Tag Archives: Wales

Kirsty Williams on re-opening schools in Wales

It was good to see Welsh Education minister, Kirsty Williams, fronting a press conference yesterday on the re-opening of schools in Wales.

In contrast to Boris Johnson’s plans for England, which have generated widespread concern, Wales is taking a more cautious and devolved approach. All schools there will re-open on 29th June, staggering attendance to ensure that only a third of pupils will be on site at any one time. Schools and councils will decide how that is to be implemented locally, phasing in the scheme to suit local conditions.

Term dates will be adjusted, with a week’s extension to the summer term and a two week half term break in October.

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29 May 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt must fulfil duty to protect all Hong Kongers
  • Clarity needed about 5-mile rule
  • High coronavirus threat level raises questions about Govt’s priorities
  • Davey responds to furlough scheme details

Govt must fulfil duty to protect all Hong Kongers

Responding to reports that, if China imposes its new security law on Hong Kong, the Home Office appears ready to extend visa rights for all British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong, whether or not they are current BNO passport holders, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

If confirmed, this is welcome news. This move is long overdue.

I introduced legislation to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK back in February. I am glad the government is finally listening.

Beijing has repeatedly shown contempt for the Sino-British Declaration. Under that Declaration, the UK has a duty to the people of Hong Kong.

The government must now ensure all Hong Kongers are protected. Relatively few people have BNO status as the offer was closed years ago.

My cross-party Hong Kong Bill would reopen the passport offer to also give young Hong Kongers the right to live in the UK, regardless of whether they are a dependent of a BNO status holder. I am urging the government to do this immediately.

Clarity needed about 5-mile rule

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today called on the Welsh Government to give urgent clarity around the new 5-mile rule and how it effects different areas of Wales.

In the Welsh Government announcement today First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that two individuals would be allowed to meet, so long as they maintained social distancing.

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Kirsty Williams outshines Williamson with her guidance on Wales school re-opening.

Education spokesperson Layla Moran has often expressed her frustration with the Government for the mess it is making over re-opening schools.

If only there was a sensible Lib Dem Education Secretary.

But wait. There is. In Wales.

Our Kirsty Williams has been giving Gavin Williamson a masterclass in how to set out a comprehensive, detailed plan which keeps people on side and gives them enough time to do what is necessary. It’s the perfect example of competence, clarity and calm.

She said:

As Education Minister, I will make the decisions on how and when more pupils in Wales will return to school. Today I am sharing further information on how those decisions will be reached.

“Nothing would make me happier than seeing our classrooms full again. But I want to be clear that this framework does not – and I will not – set an arbitrary date for when more pupils will return to school. Setting a date before we have more evidence, more confidence and more control over the virus would be the wrong thing to do.

“This will not be one decision but a series of decisions over time increasing, or if need be, decreasing operation. These changes will be complex, with many different considerations. I want the working document to be a stimulus for wider discussion and feedback.

“I am sharing this today to be as transparent as possible. I want everyone to know the extent of the issues related to the next phase.

“When we are ready to move into that next phase, I will ensure that there is enough time for preparation and for staff to carry out any necessary training.”

In drawing up her decision framework, she is consulting with a wide range of stakeholders including unions, teachers and education providers.

Kirsty is being open and transparent about her approach and sets out the basis on which she will make her decisions in the Decision Framework document. 

In its foreword she writes:

This will not be one decision but a series of decisions over time increasing, or if need be, decreasing the operations of schools or other providers.

For example, in allowing time to plan ahead, there are a series of connected decisions. We will work towards the next end-of-cycle review, but I can also guarantee that the ‘next phase’ won’t start midweek; there will be preparation and training time for teachers, and we will work with local authorities to ensure the necessary cleaning and hygiene operations and products are in place.

I can guarantee that an increase in operations will be a phased approach. I do not expect that schools or other education settings across Wales will be open for all learners, from all years, all week, anytime soon.

