Senedd Bites #97: Cash boost to create “Covid-proof streets”

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£15million funding for Covid-proof streets

The Welsh Government has awarded £15.4million of grant funding to local authorities to finance projects to make it easier for people to get around by public transport, foot or by bike whilst respecting pandemic social distancing measures.

While the measures are temporary it’s hoped this may be the first step in a long-term project to encourage people to switch from cars to other forms of transport.

Deputy Economy & Transport Minister, Lee Waters (Lab, Llanelli) said: “it’s clear we’ve got to take action now to lock-in for the long-term many of those changed behaviours we have seen by making a positive choice to reallocate road space in our town centres and our communities and to give it over to better active travel infrastructure.”

Dentists raise concerns about access to PPE

A Cardiff dentist has expressed worries about an inability to order PPE from England as dental surgeries prepare to accept more patients in Wales from July.

Despite Welsh stocks of PPE being used to boost stock across the UK, PPE suppliers based in England are reserving stocks for English dental practices. A similar situation occurred with care homes earlier in the pandemic.

The Welsh Government said: “Any shortages, which are not able to be addressed locally, have been managed via NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership and PPE has been supplied directly to dentists.”

Extra cash for fire service to respond to national emergencies

The Welsh Government has given Wales’ three fire and rescue services and an additional £3million to help their response to future national emergencies.

While the current focus is on the coronavirus pandemic, the money covers all types of disasters ranging from serious chemical and nuclear incidents to flooding and serious incidents like terror attacks and collapsed buildings.

Protective equipment and vehicles will be upgraded and maintained, while personnel will be trained to operate special vehicles for national and UK-level emergencies.

Deputy Minister for Local Government & Housing, Hannah Blythyn (Lab, Delyn) said: “The recent pandemic and flooding has shown us the importance of having these capabilities and equipment in place. This funding will ensure this capability is maintained and can be flexibly and readily deployed to provide a more secure Wales with increased well-being for everyone.”

Contractor shortlisted for final stages of A465 dualling project

The Future Valleys consortium – made up of Alun Griffiths, Atkins, Roadbridge and others – has been selected as the preferred bidder for work to complete the A465 dualling project.

The works will cover Sections 5 and 6 between Hirwaun and Dowlais Top. A final contract is set to be rewarded in October 2020.

The A465 dualling project was originally supposed to be completed by this year and has been affected by high-profile cost overruns.

Economy & Transport Minister, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South) said he expects the project to be worth £675million to the Welsh economy, with at least £400million directly spent within Wales. The current estimated completion date is some time in 2024.