In the Senedd
In a debate on ‘Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales’ in October I called for a sugar, salt and fat tax to curb the adulteration of food to increase shelf life and profitability. The Health Minister is waiting to see if a voluntary reduction of salt in food is effective.
The Government proposes a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children and on refillable sugary drinks, mandatory calorie labelling, and restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and drink.
I also asked how the Government is monitoring public procurement of school food to comply with ‘Appetite for Life’; I am delighted that 3 months later the Government is starting to tighten up these regulations.
I remain concerned that GP practices are refusing to treat patients with ears blocked by wax and are suggesting they pay up to £95 to get it sorted privately; alternatively they have to wait up to 18 months to be seen in hospital, the opposite of prudent healthcare. I ensured this was raised in the scrutiny of next year’s Health budget.
In a debate on LGBT Hate Crime I highlighted the work of Just a Ball Game and the Cardiff Dragons Football Club, Wales’ first and only LGBTQI+ football team. I emphasised that the new Relationships and Sexuality curriculum will be a game- changer in ensuring the next generation respects difference.
A £1.52 million community cohesion budget over the next two years will train volunteers and raise awareness of how to report hate crime. £21,000 is for next year’s Pride Cymru.
On January 14th I obtained a public assurance that the Welsh Government will not follow the UK Government’s alarming decision to ask schools to report young people who support Extinction Rebellion to the discredited Prevent programme, treating them as the same security risk as far right or religious extremists.
In a debate on seaside and market towns, I emphasised the importance of good planning decisions to maintain vibrant towns. I also praised Swansea for its action to deter people from putting recyclable materials into black bags, including the use of fines for persistent offenders. The refusal of a few undermines the good intentions of the many. This initiative saved Swansea taxpayers £300,000 in landfill charges in just a few months.
In a debate on domestic violence on January 15th, I highlighted that South Wales Police prosecutes double the number of DV crimes compared to other Welsh police authorities.
On 27th November, The Senedd and Elections Bill obtained the 2/3 majority required to become law. So 16 and 17 year olds as well as foreign nationals resident in Wales will be able to vote in the 2021 Senedd elections and in future local elections.
I proposed a bill to introduce a Workplace Parking Levy in November and welcome the inclusion of the idea in Cardiff’s new 10 year plan for Changing How we Move Around a Growing City. I support a road users charge for all vehicles as part of the suite of measures to clean up Cardiff’s filthy air and increase walking, cycling and improved public transport. https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/ENG/resident/Parking-roads-and-travel/transport-policies-plans/transport-white-paper/Pages/default.aspx
I look forward to hearing how the £29m for Electric Vehicle Transformation in next year’s capital budget will be deployed to increase the number of both electric and hydrogen vehicle refuelling points.
Free Childcare Places
On 8th January I established that 30% of the new free childcare places for 3 and 4 year olds are in the medium of Welsh. The Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan said 350 early years practitioners have had intensive language training, Mudiad Meithrin runs an immersion programme and the Urdd offers childcare apprenticeships to maximise this opportunity to increase the number of Welsh speakers.
2020 The Brexit Year
This month I have raised the threat to food safety and food security with the International Trade Minister, Eluned Morgan. Brexit could lead to the outsourcing of food production to unregulated factory farms abroad; devastating for our environment, our farmers and our health. It would completely undermine our climate emergency carbon reduction commitments.
A £5m allocation for a ‘local places for nature fund’ in next year’s Environment budget could enable more people to be able grow their own fruit and vegetables as prices of food imported from Europe are likely to rise substantially post Brexit.
I asked Jeremy Miles, the Counsel General, about the threatened attack on the independence of the Supreme Court spearheaded by former Tory Leader Michael Howard, possibly influenced by the Supreme Court judgement in September that Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament to avoid scrutiny of its Brexit Bill was illegal.
Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee
is looking at the reasons why Wales has not met our targets to eliminate fuel poverty. To improve vulnerable people’s incomes, everyone sent a new bus pass also got a Pension Credit leaflet from the Older People’s Commissioner; anyone with a weekly pension of less than £167.25 (£255.25 for couples) is entitled to Pension Credit. An unclaimed £214 million is lost to individuals and the Welsh economy every year.
NEST and Arbed are the envy of campaigners in England, but it is already clear they could be better coordinated and more effective at eliminating fuel poverty.
I visited some zero carbon homes in Ely built by United Welsh housing association as part of the WG Innovative Housing Programme. The 9 timber framed flats are heated by a combination of ground source heat pumps and solar energy.
