(Title Image: Rhydgaled via Flickr and the Creative Commons Licence)
Westminster Committee backs devolution of APD to Wales
The Welsh Affairs Select Committee has recommended that air passenger duty be devolved to Wales in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Competing airports such as Bristol have long argued that devolving the levy would give Cardiff Airport a competitive advantage.
Committee Chair, David Davies MP (Con, Monmouth) said, “I’m not often persuaded by arguments for devolution, but the evidence my Committee heard about the benefits of devolving APD was absolutely convincing. The UK Government needs to recognise these opportunities for Wales and demonstrate its commitment to equity within the devolution system by setting out a plan for devolving APD to Wales by 2021.”
Electoral reforms delayed until Sixth Assembly
The Llywydd announced that plans to increase the number of AMs and/or change the voting system for Senedd elections will be shelved until after 2021. It follows a failure between parties to reach a political agreement on the way forward.
Labour argued that while they’re not opposed to increasing the number of AMs, the policy should be backed by the electorate through a manifesto commitment.
Campaigners for electoral reform and Prof. Laura McAllister – who chaired a review into reforming the Senedd – expressed their disappointment at the decision.
Work continues on establishing a Welsh community bank
As the Senedd’s Economy & Infrastructure Committee begin an inquiry into bank closures, the people behind the Banc Cambria venture revealed to BBC Wales that work on establishing a mutual bank was progressing well.
Board member, Mark Hooper, said the bank aims to offer current accounts, business accounts and mortgages, but will require a banking licence. The First Minister included a community bank in his 2018 leadership manifesto and the Welsh Government have already said they’re working behind the scenes to support developments.
Most over-75s will have to pay for TV licence from next year
The BBC announced that over-75s who aren’t receiving pension credit will have to pay for their TV licences from June 2020. The Conservative-Lib Dem UK coalition government delegated responsibility for funding free licences for the elderly to the BBC, while the Conservatives campaigned to maintain free TV licences at the 2017 UK General Election.
It’s estimated abolishing free licences for most over-75s will save £495million a year.
Mental health patients “needlessly” sent to England
The charity Hafal criticised the routine sending of Welsh mental health patients to England, even though treatment places were available in Wales. Around 300 patients with serious mental health problems or learning disabilities were sent to England in 2018.
The charity said it’s struggled to fill beds at a new unit near Pontardawe despite pressures health boards in south Wales were under to find places for patients.
The Welsh Government told BBC Wales that the number of mental health patients being sent out of the country was falling and it was only happening for patients requiring highly specialised services.
Cardiff to host extreme sport games
Cardiff has been selected to host the annual World Nitro Games in May 2020 at the Principality Stadium. Events include BMX, skating and freestyle motocross.
Deputy Minister for Culture, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meironnydd) said: “Many of the world’s leading action sports athletes will compete in the unique atmosphere of the Principality Stadium, and I’m sure their gravity-defying tricks will provide the tens of thousands of spectators with a breath-taking experience.”