More needs to be done to tackle Welsh unemployment

Commenting on today’s Jobs Growth Wales figures, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister has called on the Welsh Government to do more to tackle long term youth unemployment and to boost the number of private sector jobs in Wales for school, college and university leavers.

Eluned Parrott AM said:

“Jobs Growth Wales was designed to get job ready youngsters into work. Although it has done this to an extent, the Welsh Labour Government are failing to tackle long-term youth unemployment across Wales.

“17.5% of jobless young people have been out of work for more than a year and more than one in ten 16 year olds leaving school are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

“Jobs Growth Wales is not the success story the Welsh Labour Government claim it to be. Only half of young people completing a six month private sector placement go on to secure a full time job afterwards, with a further 25% ending up on another job scheme or apprenticeship rather than securing employment as the scheme intended.

“What young people in Wales need is a stronger economy with more jobs created in our private sector. While the Lib Dems in Government are succeeding at this in England, this is where the Welsh Labour Government is falling down.”

Eluned Parrott Column – Pontypridd Observer – 27th August 2014

Last week, I joined other Liberal Democrats from South Wales and the South of England in calling for the tolls on both Severn Bridges to be scrapped.

The bridges have been managed by a private company, Severn River Crossing plc, since 1992 under a deal entered into when the second Severn Crossing was built.

The bridges return to the control of the UK Government when the company has received all the money it cost to build and maintain them, which is expected to be in 2018.

Liberal Democrats have pledged that as soon as the bridges are transferred back into public ownership and any outstanding debts are paid off, then the tolls will be scrapped completely if they are part of the next UK Government.

I believe that scrapping the tolls will be a massive boost to the South Wales economy.  At present, the cost to cross into Wales varies from £6.40 for a car to a staggering £19.20 for a lorry.

These charges are a huge burden for the thousands of South Wales commuters who travel into England each day to work, not to mention the hundreds of local companies that do business across the border.  Indeed, the tolls are considered a major factor as to why there is a lack of regional distribution centres in Wales.

For an average commuter, scrapping the tolls will save them around £1,536 a year but more than that, it will make our local economy more competitive, building a stronger economy for our area. It is estimated that scrapping the tolls would boost the South Wales economy by a massive £107 million a year.

I recently visited a local logistics company that told me they spend half a million pounds a year on Severn Bridge tolls – that’s money that could be spent on hiring more staff and expanding their business.

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.

Our proposal to scrap the toll has already received the support of the Freight Transport Association, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Road Haulage Association.

I would also urge local residents to also show their support by signing our petition at www.scrapseverntolls.org.uk

 

Government needs to do more to boost active travel

Statistics released today by the Welsh Government on walking and cycling levels show that only 6% of adults use a bicycle as a means of transport and that a third of adults regularly don’t walk.

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister said:

“The Welsh Labour Government’s Active Travel Bill should be promoting walking and cycling as safe and healthy alternatives to road transport especially for short regular journeys, but these statistics paint a different picture.

“We know that walking helps individuals to get and stay healthy as well as reducing congestion on our road system, which is why it’s alarming that a third of adults don’t regularly walk. The Welsh Labour Government must act to find out why such large numbers don’t walk regularly and address any concerns they may have, to encourage Wales to become a more active and healthy population.”

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.”