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”

More needs to be done to attract foreign tourists to Wales

Speaking following today’s publication of tourism statistics which show that fewer than 1% of tourists visiting Wales come from outside the UK, Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister said:

“Wales is not attracting enough tourists from overseas. With Cardiff only two hours away from London by train, and Pembrokeshire and the Brecon Beacons not much further, there’s a clear ability for us to sell ourselves as an accessible and attractive destination for foreign tourists.

“Millions of tourists from abroad head to London every year. Many just stay there, a few head to places like Bath, Oxford and Scotland, but we need to encourage them to visit Wales too.

“Events such as the Ryder Cup and this week’s NATO Summit are putting Wales on the map. Now we need to ensure those who’ve seen Wales on TV or read about us in the newspapers come and see what we can offer for themselves.

“The Scottish Government spends £47million per year selling Scotland to the world, the Welsh equivalent spends just £7million. It’s clear that the Welsh Labour Government needs to up its game in promoting Wales to the world.

“Wales has wonderful natural and manmade attractions which we should be proud of, and we should be encouraging all we can to bring the world to see them.”

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.”