The Welsh Liberal Democrats are pleased to announce their four candidates for the up-and-coming Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales.
- Callum Littlemore will stand in South Wales
- Glyn Preston in Dyfed-Powys
- John Miller in Gwent
- Lisa Wilkins in North Wales
The party is standing on a platform including:
- Putting a strong focus on community policing and working with local communities to help tackle the causes of crime.
- Campaigning around civil liberties, including commitments to ban the use of facial recognition technology, investing in mental health support services.
- Opposing Conservative attempts to restrict the right to protest.
- Pledging to campaign to scrap the roles, devolve justice to the Senedd and returning powers back to local police forces.
Callum Littlemore who will be contesting the South Wales Police force region said:
“For too long our policing been focused on reacting to crime, not preventing it or making people feel safe.
“It’s time to rethink the way we do policing if we want to rebuild trust between the police and the communities they are meant to protect. We cannot continue to have an ‘us and them’ mentality and the police should not be something we have to fear.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats would invest in community policing, ensuring we recruit PCSOs and Police Officers locally and embed them within communities, provide extra funding for community outreach and support services – including local youth groups, and work to right the systemic racism and injustice that plagues our criminal justice system.”
The Party has also reiterated its opposition to these roles which they say have done nothing to reduce crime, reassure the public or improve accountability amongst the police.
Lisa Wilkins who will be contesting North Wales said:
“These roles were created by the Conservatives in Westminster and have done little to catch the public’s imagination, or their perceptions of the police and the vast majority of Wales will struggle to name any PCC yet alone their own.
“It’s time these offices were scrapped once and for all.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have unveiled their plans for an environmental recovery ahead of next month’s Senedd election.
The party has unveiled ambitious plans to tackle the climate breakdown with a pledge to create a package of investment worth £1billion a year to fight the climate emergency, build green homes and create green jobs across Wales.
Responding to the comments by The First Minister who said he is in "conversations" with the UK Government over so-called vaccine passports. Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has described them as "unworkable and illiberal."
Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
"We oppose the proposed introduction of divisive and discriminatory 'vaccine passports' which are both unworkable and illiberal. These plans could deny individuals access to pubs/restaurants, services or even jobs.
"As the party of civil liberties and personal freedoms we were proud to successfully oppose the previous attempt to introduce of ID cards to the UK and we oppose these vaccine passports."
Responding to the news that Wales will soon move into a Level 3 status, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:
“This is good news. We are cautiously optimistic about the future, especially given the positive news regarding vaccine roll out.
"Small businesses especially in the hospitality industry have been hit hard by this closure and they will be relieved that many of them can start trading again.
“We have seen scenes of people enjoying the good weather and with a four day weekend approaching it’s important that people continue to stick to the rules. Any increase in virus numbers and a move back towards Level 4 would be a disaster."
Commenting on the news that self-contained holiday accommodation in Wales can now re-open, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:
“This is a sensible first move in reopening the Welsh economy. For many people, the ability to travel within their household bubble will bring much needed welcome relief. The tourism sector in Wales has been badly hit and I hope in the coming weeks more sections of the economy can begin to re-open.”
Commenting further on the news that the stay local restrictions have been lifted Jane Dodds said:
“This will come as welcome news to many who have been cut off for a long time. The public have a duty to follow these new rules carefully as the virus is still very much circulating amongst us. I hope this will the start of the end of our final lockdown.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed the long over due decision to close the Panally Camp in Pembrokeshire which has been housing asylum seekers for several months.
Alistair Cameron Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire said:
“It is absolutely no surprise that the Camp is to be closed following the damning report from the Independent Inspector of Borders and Immigration into the unsafe and distressing conditions for the residents at the camp. This left the Home Office with no option but to close the Camp.
“It is now vital that the Home Office works closely with the Welsh Government in order to provide safe, secure and decent accommodation which any of us would expect if we were in a similar position.
“There have been a lot of unpleasant and nasty scenes outside the Camp due to demonstrations from the far-right who have tried to stir up hatred. However, we must remember that many local people volunteered to help the asylum seekers with clothing, language assistance and many other acts of kindness. This represents the true spirit of Pembrokeshire.
“I know this has been a distressing experience for many of the residents in the Camp and that many have suffered depression and anxiety in accommodation which was not suitable for long term use. I wish them all the best for the future and hope they can rebuild their lives for the better.
“As we move forward, the Home Office needs to act urgently to address the “fundamental failures of leadership and planning” highlighted in the Independent Inspector’s report. In particular, it must consult with local residents and service providers over its proposals and assess the impact on local services, particularly in rural areas where there are less facilities than urban areas.”
Kirsty Williams the Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister has announced an additional £30 million to develop new Welsh-medium education.
The capital investment aims to help reach the longstanding target of 1 Million Welsh speakers by 2050, by supporting young learners to become Welsh speakers by the time they leave school.
This announcement follows hot on the heels of the new Welsh Curriculum approved by Senedd members this week which will be introduced after an extensive consultation and is the first complete reform of the curriculum in a generation.
Kirsty Williams Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister, said:
“Providing first class schools for children in Welsh-medium education is a key driver for Cymraeg 2050. Attending a Welsh-medium school ensures children become at least bilingual.
