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News in brief: Brexit Party MS quits over anti-Senedd policy

19 Aug 2020 6 minute read
Caroline Jones AM, National Assembly for Wales. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Caroline Jones MS has quit the Brexit Party saying its “anti-devolution” stance is against her principles.

Last month Brexit Party leader Mark Reckless said the party would campaign for the abolition of the Senedd in next year’s election, causing a number of pro-Senedd activists to announce they would leave the party.

The Brexit Party is now down to just down to three members in the Senedd.

Ms Jones was one of seven UKIP politicians elected to the Senedd in 2016 and represents South Wales West. She left the UKIP group after she was replaced as leader by Gareth Bennett and joined the Brexit Party last year along with three other members of the UKIP group.

In June Gareth Bennett announced he had joined the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party.

“As a Brexiteer, there was no reason not to lend my support to the Brexit Party group,” Ms Jones, who will now sit as an independent said.

“But this was under the understanding that the Brexit Party shared my view that devolved government should be reformed so that it works better for the people I represent in South Wales West.

“Their current stance is one of an anti-devolution Party which is against my principles. My belief is that Westminster doesn’t provide all the answers.”

Public Health Wales has reported no new coronavirus deaths for the third day in a row. The total number of people who have died with Covid-19 remains at 1,589.

The have been 17,620 confirmed cases overall with 21 new cases in the last 24 hours.

There were 5,979 tests carried out across Wales yesterday.

Picture a merger of @LloydCymru’s coronavirus updates on Twitter, @AngharadHafod’s graphs and US State Department visualisation of coronavirus.

Minister pledges proportional strategy to deal with Covid-19 second wave

Health Minister Vaughan Gething say the government’s strategy for dealing with future outbreaks of Covid-19 in Wales will be guided by the principles of “caution, proportionality and subsidiarity.”

Following the publication of the Coronavirus Control Plan for Wales, he warned: “Coronavirus has not gone away and we are likely to see an increase in cases over the autumn and winter as it becomes colder and everyone spends more time indoors.”

In a written statement the minister added “… our actions must also be proportional to what they are seeking to achieve – our interventions should not be more restrictive than is needed to contain the virus. We will endeavour to do the minimum to disrupt people’s lives whilst keeping Wales safe.

“We are placing a huge importance on prevention. By getting that stage right we can avoid further restrictions on our lives. None of us wants to see another lockdown like we saw in March this year,” Mr Gething said.

“We have shown that, working with partners, we can efficiently and effectively manage small incidents and outbreaks – as we saw in Anglesey and Merthyr Tydfil.

“Our key messages are that each person, businesses and organisation have their part to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus.”

Reacting to the announcement of the strategy, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies MS said: “It may be an uncomfortable fact, but Covid is here for the foreseeable future, and so plans must be drawn up and implemented to deal with it, and return life here to as normal as possible.

“To allow this, then a targeted approach – including, if necessary, local lockdowns – is the way forward.

“Anything else, any further blanket lockdown, will again have a damaging effect on our economy, on our young people’s education, and – critically – on the health of our nation.”

“All efforts must be channelled now at avoiding another national lockdown, and planning for the winter pressures NHS Wales faces annually while dealing with the backlog and securing an economic recovery from the first lockdown.”

Photo by 2C2KPhotography and licensed under CC BY 2.0

New factory in Pontardawe to produce half a million surgical face masks a day

A Swansea based engineering company has started producing surgical masks, following help from the government’s COVID-19 Research, Development, and Innovation support fund.

Brother Engineering has opened a new factory in Pontardawe from where, under the name of Blu Thomas Medical, it is manufacturing fully certified CE marked masks for NHS, care settings, the wider public sector, and industry.

The facility has the capacity to have four manufacturing cells running with an output of up to half a million face masks per day. It is expected that 20 new jobs will be created.

The Welsh Government has provided more than £250,000 from its COVID-19 RD&I support fund to establish the new factory.

Brother Engineering managing director Blu Thomas said: “We’ve moved quickly to establish this new facility. Staff here at Brother Engineering have shown great commitment to this project by using their engineering expertise to enable the company to be in production.

“We couldn’t have achieved this without some great support from a number of organisations that have helped us get to this point, in particular the Welsh Government, the NHS Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory at Bridgend, and Cardiff University.”

Photo by Maria Godfrida from Pixabay

£9.5m programme launched to reduce housings’ carbon footprint

A new government programme worth up to £9.5m million has been announced to reduce the carbon footprint of existing social housing in Wales.

The Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP), part of the Innovative Housing Programme, will fund the fitting of energy efficiency measures in up to 1000 existing homes owned by registered social landlords and councils.

ORP is a key part of the £45m Innovative Housing Programme announced earlier this year, which focuses on building new carbon neutral homes using modern methods of construction, the scheme will contribute to plans to reduce greenhouse gases by 95% by 2050 with an ambition to reach net zero in future.

Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said: “Housing is responsible for 27% of all energy consumed in Wales and 15% of all demand side greenhouse gas emissions.

“While we have plans in place to ensure new homes are heated and powered only from clean energy sources, ensuring our existing housing stock is as energy efficient as possible is vital to if we are to meet our ambitious target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050.”

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