The basic state pensions will rise by at least £2.85 a week thanks to the Liberal Democrats triple lock. It means 108,680 pensioners across South Wales Central will benefit from an increase in their pension. This includes 45,552 pensioners in Cardiff, 40,073 pensioners in Rhondda Cynon Taf and 23,055 pensioners in the Vale of Glamorgan.
This rise will bring the level of the state pension to at least £115.95 and will benefit millions of pensioners across the UK. This is £18.30 more, each week, than in 2010 when the Liberal Democrats entered government. This means pensioners on the full basic state pension are £950 a year better off than they were under Labour.
The triple lock, introduced by the Liberal Democrats delivers a pension rise of whichever is the greater of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%, meaning pensioners across South Wales Central will see more money in their pockets.
The Liberal Democrats campaigned for it in opposition, have delivered it in Government and have pledged to write it into law in the next Parliament.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:
“This is fantastic news and proof that the Liberal Democrats are delivering in government.
“Thanks to the triple lock commitment in our manifesto pensioners across the country have benefited from a substantial income boost this parliament.
“I am proud of this record of delivery and that we are the only party with a 2015 manifesto promise to write the triple lock into law.”
Commenting further, Eluned Parrott AM, Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central, said:
“Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society, and that means treating pensioners with the respect that they deserve.
“The triple lock ensures that pensioners are guaranteed the security of a steady rise in their pensions, allowing them to plan for their future and giving them dignity in their retirement.
“We have ensured that pensioners are never again subjected to the indignity of the 75p rise they saw under Labour in the year 2000.”
This week’s unemployment figures for Wales show an increasing gap in unemployment rates compared to the UK average.
Unemployment in Wales has fallen by just 0.1% in the last quarter compared to a fall of 0.4% across the UK as a whole. Compared to this time last year, unemployment in Wales is down 1.5%, compared to 1.7% across the UK as a whole.
Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister said:
“Whilst unemployment in Wales has fallen yet again, it is continuing to fall at a much slower rate than the UK as a whole, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We must ask why 6.5% of our workforce is out of work and why other parts of the UK are continuing to recover faster.
“Thanks to the decisive action taken by Liberal Democrats in Westminster, the UK economy is growing and more people are in work. Under Labour, the Welsh economy is stagnating and we’re falling behind.
“The Welsh Labour Government should stop wasting money on inefficient schemes like Jobs Growth Wales and reinvest the money to tackle the issue of long-term unemployment that Wales faces, or risk leaving another generation behind.”
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat, Assembly Member for South Wales Central has challenged the Welsh Government to undertake and publish a feasibility study into the opening of a Railway Station in the east of Cardiff, between Cardiff Central and Newport.
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central which covers Cardiff said:
“Places like St Mellons, Rumney, Llanrumney and Trowbridge in the east of Cardiff, are some of the most disconnected parts of South Wales. As the crow flies they are only five miles away from the centre of Cardiff yet by bus it can take the best part of an hour each way. Newport Road is in almost constant gridlock on its approach to the city centre and people’s livelihoods suffer due to this disconnect.
“Two years ago, the First Minister said that he would look at the feasibility of a railway station in this part of the city, but we’ve heard nothing since.
“The extra section of the A4232 which will soon be built will go a long way to freeing up traffic flows on Newport Road, but that will only go so far to better connecting the east of Cardiff to the Cardiff and Newport city centres where people go to work, shop and enjoy themselves.
“I’m calling for a firm commitment from the Welsh government to launch a feasibility study into a railway station here and to publish it for all to see. There is huge potential to improve the lives of thousands of residents in this area by giving them much easier access to Cardiff and Newport by rail and I look forward to the Welsh Government doing something about it.”
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat, Assembly Member for South Wales Central has today called on the First Minister to urgently investigate the long delays patients experienced this weekend at the Accident and Emergency Department of the University Hospital of Wales.
Eluned Parrott said:
“Last weekend, Accident and Emergency services appear to have been in a desperate condition in Cardiff, with the Local Health Board admitting that long waits were expected and tweeting patients only to attend if their case is truly urgent.
