Coronavirus: Important Information

Cardiff West Constituency Office
Due to the coronavirus we have had to close the office building at 395 Cowbridge Road East and stop open surgeries for the public's safety. However we will continue to be available to help you and you will be able to contact us by emailing brennank@parliament.uk or by phoning 02920 223207 during office hours.

Communication from Kevin Brennan MP
At the moment I am receiving a large amount of correspondence regarding the coronavirus. As a result, I have attempted to address the concerns people are raising in one post. I will try and keep this updated to help as many people as possible. You can read it in full here:
http://www.kevinbrennan.co.uk/2020/03/coronavirus.html

Communications from Public Health Wales
Public Health Wales' latest statement on novel coronavirus outbreak:
https://phw.nhs.wales/news/public-health-wales-statement-on-novel-coronavirus-outbreak/

What to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus:
https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/what-to-do-if-you-have-symptoms-of-coronavirus/

Find out how you can reduce the risk of catching coronavirus:
https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/how-to-reduce-the-risk-of-catching-or-spreading-coronavirus/

Check if you need medical help on the NHS Direct symptom checker:
https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/


Watch Kevin Bennan MP's latest videos or view more by clicking here.

Westminster Latest

Coronavirus communication from Kevin Brennan MP

At the moment I am receiving a large amount of correspondence regarding coronavirus. As a result, I will attempt to address concerns raised in this one post below.


Click on the following headings to take you to the relevant information:

Table of Contents
  1. New updates to advice
  2. Covid-19 Government approach
  3. Local Authority and Public Services
  4. Health advice
  5. Travel Advice
  6. School Closures
  7. Educational and entertainment advice for children and parents
  8. Childcare
  9. Housing: Information for landlords and renters
  10. Support for workers
  11. Support for businesses
  12. Testing
  13. Transport
  14. Supermarket supplies
  15. Religious burials
  16. Updates

New updates to advice

As of the 23rd of March 2020, there is a UK-wide restriction on travel, leisure and social gatherings effective immediately.

These include:
  • Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • All non-essential shops and community spaces will be closed.
  • Gatherings of more than two people prohibited.
  • All travel other than essential journeys and to and from work (where work absolutely cannot be done from home) is prohibited.
People should only leave their home a maximum of once a day for essential shopping, such as food, medical needs, and for exercise. There are to be no social gatherings of more than two people at any time outside the home, maintaining 2 meters between each person at all times. This does not, however, apply to people who live together in the same household. Breaches of these rules are punishable by a fine, enforced by the police and other relevant authorities. Any non-essential travel is prohibited. Work from home if you can.

Libraries, community centres and youth centres will shut.

Non-essential retail stores, such as clothing stores; electronic stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and all markets (excluding food markets) will all be closed.

Places of worship will be closed other than for funerals attended only by immediate family.

You can find this information here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others#fnref:1

Here is a list of businesses that are permitted to stay open, and those which must close as of the close of business on the 24th of March 2020:

https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-03/coranivirus-closure-of-businesses-and-premises.pdf

These rules will be in place for an initial three weeks, to be reviewed and renewed if necessary.

This advice does not apply to over-70s and vulnerable people who should continue to self-isolate within their homes as far as possible. Those who fall into the high-risk categories (people with immuno-deficiencies, cancers and other conditions which make them susceptible to serious complications from the virus) should remain in their homes for at least the next 12 weeks.

The Welsh Government has also announced that all caravan sites, campsites, tourist hotspots and national parks will be closed to any visitors.

Guidance from Number 10 following the Prime Minister’s statement clarifies that you should go to work, but you should stay at home if it is possible to work from home. If you are completely unable to work from home, you are permitted to go to work but you must follow normal social distancing rules – staying 2 meters away from others at all times.


Approach

These are incredibly worrying times for many families and businesses across the country. The governments of the UK have worked together to produce a joint Coronavirus Action Plan based on scientific and medical evidence, with public health as a top priority.

