Now that the summer recess is over and the Senedd returns in full this week, it’s back to business for members and there will be a busy few weeks ahead. I started the new term with questions in the Siambr, alongside a range of events and meetings. The first plenary session of the term provided an opportunity for the Welsh Government to provide a further oral update on RAAC in schools. The recent scandal across the border in England regarding RAAC concrete in schools and other public buildings may have left many people worried and wondering about the implications elsewhere.
The Welsh Government has worked quickly and asked all local authorities in Wales to submit details of RAAC concrete in their managed buildings and, last week, the Education Minister announced that there are no other schools affected in Wales, apart from the two on Anglesey. Flintshire County Council has issued a statement on its website confirming that none of the 600 buildings they manage – including schools – have been identified as having RAAC. You can see the council’s statement at https://www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/Resident/Emergency-Planning/Reinforced-Autoclaved-Aerated-Concrete-RAAC.aspx
Here in Wales, our record on capital spending on schools is very different to the approach taken in England – in England, school building funding has declined by around 50% in real terms since 2010, but in Wales it has increased by around 23%. The National Audit Office has said the Welsh Government is managing its school building programme well in a report this year. The Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme (formerly 21st Century Schools and Colleges) is delivering the biggest new school and further education building programme in Wales since the 1960s to address an ageing estate – more than £2.35bn has been targeted towards new-build and major refurbishment projects.
Ahead of travelling to Cardiff, I started this week closer to home by attending the TUC Congress in Liverpool. Whilst there, I spoke at a rally on workers’ rights alongside Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner. I’ve spent the best part of my working life advocating for and focusing on a better deal at work and the rally offered an opportunity to share our Welsh partnership approach with delegates and to also add my support for a New Deal for Workers. It was good therefore to see Angela Rayner follow up with a commitment on the conference floor that a future UK Labour Government will bring forward an Employment Bill within their first 100 days.
On Sunday, I attended the Civic Service for Mayor of Holywell Lynda Carter held at St Peter’s Church, after a parade from Panton Place led by the Holywell Town Crier. Back home later this week, I’m looking forward to Mold Food Festival and sampling some of the delights on offer – the festival kicks off on Friday and it celebrates the best in food, drink and music from north Wales and the surrounding areas.
As always, if you would like advice and/or support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on any of the following contact details – 52 High Street, Mold, Flintshire, on 01352 753464 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up to date via my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/HannahBlythynForDelyn. Constituents are, of course, welcome to contact my office to arrange an appointment to see me, you don’t need to wait until an advice surgery.