From Jo Stevens MP <[email protected]>
Subject News from Jo Stevens MP
Date June 30, 2021 5:59 PM
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My monthly update for June with the latest on my work in Cardiff Central and Westminster

Thank you for reading my June newsletter.

It’s been another busy month in Cardiff Central and Westminster, dominated by even yet more Tory scandal.

In Wales, unfortunately, we are now starting to see COVID cases rising in line with other UK nations as the Delta variant continues to take hold. The COVID section below has the latest on restrictions, cases, vaccinations and support available to you should you need to self-isolate.

As we move into this next phase, please remember if you develop any symptoms, please isolate and order a free test. You can also order free lateral flow tests to be delivered directly to your home to use regularly.

June is Pride month, and despite taking place under restrictions for a second year in a row, I hope everyone has found a way to enjoy it and participate.

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.

** COVID-19 Update

** Current Case Rates and Vaccinations
* COVID rates are rising in every area of Wales as the Delta variant continues to take hold;
* In Wales we are likely 2/3 weeks behind what is happening in Scotland and England.
* COVID rates are rising slowest in over 60's and highest in the under 25s;
* The message is, essentially, offers of a vaccine don't protect people - we need people to go and get their two doses when offered.
* Wales remains the fastest in the UK at rolling out the vaccines, and is one of the very fastest in the world.

It's imperative that we all stay cautious, follow the rules in place, get our vaccines and test and isolate if we have *any* symptoms. The current weekly case rate is now 58 cases per 100,000 people.

The vaccine rollout in Wales continues to be one of the very fastest in the world, and every adult in Wales has now been offered a first dose. The focus now is on second doses. Please ensure you accept the offer of a second dose - with the Delta variant spreading in all areas of Wales the Welsh Government are emphasising the importance of a second dose.
Cardiff and Vale UHB are now holding first dose walk-in clinics every weekend at Bayside MVC!

Turn up on any Saturday or Sunday between 8am-4pm, if you have not yet received the first dose of your COVID Vaccine, are aged 18 or over and live and/or work in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. Please bring ID and proof of home address or workplace.

** Lockdown Easing Paused
As cases of the delta variant are spreading across Wales, the Welsh Government will pause any major changes to the rules for the next 4 weeks.

There will be some smaller changes - the number of people who can attend indoor weddings or civil partnership receptions or wakes, organised by a business will be determined by the size of the venue. Small grassroots music and comedy venues can operate on the same basis as other hospitality venues.

Subject to the latest data, there will be an update from the Welsh Government on their plans for any further easing in July. I’ll keep you updated about any changes on my social media and in next month’s newsletter.

You can get the latest information on these changes on the Welsh Government website here. ([link removed])

** Support for Self-Isolation
Changes to Self-Isolation Support Payments mean qualifying parents & carers (on a low income) of pupils in school years 9 - 11 who have been told to self-isolate can now claim.

Cardiff Council have more information here, ([link removed] ) or call their Advice Line on 029 2087 1071 for assistance.

** Welsh Government Support for Businesses Unable to Open
Further support here for businesses who have to remain closed in July and August in Wales.

Businesses in hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors and those in their supply chains including travel agents, attractions that are limited by social distancing and venues for school visits throughout July and August 2021 can get between £1,000 and £25,000.

Don't forget to check your eligibility on Monday.[link removed] on how to apply is here. ([link removed])

** In Parliament

** UK Government Events Research Programme - My Urgent Question

Last week I asked an Urgent Question about why the UK Government had refused to publish the results of their Events Research Programme - the data collected from their series of pilot events.

The live entertainment sector has spent the last four months participating in, and paying for, pilot events as part of the Events Research Programme but the Government has refused to publish the results.

In response to my question, the Minister again refused to publish the results. This has directly resulted in event organisers across the UK being without the information they need to properly plan for the summer – and each week now we are seeing more festivals and events cancelled as a result.

Following my urgent question to the Culture Secretary, music and theatre industries launched legal action against the UK Government to force the publication of the results.

The Government have now buckled and published the results, but the delay in doing has already ensured countless events were unable to go ahead this summer, piling more uncertainty and financial trouble on businesses and performers.

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

** Matt Hancock and the Tory Email Scandal
The news in recent days has been dominated by the eventual resignation of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, following an expose of how he broke Covid rules, personally appointed someone he was having a relationship with to a taxpayer-funded role and used his private email account to conduct government business in clear breach of ministerial rules. His conduct was hypocritical, in breach of the rules he told everyone else to follow, an abuse of power and represented a clear conflict of interest.

Hancock has now resigned (even after the Prime Minister shamefully refused to sack him). We’ve demanded an investigation into the Government’s use of private email accounts after Hancock, Tory Peer Lord Bethell, and now Health Minister Helen Whatley have all been found to have used private email accounts for Government work.

