£57 million to transform Cardiff’s infrastructure

Lib Dems secure next stage of the Eastern Bay link road

Welsh Liberal Democrats have today announced a budget deal with the Welsh Labour Government that will see the next stage of the Eastern Bay link road built.

The new road is the next stage of the dual carriageway ring road to the South of Cardiff which will cut congestion, speed up journey times and get traffic out of the residential areas of Roath.

The new section of road will link the uncompleted flyover to the east of the Butetown Tunnel at Queen’s Gate roundabout with the Ocean Way Interchange, colloquially referred to as ‘the roundabout to nowhere.’ Construction is due to begin in 2015-2016.

Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central said:

“This is good news for residents in Cardiff. This road will relieve pressure to residential roads in and around the city centre and reclaim them from the trucks and heavy traffic that currently clogs them. Currently Newport Road is at gridlock during rush hour and many local residents and businesses suffer because of it. I am confident that the construction of this new road will ease pressure on Newport Road and many nearby residential streets whilst also encouraging new business to move to areas in the south of the city, creating new jobs in the process.

“Again the Welsh Liberal Democrats are delivering for the people of Cardiff”

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly member for South Wales Central added:

“We have secured this deal to take traffic off local roads in Cardiff city centre, to open up the Eastern Bay area for investment and development, to create extra jobs and to improve the quality of life for residents living near our most congested city centre routes.

“This will be an important step towards completing Cardiff’s distributor road system based around the A4232, which currently ends where the Ely Link Road enters Cardiff Bay. This road as been on an architects drawing board for almost 25 years and at last the residents of Cardiff will see construction begin.”

Eluned Parrott joins the world’s biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan

Eluned with Catrin Devonald, Head of Regional Fundraising at Macmillan Cancer Support.

Eluned with Catrin Devonald, Head of Regional Fundraising at Macmillan Cancer Support.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, Eluned Parrott  supported Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning this week.

She also wants the people of South Wales Central to get involved by holding their own coffee mornings, to help make the cancer charity’s fund-raiser the biggest and best ever.

Eluned Parrott said: “In Wales more than 18,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year.  I know that a considerable number of constituents have personal experience of the problems a cancer diagnosis can bring to both patients and their family, and I know that Macmillan has been there to support many of those in need.

“Macmillan Cancer Support is there for people from the moment they are diagnosed, with medical and practical help, as well as emotional and financial support.  That’s why I am supporting the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.  It is a great idea because everyone likes tea, coffee, cake and a chat – it brings people together.

“I would also urge all of you to consider holding your own coffee morning, or coffee evening over the coming weeks. It’s an easy and fun way to raise money for Macmillan, and every penny you raise will help people with cancer. Macmillan has even got recipes you can follow from celebrity supporters like last year’s Great British Bake Off semi-finalist, Beca Lyne-Pirkis.  Beca’s Mocha Chocolate Cake looks delicious and I’d definitely recommend baking it.”

Last year thousands of people across Wales took part in coffee mornings helping to raise funds for Macmillan. This year the charity hopes to raise even more money to help fund vital cancer services throughout Wales.

Susan Morris, General Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, commented: “Macmillan in Wales would like to say a huge thank you to Eluned for supporting our campaign. All of the money raised will fund local cancer services. With the number of people living with cancer in Wales expected to reach 240,000 by 2030, Macmillan Cancer Support wants to ensure that, in future, no-one faces cancer alone.

“Money raised by events such as the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning helped Macmillan to spend £3.2m on its services in Wales last year alone, including funding our nurses and providing £545,000 in grants to people affected by cancer.”

Now in its 24th year, the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning raised an amazing £20m for Macmillan last year alone.

Eluned Parrott Column – Pontypridd Observer – 24th September 2014

It’s almost a week now since the people of Scotland voted by a clear majority to remain part of the United Kingdom, but the implications of the vote, and the debate leading up to it, will reverberate for months, if not years to come.

Personally, I am glad that they made this decision because I have always felt that we are stronger together and that a strong United Kingdom is not only good for Scotland, but for Wales as well.

Over the coming months, the way that Scotland is governed will be the subject of intense discussions, between all the main political parties.

