As your Assembly Member it has been my continuing honour to serve the communities of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney during 2018. I thank you for your support, and all the encouragement you offer to me when I am out and about in the constituency.
It has been another busy year and, as the National Assembly does not officially meet next week, I have the opportunity to attend school Christmas concerts and other local events. In recent days Gerald Jones MP and I have visited Prince Charles hospital and we made a visit to see the hard working postal workers at the Merthyr Tydfil sorting office. It was also lovely to meet the children who designed our Christmas cards this year. Many thanks to all the schools and children who took part. I always enjoy my strong partnership work with our MP Gerald Jones.
So what are my main thoughts about the year that will soon pass?
Two significant centenaries
Well there were two significant centenaries as we marked the 100 years since the end of the First World War and, from that same year (1918), the women who started to receive the right to vote. So it was nice to be joined by Youth Mayor Jenna Noble and plant a tree in Cyfarthfa park to mark that occasion.
Local Health and Social Care services
After we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the NHS last July I carried out a detailed piece of work on local health and social care services over the summer and autumn. It gave me many valuable insights into the different aspects of these vital local services. I discussed with many different people and groups the challenges that we face, and the types of changes that can help to build stronger services in our community. I have just published the final version of my report on my website and I hope it can form the basis of some ongoing conversations about mental health, primary care and other important local services. Thank you to everyone who helped me with that project, and to the members of Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil for giving me some time at the AGM in November to talk about the work I had carried out.
New school opened
It was good to welcome then First Minister Carwyn Jones to the official opening of the new Ysgol Idris Davies in Abertysswg. The new school provides a fantastic learning environment for local children. This new primary school came on the back of the extensive refurbishment of Ysgol Afon Taf in 2017. I look forward to the next 21st century new school investment from our Welsh Government. Gerald and I always enjoy calling in Merthyr college for an update on their work.
Jobs and the economy
It is always good to visit local employers and to learn about different aspects of the local economy. This recently included Sharp Clinical who have invested in new premises in Rhymney. Trago Mills opened and a number of local companies like Bike Park Wales and The Summit Centre (Rock UK) are really putting the area on the map. I keep an active interest in building steady support for the “Crucible” project. It is a significant but long term project that will seek to better tell the story of our town, and build on the attractions of the Cyfarthfa area, and our heritage. In the shorter term it is good to see the area included in the gateway sites of the Valleys Regional park. The growth of the Merthyr Rising festival is also drawing more visitors to the town.
Metro investment now rolling out
I believe that the roll out of investment in the Metro system, with new rolling stock being purchased and more frequent services to come is great progress for both the Merthyr and Rhymney lines. Such a change cannot happen overnight, and there will be engineering works to be completed as the lines are upgraded, but this is good news for our communities in the years ahead.
The Metro is not just about trains and many people depend on our local bus system. I have been working hard in the background to secure progress on the new bus station in Merthyr Tydfil. Having secured Merthyr as a ‘hub’ in the Valleys Action plan I end the year with high hopes for this new project. I look forwards to Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council achieving success with their plans and getting this project over the line soon. I am also very pleased that the Welsh Government is now consulting about improving the arrangements for how we regulate local bus services in the future. This will be another important discussion during 2019.
New Leader – new First Minister
Welsh Labour ended the year with the election of our new Leader Mark Drakeford and last week he became the new First Minister of Wales. I wish him and his new cabinet well as they get down to work, including the challenge of Brexit in the coming months.
I remain committed to speaking up for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and to influence the agenda on behalf of our communities.
Remember if you need help, advice or support please remember that my hard working case team are available to help with any queries or problems that you may have or issues that need my attention. They are at 110 High Street, Merthyr Tydfil. I thank them for the many local people they have been able to assist over the past year.
The office will close on 21st December until January 2nd but emails will be checked on a regular basis.
My website will also carry the phone number of essential local services that you may need in an emergency.