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A Welsh Marcora Law

One of the towering examples of a successful workers buy-out in recent years was … the legendary Tower Colliery. Heck, it was so good they even made an opera about it! But we too easily forget the incredible battles at the time to wrest control of the pit from the Conservative government who were just hell-bent on closure.

Yet the eventual buy-out of the pit by the miners themselves with their redundancy money led to another couple of decades of well-paid work for the miners, and has now spun off into other projects giving life to the area. Zip World near Hirwaun — linked to Tower Adventures — is just the latest reincarnation of the life of this buy-out.

So, what if we could replicate the Tower story a hundredfold or a thousandfold in Wales. What if we could do this not just out of desperation and necessity because of something like the pit-closure programme, but out of design, so we gave workers the right and the resources to buy-out the company they work in if it got into difficulties, or parts of the business seemed unprofitable.

Part of the Welsh Labour manifesto for the last election reads “We will provide greater support for worker buyouts and with the cooperative sector, seek to double the number of employee-owned businesses”. Welsh Government is putting significant resources into this, not least through the work of the Wales Cooperative Centre.

Last week in the Senedd I put forward a proposal for a new ”Marcora Law” in Wales which would seek to give the rights and the resources to workers to do just that. It gained support in principle from the Senedd, from Labour and Plaid Cymru and LibDems. I will now meet with Ministers to discuss this further.

Many communities across my constituency are heavily reliant on just one or two large employers and if circumstance meant that such a business were to close, it would not just be the jobs that were lost but the very lifeblood of these towns. A Welsh “Marcora Law” would give workers the chance to fully or partially buy out the profitable or essential parts of the business.

It was first introduced in Italy almost 30 years ago. During the financial crisis in Italy (2007–2013), the Marcora law saved over 13,000 jobs and preserved hundreds of essential businesses as newly founded Cooperatives. Crucially, not only were communities and businesses saved, but the new Cooperatives often went on to out-perform traditional businesses, typically with the capital invested being repaid six times over.

Wales already has a successful Cooperative economy with firms such as, Drive!, Splash Community Trust, Too Good To Waste and Natural Weigh, all successfully operating under an employee ownership model. The shares of the company are distributed within the workforce, entitling them to say in how the company is run and ultimately a personal investment in the future of the company. This circulates cash into the local economy and allows them to take pride in the business they are building for themselves.

It’s not a silver-bullet, and not for every situation where a company is in difficulty. But wouldn’t it be great if we could give workers the chance to own their own workplace, and secure their own future. That’s what a Welsh Marcora Law could do!

Huw Irranca-Davies MS is the Labour and Co-Op Senedd member for Ogmore

Welsh Fabians 29th October 2021 https://fabianscymru.medium.com/a-welsh-marcora-law-8ee488ff98a2

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Welsh families in low-income households hit by the ‘perfect storm’

Low-income households in Bridgend and Ogmore are currently facing a perfect storm of rising prices, stalled income, and shortages in key employment sectors under this UK Conservative government. Some of the most stretched family budgets will be stretched even more. Some household budgets will struggle to cope.

This is not all the fault of “events” or the pandemic. Conservative decisions are fuelling this crisis in Bridgend, and right across the country.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, as the saying goes. Boris Johnson took the country out of the European Union. But his chosen type of Brexit has contributed to a loss of workers such as transport and haulage drivers who make sure affordable food is delivered to our local shops. Nothing was put in place to prepare for this foreseeable event. Similarly, the shortages in staff in our vital social care sector were predicted, as the UK government decided they were not a key employment group for the “shortage occupation” list of workers.

These are not the only reasons for these types of shortages of course. The pandemic is hitting all walks of life and work. But the lack of preparation by the UK government for the post-Brexit scenario is self-inflicted and unforgivable. It matters to the prices of food on our shelves and the care of our relatives and everything in between.

This is incompetence written in large. And Welsh Conservative MPs are supporting this.

They are also supporting a direct attack on our lowest income households and working families in Wales. With inflation now running at 3.2%, and energy and food prices rising, Conservative MPs have inflicted a hammer blow on low-paid working families and others in Bridgend by taking over £1000 a year out of their pockets.

There will be a £20/week cut to Universal Credit, the payment that goes to households on the lowest incomes. This will throw 290,000 children, 520,000 working-age adults and 30,000 pensioners into poverty.

There are more families and pensioners receiving Universal Credit here and in Wales than in other parts of the UK. More than a third of families here in Bridgend and Ogmore will lose out. And – by the way- it will take around £286m out of the Welsh and local economy, from money that these households would have spent in local shops.

What we have here from Boris Johnson – supported by his MPs in Wales – is a brutal combination of incompetence and callous disregard for ordinary people which is driving poverty and cutting household income for the poorest, whilst also undercutting and adding pressure to our over-stretched public services. This perfect storm is not entirely of Johnson’s making, but he is whipping it up with some gusto.

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Damning new report highlights huge under investment of Welsh railways by UK Government

A new report from Cardiff University’s Wales governance centre has discovered that Welsh railway infrastructure would have received significantly more investment if it had been fully devolved to Welsh Government. Whilst Welsh Government has responsibilities for transport operations via Transport for Wales, the UK Government still has overall ruling for rail transport infrastructure.

The damning report confirmed rail infrastructure across Wales could have been £514m better off between 2011-2020 if governed by a devolved administration. It also said, continued failure to invest in Wales’ infrastructure will lead to “further losses to the Welsh budget” in a time when the role of public services has increased dramatically and are under increased strain.