Using contingency plans previously drawn up for influenza, and having learned lessons from previous outbreaks, the UK Government and the devolved administrations have agreed to follow a strategy of containment, delay, research and mitigation of the disease, setting out an evidence-based structure for decision making. This is guided by the international situation, each of the devolved administration’s Chief Medical Officers, as well as guidance from numerous expert organisations, surveillance and data modelling.

As it is difficult to predict the exact course that the disease will take, it is important that the UK Government will now hold a televised press conference with updated advice and announcements of new measures on a daily basis.

The UK Government recently declared that we have moved into the ‘delay’ phase of the strategy, which entails steps to reduce the rate and extent of the spread of the virus. This is designed to take pressure off public services by pushing the virus into the summer months when the NHS will be better able to cope with the demand for treatment. It could also buy valuable time for testing drugs and developing vaccines.

It is vital, however, that the UK Government learns from the mistakes it has made so far and provides clear and reasoned explanations for its decisions through official channels, rather than leaking to journalists and publishing articles in select newspapers behind a paywall. It should also publish its scientific evidence to provide transparency and allow proper stress-testing.

The Welsh Government Cabinet is now meeting on a weekly basis to discuss COVID-19 and their response to it, and the First Minister and / or Minister for Health and Social Services continue to attend meetings of COBR with UK ministers.


Local Authorities and public services

COVID-19 will impact on public services. There will be fewer people available for an indeterminate period to deliver services that will have seldom if ever been in greater demand – this presents a major challenge.

However, the Welsh Government has been working with colleagues in local government to plan and prepare for COVID-19 and this Government will ensure that our local authorities have the resources they need to continue to deliver much needed public services over the coming weeks and months of this crisis.

They will soon be able to make use of additional, time-limited powers, to be delivered through a four-nation Bill. These powers will help make the response to COVID-19 more effective.
Please see the following link for information from Cardiff Council regarding changes to their services:

https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/ENG/Your-Council/Strategies-plans-and-policies/Emergency-Planning-and-Resilience/coronavirus-information/Pages/default.aspx

Cardiff Council has, as of the 23rd March 2020, shut all its children’s playgrounds in an attempt to enforce social distancing advice.


Health and travel advice

We recently saw significant numbers of people flocking to beaches, parks and national parks around Wales, flagrantly ignoring the advice not to go outside or travel unless it is completely necessary and remain 2 meters apart at all times.

For the sake of public health this cannot be tolerated due to the ease with which the virus spreads. The First Minister has announced that all caravan parks, campsites, national parks and other tourist hotspots will be closed to visitors.

New restrictions now apply across the UK and can be found in the ‘New Updates to Advice’ section of this information pack. They include restrictions on leaving the house more than once a day to do shopping and exercise; not gathering outside of the house with more than one other person who should be 2 meters apart – this includes family members. You can find all these details on this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others#fnref:1

Further advice:
https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults/

https://gov.wales/what-do-if-someone-your-household-has-symptoms-coronavirus

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

Social distancing guidance is available here:

https://gov.wales/coronavirus-social-distancing-guidance
The UK and Welsh Governments are now asking the roughly 70,000 in Wales who are in the high-risk category to stay in their homes at all times, and not to leave for any purpose, for a duration of 12-16 weeks. Each of these 70,000 people will receive a letter from their GP or consultant with details of what they’re being asked to do, and support will be provided for those who aren’t able to rely on others for supplies such as food and medication.

The Welsh government has launched a ‘Safe Help’ website which details how people can help, and how people who need help can seek it. You can find this website here: https://gov.wales/safe-help.
For updated advice see the following information:

https://gov.wales/coronavirus

https://llyw.cymru/coronafeirws

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/what-to-do-if-you-have-symptoms-of-coronavirus/

If you need to self-isolate and have questions about breastfeeding, or living with a vulnerable individual or with children, and a host of other questions, visit the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

If you are a returning traveller, follow the advice on this link:

https://gov.wales/travel-advice-coronavirus-covid-19


Travel

The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has announced updated travel advice, which warns against all non-essential international travel to any countries for a period of 30 days. You can find this advice, and country-specific advice here:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Be advised that, as confirmed by the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, UK residents who are currently abroad and intend to stay there risk not being covered by their travel insurance if they become unwell and require treatment. This is because travel insurance requires them to follow the current the current advice from the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to return to the UK. Please check your insurance policy and contact your provider if you have any questions about it.

