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Welsh Labour Government’s new commission to look at constitutional change – including potential Welsh Independence

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The Welsh Conservatives however claim that the creation of the commission is a “waste of time and resources”.

Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams will be co-chairs of the independent Constitutional Commission.

The Welsh Government say that the commission will develop options for fundamental reform of the constitutional structures of the UK in which Wales remains an integral part, and will also consider all progressive options to strengthen Welsh democracy.

Dr Williams and Professor McAllister will lead the Commission in making recommendations on how Wales’ constitutional settlement can best improve outcomes for the people of Wales. It will aim to engage with the public for a national conversation about the future of Wales.

The establishment of an independent commission to consider the constitutional future of Wales was a commitment in the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government. Following the appointment of the co-chairs the remaining members will be confirmed next month and its first meeting is expected to be in November.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Laura McAllister will co-chair the commission.

Professor Laura McAllister is a Welsh academic and former international footballer. She said: “Serious contributions to our constitutional debate are greatly needed and I’m looking forward to our work contributing to filling that space. We’ll think boldly and radically about all potential options for the future of Wales, in the context of the increasing pressure on the Union.”

Dr Rowan Williams, born in Swansea, served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002-2012. He commented: “This Commission’s job is to ask what structures and constitutional provisions will best release the potential of Welsh communities and Welsh people.

“We want to make sure that the governance of Wales is effective, accountable and imaginative, and look forward to hearing what hopes and visions are animating people around the country.”

The creation of the new commission has been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives.

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Darren Millar MS

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS said: “People in Wales overwhelmingly rejected independence at the recent Senedd elections; and why the Welsh Labour Government would want to waste it’s time and resources discussing the topic is beyond me. 

“Instead of prioritising discussions on independence and constitutional change the Welsh Labour Government should be using the powers it already has to get to grips with the challenges facing Wales. 

“Talking up independence and talking down the Union won’t do anything to address the waiting list backlog in our NHS, the months of lost education experienced by our young people, or the adverse impact of severe restrictions on our economy and society.”

(Lead image: Llewelyn2000 / Wikimedia)

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Coronavirus

Covid measure-avoiding cinema threatens to disobey latest closure notice – branding First Minister a ‘grinch’

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The Welsh Government issued Swansea independent cinema and food outlet Cinema & Co with an order to close on public health grounds on Friday.

Swansea Council originally issued a closure notice for the business on Thursday 18 November saying the business had not completed a COVID risk assessment, staff had no training on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and there was no implementation of the COVID pass scheme.

It was also noted that there was no signage advising customers to wear face coverings and there was inadequate cleaning products to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Business owner, Anna Redfern described the Welsh Government COVID pass law as “nonsensical” and “unnecessary”.  She also refused to comply with the council’s closure notice saying

The Council took Redfern to court to enforce the closure. Ms Redfern failed to attend court, while the judge asked for an adjournment to proceedings to query the act of law that the council was using to bring the closure notice.

Prior to the new court date, the Welsh Government has decided to act itself using enforcement parts of the Coronavirus legislation for the first time.

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Welsh Minsters have powers to take action against specific premises where they consider the premises to present a risk to public health.

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In a statement, the Welsh Government said: “To support Swansea Council and to protect public health, Welsh Ministers have issued a direction under the Act for the closure of Cinema & Co in Swansea.

“Recently the Local Authority identified a series of breaches of the Coronavirus Regulations at the premises.

“The premises was previously served with a notice requiring it to close due to the risk to public health.

“As the owner has chosen not to comply with this legal requirement, Welsh Ministers have taken further enforcement action.

“The Welsh Government will not be commenting further on ongoing legal proceedings.”

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Council officers attended the cinema on Friday evening to close the Castle Street business once again, with the order prohibiting anyone from entering the building unless given approval from the court, the council or the Welsh Government.