Huw Irranca-Davies MS for Ogmore said: “All the investment we have seen locally – from the new carriage-stock to the upgrades of stations, to the introduction of the Sunday services on the Maesteg to Cardiff line and the proposals for increased frequency of services – have been done with Welsh Government investment.

Yet the scale of what we have lost because the UK government failed to invest is simply astonishing, and the Conservatives in Wales and in the UK parliament should hang their heads in shame”

The trend of under investment is exemplified by the highly anticipated HS2.  Not only does HS2’s designation as an England/Wales project exclude Wales from receiving the additional funding that will flow to Scotland and Northern Ireland over the lifespan of the project – but the Treasury’s recent inclusion of Network Rail spending in Barnett formula calculations will cause a second squeeze on Wales funding.

Worryingly the report estimates that preferential treatment towards the Scottish government over the next five years means the Welsh government is set to lose out on £505m. For comparison an external source determined that the electrification of the Cardiff-Swansea mainline service is estimated to cost £433m, a huge investment which would bring modernity, environmental considerations and jobs to our nation.

Wales Fiscal Analysis researcher Guto Ifan commented in the report that, “It is now clear that only full devolution of rail infrastructure – similar to Scotland – will address the underfunding of Welsh railways”.

For years our railway infrastructure in Wales has been underfunded by the Conservative UK government. They either need to devolve the powers of Welsh rail infrastructure to Wales together with a fair settlement – and making good the underfunding of past years – or they need to start investing in Wales.

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The UK Government have shamefully killed off Erasmus. The replacement had better be really good

As we slip somewhat clumsily out of the back-door of the EU, we have learned that the nations of the UK will no longer have access to the pool of educational exchange that Erasmus has provided. This will come as a huge blow to the students of Wales, but also to the thousands of disadvantaged young people looking to venture abroad to enrich their learning. As we depart from the multi-faceted and universally inclusive scheme that is Erasmus, we must ensure that its replacement replicates its ambitions in providing a ‘global edge’ to our citizens.

The scope of the Erasmus programme is far more than purely a medium of student exchange, it represents a ‘deepening of the internationalisation of learning’[1] at every level.

The scheme has seen an unprecedented increase in educational global cooperation, with more than 10,000 students and staff from Wales participating between the years 2014-2018 alone.

The provision of study abroad semesters are integral to the degree experience of many students, supplementing the cultural and language variations which are essential to becoming an active global citizen. In Wales the educational partnership has seen over 40 million Euros worth of investment since 2014, amounting to 248 projects being deployed in our nation[2]. Reaffirming and building new academic partnerships is essential, but they will need to be built on the foundation of global and domestic inclusivity which Erasmus had provided.

Graduates who have been part of the scheme develop a greater understanding of foreign cultures and can serve as a bridge, between Welsh culture and the global community. Through their propensity to learn a foreign language they have built international networks, which are of benefit not just to them, but to Wales as a nation. Further, the recipients of the programme are far more likely to have developed innovative skills; culminating in the development of new business profited by the networks formed whilst on post. The benefits of these programmes may be invisible when playing a numbers game, but the rewards of this project advance and inspire the economic and cultural versatility of our nation. 

Between 2021-2027 the European Commission has proposed to double the programmes’ budget, alongside offering more short term and flexible options for studying abroad. These proposals target students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who without these provisions may lack the means to take part. Prime Minister Johnson has implied that the Turing Scheme will enable low-income households to access the same opportunities, but as of yet the specifics are unknown. Replicating the provisions of Erasmus+ is a necessity; as enabling vocational and teaching based exchange through supplementary grants, will highlight the diverse ambitions of the

project. We must also implement work placement programmes, designed for those who would not be able to participate without a reliable source of income during their time spent abroad. The UK Government has claimed that the Turing Scheme will target “not just European Universities, but the best Universities in the world”. The likelihood of disadvantaged households having the means to travel to Universities in North America, rather than more affordable European destinations must also be addressed.

As an outward looking nation, the new programme should realise what cooperative education networks give to us, but we must not neglect what we give in return. Bi-lateral education requires giving foreign students the ability to experience our own unique blend of learning, innovation and culture whilst studying at Cardiff, USW or Aberystwyth based institutions. The two-directional nature of the Erasmus scheme has been overlooked by its replacement; therefore, cultural and academic transfer to our own institutions should be prioritised. Through this, these “guests” of ours will build deep relationships with Wales, contribute to our cultural richness, and – I have seen it happen directly – even decided to stay here to grow their businesses, grow jobs, and grow their families. 

Whilst the spending power of foreign students is rarely discussed, the diversity of ideas that enrich classrooms and communities is discussed rarer still. To fully strive for a global educational outreach, we must realise the benefits of exporting our own cultural and academic prowess, alongside the importance of importing the prowess of others. Our institutions attraction to foreign students rests on their anecdotal evidence, unfortunately vague slogans of ‘thinking globally’ will do little to replace this.

Erasmus is a huge loss to the UK, and to Wales. Most disinterested observers would say that the UK government has made a grave error in deciding not to continue. As such, we must make sure that the replacement is at least as powerful in the benefits it brings to individuals, and to employers and educational institutions.

For Wales as a nation, let alone for the UK, this is an acid test about how we see ourselves as an outward-facing and welcoming country, working with other nations to grow together.


