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National Assembly of Wales elections – West Wales results

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Week-to-go-to-register-to-vote-Electoral-Commission-warningTHE CONSTITUENCY RESULTS are in and the election could not have gone much better for Labour, at least in the number of seats held.

As the Labour vote tumbled across Wales by around 7%, none of the opposition parties were able to make the step from being promising contenders to winners. Even where Labour shed a massive number of votes, such as in Blaenau Gwent, Labour hung on.

The big tests for Plaid Cymru, winning Llanelli and snatching Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire – the second and third most marginal seats in Wales – proved beyond them.

Llanelli

Lee Waters 10,267; Helen Mary Jones 9,885; Kenneth Rees 4,132; Stefan Ryszewski 1,937; Sian Caiach 1,113; Greg Smith 427; Gemma Bowker 355.

Helen Mary Jones was regarded as a hot favourite for victory in pre-election opinion polls, but where it counted – in the ballot box – the popular former AM came up short. Labour’s Lee Waters increased his predecessor’s slim majority to 382 after a hard fought ground war. One key local issue – the future of Trostre – strongly favoured the former journalist and Director of the IWA. In addition, resentment of the Plaid-led County Council combined with UKIP’s capacity to take non-Labour votes in parts of Llanelli town, were additional contributory factors to a widely unexpected victory.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire

Angela Burns 10,355; Marc Tierney 6,982; Simon Thomas 5,459; Allan Brookes 3,300; Chris Overton 1,638; Valerie Bradley 804

In Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, confident noises, encouraged by opinion polls, were silenced as Plaid’s Education spokesperson in the last Assembly, Simon Thomas, failed to make headway against the incumbent Angela Burns.

In a smashing victory for the Conservative health spokesperson, Ms Burns nailed down a 3,373 vote majority over her nearest challenger, Labour’s Mark Tierney, with Simon Thomas 1,500 votes further back.

Chris Overton trailed in fourth with 1,638 votes, while former Pembroke Dock publican Allan Brookes received over twice as many votes for UKIP.

On a more positive note for Plaid Cymru, their candidates in Ceredigion and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr fared particularly well

Ceredigion

Elin Jones 12,014; Elizabeth Evans 9,606; Gethin James 2,665; Felix Aubel 2,075; Iwan Wyn Jones 1,902; Brian Dafydd Williams 1,223

In the constituency she has represented for seventeen years, Elin Jones increased her majority, establishing a 2,400 vote lead over her closest challenger, the Liberal Democrats’ Liz Evans. Plaid’s health spokesperson had fought a tough campaign against her tenacious opponent, the County Councillor from Aberaeron.

Carmarthen East & Dinefwr

Adam Price 14,427; Steve Jeacock 5,727; Matthew Paul 4,489; Neil Hamilton 3,474; William Powell 837; Freya Amsbury 797

In Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, the towering figure of Adam Price gained a towering majority of 8,700 votes. Labour’s Steve Jeacock trailed in a very distant second. While Adam Price was a nailed on certainty to win from the outset, the scale of his victory, in which he seems to have hoovered-up core Labour votes.

Preseli Pembrokeshire

Paul Davies 11,123; Dan Lodge 7,193; John Osmond 3,857; Howard Lillyman 3,286; Bob Kilmister 1,677; Frances Bryant 1,161

Preseli Pembrokeshire was, as widely predicted, a solid victory for incumbent AM, Paul Davies with a majority of 3,930 over Labour’s Dan Lodge. Both parties lost votes to UKIP candidate Howard Lillyman: Paul Davies shedding 3% and Labour 9% as Mr Lillyman polled 12%.

The impact of the changes to healthcare provision at Withybush Hospital and the unpopularity of those changes, has cemented Preseli Pembrokeshire as – for time being – a Conservative banker. There was no sign of Plaid Cymru’s John Osmond reaping any benefit either from his long-standing and consistent personal involvement in the battle to first preserve and then return services to Withybush, or from the decision of Chris Overton to stand in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

The National picture after the constituency results

With only one constituency seat changing hands, it appears likely that Labour will not need a coalition partner to form a government. The fractured nature of its opposition and ability to cling on to key Labour/Conservative marginal constituencies mean that projections of significant seat losses by Carwyn Jones’s party were never likely to be met. In key marginal seats in North Wales, where the Conservatives had devoted considerable resources, UKIP stripped away votes from the Conservatives.

UKIP polled exceptionally strongly against Labour in the former industrial heartlands of the South Wales Valleys, regularly hitting 20% plus of the vote in those constituencies.

On an unremittingly grim night for the Liberal Democrats, the one highlight was Kirsty Williams’s performance in her Brecon and Radnor seat. Polling over half the vote and getting an 8,170 majority in the process. It seems very likely that UKIP’s likely success on the regional lists will see Ms Williams as the sole Liberal Democrat AM in the next Assembly.

During what must have been a disappointing night for her party, Leanne Wood, cashed in on her personal popularity to win RCT. The Plaid leader gained a majority of over 2,200 votes and 51% of the total number of votes cast. Her victory cost one of Labour’s senior figures, Leighton Andrews his seat. Mr Andrews, who had served as both Education and Public Services Minister in the Fourth Assembly, congratulated Ms Wood on her very personal victory.

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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Business

Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing

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Caws Cenarth award

A CHEESEMAKER from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.

Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.

Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.

Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”

Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth onto our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”

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