There was a strong police presence to enforce the closure, although media reports indicate a small number of protestors remained inside the building, with some of those reportedly wearing Voice of Wales branded clothing.

The controversial organisation has been supportive of Ms Redfern’s anti-COVID pass stance, but while describing itself as a media organisation it has been dogged by allegations of being a far right, racist group – something that it strongly denies.

Ms Redfern herself also denies any link to racism or extremism, saying that her “life had become totally surreal” and that she was “being acted on by so many forces out of [her] control. Some very dark.”

In a statement on social media she said: “I absolutely reject any claims that I am in any way connected to far-right groups, far-left groups or any form of racism”

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Following the most recent closure notice, signed by Welsh Government First Minister Mark Drakeford himself, Cinema & Co described the First Minister as a “grinch” and vowed to disobey the order, organising a showing of the film The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” at the cinema on Sunday 28 November at 4pm.

The sold-out event was promoted on Cinema and Co’s social media showing the face of Mark Drakeford photoshopped into the grinch, accompanied by further anti-COVID pass slogans.

It is unclear as to what, if any further action the Police, Council or Welsh Government will take should the cinema breach the latest closure notice and reopen as promised.

A crowd-funder set up by former Brexit Party & Abolish the Welsh Assembly candidate Richard Taylor, has raised over £60,000 so far.

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Plaid Cymru

Spectre of tourism tax raised by Labour-Plaid Cymru pact says Wales Tourism Alliance

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Welsh Government

New package of support for unpaid carers

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On Carers’ Rights Day Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan has outlined how £7m Welsh Government funding will support unpaid carers in recognition of the vital support they provide to the people they care for.

The support package will allocate £5.5 million to local authorities to provide targeted support to unpaid carers; £1.25m for the Carers Support Fund – last year, this fund successfully helped almost 6500 unpaid carers to cope with the financial impact of Covid 19; £20,000 to fund online mental wellbeing support sessions; and £230,000 for the Family Fund to support over 600 further low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children.

Welsh Government previously committed £3 million in 2021-22 to allow more carers to take a break from their caring role, bringing the total additional funding support for unpaid carers this year to £10 million.

Examples of how this money has been spent to date include;

  • £5,000 to fund the creation of a Respitality scheme in Gwynedd to work with the holiday sector to offer cheaper holidays to unpaid carers;
  • £10,000 to fund the remodelling of day care for older people in Gwynedd which includes paying for flexible short care packages for carers and the individuals they support;
  • £20,000 to fund a 6 week programme of wellbeing counselling to help support carers with personal stresses and anxieties in Conwy;
  • £40,000 to fund Carers’ Outreach in Conwy to provide breaks, days out, weekends away in Conwy for carers over 18 and;
  • £32,000 to run a pilot scheme for parent carers to choose practical support which meets their needs in Swansea.

The Deputy Minister for Social Services said: “The physical and emotional impact of caring can be overwhelming. We share concerns that many are at breaking point due to the additional pressures put upon them from the pandemic. Thousands of unpaid carers have been supported since the start of the pandemic but it its vital we continue to help unpaid carers cope with the emotional and financial impact of COVID-19.”

“The funding announced today shows how much we appreciate the army of unpaid carers in Wales who have gone above and beyond to care for family or friends and our commitment to support carers to have a life beyond their caring role.”

“Unpaid carers play a vital role in our society, helping reduce pressures on the health service by ensuring people can return from and stay out of hospital. Their extraordinary work and contribution to social care is part of a £42m package to support the NHS winter plan.”

An unpaid carer attending a dementia support group in Gwynedd commented: “The Dementia Carers Group has provided me with companionship, moral support when feeling a bit lost whilst looking after my husband who has mixed dementia.  I have made friends through the meetings, have improved my qualities as a carer, with practical advice received, not only from other carers, but the amazing guest speakers who have guided us all with their knowledgeable advice on all practical matters relevant to being a carer.  Tuesday mornings are a lot less lonely since I joined the group.”

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