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Senedd21: Michelle Valerio | Freedom Alliance | Swansea West

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MICHELLE VALERIO
FREEDOM ALLIANCE CANDIDATE – SWANSEA WEST

1. Tell us about yourself:

I am standing for Freedom Alliance as a candidate for Swansea West Constituency and number 1 on the Regional list. I am a solicitor of many years and have lived and bought up my family in Swansea.

2. What will you do for your constituency/region if elected?

I made the decision to stand for Freedom Alliance out of my deep concern about the loss of our fundamental human rights, the destruction of our way of life, and the dehumanising methods that have been applied by government on an unimaginable scale.

One of my greatest concerns has been the coercive powers that the state has exercised over our personal lives introducing draconian measures without virtually any parliamentary involvement or an effective opposition.

Measures that were introduced at the start of the pandemic have been escalated and people have been effectively mandated in all aspects of their lives. The state has intruded on our personal liberties on an unprecedented scale and which has no basis in a democratic state.

The lockdown measures have induced panic and fear in people, at huge collateral damage to the economy, people’s lives and health. The rational to base public policy on such a premise has not been proved and there is no evidence that lockdowns work. What we do know is that they destroy lives.

I want to stop the insidious and forever escalating measures being imposed on us under the governments purported powers and the lack of transparency about application of particular measures such as vaccine passports or those that have been applied to children in respect of mask and testing when it suits government to leave others to do its work.

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I am particularly concerned about elderly people which I am closely involved with in my work. The way our senior citizens are treated both at societal level and in terms of their care and living needs has been catastrophically magnified this last year; under government policies to discharge of elderly people into residential care without testing; the use of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) without consultation and; the isolation of the elderly.

Our mission is to reinstate our personal liberties to make our own risk assessments as to how we live and have faith in human compassion and love. To ensure that lockdown is never again imposed and to take Wales forward for the people.

If I am elected my first job will be to apply power to end this political crisis. We have to end the treatment of children in schools to pressure then to wear masks and be regularly tested before we can mend the education system.

We have to restore the NHS as a service open to all irrespective of condition or age.

We have to open up all our businesses and that they have the confidence that they will not be shut down again.

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I will also be pressing for a truth and reconciliation committee to investigate what has happened and who is responsible.

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Art

Swansea students’ art showcased at global ‘Without Borders’ project

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Students and staff at University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD)’s Swansea College of Art are amongst 300 participants connected to 21 groups around the world who have contributed to a new global art project.

Without Borders’ has sought to remove barriers, create alliances, and connect with neighbours and aims to bring creative people together, to collaborate in an international touring exhibition of works on paper – a collection of artists pages.

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Without Borders has been curated by Jonathan Powell, Elysium gallery Director and Heather Parnell, artist, and co-editor of 1SSUE. The exhibition of artist works has now made its way from Kyoto to Nagoya in Japan on the next leg of its world tour.

At the end of this exhibition, these pages will be gathered together and forwarded to another venue to be dismantled and displayed, and then reassembled before moving again to the next location. The exhibition will travel the globe and at the end of the tour, the book will be placed in a special collection’s library.

UWTSD Cert HE Art and Design Foundation Programme Director Katherine Clewett said: “I am delighted to see that the exhibition has now entered its next phase. ‘Without Boarders’ Includes work by staff and students from Swansea College of Art in collaboration with Elysium Art Gallery

“It is an evolving digital project and physical exhibition, aimed at bringing together communities and artists from around the world.

“The exhibition title upholds ideas and perspectives concerning current socio-political boundaries. This project was an opportunity for students and staff to reflect on constricted connections, and to seek collective responses.

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“Swansea College of Art contributors comprises students and staff from Foundation, Degree and MA courses, exhibiting in a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, photography, and stitch.

“We are again thankful to Jonathan at Elysium Art Gallery for inviting us to contribute to this timely exhibition and working with us as we follow it around the world.”

The student’s art at Elysium Gallery (Image: UWTSD)

Jonathan Powell said: “A big thank you to Izuru Mizutani – Director of the Art and Mind Center in Nagoya for hosting this ambitious exhibition. Also, a big thank you to Masahiro Kawanaka & Art Spot Korin in Kyoto for hosting us previously.”

Artist and project organiser Heather Parnell said: “This exhibition and what it stands for has become more significant than ever. Freedom to connect and share with our neighbours, without restrictions and in peace, is fundamental to human flourishing.”

In response to the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, a special ‘Prayer for peace‘ corner will be in place at the Elysium gallery. It is a place where artists express their intentions to pray for the safety of the Ukrainian people.

(Lead image: UWTSD)

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Tourism

Top 5 romantic (but COVID-friendly) last-minute Valentines getaways revealed

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A last-minute Valentine’s Day trip might be essential if you and your partner are desperate to escape the UK’s dramas and chilly weather.

However, many travellers are still nervous about ever-changing restrictions and unsure where to try for their romantic getaway.

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To help plan a stress-free trip to remember, Quotezone.co.uk has rounded up some of the best Covid-restriction friendly Valentine’s Day getaways both home and abroad.

1. Lisbon, Portugal

If you’re looking for the perfect city getaway to sight-see with your partner, Lisbon is a one-stop shop. From beautiful cobblestone streets to cultural and historical attractions plus delicious local wines and delicacies, this mid-February escape can turn a dreary winter into an enjoyable and sunny one.

Even better, from 1 December people from the UK have been allowed to travel to Lisbon for essential and non-essential travel, meaning that a romantic trip is still on the cards. Further, mandatory negative tests will be dropped for those who are fully vaccinated.

