Friday, December 16, 2016

By-election update

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Big gains in the English South-West this week. This is where the Tories made biggest inroads into the Liberal Democrat vote in 2015's general election after throwing huge amounts of money at it (still under investigation). In a new IpsosMORI/Evening Standard poll, Liberal Democrat ratings have gone up from 10% to 14%.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tories 'cannot be trusted' on devolution

Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire Chris Davies has called for Westminster to have the power to place the Welsh Government in “special measures”, withdrawing powers from Welsh politicians.
This comes following the recent announcement on Wales' 2015 PISA results.
Baroness Jenny Randerson, Welsh Lib Dem spokesperson for Government relations said;
“I’m astounded that Chris Davies MP has the audacity to suggest that politicians in London know better than the Welsh teaching profession.
“Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams is committed to our national mission of educational reform to raise standards for all our children and schools in Wales, working with teachers and educational professionals in doing so.
"The OECD have said that Wales is now on the right path and that we should stick with Kirsty's plan for our schools.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that the best people to make decisions about our schools and our children’s education are the people of Wales, not bureaucrats and politicians in London. The Tories clearly cannot be trusted not to roll back the tide on devolution."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Radical overhaul of student funding in Wales

Independent proposals for students to receive the equivalent of the National Living Wage during term time have been accepted by Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams.

The Welsh Lib Dems were clear during the election that they would overhaul the current funding arrangements to make students’ daily living costs the central focus of any new funding system.

The Welsh Government will implement, with only minor modification, the Diamond package, meaning that the average Welsh student could receive up to £7,000 a year in grant support, which will also be available for part-time students, from September 2018.

Cadan ap Tomos, the Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for young people, added:

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently argued that the high cost of living is the number one barrier to accessing university. It should be your ability to learn, not your ability to pay, that determines whether you can study.

“Far too many students are struggling to make ends meet. I’m proud that the Welsh Lib Dems not only listened to students by putting living costs front and centre of this debate, but that we’re now using our influence to deliver on our promise to students in May.

“With Kirsty Williams in Government, the Welsh Lib Dems will secure much-needed reforms for all students, making sure that a parent’s bank balance won’t hold any young person back from succeeding at uni.”

Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said:

“We are looking to introduce the most generous and progressive system anywhere in the UK. These plans will deliver the first system in the UK that is consistent, progressive and fair in its support for full and part-time undergraduates and for post-graduate students.

“I am clear that Wales needs a sustainable and progressive higher education funding settlement that supports students when they most need it, and, importantly, enables our universities to compete internationally.

“Our proposals are a fundamental shift so that Wales can develop a higher education funding and student finance system that really does provide for all.”

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Motes and beams department

A German couple sits on a couch in front of the telly. He, with his eyes glued to the box, says "How stupid are the Yanks to vote for Trump?" while she looks out of the window to the hordes of neo-Nazis and AfD supporters waving "Foreigners out!" and similar banners.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Liberal Democrat MPs will vote against Article 50

Tim Farron MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Westminster, says:

"We will vote against Article 50 unless it allows the people a vote on the deal, because the will of the people must prevail – both on departure and destination.

"The government has no plan and their haphazard approach is leading us towards a disastrous version of Brexit which risks jobs, communities, security and the economic health of the nation."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Welsh students could miss out on after Brexit

The organisation ColegauCymru / CollegesWales posts:


ColegauCymru / CollegesWales succeeded in its Erasmus+ application once again for half a million Euros to support overseas opportunities for learners and staff.  This latest success brings the total amount of funding acquired by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales for learners since 2011 through Erasmus+ and Leonardo da Vinci (the European Union’s predecessor programme) to just over €1.2million.

Nine FE colleges, Tata Steel and Isa Training will be part of this exciting project. The funding will enable 215 vocational learners and apprentices from 11 curriculum areas to undertake work placements in Europe.

There is a petition to save Erasmus here:

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

CETA signed

Cecilia Malmström writes on signing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement at the summit between the EU and Canada:
This agreement is an important achievement, for many reasons. First of all, it clearly demonstrates that when Europe comes together, we can shape globalisation according to our values and our standards. We reached an agreement on the EU side after some tumultuous discussions. Sometimes we need to make things a bit complicated first, in order to make them better as a result - it has always been the crises that foster progress in our European Union.

