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First Minister election ballot closed

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THE SPECULATION as to who will succeed Carwyn Jones as First Minister of Wales will soon conclude, as the ballot has now closed, with the result to be announced on Thursday (Dec 6).

Eluned Morgan, Vaughan Gething and Mark Drakeford have each put themselves forward for the leadership of the Welsh Labour Party and indeed the Assembly.

All three are currently members of the Welsh Government, with Ms Morgan acting as Minister for the Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Mr Gething as the Health Secretary and Mr Drakeford as Finance Secretary.

Mr Drakeford, 64, has styled himself as a ’21st Century socialist’, offering continuity and stability as a candidate, having worked as a Welsh Government special advisor under Rhodri Morgan and being the only Welsh Government cabinet minister to support Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for the UK Labour leadership in 2015.

The AM for Cardiff West has been in the Assembly since 2011, becoming Health Minister in 2013 before becoming Finance Secretary in 2016. His policies include an extension of the smoking ban to outdoor areas such as restaurants and town centres, the cutting of emissions through greater emphasis on public transport and building on Superfast Cymru – a scheme to rollout 733,000 homes and businesses across Wales.

Mr Gething, 44, in contrast, is championing the idea of change to prevent stagnation in a party that has been in power for nearly two decades. The AM for Cardiff South and Penarth has proposed policies including a national care service for elderly people, the removal of tuition fees for care leavers, provision of free school meals outside of term time to end “holiday hunger”, and expansion of the Welsh Government’s childcare offer to parents undertaking work-related education and training. Mr Gething has also supported giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote, and would like to see compulsory voting, as there is in countries such as Belgium and Australia.

Having joined the Assembly in 2011, Mr Gething became a Deputy Minister for Health in 2014 and Health Secretary in 2016.

The third candidate, Ms Morgan, has emphasised that the ideas put forward in her manifesto had been generated as a result of a listening exercise that she had conducted throughout Wales, ensuring that the proposed policies had grass roots support from beyond the bubble of Cardiff Bay. The AM for Mid and West Wales was determined to ensure that the creation of quality jobs and eradicating poverty was put front and centre of her manifesto commitments.

Ms Morgan, 51, prioritised five key themes which she believes will help to transform Wales for the future. Her vision aims tackle poverty and drive economic growth; care for the people of Wales; unite both the party and the nation; promote Wales as a confident green nation and prepare the country for a rapidly changing world. Ms Morgan became the youngest MEP when she was elected to European Parliament in 1994. In 2010 it was announced that Morgan had been granted a life peerage by the then Labour Party leader Ed Miliband. She has served as Shadow Minister for Wales in the House of Lords and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, was elected to Assembly in 2016 and became Welsh Language Minister in 2016.

Ms Morgan supports another referendum on whether the UK leaves the EU, but also believes her time in the European Parliament had given her international contacts that would have use whether Brexit happens or not. Likewise Mr Gething supports the People’s Vote campaign, yet has been criticised for previously failing to backing a Plaid motion on the issue in the Senedd. Mr Drakeford, however, is less set on another vote, saying he would only back it should the final deal fail to protect workers’ rights. As Finance Secretary, Mr Drakeford has been in charge of much of the Welsh Government’s approach towards Brexit so far.

Voting papers were sent to Labour members in Wales, as well as members of affiliated organisations and trade unions. For the first time, Welsh Labour have utilised the one-member-one-vote system, already used Labour in the rest of Britain and the method used to elect Jeremy Corbyn as the party’s UK leader. Previously an electoral college process has been used for such contests, which split the votes three ways between members, unions and politicians.

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Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities

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Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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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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