The Tories’ Cost Of Living Emergency
I have started distributing a Cost of Living leaflet to help people claim what they are entitled to or know where to go at this desperate time. It is also an appeal to those who can to give to our local food banks and coops at the front line of serving this constituency’s poorest communities.
Help if you can
Any help you can offer getting this leaflet out across the constituency is appreciated and many thanks to all those who have already done so.
Please consider a donation.
The full leaflet can be found on my website:
Glenwood Well-Being Space
Mark Drakeford officially opened Glenwood Church’s Wellbeing Space on December 1st, and spoke very warmly about the work it is doing to offer help with dignity.
I joined the Cardiff Climate Justice Coalition on the Senedd steps on December 3rd December in support of their Warm This Winter campaign. One of their demands is emergency help with insulating the homes of the poorest households.
Decarbonising Welsh homes
The previous week I had asked the First Minister about his discussions with the construction industry on the decarbonisation of all Welsh homes and how we can galvanise people (40% of houses are owned outright) who have the resources to invest in reducing both heating bills and carbon emissions.
The First Minister said that Welsh Government is working with the industry via the Construction Forum and the Optimised Retrofit Programme. WG has asked the Development Bank of Wales to develop products to encourage private property owners to decarbonise their houses. New Welsh quality housing standards will also play their part.
I have also raised the importance of building the capacity of local government to apply for the UK Government’s ECO4 Flex system to decarbonise social housing.
Our Creaking Public Services
Collaboration and negotiation is the Welsh Labour approach to dispute resolution, not the refusal of the UK Government to enter into meaningful negotiations in disputes across the public sector provoked by 12 years of austerity and a Cost of Living Crisis. The Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill has completed Stage 1 of its legislative journey. The Equality and Social Justice Committee’s report on the Bill can be found here: https://senedd.wales/media/f1dnmz0e/cr-ld15470-e.pdf
Education, health and social services, public transport and other essential services are struggling to maintain the services we rely on. The Welsh Conservative have a brass neck to demand that the Welsh Government (grappling with £1 billion less in next year’s budget) should pay Welsh nurses what they ask for; it ignores the brutal reality that every further 1% pay rise would mean a £100 million cut to health services.
Only the UK Government controls the tax levers to give nurses and other public sector workers a wage rise to compensate for spiralling cost of living increases. The Dec 15th strike by RCN nurses would have been called off if the UK Health Minister had agreed to sit down and talk. This is a very worrying time for anyone with a loved who is unwell. Please let me know if you are struggling to get the service you need.
Swimming Pools under threat in disadvantaged areas
In a debate on the Culture Committee’s report into access to sport in areas of deprivation(https://senedd.wales/media/ni2fnoub/cr-ld15305-e.pdf), I said that every child should get the opportunity to ride a bike and learn to swim. I praised Pedal Power for their work to get disabled people cycling.
Swim Wales reports that 1 in 10 swimming pools have not reopened post-Covid It estimates £24 million is needed to save them. Children will drown if pools like the one in Pentwyn are no longer there to teach them to swim. I again highlighted the need to switch to renewable energy to make them sustainable.
Children’s Social Services
The Senedd debated the recommendations of the Child Practice Review following the death of Logan Mwangi.
I raised two points for the Minister to take into account as she implements all the Review’s recommendations
- Front-line social workers need to be empowered to insist on seeing any vulnerable child who is not in school.
- Front-line social workers need to be accompanied by the police when dealing with people as dangerous as child killer John Cole.
Julie Morgan said a new practice framework is being developed for social workers who have to deal with safeguarding children. The Welsh Government is hoping to lead on sharing of data about people with a record of being a danger to children, in liaison with the Home Office and the police.
The Jagged Edge of Justice
It is Welsh Labour policy to seek the devolution of justice and policing to Wales; that is the manifesto on which we were elected in 2021. So it is disappointing that Gordon Brown’s Commission on the UK’s future, published on Dec 5th, was watered down to involve only the devolution of probation and youth justice services. This ignores the recommendations of the Thomas Commission(2019).
