South Wales East AM Lindsay Whittle’s blog: February 8
The Communities First programme is ten years old and was aimed at helping areas suffering from economic disadvantage and deprivation, like the Valleys.
However, I don’t believe there is much evidence of any real, measurable outcomes and two recent reports in 2010 and 2011 pointed to significant weaknesses in the programme.
I mentioned in the Assembly that even in these times of economic hardship unless Communities First focuses on increasing opportunities for local people to gain work in their own communities, then it will have failed.
It is no good expecting people who live too far away from the major cities to be prepared to commute to find work, because all that will do is turn our communities into dormitory areas. They will die as surely night follows day.
In another ten years, I fear that a Welsh Government will still be debating the value and impact of the Communities First programme. As far as I am concerned, Communities First should be about small communities coming first, not dominated by bureaucracy.
The Welsh Government has announced changes to the programme which will come into effect in April. Changes are fine, but it needs to deliver big time for our communities by tackling poverty.
Community Health Councils
I raised the issue of funding of community health councils in a question to the First Minister.
They play a key role in acting as advocates for patients and their families and it is important they have the financial means to do their work. Their budgets were reduced at the time of the NHS reorganisation in Wales.
The First Minister told me that the Welsh Government will look to provide CHCs with the appropriate budget., bearing in mind the financial situation. I hope the Welsh Government will steer away from imposing further cuts.
Sport and Cinema
I was pleased to hear about plans for a £6m sporting complex on the old Ystrad Mynach Hospital and a multiplex cinema planned in Bargoed. They should be great additions for our area and Caerphilly council deserve congratulations for these two initiatives. Ambition is vital even in what are difficult times for all local authorities.
Plaid Cymru South Wales East AM