There is also specific advice available on cruise travel. See here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cruise-ship-travel

I am aware that there are many UK residents and citizens stuck abroad, including some of my constituents, due to restrictive immigration rules and a low supply and high demand for international flights. I have raised this in the House of Commons, asking the Leader of the House to arrange for the Foreign Secretary to make a further statement, having previously ruled out repatriation, to look again at the possibilities of international cooperation in order to bring these people home. My caseworker will also maintain contact with the Foreign Office to discuss individual cases and gather the latest information and advice.

We understand that many countries have implemented travel restrictions and have suspended flights. Current advice from the Foreign Office tends to be that people should make their way home to the UK by any means possible, even if it means travelling to a different country where flights to the UK are available.

It is vital that these people make contact with their own MPs office for advice, and so that they are able to alert the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the individual’s case.

Anyone from Cardiff West stuck abroad, unable to return to the UK can contact my constituency office on 02920223207, or email kevin.brennan.mp@parliament.uk.


School Closures

As of the 20th March 2020 schools are closed for normal education provision across Wales.

From Monday 23rd March 2020 they will reopen to provide support for those children who cannot safely be looked after at home and for children of parents who are defined as critical workers.

See below a further statement on GCSE and A-level examinations:
"We are in an unprecedented period, one that is changing hour-by-hour, and governments around the world are having to make quick decisions. We recognise the worry and anxiety that the uncertainty around the summer exam series was causing. Today I met with Qualifications Wales and WJEC to consider options that are in the best interests of our learners. We recognise that there are no easy choices but we have agreed that the best way forward is not to proceed with summer exam series. Learners due to sit their GCSEs and A levels this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work, drawing on the range of information that is available. We will be working with the sector to announce further details shortly but wanted to give this early certainty. We also won’t be using the results to publish performance measure outcomes in 2020."
Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education
See further information on schools here:

https://gov.wales/school-closures-20-march-2020-faqs

Please also see the following advice from the Welsh Government:
  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, they should be
  • If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is critical to the Covid-19 response, then provision in an educational or childcare setting should be available for them
  • Parents should not rely anyone who has been advised to be following social distancing guidance, such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions, for childcare.
  • Parents should do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in ways, which could contribute to spreading coronavirus.  Children should observe the same social distancing guidance as adults.
  • Residential special schools and special settings should continue to care for children wherever possible.We will be continuing to provide food for children who receive free school meals. Further advice and guidance will be available on 21/03/20.

Educational and entertainment advice for children and parents

The children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, has produced, and will continue to produce advice and content for children and families about how to stay safe, where to get information, how to speak to your children about coronavirus and what to do while you’re at home.

You can find all this at the following link:

https://www.childcomwales.org.uk/coronavirus/


Childcare

Childcare settings are not required to close in Wales. If they are forced to close on medical advice or as a result of a lack of sufficient attendance by staff and children due to Covid-19, then funding will still be made available.

Welsh Ministers also expect local authorities to maintain payments for childcare provided under Flying Start and for the provision of early education.

The Childcare Offer for Wales provides 30 hours a week of government-funded early education (FPN) and childcare for eligible working parents of 3 to 4 year olds, for up to 48 weeks of the year, available throughout Wales.

See the following statement for further details:

https://gov.wales/childcare-offer-wales-payments-will-continue-even-if-children-do-not-attend-due-coronavirus

Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others#fnref:1

You can find more details about the childcare provision in Wales here:

https://gov.wales/coronavirus-and-childcare-provision


Housing: Information for landlords and renters

The Welsh Government has agreed that measures being developed by the UK Government, to suspend evictions from social or private rented accommodation will apply to Welsh tenants.