There is much skepticism about both globalisation and trade these days – across Europe as well as in North America and elsewhere. In recent years we have been engaged in a very passionate European debate on trade. This is important, because it helps us improve our EU trade policy. As a Swede, I know for a fact that openness to trade and stringent social standards are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary - we need open and fair rules on trade to support, maintain and improve our welfare states. Trade agreements are not the silver bullet to solve all our problems, but it is an important tool that Europe has at its disposal to strengthen economic growth and foster jobs.

Friday, October 07, 2016

John Alderson

The "thinking man's copper", one of the last candidates for the old Liberal party, and a pioneer of community policing, died five years ago today.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boundary Commission recommendations

These are the recommendations regarding Wales of the Boundary Commission set up as as result of the government decision to reduce the number of Westminster constituencies to 600 at around 75,000 electors each. The proposals affecting Neath, Port Talbot and adjacent areas are shown below.

It seems to us that the Boundary Commission has paid insufficient attention to one of its rules, namely special geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency; local government boundaries as they existed on 7 May 2015 and any local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies.

Local Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed the break-up of natural communities purely in the interest of electoral arithmetic. At the previous Boundary Commission review we asked for the Coedffranc wards (including Skewen) to be moved back into the constituency of Neath of which they naturally form part. On that occasion we were unsuccessful, but at least Coedffranc remained within a constituency contained within the same (Neath Port Talbot) local council area. It seems to us that the current proposals unnecessarily break the local government/constituency link (e.g.
Skewen merged with Swansea East, Port Talbot and Margam with Ogmore).

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kirsty Williams rules out grammar schools for Wales

Wales’ Education Secretary Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams ruled out a return to 11-plus in Wales and said: “It seems that some terrible ideas just won’t go away.

“The Tories in England and Wales seem determined to bang this tired old drum. For them, this is all about dogma and doctrine, rather than looking at what actually works for our young people.

“The facts show that grammar schools do nothing to improve social mobility. The Sutton Trust found that less than 3% of grammar school pupils were on free school lunches, compared with 20% across the country.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in opportunity for all, which is why under no circumstances will Wales be seeing an expansion of grammar schools.

“As Education Secretary, I will be guided by evidence so that we have a schools system that is modern, innovative and rooted in optimism about the potential of all our children.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Farron: we must have a referendum on final Brexit terms

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron writes:

This morning I’m setting out our party’s plan for Britain in Europe. Our key demand is simple – we demand the British people have their say on the final deal in a referendum.
The simple fact is, voting for a departure is not the same as voting for a destination. The British people deserve a real choice over what comes next, to guarantee that it is the right decision for them, their families, their jobs and our country.
In the meantime, our party has another vital task, to fight for an open, tolerant and united country, to hold the Conservative Brexit Government to account and the guarantee the best possible deal for Britain.
We will hold Theresa May’s Government to account over Brexit, expose the lies that Boris Johnson, David Davis and Michael Gove told during the referendum and make sure any deal they do is good for Britain.
Nobody else will do this job for us. Labour cannot be trusted to do their job as the opposition and Plaid are only interested in using Brexit to push for independence.
Our policy on Europe is simple: we want to stay. We wanted that the day before the referendum and we still want it today. We want to stay because Britain is stronger, safer and more influential at the heart of Europe, than outside it.
So let me be clear: I don’t believe there is any deal that Theresa May can do that will be better for Britain than being a member of the European Union. So when people are given that choice, we will make the case loudly and clearly that we believe Britain should stay in the European Union.
Thank you,
Tim Farron MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The EU does something which single states cannot

From the EU Commission's press release:

The European Commission has concluded that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple. This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Member States cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules. The Commission's investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years. In fact, this selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1 per cent on its European profits in 2003 down to 0.005 per cent in 2014."

Following an in-depth state aid investigation launched in June 2014, the European Commission has concluded that two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple have substantially and artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991. The rulings endorsed a way to establish the taxable profits for two Irish incorporated companies of the Apple group (Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe), which did not correspond to economic reality: almost all sales profits recorded by the two companies were internally attributed to a "head office". The Commission's assessment showed that these "head offices" existed only on paper and could not have generated such profits. These profits allocated to the "head offices" were not subject to tax in any country under specific provisions of the Irish tax law, which are no longer in force. As a result of the allocation method endorsed in the tax rulings, Apple only paid an effective corporate tax rate that declined from 1% in 2003 to 0.005% in 2014 on the profits of Apple Sales International.