[1]  Hywel Ceri Jones: Former EU Commission Director for Education, Training and Youth (2020) A missed opportunity for the young people of the UK: The Federal Trust for education and research.https://fedtrust.co.uk/erasmus-a-missed-opportunity/

[2] Gov.Wales: Erasmus+ and ESF EAG PAPER (2019) https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-08/erasmus%2B-and-european-social-fund.pdf

[1] P. Maguire (2020) Boris Johnson: The Turing scheme to replace Erasmus will give students pick of the world: The Times; https: //www.thetimes.co.uk/article/boris-johnson-turing-scheme-to-replace-erasmus-will-give-students-pick-of-the-world-gsnkxf0sf

Mae’n warthus bod Llywodraeth y DU wedi lladd Erasmus. Gwae nhw os nad yw’r cynllun newydd yn un da.

Wrth i ni sleifio’n flêr braidd allan o ddrws cefn yr UE, rydym wedi dysgu na fydd gan genhedloedd y DU fynediad bellach at y gronfa o gyfleoedd cyfnewid addysgol y mae Erasmus wedi’u cynnig. Bydd hon yn dipyn o ergyd i fyfyrwyr Cymru, ond hefyd i’r miloedd o bobl ifanc difreintiedig sydd eisiau mentro dramor i gyfoethogi eu dysgu. Wrth i ni adael y cynllun amlweddog a chynhwysol i bawb, sef Erasmus, mae’n rhaid i ni sicrhau y bydd y cynllun newydd yn dangos yr un uchelgais wrth ddarparu ‘elfen fyd-eang’ i’n dinasyddion.

Mae cwmpas rhaglen Erasmus yn llawer mwy na chyfrwng cyfnewid myfyrwyr yn unig, mae’n cynrychioli ‘dwysau rhyngwladoli dysgu’[1] ar bob lefel. Mae’r cynllun wedi gweld cynnydd digynsail mewn cydweithredu addysgol byd-eang, gyda mwy na 10,000 o fyfyrwyr a staff o Gymru yn cymryd rhan rhwng y blynyddoedd 2014 a 2018 yn unig.

Mae darpariaeth semestrau astudio dramor yn ganolog i brofiad gradd llawer o fyfyrwyr, gan ategu amrywiaethau diwylliannol ac iaith sy’n hollbwysig i fod yn ddinasyddion byd-eang brwd. Yng Nghymru, mae’r bartneriaeth addysgol wedi gweld gwerth dros 40 miliwn Ewro o fuddsoddiad ers 2014, gan arwain at ddatblygu 248 prosiect yn ein gwlad[2]. Mae sefydlogi a meithrin partneriaethau academaidd newydd yn hollbwysig, ond bydd angen eu seilio ar y sylfaen cynhwysiant byd-eang a domestig yr oedd Erasmus yn ei chynnig.

Mae graddedigion sydd wedi bod yn rhan o’r cynllun yn datblygu gwell dealltwriaeth o ddiwylliannau tramor ac yn gallu bod yn rhyw fath o bont rhwng diwylliant Cymru a’r gymuned fyd-eang. Gan eu bod yn dueddol o ddysgu iaith dramor, maent wedi meithrin rhwydweithiau rhyngwladol, sydd o fudd iddyn nhw yn ogystal â Chymru fel cenedl. Hefyd, mae’r rhai sy’n manteisio ar y rhaglen yn llawer mwy tebygol o fod wedi datblygu sgiliau arloesol; gan arwain at ddatblygu busnes newydd a oedd yn elwa ar y rhwydweithiau a sefydlwyd tra ar y cynllun. Gall manteision y rhaglenni hyn fod yn amlwg wrth edrych ar y ffigurau, ond mae’r prosiect hwn yn talu ar ei ganfed gan ddatblygu ac ysbrydoli amlbwrpasedd economaidd a diwylliannol ein cenedl.

Rhwng 2021 a 2027, mae’r Comisiwn Ewropeaidd wedi cynnig dyblu cyllideb y rhaglen, law yn llaw â chynnig opsiynau mwy tymor byr a hyblyg ar gyfer astudio dramor. Mae’r cynigion hyn yn targedu myfyrwyr o gefndiroedd difreintiedig, a allai fod heb y modd i gymryd rhan heb y darpariaethau hyn. Mae’r Prif Weinidog Johnson wedi awgrymu y bydd Cynllun Turing yn galluogi aelwydydd incwm isel i gael y cyfle i fanteisio ar yr un cyfleoedd, ond nid yw’r manylion yn hysbys eto.

Mae angen efelychu darpariaethau Erasmus+; oherwydd bydd galluogi cyfnewid ar sail addysgu a galwedigaethol drwy grantiau atodol, yn tynnu sylw at uchelgeisiau amrywiol y prosiect. Mae’n rhaid i ni hefyd roi rhaglenni lleoliad gwaith ar waith, sydd wedi’u cynllunio ar gyfer y rhai na fyddai’n gallu cymryd rhan heb ffynhonnell incwm ddibynadwy yn ystod yr amser a dreulir dramor. Mae Llywodraeth y DU wedi honni y bydd Cynllun Turing yn targedu nid yn unig Prifysgolion Ewropeaidd, ond y Prifysgolion gorau yn y byd[3]. Mae’n rhaid i ni fynd i’r afael hefyd â’r tebygolrwydd na fydd gan aelwydydd difreintiedig y modd y deithio i Brifysgolion yng Ngogledd America, o’u cymharu â chyrchfannau mwy fforddiadwy Ewrop.