The Equality and Social Justice Committee has recently conducted two justice enquiries: one on the concern nearly all young people involved with the Youth Offending Service have speech & communication difficulties; the other on women in prison. Both illustrate why the outcomes would be better if justice was devolved to Wales.
Magistrates are still sending Welsh women to prison in England (HMP Styal and HMP Eastwood Park) for non violent crimes because of the lack of non custodial options; this is 15 years after the Corston Report recommended that most women should not be sent to prison, which has such a devastating impact on their children, and makes rehabilitation more difficult.
A classical example of the dysfunctional justice system is the decision to close Cardiff’s Clink Restaurant. Nine thousands learners have graduated from the Clink with City and Guild qualifications and most have gone on to full time employment in the hospitality industry, making them two thirds less likely to re-offend. Despite that, HMPP has refused to renew the Clink charity’s lease on the training restaurant situated on the grounds of Cardiff Prison.
You can see the statement I made in the Senedd here: http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Clip/490d7c1c-2116-40c4-a784-d028ce0cfcb7?inPoint=01:46:30&outPoint=01:48:01
Protecting the Environment
2020 Carbon Targets met
Wales has exceeded both its first interim and net carbon emissions targets, Julie James, the Minister for Climate Change, announced on December 6th.
I asked what was in the Net-Zero action plan to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint from food.
Julie James agreed with the climate benefits of having good food produced locally. Attending COP15 in Canada, she pledged to maintain and increase Wales’ carbon sink through our National Forest and peatland restoration programme
Replacing the trees vandalised in Bute Park
Thanks to all the volunteers, Cardiff Council’s Parks team and Secret Garden Café for replacing the trees vandalised earlier this year, including a diverse range of lovely fruit trees.
Ban on Single-Use Plastics passed in Senedd
In the final stages of the Single-Use Plastics Bill on December 13th,
I called for a clear definition of oxo-biodegradable bags; some dissolve quickly, others take 200 years to disintegrate. I probed whether there may be perverse consequences to banning all biodegradables and whether that could lead to more people refusing to recycle food-waste. I asked what alternatives there may be and how would local authorities cope with food waste if all oxo-biodegradable bags are banned.
Julie James said that the bags would be part of the package of banned items. As local authorities send their food waste for anaerobic digestion rather than composting, the higher temperatures eliminate the bags that line food caddies are designed to completely whereas with home composting, the temperatures are lower and the bags don’t biodegrade. The issue needs to be resolved by regulation before the Act, now awaiting Royal Assent, becomes law.
The fight for justice and peace in Iran
In the Senedd I praised Dawn Bowden’s decision (Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport for not attending the Wales vs Iran game.
On December 2nd I went to a powerful pop-up exhibition in the Capitol Quarter organised by Iranian women, and on December 4th I took part in a demonstration on Queen St in solidarity with the women, children and men demanding justice and democracy in Iran.
Small Business Saturday Dec 3rd
We are blessed with an excellent range of small businesses, selling food, books, flowers and perfume. These are some of the places I visited. If we don’t use them during this cost of living crisis we are likely to lose many of them.
Dragged to St Andrew’s Church, Penylan
I attended the fifth Christmas performance by local drag artists on 6th December. As Rev. Des Kitto noted, it is a brilliant coming together of two different communities. A whopping £5,550 was raised to repair the roof of St Andrew’s United Reformed Church.
My Christmas card exhibition
The winning designs from my Christmas card competition are on display at the Albany Gallery until Christmas.
Thanks to everyone helping to get the card designed by Sophia Case distributed across the constituency.
Special congratulations to 8 year old Bodhi Wolski, whose design captures Wales’ commitment to be a Nation of Sanctuary.
I wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas and New Year holiday.