Monday, February 26, 2007

RSPCA shop opening in Porthcawl

The week before last, I had the great pleasure of opening the RSPCA’s new fundraising shop in John Street, Porthcawl.

I was delighted to have been invited to take part in the ceremony. Not only will it provide good quality items for the people of Porthcawl but shoppers will also be supporting the world’s oldest animal welfare charity.

Sally Hyman, Chair of the Llys Nini Branch of the RSPCA (pictured with me above), was also there and has issued the following request for support:

“The shop will sell good quality clothing, accessories, bric a brac and almost anything else you can think of. So, if you have any unwanted items that you wish to donate, you can drop them off at the new charity shop where your items will be gratefully received. We will also need volunteers to helping the shop, so please drop by and introduce yourself to the manager. We will also accept all sorts of textiles which we can recycle as part of our environmental protection policy”

I wish them all the best.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Welsh Labour’s mission to build a better, safer, tidy Bridgend

WELSH Labour will build a better, safer, tidy Bridgend.

I very much welcome the party’s early Assembly election pledges, launched at the beginning of the Labour Party Conference here in Llandudno yesterday.

The key message from the Party’s annual get together to the people of Bridgend is that Labour has the ideas to lead Wales after May’s Assembly election with plans to make local communities fairer, safer and more prosperous.

The plans include:

- Organise specialist skills academies which allow people in employment to upgrade their skills
- New high quality vocational courses for 14- 19 year olds in Wales
- Ensure that all people who want an NHS dentist, can have one
- Provide free parking at NHS hospital car parks for patients requiring treatment for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and renal dialysis; and better season ticket arrangements for those who want one
- Continue to provide prescriptions free of charge
- Provide free childcare for two year olds in our most disadvantaged communities
- Introduce a new ‘Tidy Towns’ programme: extra funding and new requirements on councils to keep towns and villages free of litter and graffiti, involving local people in environmental clean-up and increase fines for litter and graffiti
- Provide a £100 million fund for safer local roads
- Provide sprinklers in all new school buildings and extend that provision in existing buildings
- Ensure all children can use a sports or leisure facility or swimming pool free of charge at weekends

These commitments from Welsh Labour will send a clear signal to the people of Bridgend that we stand for fairness in all aspects of society, prosperity at work and communities that are safe and tidy.

People in Bridgend want towns they can be proud of, and Labour is standing by local communities by taking a zero tolerance approach to litter, graffiti and anti-social behaviour.

Welsh Labour stands for fairness and investment in healthcare, support for those most in need and a quality health service available for free and to all. Making sure everyone who wants an NHS dentist gets one will be a real help to people in Bridgend.

Labour stands for the very best jobs for Bridgend workers. We’re helping people to get more and better skills so that we can bring more and better jobs here.

And I am delighted that under a Labour Welsh Assembly Government, children will be able to use local leisure centres for free at the weekends. This is great news for Bridgend families.

The choice for the people of Wales is clear. Only Welsh Labour offers Wales a Tory-free government. The Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have refused to rule out serving under the Tories. Welsh Labour is the only party that can offer people the safer, prosperous and fairer future they deserve.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Make Bridgend a Fairtrade County and make Wales a world first

Everyone in Bridgend should get behind the bid to Make Bridgend a Fairtrade County and schoolchildren can lead the way.

I am urging local shoppers, schoolchildren, local businesses and Bridgend County Borough Council to back the campaign and support Wales’s bid to become the world’s first Fairtrade country.

Fairtrade guarantees a fair price and safe working conditions for producers of things like tea, coffee, chocolate or fruit in poor countries. It gives us the peace of mind that no child labour was used to make the products we use at home.

Making Bridgend a Fairtrade county means committing ourselves to buying, selling and using Fairtrade products as much as we can, and raising awareness across the local community, in schools, churches, council meetings and any get-together.

I am always impressed by the grasp Bridgend schoolchildren have of global poverty issues and I would like them to have their efforts to promote fair trade recognised by gaining Fairtrade School Status. Our children’s pester power will get us all buying Fairtrade.

Schools in Bridgend can become Fairtrade schools by following the advice on the website, all local teachers and pupils should take a look.

This Labour Welsh Assembly Government is committed to encouraging Fairtrade and leads by example - using only Fairtrade tea and coffee for its meetings and is encouraging all businesses and public buildings in Wales to follow suit.

The Bridgend and Porthcawl Fairtrade groups do a great job in encouraging local communities to do more for fairtrade and we can all get behind them during Fairtrade fortnight and make a real effort to make Bridgend a Fairtrade county and make Wales the first Fairtrade country.

For more information, please go to

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Don’t forget kids swim for free

KEEPING the kids occupied and active over half term doesn’t have to cost you a penny extra if you send them swimming.

Local leisure centres are offering FREE swimming sessions and lessons to children and young people under 16, thanks to the Welsh Assembly Government’s school holiday free swimming scheme.

The £2.5m idea has proved a great success - with more than two million swims taken up around Wales since Labour introduced the scheme in 2003.

This half term, and every school holiday, it’s the kids who can splash out so Mum and Dad don’t have to. Bridgend children can get fit, stay active and have fun over the school holidays without parents getting hit in the pocket.

Local leisure centres are offering free swimming sessions and lessons during the half term break and I’d encourage as many parents and children to get involved as possible.

