WELSH CONSERVATIVES are calling on the Welsh Government to reconsider its decision to scrap financial inclusion support from Families First Services.
Shadow Secretary for Education and Children, Darren Millar AM, today warns the Government against this move, saying it could further perpetuate the cycle of deprivation blighting many Welsh families.
The Families First scheme is designed to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. The role improved money management can play in achieving this outcome is regarded by many as substantial.
Stakeholder organisations, including Action for Children, have voiced concern as to the negative impacts this decision may have.
Mr Millar questioned the decision and called on the government to explain their action:
“Almost one in four people in Wales lives in poverty. Better money management can make a real difference to improving this dire situation.
“I fear that removing this vital support would inflict a significant negative impact on young people, and families, in or at risk of poverty.
“If these at-risk individuals do not receive adequate support in dealing with things like debt, paying bills and financial planning, then what we’ll see is a continuation of the cycle of deprivation which already affects far too many people.
“The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children must explain how this decision was arrived at, and whether a periodic review has been planned to assess its impact.”
Green Party call for free bus services
COUNCILS and political parties in Ceredigion are being urged to unite in a radical initiative to help counter the climate emergency by making the county the first in Britain to offer completely free – and more frequent – bus services.
Backers of the Ceredigion Green Party plan say it would slash carbon emissions and cut air-pollution by drastically reducing the number of cars on Ceredigion’s roads, while stimulating efforts to create a greener economy by making it free, and easy, for workers – especially the lower-paid – to get to and from jobs.
The scheme would follow the example of Dunkirk in northern France, where, a year after public transport was made free, a study has found 85 per cent of residents now use the region’s ticketless buses. Car parks have emptied, and poorer residents say it’s now easier to socialise and take advantage of entertainment and cultural activities. The region has a fleet of environment-friendly express buses running every 10 minutes throughout the day.
Greens want the county council to coordinate efforts to investigate sources of funding for the scheme, which it believes could be a pilot project for other counties.
Green Party election candidate Chris Simpson said:
“Climate emergency declarations by governments and councils often don’t go much beyond words. But here’s a way to make a real difference, and at the same time show that we recognise that efforts to lessen the effects of climate-breakdown, and to stop damage to biodiversity, will mean big changes in the ways our society functions.
“However, the beauty of this scheme is that it doesn’t make things harder but improves our quality of life. The experience of the T-buses in Ceredigion, which are free at weekends, shows how well-used buses are when there’s no charge. Make them free all the time, and frequent, and their popularity will soar, bringing so many climatic, social and economic gains.”
Funding, the party suggests, would come from central and local government and perhaps a levy on other public bodies and companies with substantial numbers of employees.
Dunkirk took its inspiration from Tallinn, Estonia, where public transport is free, and Luxembourg, where bus, train and tram fares are being scrapped as part of an environmental push.
At the same time, Greens are demanding HS2 be abandoned in favour of “a local transport revolution”, warning the planned £88 billion rail line would destroy dozens of ancient woodlands and biodiversity and take, by HS2’s own admission, 120 years to become carbon-neutral. Instead, the party wants decarbonisation focused on electrification of existing lines.
Conservative Candidate highlights concerns over large-scale wind farms
EARLIER this year, the Welsh Government published its Draft National Development Framework (NDF) setting the direction for development in Wales. Within the NDF there is a section dedicated to ‘Energy’ development.
The Welsh Government are proposing “large scale wind and solar development to be directed towards Priority Areas for Wind and Solar Energy”.
Over a dozen areas have been identified throughout Wales and two of these priority areas cover large sections of Ceredigion.
According to the document, there will be a presumption in favour of “large scale on-shore wind and solar energy development in these areas, and an acceptance of landscape change.”
Amanda Jenner told The Ceredigion Herald: “Like many people, I’m passionate about protecting our environment and I fully recognise the importance of tackling climate change. However, I am seriously concerned about the huge pylons that could be needed to connect the electricity to the grid. These proposals do not consider the impact on the tourism sector!”
“Tourism is highly important to Ceredigion’s economy and it includes many agricultural businesses that have diversified into this sector, a trend that is likely to continue. The Labour run Welsh Government must consider how large-scale energy developments will impact Ceredigion’s tourism industry.”
Decisions on large-scale energy developments will not be made under the usual Local Authority Planning processes. Rather, Welsh Government Ministers in Cardiff will decide whether to approve such developments, under the Developments of National Significance process.
Amanda further added: “The top down nature of these proposals is worrying! The fact that tourism hasn’t been fully taken into account nor the disruption of large areas of peat, which may be hugely important to the ecology of an area, shows just how far removed the Labour run Welsh Government are from us.”
“The considerable additional powers which Welsh Labour Ministers are accruing for themselves, undermine local democracy. At the very least, despite being decided by Ministers in Cardiff, the Welsh Government must ensure thorough local community engagement and consultation. It is essential that there is a clear process and communities must be given ample notice of planning applications, in order to assess the wider implications and impacts on their communities.”
The Conservative Candidate has urged the Labour run Welsh Government to follow the example of the Conservative Government in Westminster and to launch a review in to the impact of wind farms.
Amanda said: “I urge the labour run Welsh Government in Cardiff to follow this sensible decision by the Conservative Government and to launch a similar review in Wales”.
New plaque unveiled at Cardigan War Memorial to honour three fallen soldiers from Cardigan
A NEW plaque was unveiled at Cardigan War Memorial to honour three fallen soldiers from Cardigan. The plaque was unveiled during a public Commemoration and Dedication Service on 12 October.
The plaque commemorates Michael J. Dunphy who gave his life in the 1982 Falklands War and Lee T. Davies and David M.E. Greenhalgh who gave their lives in the 2001-2015 conflict in Afghanistan. The plaque was unveiled by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards.
Councillor Paul Hinge is Ceredigion County Council’s Armed Forces Champion. He said: “It was an honour and privilege to welcome everyone to the Service of Commemoration and Dedication, not only as a son of Cardigan, but as a veteran myself and Ceredigion County Council’s Armed Forces Champion.
“The three fallen soldiers of Cardigan, Michael Dunphy, Lee Davies and Dave Greenhalgh paid the ultimate sacrifice and their names are now immortalised on Cardigan War Memorial honouring their sacrifice.
“It was a privilege to work with all stakeholders involved in planning the day including the families, regiments, Cardigan Town Council and Ceredigion County Council officers. We were delighted with the strong attendance on Saturday which was a testament to how important this Commemoration is to all concerned. It was a fitting tribute to the fallen soldiers of Cardigan.”
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