I am sharing this working document, and framework for decisions, to show the extent of the issues related to the next phase. I want it to be a stimulus for wider discussion and feedback from the education family, including parents and carers, children and young people.

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Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Wales

With the establishment of the Welsh Parliament, we are sending a clear message to people across our nation that our politics is changing. Now is the time for us to learn the lessons of the past and changing the way we do things.

For too long we failed to convey a clear message of what the purpose of the Assembly was and what it had the power to do. Instead, we let it be portrayed as ineffective, a barrier to change that was little more than a glorified talking shop.

We need to cut …

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After the virus: an economic future for Wales

Our economy in Wales was already facing difficulties. The Welsh economy’s long-term problems are well-documented; low productivity, a long-term lack of investment, a declining working-age population, significant public health issues. Add to that the likely effects of Brexit – especially a no-deal Brexit, which, on the basis of the OBR’s own figures, would be likely to deliver a severe productivity shock to the UK economy – and the effects of February’s floods, and even before the effects of lockdown are considered, it is clear that Wales was facing serious economic challenges. A recent report by the Centre for Towns and …

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Jane Dodds writes: No going back to business as usual

Covid-19 has caused the biggest economic shock of modern times. The Government has announced a range of measures to support businesses and the self-employed, in particular through putting in place strong incentives to keep staff on the payroll. Nearly a million people applied for Universal Credit in March – and the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for the Government to scrap the five-week wait.  We need to get money into people’s pockets now. 

But we need to think beyond the emergency. Economic recovery could be slow and painful, and the most difficult time for families and businesses – especially the small businesses in the economic front line – may be when the lockdown is over and the short-term, time-limited measures announced by the Treasury fall away. Our family businesses are at the heart of our communities, and we need to ensure they bounce back stronger and more resilient than before. These shops and businesses will only recover if their customers have money to spend once the lockdown ends.

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31 January 2020 – today’s press release

Jane Dodds: Conservatives are backtracking on their commitment to end austerity

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the UK Government to apologise for backtracking on a key election commitment to end austerity just two months after the General Election.

Prior to the election, the Conservatives had proclaimed on a number of occasions that “Austerity is over”.

Their 2019 manifesto, upon which this Government was elected, promised the same as well as pledged numerous increases in public spending.

However, over the past two days, there have been numerous reports that the Government is, in fact, preparing to cut spending by up to 5% per …

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27 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: UK access to crime databases at risk post Brexit
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats welcome landmark for Welsh education
  • Liberal Democrats challenge Minister on Met facial recognition surveillance

Liberal Democrats: UK access to crime databases at risk post Brexit

Following reports that the exchange of key security information is at risk post Brexit, due to concerns over Britain’s record in protecting personal information, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Our police rely heavily on co-operation with our EU partners to identify criminals and bring them to justice. It’s incredibly alarming that these government scandals threaten to undermine that co-operation, making us all less

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23 January 2020 – the day’s press releases

Time to catch up with the press releases…

  • Tories’ headline-grabbing gestures on knife crime have clearly failed
  • Welsh Lib Dems – NHS Wales waiting times unacceptable

Tories’ headline-grabbing gestures on knife crime have clearly failed

Responding to the new official crime statistics, released today, which show knife crime continuing to rise to a new record high, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

These statistics are heart-breaking. Far too many young people are having their lives destroyed by knives and gangs. We urgently need to break the grip of this epidemic of serious violence.

The Conservatives’ approach has clearly failed. Their huge

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21 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Every child has a right to RSE
  • Govt must invest to demonstrate it values teachers
  • Welsh Lib Dems: UK Government must rethink Withdrawal Bill
  • Lib Dem peers win vote to protect child refugees

Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties

Responding to the Government’s announcement of new counter-terror legislation, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

If you could stop terrorism by passing illiberal new laws, the Conservatives would have ended it ages ago.

