Cardiff Labour Council’s recycling rates fall again

Cardiff’s Liberal Democrats have hit out at Labour-run Cardiff Council following yet another fall in the local authority’s recycling rates.

In the final quarter of 2014, Cardiff reused, recycled or composted just 44% of its municipal waste – a fall of 4 percentage points on the same quarter of 2013. This is despite a 2% decrease in the amount of waste produced by Cardiff residents, from 41,100 tonnes in October-December 2013 to 40,300 in the same period of 2014.

The Welsh Government have said that every local authority should reach recycling rates of 58% by the end of 2015, or face a £100,000 fine for every 1% under that target. Based on current levels, Cardiff Council will be facing a fine of around £1.4m unless rates improve.

Cardiff’s recycling rates remain the lowest of any local authority in Wales, compared to the final year of the Lib Dems’ control of the city when it was among the highest.

Eluned Parrott, the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central, said:

“When across Wales recycling rates are on the up, and less waste is being produced by Cardiff residents, there is absolutely no excuse for recycling rates to be decreasing. Yet these latest figures show that this Labour-run Cardiff Council is inking recycling into its increasing catalogue of failures.

“The Welsh Government’s fines for failing to meet recycling targets are looming, and it looks like all Cardiff Labour can do now is minimise the size of the fine they’ll have to pay. This is a sorry situation to find our capital city in. Labour’s shocking mismanagement of our city is costing local residents dear.”

Cllr Judith Woodman, Cardiff Liberal Democrat Leader, added:

“When the Liberal Democrats led Cardiff Council, the city’s recycling rates soared and we were becoming one of the best local authorities in Wales at recycling. Since Labour took control of our city, recycling rates have plummeted.

“With other urban councils like Swansea increasing their recycling rates over the past year, I really can’t see where else Cardiff’s Labour administration can point the finger aside from at themselves.”

Cardiff Council’s infighting could put City Region Deal at risk

Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central Eluned Parrott has this week accused Cardiff’s Labour Council of putting Cardiff’s City Deal at risk through their continuous infighting.

Eluned Parrott AM said:

“A City Deal for Cardiff could transform Cardiff and the surrounding area, bringing much-needed investment for vital infrastructure projects and jobs.  With up to £1bn of funding available, we could deliver a metro system for all of south Wales, regenerate homes and high streets across the region, and breathe new life into some of our struggling communities.

“It is a critical moment for South-Wales, and we need to see some leadership from our local authorities to secure these funds.  Incredibly, the ruling group on Wales’ biggest authority, Cardiff, seem hell bent on putting their own petty squabbles before the interests of the city, with some Labour Councillors apparently briefing that their own team can’t deliver a City Deal for Cardiff.

“£1 billion worth of investment into our city and the surrounding areas could have a transformational impact on our economy and change the lives of people living here. This opportunity is too big to miss.  Yet again we see a dysfunctional Cardiff Labour Group failing to get a grip on the job they were elected to do, and letting down the whole of South Wales as a consequence.”

£1.2 million for disadvantaged nursery pupils across South Wales Central announced

Allocations of over £4.6million secured by the Welsh Liberal Democrats to support early years pupils in Wales from disadvantaged backgrounds have been announced including £1,174,800 for nurseries in South Wales Central.

The Early Years Pupil Premium was secured by the Welsh Lib Dems in their budget agreement with the Welsh Government last year. It provides £300 for every child from a disadvantaged background in a maintained early years education setting to help tackle the attainment gap between richer and poorer pupils which develops from an early age.

This investment builds on the £282m already secured for the Pupil Premium by the Welsh Lib Dems, which from next April will be worth £1,150 for every child receiving free school meals.

Eluned Parrott, the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central, said:

“All the evidence shows that the well-documented gap in attainment between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers begins at an early age. That’s why Welsh Lib Dems prioritised this investment in early years education in our budget talks – to make sure every child has a fair start in life and the same opportunity to get on.

“Our Pupil Premium is already making a difference to the lives of children across Wales – we’re seeing a narrowing of the attainment gap as more and more children are given that vital extra support. But if we want every child to have the very best chance in life, we need to make sure every child gets the care and attention they deserve when they are very young.

“Welsh Liberal Democrats are standing up for our poorest pupils where the Welsh Labour Government has failed to do so.”

Co-operation needed to secure Cardiff Airport’s future

Commenting on the decision by CityJet to cancel their flights from Cardiff Airport to Paris and Edinburgh, Eluned Parrott AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy and Transport Minister, said:

“I’m disappointed that CityJet haven’t chosen to build a long-term future at Cardiff Airport and work with the Airport to develop its offer. Other UK airports similar to Cardiff are able to sustain a number of different carriers, and we must try and avoid the situation where Cardiff becomes too dependent on just one.

“We all want Cardiff Airport to be a success, but that sustainable future will only come if the Airport can diversify its routes and bring in a strong customer base. In order for that to happen, all of the Welsh Government’s might needs to be behind efforts to identify routes.

