On the 21st August 2023 I wrote to the Rt Hon Lord Beynon at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs regarding my deep concern over the potential reversal of the ban on electric shock collars in dog training.
You can read my letter in full below:
Groups across Gower have joined local MP Tonia Antoniazzi in calling on Dŵr Cymru to take immediate action following the latest of several sewerage discharges at beaches in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
These includes a discharge from a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) at popular beach Caswell which left the water unsafe for swimmers and saw Surfability, the UK’s first adaptive surf-school, forced to cancel lessons for a day to protect the health of their staff and service users.
Tom Barber, a senior coach at Surfability outlined the impact of sewage overflows, “…compromise not only the safety of sessions but the confidence to take vulnerable people into the water. This isn't the first time this happened, and we doubt this will be the last”.
Now local groups are asking when Dŵr Cymru will take the urgent action needed to protect the health of people, the coastal environment, and the livelihood of people in Gower who rely on the tourist trade.
Tonia Antoniazzi said “people in Gower deserve answers as to what is being done now to deal with these urgent problems. Speaking to constituents I know they are frustrated with a lack of answers and simply a reiteration of how much money is being invested in systems.
I’m supportive of Dŵr Cymru’s business model but we can’t allow that to become a get out of jail free card for not dealing with the immediate issue of sewage making our beaches unsafe”.
7A campaign to collect stationary for pupils in Gower has been re-launched this week by Tonia Antoniazzi MP and Rebecca Evans MS to help parents meet the rising costs of getting children ready to return to school in September.
People wishing to support the campaign can make donations of new pens, pencils, pencil cases, erasers, rulers, notebooks, sharpeners and stationary sets at various drop off bins across Gower and Swansea.
Donations are being accepted up until pupils return to school in Libraries across Gower including Pennard, Oystermouth, Clydach, Gowerton, Pontarddulais, Gorseinon.
Tonia Antoniazzi, Member of Parliament for Gower said, “We’ve brought back this campaign to help parents who are being hit hard by the ongoing cost of living.”
“We’ve had a decade of falling behind when we should have been forging ahead. Instead, families are having to cut back during this time of insecurity.
“I want this campaign to ease a little bit of pressure on families and I want to make sure that every pupil has what they need for their education this upcoming school year.
Rebecca Evans MS, said: “Getting kitted out for the new school year can be really exciting, but with it comes with financial pressure. Our local stationary campaign is a great way to help with some of that.
"Our school stationary collection has been really successful in recent years, and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated.
"I would urge families on lower incomes, and who qualify for certain benefits, to find out more about the Welsh Government's School Essentials Grant. Depending on the year the child is going into, you could be eligible for either £125 or £200 to help with the cost of school uniform or other essential kit.
You can find out more on the council's website."
Tonia Antoniazzi, Member of Parliament for Gower, took part in the Macmillan Mighty Hike around Gower to raise funds for local cancer services.
The event, organised by Macmillan Cancer Support, saw hundreds of people participating in a marathon walk around Gower in support of people living with cancer and to raise money and awareness for Macmillan.
The marathon walk which started and finished in Penrice Castle sent participants through the UK's first Area of Outstanding National Beauty by following the world renowned coastline through Three Cliffs, Oxwich, Rhossili Bay and Worms Head.
Tonia Antoniazzi, who has previously held the position as the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, was participating for the second year in a row and raised over £1100 for Macmillan.
Speaking after the event, Tonia Antoniazzi said “I am incredibly proud to have completed the Mighty Hike for Macmillan alongside my former rugby teammate Karen Samuel and my cousin David Boyce.
This isn’t the first time I’ve participated in the Mighty Hike but this year everything has hit home. A few months ago, we found out my Mother would need to undergo cancer treatment, and since then she’s been looked after by the phenomenal doctors, nurses and care staff at Macmillan and Maggies in Singleton. Anyone who has undergone cancer treatment or seen their friends or family go through it knows what a distressing time it can be but the support our family have had from Macmillan and Maggies has been second to none and they deserve recognition and support.
“In Wales, 1 in 2 people will be affected by cancer in their lifetime. It’s so important that you go to your cancer screenings and be vigilant to changes in your body because early detection is so important.