New protection under the emergency bill will include:
  • Landlords will be unable to start possession proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period during the crisis.
  • The three-month mortgage payment holiday will be extended to Buy to Let mortgages to protect landlords.
This statement can be found here:

https://gov.wales/greater-protection-tenants-and-landlords-affected-coronavirus-wales

https://gov.wales/guidance-social-landlords-about-covid-19

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/mortgage-payment-holidays

https://gov.wales/housing-minister-confirms-help-buy-wales-loan-interest-repayment-holiday

https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/press/press-releases/uk-finance-responds-statement-chancellor-regarding-support-mortgage-customers#summary


Support for workers

Statutory sick pay
The UK Government announced in its budget that, along with a support package for businesses, all employees with valid contracts would get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day 1 if they are required to self-isolate. Even the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has acknowledged that, at £94.25 per week, SSP falls well short of what is required for people to be able to live on.

Self-employed and freelance workers
Self-employed and freelance workers are still advised to seek Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance where they are unable to continue to maintain a stable income from their usual work. I have repeatedly emphasised to various cabinet ministers in the Chamber of the House of Commons that this is simply not enough.

I will continue to advocate for more support, perhaps through a temporary ‘universal basic income’ payment. To this end I have also proposed EDM 302 which has gained cross-party support. I have also received confirmation that the Government is considering all options, including this one, but they must act more quickly to address this critically urgent matter for around 5 million people in the UK.

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has written to the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for more support for individuals and businesses, particularly self-employed people and smaller businesses, in order to provide short-term financial security during these deeply uncertain times.

The Government has confirmed that a support package for the self-employed is being drafted.

Job losses due to Covid-19
For those who are being laid off by their employer as a result of coronavirus, my caseworker has received clarification (below) from the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions on the financial support that is available to them at the moment:
“… I can confirm that individuals who are laid off as a result of the impact of coronavirus on their employment can make a claim for [Universal Credit] or New Style [Employment Support Allowance], but this will be subject to the normal conditions of entitlement. This means that if they claim new style [Job Seekers’ Allowance] they will have to have paid sufficient national insurance contributions in the relevant tax years to qualify. In the case of UC, this would mean that entitlement would be established based upon all income coming into the household – that is to say, that of the claimant and their partner, if they have one.”
Universal Credit will not pay your mortgage – only after nine months can you request mortgage payments, but this would be for the interest only and would need to be paid back.

It has been suggested that mortgage companies consider payment holidays. However, a constituent of mine was advised that they could go to an interest only mortgage for the time being – but each mortgage provider might treat each customer differently.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on the 20th of March that the UK Government will provide protection through their Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by covering 80% of the wages of workers’ wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All businesses in the UK are eligible, but they must apply for the scheme and follow specific steps to qualify. You can find the details of this scheme here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

However, this is a voluntary scheme in which companies are not obliged to participate, and neither are they compelled to cover the remaining 20%, though they are free to do so if they wish. Neither does it guarantee workers that their jobs will be kept by their employers.

At the same time, people will still have to pay 100% of their bills and rents, with many now with income below the national minimum wage.

If there are constituents who wish to contact me for advice regarding their specific case for extra assistance, please call 02920223207, or email kevin.brennan.mp@parliament.uk.

For more information on your eligibility for claiming benefits and how to do so, including Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance, follow this link:

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

General guidance for employees can be found at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus


Information for Businesses

This is a list of businesses that are permitted to stay open, and a list of those which must close as of the 24th March 2020:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

The Welsh Economy Minister, Ken Skates, has announced support for businesses affected by coronavirus and will speak to companies about what else they need. The development Bank of Wales will offer its businesses a three-month capital repayment holiday. See following information:

https://gov.wales/businesses-offered-capital-repayment-holidays-help-manage-coronavirus-impact

The Welsh Finance Minister has announced new rates relief for businesses hit by coronavirus. See more information here:

https://gov.wales/emergency-support-businesses-hit-coronavirus

Any business affected should contact the Business Wales telephone helpline on 03000 603000.  They can help with practical advice - from staffing to financial planning as well as supply chain support.

