From this week’s South Wales Argus ‘Your MP Writes’ column:
There were slim pickings for Newport East and Wales in last week’s Autumn Statement. Yet again the government have treated Wales as an afterthought, with virtually nothing to say on the significant challenges facing our country.
Yes, the additional money announced for Wales for the next five years is welcome, but it is simply a consequence of the Barnett formula rather than any real show of intent or support for Wales.
There were calls in the run up to the Autumn Statement for investment in big spending infrastructure projects, in view of the uncertainty in Wales around Brexit. Existing EU funds are worth around £650 million to Wales every year, and the government have yet to say if they will replace the funds Wales will be losing out on.
That means there is still uncertainty for ambitious projects like the South Wales Metro, despite last week’s the warm words of support for it from the UK transport minister. The Metro could help to integrate Newport East transport with the rest of South Wales, including better links with the Valleys, and a significant economic boost for our area. There’s huge potential in this project, but in addition to the Welsh Government’s funding, the UK government needs to give concrete assurances that they will provide the funds to guarantee that Wales will not lose out.
There was also no news on the day for tidal lagoons. There is much support for the pathfinder Swansea Bay lagoon, which could lead the way in kick starting a new energy sector in Wales, with big potential for more lagoons in Newport and Cardiff.
There was also little mention of help for the steel industry in the autumn statement, and it is clear we must continue to make sure the government uses UK steel in new infrastructure projects.
This month I spoke in an important debate on police safety on behalf of various families in Newport. This was raised again in PMQs, and I will continue to support the hard working police officers and their families that are being stretched thin by government cuts.
As my next column is after Christmas, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all organisations working across Newport East.
It’s a lovely time to meet so many constituents at the events, markets, and fairs.
I’ll be out and about and I hope to see many of you.