Zero carbon homes
With the Welsh Government accepting in principle that all new affordable homes should be as close to zero carbon as possible by 2021, Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) asked whether this would this apply to live planning applications?
The Minister’s answer effectively boiled down to “No” as it’s subject to existing local development plans; it wasn’t simple to change them in an instant.
This wasn’t good enough:
“If the view of the Government….is that the declaration of a climate emergency means that environmental considerations should have greater weight in planning….then surely you should accept that all planning decisions should now be attaching greater weight to environmental considerations than would have been….before you declared a climate emergency? Will you, therefore, put on the record that that is your Government’s view, and if you’re not prepared to do that, can you explain the inconsistency that will invariably result?”
– Leanne Wood AM
The Minister didn’t think there was any inconsistency. The Welsh Government can issue guidance but they couldn’t take away decision-makers’ weighting of different factors.
Helping disabled people into work
Shadow Communities Minister, Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales), attended a recent event for young disabled people and believes society has often failed to recognise their talent, creativity and ability to see the world in a different way to the rest of us. How would the needs of the disabled be properly taken into account in the Welsh Government’s new fair work programmes?
The Minister hinted there may be incentives for companies to up their game:
“…we will be looking, as part of our fair work agenda, through the economic contract, and otherwise, to reward companies that step up to that plate, and to make sure that, through our trade union colleagues, and through our social partnership working, we drive the kind of culture and behaviours that encourage and reward good employers to come forward, and make sure that they do that in that way.”
– Housing & Local Government Minister, Julie James (Lab, Swansea West)
“Strong response needed” to town & community council independence support
As some of you may be aware, some town and community councils – mainly with Plaid Cymru majorities, it has to be said – have passed motions declaring support for Welsh independence. Gwynedd is set to be the first county council to vote on such a motion tomorrow (18th July 2019).
With this in mind, Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) asked for something to be done:
“….this Parliament and your Welsh Government benefits greatly from Wales being an integral part of our UK. Whilst I appreciate that independence is only supported by around 1.5% of all town and community councils in Wales, I believe that a strong response is needed from your Government. Will you, therefore, confirm that the Welsh Government will not use these votes as an excuse to reassess Wales and its place within the Union?”
– Janet Finch-Saunders AM
The Minister said the Welsh Government continues to support Wales remaining in the UK, but this was local democracy in action and she wasn’t in a position to say one way or another whether town and community councils should be discussing independence. That said, the Union had to change.
Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West) suggested under-investment and a high-handed attitude towards devolved powers by the UK Government is leaving people few options but to think about independence.
While the Minister shared frustrations over what the current UK Government was doing, she didn’t share his concerns on the UK itself.