Despite the continuation of restrictions for a few more weeks, things are certainly getting back to normal. I held another face-to-face advice surgery on Friday and those attending included representatives of the Police Federation. I was delighted to assure them of my strong backing for the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will lead to far stricter sentences for those who attack the police or other emergency workers in the course of their duty. For too long, uniformed front-line workers have been disproportionately targeted by those they are trying to help and it is right they should face greater protection. I also welcome moves to enable special constables to take on a wider range of policing roles. Specials are part-time volunteers who, after their day jobs, will put on the uniform then go out to work shifts alongside full-time police officers. People with a hugely diverse range of backgrounds become specials constables. Heddlu Gwent Police is recruiting now so if you are interested in discovering a unique way to serve your community, why not have look at the website: https://www.gwent.police.uk/police-forces/gwent-police/areas/careers/join-us/special-constables/
Wales may have narrowly lost 1-0 to Italy on Sunday night but it felt like a win after clinging on for the last half an hour with 10 men. Our small but proud nation has qualified for the knock-out stages of a second consecutive European Championship and will play a last 16 tie in Amsterdam this weekend. Pob lwc! The press has been asking if support for Wales is unconditional. There is a small minority of people who engage in unacceptable behaviour at football matches - I have witnessed it myself. Footballers speaking out against racism and bigotry is therefore a good thing. I personally have a problem with taking the knee because it has become linked to a political group which, among other things, has an anti-police agenda. However, I would not boo or jeer. There are strongly held views on both sides of the argument and shouting at each other is unlikely to help.
The A466 between Chepstow and Tintern will have reopened by now; good news for those running hospitality businesses in Tintern who have endured a difficult 18 months. Current rules on traveling abroad mean there is a chance for those working in the tourism industry to enjoy a good summer as many more families discover the joys of a UK staycation. The Welsh Government is apparently considering cashing in on this with a tourist tax. No, no, NO! The industry has been devastated by Covid and huge efforts have gone into ensuring it can survive. The last thing we should do is inflict further punishment with more taxes.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 23 June 2021 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 24 June 2021*