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Welsh Liberal Democrats

Call for ban on water company bosses’ bonuses until sewage discharge ends

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Liberal Democrat Senedd Member for Mid and West Wales, Jane Dodds has called for a ban on Welsh Water bosses’ bonus payments after it was revealed that they were awarded £931,000 in bonuses while pumping raw sewage into Welsh waterways 100,000 times last year.

Ms Dodds is calling for a “sewage bonus ban” to ban future bonuses until sewage dumps stop.

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The bosses of Severn Trent, which covers parts of mid and north Wales also awarded themselves bonuses of £5.56 million.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats say that their analysis of Company House data shows that executives at Dŵr Cymru were paid £2.6 million in 2020 and 2021 including £931,000 in bonuses, benefits and incentives.

The eye-watering executive pay packets and company profits were made despite the 100,000 sewage dumping events taking place in 2020 and 2021 alone.

The Lib Dems are calling on the Labour-run Welsh Government to ban new bonuses for Dŵr Cymru executives until sewage offences are brought to an end. The party is also calling on Dŵr Cymru and Severn Trent bosses to hand back last year’s bonuses and for the funds to be used to clean up rivers and lakes that have been polluted by sewage.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Senedd Member Jane Dodds said Water companies are being allowed “to pump raw sewage into our precious rivers and lakes while awarding themselves obscene bonuses.”

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Ms Dodds said: “I’ve watched first-hand as my local river, the River Wye struggles to survive. It has been given just two years until it is declared biologically dead. We cannot put off action any longer.

“Welsh Liberal Democrat plans for a sewage bonus ban would stop water company execs being paid a penny in bonuses more until our waterways are protected from sewage dumps. These bosses should be made to hand back the millions of pounds already received in bonuses to help clean up their mess.

“It’s time to send a message to the Welsh Labour Government that they cannot let water company bosses get away with pumping raw sewage into our rivers and beaches any longer. Every vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats in May is a vote for a strong local champion who will stand up for their local community, clean rivers and countryside.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Welsh Liberal Democrats

Swansea Bay “dentist shortage crisis” leading to “DIY dentistry”

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man in white dress shirt wearing white framed eyeglasses

Swansea Bay is facing a “dentist shortage crisis” as 13.6% of dentists in the Swansea Bay Health Board approach retirement, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have warned.

Welsh Party Leader Jane Dodds MS accused Labour of being “asleep at the wheel” and said it was “no wonder” people were turning to “DIY dentistry”.

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Last year a poll by the Faculty of Dental Surgeons found 19% of dentists believed it will take more than two years to get through the volume of dental patients waiting for treatment.

A report compiled by Jane Dodds on access to dentistry also found that people were living in pain or unable to eat properly, because they could not find treatment – and that the poorest were suffering most as they were least able to afford to pay for private dentistry. There were also examples of people resorting to pulling out their own teeth at home because they can’t get a dentist’s appointment.

According to figures from Stats Wales, 13.6% of dentists in the Swansea Bay Health Board in 2020-2021 were over the age of 55.

Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, the number NHS dentists in Wales fell by over 5% with 83 fewer NHS dentists on the books. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have said these numbers could fall further as dentists looked to retirement and warned of a “dentist shortage time bomb”.

Jane Dodds described the shortages as a “scandal”, adding: “These statistics show why it is sadly no wonder people are desperately turning to DIY dentistry across Wales. Our NHS dental system is at a breaking point, it really is a scandal. Access to NHS dentists is already a postcode lottery and with 13.6% of dentists facing retirement soon the problem only looks set to get worse.

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“The Welsh Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the crisis in NHS dentistry. To be clear, this crisis is not the fault of dentists. They work extremely hard and have to operate within the system that exists. But that system is broken and only the Welsh Government can fix it.

“Clearly, the Welsh Government needs to step up and review the system which drives dentists away from performing NHS activity. The lack of NHS dentists across the country is a real crisis for people. As well as being unable to sort out dental pain in the short term, people are storing up problems for the future without regular check-ups.

“To help reduce current pressures while more dentists are trained, I would urge the Welsh Government to consider increasing the availability of dental therapists and nurses, as well as considering introducing travelling NHS dentists who can rotate through areas of concern to help clear backlogs.

“People across the Swansea Bay region are being let down by Labour taking them for granted.”

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Construction

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader criticises Welsh Government on latest cladding announcements

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The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Welsh Government over their ‘silence’ after a raft of measures to assist cladding and fire safety victims in England were announced.