You can also find details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where 80% of the wage of employees can be covered, including the necessary steps to take in order to qualify, here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Further to this, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has written to the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for more support for individuals and businesses, particularly self-employed people and smaller businesses, in order to provide short-term financial security during these deeply uncertain times.

According to UK Government advice, businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible. Further, employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible.

This advice, along with more general guidance for employers can be found at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19#returning-from-travel-overseas-to-affected-areas

*not all information on this page applies in Wales, particularly around business rate relief

https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

https://wcva.cymru/emergency-fast-track-loans/


Testing

The World Health Organisation has made clear the importance of testing and contact tracing.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that testing rates will increase in the coming weeks to 25,000 per day.

The Welsh Government has announced that it is rolling out coronavirus testing to healthcare workers involved in frontline patient-facing clinical care. A negative result would allow them to return to work.


Transport

Transport for Wales (TfW) has taken the decision to reduce weekday passenger services during the coronavirus outbreak from Monday 23rd March 2020.

This is in order to match the number of services with their reduced workforce, allowing key workers to continue to be able to get to work over the coming months. It will also mean that freight trains will continue to keep power stations running and replenish supermarket stocks. It will further ensure a reduction in their carbon footprint while demand has fallen.

Anybody who has to travel should check the time of their train before setting off at https://tfwrail.wales. Full details of the changes will be online from midday Sunday 22nd March. They encourage people to approach their travel planning with flexibility in mind.

You can find services added to the timetable here:

https://tfwrail.wales/changes-train-times


Supermarket supplies

The Welsh Government has deployed new measures to relax supermarket delivery hours to help maintain the supply of food stuffs and other goods; including those goods which are currently in particularly high demand.


Religious burials

Though initially the new Coronavirus Bill removed the need for a second confirmatory medical certificate to authorise cremation to reduce the burden on medical practitioners, the bill has now been amended to allow for people from Jewish and Muslim backgrounds to have their religious rules and beliefs taken into account. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, confirmed in the chamber of the House of Commons on the 23rd March 2020 that work had taken place to change the bill to respect those religious beliefs when it came to the death of loved ones.


Updates

In order to keep people informed and provide transparency, statements from Public Health Wales will be updated on a daily basis at 11am with all the necessary information and statistics.  You can find this here:

https://phw.nhs.wales/news/public-health-wales-statement-on-novel-coronavirus-outbreak/

The Welsh Government will be holding a daily media briefing at 9.30am about coronavirus. These are on-the-record and on-camera. They are live-streamed on the @welshgovernment Twitter channel.

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has released a new bilingual video message about coronavirus, which is available on his @fmwales Twitter feed.

I hope this is helpful. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to get back in touch.

Kind regards




Kevin Brennan MP.

Request for urgent action in Radyr

Below is the letter I have written to Cardiff Council asking them to urgently deal with the gridlock which is being caused in Radyr.

Over the years I have made a number of representations, specifically during the consultation process and the inquiry, warning not to allow development to run ahead of the system's ability to cope. I've always emphasised the importance for explicit phasing to be implemented in any development so that transport infrastructure is built before any housing - and for traffic to be monitored at every phase.

You can read more about my opinion and proposals on this in more detail in the documents I submitted to the Council's consultation phase
here and here. Alternatively you can view a BBC article where I talk about some of my concerns regarding initial proposals here.


___________________________





Cllr Caro Wild
Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning & Transport
Cabinet Office 
Room 512 County Hall
Atlantic Wharf
Cardiff
CF10 4UW



14/11/2019



Dear Councillor Wild,

As you know I opposed the LDP when it was proposed and made public representations to the inquiry and I am writing now to express my concerns about the current situation.

You will be aware of the severe congestion issues currently being experienced in the Radyr area as a result of the Plasdwr development. You will also know that my representations from the outset were that the development if granted permission should not be allowed to run ahead of the system’s ability to cope.

