Welcoming the news that the Welsh Government have rejected WPDs appeal to build on Llanishen Reservoir, Eluned Parrott AM, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central said:
“This is great news for the residents of Cardiff and in particular those who have been fighting this for well over a decade and it just goes to show that residents voices can and are heard by the corridors of power.
“It is a shame that Welsh Government Ministers have taken so long to make this decision but now that it has been made I call on WPD to respect the wishes of the people of Cardiff and the Government and to abandon their plans to build on this area. I am also calling on them to immediately begin refilling the reservoir and to restore it to its former glory so that the whole community can enjoy it once again.”
Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, Jenny Willott added:
“Together with locals and the Reservoir Action Group, we have been fighting plans by Western Power since 2002 to protect the reservoir and the flora and fauna specific to the site, to ensure its use for future generations.”
“Had they won, it would have been a disaster for the local area. I hope that Western Power finally realise that their development plans are not needed nor wanted in Cardiff.”
“I want to thank everybody who has worked on and fought hard for this campaign. Liberal Democrats believe it is important that the concerns of locals are taken seriously in order to build a fairer society.”
Baroness Jenny Randerson added:
“In the 1980s I campaigned against development of the Nant Fawr green corridor, South of Rhyd-y-Penau Road. We won that fight because the Planning Inspector accepted that the area has an outstanding ecological importance.
“It is wonderful news that we have also won this battle to preserve the reservoir which is a jewel in Cardiff’s crown, and one of the precious green areas which make life in Cardiff so special.”"
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central has challenged Welsh Ministers to issue guidance to Councils regarding the collection of bulky waste items including beds, tables and fridges following worries that fly tipping may increase following the controversial plans of Labour run Cardiff and RCT Council to charge residents for collections.
“I have been contacted by concerned residents from Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taff who are worried that the decision to begin charging householders for collecting items such as beds, tables and fridges will mean an increase in illegal fly-tipping. They naturally fear that bulky rubbish will simply be dumped in back lanes and in local parks to avoid paying these new charges.
“Fly tipping and littering blights many communities and while progress has been made on cleaning up some of our communities in Cardiff through alley-gating over recent years and other measures, I’m very concerned that the actions taken by these Labour Councils will reverse this trend.
“It is also likely that the cost of clearing up any additional fly-tipping will be far higher than any income generated by these charges, and for that reason I hope they will see them as the financial, as well as environmental, mistake they are.
“I have called for both Councils to abandon these charges and am also asking the Welsh Government Minister to monitor the levels of fly tipping to judge if this adds to the problems many residents already face.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Labour Government’s chaotic approach to empty homes and have called for co-ordinated action which gives councils the tools and resources to make real progress to tackle the number of empty homes across Wales.
In January the Welsh Liberal Democrats launched an online poll in January asking people what they wanted debated in the National Assembly for Wales. A debate calling for a ‘Welsh strategy for bringing empty homes back into use’ was overwhelmingly the winner. Latest figures show there are an estimated 31,644 empty homes in Wales, with 23,287 classed as long-term empty dwellings.
Commenting, Welsh Lib Dem Assembly Member Eluned Parrott AM stated:
“Empty homes are a blight on our communities. Across Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale there are 5869 empty homes. Dereliction discourages investment and empty houses are a focal point for anti-social behaviour, arson and petty crime. They can become a danger to public health and damage the local environment.
“Regenerating empty homes offers significant benefits for our economy; it provides jobs, stimulates investment, ends the social impact of empty properties and helps to meet the demand for accommodation, helping young people to get on the housing ladder or providing a much needed roof for someone who has been homeless.
“We welcome the ‘Houses into Homes’ initiative which is a good start, helped by the fact that the initial £5million for the scheme was doubled to £10million following the budget deal between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Government last year. However, we need a coordinated strategy which gives councils the tools to tackle empty homes in each area, if we are to make real progress in this area.
“We need a national strategy on empty homes which includes establishing a Welsh Empty Homes website to share advice and guidance, an empty homes officer in each local authority, simplifying legislation and procedures which allow councils to take management of empty homes, allowing councils to impose higher council tax rates on long term empty properties and looking at incentive schemes such as the UK Government’s ‘New Homes Bonus Scheme’ which reward councils for every new empty home brought back into use.
“The Welsh Government’s approach to tackling empty homes it too chaotic and councils do not have the tools and resources to make real progress. The number of empty homes in Wales has risen by 6% on the previous year, so it is time for the Labour Government to lay down its priorities and coordinate action through a national strategy to tackle empty homes.”
||Long Term Empty
|Vale of Glamorgan
|Rhondda Cynon Taf
Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, has welcomed the decision of Leighton Andrews to step in and replace the grant of £20,000 to the Tafwyl Festival that Cardiff’s Labour Council are cutting from their budget.
