In her latest blog for Caerphilly Observer, Islwyn AM Rhianon Passmore pays tribute to the victims of yesterday’s London terror attacks, discusses tackling modern slavery, checks progress on the new ‘superschool’, and visits defence firm General Dynamics.
I write this column at a time of mourning for a brave police officer, Keith Palmer, who died in the line of duty protecting our democracy and its institutions. Here at the Assembly, women and men put their lives on the line to protect us all and the democratic way of life we hold so dear. This week of all weeks their dedication, professionalism and sense of duty is in our minds. Rest in peace Keith. To those who seek to undermine our way of life my message is clear – We Are Not Afraid.
On Wednesday March 22, I attended a Gwent Anti-Slavery Seminar at Rodney Parade in Newport. It was hosted by Jeff Cuthbert, the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner. The event brought together attendees from various public and private organisations. Most of us would consider slavery was abolished in the 19th century with the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. That Act abolished slavery through the British Empire. Yet sadly slavery is an endemic problem in some industries and in some parts of the world.
Shockingly slavery exists in the UK and in Wales today. The Welsh Government have issued a Code of Practice entitled ‘Ethical Employment in Supply Chains.’ We must be vigilant and act whenever we identify any concerns. Modern day slaves have been discovered at such diverse work places as nail bars and car washes. There is a helpline called ‘Modern Slavery Helpline’ on 0800 0121700 if people have any suspicions of slavery in our communities.
One of the joys of being the Assembly Member for Islwyn is having the opportunity of making visits throughout the constituency. I recently visited the rapidly emerging Islwyn High School in Oakdale. Since I had last visited great progress has been made as the school nears completion. It will be a wonderful education facility for future generations. The merging of Pontllanfraith and Oakdale Comprehensive schools will I’m sure be a great success.
Leading the way
It was also good to visit General Dynamics, a world leading employer and investor who are based in in Iswyn. The AJAX programme includes six variants: AJAX, ARES, APOLLO, ATHENA, ATLAS and ARGUS. Each AJAX variant will be a highly-agile, tracked, medium-weight armoured fighting vehicle, providing British troops with state-of-the-art best-in-class protection.
I was delighted that General Dynamics stressed the importance of specialised engineering apprenticeships being a feature of their contracts with the Ministry of Defence.