Senedd Bites #46: Extra cash for councils

(Title Image: Wales Online)

No council will face a cut of more than 0.5% in revised budget plans

The Welsh Government have announced an additional £24million for local councils for 2019-20 and beyond as a result of additional money allocated to Wales in the recent UK budget.

£14.2million will go directly to council budgets, with the remainder going to fund an increase in teacher’s pay (over two years) and children’s services. The revised proposals will also mean no council will face more than a 0.5% cut next year; the original plans would’ve seen five councils face 1% cuts.

The WLGA offered a cautious welcome to the announcement but warned that more needed to be done to end austerity.

Rail operator apologises for taking trains out of service

Transport for Wales has apologised – including publishing a full-page advert in the Western Mail – for taking up to a quarter of its train fleet out of service for repairs, leading to a number of cancellations and rail replacement buses.

The withdrawals are blamed on a mix of damage caused by Storm Callum and general autumn problems such as wheel slippage.

The apology said, ” We’re sorry that over recent weeks too many trains have been cancelled, delayed, or have arrived with fewer carriages than normal.

“We know that overcrowding and uncertainty are big challenges for people, and we want to apologise that you have haven’t received the service you deserve and expect.”

Arms fair moves to Birmingham

The Defence Procurement Research Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) event, due to take place in Cardiff in the March 2019, has moved to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

As a result, the Economy Secretary, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South) will no longer be a keynote speaker – something Plaid Cymru recently raised in the Senedd chamber.

The Secretary denied that pressure from Plaid Cymru played a part in the decision and it was expected DPRTE will return to Cardiff in 2020.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said, “Some of these organisations and businesses are at the forefront of combating cyber terrorism and data theft, which are huge threats to the people of Wales and our very democracy. They also manufacture items that keep our armed forces safe, including protective clothing, tents and first aid kits.”

Worries “Lucy’s Law” could lead to dog slaughter

The dog welfare charity, Cariad, has warned that proposals in Wales to introduce a ban on third-party sales of puppies and kittens – to clamp down on unethical “puppy farming” – could lead to owners mass slaughtering breeding dogs.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Government announced plans for a consultation on introducing “Lucy’s Law” in Wales, but campaigners warned that many dog breeders in Wales were already handing over breeding dogs in light of law changes. Since April 2015, owners with three or more breeding bitches need to be registered with their local authority.

Welsh Government launches international study pilot

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor) launched a three-year £1.3million pilot to enable Welsh university students to study abroad. The placements will range from 2 to 8 weeks in length and are aimed at students who might’ve otherwise been unable to undertake a period of study abroad, such as those with caring responsibilities.

The Education Secretary said, “At a time when it’s never been more important for our students and graduates to be global citizens, we need to ensure that international opportunities are an aspiration for many more students.

“As someone who benefited hugely from time studying abroad as an undergraduate, I know how such an experience broadens horizons, expands key skills and ensures connections that last a lifetime.”