No complacency allowed over road safety stats

Commenting on the latest road safety statistics released today, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister Eluned Parrott has said:

“Whilst the fall in casualties is welcome, the sad rise in deaths should come as a warning sign to the Welsh Labour Government. We must never stop efforts to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

“The Welsh Government has invested heavily to boost the number of pupils walking to school, yet the number of children doing so is falling. The Welsh Government needs to ensure that it is achieving value for money for the taxpayer with these schemes.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see local councils consulting with parents and teachers to introduce more 20mph zones outside schools. Although they’re not the answer for all schools, many are incredibly effective at slowing traffic down and avoiding potentially fatal accidents.”

Train companies need to justify fare rises

Following the news that regulated rail fairs will rise by 3.5% from January 2015, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister Eluned Parrott said:

“Train commuters feel they get a raw deal. Services are regularly overcrowded, often less clean than they could be, and carriages are often old and lack services such as WiFi and air conditioning which should be common place by now.

“If train companies are to increase their fares they need to demonstrate to passengers the improvements that they can expect. Train companies should plan their timetables better to ensure more capacity at peak times, ensure their trains are at the very least clean, and they should prioritise expanding extra services such as WiFi.

“For too long train passengers have felt let down. Now is the time for train companies to show how they can improve the whole passenger experience.”

Liberal Democrats to scrap Severn Bridge tolls

Eluned Parrott AM and Jenny Willott MP calling for the tolls on the Severn Bridges to be scrapped

Eluned Parrott AM and Jenny Willott MP calling for the tolls on the Severn Bridges to be scrapped

The Liberal Democrats have announced that the party would scrap the Severn Bridge tolls in the next Parliament.

The Severn Crossings are currently managed by a private concessionaire.  The concession will end when a revenue target collected from tolls is reached. Current forecasts are that the concession will end in 2018.  Once the tolls are transferred into public ownership and debts are repaid, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to scrap the tolls completely.

The manifesto commitment will come in the Liberal Democrats’ ‘Pre-Manifesto’, to be published in September.

The Severn Bridge tolls are the most expensive in the UK. It now costs £6.40 for a car to cross the bridge, £12.80 for a van, and £19.20 for a coach or lorry.

Eluned Parrott AM said:

“For too long these tolls have been an economic burden on Wales, stifling trade, investment and tourism. The removal of these tolls will go a long way to increasing trade, investment and tourism into South Wales.

“This will offer a big boost to the Welsh economy and save the average commuter around £1,536 a year.  It will help to build a strong economy and a fairer society.”

Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central and a member of the party’s ‘Manifesto Working Group’, said:

“These tolls are a genuine strain on local businesses in my constituency.

“By scrapping the tolls, the Liberal Democrats would be boosting the South Wales economy by around £107 million a year.  This will help rebalance the economy and drive growth in what is traditionally a deprived region.

“In the forthcoming General Election, a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to scrap these unfair tolls.”

Eluned Parrott welcomes a further fall in Welsh unemployment

Commenting on the continued fall in both Welsh and UK levels of unemployment, Eluned Parrott, Shadow Welsh Liberal Democrat Economy Minister said:

“We’ve now seen 20 months of continuous falls in unemployment, and a number of other key indicators also show that the economy is going in the right direction.

“Unemployment in Wales now stands at 97,000, the first time it’s fallen below 100,000 since 2008.

“Thanks to the decisive action taken by my Liberal Democrat colleagues in Westminster, the UK economy is now bigger than it was before Labour’s catastrophic crash took us to the brink of disaster.

“The main priority now must be to ensure that everyone has the chance to benefit from the stronger economy and fairer society that we want to build, tackling inequalities, fighting for better wages and helping the long-term unemployed find the opportunity they need to build their lives.

“I’m particularly pleased to see the fall in youth unemployment. There’s plenty of work to be done, but the signs today are very encouraging”

More Nurses Bill reaches next stage

Kirsty Williams AM’s campaign for more nurses on Welsh hospital wards has reached the next stage as the consultation is launched on the Safe Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill.