She has now challenged him to find a further £4.1 million to cover the other cuts that Labour are proposing to Cardiff’s Education Service.
Eluned Parrott said: “Whilst the intervention of the Education Minister on the Tafwyl Festival is welcomed, it is just a fraction of the cuts to Education in Cardiff that Labour are proposing. I challenge him to now find an additional £4.1million so that cuts to vital education services can be avoided.
“Labour’s education budget cuts include £807,000 to the budget for pupil support – money that’s used to support those children who need it the most.
“The cut of £225,000 from education psychology for example, could mean that children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties wait longer for diagnosis and receive less support. This could have a devastating impact on the educational outcomes of those affected.
“In addition, the cuts to the Music Service will mean that music development, and the excellent support that is given to children from poorer backgrounds, will be lost.”
Judith Woodman, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cardiff Council added: “Under the Liberal Democrats, funding for education in Cardiff increased and much needed additional money was allocated to areas such as SEN and Pupil Support. Labour seem to be taking us back to the bad old days when Cardiff was one of the worst Councils in Wales for education spending.”
Cardiff Council’s proposed savings can be found at: http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/objview.asp?Object_ID=24950
Included within total cuts to the Education Service of £4.1million are the following that are classified by Cardiff Council as ‘Red Risk’
£151K – Music Service reduced Funding (Line 188)
£173K – Music Development Fund (Line 189)
£269K – Pupil Support Service, Communication and Sensory (Line 194)
£225K – Pupil Support Service, Education Psychology (Line 195)
£199K – Pupil Support Service, Learning and Intervention (Line 196)
Reacting to news that Cardiff’s Labour Council is proposing to cut £151,000 from the budget for the Cardiff County & The Vale Music Service, Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central said:
“These short sighted savings will result in a lost generation of children who can no longer afford to have the benefit of music in their lives.
“Cardiff has a proud reputation for developing and nurturing young musicians, many of whom learnt their skills through the Music Service. To decimate the service in this way is a sad, retrograde step.
“Learning and playing a musical instrument is not only fun, but it is a widely held belief that early musical training helps develop a child’s language and reasoning skills. In addition, the excellent outreach projects organised by the Service that engage with children from poorer backgrounds are unlikely to be replaced.
“There is already an impressive campaign from residents and parents against this proposal. I would urge the Labour Council to think again and ensure that Cardiff continues to lead the way in Wales in music education.”
Reacting to news that Cardiff’s Labour Council is proposing to close Splott Swimming Pool, Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central commented:
“This proposal is a devastating blow not only for the communities of Splott and Tremorfa, but for residents from outside these areas who also rely on this facility for recreation, for teaching their children to swim and for keeping fit.
“Splott & Tremorfa is a Communities First area, and relies on facilities like the swimming pool to make a difference to people’s lives.
“If Cardiff Council is serious about addressing health inequality in the city, then leisure facilities in this area should be protected and improved.
“A simple solution to saving the pool would be for Cardiff Council to abandon plans to recruit ten senior managers, each on a salary of £120,000. The money saved would easily pay to keep the pool open.”
Eluned Parrott AM, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, has called for the Welsh Labour Government to urgently address poor ambulance response times in South Wales Central.
Shocking figures released today showed that:
in Cardifff, only 60.4% arrived within time
in the Vale of Glamorgan, only 52.9% arrived within time
and in RCT, only 43.5% arrived within time – the worst performance in Wales
The statistics have also shown that the All Wales ambulance response rate was its lowest in 2012 and the 65% all-Wales target was missed for the seventh successive month. The Welsh Labour Government’s target is for 65% of category A calls to receive an ambulance response time within eight minutes. This target was missed, with only 56.1% of calls in December receiving an ambulance within that time.
Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats is also calling on the Health Minister to raise the all-Wales target to 75% to match Scotland and England and so that the current review into the ambulance service can be based on realistic funding to attain that target.
Eluned Parrott commented:
“The figures released today have shown that ambulance response rates in December were the lowest of any month in 2012. Wales has the slowest ambulance response times in the whole of the UK and they have been getting worse. The Welsh Labour Government cannot hide behind adverse weather conditions or unusually high sickness rates as they have done in previous winter seasons.
“People in South Wales Central are not getting the service they deserve at critical times in their lives. One major reason for these dismal figures is the persistent failure of the Welsh labour Ministers to establish what resources are needed to match rising demand for ambulance services.
