From Jo Stevens MP <[email protected]>
Subject News from Jo Stevens MP
Date October 30, 2020 4:29 PM
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My monthly update for October

Welcome to my October newsletter.

We are now over a week into the Wales wide short fire-break lockdown. Thank you to everyone across Cardiff Central who has been closely following COVID-19 regulations and helping to play their part in seeking to slow the spread of the virus. All of our actions collectively will hopefully slow down the transmission of the virus, reduce hospitalisations and deaths.

Over the coming days, the Welsh Government will begin to explain the new national set of rules that will be in place following the end of the firebreak on November 9^th. Its worth watching the Welsh Government press conferences which take place at 12.15 most afternoons for the latest news and up to date information.

I continue to meet regularly with Welsh Government ministers each week to raise constituency issues relating to our COVID response. I also have regular contact with our universities, South Wales Police and the Health Authority.

Please take care of yourselves and others, and don’t forget - if you develop any of the main symptoms of COVID (fever, continuous cough, changes to your sense of smell or taste) you should self-isolate and order a free test.
You can order a test for free by clicking here. ([link removed] )

There is a dedicated section on my website containing advice and FAQs for the fire-break lockdown. You can see that by clicking here. ([link removed])

I and my staff team are all continuing to work from home and we’ve received twice as many enquiries and requests for help during the pandemic. Each day of the week we are keeping on top of the new announcements from the UK and Welsh Governments and changes to Council services, so we can advise and help individuals, families, businesses and organisations in the constituency across a huge range of questions and issues.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if there's something I can help with.

** Firebreak Mental Health Support
As we carry on through this short fire-break lockdown, it's more important than ever to take care and look out for each other.

If you're struggling, or you know someone who is, there is help available. You can call the CALL 24/7 - Mental Health Wales helpline for free on 0800 132 737 or text HELP to 81066.

☁️ Calmzone: 0800 58 58 58
📞 Samaritans: 116 123
🧠 Mind: 0300 123 3393
🧒 Young Minds UK: 0808 802 5544
👧 NSPCC: 0800 1111/0808 800 5000

** Walk-in Testing in Cardiff: Available Now
You can now book for a COVID-19 test at the new walk-in testing centre at the end of Museum Avenue in the City Centre - which is now open.

Tests need to be booked in advance and are available if you’re suffering from any of the 3 main symptoms of COVID-19 - a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or any changes to your sense of taste or smell.

You can still request a testing kit be sent to your home if this is preferable.

To book a test, either call 119 or visit: [link removed]

** Firebreak Economic Support
Applications for firebreak lockdown financial assistance through the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund is are open now.
* Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses who have been forced to close during the firebreak lockdown period occupying a property with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000, will be eligible for a £5,000 payment;
* Businesses in receipt of small business rate relief will be eligible for a £1,000 payment;
* Charities and registered community amateur sports clubs which operate in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector and occupy a property with a rateable value up to £12,000 will be eligible for a £1,000 payment;​
* A discretionary £2,000 top-up grant will be made available on an application basis for those businesses eligible for small business rate relief or not-for-profit organisations occupying properties with a rateable value of up to £12,000 who are forced to close by the firebreak lockdown;
* A further discretionary £1,000 grant will be made available to businesses eligible for small business rates relief where they are materially affected by local lockdown measures for 21 days or more prior to the start of the firebreak lockdown period.​

In addition, limited funding will be made available for businesses required to close, or who face a significant reduction in turnover, during the firebreak of between £1,500 and £2,000.

To apply, and to get more information, please click here. ([link removed])

** In Parliament
Parliament is still operating with COVID measures and social distancing and very limited numbers of MPs able to be in the Commons Chamber. We have a series of detailed and complex Bills going through Parliament relating to Brexit and the end of the transition period. These cover the environment, agriculture, immigration, the internal markets of the UK, trade and much more. We have been trying to amend many aspects of the Bills to improve them, but with a Conservative majority of 80, it has been extremely difficult so far, to succeed with amendments.

There will be more legislation ahead and of course, Government negotiations with the EU on a possible trade agreement at the end of the transition period continue but there is very little time left.

** Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Debate

Earlier in October I responded on behalf of the Labour Party in the Commons on the debate on the UK Government’s response to COVID and its impact on the sector.

In arts and culture particularly, experienced, skilled and talented live performers and the people who create, produce and make those economically successful events happen every day are being treated by the Treasury as if their jobs are mere hobbies. Many have had no support from the UK Government since the pandemic hit.

Our culture, sport & creative industries will be vital to our national recovery – they have been and can still be - economically successful and powerful drivers of jobs, growth & regeneration.

You can watch my speech by clicking here. ([link removed])

** Other news from Westminster:
I spoke out about arts and culture organisations being forced to back and promote the UK Government’s campaign on social media as a condition of securing vital funds for their own survival. Read my comments in the Independent. ([link removed])

Unless the Chancellor changes his stance, more than 250,000 people in creative arts sector set to lose their jobs within weeks as furlough scheme ends, the Office for National Statistics figures suggest. My comments on this culture catastrophe in the Independent. ([link removed] )

I also wrote in Journalism Matters this month about how journalism, more than many other trades, benefits from more diverse voices who do not just accept the status quo but question it. And how that matters today more than ever. Newspapers have shared stories of hope and fostered a sense of community when everyone was struggling during the coronavirus crisis but they need support if they are to continue to perform this vital role.