Over 3,000 people have either signed Kirsty’s petition or written to their AM urging them to back the Bill as it progresses through the Assembly. During this 6 week consultation period, Kirsty Williams will tour Welsh hospitals to speak with nurses and feed their views into the consultation.

In December 2013, Kirsty Williams was successful in the National Assembly’s ballot to introduce backbench legislation.  Her proposal could see Wales become the first country in the UK with a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels.

Her campaign has the full support of Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, Eluned Parrott

Eluned Parrott said:

“I’m delighted to support Kirsty’s campaign for safe nurse staffing levels in the Welsh NHS.  Nurses who have fewer patients to tend are able to spend a greater amount of time with each patient and as a result can provide better care.  It also means better support for staff through more manageable workloads, increased job satisfaction and reduced levels of stress or burnout.”

Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, added:

“Whenever I’m talking to people across Wales about my campaign, they are shocked when I tell them there is no legal requirement for safe nurse staffing levels on our hospital wards. My plan will ensure that we get more nurses onto wards, giving nurses more time to care for each patient and ensuring better outcomes for patients, as well as improving working conditions for staff.

“In places like California and Australia where similar legislation has been passed, patient care has improved with lower mortality and readmission rates, fewer slips and falls or medication errors.  Nursing costs in those places have decreased through better workforce planning, which reduces spending on overtime and temporary staff.

“I’m pleased to launch my draft Safe Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill for consultation and look forward to hearing the views of staff, patients and health experts on this proposal.  The overwhelming results elsewhere in the world show the need for safe nurse staffing levels on our hospital wards. It’s about time we had a good news story for our NHS in Wales.”

Jonathan Edwards lets Plaid’s mask slip again

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on Leanne Wood to condemn comments made by Jonathan Edwards MP after he alleged that all unionists “loathe their own country”.

This week, Mr Edwards tweeted: “At the end of the day unionists loathe their own country. Their ultimate loyalty is to the State.”

This follows only a few months after Mr Edwards MP made UK headlines for attacking Welsh rugby captain Sam Warburton by saying: “I really find it difficult to understand how someone who does not consider themselves to be Welsh can be captain of the national rugby side”.

Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member Eluned Parrott said:

“Once again, the true face of Plaid shows itself.  It’s completely outrageous to allege that if you don’t support an independent Wales, then you loathe your own country.  Not only is it a completely immature thing to say, it is also pretty offensive.

“Leanne Wood needs to clarify whether she supports Jonathan Edwards’ comments, and if not, then she must condemn them immediately.

“Of course, Jonathan Edwards has form. Not so long ago he was attacking our country’s rugby captain before a big game for saying he was British.  Plaid Cymru certainly have a bizarre concept of patriotism.

“Why is it so difficult for some in Plaid Cymru to understand that it is possible for people to feel both British and Welsh?”

Eluned Parrott AM welcomes climb-down over Whitchurch Road Post Office

Reacting to the news that Post Office Ltd have decided against the controversial plan to move the popular local Post Office in Whitchurch Road Cardiff, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for the region said:

“I’d like to congratulate the local community for the energetic campaign that they fought through to this successful end.  I’d also like to thank Post Office Ltd for coming to the area, listening to local people and respecting their views.

“Local post offices are a lifeline to many of our most vulnerable citizens, but to make sure that services are meeting local people’s needs, it is important that the community is properly consulted on any planned service changes.  This is a victory for the local community and all of those who took part in the campaign.”

Eluned Parrott Column – Pontypridd Observer – 30th July 2014

Last week’s economic growth figures were another welcome sign that our economy is now moving in the right direction.

According to official figures, the UK economy grew by 0.8% over the last quarter, taking it back to the same level it was before the banking crisis in 2008 and the economic mess that Labour left the country in.

This is welcome news not just for the country as a whole, but also for the thousands of people in Rhondda Cynon Taf who have been feeling the effects locally.

