UK Government wrong to end subsidies for onshore wind farms
15/07/15 - I spoke in the Assembly Chamber this week to criticise the UK Government for job losses that are a direct result of its announcement to end subsidies for onshore wind farms.
This follows the recent news that Mabey Bridge is planning to close its Renewables division in Chepstow with the loss of 125 jobs.The site constructs steel wind turbine towers.
In Plenary, I spoke of how this wrong-headed decision damages job opportunities for my constituents and will damage opportunities across Wales, and that it shows the Conservative Government is undermining the green economy and renewable energy despite its lofty rhetoric to the contrary. I asked whether the First Minister agreed that the UK Tory Government decision to end subsidies for onshore wind energy resulted in Mabey Bridge announcing job losses.
In reply, the First Minister said that the Mabey Bridge job losses and the removal of onshore wind subsidies remind us what's at risk as a result of “knee jerk” reactions by UK Government.
I strongly feel that the removal of the subsidy has led to uncertainty; uncertainty that Welsh businesses can ill afford. I am of course pleased that the Welsh Labour Government are working to help people find alternative employment. However the First Minister is right that these sorts of knee jerk announcements, from the UK government are unacceptable and do harm to the Welsh economy.
Need for global deal to tackle climate change
15/07/2015 - I joined Stop Climate Chaos Cymru (SCCC) in calling for a fair, global deal to tackle climate change.
To mark the start of SCCC's 'Road to Paris' campaign, which looks ahead to the UN climate change conference in the French capital this November, I met with campaigners calling on decision-makers to take action, at home and internationally, to tackle climate change.
As well as calling for a fair, global deal in Paris, SCCC - a coalition of 14 organisations - also called for the Environment Bill to ensure that Wales plays its part in tackling climate change and has the necessary structures in place to make that happen.
The French-themed event at the Senedd included French music and a picnic, as well as an electricity-generating bicycle.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats that we face today, and it is crucial that we take action to tackle it. I support Stop Climate Chaos Cymru in calling for the Paris climate talks later this year to produce a fair global deal, and for action to be taken in Wales that helps us here play our part in combatting climate change.
Here I am meeting up with the team from SCCC at the Senedd.
Scams Awareness Month
02/07/2015 - I've joined forces with Age Cymru to support Scams Awareness month. The month is aimed at highlighting the types of scams and swindles that are being used by criminals to steal money.
Age Cymru say there are four basic types - online, telephone post and doorstep. Sadly many elderly people in particular fall victim to these scams.
Research has revealed that more than 2,500 scams were reported to trading standards departments in Wales between February 2012 and February 2013. However the figure could be the tip of the iceberg as the Office of Fair Trading believes only 5% of scams are reported, meaning that 50,000 scams could have been committed.
Scammers use speed, surprise and secrecy to catch people out and I am encouraging my constituents to take the time to talk about scams and to make themselves aware of the risks and methods involved. That is why Scams Awareness Month is so important.
I welcome Age Cymru's campaign to raise awareness among the elderly community and encourage everyone to follow their tips to avoid.
If people are unsure about anything to do with scams they can call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 or if anyone thinks they have been the victim of a scam, then they can call Fraud Action on 0300 123 2040.
Age Cymru's top tips:
- Never buy anything instantly on the doorstep, even if you are pressured.
- Never give strangers your financial details, eg bank account, credit card etc Police and banks will never ask for financial details by e-mail or on the phone. If they do it's a scam.
- Never fall for direct marketing letters that claim you have won a fortune.
- Don't be conned by hard luck letters or e-mails from abroad.
- Never hand over credit cards, bank details or cash to 'couriers'.
- Use only reputable local traders for work on the house or garden.
- Don't fall for lonely hearts scammers - they want cash not love
- Avoid investment 'opportunities' from cold callers, especially by phone.
- Destroy/shred financial letters before throwing them away
PE and Arts in a new curriculum
02/07/2015 - During an Assembly debate this week I emphasised the importance of physical education and the arts in taking forward the Donaldson Review for a new school curriculum in Wales.
In the debate, I said "Tanni Grey-Thompson, our great paralympic athlete, and Dai Smith, Chair Arts Council Wales, have respectively produced highly valuable reports on how we can make PE and the arts more central to school life and ensure our children emerge from their school days with their interests and abilities fully developed. A passion for sport and the arts will stand them in good stead and greatly enhance their quality of life throughout their lives."
The Education Minister, Huw Lewis AM, responded that the new curriculum will very much be based on the reports and put health, fitness and creativity at the heart of the educational experience.
Newport Tidal Lagoon
01/07/2015 - I have written to Welsh and UK Government Ministers calling for a Newport Tidal Lagoon to be progressed without delay.
I remain very supportive of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon and have pressed Ministers to ensure that a Newport Lagoon will follow it. A Newport Lagoon would have the potential to harness the power of the Severn Estuary and provide new opportunities for local marine conservation.
Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign
29/06/2015 - I support the call from Mick Antoniw, AM for Pontypridd, for a full public inquiry into South Yorkshire Police's handling of events at the Orgreave coking plant in June 1984 during the Miners' Strike.
