From Jo Stevens MP <[email protected]>
Subject Season's Greetings & News from Jo Stevens MP
Date December 24, 2020 11:57 AM
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My monthly update for December with latest COVID-19 information and news from Parliament and Cardiff Central.

** 🎅🎄Season's Greetings
After a year like no other, I hope you, your family and friends all have a happy and safe Christmas. Our city has looked after each other in ways I never would have thought possible over the past nine months and I want to say thank you for all the small acts of kindness by people which has made such a difference to so many in Cardiff Central.

Here’s to a happier, healthy and successful 2021 for us all.

Welcome to my December newsletter.

Firstly, thank you to everyone across Cardiff Central who has closely followed the new regulations that have been announced in recent weeks.

As Christmas approaches, it’s clear that we are in a very serious situation in our effort to keep COVID-19 under control. The recently identified new strain of COVID-19 is ferocious in its transmission rates and new cases, hospitalisations and sadly, deaths, are increasing.

This is why it is so important that everyone follows the Tier 4 rules so we prevent our NHS becoming overwhelmed during the next couple of months. Please treat the rules as the maximum you can do and think about what you really need to do in order to minimise your contact with others.

Vaccines are now being rolled out across Wales, and this will intensify early in the new year. Please be alert to anti-vaccination disinformation online, particularly on social media. Please refer to trusted sources of information. If you have any questions about the vaccine itself, they should be answered in this helpful Public Health Wales FAQs page. ([link removed])

Until then, we all have a critical role to play in trying to slow the spread of COVID-19 – to keep our families, friends and communities safe.

Please continue to 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. ([link removed])

** 🎄Office Christmas Closure
My constituency office is now closed for the Christmas break and will reopen on Monday 4^th January 2021. If you have an urgent enquiry, please email me at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) and it will be picked up.

** COVID-19 Update

** Alert Level 4 Restrictions
The Welsh Government has taken early action to move Wales into Alert Level 4 of the new COVID Control System, with all non-essential retail and leisure facilities closing and a stay at home order issued. The new rules are in full in the graphic below.

As always you can see the latest on the restrictions in force on the Welsh Government website here. ([link removed])
These new restrictions will be reviewed after 3 weeks.

The Welsh Government has made £340m available to support businesses affected by restrictions into the New Year. Further support will be available for those businesses affected by the new restrictions. Further details will be made available later this week.

** Changes to Christmas Bubble Arrangements
Due to risk from the rising levels of Coronavirus across Wales, the Welsh Government has changed the rules for Christmas gatherings announced last month.

The Welsh Government has changed the relaxation to the rules, which had previously allowed two households to come together to form a Christmas bubble over a five-day period, so that it applies on Christmas Day only.

For 25 December only:
* you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of no more than 2 households (your household and one other household)
* you can only be in 1 Christmas bubble
* you cannot change your Christmas bubble
* you can travel anywhere within the UK for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble (subject to the rules where you are travelling to)
* To recognise the risks of loneliness and isolation, the Christmas bubble can be joined by a single person, a single parent household or a household with a single responsible adult.

You can read more about the arrangements for Christmas on the Welsh Government website here. ([link removed])

** Phased Return of University Students After Christmas
The Welsh Government has published its plan for the safe return of students to Welsh universities following the Christmas break. This plan is obviously subject to infection rates between now and January 2021.

Students will be invited to return to campus over a four-week period, starting from 11 January, with a phased return to in-person teaching. Universities will prioritise students who most need to return early, such as those studying in healthcare professions, those on placements or who need access to campus facilities.

The safe return of students will be supported through the continuation of the lateral-flow testing pilots, for asymptomatic students, which began at Welsh universities in late November.

Students will be asked to take a lateral-flow test when they return to their university accommodation, before being asked to avoid meeting socially for three days. Those students will then take a second test. Students not taking a test will be advised to lay low and not mix for 14 days.

You can read more about this here. ([link removed] )

** Changes to Shielding Advice
The Welsh Government have just published important new advice for those who were previously shielding.

You should no longer attend work or school outside of your home. This is particularly important if you have regular close contact with other people or share poorly ventilated workspace for long periods.

This follows a significant rise in infection rates, possibly due to a new strain of coronavirus.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales will shortly be writing to everyone who was previously shielding to confirm this advice.

You can read more about this here. ([link removed])

** In Parliament

** Brexit
With just over a week to go until the end of the Brexit transition period at 11pm on 31^st December, we still don’t have a trade deal with the EU. Negotiating teams from the UK and the EU have been locked in discussions over much of December, but still don’t appear to be any closer in securing a deal.

This is a failure of leadership by the Prime Minister adding to the grave circumstances we are in as a result of the pandemic. Businesses and people need certainty. He has failed to deliver what he promised to the UK public in the general election just 12 months ago.

Even if the UK does secure a deal with the EU in the next seven days, there are still some big changes come December 31^st in our relationship with the European Union, especially in how we visit, travel and work there once the transition period ends. I’ve written about these in more detail in this blog post here: ([link removed] )

** Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

December saw another session of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport oral questions in Parliament.

I asked the Secretary of State to confirm that the Government’s forthcoming Online Harms Bill would include criminal sanctions for senior executives of big tech companies if their companies committed multiple breaches of the proposed new laws, but he failed to answer.

To ensure safety, trust and transparency online, the sanctions in the new legislation need to be robust otherwise they won’t be an incentive to big tech companies to change their ways.

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

** Online Harms Legislation

[link removed]
You can watch my full response to the Statement here.

Finally this month, the Government set out their response to the consultation on their proposed Online Harms legislation. The Secretary of State gave a statement in the Commons and I responded for Labour.