This month, thirty-five of the biggest property developers in the UK agreed to pay £5 billion towards fire safety remediation costs in England.

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The move came after the UK Government warned those who do not sign up for the voluntary pledge could be banned from carrying out new construction projects in England. The Welsh Government has yet to make any statement following the announcement.

However, a number of the companies which also operate in Wales have failed to pay out towards remediation costs within Wales. Campaign ground ‘Ripped Off By Redrow’ has highlighted how developer Redrow has signed up to pay towards remediation in England but not towards its affected properties in Wales.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “Labour cannot continue to remain silent on this issue. If the UK Government can force developers to the table in England, there is no reason why the Welsh Government cannot do the same.

“It is simply not acceptable we could be left in the perverse situation where property developers agree to pay towards remediation costs on their properties in England, but not on their properties in Wales.

“We are also yet to receive any clarity from the Welsh Government on whether all sections of the Building Safety Bill introduced in England will become law in Wales.

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“Almost five years have passed since the Grenfell tragedy and communication between those affected by the fire safety crisis and the Welsh Government remains poor. Labour must start treating this issue with the urgency it deserves.”

(Lead image: Welsh Liberal Democrats)

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Education

Swansea councillor provides enterprise skills programme to four local schools

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Swansea councillor, education champion and charity founder Mike Day is supporting enterprise education in four primary schools in Swansea by providing ‘The Bumbles of Honeywood’ skills programme to each school.

Created by Swansea-based 2B Enterprising Ltd, The Bumbles of Honeywood is a suite of bilingual resources mapped to the national curriculum to help primary schools embed enterprise skills into their day-to-day learning.

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The schools receiving the programme are Cila Primary School, Dunvant Primary School, Parkland Primary School and Crwys Primary School.

Mike’s contribution reflects his long-running involvement in education initiatives, and his commitment to supporting schools in Swansea: he has been a Liberal Democrat councillor for Sketty for 22 years and served as Cabinet Member for Education for eight years.

“I have been employed in education related activities for over 30 years and, as a local councillor, I recognise how important education is,” he says. “School staff are brilliant and committed and they need to know that they are supported. It is important for businesses and community leaders to play their part in that support.

“These four primary schools are part of a cluster in my area and have been very welcoming of the support that we can offer in developing essential enterprise skills in our young people. These skills, such as communication, teamwork, decision-making, problem-solving and creativity, are core to any role or job.”

Mike’s contribution is funded by International Education Wales (IEW), a charity set up by Mike in 2014, whose objectives include the advancement of education of individuals and businesses through mutual working between UK and other countries. A key element of this is the promotion of enterprise education at all levels.

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The Bumbles of Honeywood programme is Wales’ first bilingual enterprise skills programme for schools. It has been developed by entrepreneurial business leaders and experienced educators with extensive input from teachers. In line with the Welsh curriculum, the programme has a strong environmental message relating to the plight of the honeybee and aims to nurture enterprise skills in pupils from a young age, equipping them for success in the workplace and in business.

The programme is built around a series of beautifully illustrated books and interactive extension activities that explore the enterprising nature of honeybees and other characters to help children develop skills such as resilience, problem solving, leadership, communication, and teamwork.

“From speaking to teachers, the concept, structure, content and material is very professionally produced and can be used ‘off the shelf’ or used to provide resources for other topics that they wish to cover in the classroom,” says Mike. “From a personal perspective, I have read the books to my grandchildren, in person or online. They have been enthralled by the stories and the messages that the stories convey, and I have loved reading the stories and sharing the colourful, attention-grabbing books – it’s learning made fun!

“Ultimately, I would love to see the whole culture of schools becoming entrepreneurial, looking for opportunities to develop young people and staff. I’d like to see conversations become ‘how can we achieve this?’ rather than ‘we can’t do that’. And I’d like to see a focus on the key issues facing us all, such as the environment, social cohesion and working together.”

Mike will be visiting the schools to introduce the Bumbles of Honeywood programme and to see how the pupils progress.

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“I am looking forward to learning as much as the young people who we support in the schools,” he says. “Einstein is credited with saying: ‘Never stop learning; for when we stop learning we stop growing.’”

2BEnterprising CEO Jayne Brewer added: “We’re thrilled that Mike Day is helping to bring the Bumbles of Honeywood education programme to four Swansea schools. Mike is an inspiring education champion who has done a huge amount of work to support education in Swansea and internationally – and by funding the provision of The Bumbles of Honeywood programme in these four schools, he is helping pupils to develop important skills that will be valuable to them whatever path they choose in life.”

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