If we want to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 then we have to accept difficult decisions. HS2 will be costly but is also the most important economic regeneration project in Britain for decades. It will boost reliability, connectivity and capacity on rail routes across the UK, including services into Wales. Several thousand jobs have already been created as part of a supply chain that spans the entire nation – and now businesses in Wales have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to contribute to building and maintaining this new high-speed railway. There are many contracts to be won and I would encourage local SMEs to find out more at hs2.org.uk/building-hs2/supply-chain/
People across Wales have the chance to become owners of at-risk local pubs, theatres, music venues, post offices, sports grounds and corner shops with the launch of the Community Ownership Fund, which will see more than £7m set aside for projects in Wales. The £150m fund is part of the UK Government’s plan to build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic by giving communities the power to save local institutions that foster a sense of community. Voluntary and community organisations across Wales and the rest of the UK can bid for up to £250,000 matched funding to buy or take over local assets - such as cinemas, museums, galleries and parks - and run them. In exceptional cases, up to £1m will be available to establish sports clubs or help to buy sports grounds at risk of being lost without intervention - meaning a group of supporters could become the chairman and board at their local team. First round bidding is open until 13 August 2021 and further details are on the GOV.UK website.
Many people’s thoughts are turning to holidays and fingers will be crossed as Covid rates go up and down in different countries, meaning that anyone travelling abroad runs the risk of having to quarantine on return. Too often we forget the attractions on our own doorstep. On Friday, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water invited me to see the facilities at Llandegfedd Lake Visitor and Watersport Centre, which spans the beautiful countryside of Monmouthshire and Torfaen. With paddleboarding, sailing, kayaking, canoeing and fishing available at reasonable prices – as well as lessons for complete beginners - here is a chance to enjoy a fabulous family day out without the hassle of long journeys: www.llandegfedd.co.uk
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 21 July 2021 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 22 July 2021*