The long-awaited Online Harms Bill is a once in a generation chance to legislate for the kind of internet we want to see - one that keeps children and vulnerable adults safe online from the new emerging threats that developing technology means we all face.

However, on criminal sanctions for big-tech executives, and legal but harmful material, the Government appears to have watered down its plans. There are also key omissions such as online financial crime/scams which affect tens of thousands of people across the UK.

We are expecting the Bill to be published in the new year and I am keen to see the detail of it.

You can watch my full response in Parliament by pressing play on the video above.

** Beauty Banks Donations

** Ty Draw Lodge

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been delivering donations of toiletries and beauty products to care home staff across Cardiff Central as a small thank you for their incredibly hard work throughout the pandemic.

This month, donations went to staff at Ty Draw Lodge in Penylan.

** Cardiff Women's Aid

I was also able to deliver donations Cardiff Women's Aid for the women and children who pass through their emergency accommodation this Christmas.

67.4% of survivors experiencing abuse have reported their abuse worsening due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For many women, this Christmas will be even harder than you could imagine.

Cardiff Women's Aid are also running an urgent Christmas fundraiser to ensure they can continue to support survivors and their children in Cardiff by providing essential items, aftercare and a warm, safe space in emergency accommodation - and potentially provide survivors and their families with some Christmas items.

You can find out more and contribute to the fund by clicking here. ([link removed] )

Thank you to Beauty Banks for the donations.

** New Canal Quarter in City Centre

Exciting plans for a new Canal Quarter in the city centre and details of the Cardiff East Transport Scheme have been revealed, and the public are now being asked for their views.

The schemes could see:
* the first phase of the re-opening of the dock feeder canal on Churchill Way.
* the creation of a new public square and event space.
* the provision of a permanent segregated cycleway, new bus priority routes, and wider pavements to improve access and safety for pedestrians.
* new trees and green planting.
* new sustainable drainage techniques used throughout.
* Boulevard de Nantes; Stuttgarter Strasse; Dumfries Place and Station Terrace remodelled.
* Improved walking and cycling links between the civic centre at City Hall, Castle Street and the city centre.

You can find out more, and respond to the consultation by clicking here. ([link removed])

** Roath Park Pub Update

Last week we had the good news that the developers have withdrawn their application to demolish the Roath Park (for now).

Well done and thank you to all who signed the petition against the plans.

It is likely that another application will be submitted - if this happens I’ll post the details on my social media accounts as soon as they are received.

** Letter to Centrica Chief: #StopTheBritishGasFire Campaign
I coordinated a letter, signed by 140 cross-party MPs, to Centrica Chief Executive Chris O’Shea, calling on him to take away the fire and rehire threat to British Gas workers and get a negotiated agreement with GMB Union.

Centrica, as owners of British Gas, employ thousands of people across the UK, including many here in Cardiff Central. The threat of ‘fire and re-hire’ is a disgraceful way to treat hard working and dedicated employees. British Gas need to return to the negotiations and come to a proper settlement with their staff.

** 2021 Senedd Elections: Votes at 16 and Postal Voting
16- and 17-year olds will be able to vote for the first time at the Senedd Elections in May 2021, as part of the biggest changes to the democratic process in Wales in half a century.

You can register to vote here (it only takes 5 minutes!) ([link removed] )

If you’re over 16 and already registered, don't forget to make sure your electoral registration details are up to date so you can vote in the Senedd elections.. Each household will have received a letter from Cardiff Council to ensure registration details are up to date.

Follow the steps in the yellow letter the Council has sent so you can have your say.

** COVID-19 Survey Results
Since the summer, I’ve been running a COVID-19 survey for constituents to feed in their views about how your lives have changed as a result of the pandemic.

The survey is now closed, and I have set out a summary of the results below.

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has resulted in a huge change for all of us in how we work, socialise and go about our daily lives. The challenges we have faced in Cardiff Central, but especially our businesses, will continue even after vaccination roll out is completed.

We know that it will take a long time to recover.


The survey showed that 37.6% of respondents worked 100% from home throughout the pandemic. 7.1% had been furloughed, and only 3.9% worked in their usual location.

Going forward, only 19% of respondents thought their working lives would return to as they were before the pandemic. 25% thought they’d be working from home on a more regular basis going forward, and 9.2% said they’d be working from home fully from now on. Sadly, 3% of respondents said they’d lost their job altogether due to the pandemic.

UK and Welsh Governments’ Response to the Pandemic

The results showed that 23.3% rated the Welsh Government’s response to the Pandemic as ‘very good’, 51.6% rated it ‘good’, 17.4% as average and 3.23% as poor. On the other hand, only 0.65% rated the UK Government’s response as very good, 1.29% rated it as good, 11.61% as average, 35.4% as poor and 50.97% rated it as very poor.

Socialising in Future

27.2% of respondents said they would be comfortable post-pandemic socialising at the same level as before, 3.25% said they would socialise more and 69.48% said they will be going out less frequently.

Public Transport

Through the pandemic, 27.25% of respondents to the survey said that they are using public transport at the same level as they did prior to the pandemic, 2.6% said they are using it more, and 69.93% said they are using public transport less than they did before the pandemic.

Social Distancing

Just 7% of respondents said social distancing measures should be scrapped now, 13% said at the end of 2020 and 77.78% said they should remain in place until the vaccine is rolled out.

Cardiff Council Plans for Castle Street and Wellfield Road

51.68% of respondents strongly supported the Council’s plans to open Castle Street as a café quarter, and 61.59% strongly supported the plans to widen space on Wellfield Road for social distancing. 17.4% and 10.6% responded respectively that the plans for Castle Street and Wellfield Road should be opposed and should never have been brought in, in the first place.

* 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]) .

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