The challenge for us in Wales is to ensure that we don’t get left behind.  I have long called for more powers to be moved from Westminster to Wales, so that local people can have a real say in the way our Country is run.  That is why the Liberal Democrats have challenged Labour in Wales to say where it stands on the issue.  If the main political parties in Wales can speak with one voice over how we want to be governed, then the more chance we have of getting our voices heard.

Not only was I pleased with last week’s result, though, I was also extremely impressed with the level and volume of political debate that led to over 84% of registered voters casting a vote.

We can only dream of such voter engagement locally.

At the European Elections, just over 30% of local people voted and in the elections before that for our Police & Crime Commissioner, it was just 15%.  And at elections for our Council, where so many local decisions are made, only around 1 in 3 voters choose to vote.

Clearly people feel frustrated and don’t believe their vote will matter.  We can’t allow that to continue.  I can think of three ways in which we can start to improve this:

  • Firstly, we must reform our voting systems to make sure that every vote counts;
  • Secondly, politicians need to change.  Residents tell me time after time that they are fed up of the ‘yah-boo’ politics that so many politicians revert to;
  • And finally, elected politicians need to be held to account for their promises, such as those made about saving Pontypridd Paddling Pool. We need to explore ways we can recall politicians who fail to represent us at all levels, and look at ways of making community referendums stronger so that the voice of the people is not only heard, but acted upon.

Assembly Member calls for more train carriages

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central, has this week quizzed the Welsh Labour Government on overcrowding on trains across the Valleys Network.

Eluned Parrott said:

“For too long passengers have suffered with overcrowded and out of date trains. Electrification of the Valleys network will help solve lots of problems, but it’s still five years away. The Welsh Government have had fifteen years of running Wales’ transport network and not enough has been done and they need to act now to help hard pressed commuters.

“In 2008 the Welsh Labour Government spent £13 million lengthening platforms across South Wales. This was meant to be to ‘future proof’ our stations to allow for extra carriages when demand rose. Here we are six years later, with more passengers than ever using our stations and yet our trains are still the same length and that £13 million has effectively been wasted.

“I am calling on the Welsh Labour Government to work with Arriva Trains Wales to address capacity issues on our peak services and for them to investigate leasing extra surplus rolling stock from England. In South Wales we are still around five years away from electrification, but as more and more of England’s rail lines are electrified more and more diesel trains will be freed up. Acquiring spare carriages like these will bring immediate relief to hard pressed commuters who struggle to get seats at peak times.”

Eluned Backs National Eye Health Week

Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central has pledged her support for National Eye Health Week, which takes place 22-28 September.

Eluned Parrott AM said:
“I am pleased to support and promote this year’s National Eye Health Week. Sight is the sense people fear losing the most, yet many of us don’t know the best way to look after our eyes. This is why it is so important you get your eye health tested every two years even if you think your vision is fine as some eye conditions may not show obvious symptoms.”

National Eye Health Week brings organisations and health professionals from across the UK together to raise awareness of the importance of good eye health and the need for regular sight tests.

Ceri Jackson, Director of RNIB Cymru and chair of the National Eye Health Week steering group in Wales, said:

“Fifty per cent of sight loss is avoidable, and the single most important thing that people can do to protect their sight is to go for a test every two years. Many people think that a sight test is just about checking whether your vision needs correcting with glasses or contact lenses, but a sight test is also a vital check of the health of the eyes and includes the detection of eye conditions. Many of these have no early symptoms, but when they are detected early then the right type of treatment could save your sight.

“National Eye Health Week is an opportunity for people to come together and raise awareness of the need to be proactive about our eye health in the same way as we would in relation to other health conditions. I’m delighted that Eluned has pledged her support and hope that as many people as possible can join us during the week in doing their bit to stop people losing their sight unnecessarily.”

In addition to sight tests, RNIB recommends four actions to keep your eyes healthy:

1)    Stop smoking. Smoking can double your risk of developing some eye conditions. In fact, the link is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer. Speak to your GP about stopping smoking.

2)    Eat healthily and watch your weight. Eating a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli may help protect against eye disease. Oranges, kiwis, nuts, seeds and oily fish may also help. Obesity can increase the risk of diabetes, which in turn could lead to sight loss.

3)    Keep your eyes covered in the sun. UVA and UVB rays in sunlight can harm your eyes and may increase the risk of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses, glasses or contacts lenses with a built in UV filter will protect your eyes. Only buy sunglasses that have a CE mark or carry British Standard BSEN 1863:1997.

