Dominating the political news is Boris Johnson’s resignation as Prime Minister and the race to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. My own position has already been covered in the local newspapers after a difficult couple of days which saw my then-boss Simon Hart stand down as Secretary of State for Wales. I do not think I could do justice to everything that went on in a 400-word column and you can read all about it via any national media outlet. What I am now being asked is who I am likely to support in the leadership contest. My answer is a simple one. I don’t care if they are from the left, right or centre of the Conservative Party. I will vote for the candidate who shows the most dignity over the next few weeks and is respectful to their competitors. The country has had enough of argument within government and is looking for someone who can quietly and compassionately take over to end the internal rows.
Back to important local issues and I attended ‘Wye July’ by the Monnow Bridge in Monmouth on Sunday. I was delighted to meet Mike Dunsbee and Nick Day from Friends of the Lower Wye, who helped to arrange a really good event. We discussed how we can continue to lobby Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales to bring about improvements to the health of the River Wye. There was obviously welcome news last month with £10m being spent in Usk to improve the town’s water treatment works and upgrade a combined storm overflow to curb sewage spills into the River Usk. Hopefully there will be more investment to come for both rivers. I also spoke with senior management about excrement from chicken farms during a visit to Avara Foods in Abergavenny on Friday. The poultry factory at Hardwick is certainly a model of cleanliness and efficiency.
Could we see the return of open-air swimming facilities in Abergavenny? As a keen participant in water sports myself, I have written to Abergavenny Lido Group in support of proposals to bring back an open-air heated swimming pool to Bailey Park. The project is currently undergoing a feasibility study and has attracted a great deal of local support. I have no doubt this will bring the community together and attract new visitors to the area, while making a healthy lifestyle accessible all year round. I wish the project team every success.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 13 July 2022 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 14 July 2022*