This selective tax treatment of Apple in Ireland is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it gives Apple a significant advantage over other businesses that are subject to the same national taxation rules. The Commission can order recovery of illegal state aid for a ten-year period preceding the Commission's first request for information in 2013. Ireland must now recover the unpaid taxes in Ireland from Apple for the years 2003 to 2014 of up to €13 billion, plus interest.

In fact, the tax treatment in Ireland enabled Apple to avoid taxation on almost all profits generated by sales of Apple products in the entire EU Single Market. This is due to Apple's decision to record all sales in Ireland rather than in the countries where the products were sold. This structure is however outside the remit of EU state aid control. If other countries were to require Apple to pay more tax on profits of the two companies over the same period under their national taxation rules, this would reduce the amount to be recovered by Ireland.

How it worked: picture EN

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Clean up Neath Port Talbot Streets

For years now, Neath Port Talbot Council has allowed our streets and our residential areas to look more and more shabby and unkempt.

The build-up of rubbish and weeds that choke our streets and lanes makes our communities look and feel decaying and unloved. We used to have regular patrols to deal with problems like litter and weed growth. That seems to have been allowed to drift over recent years. For a county with the second highest principal council tax rate in Wales, that is just not good enough.

It is not only bad for the people who live here, it is bad for the economy of the county borough, too. How can we persuade people that Neath and Port Talbot are good locations in which to invest, to start a new business or to call their home in the midst of this neglect?

We want Neath, Port Talbot and their towns and villages to fulfil their potential and we want them to be good places to live in. That won’t happen while our Labour Council sits back and watches as the mess piles up around us.
Please support our petition calling on Neath Port Talbot Council to clean up our streets. Please help to take good care of our community.

Sign our petition here:

Monday, July 18, 2016

LibDem net gains in council by-elections

Liberal Democrats made net gains of four seats in principal council by-elections in the three-month period up to 5th May. The next quarter, which includes post-Brexit successes like these, is expected to show further improvement.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peter Black to be part of Mark Williams' team

Councillor Peter Black, former AM for South Wales West, has been named by Mark Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in his team of spokespeople. Peter will speak on Finance and Local Government, Heritage and Housing.

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats congratulate Peter on his appointment.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Liberal Democrat response to Chilcot

Sir John Chilcot has published his report into the Iraq war. Responding, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
“Blair was fixated in joining Bush in going to war in Iraq regardless of the evidence, the legality or the serious potential consequences.
“Daesh has arisen from the complete absence of any post conflict planning by the government.
“Charles Kennedy’s judgment has been vindicated in every respect. I hope those in the Labour and Conservative parties who were so forceful in their criticism of him and the Liberal Democrats at the time are equally forceful in their acknowledgements today that he was right. An absence of scrutiny by the Conservative party opened the door for Blair and the Labour Government to pursue a counter-strategic, ill-resourced campaign.
“I hope Sir John Chilcot’s findings can in some way provide comfort to the families of the British servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives [including 14 from Wales], and to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives and a generation has been shaped by this illegal war.
“Far from being Bush’s passenger, Blair was his co-pilot in taking this catastrophic decision which has destabilised Iraq, provided the hotbed for Daesh and tarnished Britain’s reputation around the world.“
Liberal Democrats consistently opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003
Liberal Democrats consistently opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Fifteen thousand new members

More than 15,000 new members have joined the Liberal Democrats since the result of the EU Referendum was announced. With over 74,000 members, we now have more members than we’ve had in over a decade!
These new members have joined us because they share our values and principles. They know that we are the only party who can now speak for those who believe the UK is best when it’s tolerant, outward-looking and compassionate.
There are still many of you who are looking for someone to give them a voice in the wake of the referendum result. If you are not yet a member, you can join locally - see the sidebar on the right - or you can sign up via Twitter, Facebook or by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Peter Black says First Minister should not rush to give formal notification of EU withdrawal

A senior Welsh Liberal Democrat and former Assembly Member has criticised the First Minister’s call for official notification of the UK's intention to leave the EU under Article 50 to be sent as early as possible.

Councillor Peter Black has called on his former colleague Kirsty Williams, the Welsh Liberal Democrats Education Secretary to distance herself from the proposal, arguing that giving formal notification before proper arrangements are in place could leave Wales worse off.

