Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay must make more financial support available for struggling hospitality businesses across the country, the Welsh Conservatives have demanded.
First Minister Mark Drakeford imposed tough restrictions on businesses just after Christmas with nightclubs shut, rule of six brought back and two metre social distancing re-introduced.
Many businesses were struggling before Christmas with customers cancelling their bookings in the run-up to the festive period due to concern surrounding the omicron variant of coronavirus.
Labour ministers announced a £120m fund to help companies and their Economic Resilience Fund is set to open next week.
But the Welsh Conservatives fear it won’t be enough to fully compensate businesses for all the hardship they’ve had to endure.
The party has also once again reiterated its calls for Labour ministers to publish a roadmap out of restrictions as we learn to live with the virus, and to provide families and businesses with much-needed clarity.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Tom Giffard MS, said: “Our hospitality businesses have been absolutely devastated by coronavirus, and now their misery is continuing with Labour’s restrictions.
“The money announced so far to support the industry is a step in the right direction, but we need to see a lot more cash made available especially as restrictions are remaining in place for the time being.
“I have been inundated with letters and emails from business owners who are fearful that Labour’s pot of cash won’t even touch the sides when it comes to recouping the money lost over the festive period and covering the cost of staff.
“Labour ministers need to provide a roadmap out of restrictions so businesses know when they can return to trading as close to normal as possible, and they need to drastically increase the cash help on offer.”
(Lead image: Swansea Council)
Welsh Conservative leader criticises Cardiff Bay Government’s £150k spend on ‘woke’ jobs
The leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies has criticised the Labour-run Government in Cardiff Bay after it’s claimed they spent £150,000 on four diversity officers last year.
The spend has lead to accusations that they are more interested in “woke” issues than dealing with everyday problems like the cost-of-living.
A Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Conservatives revealed that “there are four staff in roles which have responsibility solely or predominantly for diversity issues in the Welsh Government”. Supported by colleagues across the organisation, the total sum spent on salaries for these staff during 2021-2022 was £151,436.62.
The figure only includes salaries and does not include other use of public money for the roles such as employer national insurance, pension contributions, and resources like computers.
The grades, salary ranges, and average salaries for the pay bands of the four staff are:
- Team Support: Salary range £21,300-£24,630; Average is £22,963
- Part-time Executive Officer: Salary range £25,860-£29,430; Average is £27,370 (Full-time)
- Senior Executive Officer: Salary range £40,100-£47,470; Average is £43,437
- Grade 7: Salary range £51,380-£61,440; Average is £56,072
However, the Welsh Government Employer Equality Report for 2020/21, released last month, revealed that pass rates for Fixed Term Appointment schemes in its civil service were lower for:
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants compared to White (12% compared to 18%);
- applicants from a minority sexual orientation compared to heterosexual (11% to 18%);
- and disabled applicants compared to not disabled (15% to 18%).
It admitted: “Overall (as an average across all schemes) we, generally, did not meet the new targets agreed in 2021”.
The Welsh Government workforce by race is 91% white and only 3% declared themselves to be of a different ethnicity. 6% did not declare or preferred not to say. The report also revealed that fewer than 200 of the 2,700 external applications to work in the Welsh Government were from non-white people.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said: “£150,000 is not going to solve the cost-of-living crisis – but spending money on redundant, woke jobs shows a complete lack of perspective and priority within the Labour Government when it comes to spending public money.
“Not only that, it seems that having diversity officers is not producing positive results, with any progress being very slow.
“I think spending this much money on this many people to tell the Labour-run Welsh Government that they should hire people based on demographic characteristics rather than on merit and the content of their character suggests something is deeply wrong within its recruitment practices, or that it is more concerned with virtue-signalling than achieving actual results.”
(Lead image: Welsh Conservatives)
Review of locomotive replica amid slave trade links branded “wokeness getting out of control”
A decision to review a replica of the first steam-powered locomotive in Wales over claims it was linked to the slave trade has been branded “utterly preposterous” by the Welsh Conservatives.
The National Museum Wales could relabel Richard Trevithick’s locomotive, which was used in the first steam-powered rail journey in 1804, to highlight slave trade links.
Officials at the Museum admitted there were no direct links between the Trevithick locomotive and the slave trade, but they said the use of the invention is “rooted in colonialism and racism.”
The museum has confirmed the Trevithick replica, which is on display in the Waterfront Museum in Swansea, would be subject to the Charter for Decolonising audit.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Tom Giffard MS, said: “Threatening to relabel a replica locomotive created by someone who had no direct links to the slave trade is utterly preposterous.