If you do opt for Lisbon, be sure to check out:

  • Miradouro de Santa Luzia
  • Pink street
  • Praça do Comércio
  • Lisbon Castle
(Image: Gaurav Jain on Unsplash)

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands

If a quiet break is high on the agenda, Amsterdam is a must-see. Although the Venice of the North is holding onto some restrictions, including a 10pm curfew, limited capacity at bars and restaurants, and social distancing rules – this tulip filled gem is packed with culture and provides the perfect excuse for a quiet and restful getaway.

The plethora of options available to couples means you’ll never be bored. A go-to for couples is touring the canals on a pedal boat – but for a dose of culture, attend the theatres such as Pathe Tuschinski – or, if you’re looking to save some money, stop by the Concertgebouw for a free lunchtime classical concert.

(Image: Colin Watts on Unsplash)

3. Cotswolds, England

If you and your partner are looking to avoid airports and longer travel times, the Cotswolds could provide the perfect balance. Its stunning natural backdrop, and relaxed pace of life, provides the perfect staycation for a couple looking to escape the chaos of city life.

As of 27 January, making your way through the Cotswolds shouldn’t be an issue, as Covid passes are no longer required and face masks are no longer mandated anywhere – however some venues may impose their own restrictions.

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The Cotswolds is home to many top tourist attractions, including the 1,000-year-old Warwick Castle. But if you’re looking for something more niche, try hunting for antiques in Circencester or for a boozy night for two, be sure to visit Britain’s oldest inn, The Porch House.

(Image: Marko Hankkila on Unsplash)

4. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Voted one of the most Instagrammable* spots in Europe, Dubrovnik will not fail to capture the perfect romantic moment with its stunning scenery.

Most of Dubrovnik’s main attractions are open in winter, but note the reduced hours, generally closing at 3pm. That said, a walk around the medieval City Walls can be exceptionally impressive on a winter’s day especially without the big crowds.

Getting into Croatia shouldn’t be an issue provided travellers from the UK can present one of the following documents on arrival:

  • Proof of vaccination, or;
  • a negative Covid-19 antigen not older than 48 hours, or;
  • a negative PCR test result not older than 72 hours, or;
  • a doctor’s certificate of recovery from COVID-19
(Image: Jad Limcaco on Unsplash)

5. Paris, France

The ‘city of love’ is the obvious choice for Valentine’s Day, given it’s filled with flowers, champagne and chocolates but Paris is also many couples’ go-to destination for its wealth of history and world-famous cuisine.

Even though Paris often comes with a hefty price tag, there are cost-effective options to make a memorable Valentine’s weekend. From taking a trip to Versailles and having a picnic in the Champs de Mars to enjoying the sunset from the rooftop of Galleries Lafayette, the options really are endless.

However, be warned, travellers who are not fully vaccinated will need to self-isolate on arrival in France for 10 days. Those that are fully vaccinated must:

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· Present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 24 hours pre-departure if aged 12 years and over.

· Provide a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying you’re not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight. This can be found on the French government’s website.

Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “Countries across Europe are all at varying stages of dealing with Covid, creating confusion for many travellers who are unsure of where and how they can escape for a winter break. Our research will hopefully help make things easier for those looking to leave January behind and plan something to look forward to in February.

“Of course, it’s still important to exercise caution when travelling abroad. Covid-19 hasn’t ended just yet and trips abroad may still be impacted through illness or restrictions. If you are planning on getting away this Valentine’s Day do consider buying travel insurance when booking the holiday, rather than when the trip starts. This should ensure you are compensated if anything prevents you from travelling.” 

(Lead image: Juan Ordonez on Unsplash)

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Neath Port Talbot inaugurates new Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor

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Neath Port Talbot Council has inaugurated Bethan Nicholas-Thomas as the new Youth Mayor at a ceremony held online.

The annual ceremony took place on Thursday 3rd February and was attended by senior council officers and key community leaders which included Councillor Ted Latham (Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council), Karen Jones (Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council) Sally Holland (The Children’s Commissioner for Wales), Louise Fleet (Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan), Joanna Jenkins (High Sheriff of West Glamorgan), and David Rees MS (Member of the Senedd for Aberavon).

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Bethan is a member of the British Youth Council and the Youth Climate Ambassadors Group which campaigns to make changes for a healthier planet.

New Neath Port Talbot Youth Mayor, Bethan Nicholas-Thomas
(Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

In her acceptance speech, the former Cwmtawe Community School pupil, said: “I pledge to make effective, efficient changes to tackle the climate crisis that affects our local area because our time is running out. I intend to focus more specifically on the young people most affected by climate change in Neath Port Talbot.

“I promise to represent the young people of Neath Port Talbot and enhance their voices so that our ideas, opinions, praises and concerns are validated and listened to. I will work with the Youth Council and prove that what we can achieve is limitless as long as we strive to better Neath Port Talbot for everyone.”

The positions of Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor are elected annually by Neath Port Talbot’s Youth Council to ensure young people are given a voice and have a say on local issues that matter to them.

Councillor John Warman, the Mayor of Neath Port Talbot who spoke at the ceremony, said: “It continues to be so important that we hear the views, ideas and voices of all children and young people across the work of the Council. Neath Port Talbot strives to be a place where the voices of young people are listened to and at the forefront of our work.

“I am sure that our incoming Youth Mayor will continue with this good work and I look forward to Bethan attending future events where possible.”

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The new Deputy Youth Mayor, Maddie Pritchard, was also inaugurated at the ceremony. Maddie, a year 11 pupil at Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur, spoke about her passion for the Welsh language and pledged to support Welsh Government’s aim to reach 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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