By Carolyn Thomas

MS for North Wales

I have been pleased to see the new rolling stock with extra carriages being deployed on the North Wales train services from Holyhead to Cardiff as well as on the North Wales Coastline over the last few months. It has made a huge difference. Extra Transport for Wales staff have also been deployed to help with assisting the increasing number of travellers with disabilities. It is wonderful to see staff helping people boarding the trains on my weekly commutes.

Transport for Wales have stepped in to cover Avanti services wherever possible and I am told that they will often provide an extra carriage at Chester should that service need the extra capacity. Some train companies operate reservations so can’t oversell but Transport for Wales don’t have reservations. However, the new trains have cameras so can count passengers on and off and can increase capacity at some places, for example at Chester. The Wrexham to Bidston line’s increased timetable to a train every 45 minutes has been welcomed.

Sunday morning to Bangor was proving to be an issue because of Avanti removing a train from their timetable, but Transport for Wales have stepped in to increase and strengthen capacity.

I welcome the New Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport, Ken Skates and have been working with him on changing the guidelines for the 20 mph, following meeting with North Wales Councils, Arriva, Transport for Wales and the 20mph Task Force. I have also been raising the urgency of investing in our locally maintained existing highways infrastructure of roads, pavements and bridges.

Following a strong community campaign I am pleased that Arriva will be returning services to Llandegla village. We need to support our bus services and use them wherever possible.

In England, parents are increasingly concerned about the lack of available places to be able to deliver the government’s childcare commitment and also the increased ratio of carer to child which could be a risk, along with diminishing qualifications.

I know that it takes many years of investment in capital infrastructure, recruitment and training with decent wages to actually deliver the childcare commitment. We have had 14 years of cuts to public service funding. That can’t be rebuilt overnight, councils used to help subsidise childcare provision but they are cash strapped. The commitment needs to be fully backed up by UK government funding to be able to recruit and employ people on decent wages across the UK, otherwise it is just an empty promise.

I am aware that people are leaving planning services in local authorities to work in the private sector, health professionals are leaving the NHS to work in the private sector, and increasing numbers are also emigrating to work in places such as Australia and New Zealand. We really do need an end to austerity and instead invest in public services. By investing in people and public services, we can provide decent working hours and conditions, we can restore health, wellbeing, put money back in working peoples pockets, and grow the economy that way.