“Enterprise zones, Visit Wales and the Airport management need to be working closely together in a way that I fear isn’t happening at the moment, and Welsh Ministers should be taking a lead in fostering that co-operation.”

Jobs Growth Wales renewal a “huge mistake”

The decision to continue funding Jobs Growth Wales without any changes to the scheme to incorporate skills development has been branded “nothing short of absurd” by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The Welsh Government have announced a continuation of the scheme using EU funds of £25 million from the European Social Fund for a further three years. During the current financial year the Welsh Government will spend £9.3 million on the programme together with EU funds of £8.3 million.

In September 2014, a Welsh Government report found that 73% of those on JGW placements would have found work without the Government scheme. It also noted significant failings to target those young people most in need of help to find work, particularly in Communities First areas. Participants on the scheme were 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.

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

“The Welsh Labour Government need to stop wasting money on this ineffective scheme and invest in apprenticeships and training, which will actually give young people professional skills and help them get on in life.  The Welsh Lib Dems want to see an apprenticeship revolution in Wales because we need to invest in the future of our young workforce.

“I’ve been utterly baffled as to why Welsh Labour Ministers have heralded Jobs Growth Wales as a success when their own evaluation shows the scheme has serious failings. The fact that the Welsh Labour Government has renewed this scheme seemingly without making any changes is nothing short of absurd.

“Labour’s own evaluation report said that this scheme locked young people into lower than average wages, and that 73% would’ve found work without it. Today’s unemployment figures show that Wales is lagging behind the rest of the UK, and that anything they have resembling an economic strategy isn’t working.

“Warning sign after warning sign has been sent the Welsh Labour Government’s way, but their Ministers seem completely unwilling to pull their heads out of the sand and admit they’re getting it wrong. We need to be investing in skills and infrastructure to create a sustainable recovery from which everyone can benefit, not throwing money at inefficient vanity projects that produce good statistics but don’t actually work.”

Welsh economy still lagging behind rest of UK

The Welsh Lib Dems have slammed the Welsh Labour Government as economic statistics released today show that the Welsh economy is lagging behind the rest of the United Kingdom.

The Labour Force Survey estimates for the 3 months up to March 2015 show a fall of 0.4 percentage points in the Welsh employment rate compared to the same period a year earlier (currently at 69.4%), compared to a rise of 1.0 percentage points in the UK rate (to 73.5%).

The Welsh unemployment rate has also decreased at a slower rate than the UK average, down 0.1 percentage points in Wales compared to a 1.2 percentage point drop across the UK.

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

“Every part of the UK should be reaping the benefits of economic growth, yet under Labour the Welsh economy is lagging behind the rest of the UK. Today’s figures continue a worrying trend that we’ve seen for some months now.

“The simple fact is that the Welsh Labour Government has nothing in the way of a long-term economic strategy, no joined-up plan on how to create jobs and invest in infrastructure. This lack of vision and co-ordinated action is hurting the Welsh economy and the pockets of working people across Wales.

“Welsh Labour Ministers should stop throwing money at ineffective schemes like Jobs Growth Wales, which locked young people into low wages and didn’t give them any qualifications, and seriously develop the skill base of our workforce to build a sustainable economic recovery here in Wales.”

Carwyn Jones voices concerns over Cardiff Bus Station plan

Labour’s First Minister Carwyn Jones has today voiced his concerns over Cardiff Council’s plans to close its Central bus Station in August and leave the city without a replacement until December 2017 at the earliest.

Responding to a question from Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central, The First Minister warned Cardiff Council to learn from the damage done to Bridgend Town Centre when their Bus Station closed in 2003 and buses and passengers had to use temporary bus stops on the other side of the town.

Eluned Parrott AM said:

“Cardiff’s Labour Council seem intent on causing disruption. We’ve learnt this week that our bus station will close on August 1st to make way for the BBC’s new HQ yet no replacement bus station plan has been confirmed and no replacement will open for almost two and a half years.

“This will cause absolute chaos in the city centre with bus stops spread around our already busy streets.

“This will give a terrible impression to the tens of thousands of visitors who flock to our city every year.

“Cardiff Council urgently needs to publish plans for the replacement Bus Station and needs to give serious consideration to delaying construction work on the new BBC HQ until a replacement Bus Station is built.

“Everyone is in agreement that Cardiff needs a new Bus Station, in fact plans were drawn up for one back in 2011, but were scrapped when the current administration took over in 2012. The only clear piece of information we have is that the site for the new Bus Station is the one which was planned back in 2011 and had those original plans been stuck to, by now we would have a new Bus Station.

“Cardiff needs a proper Bus Station in a central location , not a dozen or so temporary bus stops around the city. To go for two and a half years without a Central Bus Station is absurd and will damage the reputation and economy of our city for years.

