Column 22nd June 2017

I was so saddened by the news of the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in West London. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, those who have lost their lives, their loved ones, those injured. Our emergency services of course continue to do a fantastic job. Everyone wants to understand what happened, and how to prevent it from happening again, and I was pleased to learn that the Welsh Government have completed a first round of urgent discussions with all residential social landlords in Wales. The Welsh Government are also setting up an expert group, including representatives from the social housing and fire sectors to examine all of the lessons coming out of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and their application to Wales. 

Hard on the heels of this tragic event we have also seen yet another terrorist attack on our streets. How can anyone mow down innocent people in this fashion, in this case an unwell, elderly man being cared for by others outside a place of worship. No religion in the world, no cause, justifies such atrocities.

Last weekend saw people around Wales and the UK join in The Great Get Together inspired by Jo Cox, who was murdered a year ago. Jo’s family and friends came up with the initiative to celebrate Jo’s life, believing there is a groundswell of people who reject divisive politics and simply want to bring our communities together and celebrate all that unites us.

As politicians we’re asked to support many issues and campaigns no matter our political party. I was pleased to support fellow AM Paul Davies’ proposed Autism Bill in the Assembly. Many of you have contacted me on this matter including with personal accounts of direct experience of accessing services in the West Wales region. It is simply not good enough that it can take as long as it does for some children to reach a diagnosis compared to elsewhere in Wales.

This week I was also pleased to support the amazing work done by Marie Curie in Wales caring and supporting people with terminal illness. I also showed my support for Time to Change Wales’ Reach Out campaign which encourages us all to reach out to friends, family members and colleagues who are living with mental health problems. As their campaign says, small things can make all the difference. Reaching out to each other makes all the difference too.

Which brings me to the Queen’s Speech this week. There’s an assumption that a UK framework will be established when powers over agriculture and fisheries return from the EU. Whilst this at first might look like common sense, in fact it’s a power grab by the UK Government of Welsh  Government powers. This is unacceptable, as is the fact that there was almost no reference to Wales. We need to work together.