blank
Connect with us

Politics

Welsh Government appoint members of constitutional commission

Published

on

The people who will serve on an independent commission which will make recommendations about Wales’ constitutional future have been announced.

The commission will develop options for the fundamental reform of the constitutional structures of the UK in which Wales remains an integral part and it will also consider all progressive options to strengthen Welsh democracy.

Advertisement

Last month, Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams were confirmed as the co-chairs of the commission.

The commissioners, who will be working with the co-chairs, are:

  • Dr Anwen Elias, a Reader in Politics at Aberystwyth University. Her research interests include comparative territorial and constitutional politics, political parties and deliberative democracy. She is co-director of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data and Research.
  • Miguela Gonzalez, a diversity and inclusion practitioner and a former journalist. She worked for the BBC for 15 years, most recently as the diversity and inclusion lead for the nations. She currently works for life science firm Abcam, where she is working to build an open and inclusive culture. Miguela has worked with the Welsh Government on the implementation of the Culture Connect Cymru project and has also been a visiting lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture.
  • Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London and Director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity. Professor Marmot has led research groups on health inequalities for over 40 years. He chaired the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, several WHO Regional Commissions, and reviews on tacking health inequality for governments in the UK.
  • Lauren McEvatt, a former Conservative UK Government special adviser to the Wales Office, during the coalition administration, when she worked on the Silk Commission and the Wales Act 2014. She has subsequently worked for several governments across East Africa and the Caribbean, on constitutional reform, trade and investment.
  • Albert Owen, the former Labour MP for Ynys Mon from 2001 to 2019. During his time in Parliament he was a member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, Welsh Affairs Select Committee and the International Development Committee.
  • Philip Rycroft, who was a civil servant for 30 years. He worked at a senior level for the devolved government in Scotland before moving to the Cabinet Office in London where he led civil service work for the UK Government on the constitution and devolution. His last posting was as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU.
  • Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC’s first BME General Secretary. Shavanah is a passionate campaigner and can often be found contributing speeches at round table debates and protest marches on issues such as anti-racism, just transition, climate change, human rights, women’s rights, fair pay and fair work.
  • Kirsty Williams, a former Member of the Senedd and Minister for Education in the Welsh Government during the Fifth Senedd. She became the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in December 2008 and, at the time, she was the first female leader of a Welsh political party in the Senedd.
  • Leanne Wood, a former Member of the Senedd for the Rhondda and former Leader of Plaid Cymru. As the first female leader of her party, she brings a wealth of political experience and has a longstanding commitment to issues of social justice.

The commission will be supported by an expert panel, which will bring expertise in areas including governance, law, constitution, the environment, economics, and finance. Its first meeting will be on 25 November.

Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said: “Each commissioner brings with them different strengths, knowledge, experience and perspectives. They are drawn from across Wales, across the UK, and further afield and from across the political spectrum.

“Collectively, the commissioners combine the academic rigor and the alternative perspectives the commission will need to think creatively and radically about Wales’ future.

“I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to engage with the commission and join the national conversation about our constitutional future.”

Advertisement

The creation of the commission has not been universally welcomed however, with the Welsh Conservatives criticising the body as a waste of time.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS said: “People in Wales overwhelmingly rejected independence at the recent Senedd elections; and why the Welsh Labour Government would want to waste it’s time and resources discussing the topic is beyond me. 

“Instead of prioritising discussions on independence and constitutional change the Welsh Labour Government should be using the powers it already has to get to grips with the challenges facing Wales. 

“Talking up independence and talking down the Union won’t do anything to address the waiting list backlog in our NHS, the months of lost education experienced by our young people, or the adverse impact of severe restrictions on our economy and society.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Neath Port Talbot

Independent and Plaid coalition takes control of Neath Port Talbot Council

Published

on

By

A new coalition is set to lead Neath Port Talbot Council after representatives from the Independent, Plaid Cymru and Dyffryn Independent groups made an agreement to share power.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Green Party members will support the coalition via a confidence and supply agreement.

Advertisement

The nominated Leader of Council is Councillor Steve Hunt and the nominated Deputy Leader is Councillor Alun Llewelyn.

The coalition and supporting groups will hold 33 seats out of a total of 60.

The announcement comes after more than two weeks of talks between the parties and brings an end to 26 years of Labour administration in the county borough, the first time since the council was formed in the Local Government Re-organisation of 1996.

Stephen Hunt, Leader of the Independent group said: “People in Neath Port Talbot have clearly voted for change. We have been given a unique opportunity and this administration will do its very best, working hard and working together to bring fresh ideas, to keep talking to our communities so that we do not lose sight of what matters to them, and to deliver with and for people in our county borough.”

Alun Llewelyn, Leader of the Plaid Cymru group said: “This will be a new administration with new priorities for Neath Port Talbot. We have had productive discussions over the past two weeks and anticipate a lot of common ground on many issues. I look forward to working together to build trust and confidence in our council by engaging in a respectful collaboration, that puts our communities’ needs first.

Advertisement

Cllr. Martyn Peters, Leader of the Dyffryn Independent group said: “Talks have been productive and we are committed to being part of an administration that will work for people in Neath Port Talbot and aim to tackle the issues that are important to them. I look forward to working in partnership to deliver the services that people deserve from their council.”