These private email accounts will have been used to discuss and agree Government contracts, which have resulted in taxpayers’ money being handed out to Tory donors and their friends. We need full transparency and a full independent inquiry.

This was yet another example of the Prime Minister’s lack of judgment and leadership. Every time the Prime Minister backs his ministers who break the rules and the law (Matt Hancock, Priti Patel, Robert Jenrick) and who could forget his staunch defence of Dominic Cummings’s behaviour during lockdown? It shows again that its one rule for them and another for everyone else.

** Tories Break 0.7% Aid Commitment
The Government plans to break its 0.7% global aid pledge, despite it being a 2017 and 2019 manifesto promise.

I strongly oppose these callous, short-sighted and counterproductive cuts. The Tories made a promise on this aid budget, a budget that helps keep children and adults alive, provides sanitation and drinking water for people, vital healthcare and education. It helps keeps the world from becoming more dangerous. That has a benefit abroad and here at home.

MPs from across the political spectrum have come together to oppose these cuts to the aid budget - Britain will be the only G7 nation to cut aid.

The Government should stop trying to avoid a vote on this issue in parliament, reverse its decision and reaffirm its commitment to spending 0.7% of national income with a clear timeline.

** More Tory/Lib Dem Failure on Justice
The backlog of cases in the Crown Court is now at record levels of more than 57,000 cases – and sat at 39,000 even before the pandemic began.

This is a direct result of the Lib Dem coalition and Conservative Governments closing half of all courts in England and Wales between 2010-19.

Labour has our Victims’ Bill published, brought to Parliament, and ready to go. Instead of publishing a ‘draft’, the government should work with us to implement its Victims Bill immediately to enshrine the rights of victims and those who suffer persistent anti-social behaviour. ([link removed] )

This, of course follows the disastrous privatisation of probation under the Tory/Lib Dem coalition, which has now been returned to public control. I spent much of 2013 campaigning against the privatisation. It was an award winning service, everyone except the government said that privatisation would be a mistake and would make the system ineffective, increase reoffending rates, prevent people being rehabilitated and put more people at risk of being victims of crime.

** COVID Memorial Wall

Along with 227 MPs, Peers and Mayors I’ve written to the Prime Minister urging him to support the campaign for the Covid Memorial Wall in London to become a permanent site.

The letter is spearheaded by Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, who lost his mum and both his parents-in-law to coronavirus and has been working with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice on securing the future of the wall.

The Covid Memorial Wall, with its endless line of hand-drawn red hearts, has engulfed the wall opposite Parliament since March as bereaved families visited the site to add messages for their loved ones. It has since become a place for people to come together, to reflect on the tragedy of what has happened, and to begin to heal.

I am proud to support this campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall and will continue to work with bereaved families to ensure their voices and wishes are heard.

** Maelfa Regeneration Completed!

A multi-million-pound transformation of shopping and community facilities in Llanedeyrn has been completed.

A Maelfa Regeneration Scheme has revitalised the local area and delivered a modern, new shopping centre, affordable new homes, better road infrastructure and parking and public realm improvements.

Phase 1 was completed in late 2019 and Phase 2 is also now complete.

The comprehensive transformation of the area has been delivered by our Cardiff Labour Council and its development partners, Cardiff Community Housing Association. Its included the demolition of the old, under-occupied 1970s shopping centre and the construction of nine new shops, 40 flats and 16 townhouses. All nine shops are now occupied.

In addition to this scheme, the Maelfa flats 10-storey tower block has also been refurbished, with improved access to the building for residents, new windows and colourful balconies and cleaning to the external brickwork to tie in with the surrounding redevelopment.

The brand new multi-use games area near the Powerhouse has also been completed this month, and work is also progressing with the new Health and Wellbeing Hub.

** Supporting Cardiff's Application to the 'Levelling Up' Fund

I was very pleased to write in support of Cardiff Council’s bid for £5.4m from the levelling up fund to renovate Cardiff Market as part of the drive to help the city centre economy post-COVID.

Our popular & historic market is an important part of Cardiff’s heritage and has a huge role on to play in our city’s economic recovery, especially as part of the Council’s wider plans for improvements in the City Centre.

** Visiting St Andrew's Coffee Court

Wayne, Nathan and a team of dedicated volunteers are running a café at St Andrew’s Church, Wellfield Road to raise vital funds to keep the Church going. Sadly, they’ve suffered two recent break-ins on consecutive nights, which they’ve had to cover the costs for themselves.

The cafe is staffed entirely by volunteers, and the proceeds are going to St Andrew’s Church which is an important community hub - where scouts, cubs, theatre and other groups meet regularly.

They’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of local residents since the break-in, but if you fancy good coffee in a lovely spot, where you can support a really good cause at the same time, please pop down and pay them a visit.