“If you’re worried about any symptoms you’re experiencing, speak to your GP immediately. Don’t wait, don’t think you’re a nag or an inconvenience, don’t take that risk because it could save your life!”
“Finally I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who generously donated to this worthy cause and extend my thanks to Macmillan, the walk organizers, stewards, and volunteers who dedicated their time to make the day a huge success and ensure we were kept safe along the route. Diolch!”
Gower MP joins new cross-party multi-nation alliance calling on all 4 UK nations to the ban handcuffing of innocent children in care
Tonia Antoniazzi MP is calling on the governments of all 4 UK nations to take action to ban the handcuffing of innocent children in care when being transported from one care setting to another.
Today, Tonia Antoniazzi MP joined other politicians in the House of Commons to mark Child Safety Week and to commemorate Wales’s recent progress on this issue, where strong guidelines have been introduced. The new alliance has also called for similar guidelines to be implemented UK-wide by governments in London, Edinburgh and Belfast.
A number of the politicians, including Tonia have also posed with photographs of themselves on social media posing in the style of the Hope Instead of Handcuffs campaign logo with their wrists touching, to show their support for the campaign and to send a message to the UK that they oppose this brutal practice and that action must be taken to prohibit it.
Currently, some private transportation providers handcuff vulnerable children on journeys whilst they are being transported between care settings, causing them significant pain and distress, and in complete breach of their human rights as laid out by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. To be clear, these are innocent children who have not been accused of any crime.
A particular concern is that there is no regulation or responsibility for transport providers to report any official record of instances of handcuffing, so the scale of the issue is likely far greater than we are currently aware of, not to mention the shocking lack of transparency and accountability.
Other MPs who are major supporters of the campaign include prominent Labour politicians, such as former Shadow Women and Equalities Minister Sarah Champion and former Shadow Minister for Children and families Steve McCabe.
These politicians and others are calling for mandatory regulations of this process in all 4 UK nations, ensuring that restraint is only used an absolute last resort, and that any instances of restraint must be carefully recorded and monitored by local authorities to improve transparency and accountability. The campaign’s aim is that this increased transparency and accountability will eventually end the handcuffing of innocent children altogether.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “It’s vital that more is done to protect children’s rights and I hope the government in Westminster bans the awful practice of private transportation providers violently restraining innocent children.
“I’m delighted that Wales has taken positive steps in becoming the first UK nation to introduce regulations to protect innocent children in care from being unnecessarily restrained. But now the Tory government in Westminster needs to make sure that similar regulations are introduced to protect vulnerable children in England as well.”
Thousands of households in Swansea hit by Tory mortgage penalty as families face paying thousands more in increased mortgage bills.
8100 families in Gower hit by Tory mortgage penalty as families face annual mortgage payment increase of £2500 this year under the Conservatives. 7300 households in Swansea East will face an estimated £1500 increase, and 5700 households in Swansea West will face an estimated £2000 increase.
Labour analysis reveals that the average household in Swansea is set to be put under more pressure than ever by Conservative mismanagement of the economy.
Analysis from the Labour Party allows people to search the amount that mortgages are predicted to rise, including by £2500 in Gower constituency.
It follows the news that many mortgage deals are being withdrawn by Banks and interest rates being increased, with Moneyfacts data suggesting the typical rate on a two year fixed-rate loan had increased to almost 6%, almost double a year ago, and the Resolution Foundation estimating that 6.5m households will be affected by the post-mini budget rise in mortgage rates by 2026.
This week, economists warned that there is a real risk of job losses and a sharp recession. The latest forecasts of economic growth this year suggest that the UK is struggling to get out of the slow lane, with growth of just 0.2% forecast on the year.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Labour MP for Gower, said:
“The Tory mortgage penalty is devastating for family finances and is holding back our economy.
“The country is buckling under 13 years of Conservative mismanagement and a crashed economy, and it is families being asked to pay more on their mortgage once again.
“People are asking themselves whether they or their family are better off under the Tories. The answer is no.
"Labour will bring financial and economic security back, so that families are not constantly on a cliff edge, and so that we can urgently grow our economy to grab hold of opportunities of the future."
Tonia Antoniazzi, the Member of Parliament for Gower showed support for the rights of guide dog owners at an event in Parliament organised by the charity Guide Dogs.
