From Stephen Kinnock MP <[email protected]>
Subject March 2021 Newsletter
Date March 22, 2021 12:22 PM
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** March 2021 Newsletter

** Latest offer to Skewen flood victims is nowhere near enough

VICTIMS of the devastating floods in Skewen have received an offer of £2,000 per household to cover outdoor areas but, as some residents are facing repair bills of up to £50,000, this is still nowhere near enough.

More than 80 homes were evacuated after the incident on Thursday January 21 with many people losing homes that had been in their families for generations.

The initial offer of £500 per household to cover outdoor areas affected by the flood was derisory and the latest increase in this, while welcome, does not even come close to covering the damage caused by this man made incident.

** Skewen floods: The fight for justice

** Coal Authority updates its offer

While the latest increase in the offer to the victims of January's awful flooding in Skewen is welcome, it will still leave many people thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Victims of the flood kindly allowed me to share some of their heart-breaking experiences in Parliament in a vital debate on the issue which I secured earlier this month.

Following the debate, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, the minister for the Coal Authority, confirmed the initial offer to residents of £500 was being reviewed.

The minister has also pledged to visit the community in Skewen and this must now happen as soon as possible.

I’ve visited the site a number of times and I’ve seen the utter destruction that the mine water has wreaked on homes.

The residents’ stories have not got any less heart-breaking and the devastation has not got any less severe.

Homes are covered in ochre and debris from the mine.

By the Coal Authority’s own admission, this was a unique incident and the work to remediate the mine shaft and install a water management system should prevent any future recurrence.

Therefore, the Coal Authority should step up and provide support to those without insurance and plug the gaps in insurance so that no resident is out of pocket because of this incident.

The unique circumstances and the work of the Coal Authority would mean this is a one-off payment in exceptional circumstances.

This would not be setting a precedent, it would be doing the right thing in response to an exceptional and unprecedented incident that has caused so much trauma.

The people of Skewen are resilient, they will not take this lying down and they will not fade away.

The Coal Authority has awoken a sleeping dragon.

They and the UK Government are in for a fight.

** Meet the Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor of Neath Port Talbot

** Erin Sandison and Bethan Nicholas-Thomas explain why they took on their roles

Earlier this month I had the privilege of a virtual meeting with the Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor of Neath Port Talbot to talk about everything their roles entail, what motivated them to get involved in politics and why it is so important everyone from the age of 16 will get a vote for the first time in this year's Senedd elections.

Erin and Bethan have also kindly agreed to share their thoughts on their respective roles and what they are hoping to achieve.

** Deputy Youth Mayor Bethan Nicholas-Thomas

The Neath Port Talbot Deputy Youth Mayor has the responsibility of working to benefit the young people of Neath Port Talbot and make it an amazing area to grow up in.

My decision to take on the role of Deputy Youth Mayor was due to my passion for climate change, a severe topic which desperately needs more attention and action from the government.

I have pledged to undertake this role with dedication and support our Youth Mayor with pride. In the past,

I have learned that to be a leader is to give others their voice, and that is my aim.

** Youth Mayor Erin Sandison

The role of the Youth Mayor is to be a representative for young people.

The Youth Mayor must be willing to listen to young people’s voices and be able to effectively communicate these issues, as well as suggesting possible solutions.

Above all else, I believe the Youth Mayor must be passionate about helping the community, and that is the main reason I decided to be involved.

I want to make a difference within my local area as well as be able to challenge myself, and this role meets both those wishes.

Although a demanding role, I’m grateful for the opportunity.

** DVLA staff vote to strike over working conditions

Staff at the DVLA in Swansea have voted to support strike action.

I and my fellow Welsh Labour MPs, Tonia Antoniazzi, Geraint Davies, Christina Rees, Carolyn Harris and Nia Griffith signed a joint letter last month supporting strike action after staff at the Swansea office, including many who live in my Aberavon constituency, were put under totally unacceptable levels of risk by their employer insisting they work in their office rather than from home.

Industrial action is a last resort to improve safety at the agency offices and PCS Union general secretary Mark Serwotka said industrial action will take place unless management immediately implement all necessary changes to ensure staff are safe at work.

He said: "This result is a damning indictment on DVLA management in their abject failure to keep staff safe.

“Our members have sent a loud and clear message that they are not safe at their place of work. The strength of feeling amongst staff comes as no surprise, given the management’s disregard for the safety of their workers."

** This Month In Parliament

I am honoured and privileged to be elected chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Metal Related Materials.

This is a fantastic opportunity to stand up for steelworkers in Parliament and apply more pressure on the government to tackle issues like high energy prices, and support a just transition to a greener economy.

Steel underpins our economy and will play a major role in the post-pandemic recovery and beyond.

During an Opposition Day Debate in the House of Commons I called on the UK Government to support businesses and individuals in Aberavon by extending and reforming the furlough scheme so that it lasts for as long as restrictions are in place and while demand is significantly reduced, extending the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality, tourism and culture sectors, and plugging the gaps in the schemes.

I also forced the Prime Minister to admit that industrial energy prices need tackling.

In my role as Shadow Minister for Asia & Pacific I called for an audit of the UK's relationship with China and a new strategy to replace the failed 'Golden Era'.

The Conservatives have been deeply naïve and complacent about the actions of the Chinese Government and Britain’s interests and values have been deeply compromised, not least our national security whereby the Conservatives have allowed state-backed Chinese companies to buy ownership stakes in our nuclear power.

I, along with the Shadow Foreign Secretary, have called for UK judges to leave Hong Kong, because China has taken control of Hong Kong’s electoral system and it’s legal system, meaning that the system is no longer independent from mainland China.

All the UK judges are doing is adding a veneer of credibility to a system which no longer constitutes a democracy.

I have also called on the government to support Hong Kongers who are leaving to seek residence in the UK to integrate into British society.

I also met with the Burmese community to discuss the devastating events in Myanmar following the military coup, while I spoke on behalf of the Labour Party in a Westminster Hall debate on the protests by farmers in India.

Finally, I wrote to Foreign Office minister Nigel Adams and said the UK Government has a responsibility to show moral and political leadership to hold the Sri Lankan Government to account on its human rights record.

** Media Highlights

The i newspaper ([link removed]) published an article which I wrote calling on the Foreign Office to target financial backers of Myanmar’s military and implement an arms embargo.

I was also interviewed for an article in the World Infrastructure Journal ([link removed]) on a decade of indifference by the Government when it comes to the UK steel industry.

** Office Arrangements

I and my team are continuing to work remotely to help and support residents.

You can still get in touch with us by calling the office on 01639 897660.

Leave your name and number and we will call you back.

Alternatively please send an email to[email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

We’ve made some changes to our online advice surgeries and are now offering a call-back or Teams appointment with a caseworker Monday to Friday.

To request a call-back or book a Teams appointment please complete this form [link removed]

I am still holding online advice surgeries which can be booked online at [link removed]

Please check on my website or Facebook page for details of the next one.

We are now also offering telephone advice surgeries.

Those who request a telephone call will be sent a telephone number and meeting ID, they will need to call the number and enter the meeting ID when prompted.
All the best,

Stephen Kinnock
MP for Aberavon

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My mailing address is:
MP for Aberavon
Water Street Business Centre
Water Street
Port Talbot, Neath Port Talbot SA12 6LF
United Kingdom

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