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Council mergers in Wales could 'save £650m'

Merging Wales' 22 councils to form just nine could save £650m says the Welsh Government - but critics claim it could lead to 1,900 job losses.

Where will you live? The bridge over the Clwyd, which separates Denbighshire and Conwy. Credit: ITV Wales

The Welsh Government wants to reduce the number of local authorities from 22 to around eight or nine. But opposition parties have criticised the plans.

Public services minister Leighton Andrews insisted local government reform was necessary and could help councils protect frontline services.

The plans are detailed in the Draft Local Government Bill published today.

Officials estimate the costs of merging councils could range from between #97 million and #246 million, but the Welsh Government believes that the savings generated will offset those costs.


Wales to take 50 Syrian refugees before Christmas

The Welsh Government says four councils in Wales will home around 50 Syrian refugees arriving before Christmas.

A Syrian father and his one-year-old son in emergency accommodation in Austria. Credit: PA

The exact numbers, which councils and the arrival dates will not be revealed in the interests of the refugees.

Minister for Communities, Lesley Griffiths says councils will need to ensure necessary services are in place, she states that those arriving have been "vetted".

I was horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Mali and Beirut.

It was disappointing some people chose to criticise Governments for offering new homes to refugees following these attacks.

I am assured by the UK Government all refugees coming here will have been thoroughly vetted in the camps before being accepted, to ensure they are genuine refugees who pose no threat to our security.

– Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty

The Welsh Government says a Welcome to Wales pack which gives key information on life in Wales and includes a section on the local area where the refugees will live will be given out.

More: Wales prepares to house Syrian refugees

Man arrested after police armed response incident

A 25 year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm following a police armed response incident in Cardiff.

Police in the Newport Road area of Cardiff. Credit: @JakeMateXXL

South Wales Police says the man in custody at Cardiff Bay Police Station and officers are searching a property in Gold Street as enquiries continue.

A section of Newport Road was closed for a short period of time at around 11.30pm last night while officers carried out arrest enquiries.

Police say there were no injuries and there was no threat to the public.

More: Cardiff road closed after 'armed officers attend incident'

Appeal after 97 year-old woman robbed in home

Police in Cardiff are continuing to investigate a robbery on a 97 year-old woman in her own home.

Pantmawr Road in Rhiwbina. Credit: Google Street View

The incident happened at around 1am on Saturday 21st November, at a property in Pantmawr Road in Rhiwbina.

The victim was asleep in bed when the suspect entered her home and demanded her jewellery and cash.

Police say the suspect is described as being a young white male, wearing a black scarf, dark anorak and jeans.

Anyone with private CCTV in the area is asked to contact police.

As well as the cash stolen a necklace containing rough amethyst stone was also taken.

Amethyst stone similar to the one stolen. Credit: South Wales Police

This was a shocking incident and we are doing everything we can to trace the person responsible. There has been a fantastic response from the community who have not only raised a considerable amount of money for lady but have also taken the time to contact us with information.

– Detective Sergeant Chris Grey of Cardiff CID


Investigation after car drives through M&S doors

South Wales Police have launched an investigation after a car drove through the front doors of a Marks and Spencer store in Cardiff.

The incident happened at the Culverhouse Cross store over the weekend. Two doors were smashed at the store and the area was cordoned off.

Credit: South Wales Police

The incident took place when a Mitsubishi Outlander 4x4 appeared to mount the pavement and hit doors to the restaurant bar area.

Credit: South Wales Police

The incident happened shortly after 2.40pm on Saturday 21st November.

One female pedestrian was knocked to the ground and after being checked by paramedic staff she was unhurt.

The vehicle came to rest after colliding with the doors to the food hall area of the store.

Samaritans branch celebrates 50 years

The Cardiff and District branch of Samaritans will be celebrating their 50th anniversary later today.

The Samaritans service is available 24 hours a day for phone calls Credit: Samaritans

The branch, which is run by volunteers, has been offering emotional support since it first opened in 1965 and, since the beginning of last year, has answered over 42,000 phone calls to those looking for help.

The service is available 24 hours a day for phone calls and open for face-to-face meetings every day. They also take their message out into the wider community and provide support in schools, hospitals and HM Prison Cardiff.

To mark the anniversary, the branch is holding a fundraising event at the Pierhead in Cardiff Bay, which will be attended by Health Minister Mark Drakeford. They're looking to raise £300,000 for refurbishment of the branch in order to modernise it and provide disabled access.

Number of child arrests 'falls in four years'

Credit: David Jones/PA

The Howard League for Penal Reform says there's been a dramatic fall in the number of children being arrested in Wales over the last four years.

The charity says in the Dyfed Powys Force area arrests are down by 70%, in Gwent by 61% and in the South Wales Force area they're down by 47%.

The League says every police service in England and Wales made fewer arrests in 2014 than in 2010, with some constabularies reducing their numbers by more than 70 per cent.

It says several police services have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies as a result of the Howard League’s engagement with them.

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