“We also need to increase the number of learners in English-medium and bilingual schools who are learning Welsh successfully. I want to ensure more bilingual schools introduce a greater proportion of the new curriculum in Welsh, to give learners a strong linguistic foundation.
“The funding complements our fantastic 21st century Schools and Colleges programme, which has completed 170 new schools or college projects in its first phase, with 43 new projects in the pipeline.
“We are driving forward the delivery of capital projects to increase the percentage of learners in Welsh-medium education, helping achieve our long-term goal of a million Welsh-speakers by 2050.”
Jane Dodds Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has questioned the science and logic behind the decision to allow supermarkets to resume selling goods deemed non-essential from Monday 22nd March yet keeping non-essential retailers, including many small businesses, shut until 12th April.
Jane Dodds said:
“By keeping small retailers closed while allowing supermarkets to undercut them, Mark Drakeford and Labour are throwing many small shops and high streets under a bus.
“Mark Drakeford have been briefing for weeks that retail could open up after 15 March. Businesses have been making preparations and incurring costs. This last-minute U-turn risks people’s businesses and livelihoods. The Welsh Labour Government has treated the High Street with complete contempt.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats will always put recovery first, and that means backing the high street.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats challenged Plaid Cymru on the eve of their conference to provide clarity on their position on LGBT+ rights and equality.
Last week a young trans woman of colour was removed from a hustings meeting after protesting about her inability to question a panel member and sitting Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Helen Mary Jones, over her previous comments on trans rights. The young woman has since blogged about her experience.
Leena Sarah Farhat, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Diversity lead, said:
“I was in the hustings. I saw a young woman removed from the hustings just for displaying a trans flag. The organization has given a mealy-mouthed statement that means nothing. But even worse, is the Plaid Cymru response. Helen Mary Jones remains a candidate, despite supporting groups that use language that harms and puts trans people at risk.
“If she was a candidate who said similar things about race, or disability, she would have been shown the door a long time ago. Does Plaid Cymru believe trans rights are less important? The lack of action by Plaid when it comes to discrimination is worrying."
Helen Mary Jones has been criticized widely for her support for the anti-trans group Women’s Place, and has shared content that uses trans people’s dead names – an action that puts them at huge risk of reprisal, or other hate crime.
Oliver Townsend, the Welsh Lib Dem candidate for Islwyn, and himself married to a trans man, added his voice to Leena’s call for action:
“This is about fairness, about hearing the voices of people who are under constant attack. My husband’s entire life feels like it is under constant attack from a right-wing element in our country – and I expected better from someone like Helen Mary Jones.
“I used to look up to her. When I was much younger, I thought she spoke so passionately for young people. It breaks my heart that she cannot see the damage she is doing, but sometimes standing up to people you respect is more important than staying silent.”
Both Leena and Oliver have called on Plaid Cymru to issue a statement addressing the row, and to pledge that action will be taken.
“If I was in the workplace, and I was sharing content and views like this,” Oliver said, “I would be disciplined. Plaid really need to think about what message they are sending to LGBT+ people, and those who stand with us.”
On first sight there seems little in Rishi Sunak’s budget to scare the horses. With tax threshold increases delayed and Covid support continuing for the time being, Sunak has avoided an immediate hit to families’ wallets.
Look below the surface though and what becomes apparent is that those on the lowest incomes will suffer the most once the measures outlined in the budget kick in.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Economy Spokesperson Andrew Parkhurst said:
“The most glaring example of this is the cruel decision to reduce universal credit at the end of September by £20 per week, just at the time when unemployment is expected to rise. This will hurt the poorest families the hardest and shows the lack of compassion and empathy that is at the heart of Tory thinking.
“The freezing of income tax thresholds may look harmless enough. The effect though will be massive – particularly if inflation takes off - and will hit the lowest earners the hardest as more and more workers get caught by the threshold and have to give up a fifth of the additional cash they earn. The wealthy on the other hand don’t get the personal allowance so freezing it has no impact on them.
“Even raising the rates of corporation tax will end up hurting ordinary people. It may seem like a tax on the rich – hence its initial popularity – but ultimately the tax is paid by customers, workers and shareholders. It will therefore put upward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on pay and dividends.
“The existing rate of corporation tax may be relatively low compared to other major economies but there are many factors that influence international businesses on where to invest. Leaving the EU has already made the UK a less favourable destination for businesses wanting access to the EU so this just seems like the worst possible time to remove a competitive strength.
“There was precious little in the budget about helping the excluded 3 million entrepreneurs, and nothing on reforming the broken business rates system or helping exporters hit badly by Brexit.
“Reforms to social care were also absent (despite Boris Johnson’s assertion 20 months ago that he had a ready-made solution), as was anything extra for NHS staff or carers.
If the Tories were serious about rebuilding our shattered economy fairly there would have been more about enabling businesses to flourish, encouraging exports, attracting inward investment, ensuring the economy is more resilient and able to withstand future shocks, investing in public health and protecting the most vulnerable.
“As it is, Sunak may have kept the Tory’s manifesto commitment not to raise headline rates of income tax, national insurance or VAT but in doing so he has sacrificed the poorest members of society and risked damaging our national interest.”