“An ambulance service that is able to respond quickly, with well-skilled, motivated staff is often the crucial first stage in a response to medical emergencies. While paramedics and technical staff are striving for excellence, they are facing immense pressure and having to work with increasingly stretched resources.”
Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, commented:
“Until now, Wales has funded its ambulance service to meet a target of 65% of ambulance responses to life-threatening conditions within 8 minutes – whereas England funds to achieve 75%. The Minister herself should now decide to raise that target, so that the review can be based on realistic funding to attain it.
“What Wales does not need is another period of re-organisation, such as by breaking up the all-Wales ambulance service and losing many of its specialist personnel. Uncertainty may cause some to go in the next few months unless it is made clear that the review will be focused on financing and efficiency – not on breaking up the organisation.”
The full statistics can be found here.
“I very much regret the potential loss of jobs at Media Wales and the effect this could have on the quality of Wales’ media output.
”Basing the Features department of Wales’ national newspaper in Liverpool, and producing generic features across the company’s regions would be a deeply retrograde step. It will inevitably mean poorer Welsh content in a Welsh media that is already stretched to breaking point.
”A strong independent media is critical to the effective working of any democracy, but we must recognise that newspapers are businesses not public services. The print media in Wales faces many financial challenges, but I hope that by careful reconsideration of its business plan, this desperate step can be avoided. My thoughts are with the staff affected at this difficult time.”
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat South Wales Central Assembly Member, has called for the Welsh Labour Government ‘source’ to retract incorrect comments made to South Wales Echo regarding the establishment of the interim executive board for St Alban’s RC Primary School in Tremorfa.
The Interim Executive Board (IEB) was put in place by the previous Welsh Liberal Democrats–Plaid Cymru administration in January 2012 following serious concerns about the running of the school. The comments by the Welsh Labour Government say they established the IEB with the new Labour council who began their administration in May 2012.
The Tremorfa school is the first in Wales to require an “interim executive board” – established to replace existing governors and support acting head teacher.
Calling on the Welsh Labour Government source to clarify their statement, Eluned Parrott AM said:
“An interim executive board was set up under the Welsh Lib Dem–Plaid Cymru administration in January 2012, five months before the Labour administration came to office. On-going problems at the school was affecting morale and teaching and decisive action was taken by the previous Welsh Lib Dem-Plaid administration.
“I am giving the Welsh Labour Government ‘source’ the opportunity to clarify his or her comments regarding the facts behind the establishment of the interim executive board as they are clearly incorrect.
“If the Welsh Labour Government source is mistaken, then I would welcome a statement clarifying this. However, if the source deliberately misled the public, teachers and pupils at the school then I want them to issue a full apology for the comments.
“The education of the pupils at St Alban’s RC Primary School in Tremorfa is not an issue on which the Labour party should seek to score political points. Clear information about the issues that have arisen in the school and sensible solutions to turn the school around is what is needed now. The last thing parenst, teachers and pupils need is political parties scoring political points.”
Wales’ First Minister has today confirmed that Cardiff’s Enterprise Zone is about creating new private sector jobs, snubbing Cardiff Council and Russell Goodway’s plans to relocate the Council’s 66,500sq ft HQ from Cardiff Bay into a prime parcel of land in Callaghan Square.
One piece of land initially earmarked by Cardiff Council for its new HQ has been purchased by the Welsh Government in a move to protect its Enterprise Zone policy.
Edwina Hart later confirmed that she had “No plans for public sector jobs” to be moved to Callaghan Square and that it was intended for new private sector jobs.
Commenting Eluned Parrott AM said:
“Yet again we see a different set of ideas from the Labour Government to those coming from Cardiff’s Labour Council.
“The whole point of having an Enterprise Zone is to attract private sector investment and jobs – instead Cardiff’s Labour Council seems intent on using this land to spend an estimated £100 million of tax-payer’s money on a brand new HQ.
“Whilst Labour’s local economic boss wants to build a shiny new office for him and his officials, he is not only giving Carwyn Jones an embarrassing headache but is putting at risk hundreds of high paid jobs.
“Labour run Cardiff Council truly are in a mess; last year they awarded top council bosses massive pay rises, now they are proposing spending up to £100 million on an unnecessary and unwanted HQ. Both of these plans have come from former Council leader Russell Goodway – a man who presided over an average Council Tax rise of 11% a year between 1995 and 2004 whilst at the same time making himself the highest paid Councillor in England and Wales.
“Liberal Democrats have opposed Russell Goodway’s plans to increase senior managers’ pay and we will oppose any plans he has to move Cardiff Council’s HQ – Cardiff Council Tax-payers should not have to put up with such flagrantly wasteful spending.”