THE ANNUAL Queen’s Speech has come in for praise and criticism in equal measure from the two main opposition parties in Wales.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies claimed that the speech was a ‘One Nation Queens’s Speech from a One Nation Conservative Government.’
“With the UK economy strengthening, this was a clear sign that Conservatives in government are now able to switch focus on to an ambitious programme to deliver for hardworking people,” he added.
“It is now vital that the Welsh Government takes similar steps to ensure that Welsh families and businesses share in the rising prosperity.
“In particular, the UK Government has announced plans for the dramatic devolution of power to local areas and I would welcome any adoption of the localism agenda here in Wales. So too reform of the planning system, which in England is set to help the government to build more homes.
“Finally, the UK Government has take n a dynamic and decisive approach to ensuring that the UK becomes a world leader in the digital economy with new obligations placed on broadband providers to make sure that everyone has access to an affordable high speed internet connection.”
Commenting on the inclusion of the Wales Bill in today’s Queen’s Speech, he added:
“I welcome the news that the UK Government will continue to work in co-operation with the Welsh Government, building on the work of the former Secretary of State’s efforts to secure a strong and lasting devolution settlement in Wales.
“When the former Secretary of State pressed the pause button on the process it allowed all interested parties an opportunity to reflect on the type devolution that they want to see, but we must now get on with the job.
“The public will not thank politicians for spending the next four years navel-gazing over constitutional issues. It is vital that the Welsh Government and opposition parties engage positively and constructively with the new Secretary of State to take the Wales Bill forward.”
However, this view was not shared by senior Plaid Cymru politicians, with Jonathan Edwards MP describing the speech as a ‘smokescreen for more cuts’ and claiming that the UK Government ‘has decided to appease its own divided backbenches rather than focus on generating economic growth and prosperity.’
The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP welcomed the commitment to provide high speed internet but questioned whether residents would be forced to pay for infrastructure upgrades.
Mr Edwards said: “A Universal Service Obligation for high speed broadband – similar to that of Royal Mail – is a welcome first step to provide good internet access to rural Wales. This is a measure I have long supported.
“The details of this proposal are very thin and I fear the UK Government will expect communities to dip into their own pockets to help build the necessary infrastructure. I will, of course, keep a close eye on how the legislation develops.
“Other than that one welcome measure almost all of the 30 government announcements are rehashed, highlighting the political pressure currently on the Prime Minister as he tries to prevent Tory civil war over the European referendum.
“Rather than focussing on generating genuine economic growth and prosperity across the UK, the Tories have decided instead to appease their own divided backbenches with right-wing policies to create US-style giant prisons and watering down our Human Rights.
“The rhetoric of ‘social reform’ is merely another smokescreen to distract from the cuts that continue to tear apart our public services.
“Plaid Cymru has put forward its alternative Queen’s Speech which includes comprehensive measures to make Wales a stronger, safer and more prosperous country, upgrading our road and rail infrastructure, protecting our funding and allowing the Welsh police forces to focus on Welsh priorities.
From the government, however, we got one vague sentence on a Wales Bill that has already been announced.”
Christmas gift fair returns
NEXT Friday (Oct 20), the annual craft and gifts extravaganza will return to Aberystwyth Arts Centre to get the locals in the mood for Christmas.
The Winter Craft & Gift Fair is sure to get visitors feeling festive in the run up to Christmas with over 80 stalls selling a wonderful array of crafts and gifts, many produced by local makers from Ceredigion and mid Wales.
This year will feature many regular stalls, as well as some who will be selling at the fair for the first time, so prepare to discover the unusual and unexpected at this year’s fair with it’s new layout and products for 2017.
The fair will be open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday and 12 to 5.30pm on Sundays all the way up until December 23.
On Saturday, November 25, the Arts Centre’s Christmas Food Fair will take over the Great Hall for the day. There will be the very best of Welsh produce with cheese, meats, fish, wine, cider, pastries, puddings, jams and much, much more from many local producers. The Food Fair is the perfect place to stock up on a few gastronomic goodies in the run up to Christmas. There will also be live musical entertainment to get you in the Christmassy mood! The fair will be on 10am-4pm and entry is free!
‘It’s ok to say’
ON WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, farmers across Wales are being reminded that ‘it’s ok to say’ and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging them not to hide problems from themselves, their families and friends and to talk about their personal feelings.
The FUW made a commitment at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in July to continue raising awareness of mental health problems in rural communities and is therefore renewing the call for those who might be suffering from mental health problems to seek help.
“The focus of this year’s World Mental Health day is on mental health in the workplace and farms are just that. In our places of work we’ve faced some pretty low-points in the last few years. Bovine TB, price volatility and uncertainty about our future post-Brexit, this all puts a strain on our resolve and will have many feeling stressed and under immense pressure,” said Union President Glyn Roberts.
“But we must break the stigma attached to mental health, so if you’re feeling vulnerable, please open-up and speak to someone. That doesn’t just mean today, but always. Farmers and farming families need to continue talking openly about what they are experiencing and the FUW strongly encourages anyone who is worried about their own mental health or a loved-one, to seek help from the Farming Community Network, Tir Dewi, The DPJ Foundation, Mind Cymru or Call Helpline Wales,” added Glyn Roberts.
Scholarship scheme funds student’s Masters
A TALYBONT native is one of just 28 people in the UK to be awarded a scholarship granted by energy company ScottishPower.
Stella Foster, 32, gratefully received the grant from the Scottish Power Foundation for the 2017/18 academic year.
Having just completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of York, Stella will begin her Masters in Environmental Sciences this week at the University of East Anglia. Environmental science degrees integrate biology, physical science and information sciences to examine environmental systems (air, water, etc.) and how they interact.
The sought-after scholarship covers full enrolment costs as well as a living allowance. On top of this, the scholars will receive unique opportunities including meeting leading industry professionals.
“Travelling around the world and living in China before I started my undergraduate studies made me aware of the astounding change of pace in urbanisation; the two-hour bus ride from where I lived to Shanghai, there wasn’t a moment where you couldn’t see a construction site,” Stella said.
“This fast and dramatic development creates issues with the environment, and I’m really excited to learn about the creative and fascinating solutions out there, and hopefully come up with some of my own,” she added.
Since it was launched in 2010, the ScottishPower Foundation scholarships programme has provided £1.5m in grants towards training the next generation in their chosen field.
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