The future of farming support, progress of the valleys taskforce, Pinewood controversy, and the long-waited Brexit White Paper…
Welsh Government consults on the future of farming support
In his new role as the Welsh Conservatives’ rural affairs spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies quizzed Lesley Griffiths on the Welsh Government’s consultation on a new land management programme to support Welsh farmers post-Brexit. Highlighting the impact of the current heatwave on crops and livestock, the former leader of the Welsh Conservatives argued that the consultation does little to address volatility in the marketplace. Recognising the importance of assisting businesses in this regard, Ms Griffiths this week announced a temporary relaxation of Glastir obligations to help farmers and land owners during the current spell of dry weather.
Progress of the valleys taskforce discussed
Alun Davies updated AMs on progress made by the taskforce for the south Wales valleys since the publication of the ‘Our Valleys, Our Future’ action plan last year. In a plenary debate, Mr Davies said the taskforce has “planted the seeds” for sustainable growth in the three priority areas of employment, public services, and community. The progress report shows that 1,000 economically inactive people in the taskforce area have started work through government-led employment programmes, 1,000 people and small businesses have been supported through advice and business support, and 100 SMEs have been created. However, the Bevan Foundation, based in Merthyr Tydfil, have been critical of the programme, saying it lacks ambition and is not reaching those who most need it and arguing that recent investment in Taffs Well and Nantgarw was not in core Valley areas.
Government discloses irregularities in Pinewood studio purchase
The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee took evidence from the Welsh Government on the S4C review, Pinewood and Creative Wales on Wednesday. Under questioning from committee chair, Bethan Sayed, government official Mick McGuire revealed that the Welsh Government purchased the building for Pinewood’s studio without conducting a full building survey then had to fork out £1m on repairing a leaking roof.
Cautious welcome for Brexit agreement
The UK Government was rocked by several high-profile resignations this week following the Chequers compromise over the country’s future relationship with the EU. UKIP AM Caroline Jones was critical of the agreement during First Minister’s Questions, arguing that it would see the UK forced to accept many of the EU’s laws. Carwyn Jones reiterated the Welsh Government’s policy of staying in the customs union and ensuring full and unfettered access to the single market.
Later in the week, Mr Jones gave the UK Government’s long-awaited White Paper on UK relations with the EU a “cautious welcome” but added that customs plans were “unworkable”. The First Minister intends to discuss the proposals with the EU’s chief negotiation Michel Barnier in Brussels next Monday. Meanwhile, Mark Drakeford announced seven new members to the European Advisory Group this week. The new members, which includes Housing Minister Rebecca Evans, have been selected due to their expertise in areas that are likely to be affected by Brexit.