You can read my piece for Journalism Matters by clicking here. ([link removed])

** PubAid Pub Hero Competition

** Can you think of a Cardiff Central pub that's gone above and beyond to support the community during lockdown?

PubAid has launched the Community Pub Hero Awards to celebrate licensees and teams who went the extra mile to help their communities through the pandemic. Maybe by offering vital supplies for local residents, cooking hot meals for the elderly or keeping people connected through online quizzes or chats?

Please email your suggestions to [email protected] with the subject line 'Pub Hero Nomination' by November 28th and I'll nominate the pub that receives the most emails to go forward and be considered by PubAid's panel of judges.

All finalists will then be invited to an online ceremony in the new year when the overall winner will be announced.

** Support for Freelancers in Wales

The Welsh Government has set up a Freelancers’ Fund and so far, there have been two phases of distribution following applications across Wales.

I wrote to the Minister responsible for the Fund, Dafydd Elis Thomas MS, on behalf of freelancers in Cardiff Central who have so far, struggled to obtain financial help as funding for both rounds was oversubscribed within an hour due to huge demand.

Demand for this funding was always going to be high, but there are a disproportionately high number of freelancers in Cardiff as a whole so I wrote to ask for a more equitable allocation of funding that reflects that.

I’m pleased to say that I had a positive response to the concerns I raised and that future distribution is being looked at. As soon as I have further information or any update I will share this on my social media channels.

** Wear Red Day 2020

There was a different look to our #WRD20 office team photo this year but we’re always proud to #WearRed and support the fantastic work done by education charity Show Racism the Red Card. Wear Red Day is a national day of action which encourages schools, businesses and individuals to wear red and donate £1 to help fund anti-racism education for young people and adults across the UK.

Every penny raised during Wear Red Day enables the SRTRC education and campaign teams to work with more young people and adults across the UK to challenge racism in society. The charity has already done extensive work in schools in Cardiff Central and more widely across Wales and I have seen at first hand, the quality and impact the work has.

** The Roath Park Pub
A planning application has been submitted to demolish the historic Roath Park pub on City Road to build a block of apartments.

Along with local Plasnewydd Councillors, I'm objecting to this application and campaigning to save the Roath Park.

You can add your name to the petition here. ([link removed])

** Dr Piskorski
It was great to see the pioneering story of Cardiff Central constituent Dr Piskorski this month, who became the first person to pass the British Citizenship Test in Welsh. He came to see me at an advice surgery at the start of this year and told me he was going to try to be the first - and here he is! You can read more about on the BBC website here ([link removed] ) . Llongyfarchiadau.

** Cathays Community Litter Pick
It was great to have the chance to get out and about with local Councillors and Keep Cardiff Tidy volunteers on a litter pick in Cathays just before the fire-break lockdown came into force. As you can see from the pictures above it was a good morning’s work!

** Cardiff Foodbank Harvest Appeal
Cardiff Foodbank have been working tirelessly to ensure everyone across Cardiff has access to food - a job even more important and more difficult than ever these last months.

They are currently fundraising to replace their van which allows volunteers to collect donations from across Cardiff and deliver food throughout the week.

They’re asking businesses, churches, schools and individuals if they would be willing to support us with a financial donation to make this happen.

Please share, and if you’re able to help, please click here. ([link removed] )

** Free School Meals
Our Welsh Labour Government have ensured that free school meals have continued throughout this half-term. Despite the inspirational campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford, and Labour in Parliament forcing a vote to get the UK Government to address the situation in England, it has failed to guarantee the meals will continue in England.

If you’re eligible for free school meals but need to apply, please click here. ([link removed])

** New Plans for Castle Street
Cardiff Council is considering re-opening Castle Street to buses, taxis and emergency vehicles as a temporary measure while a public consultation is held on the future of the thoroughfare.

The proposed re-opening - which may be ready by mid-November - will help buses and taxis cross east to west and west to east.

This temporary design will seek to ensure that the pop-up cycleway - which will run from Leckwith Road up Newport Road to the junction with Broadway - will be retained throughout the public consultation.

The temporary measure under consideration may include a pavement alongside the shops and bars opposite the castle extended into the road to give a wider walkway for people to socially distance. It could also create an opportunity for hospitality businesses to have more space outside their premises to trade.

Under the proposal, Castle Street could then contain two lanes for buses and taxis to travel east and or west, and the pop-up cycle lane by the castle would remain.

It is anticipated that the proposed scheme could bed-in before the Christmas season begins.

** Green Garden Waste Collections This Winter
Collections for garden-waste across Cardiff are to be suspended for four months in order to help the Council deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure general waste, recycling and food waste collections can continue to take place.

The once-a-month, garden waste collections, which normally take place in November, December, January and February will be halted, although residents will be able to have Christmas trees collected between January 4th and January 11th.

We need to be confident we can continue to remove general waste, recycling and food waste from our streets and the recent rise in infection rates across the city is concerning and starting to stretch Council resources.

** Getting Help
I and my staff team are all continuing to work from home and we’ve received twice as many enquiries and requests for help during the pandemic. Each day of the week we are keeping on top of the new announcements from the UK and Welsh Governments and changes to Council services, so we can advise and help individuals, families, businesses and organisations in the constituency across a huge range of questions and issues.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if there's something I can help with.
* Find out what to do if someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus ([link removed]) .
* If you are concerned about your symptoms, check if you need medical help ([link removed]) .
* Find out how you can reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus ([link removed]) .

** Facebook ([link removed])
** Twitter ([link removed])
** Link ([link removed])
** Website ([link removed])
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