I was really pleased to be part of the first Rhiannon Jade Smith Memorial Trust road safety conference this month. This conference was the idea of the Smith family from Newport East who tragically lost their daughter Rhiannon last March in a road traffic accident on the A48 near her home in Llandevaud. No one can underestimate just how devastating this must be for the family, but they have committed through this personal tragedy to work for better road safety to try to prevent another family going through what they have.
The conference was held and partly sponsored by the Celtic Manor and was attended by a large group of local organisations, charities, policy makers and the emergency services. Julian Smith chaired the event which heard from Chief Inspector Martyn Smith, Senior Investigating Officer for Road Deaths at Gwent Police, who spoke about the importance of raising awareness of road safety; referencing that 99 people had died on roads in Gwent from 2012-2017.
There was much food for thought in presentations ranging from the ‘20’s Plenty’ campaign to graduated driving licences and much more. There are certainly plenty of issues for me to pursue in Parliament in addition to the work I have been doing with the family and transport charities to call for a dedicated road collision investigation branch. There are agencies to investigate rail, air and maritime accidents, but nothing in place to learn lessons from road traffic accidents. The UK Government have said they will look into the possibility of establishing a national body, with a pilot launched in recent months. John Griffiths AM and I will continue to work alongside the Smiths in their campaigning work and wish them all the best with the Rhiannon Jade Smith Memorial Trust.
Lack of capacity and reliability on our rail services locally continues to be raised by constituents, and I was pleased to be able to take four commuters from Newport East to Parliament to take their complaints straight to GWR senior executives. My thanks to constituents Bev, Keith, Sheelagh and Danny for meeting with GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood and colleagues. I have followed up the meeting by asking GWR to set out how cross-border services will improve in the near future.
Please check my website www.jessicamorden.com for updates on the responses we receive.
Finally I was delighted to learn that the Big Lottery Fund have awarded Rogiet Community Junction – the team behind Rogiet Community Café – £9,720 to help run a shop to bring the community together and improve local facilities.
I recently visited Rogiet Community Café, which is a fantastic local initiative with some wonderful baking as well! I know the project will grow from strength to strength. You can find out more on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rogietcommunitycafe