Off the buses?
Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr) raised the matter of First Group are considering divesting themselves of bus services across the UK – including services in southern and western Wales. While there’s a white paper out on re-regulating bus services, Adam Price saw this as an opportunity to return bus services to public ownership and operation:
“I was wondering if the First Minister would care to say whether the acquisition of First Cymru could be a great opportunity for Swansea to follow the Cardiff Bus and Newport Bus models, and indeed you could say there are similarities with the situation in Cardiff Airport, in demonstrating how good public service provision can produce returns for the taxpayer, rather than profits for the shareholder.”
– Adam Price AM
The First Minister said the white paper was one way to reverse an ideologically-driven trend for local authorities to outsource public services to private companies. Ultimately, it’ll be for Swansea Council and other local authorities to decide whether they want to take over from First Cymru should the time come, or whether they want to wait for any future legislation resulting from the white paper.
Teacher recruitment targets missed
Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.), said teacher training targets have been continuously missed for several years.
“First Minister, these figures are very, very worrying, because the number of those training to teach at secondary level was 40% below the target, while the number of students taking primary level courses was 11% below the target. This means 370 fewer students gained qualified teacher status in 2017-18 compared to four years ago, and we’ve also seen the number of trained teacher entrants from Wales on secondary school courses in Wales drop by 37% over the last four years….”
– Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM
Paul Davies added that in order to meet the 2050 target of a million Welsh-speakers, more Welsh-speaking teachers will need to be recruited and trained – yet only 10% of trainee teachers are able to teach through the medium of Welsh.
The First Minister said the “generous” offer made to trainee teachers was being continuously reformed and there had been successes in recruiting primary school teachers too. Teacher training offers will be extended to include part-time university students in order to attract people from different parts of the workforce into teaching.
Don’t stop believing
Following the First Minister’s recent conversion to supporting a second Brexit referendum, Mark Reckless AM (BXP, South Wales East) said the First Minister was now leading a Remain establishment that tells people they’re ignorant; “When did you stop believing in democracy?”
Unsurprisingly, the First Minister rejected the assertion. The Welsh Government had worked on the basis that a deal could be done without harming the Welsh economy, but:
“It is clear to me that the Conservative leadership contest means that it is now impossible a deal can be struck, because the contest is between candidates who seek to outvie each other by declaring harder and harder forms of Brexit, and that means that those efforts which we made – we made in absolute good faith, we made them for as long as we possibly could – have reached the point where they no longer can be credibly pursued.”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West)
He went on to say that the position agreed by the Senedd in January was that if a Brexit deal couldn’t be reached, then “we must go back to the people”.