Senedd Bites #9: New Schools, Pricey Booze

(Title Image: Evening Standard)

Second phase of 21st Century Schools Programme launched

The next phase (“Band B”) of the school building programme called 21st Century Schools was launched last week by Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor).

The scheme will spend an estimated £2.3billion starting from April 2019 and will use new models to raise finance known as the Mutual Investment Model where private partners will charge a fee to the Welsh Government for a fixed term contract, after which the asset transfers to public ownership.

Gender pay gap data makes mixed reading for Wales

Blaenau Gwent has one of the largest pay gaps in favour of men in the UK, according to a new report by the BBC. However, in north Wales, in particular, the pay gap is actually in the other direction with women, on average, earning more than men, explained by higher numbers of public sector jobs which are traditionally taken up by women.

Taken as a whole, men still earn, on average, more than women per hour worked; the difference across the UK is 9% in favour of men.

Senedd launches new online platform

The way information about the Senedd is presented has been given a significant upgrade.

The Record” – which includes documents, plenary & committee transcripts, and AMs questions – is now more user-friendly, mobile/tablet friendly, comes with an improved search function and allows users to find out what precisely their local AMs have asked or said. It also allows you to create custom daily order papers.

Consultation launched on major trauma centre

A public consultation has started on plans to create a major trauma centre in Cardiff, amidst warnings that if south Wales doesn’t have such a centre five seriously-injured patients would die every month.

North and Mid Wales is already covered by trauma centres at Stoke, but there have been disagreements over whether a Welsh centre should be based at Morriston Hospital in Swansea or University Hospital, Cardiff.

A panel of experts decided that Cardiff was the better option due to its proximity to the Welsh Children’s Hospital and neurosurgery facilities (which themselves were centralised from Swansea). Advocates for Swansea believed it was better placed because it covers a larger population and is already a centre of excellence for burns for Wales and south-west England.

Welsh Government cleared to introduce Minimum Alcohol Price

The UK Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Scottish whiskey-makers to strike down a minimum alcohol price in Scotland and, as a result, Wales can proceed with the recently-introduced Minimum Alcohol Price Bill.

The unanimous judgement was greeted by Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) who said, “we welcome this clear, unanimous judgment that minimum pricing is an appropriate and proportionate means of tackling hazardous and harmful drinking.”