“I understand that the First Minister wants to limit the amount of uncertainty faced by Welsh businesses,” said Mr. Black, “but if we go too early then negotiators could find themselves battling against an immoveable deadline to put in place new agreements on trade and free movement of labour. It would significantly weaken our negotiating position and potentially leave Welsh businesses struggling to compete.

“This is not a position that the Welsh Liberal Democrats support. It is important therefore that our only AM, who sits in the government, distances herself from Carwyn Jones’ statement.

“The vote last Thursday is a potential disaster for communities in Wales. It puts jobs under threat, it places key funding for agriculture and deprived areas in jeopardy and it undermines Welsh businesses. That is why Tim Farron and the Liberal Democrats are right to say they will put a pledge in their next manifesto to seek to re-join the EU.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

Referendum shows that people turn out when they know that their votes count

Anthony Tuffin of STV Action says:


Yesterday’s EU referendum turnout was 72% compared with 65.1% and 66.2% in the 2010 and 2015 general elections.  An important reason for this is, as David Cameron said on 8 June, “every vote counts the same [in the referendum]”.


Although the referendum result was very close (51.9% – 48.1%), at least it was clear and obvious – unlike the general election results in 2005 and 2015 when, respectively, the Labour Party was awarded an overall majority for only 35.2% of the votes and the Conservative Party was awarded an overall majority for only 36.9%.  This needs to be repeated over and over again.  Every vote should count in elections as well as referendums.

Who will represent us in the exit negotiations?

All of us, Remainers and Leavers alike and whatever party loyalties we may have, must hope that the Government gets the best deal possible in the crucial exit negotiations that will take place.  The Government’s duty is to represent us all but, elected by only 36.9% of the voters, it is not representative of us.

David Cameron has recognized this a little by announcing his resignation, but his successor will be chosen by the Conservative Party and not by the voters.  Others have recognized it a little more by calling for a general election but a new Government, elected by about 35% - 40% of the voters by First Past The Post, would still not be representative.

We should have a general election now by STV/PR to elect a truly representative Parliament and a Government with a mandate to negotiate.

Owen Winter launched a petition today for a PR general election.  Even if you think the Government will ignore it, it is worth signing to increase publicity for electoral reform and attract new supporters.  As he has written:

After a divisive referendum campaign, UK public opinion is deeply split. The only way to reconcile our differences is an election where all voters have a stake in the result. As David Cameron said, every vote in a referendum ‘counts the same’. Surely this should apply for general elections too?

Please click on MVMbrexit-petition to see the petition and sign it.

What next?

38 Degrees consulted with its members today on what its priorities should be now that the decision has been taken to leave the EU.  Unsurprisingly (because they never do), they did not even mention electoral reform as one of their possible priorities, but their final question invited general comments so I wrote:

The Government is responsible for representing us in the vital exit negotiations but, elected by only 36.9% of voters, it does not represent us and a new Government, also elected by First Past The Post, wouldn't represent us either.  We need a General Election NOW by STV/PR.

Constitutional issues

The Electoral Reform Society has published a blog, in which it makes the point that “the referendum demonstrated a clear public appetite to engage with constitutional issues of where power should lie” and suggests that the public should continue to be engaged.  The blog continues, “Leaving the European Union and determining the future shape of the United Kingdom are huge and difficult tasks – far too difficult to be left to politicians behind closed doors.

Please click on ERSpublic-engagement for the full text.

Frank Little, secretary of the local Liberal Democrat party writes: "I largely agree with this and have already supported the inclusion on the agenda for the next Liberal Democrat conference a motion calling for a fair voting system for Westminster elections and local government elections in England and Wales. If the latter is good enough for the Scots, it is good enough for us."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

UK's influence in the EU

The EU cannot override the UK in the following areas:

There are more facts here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Referendum campaigning has ceased

As a mark of respect to Jo Cox, and with regard to the current overheated political atmosphere, it has been decided not to proceed with campaigning. In particular, the street stall planned for the Lidl store in Bryncoch South this weekend will not now take place.