“Cardiff’s Labour Council need to sit up and take note of the warning given to them today by their own leader and urgently re-think these crazy plans.”

Celebrating a year of dedicated cancer support for men in Wales

ManVan set to visit Cardiff as it starts its second year touring the country

Wales’ first ManVan, a 38ft American-style motorhome converted to bring dedicated mobile cancer support to communities across Wales, is celebrating a year of supporting men and their loved ones who have been affected by cancer.

As it goes in to its second year touring the country, men and their families in Cardiff are encouraged to head down to the van. The ManVan will be in Woking Street on April 27th, Velindre on 14th May and The STAR Centre on 20th May

Wales’ leading cancer charity, Tenovus Cancer Care, teamed up with Prostate Cancer UK and global men’s health charity the Movember Foundation to bring the ManVan to the men of Wales in April 2014. The mobile centre brings much-needed advice and support to men affected by prostate or testicular cancer in areas where such services are currently lacking. It offers support from a specialist nurse, one-to-one counselling, couples’ counselling, group support and benefits advice to men all over Wales.

Over the last twelve months, the ManVan has had more than 3,300 visitors in almost 100 locations and helped over 160 men who had a cancer diagnosis and went on to use the ManVan’s support services.

Eluned Parrott AM for South Wales Central who recently visited the ManVan said:

“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Wales. Two and a half thousand Welsh men are diagnosed each year with this disease alone. The ManVan is a brilliant initiative and excellent resource for the many men and their families across the country who are grappling with this terrible disease.

“I recommend that anyone in Cardiff who has concerns about male cancers or has recently been diagnosed to head down to the Van when it visits in the coming weeks and take advantage of the services on offer.”

Claudia McVie, Tenovus Cancer Care Chief Executive, said: “We’re so pleased that we’ve been able to help so many men who have had a cancer diagnosis in Wales. We know that it can sometimes be difficult for men to talk about their worries, so we designed the space specifically to appeal to men and make them feel comfortable.”

Heather Blake, Director of Services at Prostate Cancer UK said: “Prostate cancer affects more than 17,000 men in Wales alone and many will need support, whether it’s in helping them come to terms with a diagnosis, or dealing with the side effects of treatment and the emotional impact of the disease. The ManVan is doing just that and it’s great to see the impact it’s having not just on the lives of men with prostate cancer, but their families too. We’re looking forward to inviting many more guys on board as the van continues on its journey across Wales.”

Sarah Coghlan, UK Director of the Movember Foundation added: “The ManVan has had an incredible impact on the lives of men and their families throughout Wales in the past twelve months.  We’re thrilled to see the wealth and variety information provided to ManVan visitors, particularly the growth in their knowledge of various men’s health issues, such as prostate & testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction and diet & lifestyle. It’s heart-warming to know that such a difference can be made through the power of the moustache. Without the efforts of our Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, Tenovus Cancer Care can offer help and support. To find out more call the Tenovus Cancer Care free Support Line on 0808 808 1010 or visit tenovuscancercare.org.uk. You can also speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383.

Apprenticeship plan welcome, but must be open to all

Commenting on the news of a £144m investment to create 52,000 apprenticeships in Wales over the next four years, Eluned Parrott said:

“Welsh Lib Dems believe apprenticeships are an important way for people of all ages to learn new skills whilst earning a wage too.

“Sadly we’ve seen massive cuts to the number of apprentices in Wales by the Welsh Labour Government, which has made training and learning new skills difficult, with apprenticeships currently only available to those aged under 25.  We need to make sure that some of these new apprenticeships are ear marked for older adults who want to train and retrain, and we need to invest in other, more flexible further education opportunities for those who want to develop their skills part-time whilst also working.

“In England the Liberal Democrats have helped create and fill more than two million apprenticeships, while under Labour the number in Wales has steadily fallen.

“I am pleased that the Welsh Government has now set in place plans to reverse this fall, but they still need to ensure that apprenticeships are accessible and seen as an attractive option for people of all ages.  We are calling on the Welsh Government to establish a schools liaison programme to promote the benefits of an apprenticeship to school leavers as a credible alternative to university which is often seen as the only choice for school leavers today.”

Parking issues at UHW Hospital need urgently addressing

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, has demanded urgent action on what many residents are calling ‘traffic and parking chaos’ at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

With ever increasing services being provided at the site, visitors and residents attending outpatient appointments are regularly being turned away from the hospital site due to existing car parks being unable to cope with the demand.

Eluned Parrott said: “The situation has reached a critical point. It is not acceptable for outpatients, many of whom are unable to walk far, to be turned away from the site when they come for what for many are longstanding appointments.”

“Far too often, traffic queues on the approach to the car parks delay ambulances trying to access the site, which is extremely worrying.”

“What is also concerning is that more people are likely will be directed to the hospital if services such as neonatal care and inpatient children’s services are removed from the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant.”

“I am calling on the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board to urgently address the issue.”