Leader readers will know that I have long been an advocate for our town centres, both in my position and on a personal level, believing we should do all we can do to support local businesses and help our high streets to thrive.
Last week I announced £15.2 million of Welsh Government funding, to support our town centres and help them build back better, and greener. The funding, reaffirming the importance of our towns in communities across the country, is designed to be as flexible as possible and can be used to support markets, find new uses for vacant buildings and support businesses with both internal and external improvements, as well as many other options.
Local authorities, businesses and Town and Community Councils can make applications for the funding, and I will do all I can to share relevant information with anyone interested in exploring projects.
This is in addition to the Welsh Government budget decision to extend the Small Business Rate Relief for a further 12 months, supporting businesses by helping to reduce their outgoings, as we recover from the pandemic. Measures to prevent businesses from being evicted due to non-payment of rent, which were due to expire at the end of this month, have now also been extended to the end of June 2021.
I am glad to see the political support being provided to our town centres, high streets and businesses, and will continue to offer my political and personal support too.
From this week it is expected that supplies of both the Pfizer and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines will increase, following planned delays as the manufacturers increased their capacity.
Having met with Betsi Cadwaladr UHB earlier this week, they have informed me that they are progressing well, with group five almost complete and group six underway. It is important to note that this cohort is very large made up of people aged 16 and 64 years of age who have a condition which puts them at increased risk, carers, younger adults in residential care and adults with learning disabilities.
That said, they are still confident that with an increase in supply once again, they will be able to meet the target of completing the priority groups by April 19.
Some Leader readers and other constituents who are unpaid carers have contacted me with concerns about ensuring that they are included in the priority groups to receive their vaccination, due to their responsibilities. The Welsh Government has asked health boards across Wales to develop forms allowing unpaid carers to register with the health board, to ensure they are invited for vaccination.
Please keep an eye on my column, Facebook page – Hannah Blythyn MS – and the Betsi Cadwaladr UHB website, for updates on the progress of the vaccination programme.
This Friday the First Minister will announce the outcome of the latest three-weekly review, including any potential changes to the measures which are currently in place. Whatever changes Thank you to everyone who continues to play their part in stopping the spread of the virus, keeping others safe and protecting the NHS.
I will of course do my best to share factual, accurate information on the announcement through my Facebook page – Hannah Blythyn MS – and directly with residents.