It was great to get out last week and present more Community Champion awards across the constituency, hearing more stories of how individuals, community groups and businesses have gone over and above to support one another through challenging times.
The nominees last week included the great Estuary Voluntary Car Scheme who supported residents with shopping and medication deliveries, and taking those in need to medical appointments. I also presented an award to the village of Sychdyn who truly came together to support each other, showing us once again that community spirit is alive and well in our corner of the country.
If Leader readers would like to read more about those who have received Community Champion Awards then they can visit my website – www.HannahBlythyn.cymru/community-champions-2020
Recognising the importance of remaining connected with loved ones, the Welsh Government has taken steps to safely reintroduce visiting in care homes across Wales, through the use of visiting pods and rapid testing. Care homes have been asked to express an interest in participating in the pilot scheme, and I will of course do all I can to support local care homes in their efforts to safely connect loved ones.
Initially 30 pods will be made available, but the Welsh Government hope to expand this to around 100, with many being in place prior to Christmas, to support visiting during the festive period. £3 million has been allocated to this pilot, showing a further commitment to keeping residents of our care homes as safe as possible, as well as helping them to remain connected with loved ones.
It is of course important to ensure that families and loved ones are able to remain connected, not just physically but also digitally. In recent months I have been corresponding with internet providers, Openreach and the Welsh Government, championing the need for good quality access to broadband across our corner of the country. The Welsh Government, as part of their Digital Communities programme, has distributed digital devices to our care homes, with over 30 homes within the constituency benefitting.
I will continue to work with care homes, businesses, and individuals, to improve access to broadband recognising that, although it remains a responsibility of the UK Government, broadband should be treated as a 21st century utility.
At the start of this week, I backed the calls from the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, that the UK Government addresses underfunding in Welsh rail infrastructure as part of their Union Connectivity Review. Despite having around 11% of the rail network here in Wales, it is estimated that under current spending plans between 2020 and 2029, our infrastructure is being underfunded by between £2.4 billion and £5.1 billion.
Whilst it is positive knowing that Flint train station will have access improvements funded and completed by 2022, it is disappointing that this is still the only train station within the constituency. I have long called for a new station to be considered at Greenfield, based on existing infrastructure and am proud to have introduced the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, to the Holywell and Greenfield Transport Group to discuss their proposals.
A new station here would not just improve the interconnectivity within the county, improving access to good quality transport and employment, but also increase visitor numbers to the area, boosting the local economy. I will continue to work with the Holywell and Greenfield Transport Group, Flintshire County Council and the Welsh Government, to push for the UK Government to step up and invest in improving our rail infrastructure.
If any constituents would like to discuss improving connectivity within the constituency, whether digitally or physically, or has any other issue they would like to raise with me, then please get in touch on 01352 762102 or at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales.