Thank you for reading my March newsletter, and I hope you, your family and your friends are safe and well.

On the 23rd March, we commemorated a year since the start of the first lockdown. Cardiff landmarks were lit in yellow, as we all reflected on an immensely difficult year. My thoughts are with those who’ve lost friends and loved ones, and those still continuing to recover from this horrible virus. There are so many families grieving and we must not forget them when the country comes out of the pandemic.

Thanks to everyone’s hard work in recent months, we are continuing to move out of Alert Level 4 restrictions. Thanks to declining case rates, and the NHS’s successful vaccine rollout, non-essential retail is starting its phased reopening, we can now meet friends outdoors and the ‘stay local’ rule has been removed.

We all need to continue to stay vigilant, continue to socially distance and wear masks where needed – and if case rates continue to decline, we will see further easements over the coming weeks. Let’s keep going together.

My team and I remain on hand to help with any queries you may have, about COVID-19 or otherwise. If you need some help with an issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the details at the bottom of this email.

Petition: Stop the Guildford Crescent Development

Sign by 6pm Saturday!

Developers are consulting on plans for a 29 story, 262 room tower-block on Guildford Crescent.

The planning application has not yet been lodged but the developers have said this will happen in April.

I’m urging the developers to dump these plans and come up with something in keeping with the heritage of the historic frontages along Guildford Crescent. Please sign the petition here below by 6pm Saturday when it will then be sent into the consultation process.

You can sign the petition here.

COVID-19 Update

Latest on Case Rates and Vaccinations

COVID-19 rates in Wales continue to decline – current weekly case rates sit at 37 cases per 100,000 people, and the weekly positivity rate stands at 2.7%.

The vaccine rollout has continued at pace in Wales, with several important milestones being hit over the past weeks. More than 1.5 million doses have now been delivered in Wales, meaning more than 50% of Welsh adults have now received a vaccination. Wales is on course to vaccinate all 9 of the JCVI priority groups by the target date of mid-April and will then start work on phase 2 – that is all adults under the age of 50, by July.

I was pleased to get my first vaccination earlier in the month. It was such an efficient, friendly and informative experience by fantastic people from our Welsh NHS, military and local volunteers.

Please take up the offer of your vaccinations when you receive them. Don’t pay attention to the harmful disinformation from anti-vaxxers. If you have queries, check information from trusted sources such as Public Health Wales.

Please also be vigilant for scams – the NHS will call you or write to you for an appointment. They will never charge you – these vaccines are free.

The Welsh Government are requesting that any suspicious texts are forwarded to 7726 and emails to [email protected].

If you think you have been the victim of fraud, the advice is to contact Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040.

As always you can see the latest on the restrictions in force on the Welsh Government website here.

Recent Review of Restrictions: Changes

This month we’ve seen more children returning to school, and the phased opening of non-essential retail starting, with barbers and hairdressers opening for those long-overdue lockdown haircuts.

The Welsh Government will continue it’s step by step opening of our economy as we emerge from lockdown. Now, 6 people from 2 different households are able to meet outdoors, the ‘stay local’ rules have been removed and organised outdoor sport has been able to restart.

Today's Review:

The First Minister announced further planned easements today. Today's press conference will be the last for 3 weeks.

  • 26 April: Outdoor hospitality and attractions

From 26 April, pubs, cafes and restaurants can resume outdoor services.

Outdoor attractions, such as funfairs and theme parks, will also be allowed to reopen.

  • 3 May: Organised outdoor activities and weddings

As the summer approaches, organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people will be allowed to take place from 3 May, and wedding receptions limited to 30 people can also resume.

  • 10 May: Gyms and extended households

Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities will be allowed to reopen from 10 May, but this will be limited to individual or one-to-one personal training - not group classes.

Extended households will also resume - allowing two households to meet indoors.

  • 17 May: Children's indoor activities and community centres

At the May 13 review, Welsh Government will confirm if children's indoor activities and community centres can reopen on May 17.

  • Late May: Indoor hospitality and holiday accommodation

You can get the latest information on these changes on the Welsh Government website here.

£500 Bonus for NHS and Care Staff in Wales

The Welsh Labour Welsh Government will be making a bonus payment of £500 (after tax and national insurance) to NHS and social care staff in Wales.

This payment will benefit 221,945 people in Wales including 103,600 social care staff, 90,000 NHS Wales staff, 2,345 deployed students and 26,000 primary care staff (including pharmacy, GP, dental and optometry staff) who've worked tirelessly to look after us over the course of the last year.

New COVID Control Plan for Wales

The Welsh Government have published an updated COVID Control Plan, including indicative dates of reopening for outdoor hospitality, gyms and leisure centres, extended households and other measures to fully move from Alert Level 4 to 3.

This plan will support the Welsh Government to continue to relax restrictions should the public health situation continues to remain positive.

You can see the plan, along with explanatory comments here.

In Parliament

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Questions

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Questions returned earlier this month – I took the opportunity to question the Secretary of State on the long-overdue Online Safety Bill. Following my question, the Secretary of State confirmed to me that the Bill had been pushed back yet again – another Tory broken promise.

I also asked the Secretary of State what input he, and his department had into the Government’s shameful Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which gives stronger penalties for damaging a statue than those for raping a woman.

Apparently I wasn’t ‘temperate’ enough in my question, you can see and judge for yourselves here…

Backbench Debate on Online Abuse and Anonymity 

I responded for Labour to the Backbench Debate on Online Abuse and Anonymity last week. This was a debate filled with horrific personal examples of abuse faced by MPs and their constituents – and further demonstrated the urgency of why we need to see online safety legislation as soon as possible. There was at times a clear (and what is often a rare) consensus across the House of Commons Chamber on this, and the measures we would like to see included to tackle it.

I was clear in my response that Labour supports criminal penalties for senior executives of tech companies who repeatedly breach the proposed legislation. The Government now needs to get to work on legislating and stop giving in to the massive lobbying from big tech. The Government have already watered down their original proposals.

You can see my response here.

BBC Radio 4's 'Any Questions?'

Last Friday I took part in Any Questions? on BBC Radio 4. Questions included the UK Government’s proposals on asylum and refugee applications, vaccine passports and flags.

You can listen back to the show here.

UK Government Budget 2021

At the start of March we had the UK Government’s Budget. What we really needed was a plan to rebuild the foundations of our economy for the long term, with a relentless focus on supporting new jobs across the entire UK, supporting our high streets to thrive, protecting family finances and a pay rise for our key workers.

But this budget showed that the Tories want to go back to the same insecure economy and unequal country that’s been so cruelly exposed by the virus. We say that simply can't happen.

You can read more on my website by clicking here.

Fashion Modelling and Textiles Rountable

I hosted along with my UK Labour colleague and shadow culture minister Alison McGovern, a roundtable event which brought together leading figures in the country’s £35 billion fashion, modelling and textile sectors.

I heard about a plethora of problems the sector is suffering as a result of the post Brexit trade arrangements that the UK Government agreed with the EU and the impact of COVID.

Here’s the write up of our discussion by Kate Proctor from Politics Home.

Night-time Economy Roundtable with Keir Starmer

Labour leader Keir Starmer and I held an event with representatives from the UK night time industries and creatives from across the sector.

Pre-Covid, the night-time economy contributed £66 billion per year to the UK economy and provided 1.3 million jobs, 8% of the UK’s total workforce.

In Cardiff, we know the value of a thriving and diverse night-time economy, Welsh Government has targeted the sector with specific support. The social, economic & wellbeing benefits that these amazing creators, innovators and entrepreneurs bring has been ignored by the UK Government.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Earlier in the month, I voted against the Government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

I believe that this Bill should have put in place long overdue protections for women against unacceptable violence, including action against domestic homicides, rape and street harassment. And the misogynistic attitudes that underpin the abuse women face must be tackled urgently.

This was meant to be a Bill about improved sentencing and the courts, but the Home Secretary hijacked it at the last moment and it is now predominantly a rushed, poorly thought-out mess of a Bill including unacceptable measures imposing disproportionate controls on freedom of expression and the democratic right to protest.

In March, we unveiled our Survivors Support Plan for victims of rape.

Last year, rape prosecution fell to its lowest level on record. We have had a decade of Tory failure for victims.

This is the time for action, and that is why Labour has unveiled its Survivors’ Support Plan for victims.

Labour would ensure that rape and serious sexual assault cases would be fast-tracked through the criminal justice system.

We also need to see other urgent measures including free and independent legal advice and representation for victims, and appointing a Minister for Survivors of Rape and Sexual Violence.

50 Years of Bangladesh Celebration

It was great to join and speak at a virtual celebration with the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Saida Muna Tasneem, First Minister Mark Drakeford, Councillors Ali Ahmed and Huw Thomas and many colleagues and friends for the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh.

And as the Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central, I wanted to thank the thousands of British and Welsh Bangladeshi constituents for their huge contribution to the success, health and well-being of our community here. I am very proud to represent you in Parliament.

I wish you a very happy 50th anniversary of independence.

New Welsh Erasmus+ Scheme Announced

Our Welsh Labour Government is setting up its own Erasmus programme. I’m really pleased that Cardiff University is playing a leading role in it. A proud day for Cardiff Central.

Our International Learning Exchange Scheme will ‘fill the gaps’ left by Boris Johnson’s Turing programme, the replacement for the Erasmus Plus programme which the Tories refused to participate in after we left the EU. The Turing Scheme is a poor replacement and lacks key benefits. You can see the extent of those gaps in the chart below.

And there was a good write up about our scheme in the Observer.

New Plans for Pentwyn Leisure Centre

Cardiff Blues will run Pentwyn Leisure Centre as a community leisure facility following an extensive refurbishment that will include a new swimming pool, gym area, 3G pitch and café.

The proposals would see the upstairs areas at Pentwyn Leisure Centre retained for dedicated use by Cardiff Blues. The downstairs area would then be reconfigured to provide a much-improved cross fit gymnasium, a new 25m swimming pool, retention of the main hall, community rooms, a new catering concession, and some office space to be utilised by the Blues.

I’m delighted that our Labour Council has secured the future of the leisure centre through this agreement with Cardiff Blues and having our regional rugby club and star players training in the heart of Pentwyn is a great advert to encourage children to try out our national game.

Read more about the plans on the Council website here.

British Kebab Awards 2021

Some really good news as five Cardiff Central restaurants have made the semi-finals of the 2021 British Kebab Awards.

Congratulations to Pizza Time, Jasmin Restaurant, Lezzet Turkish Kitchen - Cardiff, Shaam Nights and Mezza Luna who've all made the semi-finals. You can help them win the main prize - voting is open now.

You can find out more and vote for your favourite here.

Dog Thefts and Tips to Keep You and Your Dog Safe Outside

Your Views Wanted:
Council Consultation on the Future of Castle Street

Have your say: Cardiff Council are currently consulting on two options for the future of Castle Street.
The two design options are:

Option 1: All traffic – 3 lanes – private cars permitted.
Option 2: Bus & Taxi Only – 2 lanes – no private cars permitted.

Both schemes are designed to increase pedestrian safety and bus connectivity - and both plans include a fully segregated cycleway from the junction with North Road through to Cathedral road, providing key connections for the cycleways network.

The consultation will close on 10/05/2021 and I'd urge as many residents as possible to give your views.

You can respond here.

Cardiff Central Primary Schools Leading the Way on Climate Change

There is some amazing work being done at Cardiff Central's Roath Park and Marlborough Primary Schools through their second-hand clothing and party pack eco-boutiques.

These are brilliant eco-friendly initiatives which are now being adopted by other schools around the UK. Well done to all the pupils, parents and teachers involved.

You can read more about this work in the Cardiffian here.

**Image with credit to The Cardiffian.

Senedd Elections 2021
May 6th

The electorate for this May’s Senedd elections will be the widest ever - with 16 and 17 year olds and qualifying foreign citizens resident in Wales, able to vote.

This frequently asked questions document from the Electoral Commission is a helpful explainer on registering to vote and what to expect if this is your first time voting.

Remember- the deadline to register is April 19th.

Voting early by post is the best way to ensure your voice is heard & your vote is counted in uncertain times. Register for yours by 5pm on Tuesday 20th April.

You can register for an early vote by post here.

An Anti-Racist Wales: Welsh Government Consultation

The Welsh Government are seeking views for their race equality action plan that will help create an anti-racist Wales.

You can read more, and respond online by June 17th here.

Copyright © 2021 Jo Stevens MP, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up for updates from Jo Stevens MP.

Our mailing address is:
Jo Stevens MP
116 Albany Road
Cardiff, CF24 3RU
United Kingdom

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp