At our Autumn Conference, members will be offered a chance to influence the party’s policy on regional and local pay. The Pay Review Body has been asked by George Osborne to look into the possibility of paying public sector workers differing amounts based on where they live. As Liberal Democrats, we must ensure that this policy does not go any further. This is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats, in partnership with the South East Cornwall Liberal Democrats, have tabled a motion designed to send the strongest possible signal that the party does not support any extension of regional or local pay.
This debate is nearly always presented as one of heart versus head – our desire for fairness pitched against cold economic realities. But they are far from mutually exclusive. I believe there are unforeseen consequences of regional pay that could harm our already fragile economy.
Today’s Western Mail carries a story about the Welsh Government agreeing to spend more than £5,000 of public money on an insignia (or ‘posh badge’) for the Counsel General, the chief legal officer to the Welsh Government (read it here http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/welsh-politics/welsh-politics-news/2012/06/19/should-wales-top-legal-officer-get-5-000-new-insignia-91466-31207773/).
Now I’m as fond of jewellery as the next girl, but obviously that is £5,000 that could have been spent on something more practical. More worrying in my view, is that it betrays a very distorted set of priorities within the Welsh Government when it comes to the status of Wales as a legislature.
Wales’ laws have been diverging from those of England since before the advent of devolution in 1999, but the pace at which we can expect that process to continue will be much faster now that Wales has full legislative powers (or, at least, it should if the Government choose to put forward any legislation). But the people of Wales have no single place of reference if they want to find out what the Law of Wales looks like. We have no statute book, and that means that those laws that are made in Wales for Wales are not actually accessible to the people of Wales. If you or I fall foul of one of those laws, or if we wanted to challenge things like planning decisions or health cases in court, where would we go to find out where we stand?
Funding for the online equivalent of a statute was pulled by the Welsh Government (it was continued for a brief period by the National Assembly itself, but the original funder was the Government). The Counsel General has told the Assembly that he has no budget of his own to support things like this. But apparently, money can be found from somewhere to buy a bespoke silver badge so that the Counsel General can look ‘dignified’ when he appears in court on our behalf.
As a taxpayer, I cannot understand this frivolous use of my money when so many other things could have been given priority over this. As a relative newcomer to politics, and a proud supporter of devolution, it angers me when decisions like this are taken and bring the Assembly into disrepute.
No other Counsel General or chief legal officer in the UK has an insignia. Perhaps the other nations’ representatives are confident enough in their own status that they don’t need a badge to prove that they’re important. Or perhaps they recognise that true dignity comes from what you do rather than what you wear.
“Assembly Members from across Wales came together on Tuesday 8th May to celebrate the introduction of an exciting new scheme with health and environmental benefits. People in Wales with respiratory illnesses can now recycle their inhalers for the first time as part of Complete the Cycle, a groundbreaking respiratory inhaler recycling scheme, which is being rolled out by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) following a successful trial earlier in the year. Wales will be the first country in Europe to offer the service from more than 100 Co-operative Pharmacies in partnership with GSK and Terracycle UK. It is hoped that within just one year more than 69,000 inhalers could be saved from landfill.”
Eluned Parrot AM, took the Action on Hearing Loss hearing check at the Welsh Liberal Democrat Party conference last weekend. The check carried out by trained Action on Hearing Loss staff on a hand held screener, helps people identify if they have a hearing loss and encourages them to take action.
In addition to the screener, Action on Hearing Loss also provides hearing checks online, via a smart phone app and via telephone so people can take the check wherever and whenever they want.
Richard Williams, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, said: “We are pleased that Eluned Parrott took the check and recognises the importance of addressing hearing loss. Hearing loss is on the increase in the UK – in Wales alone, if affects more than half a million people.
“We believe the UK needs to step up its response to hearing loss and we’re urging people to take this quick and simple test and act now to address hearing loss”.
Eluned said “It is important to identify hearing loss early so that you can hear better for longer. Action on Hearing Loss have made it very easy to check your hearing.”
To take the test, call 0844 800 3838 or visit
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, has met with the management team of Cardiff Airport to discuss its plans for the future.
