Senedd Bites #26: Investment

(Title Image: Wales Online)

£266million infrastructure investment announced

On May 1st, Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West) announced an additional £266million of infrastructure investment as part of a review of the ten-year National Infrastructure Plan.

The plans include £60million for active travel, £60million for health projects, £30million to superfast broadband, £30million towards transport projects in the Cardiff city region, £15million for schools, £15million for recycling, £9.5million for tourist improvements at Cadw sites and £25million for the automotive sector in Ebbw Vale.

He said, “The mid-point review is an opportunity to look back at what we’ve achieved since the WIIP was published in 2012. But it also provides a timely opportunity to consider the future direction of our infrastructure investment.”

Welsh mothers to be first in the UK to get new Down’s Syndrome test

A new blood test will be made available to Welsh mothers in order to check whether their foetus has Down’s Syndrome, the Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth), announced last Friday.

At present mothers need to have the amniotic fluid tested, which has a small risk of triggering a miscarriage. Campaigners did, however, raise concerns that the new test could lead to an increase in the number of Down’s foetuses (as well as those with other genetic diseases like Edward’s Syndrome and Patau’s Syndrome) being aborted.

Potential Labour leadership candidate launches “big consultation” website

So far, only one potential candidate for the Labour leadership in Wales has formally announced their intention to stand (Mark Drakeford).

One of the other potential front-runners, Minister for the Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales), hasn’t formally confirmed her intention to stand (yet) but has instead launched a new website to gather views on what the public want for Wales.

Maybe people may have jumped the gun a little bit in demanding or expecting people to announce their intentions now as there’s potentially a good 4/5 months before any leadership contest is held.

Five health boards use body cameras to deter staff attacks

Five Welsh health boards have introduced body cameras to record violent attacks by patients, with the cameras being used by security staff and enforcement officers (parking & smoking) according to BBC Wales.

More than 15,000 recorded incidents of attacks on NHS staff were recorded by the Aneurin Bevan health board over the last five years alone and staff said the use of cameras meant it was no longer a case of “our word against theirs”. Some staff claimed they were attacked on a weekly basis.

Children’s services “at crisis point”

A 149% increase in the number of children taken into care by court order (aka. forced adoptions, Section 31 order) over the last nine years was reported to have pushed local authority children’s social services to a crisis.

Cllr. Geraint Hopkins, a spokesperson for children at the WLGA, said more needed to be done to intervene earlier to prevent children going into care as well as to make sure councils had the right resources.

The average cost of a foster placement can be up to £43,000 a year, while residential social care can cost anything up to £16,000 a week for complex needs.

Cardiff-Doha flights start

See also: Flag carrier – The case for a Welsh airline

The first scheduled Qatar Airways flight between Doha and Cardiff landed on May 1st. The air link will enable passengers to travel along long-haul routes to Asia, Africa, and Oceania from Cardiff using Doha’s international hub airport.

The First Minister said, “This week marks the result of 2 years of hard work – with Welsh Government and Cardiff Airport working together to put forward an attractive proposal to bring this service to Wales. The direct flight opens up the prospect of further investment, and the Welsh Government will continue to maximise opportunities to raise Wales’ profile in new global markets.”

AM exclusion confirmed for racial slur

On May 2nd, Michelle Brown AM (UKIP, North Wales) was excluded from the Assembly for a week without pay after the Standards Committee concluded she had broken the Code of Conduct after being recorded privately using a racial slur to describe Labour’s Chuka Umunna MP.

Her party group leader, Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales), argued that a ban would interfere with the rights of the electorate, while Neil McEvoy AM (Ind, South Wales Central) argued the best way to deal with it was at the ballot box, accusing other AMs of “virtue-signalling”.

In the end, 38 AMs voted in favour of the exclusion, with 1 abstention and 3 against.