By Mark Isherwood

MS for North Wales

Responding to the Statement by the Economy Minister, ‘Supporting the creation of a Community Bank for Wales’, I welcomed the Bank’s partnership with Monmouthshire Building Society, having previously worked in the mutual Building Society Sector, and noted that I led a Senedd debate on Banking Services in 2017 which called on the Welsh Government to examine the community banking model.

I called on the Welsh Government to ensure that in establishing a Community Bank in Wales, ‘Banc Cambria’, “tax-payers money is used prudently, that due diligence takes place, and that the bank is accessible to all”.

I also called for assurances that it will not compete with the financial services being provided by Credit Unions and Post Offices, and, with the First Minister having already spoken of locating a branch in Buckley, Flintshire, asked how the locations of the branches will be decided.

In the Business Statement, I called on the Welsh Government to fill the gap in support for the families of Veterans with mental health conditions, highlighting findings by the Forces in Mind Trust that whilst support is available for Veterans, their families are often left behind.

I was elected as Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Disability at its first meeting this Senedd term, which included presentations by community initiative PIWS on the Accessibility Guides in Wales for people with hidden disabilities they are piloting on Anglesey and by the Chief Executive of Disability Wales on the ‘Locked Out Report: Liberating disabled people's lives and rights in Wales beyond Covid-19’.

Other online meetings included Chairing the Senedd’s Cross-Party Autism Group, a meeting with my Mentee under the ‘Equal Power Equal Voice’ cross-equalities mentoring programme, an introductory meeting with the Chair of Digital Health and Care Wales, and, as Chair of the Senedd’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee, a meeting of the Senedd Chairs' Forum.

I also attended Friday’s Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board online COVID-19 Vaccination Briefing for our region’s Conservative MSs and MPs, to discuss the arrangements being made for the acceleration of vaccination locally and the implications associated with this. We heard that there were then 15 confirmed cases of Omicron in North Wales, this figure was expected to increase from community transmission over the next few days, they had delivered 22.23% of booster jabs so far and they had identified additional sites to support and increase the delivery.

I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2022.

If you need my help, email or call 0300 200 7219.