Regular readers to this column will be aware that I’ve been following Network Rail’s plans to upgrade Flint station, installing a new footbridge with lifts. The development will allow all passengers – especially those with limited mobility, carrying heavy luggage or with pushchairs – to have a step-free, accessible route to and between platforms at the station and it’s expected that the delayed work will start on November 20th and will be completed by the summer. I’m told that certain areas of the station will have to be fenced off to allow materials and machinery to be stored and there will be a reduction in parking spaces for the duration of the works. I plan to continue keeping a close eye on developments as the project gets started and I’ll update residents regularly, but in the meantime you can sign up for the Network Rail mailing list for updates at www.networkrail.co.uk/sign-up.
As winter is now well and truly upon us, many Flintshire residents will be concerned about the cost of living and, especially, the cost of keeping warm. In last week’s column, I mentioned Age Cymru and the Welsh Government’s Winter Wrapped Up guide and this week I’d like to draw readers’ attention to some of the other schemes available to help out, such as the Discretionary Assistance Fund which provides grants you don’t need to pay back for essential costs such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel if you’re facing extreme hardship and will also provide support for off-grid households that have to pre-pay for their fuel.
The Welsh Government has also developed a new scheme which aims to help people struggling to pay their mortgages – the Help to Stay Wales Scheme offers flexible financial support for homeowners by providing repayable loans, interest free for five years, for people who are at risk of losing their home. The scheme, operated by the Development Bank of Wales, offers a partial repayment of an existing mortgage balance via a low-cost equity loan, secured by a second charge (behind first charge lender), reducing revised mortgage repayments to a level the applicant can afford. More details of all the help that’s available is on my website at www.hannahblythyn.cymru/help-with-the-cost-of-living.
Last week at the Senedd I was able to attend the Ramblers Cymru networking event to hear about their collaborative work to improve paths, access and inclusion and to promote walking in our community. It was also nice to catch up with Ron, a local resident and keen rambler, who had made the journey to be at the event. The updates on the initiatives to improve paths and nature, as well as the information regarding the boost to the Welsh economy and 145 new routes across Wales, was very interesting. The Paths to Wellbeing project had more than 60 communities across Wales apply to take part, including Llanfynydd here in Flintshire.
Back in 2020, the Welsh Government announced plans for a National Forest for Wales, to create areas of new woodland and to help restore and maintain some of Wales’ ancient forests. Last week, it was announced that a further 27 woodland areas are set to join the original 14 forest sites having fulfilled the National Forest status requirements or having been proposed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), including our very own Clwydian Range. This is great news for Flintshire and helps to make the case for a Clwydian Range national park – the National Forest will create a network of woodlands running the length and breadth of Wales with interconnected ecosystems and the new forests cover hundreds of hectares of woodland.
As I mentioned in my column last week, the last week was the annual period of remembrance culminating in Remembrance Day on Sunday and I was honoured to be asked to take part in the annual parades and services in Holywell and Flint. Both events are important reminders of the service and sacrifice of individuals from across Wales who now serve or have served in our armed forces and I’m proud to represent veterans on behalf of the Welsh Government as part of my role as Deputy Minister for Social Partnership.
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.