Fel cenedl sy’n edrych tua’r dyfodol, dylai’r rhaglen newydd dynnu sylw ar yr hyn y mae rhwydweithiau addysg cydweithredol yn ei roi i ni, ond mae’n rhaid i ni beidio ag esgeuluso’r hyn rydym yn ei roi yn ôl. Mae addysg ddwyochrog yn gofyn i ni roi’r gallu i fyfyrwyr tramor brofi ein cymysgedd unigryw ni ein hunain o ddysgu, arloesi a diwylliant tra’n astudio mewn athrofeydd yng Nghaerdydd, Prifysgol De Cymru neu Aberystwyth. Mae naws dau gyfeiriad cynllun Erasmus wedi’i anwybyddu yn y cynllun newydd; felly, dylid blaenoriaethu trosglwyddiad diwylliannol ac academaidd i’n hathrofeydd ein hunain. Drwy wneud hyn, bydd y ‘gwesteion’ hyn yn meithrin cysylltiadau dwfn â Chymru, yn cyfrannu ar ein cyfoeth diwylliannol ac – rwyf wedi gweld hyn yn digwydd gyda fy llygaid fy hun – fe fyddant hyd yn oed yn penderfynu aros yma a datblygu eu busnesau, meithrin swyddi a magu eu teuluoedd.

Er nad yw pŵer gwario myfyrwyr tramor yn cael ei drafod yn aml, mae’r amrywiaeth o syniadau sy’n cyfoethogi ystafelloedd dosbarth a chymunedau yn cael eu trafod hyd yn oed yn llai aml. Er mwyn gwneud ein gorau i sicrhau allgymorth addysgol byd-eang, mae’n rhaid i ni wireddu manteision allforio ein galluoedd diwylliannol ac academaidd ni ein hunain, law yn llaw â phwysigrwydd mewnforio galluoedd eraill. Mae atyniad ein hathrofeydd i fyfyrwyr tramor i’w gweld yn eu tystiolaeth anecdotaidd, ac yn anffodus ni fydd sloganau annelwig megis ‘meddwl yn fyd-eang’ yn gwneud llawer i gymryd lle hyn.

Mae Erasmus yn golled enfawr i’r DU, ac i Gymru. Byddai hyd yn oed yr arsylwyr mwyaf didaro yn dweud bod Llywodraeth y DU wedi gwneud camgymeriad mawr wrth benderfynu peidio â’i barhau. Felly, mae’n rhaid ni sicrhau bod y cynllun newydd o leiaf yr un mor bwerus o ran ei fanteision i unigolion, i gyflogwyr ac i athrofeydd.

I Gymru fel cenedl, heb sôn am y DU, mae hwn yn brawf tyngedfennol i ddangos sut rydym yn gweld ein hunain fel gwlad flaengar a chroesawgar, sy’n gweithio gyda chenhedloedd eraill i dyfu gyda’n gilydd.


[1]  Hywel Ceri Jones: Cyn Gyfarwyddwr Addysg, Hyfforddiant ac Ieuenctid (2020). A missed opportunity for the young people of the UK: Yr Ymddiriedolaeth Ffederal dros addysg ac ymchwil. https://fedtrust.co.uk/erasmus-a-missed-opportunity/

[2] Llyw.Cymru: Erasmus+ a PHAPUR ESF EAG (2019) https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-08/erasmus%2B-and-european-social-fund.pdf

[3] P. Maguire (2020) Boris Johnson: The Turing scheme to replace Erasmus will give students pick of the world: The Times; https: //www.thetimes.co.uk/article/boris-johnson-turing-scheme-to-replace-erasmus-will-give-students-pick-of-the-world-gsnkxf0sf

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Co-operative Party Assembly Group backs #SheDeserves campaign for Living Wages and Fair Trade

Huw Irranca-DaviesChair of the National Assembly for Wales Co-operative Group / Grwp Cydweithredol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

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Huw Meets Jenipher Wettaka Sambazi, a Fairtrade coffee farmer and Vice Chair of the Mt Elgon Coffee Cooperative in Uganda

The Co-operative Party has a proud tradition of championing the Fair Trade movement, which strives to give a greater voice to farmers and workers in the developing world. The goal being fair prices for their produce, decent working conditions and living wages, and real sustainability for their communities and the planet.
This year we’re asking our members to help promote Fairtrade Fortnight in support of our ongoing commitment to put people and planet before financial profit. That’s exactly what fair trade is all about!
Fairtrade Fortnight is an annual celebration that runs from 24 February to 8 March, and it’s coordinated in Wales by Fair Trade Wales. Over these two weeks people can show their support for farmers and workers in developing countries who produce the everyday items we enjoy; from cocoa to coffee to cotton and much more.
Hundreds of events from giant Fairtrade banana splits to coffee tastings are being carried out all over Wales, and this year there is a special focus on the important role women farmers play in the journey to liveable incomes.
We`re excited to promote the #SheDeserves campaign, which turns a spotlight on the `invisible women` in sectors such as cocoa in West Africa where 60% of the world`s cocoa is grown, and where the average farmer lives on as little as 74p a day. In regions like Côte d’Ivoire, women workers have far fewer rights than men and earn far less despite carrying out 68% of the farm labour whilst also being responsible for children and the home.
As part of Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations at the Senedd, we were delighted to meet the wonderful Jenipher Wettaka Sambazi, a Fairtrade coffee farmer and Vice Chair of the Mt. Elgon Coffee Cooperative in Uganda. We heard first-hand from Jenipher about her experiences as a coffee farmer, as a woman in leadership, and how the climate is impacting the cooperative homes and livelihoods in Mt. Elgon. It was truly inspirational!
The truth of the matter is that approximately 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee production for their livelihoods. It is the most valuable and widely traded tropical agricultural product and is mainly produced by smallholder farmers. Many of them, however, are unable to earn a reliable living from the coffee they produce, meaning it isn`t enough to support the most basic needs such as fresh water, food, education, and healthcare.
We will continue to work with and support the Fairtrade movement to help put a stop to unfair conditions for essential farmers and workers worldwide.
So, as Wales Co-operative Party members, we are asking you to:
• Buy Fair Trade items wherever you can, and if you can’t see it ask for it;
• Share the stories of Fairtrade and your support for the movement on social media, using the hashtags #SheDeserves and #FairtradeFortnight;
• And join in with your local Fair Trade community by getting involved with events. Find out how on the Fair Trade Wales website.