Guide dogs are key for many people with sight loss to getting around independently, but research from the charity Guide Dogs has shown that 81% of guide dog owners have been turned away from shops, restaurants and others businesses because of their dogs.
This discrimination can be humiliating and debilitating, with almost half of guide dog owners saying they have changed their plans or restrict visits to avoid being refused.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP learnt more about the charity’s campaign to strengthen the law and requirements for training to prevent access refusals from happening in the first place.
Commenting on the event, Tonia Antoniazzi MP said:
"We must strengthen the law and improve training requirements to put an end to this unacceptable treatment. Guide dog owners deserve equal access and the freedom to live their lives without obstacles."
Eleanor Briggs, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs, said: “Guide dog owners deserve to be able to live the lives they want and feel confident, independent, and supported in the world. However, too many guide dog owners continue to face discrimination and are turned away because they have their guide dog with them. That’s why we are calling for action to strengthen the law to end this unacceptable discrimination.”
Tonia Antoniazzi, MP for Gower took a break from political battles last week to take part in a more light-hearted contest to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The 35th annual Macmillan Tug of War saw MPs battle it out against Peers from the House of Lords on the 6th June in the grounds of Westminster Abbey. Sponsored by Banham Charitable Foundation, the event was hosted by sports broadcaster, Mark Pougatch and raised £130,000 and counting for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Tonia Antoniazzi, who captained the “Mighty MPs” team won against a team from the House of Lords in a fiercely fought battle of brawn over brains.
The parliamentary matches were keenly watched by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP and Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith.
Gemma Peters, CEO of Macmillan Cancer Support welcomed guests to the event and announced the launch of a new campaign for the charity.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “Being a captain for the charity tug of war competition was an incredible experience and every year it’s a privilege to take part. The Lords team had a few new recruits this year but they couldn’t match us! I am overjoyed at the incredible support Macmillan has received yet again this year. I am hopeful to contribute a bit more to the fundraising when I complete the Mighty Hike around Gower next month!”
Click the link below to donate! https://bit.ly/TeamTonia2023
Gemma Peters, CEO, Macmillan Cancer Support said:
“The Macmillan Tug of War is a fun and unique event with a serious message.
People living with cancer are facing among the worst cancer waiting times on record and these delays are risking lives. This isn’t good enough. We’re determined to do whatever it takes to make sure everyone gets the cancer care they need, when they need it. That’s why later this month Macmillan Cancer Support will be launching a campaign - What Are We Waiting For? - calling on decision makers across the UK to take action to reduce waiting times.”
“I’d like to thank all our generous Tug of War donors and sponsors. Thanks to the incredible £130,000 raised this year, Macmillan can continue doing whatever it takes to support people living with cancer.”
To take part in a Macmillan fundraising event this summer, visit: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/fundraise
For cancer support and advice, call the Macmillan Support Line free on: 0808 808 00 00 (8am – 8pm, 7 days a week).
As part of Dementia Action Week (15-21 May), Tonia Antoniazzi MP attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by Alzheimer’s Society where they found out that, unlike in England, NHS Wales doesn’t publish a dementia diagnosis rate.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has lent their support to the charity’s Dementia Action Week campaign on the importance of dementia diagnosis. The tagline “It’s not called getting old, it’s called getting ill” encourages people worried about their own or a loved one’s memory, to seek support in getting a diagnosis using a ‘symptoms checklist’. This is available on Alzheimer’s Society’s online hub at www.alzheimers.org.uk/memoryloss.
Now, Tonia Antoniazzi MP is joining Alzheimer’s Society to call on NHS Wales to ensure that comprehensive dementia diagnosis data is collected and published centrally on a national level so that Wales’ performance can be compared to other parts of the UK.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “There are around 50,000 people in Wales living with dementia, but we have no way of knowing what percentage are actually diagnosed with the condition. Everyone living with dementia deserves an accurate, timely, and high-quality dementia diagnosis so they can access vital care and support, and plan for their future. High-quality data will benefit people with dementia, and enable NHS Wales to plan resources more effectively.”
James White, Head of National Influencing at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We thank Tonia Antoniazzi MP for meeting with us, and showing their support this Dementia Action Week.
“In England, the dementia diagnosis rate fell below the national ambition during the pandemic, and it has remained stagnant around 62% ever since. More than 30,000 people have missed out on a diagnosis during this period.