4)    Safety first. DIY causes thousands of eye related injuries each year. Always wear safety goggles (European Standard BS EN 166) to protect your eyes from flying debris and fine particles. Sports (especially racquet-based sports) also cause lots of eye related injuries each year. Investing in a good pair of protective sports goggles will help prevent serious damage to your eyes.

Community Being Sold Short With Revised Leisure Hub Plans

Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, Eluned Parrott, has accused Cardiff Council of selling the residents in South Cardiff short with their revised plans for a Community Hub in Splott that the Council’s Cabinet will be considering tomorrow (18th September 2014).

In January this year, in a fanfare of publicity, Cardiff Council announced plans for a state of the art Community Hub, with enhanced leisure facilities, at the site of the former Splott Swimming Pool.

The project, which would have cost £9.2 million, was included in the Capital Budget that the Council set in February 2014.

Now, just 8 months later and despite there being money in the budget for the original project, the Council are bringing forward new plans which will see a reduction on what was originally promised.

Eluned Parrott said:

“Local residents are extremely angry that what they were originally promised is now being significantly downgraded.  For the Council to now revise their proposals, without subsequent public consultation, beggars belief.

“The most significant omission in these new plans is the lack of a Sports Hall.  The Sports Hall at the STAR Leisure Centre is extremely popular not just for 5-a-side football, badminton and circuit training classes, but also for events and parties.  The Council is going to lose a significant income generator by not having a Sports Hall in this new Hub.

“Local residents in Splott, Tremorfa and Adamsdown are quite understandably feeling that they’ve been sold short by their Council.”

Welsh economy could be left lagging behind under Labour

Today’s fall in Welsh employment rates and economic activity have been described as “worrying” by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Statistics released today show that the employment rate for those aged 16-64 in Wales was down 0.5 percentage points from the same period a year earlier, at 68.8 per cent. This is in contrast to the UK average, up 1.4 percentage points from the same period a year earlier 73.0 per cent.

Figures for economic activity are also a cause for concern. The economic inactivity rate for those aged 16-64 in Wales was up 1.4 percentage points from the same period a year earlier, at 26.1 per cent. In contrast, the UK average was down 0.2 percentage points from the same period a year earlier, at 22.1 per cent.

Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister, said:

“The UK statistics as a whole are very encouraging, and this is a testament to the work of Liberal Democrats in the UK Government building a stronger economy and leading the economic recovery. However, it is very disappointing to see that under Labour, Wales is again lagging behind. In particular, I’m extremely concerned that the rate of economic inactivity in Wales has grown by 5% since this time last year.

“Long-term economic inactivity is a real blight in some of our most disadvantaged communities. This is why support needs to be targeted at these communities and to help the people who need it most back into work.

“Yesterday’s damning report into the flagship Jobs Growth Wales scheme showed just how badly Welsh Labour Ministers are doing in targeting their resources to our poorest areas. If we’re not careful, the Welsh economy could be left lagging behind yet again under Labour’s watch.”

Lib Dems have delivered for low-paid workers

Speaking in advance of a Plaid Cymru motion on the Living Wage in the Assembly today (Wednesday 17th September 2014) Eluned Parrott AM said:

“People’s quality of live depends not only on what they are paid but on how much of that pay they get to keep. Liberal Democrats in government in Westminster have ensured that Welsh workers get to take more money home without throwing the burden on hard pressed local businesses. Whilst we would welcome any moves to encourage private and public sector organisations to increase the wages of their lowest paid workforce, careful consideration needs to be given to the balance between wages and job creation as our economy continues to grow.

“Liberal Democrats are working for a stronger economy and a fairer society, so we are cutting taxes for ordinary working people. Today nobody in Wales pays income tax on the first £10,000 they earn, from next April that figure will rise to £10,500. When Labour left office the equivalent figure was just £6,475.

“Thanks to this 1.3 million Welsh workers have had a cut in income tax and the lowest 144,000 now pay no income tax at all.  This key Liberal Democrat policy has delivered practical help quickly and effectively to the people of Wales.”

Damning report lifts the veil on ineffective Jobs Growth Wales

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Welsh Labour Government’s flagship Jobs Growth Wales (JGW) scheme after the Government’s own interim report identified a number of weaknesses with the scheme.