I am asking you to look urgently at how to relieve the current level of congestion by implementing any measures that need to be taken by the council and the developers, in particular at the junction of Heol Isaf and Llantrisant Road.

I call on the Council to take firm steps to address the situation as soon as possible because of the level of disruption being caused, and to consult residents, including new residents, in doing so.

I accept that planning and transport are a devolved matter but I urge you to act on my representations urgently.

I look forward to hearing from you

Yours sincerely



Kevin Brennan
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Cardiff West

UK Government's Tourism Sector Deal falls short of what's required

Tourism Sector Deal Shadow DCMS Team Response:

Today the Government announced their much-delayed Tourism Sector Deal which though welcome falls short of what is required.

Research by the Office for National Statistics shows that the tourism sector is heavily reliant on employees from other EU countries. In the UK economy as a whole, 7% of employees are from the EU whereas in the two biggest tourism industries, food and beverage service and accommodation services the proportion is far higher, at 12% and 19% respectively.  In the Sector Deal the Government have failed to acknowledge and plan for the impact of the end of freedom of movement on employment in the tourism sector.

Labour welcomes the commitment in the sector deal to shift perceptions about jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. The introduction of the T levels in Cultural Heritage and Visitor Attractions, and Catering will go some way towards supporting workers in the tourism industry in building and developing their careers. The industry commitment to provide 30,000 new apprenticeship starts every year by 2025 shows the hard work the industry is putting in in order to support the tourism industry in the UK.

The introduction of Tourism Zones recognises the key role Local Authorities play in creating successful Tourism destinations but will not replace the need for restoring Local Government finances which have been hit so hard by austerity.

There is no recognition of the confusing landscape of destination management and marketing organisations (DMOs) in this deal. Regional Development Agencies, established by Labour and abolished by the coalition government, invested heavily and successfully in tourism product and promotion across England, creating jobs, strengthening communities and spreading the economic benefits of both inbound and domestic tourism. Now we have hundreds of often tiny DMOs working on a shoestring and directly competing with their next-door neighbours.

The lack of a national DMO strategy and the failure of this Government to require Local Economic Partnerships to take tourism seriously, and invest accordingly, undermines this deal and renders much of it academic.

The Tourism Sector Deal completely fails to address the impact of devastating Government cuts to Local Authority budgets over the past decade. The ambition behind ‘Tourism Zones’ is admirable but without the funding to back it up this will simply heap increased pressure on already severely stretched Local Authority budgets.

The deal also takes no account of and does not mention something that businesses up and down the country have been telling us at our tourism round-tables. Business rates increases have stifled the growth of many SMEs and the Government cannot claim to want to see SMEs grow - and that they are the backbone of the tourism economy – without addressing this.

Tourism should be accessible to everyone and the focus in the Tourism Sector Deal on ensuring accessible transport for everyone regardless of their health conditions or access requirements is a welcome step. The Government’s intention to make the UK the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025 is welcome as is the target of increasing the number of inbound visitors with a disability by 33% by 2025, but it needs to be clear how this will be achieved.  More also needs to be done to enable poorer families to have a holiday in the UK.

In the Sector Deal, the Government have said that they intend to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme that EU citizens will need to apply for instead of a visa to come to the UK. However, the sector deal fails to say how much an ETA will cost and the Government have not included any analysis of the effect of the increased cost travelling to the UK will have on visitor numbers.

Shadow Arts and Culture Minister, Kevin Brennan MP said:
“The delayed tourism sector deal announced today is a partial step forward in supporting the vital tourism industry in this country but does not address the full scale of the challenge ahead especially in light of Brexit.

“They have not properly assessed the impact of introducing a charge for European Union visitors who want to travel to the UK and they have also failed to properly recognise the reliance of the Tourism industry on workers from the EU.

“Moreover, the failure to address the impact of cuts to Local Authorities makes it clear that more needs to be done to protect and support the Tourism industry in the UK for years to come.

“Neither is there a commitment to develop social tourism for those who cannot afford a holiday or a proper look at how more resources could be raised locally to support events and tourist infrastructure.”

