- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
GEORGE Orwell was famously not fond of jargon and neither am I. That said, I do sometimes slip into ‘politico-speak’. For example, I might describe a library as a ‘community facility’. The problem is terms like ‘community facility’, ‘social asset’, ‘rural service’ etc. cover lots of different things. In the past week or so I have visited and attended meetings about three ‘facilities’ and ‘services’, all very different.
At the recent information session on plans to move Carmarthen Post Office from King Street to WHSmith, held at the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel, I talked to residents about disabled access, the commercial impact on King’s Street, service quality and other issues. Post offices are hugely important ‘community facilities’. Especially now, with the big banks closing many rural branches. That is why any proposed changes (not to mention the sell-off of Royal Mail) provoke such public debate. In Carmarthen, my concerns about disabled access were allayed, but people still have until November 25 — when the public consultation closes — to have their say.
Then, last week I met Unite union officials and members of campaign group Rural Areas Need Transport (RANT) to discuss transport services. Arriva Buses Wales’s decision to scrap huge sections of the West Wales bus network is as devastating as it was shocking; devastating both for commuters and the 46 employed drivers, supervisors, clearers and engineers. The Welsh Government has given short-term funding to keep some routes going, and local operators will hopefully take over other routes, but a long-term sustainable solution must be found to save our vital rural bus services.
On a more positive note, on Tuesday I visited Theatr Ffwrnes in Llanelli. Representatives from the organisation Constructing Excellence in Wales gave me a guided tour of the state-of-the-art building. The theatre itself is hugely impressive, inside and out, as are the plans for the grade 2-listed old chapel building. But what impressed me most was how this community facility has provided work and training to local contractors and apprentices. I chair the Assembly’s cross-party construction group and ‘local procurement’ is something that we have always banged the drum for. It is jargon for spending money to support local jobs and provide much- needed training opportunities for young people.