I am involved in many campaigns and community matters. If you would like to be updated on matters not mentioned in this month’s newsletter, please do feel free to contact me.
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Russell George AM
Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire
Closure of Pain Clinic: Gobowen Hospital
The closure of the pain clinic at RJAH (Gobowen Hospital) has caused concern for many of the 400 residents that use the service in Mid Wales. The Chronic Pain Management Service helped people who suffered from on-going long term chronic pain and has been at RJAH for many years. However, due to the changes regarding certain injections which have been recently introduced by the body which provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care, this particular service at RJAH was terminated on 31st March 2019.
Over recent months, I have had contact with both the CEO’s of Powys Teaching Health Board and the RJAH. Details provided to me for those requiring continuing treatment has been vague. This has caused concern and in my latest meeting last week with the CEO of Powys Teaching Health Board, Carol Shillabeer, I was able to express my continued unease and concern and ask for a further update on the new arrangements for pain management.
For all new referrals from their GP, new patients will be directed to the Pain Management Clinic in Bronllys, near Brecon. All existing patients who have received the various treatments from RJAH should have received a joint response from Powys Teaching Health board and RJAH. If patients who have been receiving regular treatment at RJAH have not received any communication from PTHB or RJAH with regards to their future arrangements for treatment, then please get in touch with me.
I told the Health Board that Bronllys near Brecon is not a suitable location for Montgomeryshire patients and CEO Carol Shillabeer agreed that a clinic, located in Montgomeryshire, would be explored and a suitable location investigated. I will do all I can to urge the Health Board to ensure a local clinic is offered and provided in Montgomeryshire.
Should Prisoners have the vote?..
The Welsh Government have said that they support the principal of Welsh prisoners being able to vote in Assembly and local elections. This is something that other parties in the Assembly are also supporting.
I joined fellow Welsh Conservative colleagues in voting against giving prisoners the vote in an Assembly vote earlier this year. The vote that took place does not change the law, but the Labour Welsh Government is examining whether prisoners can take part in elections, and the matter is going to come back to the Assembly. There was no mention of giving prisoners the right to vote from the parties supporting this proposal (Labour, Plaid, Liberal Democrats) in their Welsh Assembly election manifestos and there appears to be very little public support for the proposal.
A 2017 YouGov survey found that a majority of Britons did not want any prisoners to have the a vote, and that a greater proportion of those in Wales and the Midlands were against such plans, with 60% of those questioned opposed.
I remain steadfastly against extending further prisoner voting rights. I believe that existing arrangements, which extend to those on remand and yet to be convicted, and those serving part of their sentence in the community, are appropriate. There should be no changes to these arrangements without the public having their say by endorsing such a move through a manifesto commitment. The fact that attempts are being made to introduce this when taxpaying and law-abiding citizens of Wales have not been consulted on this matter in disappointing.
Last Saturday I launched by own consultation in an attempting to capture public views. Many thanks to local volunteers who helped me delivery surveys on Saturday in Welshpool.
In my view, rights go with responsibilities, and not voting is just one of the facts of life arising from being in prison, reflecting a decision by the community that the person concerned is not suitable to participate in the decision-making process of a community.
Some AMs say they want to enhance the human rights of prisoners. But instead of extending the right to vote to all prisoners, my view is that our priority must be the human rights of the victims.
Water releases at Lake Vyrnwy & Llyn Clywedog
I have raised the issue of the recent high river levels and flooding downstream of Llyn Cylwedog and Lake Vyrnwy with both Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Government to gain assurances for communities and residents who have been affected.
The recent high river levels within the Severn and Vyrnwy catchments has resulted in the overflowing of the dams during heavy rainfall, after prolonged periods of dry weather.
Natural Resources Wales set up a liaison group some years ago which meets twice a year. I have asked to attend one of their future meetings.
Newtown Bypass After Works
Now the bypass is open to traffic, I thought it would be a good time to update you in terms of ‘de-trunking’ the road through Newtown and other associated works.
The new bypass has now become the main trunk road for which the Welsh Government is responsible and the roads through Newtown known as the A483 and A489 have now become the responsibility of Powys County Council.
There are repairs scheduled to be carried out by Powys County Council which the Welsh Government has agreed to fund as part of the Council taking over these roads. In addition, utility companies are now waiting to upgrade and carry out renewal works in and around Newtown but these works were put on hold until the bypass opened to avoid further traffic congestion through the town.
Other areas around the town will be reviewed including some traffic light systems and pedestrian facilities. Funding will have to be sourced for any changes that will be needed from this review.
Initial adjustments have already been made to the traffic light systems and traffic flows will need time to settle in over the next few months as we all experiment and establish new routes off the bypass and around the town. There will be ongoing monitoring, and further tweaks will follow once new driving patterns are established.
There is still work being carried out along the bypass including highway boundary fencing, landscaping and planting at various locations and final works completed at Dolfor roundabout and Mochdre Estate link. An evaluation of the bypass will be carried out next year, 12 months after opening. This review will consider whether the scheme objectives have been met such as improved safety, a reduction in traffic through Newtown, improved air quality and the benefits of the bypass to the town and the wider economy.