Eluned, who lives in Rhoose, wanted to find out more about opportunities for new routes and what barriers the management are experiencing in developing their business.
Speaking after the meeting, Eluned said:
“It was a real pleasure to meet with Steve Hodgetts and Patrick Duffy, and I learned a huge amount about the way in which the Airport works. But it is a source of great frustration that the Welsh Government have not yet detailed their vision for aviation in Wales. Cardiff Airport has the potential to be a real boost for both the local and national economy, but we need to be more focused about what we want to achieve.
“With the St Athan Enterprise Zone expanding to include the airport site, there is a wonderful opportunity to develop a strong working relationship between the airport’s management team and the Welsh Government. This is a chance in a lifetime to kickstart the local economy in the Vale, but if we are going to make the most of it, we must have a stronger lead from Carwyn Jones and his Ministers.
“The Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee will be conducting an enquiry into the use of Wales’ ports and airports in a bid to better understand how they work, and how they can deliver economic benefits to the whole of Wales. I hope that the findings of that report can be used to shape an aviation strategy.
“With all of these things coming together, there’s a real sense that local businesses, including the Airport itself, are ready to drive that opportunity forward. What we now need to see is the Welsh Government meeting them halfway. “
Assembly Member for South Wales Central, Eluned Parrott, was last night the winner of the ‘Member to Watch’ award at the ITV Welsh Politician of the Year awards ceremony in Cardiff.
Since becoming an Assembly Member earlier this year, Eluned has made a name for herself for being a spirited campaigner and a strong voice for South Wales Central. As Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Business, she has continued to fight for more investment in education, training and economic development to help tackle unemployment in South Wales Central, particularly amongst young people.
Eluned, who lives with her husband and two children in Rhoose, in the Vale of Glamorgan, said:
“I am thrilled to receive this award. It has been a great honour to represent the people of South Wales Central.
“It feels somehow appropriate that I have received this award on the day that the Welsh Liberal Democrats voted for a budget that includes funding for a Pupil Premium for Wales. This Pupil Deprivation Grant means that over 120,000 of the poorest children in my region will get £450 per year of extra support in their education. I first got involved in politics to fight for a better future for our children, so I am incredibly proud that we have managed to make a real difference today. But it will not stop here; it only makes me more determined to fight for the things that people in my region care about.”
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat and South Wales Central Assembly Member has accepted an invitation to spend a night sleeping outside to raise funds for Huggard.
Eluned commented “I have been fortunate enough to never have to sleep on the streets but this will give me a valuable insight into the problems faced by the homeless people of Cardiff.
“It is also an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats in Cardiff to raise some money for a service that is coming under increasing pressure so please visit our justgiving website at www.justgiving.com/CardiffLibDems-Huggardsleepout
“ We will be bedding down from 9pm behind ‘Marks and Spencers’ on Cathedral Walk this Friday night through to Saturday morning and I will be joined by Lib Dem Councilors from Cathays, Roath and and Grangetown.”
Richard Edwards, Chief Executive of Huggard commented:
“Huggard exists to empower homeless people to achieve their maximum potential in life. In the last year we have seen a 50% increase in the number of people accessing our service who would otherwise be forced to sleep rough if we were not able to help them. Our annual sponsored Sleepout is important both in raising vital funds for our work and also in ensuring that Rough Sleeping remains high on the public agenda, particularly in times of austerity. The commitment of those who take part, being prepared to experience the reality of a winter’s night of sleeping on the streets, is truly remarkable. I am grateful to everyone who takes part in this night and to all those who support the event through sponsorship.”
Huggard’s purpose is to provide support and help to people who are not only homeless but also find it hard to maintain independent accommodation if it were provided. Our objective is to provide help and support, providing care for those who need it and empowering individuals to head towards sustainable and independent living.
They were formed in 1989 when the Cardiff Cyrenians were no longer able to provide Day Centre facilities for homeless people. Temporary accommodation (“the cabins”) was set up with the help of the former South Glamorgan County Council and many other funders.