I've recently been liaising with South Wales Police about the break-ins, and they've assured me that they are actively working to catch the perpetrators with the use of extra patrols and resources in the Albany Road and Wellfield Road areas.

** Refugee Week 2021

With COVID restrictions still in place, Refugee Week once again felt very different this year. I was still able to round off the Week with visits to two fantastic Cardiff-based organisations who work tirelessly for refugees and asylum seekers across the city.

First stop was to Oasis Cardiff to run up some miles on the bike for their #FromKabulToCardiff fundraiser and speak to the wonderful staff there. This fundraising challenge aims to raise awareness of the difficult journey that refugees and asylum seekers at Oasis have taken to get here. From 30th May to 30th June, supporters are cycling the distance from Kabul to Cardiff (4821 miles). The money raised from this will help fund the inspiring work of Oasis.

If you'd like to donate and support Oasis's work please click here. ([link removed] )

I then caught up with staff and volunteers at the Welsh Refugee Council’s refugee week tea party at the Trinity Centre in Adamsdown - another organisation working tirelessly to help make Wales a welcoming place for those seeking safety.

** Street Surgeries Around Cardiff Central

Throughout June (and thanks to some warm weather!) I've been able to continue my street surgeries with MS Jenny Rathbone and local Councillors. Having been unable to do my usual in person advice surgeries since February of last year, street surgeries have been a safe and useful way to chat with residents and listen to any issues.

I’ll be carrying these on over the summer, aiming to knock as many doors in as much of Cardiff Central as I can. If you have an issue you’d like some help with, please get in touch using the details at the bottom of this email.

** Visiting Adamsdown Primary School

It’s always a pleasure to visit Adamsdown Primary School - and last week I was there to present £100 of book tokens from the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and speak to pupils and headteacher Mrs Thomas.

We spoke about what books the pupils would like to add to their school library, and how the school has coped through the pandemic.

Thank you to the inspiring staff at Adamsdown and all of our Cardiff Central schools for working so hard to keep children in school and learning throughout some extremely difficult times.

I look forward to visiting again soon to see what books you’ve chosen!

** Visiting the new Roath Library Hub

It was really good to drop into the new chapel cafe at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary with Adamsdown Cllr Owen Llewellyn Jones. This is the beginning of the new Roath Library Hub, currently open as a cafe but when Covid restrictions allow will also be functioning library and hub offering work space and meeting rooms.

It’s a perfect spot for a cuppa, and soon to be a great community space & library for Adamsdown and Roath. If you’re passing by it’s definitely worth a visit.

** Stop Tory Voter Suppression Plans

The UK Government formally announced its plans to introduce mandatory Voter ID at the next general election. These plans are regressive and anti-democratic. Of all the problems associated with UK elections (lack of any electoral law covering online campaigning for example) voter impersonation is not one of them!

Voting rights and participation are an issue I feel very strongly about, having previously introduced a Bill to Parliament to introduce Automatic Voter Registration.

The Government should be doing everything it can to promote democracy and make voting easier, not harder.
We have called on the Tories to urgently rethink the policy, that will reverse decades of democratic progress and threaten to bar millions of people from exercising their democratic right to vote.

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

** Independent Bookshop Week 2021

I celebrated Independent Bookshop Week by calling into the brilliant Wellfield Bookshop to pick up the new book by the legendary Michael Holding. Reading has helped many of us through lockdown and times have been very hard for independent stores - so please support them if you’re able to.

** Cycling UK Bike Week 2021

June saw Cycling UK's Bike Week - and I visited Cycling UK ([link removed][0]=AZUkg6s00PgQYELLxv0SmGU9JkRBFaIIgrtb3ZddZ48tvJceKBnJr90r9gaIGUngJjDt6_Ss8zRF2Ms4c24vxJWbdV5mYIvE_K6lXfSG8cqqPzYrbFi9BxpZctP7IGXOVZjGnpYc8KzJl4wmee8KTV6OmZHtKS6-S7HLv1NrRjCFZsz-1TeyhvBJRGrgpR14YBY&__tn__=kK-R) ’s pop-up bike hub in the City Centre.

The hub was open in the Morgan Arcade on St Mary's Street for the entirety of the week, helping residents to find out more about Cycling UK's activities in Wales, collect children's Bike Week activity packs, pick up the odd freebie as well as getting your bike checked for free.

You can find out more here. ([link removed])

** Llanishen Reservoir Plans Approved

We had the great news this month that the plans for a visitor centre and cafe at Llanishen Reservoir have now been approved.

After a long 20-year campaign to stop it being drained, the reservoir will now be used for sailing, kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding and a state of the art café and visitor centre will be built alongside it.

You can see more about this in this WalesOnline article here. ([link removed])
* 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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