Mick Antoniw has requested a meeting with the Home Secretary following the Independent Police Complaints Commission's decision not to launch an investigation into South Yorkshire Police's actions at Orgreave.
A number of Welsh miners - including many from Gwent - were arrested at Orgreave and suffered injuries. A number were involved in the subsequent successful civil action for malicious prosecution and received compensation. The evidence that exists relating to Police actions at Orgreave demands a thorough inquiry. I fully support Mick Antoniw's request for a meeting between the Home Secretary, MPs, AMs and representatives of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign to allow the victims of Orgreave to make the case for a full public enquiry.
Dementia Friendly City
22/06/2015 - I highlighted Newport's Dementia Friendly City project in an Assembly health debate yesterday.
I really feel that the recent launch of the Dementia Friendly City initiative is a significant development in responding to the challenges of an ageing society here in Newport. Raising awareness of dementia among local people, businesses and voluntary groups will make it easier to develop understanding of the condition, and enable sufferers to remain at home longer with support from their loved ones. I believe that the health service should support this model through service provision.
As Newport Dementia Friendly City becomes embedded and develops it will deliver important benefits for dementia sufferers and their families. I am very pleased to be a champion for this initiative.
The Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM responded to my comments by praising Newport's scheme, and stated that it is necessary to spread best practice around Wales.
Pictured below - The Mayor of Newport, Cllr Herbie Thomas, speaking at the recent launch of the Dementia Friendly City project at Newport Market.
BLF Event in the Assembly
18/ 06/2015 - I sponsored a British Lung Foundation (BLF)-held reception in the Assembly yesterday, and am backing calls for greater leadership to ensure that the Respiratory Health Delivery Plan is delivered and that services improve.
On 29 April 2014 Professor Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, launched the three year Respiratory Health Delivery Plan. The plan was described as 'ambitious' and was designed to focus health boards to redesign services along the principles of prudent health care to improve the lives of patients.
Attending the reception has renewed my determination to do all I can to help those in Newport East who are affected by a lung disease. By working closely with health boards I believe we can make the targets in the plan a reality.
I found discussing the challenges of the plan with those living with a lung condition, carers and health care professional very interesting. I hope the British Lung Foundation continue their hard work in representing and campaigning for those who live with a lung condition, as I support the work they do.
About the British Lung Foundation Wales
The British Lung Foundation Wales works to support the 1 in 5 people in Wales who have some form of diagnosed lung condition, along with their families and carers. They do this by raising awareness of lung disease, both locally and nationally across Wales and the UK - we aim to find the 'missing millions'; those who are estimated to have lung conditions, but are yet to be diagnosed. The BLF fund medical research into treatments and cures, as well as specialist respiratory nurses. 'BLF nurses' provide specialist care at home and in community clinics
The BLF also support the development of Breathe Easy Groups in Wales. If people can't make it to a Breathe Easy group, we have a penpals scheme which people can join to get in touch with people who share a similar situation.Breathe Easy groups are support groups which are open to anyone who has a lung condition, along with their family, friends, and carers. Supported by the British Lung Foundation, they are run by people with lung disease, for people with lung disease. It doesn't matter on the type, or the severity, Breathe Easy is open to anyone, and welcomes everyone with any lung condition or breathing problem. There are groups all across Wales, and they offer a chance for people to come together and support each other, to learn about different methods for managing lung conditions, and to hear from interesting guest speakers. But they are not all about lung disease, they are about meeting other people, socialising, friendship, and sharing experiences.
For more info on the BLF'S work in Wales, visit www.blf.org.uk/page/blf-wales
Public Health Bill progress
12/06/2015 - The recent public health scare at the former Sun Tattoo Studio on Commercial Street came as a shock to many of us, and my sympathy is with the hundreds of former customers who have been invited to take precautionary blood tests.
In light of this worrying incident, I welcome the tighter regulation of cosmetic piercing, tattooing and acupuncture in Wales which will come into effect under the Public Health Bill. The Bill will introduce a National Special Procedures Register to increase pressure on businesses to meet registration and practice standards, improve cleanliness and ensure practitioners pass a 'fit and proper' person test. These measures will drive up health and safety standards, and prevent a repeat of the recent scare we saw in Newport.
Satisfaction with local health services
12/06/2015 - Figures from a new Statistics Wales national survey show that, within the Aneurin Health Board area, 93% of patients are either satisfied or very satisfied with GP and hospital services; while 77% of patients were satisfied with ambulance response times.
Further to this, 96% of hospital patients across Wales felt that they had been treated with dignity and respect. It's very pleasing that so many patients are satisfied with the health services they receive, both here in Gwent and across Wales. Credit must go to hardworking NHS staff - we all benefit from their tireless efforts, dedication and expertise.
Ringland Community Hub
12/06/15 - Ringland is set to benefit from £375,000 of Welsh Government 'Invest to Save' funding for developing a community hub. The hub will aim to provide a smaller model of the award-winning Information Station in the City Centre, and will be a focus for a range of council services, and other public and third sector agencies.
This new investment is great news for residents in Ringland and the east of the City, and will improve the range of services available within the community. It's also pleasing to see national recognition of the success of the Information Station in Newport City Centre- supported by Newport City Council and the Welsh Labour Government - and it really is a great model for progress at the Ringland hub