The Welsh Liberal Democrats have launched their proposal for the Mid Wales Growth deal at a public meeting and Q&A in Welshpool. The proposal was launched by Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable and Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds.
Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable has urged the UK Government to immediately give the go-ahead for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon to kickstart a series of lagoons across the UK, including at Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay.
Jane Dodds has added her voice to the calls for the UK Government to abandon its plans to remove the right of women seeking refuge from domestic abuse to claim Housing Benefit.
Responding to a leaked document showing Hywel Dda health board is considering the closure of Glangwili hospital in Carmarthen, Prince Phillip hospital in Llanelli and Withybush hospital in Haverfordwest, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for local hospitals and rural health services to be protected.
Responding to comments by the BMA’s Welsh General Practitioners Committee that a full Gender Identity Clinic service is unlikely to be made available in Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent assessment on progress on the establishment of Wales' first Gender Identity Clinic.
A new campaign encouraging parents, carers and guardians to take time to talk, listen and play to help their child’s language development and communication skills has been launched by the Welsh Government.
The announcement of the first direct ferry service between Ireland and Spain from the end of April poses numerous concerning questions about the future of Welsh ports after Brexit.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have thrown their support behind plans to ban the smacking of children by ending the defence of reasonable chastisement.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds commented:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently supported banning smacking by ending the defence of reasonable chastisement. This common sense step is supported by children’s organisations across Wales and gives children the same protections from assault as their adult peers.
“Smacking is counterproductive, it makes children more likely to misbehave whilst increasing the risk of childhood aggression and anxiety and adult aggression and mental illness. We must protect our children from these harms and ensure the relationship between parents and children remains one of love and not fear.”
The shambolic reshuffle has highlighted the crisis at the heart of the UK Government and the Conservative party. Following months of chaos in Brexit negotiations and the departure of four Cabinet members in the past three months, the Conservatives cannot even tweet out the correct names in a reshuffle.
Coming after the sacking of one cabinet member and the resignation of another, this reshuffle was never going to address the issues at the heart of this Government. A Government that has been directionless since the disastrous snap general election last year that cost Theresa May her majority, mandate and authority.
In the meantime, the Foreign Secretary’s careless remarks have put Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe at risk, the Brexit Secretary has overseen repeated confusion over the Brexit impact assessment papers, economic growth has stagnated and the Government has consistently failed to take the big decisions such as giving the go ahead for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
“This botched reshuffle is a damming indictment of the UK Government. We knew that this was a Government in crisis, but I at least thought the Conservatives would be able to competently carry out their own reshuffle. It seems I expected too much.
“This is perhaps the only Government where four Cabinet members could leave within three months and it still be three cabinet members too few. It is disappointing that despite the Foreign Secretary directly putting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in danger and the chaos within Brexit negotiations both Boris Johnson and David Davis remain in place.
“I hope that following the reshuffle the Government will refocus on the numerous serious issues it faces with far greater success than they have done previously. The government must quickly negotiate a comprehensive Brexit transitional deal, give the green light to the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, pause the rollout of universal credit and get to grips with the crisis in prisons.”
Over 1100 homes across Wales have been empty for 10 years or more research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. These homes are part of the over 22,000 empty homes in Wales.
Only three Local Authorities in Wales have made use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO), powers used by Local Authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least two years. This is despite the fact that some local families have spent Christmas without a home.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
“Empty homes are a blight on their communities. At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a scandal that so many homes remain empty.
“The current system clearly isn’t working. Wales urgently needs a national strategy from the Welsh Government to end this empty homes crisis. Councils must be given the powers they need to bring empty homes back into use. Councils, Welsh Government and the UK Government must address the issue of empty homes together as part of a wider package to tackle homelessness and the housing crisis.
“Access to safe and affordable housing is essential to create opportunity for people across Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have a proud record of creating affordable housing and we will continue to fight until everyone in Wales has access to the quality housing they need.”
Cllr Joe Carter, Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor for Pentwyn said:
“With over 6000 homes unoccupied for over two years and 1100 for at least ten years, these figures are a clear illustration that local authorities across Wales must do more to bring empty homes back into use.
“Local authorities should seek to buy empty properties and utilise compulsory purchase when necessary. Local authorities already have a duty to work with the private sector to rehouse residents and local authorities need to do more to persuade the owners of empty homes to rent them out to those that desperately need them.
“Wales urgently requires more affordable housing. Building more housing is an essential part of the solution, but bringing empty homes back into use can also play a key role in increasing the affordable housing supply.”