You may have seen in the press my colleague Carolyn Harris doing an excellent job raising awareness about the plight of Swansea Foodbanks. For the first time ever, Foodbanks across Swansea have begun to run out of food. This is due to the school holidays and many parents struggling to feed their children.
Many concerned constituents have got in touch and asked what the situation in Gower is and how they can help. After liaising with Swansea Foodbank, I can confirm that the situation is the same in this constituency and food is running low across the board.
I am therefore issuing an urgent appeal to everyone who is able to donate food. You will be able to drop off food at my office at Ty Newydd Community Centre, 17 West Street, Gorseinon, SA4 4AA for the next week. We will then deliver it to the Foodbank.
As supplies are running so low they require anything and everything you can spare, however if you are stuck for ideas please buy the following:
UHT & Powdered Milk
Tinned & dried potatoes
The Tories want us to think that bi-mode trains are a good for Wales, but here’s the truth about the benefits of electrification.
Having a positive can-do attitude is essential as a new MP. I have made my disappointment very clear in the media about the Tories letting us down. They have failed to deliver electrification any further west than the capital city and instead of being branded a ‘Welsh whinger’ I just want to highlight WHY electrification is good for Gower, Swansea and further West.
This week, I pressed Sam Hadley from Network Rail on electrification and services to Swansea considering the Tory U turn on electrification. Welsh MPs and AMs now need to look forward and seek out ways to fund electrification. Having read the report by lead economist Gerry Haltham, we need to consider the options will deliver for Wales despite the Tory resistance to invest.
So why is electrification better? Electric trains offer the best train performance and lowest journey times compared to bi-mode trains. They give a low noise passenger environment, when the bi-mode train uses its diesel engine there will be increased noise for those in the train and those living along the railway. Currently the HST (High Speed Trains) have a diesel engine at both ends of the train unlike the diesel/electric bi-mode trains. So, the noise of the proposed bi-mode trains will be worse for passengers.
The Welsh Government has a low carbon transition delivery plan in which electrification would be a key feature. We should therefore be focused on leading the transition to low carbon – to lay the foundations for a better future and maximise the long-term benefits to Wales along the way. Therefore, electrification is part of reducing Wales’s dependency on oil and future oil variation.
We need to be looking at a more joined up approach to energy and our transport infrastructure in Wales. Electricity from renewable energy such as solar and tidal can provide for electric trains and cars across Wales. More significantly in my opinion for Wales, electrification opens potential for additional regional electric services to integrate not only Swansea and Cardiff but the rest of Wales.
Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi has showed her support for farmers in the Gower and throughout Wales by pledging to #BackWelshFarming at the Royal Welsh Show.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP met with NFU Cymru officeholders at the Llanelwedd showground on Monday 24th to discuss how she could actively support the Welsh agricultural industry through the challenging times ahead.
NFU Cymru’s #BackWelshFarming drive encourages the public and politicians to support Welsh farmers by championing the industry and pledging to buy Welsh produce. The long-running campaign links in with the Union’s #ProudToProduce message at this year’s Royal Welsh Show, which sees farmers displaying colourful bale stickers and gate banners to highlight the work they do in producing Wales’ food, environment and landscapes.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “Welsh farmers are the country’s unsung heroes; they work hard every day of the year to produce the nation’s food, care for the environment and sculpt the picturesque landscapes that Wales is famous for. I’m proud to support our country’s producers and #BackWelshFarming. As part of this pledge, I will be encouraging people in Gower to join me in supporting this important campaign.”
NFU Cymru President Stephen James added: “We are extremely grateful to Tonia Antoniazzi MP for pledging to #BackWelshFamring during her visit to this year’s Royal Welsh Show. There are challenging times ahead for the Welsh agricultural industry and having the support of Tonia MP and knowing she will champion our cause with her constituents in Gower is welcome news for the nation’s farmers.”
For more information about NFU Cymru’s campaign work, and to find out how you can #BackWelshFarming, visit www.nfu-cymru.org.uk.
Tonia Antoniazzi AS Gŵyr yn cefnogi ffermio Cymru
Mae Tonia Antoniazzi AS Gŵyr wedi dangos ei chefnogaeth i ffermwyr yn Y Gŵyr a dros Gymru gyfan trwy addo #CefnogiFfermioCymru yn Sioe Frenhinol Cymru.
Cyfarfu Tonia Antoniazzi AS gyda swyddogion NFU Cymru ar faes y sioe yn Llanelwedd ar Ddydd Llun y 24ain i drafod sut y gall hi gefnogi’n weithredol y diwydiant amaethyddol Cymreig yn ystod y cyfnod heriol o’n blaenau.
