It is a pleasure to provide my latest update on my work in your constituency for April 2019. For further information on my upcoming advice surgeries, please see the bottom of this report.
In the Senedd
Health and Social Care
I spoke in support of Julie Morgan’s Bill to abolish the Defence of Reasonable Punishment which would give children the same rights as adults not to be hit. Although 4 people have contacted me opposing the ban, the public at large has moved significantly in favour of protecting children from harm.
Following the EndoMarch on March 30th, I raised the need for more Endo nurses so there was one in every gynaecology unit. At the moment only one for the whole of Wales for a condition that affects 1 in 10 women.
The Bill to abolish Letting Agency fees completed its passage through the Assembly in March and is due to become law in September.
In light of this success, I asked the Minister of Housing when the Government might abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 which allows tenants to be turfed out of their home for no reason, including revenge evictions after people have asked for repairs to be carried out. This month the Welsh Government has confirmed that it will introduce legislation to abolish no fault evictions in this Assembly term.
Transport and the Environment
On March 19th I asked the First Minister what plans the Government has to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans as well as embedding Extended Producer Responsibility for reducing plastic pollution (read his response here: http://record.assembly.wales/Plenary/5569#C176973)
On March I asked the Minister of Transport how the Government was using mobile phone signals to track people’s journeys to work to inform future public transport investment plans. He said the research had been done but was unclear how this was being applied to commission better public transport to tackle congestion and poor air quality in Newport and Cardiff.
Following the excellent initiative by Cardiff Council to save 10 threatened bus routes the First Minister has confirmed that new legislation will be introduced in this Assembly term to better regulate buses and taxis.
I raised the threat to Welsh trade with Ireland unless any Brexit agreement includes free movement of goods between Britain and Ireland. The Counsel General and Brexit Minister confirmed anything less than a customs union would both threaten the 1998 Peace Agreement and the very significant trade between Ireland and the EU through Holyhead, Pembroke Dock and Fishguard.
I asked the Assembly Commission to disinvest the AM’s pension fund from fossil fuels. I will follow this up with a collective letter by AMs to the Chair of the Pension Fund.
Public Accounts Committee
The Public Accounts Committee took evidence in March from Cardiff & the Vale Health Board on how it is improving the Out of Hours Service run from both the CRI and Barry.
On April 1st we heard disturbing evidence from RNIB about the risk for some people to go blind becaue of delayed hospital appointments to see an ophthalmologist. Such delays could be avoided if most patients were followed up by high street optometrists rather than clogging up the hospital appointment system.
Equalities, Local Government and Communities Committee
I visited Cardiff Prison to take evidence from the Governor about the voting arrangements for their 20% of prisoners on remand who are already entitled to vote. She reported that none of them had taken up the opportunity to vote in the 2017 elections. I will follow this up with the Cardiff Electoral Registration Office.
The Committee heard from Local Government Minister Julie James in our final evidence session before we make recommendations about extending the franchise to convicted prisoners in local elections. This will inform the Government’s approach to legislation
We had a separate session with Julie James as Housing Minister on the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to rough sleeping, which, despite the Council and the voluntary sector’s efforts, is deteriorating.
We also scrutinised the Future Generations Commissioner and the priorities within her vast brief.
Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee
The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee visited Yns Mon as part of our enquiry into Re-Thinking Food. The Committee visited Halen Mon which in the 40 years since it started harvesting salt from the Menai Straits has achieved geographically protected status.
Medwyns of Anglesey working with several European companies on developing new varieties of vegetables and new methods of growing them. Medwyn Williams is famous for winning 11 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and produced lots of excellent ideas for increasing horticulture across Wales.
The Committee also went on board the boat of a leading Bangor Mussel harvester who exports thousands of tonnes of mussels for processing in Holland rather than processing them in Wales or selling to local restaurants.
Back in the Senedd we took expert evidence from 7 people including the Wales Tourist Board; Simon Wright, a successful restaurant owner; and Professor Terry Marsden of Cardiff University.
The Committee is also doing a short enquiry into Allotments and how to make them accessible to a larger number of people.
On March 26th I was very happy to wave off the Extinction Rebellion march to Newport from the Senedd steps, who eventually met up in London with thousands of people from across the UK.
On April 3rd I attended the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists awards to congratulate Voice Box finalist Osian Cole, aged 5 from Ysgol Pen y Groes on his fantastic presentation skills.
On April 10th I attended the Social Work Awards in the Senedd to celebrate the unsung work of this vital profession.
In the Constituency and beyond
Our future in Europe remains as unclear as ever. The European elections on May 23rd are an important opportunity for us to reach out to our communities and listen to people’s concerns. I look forward to supporting Jackie Jones, Matthew Dorrance, Mary Wimbury and Mark Whitcutt our four very experienced Welsh Labour candidates to represent Wales in the EU Parliament in the crucial period ahead.
On March 22nd I attended Paul Flynn’s funeral in St Woolos Cathedral and to hear moving tributes from Jayne Bryant AM, our ex MP Jon Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn. Paul was a great supporter of the Chartists who are buried there so it is fitting that his ashes will join them.
I was very pleased to support Ruth Jones and to see her elected as the new Labour MP for Newport West on April 4th.
What else have I been up to?
I returned to the Riverpoint in Newport on April 8th for the outstanding graduation performance by Rubicon Dance students.
I celebrated Earth Hour on March 30th in the Plasnewydd Community Garden. Go-Gym volunteers and Cardiff’s Council Leader, Huw Thomas, also came along to prepare the ground and plant some seeds.
On April 10th I attended the AGM of Penylan WI. and strongly support the WI’s excellent Plastic Soup campaign to tackle pollution from microplastic fibres.
On April 11th I joined a lobby outside HMRC at Brunel House to encourage PCS members to take part in the ballot for strike action to restore their pay to 2010 levels.
I have visited Dar ul Isra, Al- Ilkhas and Masjid-e-Umar mosques to discuss their security arrangements following the Christchurch massacre and have circulated the latest guidance from the Home Office on grants they can apply for.
I had a constructive meeting with the South Wales Jewish Representative Council on March 25th which I hope will be the first of many. I attended an interesting exhibition on the Jewish History of Bangor before attending Welsh Labour Conference in Llandudno, where I attended an excellent seminar on Combatting anti-Semitism with Graham Perry from the Jewish Labour Movement.
At Welsh Labour Conference I spoke in support of a Cooperative Party initiative to improve Food Security and eliminate food poverty.
Next Advice Surgeries:
Friday 3 May: 11:30-12:30, 165 Albany Road, Roath
Thursday 9 May: 16:00-17:00, Rhydypennau Library, Cyncoed
Friday 10 May: 11:30-12:30, Powerhouse, Llanedeyrn
Friday 17 May: 11:30-12:30, 165 Albany Rd, Roath
Thursday 23 May: 16:00-17:00, Rubicon Dance, Nora St, Adamsdown
Friday 24 May: 11:30-12:30, Powerhouse, Llanedeyrn
Friday 31 May: 11:30-12:30, 165 Albany Rd, Roath
Thursday 6 June: 16:00-17:00, YMCA Community Centre, Plasnewydd
Friday 7 June: 11:30-12:30, Powerhouse, Llanedeyrn
24th April 2019