And remember that this doesn’t end after these two weeks. Wales was the first in the world to become a Fair Trade Nation. But the work goes on, and we will continue to stand with Jenipher and women producers around the world until she, and others, get what #SheDeserves.

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Active Travel

As the Member of the Senedd for Ogmore, I am always keen to encourage more walking and cycling to schools, so we have healthy and active schoolchildren, help reduce traffic congestion and air-pollution around “school-runs” (let’s have school-walks and school-cycles and school-scoots instead!) as well as the wider community and environmental benefits.

I’m also Chair of the Cross-Party Active Travel Group of MSs. So I am really pleased to share this story of Ysgol Hamadryad, a school which has worked hard to transform itself into a genuine Active Travel school where the normal way of children getting to and from school is cycling or scooting or walking or … well, anything but being driven there to be honest. Not every school can do exactly what Ysgol Hamadryad did and at the same pace, but there are lessons to learn there for all our schools and the communities in which they sit.

I hope you find it interesting, and I’m always happy to work with parents, governors and school heads to see what more we can do together to transform the way our children go to and from schools.”

Teithio Gweithredol

Fel Aelod Senedd Ogmore, rwyf bob amser yn awyddus i annog mwy o gerdded a beicio i ysgolion, felly mae gennym blant ysgol iach a gweithgar, helpu i leihau tagfeydd traffig a llygredd aer o amgylch “rhedeg ysgol” (gadewch i ni gael teithiau cerdded ysgol) a beiciau ysgol a sgwpiau ysgol yn lle!) yn ogystal â’r buddion cymunedol ac amgylcheddol ehangach.

Rwyf hefyd yn Gadeirydd y Grŵp Teithio Gweithredol Trawsbleidiol o MSs. Felly rwy’n falch iawn o rannu’r stori hon am Ysgol Hamadryad, ysgol sydd wedi gweithio’n galed i drawsnewid ei hun yn ysgol Teithio Gweithredol ond cael eich gyrru yno i fod yn onest. Ni all pob ysgol wneud yn union yr hyn a wnaeth Ysgol Hamadryad ac ar yr un cyflymder, ond mae gwersi i’w dysgu yno i’n holl ysgolion a’r cymunedau y maent yn eistedd ynddynt.

Gobeithio y bydd yn ddiddorol i chi, ac rydw i bob amser yn hapus i weithio gyda rhieni, llywodraethwyr a phenaethiaid ysgolion i weld beth arall y gallwn ei wneud gyda’n gilydd i drawsnewid y ffordd y mae ein plant yn mynd yn ôl ac ymlaen i ysgolion. “

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WORKER-OWNED TAXI CO-OPERATIVE SET TO “Drive” CHANGE IN CARDIFF

A new Cardiff taxi company with a difference – “Drive – Cardiff Taxis Co-operative” – is making headlines across the UK. This is not just another taxi company. The nine drivers who have come together to set up Drive as a worker-owned cooperative are shaking up the way taxi companies operate.

The trend in the taxi market in recent years has been towards larger and larger taxi companies, often linked to global Apps, where significant central administration fees are charged to the drivers. These drivers are technically self-employed, and because of the intermittent nature of the work and the large administration fees can find themselves earning below the National Living Wage. Many drivers have left the industry because of the precarious nature of the work and their inability to make a living.

Drive is trying to do things differently, by giving a quality service and a fair deal to the passenger – and a fair deal to the drivers too! With the help of the GMB union and the Wales Cooperative Centre, the drivers have set up a not-for-profit co-operative company which is wholly owned by its members, meaning every driver will be charged the lowest amount possible in order to use their dispatch system and central overheads. In this way the drivers can make a decent living, invest in their vehicles and the company, and boost the local economy by keeping the cash recirculating in the local economy. It’s a win-win for passengers and the pioneering driver-owners.

As a co-operative firm, every driver that joins Drive gets one share of the company. This entitles them to one vote and a say in how the company works. Paul O’Hara of the GMB union and one of the Drive founders said this approach “was much better than just forming yet another company with only a few people at the top taking all the profit”. Officially registered with Co-operatives UK and the FCA, the Cardiff Taxi Co-operative is a fully constituted society and will be run under the co-operative principles defined in the International Co-operative Alliance Statement of Co-operative Identity.