Mae ymgyrch NFU Cymru #CefnogiFfermioCymru yn annog y cyhoedd a gwleidyddion i gefnogi ffermwyr Cymreig wrth hyrwyddo’r diwydiant ac addo prynu cynnyrch Cymreig. Mae’r ymgyrch hon, eisoes wedi ei sefydlu, yn creu cyswllt eleni gyda neges yr Undeb am falchder cynhyrchu, sef #BalchIGynhyrchu, yn Sioe Frenhinol Cymru, lle gwelir ffermwyr yn arddangos sticeri byrnau lliwgar a baneri llidiart i amlygu eu gwaith cynhyrchu bwyd, amgylchedd a thirweddau Cymru.
Meddai Tonia Antoniazzi AS: “Ffermwyr Cymreig yw arwyr di-glod ein gwlad; maen nhw ’n gweithio’n galed bob dydd o’r flwyddyn i gynhyrchu bwyd y genedl, gofalu am yr amgylchedd a cherflunio tirwedd ddarluniadwy enwog Cymru. Rwy’n fach cefnogi cynhyrchwyr ein gwlad a #CefnogiFfermioCymru. Fel rhan o’r addewid hwn, byddaf yn annog pobl Y Gŵyr i ymuno gyda mi trwy gefnogi’r ymgyrch pwysig hwn.”
Ychwanegodd Stephen James, Llywydd NFU Cymru: “Rydym yn ddiolchgar dros ben i Tonia Antoniazzi AS am addo #CefnogiFfermioCymru wrth ymweld â Sioe Frenhinol Cymru eleni. Mae cyfnod heriol yn wynebu’r diwydiant amaethyddol Cymreig ac mae cael cefnogaeth Tonia a gwybod y bydd hi yn hyrwyddo ein hachos ymhlith etholwyr Aberhonddu a Maesyfed yn newyddion da ar gyfer ffermwyr y genedl.”
I gael mwy o wybodaeth am waith ymgyrchu NFU Cymru, ac i ddarganfod sut y gallir #CefnogiFfermioCymru, ymwelwch ag www.nfu-cymru.org.uk.
There has been quite a lot of talk in recent days of the Welsh Government's decision to modify the tuition fees model in Wales, so I thought I'd clear up a lot of the disinformation that is being spread around.
Firstly, a few people have accused Labour of being disingenuous by promising to scrap tuition fees at the 2017 General Election in its manifesto. There is an important distinction to note here - tuition fees are a devolved capacity so they are set by the Welsh Government via the National Assembly for Wales. Welsh Labour Assembly Members were elected on an entirely separate manifesto, in the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections. This manifesto committed Welsh Labour to implementing the recommendations of the Diamond Review - so the actions taken to change the fees system in Wales were democratically endorsed by the electorate at the election in 2016. The 2017 manifesto was to the House of Commons - which only deals with tuition fees in England. This is still relevant to Wales, as increases in funding for England via the House of Commons result in a 'Barnett consequential' increase in funding for Wales.
This is why the fee change has been necessary - due to the decision of the Conservatives in the House of Commons, government funding to universities has been cut by over 80%. Wales' budget has been reduced in line with this. Although the Assembly has the power to set fees, the House of Commons in effect has the power to choose how much money the Assembly has to pay for these measures. For this reason, tuition fees in Wales have been at £9,000 for a number of years - with the Welsh Government paying off a significant proportion of the fees via the 'tuition fees grant'. As the funding cuts came from the Conservatives in Westminster and student numbers in Wales have risen, the grant has risen to almost £250m a year. Universities in Wales have seen their budgets barely rise as a result, with non-statutory mandated services cut heavily, explaining a large rise in redundancies in the Welsh higher education sector.
The Diamond Review therefore undertook a study and found that the main concern of poorer students accessing university was not fees, but funding their time and living costs at university. The 'maintenance loans' were found to be a regressive system - poorer students required a larger loan, therefore graduating with more debt to pay back.
The Diamond Review therefore recommended that the £5,100 tuition fees grant be replaced with a basic maintenance grant of £1,000 for all students, with an additional means-tested grant. This is designed to remove the cost of living at university (and expected parental subsidy during this time), removing a barrier to a university education for poorer students. They will also graduate with less debt due to the maintenance grant replacing the current maintenance loan, and are less likely to take out overdrafts with banks.
The National Union of Students Wales has welcomed the Diamond Review, stating: "“For some university isn’t an aspiration as meeting the cost of living without working full time seems impossible. We are sure that doing more to support people to get into university by helping with their immediate costs is a positive step forward.”
Tonia Antoniazzi MP: If rail electrification has been cancelled, my constituents will have been lied to
Tonia Antoniazzi, the newly-elected MP for Gower, has today slammed the Government over speculation they will cancel rail electrification to Swansea.
The Conservatives had promised to electrify the railway up to Swansea, including during the election less than six weeks ago.
