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.”
Donna Lalek has been announced as the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for the Alyn and Deeside by-election that follows the tragic death of Carl Sargeant.
Donna is a Community Councillor, activist and bank worker from Broughton and a former teacher and qualified barrister. Donna is a founding member of charitable and activist group Everyone Matters and is committed to creating positive change for local communities. As an Assembly Member Donna would be a hardworking and effective voice for Alyn and Deeside.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Candidate Donna Lalek said:
“It is an honour to be selected as the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate and I look forward to making the positive case for the Welsh Liberal Democrats to the people of Alyn and Deeside. Our area is blessed with fantastic people and vibrant businesses and I’m passionate about giving them the investment, revitalised high streets, and career opportunities they deserve. I’m excited to fight for the chance to represent this wonderful community in the Assembly.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have an ambitious vision for Wales and Alyn and Deeside and Donna Lalek is a fantastic choice to articulate this vision.
Donna and the Welsh Lib Dems will fight for good local jobs and to support businesses like Airbus by keeping the UK in the Single Market and campaigning for an ambitious North Wales Growth Deal. Our priority is opportunity for everyone across Alyn and Deeside which is why Donna and the Welsh Lib Dems will be campaigning tirelessly for local homes at affordable prices and improving mental healthcare."
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed the third-year evaluation report from Ipsos Mori and WISERD on the Pupil Development Grant highlighting the success of the grant in reducing the attainment gap.
The report found that PDG funding is invaluable to schools and has resulted in a number of positive and promising effects over time. This includes focusing schools’ attention on tackling disadvantage across the school and improving the tracking of learners who qualify for free school meals.
In opposition in the last Assembly, the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured the establishment of the grant which has led to over £200m investment. Since then, in government, Kirsty Williams has doubled the support for nursery and reception children which will increase from £300 per pupil to £600.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“The Pupil Development Grant is one of my party’s proudest achievements. This report shows the PDG is reducing the attainment gap, increasing the willingness of learners to participate in classroom activities and improving pupil confidence, wellbeing and self-esteem.
"Liberal Democrats know that investing in our schools and giving our children the best possible start in life and every opportunity to succeed is one of the best ways of breaking the link between poverty and attainment, and that belief will always remain at the core of our approach to tackling poverty and inequality in Wales.
“This report is yet more evidence of the transformational impact Kirsty Williams and the Welsh Liberal Democrats are having on Welsh education and the life chances of every child. We will always prioritise the most disadvantaged pupils and will continue to fight to secure opportunity for every child in Wales.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed a report published today that calls for a complete overhaul of sex and relationships education in Wales.
The Sex and Relationships Education Expert Panel was established in March 2017 by Welsh Liberal Democrat Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, to help inform the development of high quality SRE in the new curriculum in Wales.
Findings concluded that SRE in Wales has too strong a focus on biology, with not enough attention given to rights, gender equality, emotions and relationships. There is a lack of focus on minority gender and sexual identities and relationships, and lack of awareness and education on violence against girls and women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
The panel have recommended that SRE be made statutory as part of education reforms. The report sets out how this guidance should be underpinned by core principles and themes that ensure a needs-led, inclusive and holistic, rights and equity-based SRE for all.
The panel have also recommended a name change to Sexuality and Relationships Education, drawing on the World Health Organisation’s definition of ‘sexuality’, with an emphasis on rights, health, and equality.
Welsh Liberal Democrat equalities campaigner Cadan ap Tomos said:
“I know from my own experience, and from listening to young people right across Wales, that the provision of sex and relationships education isn’t fit for the 21st Century.
“This report is an excellent blueprint on the changes we desperately need to make on how SRE is delivered in our schools, and Kirsty Williams deserves a lot of credit for recognising more needs to be done and for establishing this expert panel.
“The Welsh Government needs to accept the recommendations in this report so that all young people are armed with the knowledge they need to practice safe sex and take part in healthy, respectful relationships.”