While the company is still very young having launched on St. David’s Day this year, Drive is already having great feedback from their passengers and drivers. They are also open to enquiries from other drivers who want to join Drive and get the benefits of being part of this young but ambitious cooperative company.

Cooperative and Labour Party Members of the National Assembly for Wales have been keen to promote this exciting new cooperative business venture, which was supported Social Business Wales through the Wales Co-operative Centre. Social Business Wales is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government.

National Assembly for Wales Cooperative Group Chair Huw Irranca-Davies AM says “We are working with Welsh Government to promote more worker-owned cooperatives, where the money stays in the local economy, and the profits go to the employees and to invest in the company and their vehicles, which all benefits the passengers too. We want to see more companies like Drive powering the Welsh economy and putting power back in the hands of the workers. It’s what good ethical business is all about.”

So when you need a taxi in Cardiff, make sure you hail a cooperative cabby. And at the end of the journey there’s only one thing to say really, and that’s … “Cheers, Drive!”

For more information on “Drive – Cardiff Taxis Co-operative” contact: Paul O’Hara at cardifftaxicoop@gmail.com

Drive Taxis are available by calling 02920 140 140 or emailing cardifftaxicoop@gmail.com

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Leadership of Welsh Labour: Leadership of Wales

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The Hustings: Round One

I attended the very first official hustings for the Welsh Labour leadership contest last week in Cardiff. It was a packed event, and there was a real buzz in the crowd. Some were quietly partisan, others more noisily so having already made up their minds. As we climbed the entrance steps, supporters of different candidates were already distributing leaflets or glad-handing other potential supporters.

And then there were some – including me by the way – arriving with fairly open minds, wanting to see how three very good candidates for Welsh Labour leader would perform on the night, under the pressure of a real contest.

What I saw and heard was three able and talented individuals from our broad Labour family who differed – sometimes markedly – in the substance of their policy offers and in their presentation style. They laid out what they believed was now needed for Welsh Labour and for Wales itself. There was real passion from all three, and firm commitment to our core Labour values of social justice and equality and opportunity for all, though they presented that passion in very different styles and with some significant differences in policy and political approaches.

Differences emerged around approaches to Brexit, the role of nuclear energy and renewables in a de-carbonised future, the relationship between U.K. and Welsh Labour (and U.K. and Welsh Labour leadership), future funding priorities, competing views of what “radical” and “bold” actually mean in policy and leadership, and personal pitches between experience and a fresh approach. There were significant areas of overlap too, which you’d expect. I liked parts of what each candidate said, disliked other parts, but was glad to have been there at this opening foray.

Yet my vivid first impression of this opening hustings is more straight-forward: this contest now looks set to be the energetic, vigorous debate that we really need. This diverse trio of candidates looked and sounded fresh and sparky, willing to disagree on points of substance, and willing to signal agreement on others. This will not be some lame contest. This really matters for the future of Welsh Labour and for Wales itself, and the candidates are truly up for it.

And let’s be frank, this would have been a greatly diminished contest without Eluned on that platform to join Mark and Vaughan. And I and other members would have been disappointed and indeed astounded if Labour in this day and age – with our proud record on diversity – could not have fielded such a diverse field of candidates. Members have a meaningful choice now, and I’m pleased to have played a small role in making that happen.

So, what are my take-aways from the first official hustings? Bearing in mind it’s a long way to go yet, here are my reflections on the opening night, which may be of help to any candidate who stumbles across this blog-post hidden deep in cyberspace. I haven’t made my mind up definitively yet, but here’s what this one Labour Party member is looking for:

1) The Inspirational Leader: I’m looking for a leader who can inspire me as a life-long Labour Party member. In that regard, I’m no different from any other Labour member. I want a leader who we follow into battle for the causes we believe in. Simples. Inspire me! I saw some of that on the platform last week, so I’m really hopeful. It’s the vision thing.

2) The Pragmatic and Credible Leader: As well as inspiration, and the vision to build a better future, I want a road-map of how we get there. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, what’s the point of a map without Utopia on it. But I also want someone who can take us there, not just a dreamer. Part of the credibility of a leader is having pragmatic plans which will improve all people’s lives, tackle poverty and inequality and promote social and economic opportunity, and do this while protecting this and future generations and also protecting this one-and-only planet we have.

3) A Leader of Substance: Breadth and depth are really important, especially as this contest progresses: even if they don’t have all the answers right now, I want to know that a future leader has thought through all the vital policy areas, or is already working on them from a set of clear principles. As this contest continues, candidates will know they’ll have to sharpen their knowledge and fill in gaps. All the candidates demonstrated strengths in particular areas. But gaps which can be tolerated in week one will be intolerable (and found out) in week six … or sooner.

4) An Election-Winning Leader: winning the selectorate/winning the electorate. At this stage, it’s understandable if candidates focus primarily on the battle ahead, which is convincing members (under One Member One Vote, remember) to put a cross in their box by December. But there is a longer game too, and I won’t be the only one looking for a candidate who is aiming already to reach out to the wider electorate beyond the Labour Party, so that we can win elections and put into place our policies. So a real challenge for the candidates is pitching in that sweet-spot which can win this selection, but also appeal beyond to the public in Wales, and to ALL parts of Wales and our diverse communities. Perhaps the two (selectorate and electorate) are exactly the same. It’s for the candidates to work this out in their pitches.

