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Hamilton: ‘UKIP is not for sale’

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Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 12.41.08THE HERALD caught up with Neil Hamilton on the eve of his visit to Llanelli to view his office. 

We took the chance to ask him about his living arrangements given the row over his expenses and calls for him to reside in Wales. Did he have any plans for a bedsit in Ammanford or Llanelli?

Neil Hamilton told us: “I do have accommodation available to me around the regions staying with friends. In fact, our old neighbour in Ammanford is still there in 14 Florence Road. She is creating a flat, which I could use. The reality is with a region as vast as Mid and West Wales, I am never going to be in a place where I can travel to and go home for the night.

“This week I am in Llanelli on Wednesday, Blaenau Festiniog on Thursday and Shotton on Friday, so having a flat in Ammanford isn’t going to be that much use to me. It would just be a place to lay my head and, actually, what does it matter where you are when you are unconscious?

“There is no public interest in that at all. The main thing is what do you do in your waking hours. How do you carry out your duties in your job as AM? I am 100% committed to my job in my waking hours to doing my best as I see it for the people of Wales.”

Something is required to replace the former EU Common Agricultural Policy now that the UK has voted to leave the EU. We asked Mr Hamilton what would replace CAP and how much he envisaged farmers would lose by way of subsidies and support.

Wearing his hat as UKIP’s agriculture spokesperson in Wales, Mr Hamilton replied: “We have the opportunity to paint on a blank canvas. Leaving the EU means that Wales can have its own agricultural policy because it is a devolved matter.

“There won’t be a British agricultural policy in the future. There will be four separate agricultural policies for different parts of the UK. Our agricultural policy in Wales might be quite different from that of England and Scotland. Our geography, climate and soil conditions means that we may have different interest from other parts of the UK and other priorities. We have been told in the past what we can grow.

“I think the basis of any agricultural policy is keeping farmers on the land having the countryside properly cared for, wildlife management and environmental considerations being an important part of the mix. Wales is a very diverse area. A Welsh agricultural policy may place a greater emphasis on upland farmers than the rest of the country, for example.

“We have 29% of the UK’s sheep in Wales. The mix is very different to many parts of the country. It is up to us to devise an agricultural policy that provides a compromise between competing interests within Wales but means that we do our best to prevent the drift from land and also that we do our best to ensure that we have security of food supply. We won’t see the bottom falling out of the agricultural market. We get back what we pay for and we have paid for a lot more and get nothing back. There is £10 billion a year, on top of what the EU spends in Britain, to be carved up. Wales should get at least another £500 million on top of the money the EU spends here at the moment.”

We asked Mr Hamilton if he agreed with the National Trust’s view that subsidies should only be paid to farmers who implement greening measures.

“It depends what you mean by ‘greening’. The environment and care of the countryside is an important part of an agricultural policy. The current policy does allow for this. 15% of CAP goes towards modulation, environmental schemes. That is controversial in the farming community. It is up to us to decide for ourselves what is most appropriate.

“I have started a consultation process with Farmers Union of Wales the NFU, the Countryside Landowners Association and anyone who is interested in farming and the countryside to participate so that UKIP’s agricultural policy comes up from the grass-roots and does not get imposed from the top.

“The Welsh government are all over the place and have done no thinking about what would happen if we left the EU. Let’s take advantage of this vacuum and fill it.”

With Trostre’s future still uncertain, we asked Mr Hamilton for his views on the steel industry’s future in Wales: “I don’t know enough about the economics of the Trostre plant. We have a great opportunity now to recover our ability to impose anti dumping duties on imports of steel which are being sold way below cost. We can also do something about the crazy energy polices that we have got which makes it virtually impossible for heavy industry to be competitive.

“Green taxes on top of the actual costs of producing electricity have made huge swathes of industry in Britain totally uncompetitive. We have virtually closed them all down.

“We have put up with EU policies. As our policies become more sophisticated, the lower value industries will relocate to other parts of the world. There are long term trends we can’t reverse.

“Energy prices in Britain are twice as high as those in Germany. If we could cut 3% from the costs of steel making in Britain, that would be a major gain. If we could stop Chinese imports coming in at a fraction of the cost of producing the steel, that would bolster markets as well. It is what happens when you recover control of your own country.”

Like Labour, UKIP is facing its own leadership election, we asked for Neil Hamilton’s view on the approach taken by UKIP’s main financial backer Arron Banks, and his intervention in the controversy about the leadership election.

Mr Hamilton was forthright: “UKIP is not for sale. I am totally opposed to the idea that the democratically elected National Executive Committee which is the supreme governing body of UKIP should be abolished and replaced by a board which would be the placing of a leader.

“Arron Banks has only been a member of UKIP for the last 18 months or so. He has loads of money and thinks he can run a political party like a business. Well, you can’t, I’m afraid. Political parties are not businesses. Many people have suffered under this illusion in the past. Business men often get frustrated with politics. You press levers and nothing happens or the wrong thing happens. That is democracy. You can’t just boss them about.

“This is a battle for the soul of UKIP. The Banks model is based on the EU model. Banks wants it run like a bank! He is a very smart, sharp-elbowed, successful business man. You can’t run a party like you run your own business.”

Mr Hamilton told The Herald that he was visiting Llanelli on Wednesday (Aug 10). He said: “I am meeting Llanelli UKIP this week and looking at offices in Wales. I want to open offices in Mid and West Wales.

“We are opening an office in Whitland for Carmarthenshire West and Pembrokeshire. There will be someone there seven days a week and if anyone wants to speak to me, they will make those appointments.”

When asked about the future of UKIP in Wales, he said: “I see UKIP’s future as being the party of the working people. We describe ourselves as a small state libertarian party. We are the party of the working man, the self-employed and the forgotten. There are a lot of ex-Labour Party members who feel like that. If you look at where UKIP did best at the elections, it is in seats where Labour were at their strongest.”

We asked Neil Hamilton for his views on Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. He said: “Jeremy Corbyn is a principled man and I admire him for that. Owen Smith is an Armani suited ex-lobbyist for a big pharmaceutical company. That doesn’t seem to represent the Labour Party in Wales. Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t either. He is part of the cosmopolitan, multi-cultural, internationalist elite that has long lost touch with the Labour voters. It is a world away from when Jim Griffiths as MP for Llanelli. The miners’ halls and meeting places have all long gone.

“The likes of Jeremy Corbyn have got as much in common with the people in South Wales as the man on the moon.”

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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