 - Frank Little, Secretary

Friday, May 27, 2016

Use it or lose it

Anne Curie in Roger Roberts' office writes:

On 23 June 2016, Britain will face one of the greatest electoral questions of this decade. Voters will be asked to decide whether or not they wish to see the UK remain in the European Union.  Yet as this crucial election draws ever-nearer, there is an important issue which must be contemplated: registering to vote.
The deadline to register to vote for the referendum is midnight, 7 June. The party-neutral Bite The Ballot (of which Lord Roberts is Honorary President) is running an innovative #TurnUp campaign in the week approaching this deadline. I urge everyone to support this cause. It’s vital to ensure that the 30% of young people missing from the roll are able to have their say.
Regardless of how you choose to vote, it is crucial that all eligible voters turn up to vote and have their say on the future of Britain’s membership of the EU. That said, Lib Dems have adamantly chosen to become the party of remaining ‘IN’ the Union. Our party chooses this path because it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do. 
There are economic benefits to remaining in the Union which will benefit a substantial portion of the British public. The GNP per capita will remain higher, the UK will retain its access and influence to the single market, and unemployment will remain lower. British citizens will retain their right to live and work in other EU member states – a fact that affects over 2 million Britons today. Finally, remaining in the single market allows Britain the continued access to trade agreements with other nation states. This means there will be no need for renegotiation of bilateral trade agreements between the US and UK, or between Canada and the UK.
If these sorts of economic benefits are not enough to encourage an ‘in’ vote, there is another side to the argument for remaining in. The social benefits of remaining in the Union are many, but in my mind there are two at the forefront: 1) cultural exchange, and 2) sustainable peace. The EU has maintained sustainable peace within its borders for 70 years thanks to the alignment of goals and working together to achieve them. Yet this is also because of the first point; a cultural exchange of ideas, customs, languages and values. By engaging with the Continent, the UK has become culturally enriched and open. Though this is my personal opinion, this seems to me a beautiful reason to remain in the EU.  Why not continue to partake in benefits such as Erasmus+? Why cut ourselves, and future generations off, from the world?
For more information about why Lib Dems support remaining in the European Union, please check out the #INtogether campaign. But most importantly of all – as a Party – we must remember to inspire every we meet and work with to get registered, get informed, and #TurnUp to vote!

* We are grateful to Liberal Democrat Voice for this article

Sunday, May 22, 2016

80% of special Welsh conference members vote to back Kirsty Williams as Education Secretary in Welsh government

At a special conference held in Newtown yesterday, the Welsh Liberal Democrats endorsed overwhelmingly the Progressive Agreement announced on Thursday, 19 May 2016, by Welsh Labour and Kirsty Williams and the invitation made by the First Minister to Kirsty Williams AM to take up the position of Cabinet Secretary for Education within the Welsh Government.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Results from English council elections

The last counts - from Bristol City - having been completed, these are the final scores:

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Kirsty's message for the election tomorrow

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has this message:

"Tomorrow’s vote is your chance to make a difference for your community. Before you cast it, I want you to ask yourself: who has delivered the most for you and your family?
"If our record over the last five years shows anything, it's that a vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats is a vote for our policies being put into action. Tomorrow will be no different – your vote could help make our ideas a reality.
"If you support smaller class sizes, if you want more nurses on hospital wards, if you want an Opportunity Economy that enables people to get on life, then you have to vote for it – you have to vote Welsh Liberal Democrat. Only then can we begin to deliver a Wales that works for you."

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Welsh general election 2016

On Thursday May 5th vote for Helen Ceri Clarke in Aberavon, for Frank Little in Neath, for Welsh Liberal Democrats on the South Wales West regional list (lead candidate Peter Black) and put a cross in column 1 for Judith Woodman on the Police and Crime Commissioner Ballot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Judith Woodman for PCC

Judith now has a web page showing her track record and pledging improvements to policing in South Wales if she is elected.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Vote for Welsh Liberal Democrats and Peter Black on the regional list

These are the results of the Welsh General Election for the South Wales West region in 2011, the last time the seats were fought:

[Additional Member System] (4 Seats)

Lead candidate and party               Votes for party and %age          Seats allocated

Alana Elizabeth Davies, Labour         71766 46.49%                         (0)*
Suzy Davies, Conservative                 27457 17.79%                         (2)
Bethan Jenkins, Plaid Cymru         21258 13.77%                         (1)
Peter Malcolm Black, Lib. Dem.         10683 6.92%                         (1)
David Maybery Bevan, UKIP           6619 4.29%
David Leonard Davies, Socialist Labour Party 5057 3.28%
Clive Bennett, British National Party     4714 3.05%
Keith Malcolm Ross, Green                  3952 2.56%
David Philip Griffiths, Welsh Christian Party 1602 1.04%
Ronnie Job, TUSC                              809 0.52%
John Stephen Morrissey, Communist Party of GB  464 0.30%

