Showing posts from December, 2017

A Metro for the Llanelli area

Speech delivered in the National Assembly on 13th December 2017 Yesterday the Cabinet Secretary told the Assembly that demand for public transport is predicted to grow by 150% in the next 13 years. If that’s correct then it is vital that we make the investment now to ensure that there is attractive alternative to car use in place. Evidence from the most successful Cities across the world - where public transport is thriving - is that people will use buses and trains if they are easy to use. Passengers need to be able to turn up and go. But in many of the communities I represent, people’s experience of public transport is very different. They turn up, and it’s gone. We’ve got bus services like the L1 from Morfa to Llanelli, which stop at 4pm If you live in Kidwelly or Trimsaran there are just 3 services a day to Llanelli. And the last bus from Tumble leaves at half past six. There are just four trains a day from Bynea to Swansea. And if instead you take the number 16 bus it will take

Leaving children behind

Column in Llanelli Herald on 8th December 2017 Fear of change, and the unknown, is something that we can all relate to - children, in particular, experience change on a daily basis, which is necessary for their development, but can also be very stressful for them. Take moving home. Few children live in the same house for their whole childhood; most move several times, often to new towns and to new schools. Children, like the rest of us, handle change best if it is expected and occurs in the context of a familiar routine. Unpredictable changes, however, can chip away at their sense of security and leave the child feeling anxious and less able to cope with what life throws at them. It saddened me, then, to read that here in Carmarthenshire, looked after children are moved between homes more frequently than they are in any other local authority, with one child in six having been placed in more than three homes in a single year. And this is not just a change of house, remem

How can we improve town centres?

Column in Llanelli Star on 1 December 2017 What can we do to breathe new life into Llanelli town centre? I know what a lot of people will answer - bring in free parking. And whilst this may be the answer that first springs to mind, I don’t think it’s the whole solution. Our town centre has had problems ever since the focus shifted from the high street to out-of-town retail locations - where the biggest brands unite around a sprawling car park. Yet, even though large regeneration projects outside London still go hand-in-hand with car parking, research shows that large numbers of shoppers arrive by public transport. Bus services are particularly important. Town centres are more likely to thrive if they’re easy to get to using any mode of transport, so it makes sense that offering a reliable and affordable public transport system is worth the investment. And it’s worth noting that ‘free’ car parking isn’t actually ever free. Someone will always have to pay. In Carmarthen

There's no magic bullet

Column in the Llanelli Star on 29th November 2017 I'm really pleased to be joining the Assembly’s Economy committee - trying to find new ways to get jobs into the Llanelli constituency is one of the main reasons I stood to be an Assembly Member.  Let’s not pretend that this is going to be an easy task. It isn’t. And, while we’re talking about it, let’s not only focus on Llanelli town centre when the Llanelli constituency extends to Trimsaran, Pontyberem, Ponthenri, Llannon, Tumble, Cross Hands, Tycroes and Hendy. These are rural communities where there are more older and lower-income people with fewer options for getting out and about, and where accessing decent jobs can be a real challenge. That’s why we see so many young people upping sticks to get work elsewhere. And why they almost never come back. Like everyone, people in rural and small town communities rely on transport to get to jobs, schools, medical appointments, nights out, shops and services. The diff

Saving green spaces

Published in the Llanelli Herald on 22nd November 2017 I read a report recently, which said that people recover faster in a hospital when they have a bed with a garden view, than when their window faces onto a wall of adjoining buildings. It brought home to me the importance of green space in our lives. In a lot of ways, it’s how we develop a sense of community in the first place. Saturday afternoons in the park with a book, a football, a picnic; a bike ride, a long walk with the dog, a bag of chips or an ice-cream on a wooden bench taking in the view. We all like to spend time outside where open spaces, natural surroundings and the interactions these bring with others help to calm our minds, keep us active and increase our happiness. I’ve recently moved house, and one of the things that first attracted me to my new home was how close it is to Parc Howard. A short walk and I’m in one of Llanelli town’s gems. What a shame then that so many of our precious green spaces

Remembering Sarge

Published in the Llanelli Herald on 15th November 2017 The death of my colleague Carl Sargeant has hit me like a tonne of bricks. Carl’s suicide was a tragedy. The circumstances surrounding it are now thankfully the subject of an independent enquiry led by a QC, so I won’t get into my views on this other than to say that mistakes were clearly made and it’s important that this is properly examined. Suicide is now the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK (Carl was 49). In 2016, men accounted for 82% of all suicides in Wales. Bereavement has a devastating effect on families, friends and colleagues. In cases of bereavement by suicide, feelings of devastation, incomprehension and guilt are often magnified with the impact felt across communities and generations. I know all of us in the Labour group in the Assembly are dumbfounded by what happened, and in his own community there is a lot of anger and upset. I completely understand this, and hope that with