5) The Unification Candidate: for all the passion, the excitement, and the differences in policy, politics and style, I am looking for the candidate who can continue to unify our party in Wales. One of our great successes in Wales over time has been our ability to stand together with one voice, despite occasional heated disagreements. Any candidate tempted to play to divisions/factions simply to win this selection loses my vote, because they ultimately lose us elections.

6) The Welsh Labour candidate: I “came home” to Wales and the Welsh parliament because I am a devolutionist. Having served as a Minister and MP in Westminster I have a clear understanding of the benefits of the United Kingdom (when we have progressive governments in power in Westminster) but I equally and passionately believe in the principle of devolving power and government as close to people as possible, so they can better pull the levers of power. Yet as law-making and tax-varying powers have moved purposefully and progressively to Wales (and this will continue over time, regardless of Brexit) so Welsh Labour has also become a muscular and vocal entity itself, from the original “clear red water” to more recent devolution to the Welsh Executive of key elements of the “rule book” by which we govern Welsh Labour. I want to see a candidate who shares that belief that Wales’ relationship with the U.K. is crucial but is also changing under devolution to one of greater parity; and that likewise, Welsh Labour’s relationship with U.K. Labour is crucial but we must never, ever be a branch office of London HQ.

So, no pressure on Mark, Eluned and Vaughan then!

They simply need to be 1) inspirational 2) pragmatic and credible 3) of depth and substance 4) election-winning 5) unifying and 6) distinctively Welsh Labour, within the U.K. Labour family.

I am really looking forward to seeing this contest unfold over the next few weeks. The candidates are all immensely capable. I know them all, and am convinced that on any given day any one of them could be a great leader of Welsh Labour, the Labour Assembly Group, and of the Government of Wales.

But only one of them can be that “First Among Equals” leader, so I wish them all the very best. Like all other Labour members in Wales, as I make my decision on who that will be, I know we are truly fortunate to have such a good and diverse choice of candidates in front of us.

So let’s have a robust but well-tempered contest which inspires members and the wider public, which shows Welsh Labour as a progressive and unified party where different views can be aired and debated positively, which brings forward the leader who will take Wales and Welsh Labour forward to meet the immediate and significant challenges ahead, and sets us on course to a higher level of achievement and ambition for Wales.

Like all Labour members, I have only one vote. I won’t be giving it away easily. But ultimately I will use it as wisely as I can, for the good of our party and country.

Good luck to all the candidates. Coffee and energy bars at the ready for the long-haul to December … and beyond!

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Investing in our Communities and Protecting Public Services in Wales despite Tory Austerity – the Welsh Labour Government Budget

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The Welsh Labour Government has announced its spending plans for the next year with a budget heavily aimed at protecting services in local communities like Ogmore, despite the continued austerity funding from a UK Tory Chancellor.

Seven years of austerity from damaging Tory cuts have had a damaging effect on families and communities throughout the whole of the UK. Wales has taken repeated hits from the Tories, and we have seen the block grant (annual funding) here in Wales reduced by £1.2 billion, slashing the money available to us to spend on vital public services. This is a political choice made by the Tory government in London, not a necessity, and we need to change the government in Westminster.

Below is a very brief summary of the main announcements in our Welsh Budget, and it shows how even in very difficult times a Welsh Labour Government can make a difference, doing our best to work together with local authorities and others to protect our vital public services.

This Budget over the next 3 years will see additional funding for our Welsh NHS – £230m for 2018/2019 and £220m for 2019/2020; Protection for our social care and our education services; no cuts to the ‘Supporting People Grant’ with an additional £10m allocated in each year; £70m investment over 2 years for the flagship childcare offer and an extra £10m in each year towards tackling homelessness.

The Capital plans over the 3 years will see £340m released as part of our £1.4 billion investment to build 20,000 affordable homes; Continued investment in our children’s education with an extra £40m towards our ‘21st Century Schools Programme’ – building new schools for our pupils; An extra £90m for our NHS Wales Capital Programme; Capital funds have also been ear-marked in reserves to buy new rolling stock for the new Wales and Borders franchise.

Ogmore Assembly Member Huw Irranca-Davies welcomed the Budget and said: “This Government continues to demonstrate a determination to protect our communities. A heavy focus on health, social care, education, affordable housing shows a clear commitment to protecting our most vulnerable residents. Also great news is the continuation of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2018/2019. This Budget will try and provide stability for local services in Ogmore and across Wales.”

More information about how the Welsh Government is funded and a Budget overview can be found online at http://bit.ly/2gmhLbQ .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Llais Cryfach i Gymru mewn Prydain sy’n Newid

Welsh Poster Senedd CLANid oes angen i chi fod yn arbenigwr cyfansoddiadol i gael dweud eich dweud ar faterion cyfansoddiadol.

Mae Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru yn edrych ar sut y mae Cymru yn gweithio gyda seneddau a llywodraethau eraill: y berthynas rhyngddynt, pa mor dda y maent yn cydweithio ac yn rhannu syniadau. Drwy ddeall y berthynas bresennol a’r berthynas yn y gorffennol, byddai’r Pwyllgor yn gallu argymell y model gorau o ran gweithio yn y dyfodol.

Ond pa fath o berthynas y mae pobl Cymru am i’n sefydliad ei chael â seneddau a llywodraethau eraill?

