October 2023 Newsletter
Welcome to my October 2023 Newsletter
This is a particularly busy update with a lot of topics covered including 20mph speed limits, air ambulance, proposals for pylons and much else besides.
As ever, I can help you with an issue or concern, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me by email - firstname.lastname@example.org
20mph Default Speed Limit Introduction
The Welsh Government’s regulations that change most 30mph speed restrictions to 20mph, came into force in September. There has been huge public reaction, including a petition on the Senedd website, that has led to hundreds of thousands of Welsh residents signing the petition and opposing the move.
While in some areas a reduced speed limit is appropriate, such as outside schools, and in many cases I have requested a change to 20mph myself, the blanket 20mph introduction is going to have a serious negative impact.
I voted against the Traffic order which was voted on in the Senedd last July for several reasons which you can view by clicking on the link below, where I also outline the response to my own survey on the issue, which is still open for those who have not yet completed this survey.
Apart from the vote on the traffic order last July, the Welsh Conservatives brought forward a further vote to scrap the default limit change. As it currently stands, and despite the widespread opposition, the Welsh Government are standing by this policy but I am pleased that there does seem to be a degree of willingness to review this policy and re-look at the guidance that has been issued to councils.
Air Ambulance Engagement Process
We have recently had details of stage two in the formal engagement process on the future of Wales Air Ambulance.
What is this all about and what do you need to do if you want to support the campaign to keep the Air Ambulance base in Welshpool? I hope my full article which you can view by clicking the link below will help to answer these questions and provide some useful background.
I find it strange that the modelling which is being consulted on between October 9th and November 5th 2023 has not yet been released.
Despite there being less than a week until the process begins again (in a phase lasting less than a month), we do not know what the public is being asked its views on. It is particularly important that this is released as soon as possible to allow maximum examination of its assumptions and outcomes.
This next stage in the engagement process will include in person meetings and drop-in sessions in Welshpool, Newtown, Machynlleth and other areas around Wales. Online attendance options will be available. Further, it will be possible to submit written views during that period.
Public meeting dates, times and locations are listed below:
Welshpool High School - 12th October - 18:30 to 19:30
Newtown High School - 13th October - 18:30 to 19:30
Machynlleth Rugby Club - 16th October - 12:00 to 15:00 (drop in).
Other sessions, including online, can be found through my full update.
This issue has gone on for over a year, but it is critically important that locally we remain clear that keeping Mid Wales' base at Welshpool open is vital. Our rural communities rely on this rapid response service. I'm asking you to keep engaged with the process and campaign.
Pylons and Windfarm Proposals
Bute Energy and Green GEN Cymru have recently opened a public consultation into their plans for a new windfarm development and substation within Montgomeryshire.
The proposals for the ‘Llyn Lort Energy Park’, which would be located southwest of Llanerfyl and west of Cefn Coch, will include the erection of up to 25 large wind turbines. With no current National Grid infrastructure capable of collecting and distributing generated power, the development would also include a substation through the Vyrnwy Valley, connecting the energy parks through large lattice pylons and a new 132 kv overhead line linking to the main grid connecting in Shropshire.
Montgomeryshire well remembers 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 developers. It is vital that renewable energy companies ensure that they take communities with them, rather than imposing projects upon Mid Wales.
I raised this matter with the First Minister in the Senedd again just this week. I am clear that the current proposals are not acceptable, but to help ensure that local views are heard, I have created a joint survey with Craig Williams MP. Responses will help us present our and the communities views too.
News that Lloyd Fraser had gone into administration and had its operating license revoked recently has been a real local concern.
This is of course extremely sad news, and both Craig Williams MP and I will continue to support as we can – especially staff from the Four Crosses depot who are directly affected. It is key that they get the support they need.
We know that Lloyd Fraser are one of the biggest contract milk hauliers in the area. Muller alone collects 1,200,000 litres of milk from Montgomeryshire’s dairy farms per day. It is critical that contingency measures are used to keep this milk flowing from farmers to supermarkets.
There is dispute about the administration process and its necessity, which we continue to watch closely.
We are both keen to support as much as we can to ensure disruption to dairy farmers across Montgomeryshire is kept to a minimum.
Changes to Education
Over a period of many years, Powys County Council has been reorganising education in Powys which has involved new schools being built, the closure of some schools and a change of language from a dual stream to Welsh only education in some schools.
There are current proposals to change the language category of Ysgol Bro Caereinion to a Welsh medium only Secondary School. There are also plans back on the table to review the Llanfyllin catchment area for Primary education, and school closures proposals have also been published. Further, there is current consideration of closing two schools in Newtown (Maesyrhandir and Treowen) and increasing the size of the new Ysgol Calon y Dderwen to take the additional pupil numbers.
Powys County Council will have to carry out public consultations on each of its proposals as their plans progress.
Owain Glyndŵr Day
Owain Glyndŵr led a 15-year Welsh revolt against Henry IV and English rule which began in 1400. I have visited the first Welsh Parliament in Machynlleth many times but ahead of Owain Glyndŵr Day in mid-September, I visited two other important locations.
I was pleased to visit St Silin’s Church at Llansilin, along with my Senedd colleague Tom Giffard MS, to meet with the Church Committee. It was good to hear about and discuss proposals for developing part of the Church into a Cultural and Heritage Centre dedicated to Owain Glyndŵr who worshipped at the Church.
Following this I had the opportunity, with ward County Councillor Aled Davies, to visit the site of Sycharth Castle, Owain Glyndŵr's former home.
We met with Dan Llywelyn Hall, a very talented local painter known for his landscape and portrait paintings. He has painted a portrait of Owain Glyndŵr. It was particularly special to unveil the painting at Sycharth, where Owain Glyndŵr lived with his wife Margaret Hanmer and their eleven children.
I feel strongly that it is important to protect our heritage and ensure access to these historical sites so the people of Wales can learn more about our shared history. I was pleased to be able to make this point in the Senedd in September.
Fraud Awareness Day
Together with Craig Williams MP, I am hosting a Fraud Awareness Drop In Session on Friday 27th October between 10:30 to 12:30 at Welshpool's St Mary Church House.
It will bring together a range of organisations that will offer support and advice on fraud awareness, and who will be able to help with any queries which residents have. Entry to the event is free and all are welcome to attend. There is no need to book ahead.
With incidents of fraud becoming significantly more sophisticated and frequent over recent years, it is great to be able to host this drop-in session with a wide range of organisations, who will be able to offer key advice and assistance to individuals and businesses.