Of course this recovery wouldn’t be happening without the Liberal Democrats in Government and it certainly wouldn’t be happening as fairly. It is the Liberal Democrats who have delivered an £800 tax cut to help millions of people weather the storm and who have plans to increase this to £1,200 after the next General Election.

I will continue to work hard over the next few years to ensure that everyone benefits from our economic recovery.

And that’s where we need the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay to really focus its efforts with proper, joined up thinking to ensure our communities have the skills and training to be able to take up the jobs that will no doubt be generated as part of this recovery.

Our region needs to be competing with other ambitious cities and regions in the UK.  That’s why it was disappointing to learn that Wales has failed to bid for money as part of the UK Government’s “City Deal”.  Glasgow was recently awarded £500 million to boost its local economy and infrastructure.  Just imagine what half a billion pounds could do to our region.  It could be used to help fund the South Wales Metro, creating better links throughout the region.  It could also be used to provide research funds for our universities or to bring in jobs and apprenticeships in the short term which would set our local economy in good stead for the longer term as well.

But as with so many things like the Welsh Health Service or our Education System, the Welsh Labour Government has taken its eye off the ball and as a result, we risk losing out to other parts of the UK.

It has been a tough few years for everyone, but with employment at record levels and real growth in the economy starting to be felt in Wales the future is starting to look far more promising.  But we need the Government in Cardiff Bay to be more proactive in making sure that Wales competes at the highest level.

UK economy is back on track

Commenting on GDP figures published today showing that the UK’s economy is now 0.2% ahead of the level it was before the 2008 financial crash, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for the Economy, said:

“When the Liberal Democrats helped form the Coalition Government, our number one objective was to get our economy back on track. Now, because of the Liberal Democrats, the UK economy is the fastest growing in the western world.

“No-one can deny that the Coalition Government inherited a complete disaster of an economy.  The Liberal Democrats recognised that tough decisions had to be made to fix our economy and to cut the UK’s mammoth deficit, but we also appreciate that this must be done in a fair way. That is why, for instance, we have ensured that over 150,000 of the lowest paid workers in Wales will no longer pay a single penny of Income Tax.

“Our economy is on the right track, but of course that is no excuse for complacency.  There is still a long way to go and the Liberal Democrats will continue to work to build an even stronger economy and ensure the UK’s dramatic growth continues.”

Local anger as Council scales back on leisure facilities for Splott & Adamsdown

Eluned with Cllr Nigel Howells accepting a petition from Splott Campaigner Bablin Molik

Eluned with Cllr Nigel Howells accepting a petition from Splott Campaigner Bablin Molik

Local residents have reacted with anger at new plans unveiled by Labour-run Cardiff Council that could see a decrease in the amount of leisure facilities in Splott and Adamsdown.

Originally the Council had promised to build a new state-of-the-art Community Hub in Splott Park that would have included a new swimming pool and increased leisure services.

But now they appear to be cutting back on their plans, with a smaller building with less leisure facilities.

A petition has been set up by local residents to keep the existing facilities as they are and the first tranche of this, containing over 500 signatures, was presented today to South Wales Central Assembly Member Eluned Parrott and Adamsdown Councillor Nigel Howells.

Eluned Parrott said: “Local residents are rightly feeling betrayed by their Council.  Splott and Adamsdown are some of the most deprived areas in Cardiff and deserve decent leisure facilities for local residents.

“Unless the Council intend to deliver what was originally promised for the area then I will be backing residents in their demand to keep the STAR Leisure Centre open and to re-open Splott Swimming Pool.”

Cllr Nigel Howells, who presented the first part of the petition formally at a meeting of Cardiff Council today added: “Many Adamsdown residents were disappointed that the STAR would be closing but had been reassured that a new Community Hub, based at Splott Park, would provide better facilities albeit with further to travel.

“I understand their anger at these scaled down plans and will be backing them in their campaign to keep the STAR open.”