I was proud to take part in the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, laying a memorial at Llandaff Cathedral to those who fought and died in the Far East. Historians suggest the fighting in the Far East was even more brutal than in Europe, and many feared an invasion of Japan would have led to catastrophic casualties on all sides. To bring in a personal note, one of those directly involved was my grandfather Brigadier LEC Davies. He spent the entire war in Mountbatten’s Army. One of the lucky ones, Lewis Davies made it home with various decorations and a lot of stories to tell. Many were less fortunate and either never returned to reunite with their families, or were changed physically and mentally after years of brutal captivity and torture. The excellent Burma Star Association is an organisation which provides help to the veterans of that conflict who are still amongst us. We owe it to them all to say “we will remember.”
Covid-19 is not as big a crisis as the Second World War but both surely proved Britain is stronger and better able to deal with emergencies when it acts as a United Kingdom. Over the past few months in the Monmouth constituency alone, the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected 9,600 jobs. Over £9m has been provided to the self-employed and over £37m in loans to small businesses. Financial support at this level would simply not have been possible if Wales were a small, financially less well-off nation of just three million people. We are stronger together.
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us of the importance of connectivity. With more people likely to be working from home for the foreseeable future, we need to further extend access to high-speed broadband. Residents and businesses in rural Wales with broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps may now be eligible for more funding as the Welsh Government has agreed to “top up” the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Funding through the scheme provides residents and businesses with a small grant (voucher) that can be put towards the cost of installing broadband to their premises. The Welsh Government will “top up” UK Government funding with an additional £1,500 per resident and £3,500 per small to medium-sized business. This means the maximum funding available per voucher has doubled and is now £7,000 for SMEs and £3,000 for residential premises. More information is available here: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk
- The constituency office in Usk remains closed and my staff and I continue to work from home. We are taking a “business as usual” approach. Constituents can still telephone 01291 672817 (calls are diverted) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 17 August 2020, Monmouthshire Beacon on 19 August 2020 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 20 August 2020*