Cllr. Helen Ceri Clarke, Leader of the Coedffranc Liberal and Green Group group said: “Public opinion is fundamental to democracy and people in Neath Port Talbot have obviously voted for change. By entering into a confidence and supply agreement, we can help facilitate this change, whilst retaining our independent voice on the council and representing the best interests of residents.”

With a commitment to working with people to strengthen the county borough’s communities, economy and environment, the programme for coalition administration sets out a vision for the future with a strong focus on partnership and collaboration. Having contributed significantly to shaping ‘Recover, Reset, Renew’, the council’s corporate plan, the new administration intends to build on and enhance this.

The new council say their priorities will include improving the physical environment in the county borough; improving education outcomes for all, including working with officers and communities to consider the decision taken to create a super-school in the Swansea Valley area; and exploring options to generate revenue, boost investment and help ease cost of living crisis locally.

They will also look towards developing and delivering a strategy to enable the valleys and villages to reach their full potential, which looks at investment, infrastructure and connectivity; bringing new life to the town centres; and improving the economy of Neath Port Talbot.

Advertisement

The programme also outlines the intention to learn from the pandemic to improve health and social care through effective working across all sectors to reduce isolation and make services and support more accessible for users and families. This is complimented by a focus on providing a range of housing across the county borough, including affordable housing, and an aim to ensure that local people benefit from housing construction and supply chains.

Environment, Leisure, Culture and Heritage issues will also be key, with plans to develop an environmental strategy with the involvement of communities and voluntary groups, a culture strategy to promote economic, leisure, social and wellbeing benefits, and a firm commitment to grow and build on the existing Celtic Leisure assets.

The council’s next administration will be formally appointed at a Council meeting in mid-June.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Environment

Independent review of floods announced to help Wales adapt to climate change

Published

on

By

An independent review of flooding events across Wales during the winter of 2020-21 has been launched, the Welsh Government has announced.

Led by one of the UK’s leading barristers, the review will help ensure Wales learns from previous flooding events and embeds good practice for the future.

Advertisement

The review, which is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, will consider evidence from investigations carried out by local authorities and Natural Resources Wales, as well as other relevant reports.

Since Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across the country in February 2020, Wales has experienced a rapid increase in the frequency of storm and flood events than at any other time in recorded history.

Heavy rainfall and storms are likely to become more frequent as a result of climate change.

The Minister for Climate Change has appointed Professor Elwen Evans QC, one of the UK’s leading barristers, to lead the review.

Professor Evans will be tasked with establishing key findings, shared concerns, lessons learned, successes and good practice, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

Advertisement

Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “The terrible flooding we have witnessed in Wales in recent years is a stark reminder of the challenges we face from climate change. These increasingly frequent, powerful weather events create widespread trauma, disruption and financial loss for families and businesses.

“We have put a thorough flood strategy in place and recently announced the largest ever package of investment to reduce flood risk across Wales, with more than £214m over the next three years to help protect at least 45,000 homes from flood risk.

“It is vital we learn from previous events to prepare us for the future, and I am delighted Professor Evans, who brings substantial experience and authority, has agreed to lead the independent review.”

Designated Member, Sian Gwenllian said: “We have seen the devastating impact flooding can have on our communities and businesses. Alongside taking action on climate change and ensuring Wales plays its part to tackle it, addressing flood prevention and learning from the devastating 2020-21 floods will make a difference to people’s safety and peace of mind across Wales.

“I have been working closely to develop the scope and approach to delivery of this important review as part of the Co-operation Agreement, and I look forward to the findings.”

Advertisement

The announcement of the independent review follows the record £214m investment in flood risk as part of the Co-operation Agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, which will protect at least 45,000 homes.

This will support Flood Risk Management Authorities, accelerate the delivery of prevention schemes, and build resilience in the system as climate change intensifies.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

Continue Reading

Education

Funding for music education trebled to the tune of £13.5m

Published

on

By

Every child will have the opportunity to benefit from music education the Welsh Government have announced as part of plans for a national music service.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed funding will be trebled, with £13.5m being invested over the next three years.

Advertisement

The Government say the plan will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs.

Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.

The plan includes a review on music tutors’ terms and conditions, to ensure they are treated equitably and are recognised properly.

It also includes a ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer children in primary schools a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions, delivered by trained and skilled music practitioners.

A ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative forms part of the plan, including opportunities for children and young people in secondary schools to gain industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries

Advertisement

The will also be a new national instrument and equipment library to support access to a resource bank to be shared across Wales.

The Welsh Government say these programmes will be rolled out from September 2022, supporting schools and settings to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in our schools and our communities.

Plans mean the National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’, with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service’s programmes with a wide range of organisations. It will help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea to see a cluster of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

“Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music. We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent.”

Advertisement

The Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: “Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument.

“I remember how important it was to me to be able to have music tuition when I was in school and to learn the baritone and to play in brass ensembles. I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition – the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills is too often limited by cost and affordability nowadays, so we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people, so that they can learn and experience the joy of music.

“The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world.”

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn said: “We are proud to work with the Welsh Government on delivering this vital service to children across Wales. Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

“Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills.”

Advertisement

(Lead image: Mike Hall)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News