It will be all change in the National Assembly in the Autumn with a new First Minister (following Carwyn Jones' decision to step down) and the recent resignation of the Welsh Conservative Leader in the Assembly, Andrew R.T. Davies, with whom I have had the privilege to serve since my election as Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire in 2011.
I have been a big supporter of Andrew and want to pay tribute to his service as Leader of the Opposition. I always felt that his down to earth leadership style somehow made politics more relevant to the people of Wales and he's made a massive contribution to Welsh politics.
The Welsh Conservative Party will now go through a process of electing a new leader and I have pledged my support to Paul Davies. Paul has a full understanding or rural Wales, and has much experience.
I hope you enjoy this edition of my newsletter and as always, if you would like to raise an issue with me, please get in touch in the usual way by phone on 01686 610887 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire
Rail Safety Project - Talerddig
A £7.5 million rail safety project along the Cambrian Railway in Talerddig has been completed and I was delighted to attend the launch with local county councillor, Cllr. Diane Jones-Poston (pictured above).
Network Rail invested £4.5m in the project in partnership with Welsh Government who dedicated the remaining £3m.
The enhancements were delivered by Powys County Council and include the construction of two kilometres of new highway and two new road-over-rail bridges spanning the Cambrian Line at Ystrad Fawr and Rallt.
The new bridges have enabled the closure of eight railway crossings, making it safer for people to cross the railway.
It’s fantastic to see the completed road scheme and bridges.This new road scheme has made a huge difference to a number of residents who had to cross the railway to get to and from their properties. It is a significant safety improvement and will also allow farmers to further invest in their businesses.
New Rail Franchise for Wales
The Welsh Government has recently made the major announcement that KeolisAmey has won the contract to operate the Welsh rail franchise from October 2018, taking over from Arriva Trains Wales.
In scrutinising the awarding of the new rail franchise, the National Assembly Committee which I have the privilege to chair, the Economy, Infrastructure Committee, has realised these things are not as simple as they first seem. In fact, it’s pretty tricky and I hope that the Committee has been able to influence the process in a constructive way.
From my own postbag from you, my constituents, and from my own recent experience of train journeys, we need to see an end to overcrowded trains and we need trains arriving on time; an available seat; wi-fi; and charging points as an absolute minimum.
The Welsh Government has said that the minimum requirement is that services will "at least be equivalent to those currently provided" and it is clear that public expectations for this home grown Welsh franchise will be high – particularly since, with a total public investment estimated at about £5 billion over 15 years, this will be the biggest contract awarded in Wales.
KeolisAmey have said that they will be working with Transport for Wales, which is a newly formed body responsible to the Welsh Government, to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.
We will have to wait a little longer before we know exactly what we in Mid Wales can expect. What we do know is that in terms of the Cambrian Line, Transport for Wales have confirmed that there will be one train per hour between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth (and I am seeking clarification on what this will mean in practice); that the operator will replace the entire fleet of class 158s with new diesel multiple units (DMUs) on the Cambrian line during 2022, providing extra seats on the busiest services; and after fears to the contrary, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport has confirmed that direct services to Birmingham will be part of the next Wales and Borders rail services agreement.
While this recent announcement signals a new era in Welsh rail travel, the travelling Mid Wales public will be waiting impatiently not just for details of the contract but for more frequent and better trains and better fare and ticketing options which integrate with the other modes of transport they use daily.
Ongoing NHS "Future Fit" Consultation
The public consultation on the future of NHS services in Shropshire is still open and if you haven't done so already, I hope that you will make your views known so that we have the best chance of getting a good deal for North Powys and ensure that the new emergency centre is located in Shrewsbury.
The series of pop-up style roadshows and public exhibitions are ongoing where people can drop-in at any time. They are listed below:
Neuadd y Dref
Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant
Eglys Dogfan Sant
Saint Dogfan’s Church
Horse and Jockey
Neuadd y Dref
Bear Lanes Shopping Centre
In addition, the NHS Future Fit team has a further Exhibition Event which will take place in Oswestry on 15th August at Cabin Lane Church from 3.30pm to 7.30pm.
The consultation can be viewed at the following dedicated NHS Future Fit website and is open until 4th September: https://nhsfuturefit.org
Survey Results: State of the Road Network 2018
Potholes and poorly maintained roads are a frustration for all of us. As well as making our journey uncomfortable, they can seriously damage vehicles as well as damaging the local economy. The condition of the road network in North Powys is an issue which is frequently raised with me so I recently conducted a survey to gain views.
The National Assembly's Economy, Infrastructure & Skills Committee has recently undertaken an inquiry which has looked at the state of roads across the whole of Wales. In addition, the Committee has examined the viability and value for money of major construction projects such as the Newtown Bypass.
While I conducted this survey as your Assembly Member, rather than on behalf of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee, your responses have helped me to understand your views on the "State of the Roads" in North Powys and have helped me to reflect these in questioning witnesses and Ministers during the inquiry.
The results are below.
More information of how to report defects with the local road network can be found here
Details about how your information will be used are available here
Consultation: Home to School Transport Policy
Powys County Council is currently consulting on a new Home to School/College Transport Policy.
The draft Policy and information about how to respond to the consultation is available on the Council’s website via the following link: www.powys.gov.uk/haveyoursay
The consultation period runs up until 20th July 2018.
If you require a hard copy of the Policy, please contact Powys County Council through the following routes:
• Email: email@example.com
• Phone: 01597 826128
• Schools Service, County Hall, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5LG
Advice Surgeries & Summer Events
I will be in the following areas for advice surgeries. Please call 01686 610887 for an appointment.
- Saturday 7 July - 10.30am – 12.30pm - Tregynon
- Monday 9 July - 2.00pm – 4.00pm - 13 Parker’s Lane, Newtown
- Saturday 21 July - 10.30am – 12.30pm - Joint Advice surgery with Cllr. Karl Lewis – Llandinam Village Hall
You can also make an appointment with me in either my Newtown or Welshpool office most Fridays. You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01686 610887.
I will also be at the following events and I hope to see many of you there. Feel free to contact me in advance if you would like to make an appointment to meet.
Dolfor Show - 4th August
Trefeglwys Show - 4th August
Guilsfield Show - 9th August
Llangurig District Show - 11th August
Llanfyllin Show - 11th August
Montgomery Show - 18th August
Carno Show - 18th August
Berriew Show - 25th August
Llanbrynmair Show - 27th August
Castle Caereinion Show - 27th August
Llanfair Caereinion Show - 1st September