“This is just another example of wokeness getting out of control, and it appears that the museum has well and truly lost the plot if they go ahead with this.
“Fantastic pieces of work such as Richard Trevithick’s locomotive, which was used in the first steam-powered rail journey, should be celebrated – not punished.”
Call for Food Summit in Wales as Ukraine crisis triggers supply worries
The Leader of the Opposition in the Senedd today called for a Food Summit to bring together industry leaders to agree a strategy to build resilience and security into Wales’ food supply chains.
Questioning the First Minister today, Andrew RT Davies MS highlighted that Ukraine produces a third of the world’s wheat exports, with the current conflict being waged there by Russia is endangering Wales’ food security.
Mr Davies added: “It’s not just wheat, but fertiliser and many other fundamental aspects of food production” that are under threat, with knock-on consequences for the abilities of British farmers to cultivate their own produce and price increases for consumers as wheat prices jump by a third.
This prompted the Welsh Conservative leader to ask the Cardiff Bay Government to convene a Food Summit “of farmers, processors, and retailers so they can inform the policy development work and outcomes of the Welsh Government so Wales can play its part in growing its food production base and play our part in overall food security goals of this country”, in light of Russian aggression.
The First Minister said he would instruct the Rural Affairs Minister to discuss such a summit with industry leaders following a UK Inter-ministerial meeting where they will ask for food security to be on the agenda.
Davies, who is also a farmer by trade, also quizzed Mark Drakeford if the forthcoming Agriculture Bill – the first of its kind in 75 years – would be significantly changed in light of the Ukrainian conflict.
The First Minister said in response: “The agriculture Bill will, of course, support the production of food by Welsh farmers, and the changing nature of the marketplace, the Member is right, needs to be taken into account in that”.
Commenting afterwards, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The barbaric Russian campaign against a sovereign and democratic Ukraine extends far beyond that country and it is important that the freedom-loving world prepares itself for the consequences.
“One of these is certainly food security because it is not just the crops of the bread basket of Europe that will be lost, but vital by-products like fertiliser that I know, as a farmer, is an essential part to food production.
“That’s why industry leaders from food retailers and processors to farming unions must assemble urgently in a landmark Food Summit to build resilience into our food supply chains.
“With the Agriculture Bill coming up, now is the time to respond to the conflict in Ukraine and deliver a strong future for Welsh food security with a long-term vision of self-sufficiency and free trade with other free countries, ending our reliance on those with leaders like Putin.”
Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration
Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves
Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business
Eight people have lost £58k in the last week to criminals in ‘courier fraud’ – with Llanelli area being hit hardest
Body found in search for missing Neath man
Dream role for Egypt Centre’s new head
New regional centre at Morriston Hospital to treat lung conditions given go-ahead
Carpenter still at work after nearly slicing off his fingers says thanks to Morriston Hospital
A night to celebrate all that is Grand about The GRAND
Parents warning over ‘Huggy Wuggy’ teddy bear videos that sing of hugging and killing
Twelve men arrested in cannabis raids in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
Joe’s Ice Cream to celebrate 100th birthday with rebrand and grand reopening
Major Swansea road closures announced as city prepares to welcome back airshow
Everything you need to know about the JCP Swansea Half Marathon ahead of race day
Port Talbot school’s shipping container shop lets people ‘pay what they can’ to combat cost of living crisis
Specialist police to patrol Swansea’s beaches and parks this Summer
Council awarded over £8m for new cycle and walking routes in Swansea
Tower crane helping transform former nightclub site
No Jubilee bin collections in Carmarthenshire as council fail to agree terms with unions
Swansea school children set to receive IT equipment thanks to DVLA
Uncategorized5 days ago
Swansea 7 year-old girl badly burned by buried disposable BBQ on beach
Ammanford7 days ago
Man who filmed rape of Ammanford woman on victim’s phone jailed for 10 years
Education2 days ago
Plans for Neath Port Talbot’s first Welsh medium primary ‘starter school’ to be discussed by new council cabinet
Food & Drink3 days ago
Proposal to ban tea and coffee for under 16s in Wales branded ‘illiberal’
FlixBus2 days ago
Swansea coach operator joins FlixBus network
Fitness2 days ago
Tyson Fury comes to Swansea as Ware-house Gym celebrates first anniversary
Charity6 days ago
Action for Children and Swansea Council unveil new caravans for supported families
Swansea Bay NHS6 days ago
£2.5m investment aims to help tackle hospital waiting lists in Swansea Bay by expanding care after surgery