I am getting a lot of emails and letters from people complaining about Brexit. Contrary to what the media might think or suggest, these are not complaints about the fact that Brexit is happening - far from it. If my inbox and postbag are anything to go by, most people would be more than happy for the UK to walk away immediately without any further negotiations, payments or transition periods. My heart is tempted to agree. Yet my head is telling me that we need to calm down. We will legally be out of the EU next year. If we then have to spend another two years or so unpicking 40 years of bureaucracy in order to minimise inconvenience, then it is probably a price worth paying.
Fly-tipping is becoming a serious blight across the UK and cowboy waste disposal companies are causing untold environmental damage. If rubbish is fly-tipped then the land owner is held responsible for the cost of clearing it up, which can often run into tens of thousands of pounds. There are very few prosecutions and anyone who is found guilty usually gets away with little more than a fine and a slap on the wrist. The time has come to take strong action and move the burden of responsibility to anyone who uses a waste disposal firm. Much as I note extra bureaucracy, perhaps we need some sort of licence scheme for approved waste disposal operators run by Natural Resources Wales (the Environment Agency). Anyone going to an unlicensed firm could then be held financially liable if their waste ended up being found anywhere it shouldn't be.
During the recent cold spells, I came across some unsung heroes who really should be thanked. Firstly the local authority workers who drop everything and work overnight through appalling weather conditions to clear snow and ensure the roads are gritted. I bumped into some in Monmouth and I am sure I speak for everyone in expressing our gratitude. Less visible were the kind volunteers who came over to Monmouth skate park on a freezing Saturday morning with mugs of hot drinks for the intrepid skateboarders and scooter riders. As the parent of one of them, it is great to see so many young people enjoying an activity which does not involve an iPhone or PlayStation.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 16 April 2018*