Bydd Huw Irranca-Davies AC, Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor, yn cynnal trafodaeth ar faes yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn canolbwyntio ar yr heriau cyfansoddiadol mwyaf dwys, yn ei marn ef, mae pobl Cymru wedi eu hwynebu ers sawl cenhedlaeth, fel gwlad – Cymru – ac fel teulu o wledydd yn y Deyrnas Unedig. Bydd y ffordd mae Cymru yn ymateb i’r heriau hynny yn brawf diffiniol o’n cenhedlaeth ni.

Mae’r Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, wrth gwrs, yn ddathliad o ddiwylliant Cymreig traddodiadol, y celfyddydau a’r iaith, ond mae hefyd yn fan lle caiff hunaniaeth Cymru a’i phobl ei dychmygu dro ar ôl tro. Mae hefyd yn fan lle mae gwleidyddiaeth a chyfansoddiad Cymru – a Chymru o fewn y Deyrnas Unedig – wedi cael eu trafod a’u dadlau’n frwd dros y degawdau, ar y Maes ac oddi arno.

Mae’r Deyrnas Unedig yn ceisio trafod ffordd allan o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd. Mae Lloegr wedi drysu ynghylch ei hunaniaeth – neu’r sawl hunaniaeth sydd ganddi – ac maen arbrofi â ffurfiau gwahanol o ddatganoli yn Llundain a bellach yn ei dinasoedd metropolitan a rhanbarthau mawr. Pleidleisiodd yr Alban mewn un refferendwm i aros yn rhan o’r Deyrnas Unedig, mae ei llywodraeth yn chwarae â’r syniad o gael ail refferendwm, ond wedi rhoi’r syniad i’r neilltu – am y tro o leiaf. Ac mae sefydliadau Gogledd Iwerddon yn ei hunfan yn stond ac yn wynebu’r bygythiad o Reolaeth Uniongyrchol. Mae gan Gymru Fodel Cadw Pwerau yn debyg i’r Alban o’r diwedd, ond mae rhai sylwebwyr arbenigol – ac yn wir, Llywodraeth Cymru ei hun – yn dadlau bod perygl y bydd Deddf Cymru, ynghyd â Bil yr Undeb Ewropeaidd (Ymadael), yn gam yn ôl i’r broses ddatganoli.

Yn yr amgylchedd tymhestlog a newidiol hwn, mae’n gwbl briodol i ofyn y cwestiwn sylfaenol: sut y gallwn sicrhau llais cryf i Gymru nawr, a llais cryfach yn y dyfodol? Ymysg yr holl stŵr, mae’n gwbl angenrheidiol sicrhau’r llais cryfaf posibl i Gymru yn yr undeb hon o wledydd. 

Bydd Huw Irranca-Davies AC, Cadeirydd Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn sôn am ymchwiliad y Pwyllgor, sef ‘Llais Cryfach i Gymru’.

Yna, bydd cyfle i gyfarfod ag aelodau’r Pwyllgor i drafod y materion hyn a fydd yn arbennig o bwysig wrth i’r DU baratoi i adael yr UE.

Gwelwyd yr erthygl hon gyntaf: Blog y Cynulliad:

https://blogcynulliad.com/2017/08/02/llais-cryfach-i-gymru-mewn-prydain-syn-newid/

 

A Stronger Voice for Wales in a Changing Britain

 Senedd CLA English

You don’t have to be a constitutional expert to have your say on constitutional issues.

The National Assembly for Wales’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has been looking at how Wales works with other Parliaments and Governments: the relationship between them, how well they work together and share ideas. By understanding current and past relationships, the Committee want to be able to recommend the best model of working for the future.

But what sort of relationship does the people of Wales want our institution to have with other parliaments and governments?

Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Chair of the Committee will deliver a talk at this year’s National Eisteddfod focusing on what he will argue are the most profound constitutional challenges the people of Wales have faced for many generations, both as a nation – Wales – and as a family of nations within the United Kingdom. How Wales rises to those challenges will be the defining test of our generation.

The National Eisteddfod is of course a celebration of traditional Welsh culture and arts and language, but it is also a place where the identity of Wales and its people is constantly imagined and re-imagined. It is also where the politics and constitution of Wales – and Wales within the United Kingdom – have been hotly discussed and debated down the decades, on the Maes and off.

A UK which is negotiating its way out of membership of the EU. An England which is perhaps confused about its identity – or its multiple identities – and is experimenting with different forms of devolution in London and now in its grand metropolitan cities & regions. A Scotland which voted in one referendum to stay as part of the UK, with a government which toyed with the idea of a second referendum, yet has gone cool on the idea – at least for now. And the institutions of Northern Ireland in suspended animation with the threat of Direct Rule hanging over them. A Wales with a Scotland-style Reserved Powers Model finally, but with some expert commentators – and indeed the Welsh Government itself – arguing that the Wales Act in combination with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill risks rolling devolution backwards.

In this turbulent, fast-changing environment, it is absolutely right to ask the fundamental question of how we ensure Wales has a strong voice right now, and a stronger voice in the future. In the midst of all the cacophony and clamour, the strongest possible voice for Wales in this union of nations is an absolute imperative.

The Chair of the National Assembly for Wales’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, Huw Irranca-Davies AM, will talk about its ‘Stronger Voice for Wales’ inquiry.

This will be followed by an opportunity to meet Members of the Committee to talk about these issues which will become particularly important as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

This article was first seen: The Assembly Blog:

https://assemblyblog.wales/2017/08/02/a-stronger-voice-for-wales-in-a-changing-britain/#Eisteddfod2017

Huw at Eisteddfod on stage

 

 

 

 

 

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