I continue to press the Housing& Planning Minister when zero carbon standards will be applied to all new homes. I am told this will happen by the end of 2020.
The Welsh Government consultation on reducing our use of the world’s finite resources is open till 3rd April Please let them know how you think we can make Wales a low carbon, zero waste economy: https://gov.wales/circular-economy-strategy.
Public Accounts Committee
has scrutinised the Welsh Government aim to reduce the number of Looked After Children and improve outcomes. Some schools do brilliantly, others regard it as someone else’s business. Carmarthenshire has a well-established joined up education and social services strategy which means it has far fewer LAC than any other local authorities including Cardiff.
Events I attended in the Senedd
The Food Cross Party Group hosted a well-attended meeting with Patrick Holden talking about a Climate Friendly Food Plan for Wales on October 21st. This was followed up with a roundtable discussion of a report on Sustainable and Just Food Systems in Wales on Jan 14th commissioned by Coop Party AMs (See more: https://party.coop/wp-content/blogs.dir/5/files/2019/11/Sustainable-and-Just-Food-System.pdf)
I co-hosted a Holocaust Memorial event on Jan 14th which was well-attended by Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders as well as Gypsy and Traveller and Labour LGBT representatives. The testimony from Holocaust survivor Mala Tribich MBE was unforgettable.
November 25th saw a White Ribbon Candlelit Vigil at the Senedd.
The Senedd played host to a Men’s Sheds event to coincide with Men’s Health Awareness Month on 19th November.
Q & A with Sally and David Challen on January 7th. Following a change in the law to recognize Coercive Control, the High Court made a landmark High Court decision to commute her murder conviction to manslaughter of her husband.
The 9th January Seafarers Event organised by RMT union highlighted the blatant disregard of minimum wage legislation on ships sailing in Welsh waters.
In the Constituency
I visited Ysgol Bro Edern at the end of October to watch Smashed, an excellent dramatisation of the dangers of excessive alcohol use targeted at Year 8 pupils.
On Nov 4th I opened the Institute of Civil Engineers’ secondary school training event in the Millenium Stadium. The excellent engineering ambassadors highlighted the demand for excellence in engineering to meet the challenges of climate change.
I visited Ripple in Roath as part of Small Business Saturday in December.
I supported the Repair Café at the Cyncoed campus of Cardiff Met University; which offers free repairs to anyone of bikes, electrical and other household goods. I have also linked the Cardiff Met Librarians up with the library at the Maelfa Hub to widen the range of publications available.
The Gala dinner at City Hall to raise funds for a Rhodri Morgan statue on Dec 6th was well attended by people from all main parties and none.
I attended the World’s Big Sleep Out at Cardiff Castle on December 7th, to highlight the number of people sleeping rough in Wales and across the world.
An exhibition of artwork for my Christmas card competition was held at the Albany Gallery. Congratulations to winners Etana Charles (Adamsdown Primary School) and Penny Neale (Howardian Primary School).
The WNO Christmas Concert in the Exchange Hotel was testomony to the WNO’s engagement with all sections of the community.
I attended Roath Park Primary School Christmas Concert and St Teilo’s Carol service.
I attended the handover of the new HMRC hub in Central Square on 10th January. The 12 storey building will accommodate 4,000 civil servants who will travel to work by bike, foot or public transport.
My upcoming surgeries for January and February are:
Friday 24 January, 11:30-12:30, 165 Albany Road, Roath
Dydd Gwener 24 Ionawr, 11:30-12:30, 165 Albany Road, Y Rath
Thursday 30 January, 16:00-17:00, Cathays Library
Dydd Iau 30 January, 16:00-17:00, Llyfrgell Cathays
Friday 31 January, 11:30-12:30, Powerhouse, Llanedeyrn
Dydd Gwener 31 Ionawr, 11:30-12:30, Powerhouse, Llanedeyrn
Thursday 6 February, 17:00-18:00, Rubicon Dance, Nora St, Adamsdown
Dydd Iau 6 Chwefror, 17:00-18:00, Dawns Rubicon, Nora St, Adamsdown
Friday 7 February, 11:30-12:30, 165 Albany Road, Roath
Dydd Gwener 7 Chwefror, 11:30-12:30, 165 Albany Road, Roath
Thursday 13 February, 16:00-17:00, YMCA Centre, Plasnewydd
Dydd Iau 13 Chwefror, 16:00-17:00, Canolfan YMCA, Plasnewydd
You do not need an appointment, and will be able to drop by. Please contact my office for further information. Phone: 02920 256255 Email: email@example.com.
Are you signed up to receive my regular updates? Click here: http://eepurl.com/gB7HY5