“We believe it’s better to know – 9 in 10 people told us they benefitted from getting a diagnosis as it meant they could access treatment and advice and plan for the future.
“In Wales, we don’t even know the scale of the diagnosis challenge, so we need high-quality local and national data as soon as possible.”
For support and information about dementia visit alzheimers.org.uk/memoryloss or call Alzheimer’s Society on 0333 150 3456.
[0330 094 7400 Welsh-speaking number] For callers who do not have English as their language of choice, Alzheimer’s Society can arrange a simultaneous language translation service.
● National charity Melanoma Focus issues warning after new survey data shows that 32% of UK adults don't use sunscreen despite most burning at least once per year.
● Only 11% say they always use sunscreen in the UK, dropping to 8% for males.
● Melanoma is on the rise in the UK and is the most serious form of skin cancer.
● Survey also finds that 28% of British people have used sunbeds, a known cause of melanoma.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has added their voice to Melanoma Awareness Month after experts raised concerns in response to the new data released today by the charity Melanoma Focus which shows that 32% of British people reported rarely or never using sunscreen when in the UK and only 11% saying that they always use it.
Male respondents were particularly reluctant to use sunscreen, with 40% saying they rarely or never use it in the UK and only 8% reporting always using it.
When asked why they don’t use sunscreen the majority (39%) said it’s because they don't expect to burn. This is despite 52% of all respondents reporting that they got sunburned at least once per year, rising to 71% for 26-35 year olds.
Melanoma skin cancer is a serious and potentially fatal condition, yet people in the UK are often ignoring the dangers posed by prolonged exposure to the UV rays.
1 in 36 men and 1 in 47 women in the UK will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in their lifetime. It is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is in the top five most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK, killing 2,333 people per year. Yet 86% of melanomas are preventable.
Melanoma skin cancer is becoming more common in the UK, with around 16,700 new cases every year (46 every day). Recent research has shown that there has been a huge increase in the number of people in the UK being diagnosed with melanoma, despite efforts to educate the public on the risks. Over the last decade, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have increased by around a third (32%) in the UK. Rates in females have increased by more than a quarter (27%), and rates in males have increased by almost two-fifths (38%). It is expected to continue to rise.
The vast majority (86%) of melanoma skin cancer is preventable yet the new data shows that as well as many not wearing sunscreen, a quarter of British people (24%) think that a sunscreen below SPF 30 is the minimum needed for skin protection and 17% said they didn’t know what the minimum was.
The reported use of sunbeds is also a serious concern. It is estimated that in the UK about 100 people die each year from melanomas that are due to sunbed use.
The survey found that 28% of British people have used sunbeds despite 82% of all respondents knowing that they increase the risk of skin cancer. Sunbed use was highest among 26-35 year olds at 40%.
Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus, said:
“About seven people die from melanoma every day in the UK and more people die from melanoma in the UK than in Australia. The fact that people are continuing to ignore the warnings and not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from skin cancer is concerning.
“About 9 in 10 melanoma skin cancer cases are preventable and it is vital that people take the warnings about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and the dangers of sunbed use seriously.
“Sunbeds can be incredibly dangerous and it’s concerning that their use is so popular in the UK. The best way to protect yourself from the dangers of sunbeds is to avoid them altogether and use high-factor sun protection, along with seeking shade and wearing a hat when in the sun.”
Professor Catherine Harwood, Consultant Dermatologist at Barts Health and Trustee at Melanoma Focus, said:
“The survey results clearly show that many people in the UK don’t always appreciate how dangerous sunburn can be. Sun exposure, particularly when young, can cause permanent DNA damage in the skin making it more likely for skin cancers like melanoma to develop.
“Skin protection should be taken seriously, especially by those with lighter skin tones. During the summer, whether in the UK or abroad, I recommend wearing a combined UVA and UVB sunscreen of SPF 30 or above and avoiding the sun in the middle of the day.
“Sunbeds or tanning beds are also a serious issue as they emit a type of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can damage the DNA of skin cells, leading to an increased risk of skin cancer. Additionally, people who use tanning beds are more likely to get sunburns, which can further damage the skin.”
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said “I’m delighted to support Melanoma Awareness Month and do what I can to help my constituents protect themselves and their loved ones from this rising and very serious form of skin cancer.”