It’s less than a year since the Conservatives passed their last piece of unnecessary, reactionary legislation in the name of combatting

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13 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Welsh Lib Dems reducing infant class sizes

The Welsh Liberal Democrats’ Infant Class Sizes Fund has been found to be ‘making a real difference’ a new report published today has shown.

The £36m Infant Class Sizes Fund is a Welsh Lib Dem policy that was implemented as part of the Progressive Agreement between Kirsty Williams and the First Minister. The policy targets schools that would most benefit from smaller classes, such as those with high levels of deprivation.

The report shows that the percentage of all infant classes and learners in classes over 30 has reduced since the introduction of the grant, with …

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11 December 2019 – today’s press releases

It’s the final batch before polling day… Good luck to everyone tomorrow, and thank you for everything that you’ve done for the cause…

  • Lib Dems: Disgraced Brexit Party founder backing Johnson shows how far the Tories have sunk
  • Welsh Lib Dems: We can secure a brighter future for Wales
  • Lib Dems: Barnier’s comments show Johnson’s campaign slogan is just another Tory fib

Lib Dems: Disgraced Brexit Party founder backing Johnson shows how far the Tories have sunk

Responding to the news that Catherine Blaiklock, the disgraced Brexit Party founder who quit over her Islamophobic public statements, is backing Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Ed …

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27 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people
  • Lib Dems: Trump to profit from Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems – Immigration detention must be absolute last resort
  • Welsh Lib Dems welcome votes at 16
  • Leaked documents show US offered PR advice to UK over chlorinated chicken

Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people

The Liberal Democrats will today unveil a poster attacking Boris Johnson for lying to the Queen, Parliament and the people.

Another poster will show Boris Johnson flanked by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, stating: “Brexit is good for …

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26 November 2019 – (most of) today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem policies would mean 600,000 fewer children in poverty
  • Lib Dems: Barnier comments show Johnson is lying to the country
  • Johnson’s Brexit Plans Disastrous for Welsh Farmers

Lib Dem policies would mean 600,000 fewer children in poverty

A report by the Resolution Foundation has found the Liberal Democrats’ policies would mean 600,000 fewer children in poverty by 2023-24, making it the most progressive of the three main parties.

The report also found child poverty risks reaching a record high under Conservative plans.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Tim Farron commented:

This report is a damning indictment of the Tories’ heartless welfare policy, which is

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12 November 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Liberal Democrats pledge to invest in flood defences
  • Jane Dodds to Unveil Lib Dem Plan for a Brighter Future
  • Corbyn can’t afford lifelong learning if he doesn’t stop Brexit

Liberal Democrats pledge to invest in flood defences

The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to create a £5bn flood prevention and adaptation fund.

As the world grapples with a climate emergency, the Tories are turning their backs on communities most at risk by failing to provide adequate flood defences. The Tory’s Brexit agenda risks the UK losing access to vital EU funds for improving flood defences and flood relief. This would starve local communities of …

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Sensational LIb Dem GAIN and boost for Jane Dodds

I have incredibly fond memories of Llandrindod Wells this Summer. I spent a very restorative weekend there and in many beautiful villages delivering leaflets and canvassing. I was so proud when Jane Dodds won.

So I am particularly thrilled to see that we have crushed the Tories in a by-election in Llandrindod Wells, taking a Powys County Council seat from them by some margin.

We didn’t stand a candidate last time.

It’s a really good sign for the General Election. Congratulations, Cllr Jake Berriman and the wonderful Llandrindod team.

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16 October 2019 – today’s press release

MP launches “Save Our Rural Banks” Campaign

Jane Dodds MP has launched a new campaign aimed at protecting existing rural banking services and restoring banking services to communities across Brecon & Radnorshire.

Over the past few years, many communities across Brecon and Radnorshire have seen bank branches in their towns close. Recent announcements by Barclays also reveal plans to reduce banking services available through the Post Office.

At present towns like Knighton, Crickhowell and Hay-on-Wye both do not have any bank branches in the towns, while towns like Ystradgynlais are reliant upon a single branch.

