Dawn Bowden is the Labour Senedd Member for the Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency.
The “firebreak” – a tough decision, but the right one
Today (Friday, October 23) we enter a “firebreak” period to try and get the Covid-19 virus under control.
Once again we are asked to stay at home wherever possible so that the spread of the virus is reduced and we can help our Welsh NHS cope with the demands from patients.
For me there are two key issues. The first is keeping as many people as safe as possible from the virus. That is the main reason why I support the action being taken by the Welsh Government.
As you know, at this moment we have no vaccine, so the system is trying its best to reduce the level of infections. The short term aim, between now and the New Year, is to try and reduce infection levels so our NHS is not overrun.
My second key issue is the impact on jobs and our local economy. 2020 has already been a difficult year for many local businesses and so many were not able to operate during the period of local restrictions.
So along with the Welsh Government and others we are urging the UK Government to continue providing packages of financial support in this tough period.
It is very clear to us all by now that there is no rule book for dealing with this pandemic. We must simply make judgements about the action that is required to get us through this tough period.
Great news as the investment continues at Prince Charles Hospital
Constituents in the Rhymney valley use services at the Prince Charles hospital so there will be a warm welcome for the announcement by Health Minister Vaughan Gething of £220m for the redevelopment work at Prince Charles Hospital. It is great news for our local NHS and for jobs and investment.
The funding will be used to further refurbish the ground and first floor, having previously benefited from £56m from the Welsh Government for previous phases of the programme.
This phase of the project will consist of redesigning and relocating departments in order to create more efficient and modern accommodation.
This scheme will be provide a significant boost to the local economy. It will see in excess of 80 apprenticeships created with over 60% of the workforce employed from Wales. The investment will also see 60% of the value of the construction programme being spent in Wales.
This latest work is set to begin in November and is forecast to be completed by 2026, during this time, the hospital will remain operational.
Mini police interviews
This week I was delighted to help Fochrhiw and Bryn Awel primary schools in interviewing the next set of children joining the mini police scheme in the Upper Rhymney valley.
This is a fantastic scheme that is a great credit to the local police, the schools and most importantly to the young people who take part. Thanks to you all.
Welsh Government acts to save rail services and investment
In the face of dramatic falls in passenger numbers, I welcome the decision of the Welsh Government this week to bring the Wales and Borders rail franchise under public control, which includes the line in the Rhymney valley.
Transport Minister Ken Skates said the move will help secure the future of passenger services in Wales and the Borders area, protect jobs and maintain the Welsh Government’s ambitious plans for Metro.
The move comes after a challenging period in which Covid-19 has significantly impacted passenger numbers and rail revenue across Wales.
The new arrangements will see day-to-day rail services become the responsibility of a new publicly owned subsidiary of Transport for Wales, which includes a new partnership between Transport for Wales, Keolis and Amey.
The last few months have been extremely challenging for public transport in Wales and across the UK. Covid has significantly impacted passenger revenues and the Welsh Government has had to step in with significant support to stabilise the network and keep it running.
Bus services reduced during the firebreak
Constituents need to be aware that during the period of the firebreak, train and bus services will continue for essential workers but the levels of service will be reduced as most people are asked to stay at home where possible.
The changes to the timetable are happening quickly so the bus timetables may be subject to quick changes. Check the website for updates on timetables.
Finding this tough – ask for help
I know that a lot of people are finding this a tough period. We are not able to socialise as usual and we are missing family and friends.
If you are struggling please remember there are people able to help.
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