This week I was pleased to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ExcludedUK. This group of over 240 MPs have come together with the support of the ExcludedUK organisation to represent the three million individuals who have fallen through the gaps in the UK Government’s coronavirus support packages. Three million people have perhaps lost their livelihoods overnight, and have had no financial support to weather this storm. This is completely unacceptable, and risks many small businesses up and down the country folding, which will have significant consequences for the recovery of our local economies and communities. The Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Support Scheme have been important to so many in the country, but we need the UK Government to recognise that the three million unfairly excluded from these support packages need help too.
We are proud here in South Wales of our industrial heritage and we want a steel industry that we can continue to be proud of into the future. The roads that we drive on, the bridges we cross, the hospitals in which we’re cared for, and the schools in which our children learn – they’re all made with British steel. It’s an essential part of the fabric of this nation and yet the Government are failing to develop an industrial strategy that puts steel at its core and ensures the livelihoods of so many across the country. At such a difficult time for our health, our economy, and our individual financial security, we need the UK Government to back a green British steel industry that will continue to support thousands of high-quality jobs in the parts of the country most in need of good jobs. You can sign the steel unions’ #WeNeedOurSteel petition here.
If there is one silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, then it’s the huge change that has come about in people’s travel habits with many more choosing to walk or cycle or even scoot (use a scooter – it was new to me too!) to work, to the shops, and for recreation and exercise than before. The Welsh Government are determined that we take this opportunity to improve means for active travel and ensure that it is safe for people to continue doing when we return to normal. They have announced £38 million this week to make Wales a safer place to cycle, scoot, and walk. This will be added to the £15.4 million announced last month and drive huge investment in local active travel opportunities. This will help improve our environment and drive down pollution as well as improving our health as our physical activity increases. It will also be a vital aspect of supporting our and our children’s mental health as we deal with the significant and difficult consequences of the pandemic.
Continuing the theme of a green recovery, I’m pleased to see Welsh co-op Egni work with Regenerate NPT to install rooftop solar at community sites in Neath Port Talbot. A total of 137kW of solar has been installed, saving about 26 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and many thousands of pounds in energy costs for local buildings such as libraries, rugby clubs, and food banks. These facilities are vital to the community and help to save money on bills that will help ensure their sustainability and ensure they are kept for the community, all the while making Neath Port Talbot a greener place to live.
One of the more hidden consequences of the Covid lockdown has been the temporary closure of many public toilets across the country. For so many people, young and old, public toilets are a necessity if they are to remain out and about in the community. I am pleased to see that a number of public toilets across Neath Port Talbot are reopening this week, with increased cleaning procedures and amended hours, including those at bus stations, Aberavon seafront, and Gnoll Country Park. We must ensure that everyone is able to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the summer to mitigate some of the effects lockdown has had on our mental health.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on email@example.com or call us on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain there should you need to get in contact with us.
I hope you stay well, enjoy the weekend and, remember – keep washing your hands!