Welsh Labour wants more of Bridgend’s children and young people to use their local leisure centre. Free swimming is a way of making sure every local child gets a chance to use the pool or even learn to swim over the holidays.

It sends out all the right messages to children about staying fit and active. Labour is committed to encouraging healthy lifestyles which are so important for the health of the nation.

I would like to thank the local leisure centres for taking part in this scheme and especially the staff who take such good care of all the extra visitors.

The whole point of this Welsh Labour idea is to help families that might have been put off by the cost to use and enjoy their local leisure centres. I am delighted the scheme has proved to be a huge success in Bridgend and hope this continues.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bridgend pupils lead way in new learning

SIXTH FORM students in Bridgend schools are set to be among the first in Wales to take up the new Welsh Baccalaureate qualification.

Education Minister Jane Davidson announced today that the Welsh Bacc will be offered to all Sixth Form students in Bryntirion Comprehensive, Archbishop McGrath Comprehensive and Bridgend College from September this year.

A-levels students in Bridgend will now be able to gain a broader qualification than the traditional A-level and an advantage when they look for University places and enter the job market.

Pupils in Bryntirion Comprehensive, Archbishop McGrath Comprehensive and Bridgend College who opt for the Welsh Bacc will take up a language module, a study of Wales, Europe and the world, a research project, work experience and voluntary work in the community, alongside taking existing qualifications such as A levels, GCSEs or NVQs.

Welsh Labour is transforming Sixth Form learning in Wales, offering higher standards of achievement and motivation for young people in Bridgend. The Welsh Assembly Government is leading the way on new learning. The Welsh Bacc is going to produce students with better skills and a greater understanding of the wider world.

I am proud Welsh Labour has delivered the first ever distinctly Welsh education and skills programme for 16 – 19 year olds in Bridgend.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Extra support for autism

The Welsh Assembly Government has launched a new plan to improve the quality of life for people and children with autism.

The plan is backed up by an extra £1.7m – set aside by Labour - for local authorities like Bridgend over the next two years to have a look at how they can improve services for children with autism.

Health Minister Brian Gibbons and Education Minister Jane Davidson launched the Assembly’s Action Plan for Autism last week, which will now go out for consultation.

This plan is Labour’s commitment to help the most vulnerable people in Bridgend. This Labour Assembly Government wants to make sure that every child in Wales gets the education they deserve.

The extra £1.7m that Labour promised in the Assembly Government’s budget will help Bridgend County Borough Council to assess the learning support autistic children need in local schools and will make sure they get the specialist care and support they need.

I have many constituents who come to me with stories of how hard they fight to get the support they need to cope with autism, which is why I am very pleased that this Labour Assembly Government is recognising how important it is to get this plan right.

The draft document aims to build on a range of other Assembly Government publications, such as Designed for Life, and a series of National Services Frameworks for Children through to Older People. These documents all aim to improve services for people wherever they live in Wales to ensure that they have access to the highest quality care available.

Comments on the consultation should be sent to:Penelope DaviesChildren’s Health and Social Services DirectorateWelsh Assembly GovernmentCathays ParkCardiffCF10 3NQ.

Consultations generally run for a 12-week period but when consulting with people with learning difficulties that is extended to 16 weeks.

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£55 million for ambulance services

Ambulances in Bridgend are set to have state-of-the-art digital radios installed to help them improve response times.

The £55 million upgrade was announced by Health Minister Brian Gibbons last week and marks a major step in the investment the Labour Assembly Government promised to modernise the ambulance service in Wales.

The new system will give far greater radio coverage across Wales, currently only two thirds of the country is covered.

Labour is proving that putting the extra money in the health service gets people in Bridgend the modern health and emergency services they deserve. These radios will help the control rooms keep in touch with the ambulance crews and will go a long way in improving response times and patient care.

Labour is building a modern, world class health service. Since the last election Labour has invested £700 million in hospitals and GP surgeries across Wales.

This is the investment that the Tories FAILED to support in last year’s budget. So it is clear for voters in Bridgend to see that only with a Labour Assembly Government will money go where it matters most – on a better NHS for all.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New Deal to help elderly and disabled at home

STAYING safe and secure in their own homes will be made a whole lot easier for Bridgend’s pensioners and disabled thanks to the Labour Welsh Assembly Government.

Last week the Assembly’s Social Justice Minister, Edwina Hart, announced a £136,960 package to provide practical help for older and disabled people in Bridgend to remain living in their homes.

The funding has been awarded to Care & Repair Bridgend, which will make sure that disabled and older people get the help they need to make sure home improvements meet their needs. This is money the Labour Assembly Government has set aside to make life easier for the most vulnerable people in Bridgend.

This 3 per cent increase for Care & Repair Bridgend shows that this Labour Assembly Government is committed to making sure the elderly and disabled can lead their own lives and remain in their own homes.

Simple additions to their home, such as adding garb rails or improved steps, can have a huge impact on their quality of life. And people in Bridgend need the peace of mind that the older and disabled members of their families are safe and secure at home.

Care and Repair Bridgend offer free home checks and all sorts of advice on reputable tradesmen and women, and can be contacted on 01656 648417. This extra money is great news for Bridgend families and I would like to urge people to find out if Care & Repair Bridgend can help them.

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