“One patient told me that he was forced to wait three hours 20 minutes with a heavily-bleeding head injury before his condition was even assessed, let alone treated. That is simply unacceptable.
“A&E departments like this do wonderful work, and are at times naturally stretched, but the persistently long waiting times that patients attending the University Hospital have reported to me are a real cause for concern. Not only does it cause real distress for patients, but it hits staff morale and makes it even more difficult to attract well-qualified staff to work in our hospitals.
“The First Minister has asked the Health Minister to look at this individual case but sadly this is not an isolated incident. I’m calling for the Welsh Labour Government to look more broadly at the crisis facing A&E services in South Wales because patients have real concerns about how proposed health reorganisation might affect them in the future.”
Commenting on the publication of today’s Welsh export figures which have shown big variances, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister said:
“There has been a big increase in Welsh exports to places such as Hong Kong (up 49%), Norway (31%) and The UAE (39%), which is of course welcome news, but in many other places we’ve seen falls or minimal progress, including Brazil (down 39%), Canada (down 4.1%), Germany (down 0.8%) and China (up 1.3%). These are all places where the Welsh Government have led trade missions to boost Welsh exports and it’s disappointing to see such patchy results.
“Whilst exports to some countries are up, we should be concerned about the big variances in exports from Wales to areas which have had special attention from the Welsh Government through trade missions.”
The continuing lack of rail stations and rail services serving the east of Cardiff has been raised by the area’s Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Eluned Parrott in questions to the First Minister.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, Eluned Parrott took advantage of First Minister’s Questions today to ask whether the Welsh Government will commission and publish a feasibility study into opening a railway station in the east of Cardiff serving Rumney, Llanrumney, Trowbridge and St Melons.
Eluned Parrott said:
“There is no good reason why a railway station can’t be built in this area. Plans for one have been published several times, including in the government’s own report on the South Wales Metro, and the individual plan for a station has been welcomed, acknowledged and endorsed by the First Minister in the past.
“St Mellons can be up to an hour away from the centre of Cardiff by bus thanks to the traffic problems that plague Newport Road, yet by train it could be a matter of minutes. While the completion of the Eastern Bay Link Road will help address these problems too, think how much traffic could be taken off our roads if local rail services between Cardiff and Newport could stop in Eastern Cardiff too.
“Connecting disconnected parts of our area is vital if we want people to be able to get to work or access public services. Currently residents in the east of Cardiff have to travel either into the centre of Cardiff or Newport in order to get access to our rail network, so all too often they are tied to using their car. If we want to encourage people out of their cars, we have to give them a real alternative.”
Review needed following serious incident where a door was ripped from a moving train
Eluned Parrott AM has called for an urgent review of Welsh Trains following a serious incident in North Wales (Monday 29th September) when a door was torn off a train as it entered a tunnel. Questions have been raised as to whether the door in question had been properly shut on departing the previous station.
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales Central and Shadow Transport Minister said:
“Many trains in Wales are old fashioned and often lack enough seats to meet passenger numbers at peak times.
“Electrification of the South Wales mainline and the Valleys Network will bring huge improvements but in the meantime we are left with trains which are old, uncomfortable and short of seats.
“This week we saw a serious incident in North Wales where a Cardiff bound train, directly funded by the Welsh Government, allegedly left a station without a door being effectively secured, and saw it ripped from its hinges as it entered the Bangor Tunnel.
“Such an incident ought to be impossible on our rail network. If passengers or staff had been standing in the area at the time of the incident – a common occurrence on our overcrowded trains – the consequences could have been far worse.
“I have called on the Transport Minister in Cardiff Bay to investigate this individual incident and to urgently review all train carriages in Wales to ensure they are safe for passenger use.
“I am also asking the Welsh Government to look at acquiring additional diesel rolling stock from elsewhere in the UK as electrification projects there are completed, to increase capacity and improve the quality of the service passengers experience.”
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 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.
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.