Jane Dodds, Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, …

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15 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Car firm job losses show Johnson’s disregard for British business
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Poll shows we are now third party for Westminster
  • Lib Dems call for urgent action to tackle rising hate crimes
  • Lib Dems table People’s Vote amendment to Queen’s speech

Car firm job losses show Johnson’s disregard for British business

Responding to the reports that one in three car firms are cutting jobs, Liberal Democrat shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

It is time Boris Johnson woke up to the fact that the manufacturing sector, and the automotive industries in particular, are suffering badly from Brexit-related uncertainty. Jobs are being lost, investment is down

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30 July 2019 – today’s press releases

Boris’ no-deal spells disaster for farmers

Commenting on Boris Johnson’s visit to Wales today, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

It would appear that Conservative aides have finally dusted off a map, given Boris Johnson the nametag for their candidate and pointed him to Brecon and Radnorshire.

This last minute quickdash visit is symbolic of just how much the Conservatives have taken local people for granted.

People deserve better than the Tories’ half baked plan to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal and thereby lumping farmers with an eye watering 40% tariff on Welsh lamb.

By voting Liberal Democrat on

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18 July 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

There was a bit of a glitch yesterday, as the press releases ended up in my spam folder for some reason. Things seem to be back to normal, so the usual service resumes here…

  • Welsh Lib Dems – time to embrace zero-carbon housing
  • Lib Dems: EU resolution a vital step in UK’s duty to stand up for people of Hong Kong
  • Davey demands urgent action as knife crime epidemic continues to spread
  • Umunna: OBR report shows No Deal Brexit would be unforgivable
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s ‘fishy tales’ have no plaice in Number Ten
  • Lib Dems: Milestone victory to block no-deal
  • Gauke talks the talk but can’t walk

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Helping parents with the cost of school uniforms is a great campaign

For an example of the real difference Liberal Democrats in government can make to peoples lives, look no further than the announcement by Kirsty Williams of new guidance on school uniforms in Wales.

There’s no doubt that the cost of school uniforms can be a real issue for poor families and the tendency of some schools to make arbitrary decisions which put up the cost are an example of how arbitrary decisions by the state can adversely affect people lives.

The Children’s Society have issued several reports on this, highlighting the high costs caused by schools which have over complicated uniforms …

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10 July 2019 – today’s press releases

Tories must follow Welsh govt in gender neutral school uniforms move

Welcoming the decision by the Welsh government to make school uniforms accessible and gender neutral, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

It is great news that children in Wales will be able to wear affordable, gender neutral school uniforms. I am proud of the role my colleague Liberal Democrat Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams has played in securing this progressive change.

The Conservative government must now take this step into the twenty-first century. Dictating what children wear because of their gender is outdated and harmful.

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4 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: Govt must tackle obesity crisis to save lives
  • Lib Dems: Increase in SEND pupils will squeeze school budgets further
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats – Wales now a remain nation
  • Lib Dems: Overstretched school budgets are putting our children’s health at risk

Lib Dems: Govt must tackle obesity crisis to save lives

Responding to Cancer Research UK reporting that obesity now causes more cases of four common cancers in the UK than smoking, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

The reports that many cancers are more likely being caused by being overweight than smoking shows the need for Government to step up plans to tackle

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Jane Dodds: Choose a better future for Brecon and Radnorshire with the Lib Dems

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds will be the candidate in a by-election in the seat of Brecon and Radnosrhire after the recall petition for former Conservative MP Chris Davies received almost double the required number of signatures. The by-election date has not yet been announced but it may well be before the end of July.

Thousands of residents across Brecon and Radnorshire have taken the chance to demand better than a Westminster politics that fails to take their concerns seriously.

