Assembly Voice: 21 February 2018

Play is essential for children’s physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Access to play is a key right, and Wales was the first country to pass a law to improve play. However, for far too many disabled children there are barriers preventing them from enjoying the same opportunities as their peers. Although there have been some very good improvements locally by RCT Council, more still remains to be done. Earlier this month, I tabled a Motion in the Welsh Assembly on my proposal for an inclusive play Bill, which would improve inclusive play opportunities. I am delighted that my proposal was backed unanimously. I look forward to working with Welsh Government on ideas to promote inclusive play, so that every child in Wales enjoys an equal right to this.


Privately owned derelict land is a blight on our communities. We all know sites within Cynon Valley that have been left in a poor condition, impacting on local wellbeing. At present, local councils have very limited powers to address this. As I have been raising the issue of ‘landbanking’ since my election, it was good to hear the Welsh Government’s plans for a Vacant Land Tax, that could really help to change things. With Wales being granted new powers to create taxes that meet our needs, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has brought forward this innovative idea that builds on best practice from Ireland and elsewhere. Councils would retain a register of derelict land, and if vacant for over a year, the owners of the sites would incur a charge. It is still a case of early days, but this bold plan could lead to some real benefits.


There are disused railway tunnels across Wales, that could be used to provide improved walking and cycling links between communities. It was exciting to join experts for a tour of the Abernant Tunnel leading to Merthyr. The charity Sustrans says this is the most viable of all the tunnel network, and I have asked Transport Secretary Ken Skates how the Welsh Government can help to develop this excellent initiative.