Labour is consultation about reforming film tax credits to promote diversity

The Labour Digital, Culture, Media and Sport team is considering whether a Labour Government could shape the Film and High End TV Tax Reliefs to help to foster more diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera.

The Film and High End TV Tax Reliefs are and have been instrumental in the development and success of the film and production industries in the UK. Labour wants to incentivise inclusion and equal representation standards for underrepresented groups on productions which receive the tax reliefs as part of Labour’s Treasury review of the system of tax reliefs.

This comes following growing concern from across the Film and TV industries about the lack of diversity and representation.

This consultation will take written submissions from all interested parties until the 2nd August 2019.

Speaking at the launch of the consultation, Shadow Culture Minister, Kevin Brennan MP said:

“Showcasing diverse voices, both onscreen and off is vitally important if we are to secure a representative talent pipeline for our film and TV industries.

“That is why today ahead of the BAFTA Television Awards on Sunday, the Labour Shadow DCMS team is launching a consultation on updating the film and high-end TV tax relief to require inclusion and diversity as part of the qualifying criteria.

“It is encouraging that the need for change has been recognised by the industry and that the BFI’s diversity standards are already encouraging progress. Labour believes that adding inclusion and diversity criteria to the tax credit could help to ensure that progress is sustained into the future.”

You can take the survey
here.

Blog: About tonight's Brexit votes


I voted to extend Article 50 and to put in place a mechanism to allow Parliament to take the timetable on Brexit out of the Government’s control.
 
I support a confirmatory public vote on a Brexit deal which passes through Parliament against the option to remain. In my view today’s amendment tabled by Sarah Wollaston was premature as it was not tabled in agreement with everyone who supports a public vote and put the possibility of that vote at potential risk.

The peoples vote campaign have issued a statement which says,

“…we do not think today is the right time to test the will of the House on the case for a new public vote. Instead, this is the time for Parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.

“That is because a People’s Vote is not just another option in this Brexit crisis – it is a solution to this crisis. When the real costs of Brexit are measured up against the broken promises made for it in 2016, we believe Parliament will have better opportunities to decide it is only fair and reasonable to give the public a real say on this crucial decision for our country.”

I agree with that statement and have abstained on the vote in order to maximize the chances of getting a public vote once the extension is achieved. This will involve persuading some who will only vote for a public vote at that time.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary confirmed in the debate that the Labour Party supports a public vote. My position is, stop a no-deal Brexit, extend Article 50, support motions to take control of the agenda from the Government and then try to win a vote to put a deal to the public against the option to remain. I believe this approach has the best chance of success.

Cowboy parking firms in Wales is set to become law after MP's campaign


A bill, which has been sponsored by Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan, to clamp down on cowboy parking firms has received Royal Assent - the final rubber stamp required before it becomes law.

Mr Brennan joined cross-party forces with Sir Greg Knight MP and Pete Wishart MP (pictured with Kevin) after receiving a huge increase in the number of constituents contacting him after becoming victims of such firms in Cardiff.

The Bill will introduce a statutory code of practice which private parking firms will have to abide by or they could be heavily fined or even prevented from being able to access the DVLA database of driver’s details.

Speaking after the bill received Royal Assent, Mr Brennan said:

“I’ve seen a huge increase in people either coming to my surgeries or contacting my office after falling victims to cowboy parking firms in Cardiff.

“The tricks some of these companies have used include deliberately unclear signage, ticketing people whilst they are getting change or fining people even though they were unable to park because the car park was full.

“The anxiety and stress of receiving one of these penalty notices is often exasperated by the contempt these companies show towards the public when they completely ignore any appeals.
“In some cases I have written to complain to companies who have then failed to reply. That is completely unacceptable.

“Until now the law was powerless to prevent these disgraceful practices but this bill will now establish a code of practice and an independent panel which will be able to issue tough fines or even ban companies from accessing the DVLA database.

“I would say to private parking firms operating in Cardiff, who commits these poor practices, to get your act together now, treat the public with respect, or suffer the consequences.”