- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Feature, Media
Last Friday’s Paris attacks have overshadowed events everywhere. On Monday, Assembly Members and staff gathered on the steps of the Senedd to mark the Europe-wide minute’s silence. Flags on Welsh Government buildings have been flown at half-mast and people across Wales have shown solidarity in their own ways. The First Minister delivered a statement at the Senedd on Tuesday, following his attendance over the weekend at the Prime Minister’s ‘Cobra’ Government Security Briefing. It is a reminder that though we argue over politics, the values we share bring us together.
As do the Remembrance commemorations. Ahead of next year’s Battle of the Somme Centenary, I attended an event at the Assembly to learn how community groups and organisations can apply for new National Lottery money for Remembrance projects. I met Cerys Thomas from the Montgomery Remembers, the Making of a Memorial Garden project. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has made £4million available for local First World War projects. Grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 are available. My own father, William Roberts, a farm worker from Llanbrynmair, was captured at Dunkirk and escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp towards the end of the Second World War. We all have personal stories that connect us to the great sacrifices that were made last century, and that our armed services continue to make. Anyone with an idea for their own project can contact the Heritage Lottery Fund on www.hlf.org.uk / 020 7591 6000.
The day-to-day business of the Assembly goes on, of course. We this week passed a new law to simplify the complex rules around renting a home. It will make life easier for the one million people in Wales who rent their home. Meanwhile, Rent Smart Wales, a new registration and licensing law for landlords will go live from Monday 23 November. Landlords and agents who need to register can apply for a licence from this date. They then have 12 months to comply.
The Enterprise and Business Committee, which I sit on, recently invited Sarah Leyland-Jones from Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations to give evidence to our inquiry on Community Transport. Powys has the largest Community Transport sector in Wales – 18 organisations delivering more than 30 services, many of which have been going for decades. As we plan bus and community transport services that will meet our communities’ needs in the decades ahead, Powys’s experience will benefit the whole of Wales.
And as we approach next year’s Assembly election, party politics goes on, too. Welsh Labour Women’s Conference takes place in Llandrindod Wells at the end of the month. I will be joining shadow Welsh secretary Nia Griffith MP at a special ‘meet and greet’ for our many new members! One of the big topics will be tax credit cuts – George Osborne’s plans to cut on average £1,300 a year from recipients’ household budgets. In Powys, 7,400 working families – 7,100 families with children – would be affected. That’s half of all families in the county. The Chancellor is due to set out his proposals at next week’s Spending Review. I hope he bows to public and political pressure and changes course.