Showing posts from November, 2017

Time to abandon austerity

Column published in Llanelli Herald on 8th November 2017 Securing economic growth in Llanelli, when we are living through such unpredictable times, is one of the greatest challenges facing me as an Assembly Member. One of the things I’ve argued for is something called the ‘Foundational Economy’, or put another way, looking after what we’ve got on our doorstep: the industries and businesses that are there because people are there. The food we eat, the homes we live in, the energy we use and the care we receive. This isn’t a small part of our economy. It accounts for four in ten jobs, and £1 in every three that we spend. With that in mind, it makes sense to me that to stimulate our economy, we need to strengthen our public services and make smart investments in our communities. But this isn’t happening. Instead of investment, we have had seven years of austerity - the longest period of sustained cut-backs that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. And despite the hardship th

Working together to tackle litter

Column published in Llanelli Herald on 3rd November 2017 It’s said that the two red lines which run the length of Westminster’s debating chamber are exactly two sword-lengths apart, to prevent spontaneous duels breaking out between opposing frontbench MPs. The physically-drawn ‘battle’ lines must act as a constant reminder of the need for a ‘them’ and ‘us’ approach. And sometimes it shows - the circus that is Prime Minster’s Questions lacks any genuine debate, and is all the poorer for it. As a new politician - only elected for the first time last year - I find this perpetually combative approach limiting. True, there are big differences between the ideologies of the main parties and - personally - I’d only ever want to stand for election on a Labour ticket. But there are a number of times when politicians from different political backgrounds agree, and too often a stubborn allegiance to party politics can get in the way of working together and achieving change. So, sinc

Pop money

Column published in Llanelli Herald on 27th October 2017 I fondly remember looking for empty bottles of Corona to claim back the 10p from the pop man. Well, it seems this kind of scheme could be coming back. It’s now called a Deposit Return Scheme and its one of the ideas for reducing rubbish on our streets that I’ll be discussing at the joint Litter Taskforce I’ve set up with the Council. The benefits of this sort of scheme hit home when, following one of my Big Clean-Up events in Bigyn, I was told that - of the 40 black bags of litter we collected - half was recyclable.  Almost all of these recyclables were plastic bottles or tin cans. That these were found on streets, kerbs and in hedges, suggests that they are viewed by many people as throwaway objects and it’s a massive waste. Plastic is particularly harmful. It doesn’t break down or decompose - when thrown on land it makes the soil less fertile and when thrown in water it chokes our ponds, rivers and oceans and harms sea li