The report, released this week, found that 73% of those on JGW placements would have found work without the Government scheme. It also notes significant failings to target those young people most in need of help to find work, particularly in Communities First areas. Participants on the scheme are also shown to be trapped in low wages, earning only 67% of the average for their age group whilst on the scheme, and only 76% of the average for their age group after they finish.

The report is an embarrassment to the Welsh Labour Government, who have claimed the scheme is the best of its kind in the world, as their own report notes that success levels are only on a par with other job creation schemes.

Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister, said:

“The Welsh Labour Government’s own report has finally lifted the veil on Jobs Growth Wales, showing just how ineffective their scheme really is. The fact that three quarters of the young people on the scheme would have found work without it shows that they’ve learned nothing from their past mistakes.

“By wasting precious money on people that don’t need the support, they are failing the thousands of young people in Wales that desperately do. This scheme has done absolutely nothing to help the most disengaged and disadvantaged young people in Wales, and has actually entrenched low wage levels in our young workforce.

“Perhaps most damning of all is the confirmation in this report that this scheme was set up in a rush as a political gimmick, and not to deliver real results and support for the young people of Wales. This money needs to be reinvested immediately to target support to those young people most at risk of long-term unemployment, giving them the skills and opportunities that Jobs Growth Wales has failed to deliver for them.”

Eluned Parrott welcomes new era for Welsh software business

Eluned at the official opening of Zipporah Limited's new headquarters

Eluned at the official opening of Zipporah Limited’s new headquarters

At its new office unveiling in Wentloog, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Eluned Parrott, pays tribute to the work done by government software supplier Zipporah in providing cost saving solutions to government and a boost to Welsh economy.

Located a short drive from Cardiff’s city centre in Wentloog, Capital Business Park played host to September celebrations as Zipporah marked the official opening of its new home with the welcome support from Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat AM.

The day saw Eluned join the Welsh Business, first meeting with Directors Scott Burton and Emma Powell to discuss the company’s recent growth and investment into new markets.

Scott Burton shared his thoughts on the meeting, commenting

“When we heard that Eluned would be joining us, we were thrilled. This was a big day for us and to have the support of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Business was a big positive. Eluned demonstrated a real awareness of the issues facing Welsh businesses. It gives me a lot of personal comfort to know that we’re being represented within government by informed and concerned politicians such as Eluned”

Emma Powell joined her Co-Director, adding

“Eluned is exactly the sort of personality that Welsh business needs and can draw a lot of support from. One of the primary topics we spent some time talking about was the promise and importance of recruiting graduate level candidates with the clear skills, who perhaps were struggling to find the right opportunity to make that leap onto the career ladder. With Cardiff such a popular student destination, it’s encouraging to hear a political voice that wants to retain those numbers to settle graduates into working life here. That’s an important step if Wales is to grow in the future”.

A tour of its new work environment drew praise from Eluned, hailing the surroundings as a sign that the business was investing well to get the most out of its operations.

Commenting Eluned Parrott said

“It is a real pleasure to see a business planning carefully for sustainable growth right here in Wales. The new offices give Zipporah room to breath and grow as a business, and I’m sure will be the perfect launchpad for the next stage in their development as a company. The talent and ability of the staff are a business’s number one asset, and investing in a positive working environment, alongside their commitment to training and professional development, demonstrates the extent to which Zipporah values their team.”

With rallied conclusions, and with proceedings moving on to main agenda for the day, one task remained, the cutting of the ribbon – to which Eluned took on proud ownership, declaring the site officially open.

Congratulating the company on its success, Eluned helped to sign off the day saying

“I’d like to congratulate the staff and management of Zipporah on their success as a company, and wish them the very best in their new home.  Innovative, knowledge-led companies such as this are a huge asset to our economy, taking Welsh expertise and Welsh talent to the World. I shall watch them grow and develop with great interest in the future.”

Emma Powell closed with her thoughts.

“Everyone associated with Zipporah Ltd would like to thank Eluned for visiting us and seeing for herself how our commitment to continuous innovation has helped us go from strength to strength. Eluned’s contribution towards this memorable day was greatly received among our team. There’s a definite buzz about the place that we’re glad Eluned could be a part of”