Totals                                        154381                                (4 Seats)

*allocation filled from constituencies

Both the Green Party and the Welsh Nationalists are using social media to encourage Labour supporters to use their otherwise wasted vote for them. However, the table above shows that there is great danger from UKIP, a party which denies both climate change and Welsh identity. The Green vote is too far behind and the chances of a second seat for Plaid Cymru are remote. UKIP vote is on the increase according to the opinion polls, so the only safe switch is to the Liberal Democrats and Peter Black.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Peter Black launches energy-saving initiative

Peter Black today outlined the Welsh Liberal Democrat party's plans for a £100-a-year discount on Council Tax for households that improve the energy efficiency of their homes by two bands. This will have the effect of both encouraging a reduction in energy usage and giving support to hard pressed families by cutting their council tax bills.

Peter said: "Wales desperately needs to improve the energy efficiency of its houses, which are some of the most poorly insulated in western Europe, but too often the upfront cost puts families off getting that work done.

"Our plans will help ease that burden, ensuring families feel the benefit through a double bill cut: once on your Council Tax, and once on your energy bill.

"Welsh Liberal Democrats have the fresh ideas Wales needs to help people get on in life, as well as do our part to help tackle climate change."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Health survey

You have just a few days to complete Peter Black's health survey, if you have not already done so.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Peter Black repeats call for government action in Port Talbot

Speculation that the Tata steel board will not approve a rescue package for the Port Talbot plant has underlined the urgent need for the Welsh Government to build on the new Enterprise Zone by setting up an urban regeneration company for the area, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has said.

Mr. Black called for such a company to be set up shortly after the announcement of 750 job losses at Tata in Port Talbot, however little progress appears to have been made by the Welsh Government on this. When the steel works closed in Newport in 2003, the Welsh Government had acted decisively by setting up Newport Unlimited, an Urban Regeneration Company, to help counter the impacts of the decline in heavy industry and manufacturing. Mr. Black asked the Minister in the chamber to actively consider a similar response to job losses in Port Talbot.

“During the ten plus years that Newport Unlimited was in place it contributed to attracting £230 million of private investment to the area and] was credited with the transformation of the city's river frontage and attracting the Ryder Cup golf tournament to Newport in 2010,” said Mr. Black. “It is my view that a similar initiative could make a massive difference in helping to revitalise Port Talbot. It is now urgent that the Welsh Government act on this.

“The new Enterprise Zone for Port Talbot is very welcome, but I believe that we need to go the extra mile and that the additional funding and focus that an urban regeneration company can bring to the area could make a huge difference.

“The Welsh Government needs to put its money on the table by investing in Port Talbot through such a company and by providing the business rates relief that Tata needs to reduce its costs and to help it become viable.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Kirsty Williams' reaction to budget speech

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams responded to George Osborne's budget announcements:

Frankly, the proposed cut in the tolls is pathetic. Once back in public ownership, there is no need whatsoever for there to be tolls on these bridges. The Chancellor is cynically acting as if he is doing commuters a favour, but the fact is that he wants to keep this unfair tax on entering Wales. Only the Liberal Democrats will completely scrap these tolls.

The lack of any real progress on the Swansea Tidal Lagoon is yet another nail in the coffin of the Tories’ green credentials. The Liberal Democrats ensured that the Coalition Government fully backed the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project. With the Tories on their own, all we have seen is minister after minister talking this project down. The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon must go ahead. It will lead to thousands of new green jobs and supply energy for 120 years – over three times as long as a nuclear plant.

The Port Talbot enterprise zone is good news and I hope will go a long way in helping rejuvenate the area. The Labour Government must pull its weight and set up an urban regeneration company for Port Talbot to help counter the impacts of the decline in heavy industry and manufacturing.

