2007

20 October 2007

Pembrokeshire Arts Venues Musn't Suffer Because of WMC Cash Crisis

Pembrokeshire arts venues such as the Torch Theatre musn't suffer at the expense of bailing out the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC), says Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies.

The flagship arts centre for Wales was built in 2004 at a cost of £106 million but has run into a £13.5 million cash crisis.

Mr Davies, who is the shadow spokesman for the arts, told the Senedd: "We need assurances that while this iconic building is given the help it needs, other arts projects around Wales will not suffer as a result.

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AM Welcomes Sprinklers In All New Homes

Paul-SprinklersDozens of fire deaths in Wales every year may be avoided with a new law that would see sprinkler systems fitted in all new buildings as standard.

Assembly Members want every home and public building put up from 2010 onwards to be fitted with the fire fighting equipment.

"We have asked Westminster to give us the authority to enact this law and are very hopeful that it will be granted," says Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies.

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17 October 2007

Top of the Wildlife Class

Paul-KnappsFarmTerry Clarke shows Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies around his award-winning farm.

Knapps Farm near Narberth is a dairy farm that is also home to rare breeds such as lapwings, marsh fritillary butterflies and royal fern.

It has won awards for its conservation work including the prestigious Farmcare Silver Lapwing award from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

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16 October 2007

Culture of Secrecy Must End Over Arts Centre

WELSH Conservatives today demanded open, transparent, comprehensive reports on the Assembly Government's efforts to tackle a financial crisis at the Wales Millennium Centre.

With more than £60mn of public money spent on building the Cardiff Bay arts centre ministers must keep the National Assembly fully informed about efforts to resolve its £13mn debts.

Welsh Conservatives believe that while the centre needs support, any financial aid cannot come at the expense of other projects across Wales which may receive money from the Assembly's culture budget.

A robust business plan must be made by the WMC before any support from the Assembly Government can be considered, Welsh Conservatives said today.

The party has also repeated its belief that the Assembly Government suppressed a report into the centre because ministers wanted to bury bad news before May's elections.

A statement on negotiations between the WMC and Assembly Government is due from the Heritage Minister tomorrow following a meeting last night.

The Leader of the Official Opposition Nick Bourne AM said: "I am extremely concerned by the wall of silence erected by the Assembly Government on this issue.

"While I accept there are matters of commercial sensitivity which must be observed, we have heard precious little from ministers to reassure either the Wales Millennium Centre or the people who use it.

"There is a growing culture of secrecy and silence at the heart of this administration which concerns me greatly.

"We need open, transparent and comprehensive reports about what the government is doing to help the WMC out of this situation."

Shadow Culture Minister and Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies said: "The Wales Millennium Centre is the centrepiece of our nation's cultural and artistic talent.

"We support every effort to help it out of its current difficulties - but need to be fully involved and informed.

"A vast amount of public money has already been spent on this project. Any proposals to spend more of it on the centre must only come following a robust and workable business plan.

"Any proposal to use public money to support the WMC must not come at the expense of other projects across Wales."

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12 October 2007

Millenium Centre Debt Can't Be Brushed Under The Carpet

Commenting on reports the Wales Millennium Centre is in serious danger of insolvency, Shadow Culture Minister Paul Davies AM has today said:

"This is a dire situation for such an iconic Welsh institution to be in. It is extremely important now that the Heritage Minister makes an urgent statement in the Senedd.

"I am very concerned that this report has only surfaced now. The debt has not accumulated overnight. It appears the previous Labour Assembly Government tried to bury the problem.

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11 October 2007

Paul Davies AM Meets Crucial Crew

Paul-CrucialCrewMore than 1,500 Year Six pupils from all Pembrokeshire schools are invited to the event to learn how to stay safe.

Experts from agencies including the police, coastguard, fire brigade, National Farmers Union and Western Power are there to guide them through 11 challenges aimed at making them think about safety.

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10 October 2007

LNG Accident Musn't Stoke Up Fears

THE death of an LNG worker at South Hook must not be allowed to "stoke up fears" about the safety of the development in general, says Preseli Pembrokeshire's AM.

During an urgent question tabled by Mr Davies in the first session held at the Senedd since Adrianus van Ham's death, he expressed sympathies to his family and paid tribute to local emergency and rescue services.

But he added: "This tragic incident should not be used to stoke up fears about the general LNG developments. Sadly, with big industrial projects such as this, there are occasional accidents, and it is extremely sad that, in this instance, it was a fatal accident.

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Wildlife Must Be Culled To Stop TB, Says AM

It is pointless killing cattle in an attempt to control TB unless wildlife is also culled, Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies has told the Senedd.

He highlighted the problem while questioning First Minster Rhodri Morgan about the efficacy of current TB control methods.

"Over the past 10 years, TB has caused huge problems within the industry," he said.

"It is clear that the current policy of culling cattle without controlling wildlife is not working.

"In my opinion, it is not sensible to destroy one set of animals without controlling the other."

Mr Morgan said that a new TB policy is being formulated but that in the meantime the main priority was to emphasise the way in which animal movements are controlled.

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09 October 2007

AM Celebrates Meals On Wheels Week

Paul-MealsOnWheelsPaul Davies, Preseli Pembrokeshire AM, helps to celebrate Meals on Wheels week in Haverfordwest. He was given a tour of the WRVS kitchen that produces 300 meals a week for elderly and vulnerable clients in and around the town.

"Meals on Wheels is a wonderful service that not only ensures that vulnerable older people get a regular hot meal but, just as importantly, they also get regular human contact.

