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Local MPs vote on the ‘tampon tax’

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Ludicrous to me that these are considered ‘luxury’ items which need to be taxed’: Jonathan Edwards MP

Ludicrous to me that these are considered ‘luxury’ items which
need to be taxed’: Jonathan Edwards MP

WHEN VOTING to amend the finance bill on Monday October 26, the majority of MPs (305 to 287) voted against forcing the Chancellor of the Exchequer to negotiate the end of the ‘Tampon Tax’ – the 5% VAT added to sanitary products.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) categorise sanitary products as “non-essential, luxury items” and therefore VAT is added on top of the costs determined by retailers.

Although 5% is the lowest level of VAT that can added to a product, to describe tampons as a “luxury” is absurd, and many are campaigning to remove the ‘Tampon Tax’. A change. org petition has received nearly 260,000 signatures asking George Osbourne and the Council of the EU to reduce the tax on sanitary products to 0% and recognise them as “essential” rather than “luxury” items.

During the election, David Cameron said that the EU sets the rules on such things and commented that it would be difficult to remove VAT from tampons and like products. However, he has said he would look into it and get back to the public.

On Monday, Labour MP Paula Sherriff raised the motion to hasten the end of the ‘Tampon Tax’ by forcing George Osbourne to set out how he would negotiate the end of VAT on sanitary products within three months and update the commons on his progress.

In 2000, the Labour party were able to reduce the VAT added to sanitary products from 17.5% to only 5%, but could not go further under EU rules.

On Monday, it was Labour once again who moved the following clause:

“1) Within three months of the passing of this Act, the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall lay before both Houses of Parliament a statement on his strategy to negotiate with the EU institution an exemption from VAT for women’s sanitary protection products.

“2) A Minister of the Crown must lay before Parliament a report on progress before Parliament a report on progress at achieving an exemption from VAT for women’s sanitary protection products within EU law by April 1 2016.”

To change the VAT added to sanitary products, Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said that the Government would need the agreement of every EU member state. Although he said he “sympathises with the aim of the clause”, he commented that the “UK did not have the ability to extend unilaterally zero rating to new products.”

305 MPs voted against forcing George Osbourne to discuss the ‘Tampon Tax’ with the EU, including Secretary of State for Wales and Preseli-Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP, Simon Hart.

We asked Mr Crabb why it was that he did not want to hurry the motion to end the VAT on women’s sanitary products foward, to which he replied: “There is cross-party consensus that the UK should be able to abolish VAT on sanitary products.

“Ministers are about to commence discussions with the European Commission and other EU Member States.

“Given that the Minister has already promised to report back to the House of Commons on these negotiations, the amendment was unnecessary and so I voted against.

“We are moving in the right direction on this.”

We also asked Mr Hart to comment, but we did not receive a reply before going to print.

Both Nia Griifith, Labour MP for Llanelli, and Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, voted for the clause to hasten the end of the ‘Tampon Tax’ on Monday.

We asked Ms Griffith her opinion on amending the finance bill, and she said: “I would like to see the VAT taken off female sanitary products altogether because they are essential items, not luxury goods.

“When Labour was in power, we reduced the VAT on sanitary products from the standard rate, which at the time was 17.5% down to the minimum amount allowed by the EU which is 5%.

“This week I voted to ask the Chancellor to negotiate with the EU to get an exemption from VAT for sanitary products. There are similar campaigns for this VAT exemption in other EU countries, and the Chancellor should be working with them to get sanitary products exempted from VAT.

“I am very disappointed that the Chancellor does not even want to try and negotiate this exemption.”

Mr Edwards was also disappointed by MPs reluctance to want to negotiate on the matter.

He said: “I’m very proud to say that I and my Plaid Cymru colleagues voted to exempt women’s sanitary products from VAT.

“It seems absolutely ludicrous to me that these are considered ‘luxury’ items which need to be taxed.

“Using sanitary products is not a matter of choice, and a woman’s health and wellbeing should not be a financial discussion. It is a matter of necessity. There is no argument in the world that could be made to me to justify taxing these items.”

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Driver jailed for head-on crash that caused life-changing injuries

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A DRIVER who caused a head-on collision with a car being driven by a pregnant woman told police officers at the scene he had drunk 13 cans of strong lager the night before.

Rhodri Rees, aged 36, of Llandysul, admitted his drinking had gone into the early hours before he got behind the wheel and caused the crash on the A476 in Llannon, near Llanelli, by overtaking another car on a bend at around 7.40am on December 11, 2020.

The severe impact meant both drivers were trapped in their cars and had to be cut free by firefighters.

Thankfully the baby was unharmed in the collision, however, its mother suffered serious, life-changing injuries. She had a number of operations to repair the damage and was unable to walk for a year and still suffers the effects of the accident today.

