The end of this week will see the Welsh Government undertake the latest three weekly review of the coronavirus restrictions and outline any possible “easements” . Recent statistics have shown that Wales is leading the way in reducing the R rate of the virus, the speed at which is reproduces, as our average of 0.7 is the lowest in the UK. In following the Welsh Government’s cautious approach and helping to reduce contact between individuals, the people of Wales have made such a significant contribution to fighting coronavirus – thank you. But we’re not out of the woods just yet.
Although the progress we have made has meant great sacrifice for many of us, particularly in staying away from our loved ones, this progress can easily be lost. It is important that we all continue to act responsibly and with consideration now to prevent a further spread of the virus and to ensure that the rate does not rise.
Living with what many people are calling the “new normal” means re-thinking what “normal” is to us. The past few months has meant many of us looking again at the resources we use and the way that we use them. So last week, I was pleased to launch the next phase of the Welsh Government’s Circular Economy Fund as part of the green recovery. The £6.5 million fund will help support publicly funded bodies towards reducing waste and improving Wales’ supply chain resilience. As well as Local Authorities and other publicly funded bodies such as schools and universities, the fund will also be open to Town and Community Councils – I know from experience that there is great work being doing in communities across this constituency and across the country and I want to see them further enabled to make a real and lasting difference on the ground.
Last week also saw the new coronavirus drive thru testing centre get up and running in Deeside, increasing the Welsh Government resource in North East Wales to help fight against the virus. I want to put on record my thanks to all those involved, including, Flintshire County Council and Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board for all their hard work in bringing this facility forward. Testing is a key part of the Welsh Government strategy to tackle coronavirus and it is important that we have the facilities here in North Wales, to Test, Trace and Protect our communities.
Like everyone else, I’ve had to change the way I live and work in the past few months. I’ve continued to do my best to engage with our communities – holding virtual advice sessions and meetings with constituents, community groups and businesses online. A few weeks ago, I wrote to Aldi to ask them to consider how they could support the local economy in the redevelopment of their store in Mold. In a virtual meeting on Friday I was shown their plans for the store, including electric vehicle charging points, and told that Aldi do include apprenticeships in their work. They also provided reassurance that existing staff will be able to work in alternative stores in the area whilst the Mold site is redeveloped. I also had the chance to speak the very enthusiastic James Hunt of Nanny Biscuit, about the amazing work their volunteers have been doing, including distributing food packages to those in need. I look forward to supporting this work to go from strength to strength.
My series of virtual Future Flintshire events are continuing, having already heard ideas from young people across the area and from individuals, businesses and community groups in Mold. If you would like to be involved in future meetings, or if I can help in anyway, please call 01352 762102 or email me at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales.