Welcome to my January 2024 Newsletter
I hope you had a good Christmas and I'd like to wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.
I wanted to take the opportunity this month to look back over 2023, and what is in store for 2024. I thought it would be helpful to highlight a few areas that I have been working on over the past year, as your member of the Welsh Parliament.
We are, of course, aware of several conflicts taking place across the world, and our thoughts go out to the many innocent people caught up and effected by war.
This year, we can expect a UK general election. There will also be a new Welsh First Minister in place and I wish Mark Drakeford well as he stands down from the helm. While we may have different visions for Wales, I have a huge amount of respect for his dedication to the job of First Minister. It’s important, however, with this announcement that there is no distraction from the important job of delivering for the people of Wales. A new First Minister will be in place by Easter.
As ever, if you want an update on something not mentioned in my newsletter, or I can help in another way, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and call my office at 01686 610887.
Please also let me know if you would like a copy of my 2024 calendar which contains a list of useful contacts, to be send to you in the post.
Campaign for Welshpool’s Air Ambulance Base to Remain for the Long-Term
We had expected a final decision on the future of Welshpool's base to be made before the end of 2023.
Just before Christmas, it was confirmed that there would be a final round of engagement on plans early in the new year. We are currently waiting on an update as to how this will be delivered.
Many thanks to all who have attended public meetings, displayed posters and supported in other ways.
New Mid Wales Health Services
After many years of campaigning, a new hospital and health facility will be located in Newtown. This will work with the current network of community hospitals and district general hospitals around our borders, to ensure that we receive the right treatment much closer to home. Powys Teaching Health Board and Powys County Council are leading the project and we can expect more detailed plans to come forward in the early part of this year.
Craig Williams MP and I recently met with senior staff at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust to discuss the detailed plans for the proposed development of the Shrewsbury Hospital site. This is such a positive development for us in Mid Wales as we will see improved life-saving emergency healthcare located in Shrewsbury. Building work is expected to soon.
£17.8 Million into Powys from Levelling Up Funding
In the late part of 2023, we had positive news of £17.8 million for Powys from the UK Government Levelling Up Fund. My thanks especially to Craig Williams MP for his work that led up to the UK Government approving Powys County Council's bid. This announcement builds on the £16 million award Montgomeryshire received previously from the Levelling Up Fund for the restoration of the Montgomery Canal. The latest bid focuses on transport investment in the county to support the recreational tourism industry as well as the wider economy in Mid Wales.
Improving Mid Wales Transport
We are soon to see the opening of the Dyfi Bridge in Machynlleth which is great news after many years of waiting for this project to come to fruition. For progress on other road and rail projects, please read my full update.
Welsh Government 20mph Restrictions
The Welsh Government’s regulations that changed most 30mph speed restrictions to 20mph came into force in September. There has been huge public reaction, including a petition on the Senedd website with hundreds of thousands of Welsh residents signing up to oppose the move. I voted against the Traffic Order in the Senedd last July. While in some areas a reduced speed limit is appropriate, such as outside schools, the blanket approach was not appropriate.
With a leadership election underway for the job of First Minister, both candidates have seemed to distance themselves away from this policy, despite supporting the policy previously. Whilst candidates have talked about a review of the policy, neither has yet given any firm commitments for change.
Wind Farms & Pylons
Proposals came forward this year which include a substation, connecting energy parks through large lattice pylons and a new 132kv overhead line through the Vyrnwy Valley. Many will remember previous large-scale windfarm proposals of a decade ago, where our communities reacted in force against the total lack of consideration and empathy for residents and landscapes shown by National Grid and developers.
Changes to Education
There are currently and range of proposals to close some schools and make changes to the language category of Ysgol Bro Caereinion to a Welsh Medium School. Just last year, the now Lib Dem run Powys County Council, campaigned on a promise to not close any schools – they have betrayed this promise. I will continue to challenge and hold the Lib Dem Council to account as we move into 2024.
New Banking Hub Opens
Over recent years, many high street banks have closed their doors in towns across Montgomeryshire. This is why, along with Craig Williams MP, we have campaigned for a dramatic improvement in banking services on our High Streets. A LINKBank with representation of many major providers opened in Welshpool's former Lloyds branch last month. This is great news for those that live in Welshpool and the surrounding area. We hope more branches can be opened.
Improved Mobile Phone & Broadband Coverage
Craig Williams MP and I, alongside the Home Office, have been progressing 16 new mobile masts across Montgomeryshire. Five masts have come online recently (Y Fan, Llanidloes, Llangynog, Staylittle and Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant). We can expect to see many other masts come online before the end of 2024.