Dyfed-Powys Police Sgt Nicholas Brookes said “When Rees was spoken to by our officers at the scene he told them he had drunk 13 cans of Stella Artois and that he had gone to bed after midnight.

“He failed a breath test at the scene and was arrested on suspicion of drink driving before being allowed to go to hospital for treatment.”

The following day he was interviewed at Carmarthen Police Station where he told officers he had consumed eight or nine cans of Foster’s before going to bed around 2am, before getting up at around 6.45am and setting off.

A sample of blood was taken just before 1pm on December 11 showed Rees had 39mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – the legal limit being 80.  A blood alcohol expert had calculated that at the time of the collision the level of alcohol would have been no less than 113mg and more likely 129mg.

PS Brookes added: “This was a serious case that could have been so much worse.

“Rees admitted drinking a considerable amount of alcohol and getting little sleep before getting behind the wheel. He was lucky no-one was killed.

“I would like to commend the officer in the case, PC Benjamin Stevenson, who conducted a thorough and meticulous investigation for the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.”

On Tuesday, 17th May, Rees appeared before Swansea Crown Court, having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, and was sentenced to 18-months in prison.

He was also disqualified from driving for three years and 9 months, with a requirement for an extended test to regain his licence.

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No monkeypox cases identified in Wales say public health officials

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THE UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 11 additional cases of monkeypox in England.

The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed since May 6 to 20.

The new cases come on top of the nine already identified in the country.

There are currently no cases of monkeypox identified in Wales, public health in Wales have said.

Public Health Wales said it is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Northern Ireland HSC Health Protection Agency to respond to UK cases of monkeypox.

Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working closely with our UK partners to monitor and respond to cases of monkeypox in the UK. Monkeypox is a rare disease that has been reported mainly in central and West African countries. No cases have so far been identified in Wales.”

“Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”

The first case in the current outbreak was confirmed on May 6.

It is not the first time monkeypox has been reported in the UK.

Three cases were also reported in 2021, two of them in Wales.

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New city of Wrexham gets big thumbs up from business leaders

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BUSINESS leaders have given a big thumbs up to news that Wrexham has been granted city status following a competition to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Wrexham Business Professionals have campaigned for more than a decade to help secure city status and say they are “cock-a-hoop” that the bid was successful, having previously failed last time around in 2012.

According to the group, made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and the enterprise and expertise in the region, becoming a city is a “fantastic once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

Wrexham joins seven other winners from across Britain and the overseas territories – including Bangor in Northern Ireland, Stanley in the Falklands, and Colchester in England.

Pictured Ian Edwards, of Allington Hughes Solicitors,

The competition for city status has taken place in each of the last three jubilee years, with previous winners including Newport, which became a city in 2002.

Ian Edwards, a senior member of Wrexham Business Professionals and a director of Allington Hughes, said: “We have supported the idea of Wrexham becoming a city for many years. As far as we are concerned, this is a no-brainer and is one of the best things to have happened to Wrexham for a long time

“Even before the pandemic and the consequences of the pandemic we’ve always thought that being a city would give Wrexham a lot of kudos and would provide a massive economic benefit for the whole of North Wales.

“During the pandemic some business in Wrexham have done well but others – notably in leisure, tourism and hospitality – have really suffered and we really have to get back on our feet economically.

“It’s not just about putting Wrexham on the map – being a city will provide an effective lever in attracting inward investment and new jobs which will help the whole area thrive and prosper.

“The benefits of city status transform the fortunes of the town and provide a better future for the people who live here.

“It feels like the stars have now aligned perfectly and that the time is now right to do our best to seize this opportunity.

“The fact that Wrexham AFC has been bought by Hollywood A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney helped add bit of magic and stardust to the bid.

“A lot of people across the world hadn’t heard of Wrexham before and now other Hollywood stars are embracing the story and putting on the club’s shirt.

“We’ve never had such a high profile – not just nationally but internationally.

“You really couldn’t script it better. There’s never going to be a better time to become Wales’s seventh city.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the group’s chair, chartered accountant Gill Kreft, co-owner of the Pendine Park care organisation.

She said: “City status will give Wrexham a huge fillip and provide the recognition it deserves as the commercial capital of North Wales.

“City status will undoubtedly help attract more inward investment and funding into the town and the surrounding area.

“It will also give us an enhanced reputation and status as well and raise awareness of what a great place this is and what a lot it has to offer. Wrexham has a lot going for it.

“It will be a massive boost for us and for North Wales and give the town more confidence about itself.

“Hopefully, we can now go for a hat-trick with Wrexham AFC finally winning promotion and being crowned as City of Culture 2025. Fingers crossed!”

Captions

Gill Kreft, chair of Wrexham Business Professionals

Ian Edwards., leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals

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