I report on a number of areas which I have been recently involved with.
I continue to work closely with my colleague Craig Williams MP. If you would like to receive Craig’s monthly newsletter via email which provides news on his work in Montgomeryshire and Westminster, please click here.
As always, you can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 01686 610887 if you believe I can support you in any way.
Russell George MS
Member of the Senedd for Montgomeryshire
This Monday, I joined Craig Williams MP in welcoming the Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart MP to Montgomeryshire and met with those connected with the restoration of the Montgomery Canal.
Support for Montgomery Canal via UK Government Funding
This Monday, Craig Williams MP and I welcomed the Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart MP to Montgomeryshire to meet with the fantastic volunteers who have been working on the Montgomery Canal for many years. The Montgomery Canal Partnership and Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust have been campaigning tirelessly for many years to restore sections of the canal.
Last month, I formally wrote to the UK Government to ask them to support Powys County Council's bid via the UK Levelling-Up fund to support the restoration of the Montgomery Canal. It is also hoped that funding for this important project will be supported via funding from the Mid Wales Growth Deal.
Both Craig Williams MP and I are committed to supporting the restoration of the canal. The bid aims to undertake the majority of the phased restoration on the Montgomery canal to create a flagship visitor attraction and community resources.
The project would focus on the restoration and navigation of sections of the canal from the Wales-England border into Montgomeryshire. I am an active supporter of the canal restoration which would protect the Montgomery Canal's unique natural and built environment and make it accessible, appreciated and protected for the benefit of local people and visitors to Montgomeryshire.
National Lottery Funding in Montgomeryshire
It was a pleasure to recently meet up with Cheryl Jarman, Chairperson of Treowen Community Hall. Ryan from Sports Powys also joined the visit. Cheryl, with many others from the management committee, worked hard to obtain a National Lottery Community Funded grant to replace an old tennis court and build a new Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) in Treowen. It is a great facility for the estate and wider area, and Cheryl was telling me how many use the facility both in the day and evening.
The National Lottery Community Fund team have also updated me on a few other more recent local awards. A total of £135,875 of National Lottery funding was awarded by The National Lottery Community Fund in Montgomeryshire from March to June 2021.
- Mach Maethlon Limited will use £99,952 over two and a half years to increase local food resilience, and improve food equity through supporting local people to grow, cook and eat locally grown foods.
- Berriew Community Council received £10,000 to renovate the public toilets in the village, making them accessible to all.
- Radiate Arts CIC were awarded £9,973 to continue running a series of participant-planned and led creative workshops in Powys for veterans who live with PTSD, to help with their mental wellbeing and rehabilitation.
- Clatter Community Centre Limited will use the grant of £9,250 to create a meeting room and IT suite in the village hall, for use by the local community.
- Cain Valley Tech Repair C.I.C. were also successful with a grant of £6,700 to offer a voluntary repair service for IT, phones, and electrical items, targeted at people who are isolated or in poverty.
- Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations has received a £39,756 grant through The National Lottery Community Fund’s Helping End Homelessness programme. They will use the funding to deliver a programme of support across Powys that will help people experiencing homelessness, and to prevent people from becoming homeless.
This week, the Prime Minister has set out that subject to several tests being met, nearly all Covid restrictions will end in England on July 19th. The Welsh Government has not set out any date for restrictions to end in Wales. The First Minister has now confirmed that he will make a statement next Wednesday regarding the potential lifting of restrictions in Wales.
My view is that it’s long been clear we would have to learn to live with this virus. Sadly, Coronavirus can’t be eliminated and whilst many people will be understandably cautious about the easing of restrictions, no date will ever come with zero Covid risk.
My view remains that Governments should work together regarding restrictions and that different rules each side of our border will clearly cause confusion if they are significantly different.
Next Wednesday, we will be in a clearer position as to what rules may remain in place.
For the up to date information on the current Covid restrictions in Wales, click here.
On Friday, I had a further update from Powys Teaching Health Board on the vaccination programme here in Powys.
We are now in a third wave in Powys, with cases increasing which is not unexpected given what is occurring in other parts of the UK. Cases are rising particularly in the younger age groups. However, we are not seeing a rise in hospitalisations, as a result of the successful UK wide vaccination programme.
The Health Board also confirmed that there is no issue in terms of vaccination supply into Powys. 61% of the total population have now had the first and second dose. By the end of this month, every adult in Powys should have been offered their second dose, which is a great achievement, and I fully commend the work of Powys Teaching Health Board.
For the latest information on the vaccination programme, you can read the Health Board's daily update here.
Raising issues affecting our Farming Industry
In the Senedd Chamber, I recently raised the concern about some TB infected cattle not being detected by Welsh Government tests. We are not going to eradicate bovine TB if the Welsh Government's own tests fail to pick up TB infected cattle.
I also spoke in a further Welsh Conservative debate last month, which noted the adverse impact of the all-Wales nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) on Welsh agriculture. Our debate also called for a relevant Senedd committee to urgently review The Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2021 and present its recommendations to the Senedd.
Funding for important bus route confirmed
I have raised the issue of bus funding for rural areas many times in the Senedd. Last year, I raised the particular issue of the loss of the bus route 72 which operated in the North Powys.
Following a funding bid process conducted by Powys County Council, it has been agreed that funding will support the resumption of bus route 72 which operated in the Llanfyllin and Llansantffraid areas. This has now started operating again.
This is very welcome news, and means that there is now a regular bus route serving Llanfyllin and Llansantffraid, and once again connecting communities in North Powys to Oswestry. The service has started to operate every day from Monday to Saturday. This now means that people can use the bus service for shopping, to get to work, and will allow people to access health services. Many in the local community lobbied for this service to resume, so my thanks to all who put in so much work.
Investment confirmed for Bro Ddyfi Community Hospital
The community has lobbied for investment for Bro Ddyfi Community Hospital in Machynlleth and I am extremely pleased that the plans to develop a new community ‘hub’, to improve health, social care and well-being facilities will finally become a reality.
This has been a long time coming, and the development will firmly establish the hospital as a Wellbeing Hub, helping to deliver care closer to home within Montgomeryshire. Apart from the Health and well-being benefits to the community, the building is of historic significance for the local community, so the long overdue essential repairs will ensure its survival and make a real difference to the community and its heritage.
I am extremely pleased that the new facility will bring the GP practice, NHS, Social Care and third sector colleagues together, to provide a joined up care and well-being service for local patients.