"This is starting to look like a pre-planned move from before the election. The Conservatives have gone into the General Election telling residents of Gower that the rail line would be electrified up to Swansea, promising 'the biggest single investment in Welsh rail infrastructure for decades'. If they go back on this, they will have broken this promise immediately. My constituents will feel lied to and betrayed, and the Government will have serious questions to answer.
"Electrification will have bring shorter journey times from the rest of the UK to Swansea, allowing industry and business to reach us with ease. If it turns out to be a Conservative vote-grabbing gimmick, people in Gower will learn not to trust their promises - and rightly so."
"Gower is in desperate need of investment and electrification must go ahead".
As well as various statements from Conservative figures confirming electrification to Swansea would go ahead, less than a week ago Tonia asked the Secretary of State for Transport to confirm that it would be delivered on time, to which he gave no objection. You can read the full exchange here - https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2017-07-13a.410.5&s=speaker%3A25634#g410.6
Two Penyrheol Comprehensive pupils and their teacher have spent the day in Parliament with Tonia as part of their Year 10 work experience.
Jonathan, 15, said "It was a privilege to be sat in the House of Commons."
Connor, 15, said "It's fascinating to see all the buildings like the Supreme Court and Big Ben up close because of their history."
Their teacher Chrissie said "Tonia and her staff have been wonderful today and an inspiration to future generations."
The pair will be based for the rest of the week in Tonia's constituency office in Gorseinon, learning about the role of an MP in the community and the parliamentary process.
Recent reports have stated that the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project is in its most precarious position since its inception.
Those involved with the project have taken the unprecedented step of publicly calling out the Conservative government for allowing the project to slowly die off.
Swansea Tidal Lagoon investors have reportedly decided to put off further investments in the proposed £1.3bn project as if could hit delays due to the UK Government's indecisiveness to give it a final go-ahead.
Staff at the project have reportedly been asked to cut back to four day working weeks as the investment money runs out.
"I'm calling on the Government to back our 'Save the Tidal Lagoon' campaign and sign it off before it's too late".
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said "It is shocking that despite the Hendry review calling for the project to be passed as soon as possible, the government is allowing it to slowly die. This project is so important to my constituents in Gower for the investment and jobs it will bring. I'm calling on the Government to back our 'Save the Tidal Lagoon' campaign and sign it off before it's too late".
Carolyn Harris MP said "This is the biggest proposed piece of investment in my constituency for as long as I can remember. It's beyond belief that the government would give local people hope about this project, let it pass all the tests they set for it, and then kill it off anyway. Their current position is proving to everyone that the Conservatives don't care what happens to our area".
Following numerous newspaper articles and correspondence from concerned residents:
I would never condone negative campaigning or the defacing of candidate signs. It should be noted I had signs defaced during the campaign. It takes real guts for anyone to put their name on the ballot paper and stand for election, and I unequivocally condemn any personal abuse or the spreading of false information in the course of political campaigning.
I also experienced a great deal of personal abuse during the GE campaign but I refused to be deterred and led a positive campaign supported by the Gower CLP and Welsh Labour, building on the success in the Welsh Assembly elections of Rebecca Evans AM.
I won the seat of Gower with positive campaigning and knocking on every door, speaking to over 6,000 constituents in the week leading up to the election. The Labour Party shared a positive vision for how our country can thrive and the people of Gower welcomed that. Our success not only in Gower but in Cardiff North and the Vale of Clwyd was a down to a united campaign which appealed to voters of all ages, based on our distinct and ambitious vision for Wales.
I'm sorry that the unjustifiable abuse both myself and my opponent received happened, but it's time to get on with delivering for Gower, not going over arguments from the campaign. The campaign is over now and we can't let anything distract from the important work of standing up for Gower.
Welsh Labour have also commented:
Welsh Labour fought a positive campaign across the nation based on our distinct and ambitious vision for Wales. We will take action against any Labour member in breach of any rules or laws, or who has brought the party into disrepute.
Tonia has pushed the government over bank closures and lack of access to banking facilities in places like Clydach and Pontardulais. In a written question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, she asked them what steps they were taking to ensure that the banking industry complies with the Access to Banking Protocol.
Stephen Barclay, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, replied that ‘Decisions on the opening and closing of individual bank branches are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis without intervention from Government’.
“It’s about time the Conservatives took notice and gave Gower communities the attention they deserve”.
Tonia said ‘The Government has given a complacent answer that demonstrates how little they care about the lack of access to banks. Banks can be the life blood of a local economy. You can’t expect town centres to prosper without access to proper banking facilities.
They say that the closing of individual bank branches is undertaken without intervention from the Government. Well it’s about time the Government intervened.
It’s about time the Conservatives took notice and gave Gower communities the attention they deserve’.