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08 October 2007

Labour Claim That Pembrokeshire Doesn't Want A40 Dualling "Is Nonsense", Says AM

Claims that there is little public support for the dualling of the A40 are nonsense, says Preseli Pembrokeshire's Conservative AM Paul Davies.

He was reacting to a statement by Mid and West AM Alun Davies, who told the Assembly last Tuesday: "I do not think that there is much support in the Chamber or elsewhere for the dualling of the road."

Paul Davies AM said: "I don't know where Alun has been but I can tell him that there is considerable support for the dualling of the A40 here in Preseli Pembrokeshire.

"It will not only make dangerous stretches of this road safer but will also be a huge benefit both to industry and tourism by making the county more accessible.
"It will encourage investment by businesses both small and large and have a positive effect on long term employment in the county."

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04 October 2007

Welsh Conservatives Meet 2012 Olympic Team

Paul-NickBThe organisation of the 2012 Olympic Games in London and their impact on Wales has been outlined to Preseli Pembrokeshire's AM by Lord Coe.

Welsh shadow sports minister Paul Davies AM and Nick Bourne, Mid and West Wales AM, met Lord Coe and other Olympic officials during the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool.

Speaking after the meeting Paul Davies said: "This was an extremely constructive and informative meeting. "The 2012 London Olympics are clearly going to bring benefits to Wales and it is vital that we engage with the games' co-ordinators at the earliest possible stage.

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02 October 2007

Shadow Culture Minister Celebrates Brunel's Legacy

Paul-BrunelThe role played by Britain's greatest engineer in the history of Neyland has been outlined by the Welsh Shadow Minister for Culture.

Paul Davies AM officially opened the Brunel exhibition which is taking place at Neyland library.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the terminus of the South Wales Railway at Neyland, parts of which can be seen to this day.

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28 September 2007

AM Seeks Reassurance From Health Minister That Trust Merger Won't Hit Services

Preseli Pembrokeshire's AM has outlined his fears that the proposed health trust merger will lead to service cutbacks in the County.

He asked Edwina Hart in the Senedd why the consultation on the proposed trust merger is only being carried out with the Community Health Councils and members of staff, and not the general public.

"The proposals contain no specific costings or details as to how health services would be better delivered and patient care improved," he said.

"I am genuinely concerned that creating one trust for west Wales could lead to vital services being transferred from Pembrokeshire, to other parts of the former county of Dyfed.

"In any large organisation, it is the peripheries that suffer, and given that Pembrokeshire would, geographically, be on the periphery of such a large trust, it would be the first to suffer."

Mrs Hart reassured him that the merger was purely an administrative one.

"There is no intention of changing any of the existing service provisions," she said in Wednesday's plenary session of the Senedd. "There is no question of anything happening with regard to service provision or where services are located within the area.

However, I see this as the administrative merger of trust boards, and the streamlining of administrative structures. If it came to looking at services within the areas — we are currently looking at Withybush Hospital — that would be a different type of consultation, and it would have to go out for public response."

Mr Davies also asked her why the health boards are not being merged and Mrs Hart hinted that they may be next.

"I note your point on local health boards. I will be considering in future how they can work together better," she said.

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21 September 2007

"Price Fixing" By Supermarkets Has Hit Pembrokeshire Farmers

Pembrokes

hire’s Assembly Members have condemned a price-fixing scandal which has seen the county’s dairy farmers losing thousands of pounds.

The Office of Fair Trading has provisionally found Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, as well as dairy processors, guilty of colluding to increase the price of dairy products.

Consumers were charged an extra 3p for a pint of milk, but the rise in price was not passed on to the farmers meaning that both producers and consumers lost out.

“This is a very serious allegation and I am pleased that the OFT has taken the matter so seriously,” said Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies.

“I have said for some time now that the supermarkets have got too much purchasing power.  I would like to introduce a statutory code of conduct to ensure there is agreement between producers and supermarkets.”

Angela Burns, AM for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said: “This has only confirmed what farmers have suspected for years - that the supermarkets’ claims that they have farmers interests at heart is nothing more than marketing spin.   

“The supermarkets and dairies now have an obligation to do the right thing for their suppliers and customers.”

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19 September 2007

Affordable Housing And Planning Are Key Issues For Pembrokeshire

More needs to be done to help youngsters and key workers get on the housing ladder and planning laws need to be more flexible, housing experts in the county have been told.

Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies identified planning and affordable housing as the two key issues facing the county when he addressed the AGM of the Pembrokeshire Housing Association.

"All too often, it is our young people who find it so difficult to get on the housing market," he told delegates at the Plas Hyfryd Hotel in Narberth.

"Ten years ago, almost half a million people got onto the Housing Ladder. In 2005, that figure stood at just over a quarter of a million – The lowest total since 1980."*

Mr Davies pointed out that it was often key workers who found it hardest to get on the first rung of the property ladder. And he praised the Association for operating the Homebuy and Local Keyworkers' Schemes which aim to help people buy their own affordable homes.

"Efforts such as these show that Pembrokeshire Housing Association leads the way in providing affordable housing," he said.

He added that he and South Pembrokeshire's AM Angela Burns want to increase the involvement of town and community councillors in the local planning process.

"This is an area where responsibility truly needs to be handed back to residents, not arbitrarily decided in Cardiff Bay," he said. "Rather than massive developments of thousands of houses, we could regenerate many villages if we were to build a few homes in different villages.

"This would preserve the character of the village whilst also increasing the community."

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