It’s clear for all to see that North Wales has been neglected for too long and has not been getting its fair share of infrastructure projects. I welcome any progress in improving transport links in the area, however the people of North Wales need more than a sentence of warm words ahead of an election.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Reasons for remaining IN

Posted by Liberal Democrat Federal Executive member Antony Hook on Liberal Democrat Voice:

An excellent new resource has been launched that will help with [effective factual information for the EU debate].  is a well presented website that contains briefings on key factual questions relevant to the referendum and rebuttals to the misrepresentations of the Quitters.  It is set up and run by a group of journalists, listed on the website and many of their names you will recognise from the quality press.
If I have one constructive criticism it is that the bulk of their briefings are responses to claims of the other side.  We need to set the agenda and debate on our terms, not their terms, to win.
Nonetheless, it is a very helpful site. Some of the briefings include:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Canada shows that Liberalism is not dead

Liberal International celebrates 100 days of the Trudeau-led Liberal government in Canada. It seems that it has not run out of energy and continues to serve as an inspiration for Liberal parties round the world. Those who have written off Liberal Democrat chances of being in power in this country again should also take note.
With numerous progressive, liberal values implemented in the Trudeau government’s first 100 days – here is just a small selection. 
  • Gender-balanced Cabinet
  • Providing safe haven for refugees
  • Unmuzzling government scientists

The Canadian Liberals won a huge victory in the October 2015 parliamentary elections, ending almost 10 years of Conservative rule. There is more here.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Labour cuts anti-paedophile service

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, has condemned the decision by the Welsh Labour Government to withdraw funding for the Disclosure and Barring Service checking of those involved with children’s’ sports and activities.

The Welsh Government presently funds the Wales Council for Voluntary Service to provide a free service to clubs and charities in Wales who need to make sure that people who volunteer to work with children and vulnerable adults in all kinds of sporting and other settings are properly vetted by the Disclosure and Barring Service. This funding is being withdrawn as of 31st May this year.

Mr Black said: “This senseless Labour cut will make it harder to safeguard children and the vulnerable properly. Some organisations may not now carry out the checks to the right standards, and others simply won’t have the cash to be able to check every single coach or helper, which will mean the withdrawal of activities.

“Everybody agrees that playing sport where possible, and having decent leisure and volunteering activities are vital for children and young people as they grow. Yet at the same time, it is vital that our children, and other vulnerable people, are protected from those few who would do them harm.

“That is why we have a Disclosure & Barring Service, and that is also why this cut is mistaken and misguided. Labour need to consult organisations such as St John Ambulance, and the WRU further about this and think again.”

Friday, February 12, 2016

Ian Sherwood MBE

Ian Sherwood, long-standing member of the Liberal Democrats, former assistant to Simon Hughes MP and an ex-mayor of Briton Ferry received his MBE at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Welsh Liberal Democrats deliver on patient safety


Yesterday, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams' More Nurses Bill passed in the Assembly and became law. This will mean Wales is the first country in Europe to have a legal requirement for nursing staff numbers on our wards.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Welsh Lib Dems deliver for Neath Port Talbot

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today secured, amongst other things, £14,783,250 extra investment in schools in the Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend areas.
Last year the Welsh Liberal Democrats agreed to a two year deal, worth £223m, to allow the Welsh Government’s budget to pass in exchange for the implementation of Welsh Liberal Democrat policies.  Assembly Members today voted on that budget.
Amongst other achievements, the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured an increase in the Pupil Premium (also known as ‘Pupil Deprivation Grant’) so every school receives £1,150 per pupil on free school meals, a Young Persons’ Bus Pass so young people can travel for free to work and training, and 5,000 new apprenticeships.
That means that next year Neath Port Talbot schools will receive £4,532,150 targeted on the most deprived pupils.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black said:
“I’m delighted we have secured this extra investment for our area.
“Let’s be clear: the positives in this budget are because of Welsh Liberal Democrat influence.
“Whether it is securing over £200m investment for education, delivering funding for thousands of new apprenticeships, or supporting young people getting to work and training, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have a record of delivery for our communities.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats continue to punch above our weight and today’s budget, which delivers on a number of priorities which have a positive impact on people’s lives, is evidence of that.”


The Welsh Liberal Democrats secured:
  • an increase in the Pupil Premium (aka Pupil Deprivation Grant): in 2016/17 each school will receive £1,150 for every pupil eligible to receive free schools;
  • the extension of the Pupil Premium to include under 5s, worth £300 per pupil on free school meals;
  • a Young Persons’ Bus Pass for 16-18 year olds worth nearly £15m;
  • funding for around 5,000 new apprenticeships;
  • £95m capital investment in infrastructure that will provide a strong boost to jobs and the economy;
  • an agreement that no construction of the M4 relief road will start before the next Assembly elections alongside a detailed Environmental Impact Study;
  • extra childcare investment for further education students in Wales who are parents, investing in a pilot scheme promoted by the National Union of Students.