Thursday, September 28, 2006

Porthcawl will be “All Shook Up” this weekend by Elvis Festival

Thousands of people are expected to flock to the Porthcawl Elvis Festival this weekend.

The Festival is now in its third year and is the biggest of its kind in Europe. There will be many people visiting the local area for the first time and it is a chance for us to show to them what we have to offer.

Coming at the end of the season, it will prove to be a welcome shot in the arm for the tourism sector in Porthcawl. Most of the hotels were fully booked weeks ago so clearly, Elvis still has a huge following.

The organisers have worked hard to build this festival into major event and I wish them every success. I will be helping to launch the Porthcawl Elvis Festival on Friday, 29 September 2006.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

World’s Biggest Coffee Morning Event

I will be hosting a World's Biggest Coffee Morning Event on Friday September 29th in North Cornelly Public Hall between 10am and 12 noon in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Together people across Wales raised £275,000 in 2005 to help reach more people affected by cancer, their carers, families and communities. One in three people will get cancer and 1.2 million people are currently living with the disease. The money raised from the World's Biggest Coffee Morning will go towards improving the lives of people affected by cancer and provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support.

Being part of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is as simple as putting the kettle on and asking friends, family or colleagues to get together for a cup of coffee and make a donation for each cup they drink.

Cancer can cause devastation to the lives of people diagnosed with it – and their loved ones – and this is an easy way for all of us in Bridgend to make a difference and help fund the vital work for people living with cancer. This year Macmillan wants to break through the £300,000 barrier, and so I urge the people of Bridgend to join me in helping to reach that target

For details of Macmillan Cancer support please refer to their web-site:

Monday, September 18, 2006

New business rates plan will help to support Bridgend Post Offices

A campaign I have been leading to secure the future of Post Offices in the area has received a boost following an announcement that the business rate relief system will be reformed to help more small businesses across Wales.

The new scheme, wholly financed by the Labour Welsh Assembly Government, will increase the number of eligible businesses in Bridgend able to benefit from 150 to 1,400. Special measures have also been put in place to assist local Post Offices that play a central role in keeping many communities sustainable.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Bridgend economy. The new proposals will provide a more effective way of distributing rate relief and targets the help where it is really needed.

The scheme will provide rate relief for businesses with a rateable value below £4,000. Post Offices will enjoy enhanced rate relief under the new scheme. Those with a rateable value under £9,000 will receive 100% relief, and those with a rateable value between £9,000 and £11,999 will receive 50% relief. In addition to the small business rate relief scheme, many other types of relief will remain available and not be affected by the new scheme. These include charitable occupations, community amateur sports clubs, and non- profit making organisations.

It will be particularly welcome news for our post offices. They play a vital role in community life and offer an invaluable service for elderly and vulnerable residents. This boost is a clear signal from the Welsh Assembly Government that it is fully committed to helping keep post offices open across the area.

I will be meeting with local sub-postmasters this Friday to formulate an action plan to maintain and develop the post office network in Bridgend. This scheme will, I am sure, form an important part of our discussions.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Respite Centre vital for Bridgend carers

I am pleased to join local carers in welcoming the opening this week of a brand new £1/2 million Breakaway Respite Care Centre in Kenfig Hill, Bridgend.

Carers are unsung heroes and they do an excellent job in looking after family members or friends that need their help the most. They often juggle caring duties alongside employment and other family life and it is important that we continue to give them as much support as possible.

The new centre will provide them with the chance to take a break and re-charge their batteries, whether it is a few days or a few weeks, safe in the knowledge that their loved one is receiving the care that they need. The Breakway Centre will house purpose built facilities with the latest technology to support people with often complex care requirements.

I am in regular contact with a number of carers and support groups across Bridgend and they continually stress to me the need for such a centre to enable them to take part in special occasions, have a rest or go on holiday, which they would otherwise be unable to do.

Those who care for other people, usually family or friends, make a great contribution, but they also make great sacrifices and face enormous challenges. So, it is very pleasing for me to know that this centre will make a big difference to a lot of people.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Spending time behind bars

Politicians serving time behind bars might be a dream of many people, but for fundraisers at the Llys Nini RSPCA centre in Penllergaer that dream became a reality.

I was imprisoned as part of the “Lock up your boss" event at the Centre’s Open Day yesterday to raise money to help pay for the running costs of the animal centre which serves South and West Wales, including Bridgend and Mid Glamorgan.

Llys Nini is locally run and locally financed and volunteers do a valiant job in raising money to keep the centre open and flourishing. The Centre is extremely important and it serves a huge area across South Wales. It accounts for 60% of all the RSPCA’s rescue and rehoming work in Wales. Last year alone it rescued, treated and rehomed 2000 animals.

It was all in a good cause and for once, I was more than happy to literally be put in the dog house. To be released, I had to raise a certain amount of money from members of my staff and from passers by at the open day.

I am pleased to have been able to play a part in helping the event go successfully. The event was well attended and I am sure that a number of people were pleased to see a politician suffer a period locked up.

The main aim, though, was to raise money for the centre and I am glad that this was achieved. The day raised over £1000 for the RSPCA Llys Nini Centre.

For more information on the centre’s activities please visit

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wildmill Youthworks

Picture features Youth Works Project Co-ordinator Tyrone Hughes (back left) and myself with local youngsters displaying one of the proposed signs they have designed to reduce speeding in Wildmill.

Last night I visited a pioneering project to rejuvenate a community of Bridgend and provide young people with the chance to develop personal skills to help them obtain employment or enter further education

It is run as a partnership between the local authority, the Groundwork Trust and Youthworks, and I went along to see at first hand the work being done there.

The Wildmill Estate has had some of the highest levels of drug-related and other crime in the Bridgend area. As well as dealing with the problems that local people suffer there via the criminal justice system, it is equally important to tackle the long term causes of crime by working with the residents and young people living there.”

By offering diversionary activities and helping to show the youngsters what they can achieve if they put their minds to it, the Youthworks project is having a dramatic effect in transforming the levels of crime and offending in Wildmill.

As well as providing outdoor and sporting activities for the teenagers there, they have also introduced them to other schemes that could benefit them such as the Princes Trust and the Positive Futures programme run by the Youth Service and the Youth programme.

The hard work being put in by the staff, volunteers and young people at the centre is particularly inspiring. It shows that the sense of community spirit in Wildmill is still very much alive and well. I fully support the efforts of everyone involved in the project.