These ‘cabins’ were replaced by the Centre consisting of a Day Centre and Emergency Bed Unit (The Huggard Centre) which was opened in August 1993 with funding from the Huggard Charitable Trust, Housing for Wales and the Local Authority.
They are now moving towards a new era for the charity and homelessness provision in Cardiff through the provision of a brand new Single Assessment Centre which is currently in development.
Eluned Parrott, Assembly Member for South Wales Central was today shown around one of the Valleys great business success stories by Managing Director Nick Otley.
The Otley Brewing Company is a family run business based in Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd and brews a range of award-winning beers. Renowned for its innovative approach to brewing, Otley has become a firm favourite within the real ale scene across Wales and England winning nearly 40 awards since it was founded in 2005.
Eluned said “I was impressed with the vision held by the Otley family and it is obviously working; their speed of growth is very impressive. This is exactly the kind of business that the Welsh Assembly need to be supporting, particularly as it is within one of the new targeted sectors announced.
“The brewery also has great potential for export and employing more people. I will make sure that the Welsh Government honours it commitment to help businesses like this in Pontypridd and the rest of Wales.”
Eluned Parrott AM for South Wales Central is joining forces with Breast Cancer Campaign to raise awareness of its award winning fundraising event, wear it pink day.
On Friday 28 October 2011 supporters in schools, colleges and businesses throughout the country are encouraged to don an item of pink in support of Campaign and each donate £2 to fund innovative, world-class breast cancer research.
Last year hundreds of thousands people took part in wear it pink to help improve survival rates for the one in eight women who experience breast cancer during their lifetime.
Eluned Parrott AM says “It is estimated that there are around 22,000 women and 150 men alive in Wales that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I know people who have lost loved ones to the disease and would like to encourage everyone in Cardiff, the Vale and RCT and throughout the country to support wear it pink on October 28, to raise valuable funds for breast cancer research.”
To take part in the UK’s original and best pink day visit www.wearitpink.co.uk and register to receive your free fundraising pack now.
South Wales Central AM Eluned Parrott visited Cwmclydach Communities First’s open day to see first-hand the excellent work that has been undertaken by the Partnership and its associated organisations.
The open day was part of an on-going consultation exercise currently being undertaken by the Welsh Government looking at the future of Communities First in Wales. Plans are underway to merge partnerships and change the way in which schemes are run locally.
After being thoroughly and enthusiastically briefed on the work being carried out by Co-ordinator Keith Jenkins, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Ms Parrott said
“I am hugely impressed by the work that is going on here in Cwmclydach and by the commitment that has been shown by the staff and management board to ensure there is involvement across the community.
“Throughout Rhondda Cynon Taff and indeed across Wales there have been places where Communities First has worked very well and brought real long term benefit to the people in those areas. There have also been examples of it failing miserably to have any effect at all.
“Nobody would dispute that there have to be changes to the overall way in which the project is administered, but I only hope that whatever way the Welsh Government choose to proceed they will not lose site of the essential premise that it should be community based and involve those working at ground level.
“It would be a real shame to see the expertise that has been built up in partnerships such as Cwmclydach subsumed by a larger more remote organisation who may not continue to develop the community ethos so carefully fostered here.”
Karen Roberts chaired the Communities First partnership in Cwmclydach for the first six years of its life, and is now the Chair of the Cwmclydach Development Trust and Vice Chair of the Cambrian Village Trust. She says the partnership support and that of the staff has been invaluable
“The members of both Trust boards are volunteers, and many of us work full time. Without the support of staff who are paid for by the Communities First scheme then it would have been difficult for us to achieve all that we have in such a relatively short time.
“We have pulled in hundreds of thousands of pounds in grant aid to this area. The Development Trust own and run the community centre and the Sunshine Corner Day Nursery and were the lead organisation in setting up the micro hydro generator for which we had a grant of £400,000 from the Westminster Government.
“The Village Trust is responsible for the all-weather sports facility, runs the Lakeside café bar and more importantly provides free soccer training for school children throughout the Mid Rhondda area. Both these organisations will continue regardless of what happens with Communities First but we would very much hope that the level of support we have enjoyed thus far would continue.”