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21 May 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Moran: Let’s hope more Universities follow Oxford’s diversity drive
  • Hobhouse: End short prison sentences to cut crime
  • Cable: Stop Brexit altogether to end turmoil for British business
  • Chancellor’s warning must trigger No Deal U-turn
  • Cable: Lib Dems “now indisputably the strongest remain party”
  • Lamb: Govt must end abuse of our most vulnerable
  • With no guarantee of a People’s Vote the PM will get no support from the Lib Dems
  • Jenny Randerson: Brexit endangers devolution settlement

Moran: Let’s hope more Universities follow Oxford’s diversity drive

Responding to the news that Oxford University is set to overhaul its recruitment processes, and will commit that at least 25% of students will be …

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20 May 2019 – today’s press release

  • Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake
  • Further Gender Identity Clinic delays unacceptable
  • Davey: Govt is failing in its duty to protect the public
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats only chance for 2nd remain seat

Prime Minister’s Deal is dead – Tom Brake

Responding to comments made by Matthew Hancock, the Health Secretary, on the Today Programme, that the Government will bring forward its bill on exiting the EU, Tom Brake, Lib Dem Brexit Spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister’s deal is dead. They can bring forward votes on that deal and a speculative bill every week, for the rest of the year – it will still fail

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30 April 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Four Seasons collapse shows social care crisis unfolding on Tory’s watch
  • Gosport investigation vital to ensure justice is done – Lamb
  • Free sanitary products to be available in Welsh colleges
  • Lib Dems: A vote for Labour is a vote for Brexit

Four Seasons collapse shows social care crisis unfolding on Tory’s watch

Responding to the news that one of Britain’s largest care home groups, Four Seasons Health Care, is on the brink of administration, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

For the many thousands of residents and staff at the Four Seasons Health Care, the news that the group is set to go into administration

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Kirsty Williams extends help to disadvantaged children in school

Welsh Lib Dem education secretary Kirsty Williams has announced an increase in funding for disadvantaged children in school.

The announcement will provide support to an additional 14,000 learners.

Introduced in 2018, PDG-Access helps families cover the costs of school uniform, sports kits, as well as equipment for activities outside of the school. To receive the support, learners must be eligible for free school meals.

Currently, PDG-Access is worth £125 per eligible pupil entering reception class in primary school or Year 7. Today’s announcement means the scheme will be extended to include Year 3 and Year 10, and provide funding for looked after children (LAC) in every compulsory school year. Eligible families of Year 7 pupils will receive £200, instead of the current £125; relieving some of the increased costs associated with starting secondary school.

Extending the PDG was a key part of the Progressive Agreement between the First Minister and Kirsty Williams.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

The Pupil Development Grant (PDG) is a key Welsh Liberal Democrat policy that supports our most disadvantaged pupils. I am delighted we have been able to extend the policy further to support families with the cost of uniforms and school equipment.

This, alongside Kirsty Williams’ pledge to introduce statutory guidance to reduce the cost of schools uniforms, will go a long way in supporting families.

Kirsty  said:

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5 April 2019 – today’s press releases

It’s been a pleasant evening in our small, but perfectly formed, village. There’s been beer, some splendid homemade sausage rolls, and a quiz (our team won!). Sadly, the real world has a nasty way of reasserting itself…

  • Brake: Yet another desperate move from a failing PM
  • Pupil Decelopment Grant Access extended to support more families
  • Breakdown of talks with Corbyn signals closing time for May’s Deal

Brake: Yet another desperate move from a failing PM

Responding to the news that the PM has written to the EU calling for a short extension of Article 50, already rejected by the EU, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom …

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4 April 2019 – today’s press releases (part 2)

And, in part two…

  • Lib Dems call for mental health support to be included in Ofsted Inspections
  • Moran: SEND funding crisis a moral failure of Government
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Embrace Green Tech to Tackle Climate Change
  • Lib Dems lead Eating Disorder Campaign in Parliament

Lib Dems call for mental health support to be included in Ofsted Inspections

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Chief Inspector of Ofsted to urge her to include assessments of mental health support in schools in Ofsted Inspections.

The Liberal Democrat lead on Mental Health, Claire Tyler, has written to the Chief Inspector as the new draft Ofsted framework does …

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