News in brief: Tories pledge major investment in Welsh sport
The Welsh Conservatives have outlined ambitious plans to help sport in Wales recover from the damaging impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Amateur clubs and organisations, which are often at the heart of their local communities, have been particularly hard hit due to the suspension of all sports below elite levels due to the virus.
If they win May’s Senedd election, the party has pledged to introduce a ‘Community Sport Bounce Back Fund’ to drive up sports participation across Wales.
The multi-million pound fund would:
- Work with Sport Wales and other organisations to fund projects to retain and drive up participation
- Establish a network of 3G and 4G synthetic turf pitches throughout Wales to improve access
- Establish a network of Welsh Sports Ambassadors to work with schools to inspire the next generation of sporting excellence, promote engagement in sports and close gaps in participation
- Create an ‘Olympic Wales Programme’ to support talented athletes to succeed on the world stage at the Paralympic and Olympic games
They also claim a Welsh Conservatives Government would prioritise the attraction of major sporting events to create what they describe as a ‘Golden Decade of Major Events’, and would:
- Ensure Wales could host a ‘Euro 2020’ fixture if the tournament is hosted in the UK-only this summer due to the impact of the pandemic on the continent.
- Back a future British and Irish bid for 2030 FIFA World Cup, and explore options to bring other major football events to Wales including the Europa League Final.
- Drive forward a joint UK bid to host the 2031 Rugby World Cup.
- Offer to host the Invictus Games.
- Spearhead a Wales Commonwealth Games bid.
- Work with UK Government to submit a bid for the opening stages of the Tour De France to be held in Wales.
“Community sport is the backbone of Welsh communities but many of our clubs and organisations have suffered badly in the pandemic,” Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies said.
““We must help them on the road to recovery and we will unleash sporting opportunity with a ‘Community Sport Bounce Back Fund’ to drive up participation and get young and old back on the sporting fields and facilities of Wales.”
“We will also look to bring the world stage back to Wales in the hope of delivering a Golden Decade of Major Events such as a home nations Rugby World Cup, FIFA World Cup and offering to host the Invictus Games,” he added.
“By unleashing a decade of sporting opportunity and excellence, the Welsh Conservatives will rebuild community clubs, inspire a healthier and more active nation, and put sport back at the top of the agenda in Wales.
“And by showcasing Wales to the world we can help our economy recover and create new jobs for Welsh people.”
£50 million extra for school improvements
The Welsh Government has announced an additional £50 million to improve school buildings across the country.
The capital funding will allow local authorities to focus on large-scale maintenance projects, such as replacement roofs, new window systems or heating and ventilation works.
The new funding is in addition to the Welsh Government’s 21st century Schools and Colleges programme, which has seen 170 new schools or colleges built in its first phase, with a further 43 projects already approved for its second phase.
Further Education colleges have already been allocated an extra £10m for maintenance and small scale projects this year.
Kirsty Williams, the Education Minister, said:” While we continue to invest in brand new schools, I also recognise the pressures local authorities are under to maintain our existing school estate. This funding will help local authorities undertake urgent work to keep our school estate in good shape for the future.
Health officials confident of hitting new vaccine targets
Additional Covid vaccine supplies are arriving in Wales earlier than expected, meaning health officials are confident of meeting new vaccine targets.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething confirmed a dip in supply from manufacturers would slow the rollout until supplies began to get back on track by the end of this week.
On Saturday, the milestone of one million people in Wales receiving at least one dose of the vaccine was passed and the government has pledged to offer all over-50s a first jab by mid-April, and all adults by the end of July.
Over 100,000 people have now received both doses of the vaccine, more than 3% of the population and a larger proportion than any other part of the UK.
Wales’ Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton said there was no reason to assume there would be any problems with sufficient stocks despite the recent slow-down.
“It’s not entirely within our own hands here in Wales; procurement and supply is through the UK government and we receive our share here in Wales,” he said.
“But we’ve had nothing in the pipeline that suggests we’re going to experience any shortfall, and in fact some of the supplies that we were expecting later in the year are coming through earlier than that, which allows us to accelerate.
“Obviously, this is a complex area and one that we have to keep constantly under review with colleagues.”
A further three people have died with Covid-19 and 193 new cases of the virus have been roprted in the latest update from Public Health Wales.
All three of the newly reported deaths were in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area.
Cardiff recorded 25 new cases in the last 24 hours but 15 of the 22 local authorities in Wales reported single figure increases since yesterday.
Conwy currently has the highest case rate in Wales, with 87.9 infections per 100,000 people over the most recent seven-day period.
Overall, the case rate is down to 64 per 100,000 people across Wales and the positive test proportion is 6.1% per 100,000 tests.
New smoke-free laws introduced from today
From today, all hospital grounds, school grounds, public playgrounds and outdoor care settings for children in Wales will be required by law, to be smoke-free.
In certain circumstances, those working in others’ homes will also be entitled to work in a smoke-free environment as well as those that are receiving goods or services from a dwelling.
Over the next year and by 1 March 2022, the new legislation will phase out smoking in bedrooms in hotels, guest houses etc and self-contained holiday accommodation will also be required to be smoke-free.
Mental Health Units will also be required to phase out any smoking rooms by 1 September 2022.
“Extending the smoke-free requirements to more places will further protect the public from harmful second-hand smoke and will help reduce a known trigger for ex-smokers to restart,” Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Welsh Language said.
“Banning smoking in places where children and young people spend their time, such as public playgrounds, school grounds and care settings, will also help to denormalise smoking and crucially reduce the chances of children and young people taking up smoking in the first place.”