number of farmers are not taking notice of good practice and regulations and therefore giving the rest of the industry a bad name.

“These incidents come at a time when we are already seeing salmon and sewin stocks at very low levels.

“We encourage the agricultural sector to do everything they can to prevent further pollution incidents occurring and ensure they invest in adequate on-farm slurry infrastructure and follow good practice. We would also urge framers to report any issues to us immediately.”

NRW encourages people to report signs of pollution on 03000 65 3000 so it can respond appropriately and give Welsh rivers the protection they deserve.

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Council’s plan to cut CO2 by almost 700 tonnes a year

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council is investing over £2.5million to make energy efficiencies in its buildings in a bid to cut carbon emissions by almost 700 tonnes a year.

It is part of the council’s efforts to become a net zero carbon local authority by 2030, a commitment it made in February when declaring a climate emergency.

The authority has taken out an interest-free loan to pay for the Welsh Government Re:fit scheme, which it will pay back over 10 years from savings on running costs.

New technology will be installed in non-domestic buildings – including schools – to save energy and water, with an estimated 691 tonnes of CO2 saved every year.

Over 30 sites have been identified for phase one of the roll-out, undertaken on behalf of the council by renewable energy company Ameresco.

The scheme is in addition to the energy saving measures the council has already applied in its buildings.

To date, over £2million has been invested in over 200 energy efficiency projects, saving over £7million in running costs and 41,000 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of installed technologies.

The council has a policy of integrating low and zero carbon technologies into major building works projects such as schools, where PV installations and Passivhaus standards are already in use.

Its fleet of refuse lorries is the most emission-friendly fleet in Wales; street lighting has been converted to LED units; and there has been significant investment in Safe Routes in the Community and Safe Routes to Schools to encourage more sustainable travel.

In 2012 Carmarthenshire became the first council in Wales to introduce electric pool car vehicles, and has recently secured funding for plug-in chargers following an increase in electric vehicle sales.

Last year, the council vowed to reduce single-use plastics in council buildings and offices and ban plastic cups and straws.

The council’s climate declaration was backed unanimously by councillors in February.

As well as making and planning changes towards a target of becoming a zero carbon local authority by 2030, it has called on Welsh and UK Governments to provide support and resources to enable effective carbon reductions.

Cllr Hazel Evans, Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “We take our commitment to working towards becoming a carbon neutral authority very seriously, and we’re pleased to be making this investment not only to save harmful carbon emissions, but also to save financially on the cost of running our buildings.

“Coupled with our on-going property rationalisation programme, we are producing financial and carbon savings in times of increasing utility prices. This is a win-win situation when we are also able to help the environment.”

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Dyfed Powys exploring greater use of technology in policing

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INCREASING the use of technology in policing is something Dyfed Powys Police is exploring, the force’s Commissioner has confirmed.

Dafydd Llywelyn told members of the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel at its meeting in Ceredigion this week, that he was looking closely at the work of other forces around the UK.

Mr Llywelyn, who sits on the National Digital Policing Board, said he is in the fortunate position of watching the development of technology that he introduced in his former role as the force’s principal crime and intelligence analyst – before he was elected as Commissioner in 2016 – and hopes that the use of technology will develop to aid effective policing.

He was responding to a question from panel member Cllr Keith Evans, who wanted reassurance that the force is closely assessing the risks involved in using technology, such as facial recognition equipment.

“We don’t use facial recognition in Dyfed Powys at the moment, but that’s not to say that we won’t explore that in the future,” said Mr Llywelyn. “Technology is increasingly being used by police forces – it includes body worn cameras, CCTV, and mobile data terminals that the police have. We are learning from advancements.”

He added: “There’s a test case involving South Wales Police at the moment, and it’s about balancing effective policing with the right to a private life. I think there should be a caveat in terms of the risk – in Dyfed Powys there is an independent assessment of procedures and we’ve had a clean bill of health every year.”

Cllr Keith Evans responded to his comments, saying: “What’s important to us is that this work is considered carefully. Technology will feature more prominently in the work of the police and it’s about striking the right balance.”

The Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel is made up of representatives from the four counties of the force area.

It is the Panel’s duty to hold Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn to account.

The Panel meets at least four times a year, and can put questions to the Commissioner on behalf of members of the public.

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