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Welcome to my July newsletter.

As always, thanks to everyone across Cardiff Central who has been closely following COVID-19 regulations as we continue to play our part in reducing the rate of infection. This has meant that the 5 mile ‘stay local’ rule has now eased and more parts of our economy and normal life allowed to open up.

It’s important to remember, the virus has not gone away though. It’s more important than ever to ensure we are all social distancing, regularly washing our hands and self-isolating if we need to.

If you develop any of the main symptoms of COVID (fever, continuous cough, changes to your sense of smell or taste) please self-isolate and order a free test.

You can order a test for free by clicking here.
I and my staff team are all continuing to work from home and we’ve received twice as many enquiries and requests for help during the pandemic. Each day of the week we are keeping on top of the new announcements from the UK and Welsh Governments and changes to Council services, so we can advise and help individuals, families, businesses and organisations in the constituency across a huge range of questions and issues.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if there's something I can help with.

COVID-19 Regulations and Welsh Government News 

July has seen several sectors of our economy in Wales start to re-open. We no longer have a requirement to stay local. Bars, restaurants and cafés have been able to open outdoors, and cinemas, beauty salons, tattoo parlours and our tourism industry have recently begun to reopen.

Below is some information on the latest key announcements from the Welsh Government.



From Monday 3rd August:
  • We can meet up to 30 people outdoors. So we can reunite with friends and family safely - keeping 2 metres apart and following guidance to keep us all safe.
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafés will be allowed to open indoors provided that social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures are in place and followed.
From Monday 10th August:
  • Provided conditions remain favourable, indoor gyms, swimming pools and play areas can plan to open on 10 August.
Masks mandatory on public transport



Don’t forget - it is now mandatory to wear a three-layer face covering on all public transport in Wales. More information on this is available here.
Shielding Ends August 16th

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, has confirmed people in Wales who are shielding will no longer need to do so after 16 August.

Around 130,000 people in Wales were advised to take shielding measures at the start of the pandemic because they are at high risk of developing serious illness if they contract coronavirus.

The change in the advice means that, from 16 August, people in the shielding group can go to work or to school and go shopping but they should continue to take steps to protect themselves from coronavirus by keeping a 2m distance from others and washing their hands frequently.

More guidance on this is available on the Welsh Government website here.
£40 million to help the Welsh economy



The Welsh Government announced £40 million funding to help the Welsh economy recover from Coronavirus.

At the heart of the new funding is a pledge that everyone over 16 will receive the assistance they need to access advice and support to find work or to pursue self-employment or to find and take up a place in education or training.

This will help to:
  • Secure jobs and apprenticeships
  • Access opportunities to train
  • Start businesses
You can find out more here.
£53 million for Culture and Arts in Wales 



The Welsh Government announced an additional £53m fund to help the arts and cultural sectors in Wales, on top of the £18m announced earlier this year.

As well as protecting jobs in the arts and culture sector, there will be other requirements built into the grants of money to help drive long term improvements in the industry around fair working conditions, diversity and environmental sustainability – exactly what you would expect from a Labour Government.

The Cultural Recovery Fund will help protect organisations, individuals and jobs in the culture, including:
  • Theatres
  • Galleries
  • Music venues, businesses and individuals
  • Heritage sites
  • Local museums, libraries and archive services
  • Events and festivals
  • Independent cinemas
You can find out more about this fund on the Welsh Government website here.

In Parliament 

Aside from the impact of COVID on Cardiff Central and the work my team and I have been doing to help and support constituents, it’s been an incredibly busy few months since taking up my role as Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in April. As the Labour Party’s lead on those areas, plus charities, tourism and heritage, the sector has been hit very hard by COVID. Many of the businesses and organisations were amongst the first to have to close and will likely be the last to reopen fully. While we now have top-level football, test cricket, Formula 1 motor racing and other sports returning, sadly many other activities will take a lot longer to come back.

Financial Support for DCMS Sectors



So throughout the crisis I have been pressing the UK Government to ensure the skilled and talented people across the DCMS sectors have access to the proper financial support they need to get through the COVID outbreak. Prior to the pandemic, the DCMS sectors were amongst the fastest growing, often outgrowing the UK economy overall. Sadly, despite the furlough scheme and self-employed income support scheme, many have been left to face the crisis without support. I’ve used every available opportunity to speak up for those excluded from financial support, including PAYE freelancers, many of whom, shockingly, have been unable to obtain any financial assistance from the Government at all.

You can see my Question to the Culture Secretary about this here.

Without a financial intervention from the UK Government, live performance venues and everyone who works in and with them have been facing devastation. Week after week I challenged the Government to intervene to help save the sector form collapse. You can see some of my questions and letters here.

Working with individuals, unions and organisations from across the sector, the Government finally announced a £1.57bn package of support. None of that money has yet to reach the people and organisations who need it so we continue to press the Government on that.

Online Harms



Another main focus has been pressing the Government to finally deliver on its promise of Online Harms legislation. We’ve known for some time that social media companies are incapable of self-regulating their platforms to tackle the spread of fake news and hate speech – the Tory Government promised an Online Harms Bill to tackle this in 2017, and still today no progress has been made. Only last week, grime artist Wiley posted a string of anti-Semitic tweets – it took Twitter 5 days to take any action. During the Coronavirus pandemic we have spent nearly a quarter of each day online, so the concerns about children and online harms and the public health risks from the spread of conspiracy theories about Coronavirus, 5G and wider misinformation relating to the pandemic has increased. There have even been physical attacks and threats to mast engineers.

Earlier this week I spoke to Politics Home about this in more detail.

The Labour Party joined the “Stop Funding Hate” boycott of paid advertising on Facebook during July and you can listen to me explaining why we were taking part on LBC here. And I also joined the 48-hour boycott of Twitter following their inaction after several high profile incidents of antisemitism on their platform which they failed to deal with properly in accordance with their own community guidelines.

Broken Record campaign and streaming



I’ve also been campaigning with the Musicians’ Union and other groups to fix online streaming, as part of the #BrokenRecord campaign. The extremely unfair streaming royalties system currently means the big record labels disproportionately benefit from online streaming of music, and musicians and songwriters themselves receive very little for their work and there is no transparency for consumers about what they pay actually reaching the artists who created the music. With the loss of festivals and concerts this summer, this issue has been brought into even sharper focus as many musicians struggle. I recently spoke to WIRED about this in more detail, and you can read the interview here.

Trade Bill and Protecting Our NHS

You may have seen earlier this month, there was a vote on the Government’s controversial trade bill.

With the government actively engaged in negotiations over those future trade deals with the US, Japan and other major economies, I voted to support amendments to the Bill to enshrine in law that these future agreements will not:
  • Undermine the UK’s current food and farming standards by allowing the import of agricultural products which fall below those standards;
  • Threaten the future of our NHS by forcing it open to competition from private service-providers in other countries; and
  • Row back on the protections for human rights, workers’ rights and the environment that have become mandatory in trade deals struck on the UK’s behalf by the EU.
Sadly, the Tories voted against all of these amendments. Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry spoke to the Guardian about the risk this Bill poses to our NHS, which you can read here.

City Centre Café Quarter and Wellfield Road changes

You may have seen areas around Cardiff Central are being adapted to help local businesses such as bars, restaurants and cafes, along with customers, safely operate with social distancing.

Wellfield Road has somewhat of a continental feel to it now with extra outdoor seating for customers to safely enjoy the range of local businesses there.

The new Castle Quarter Café in the City Centre is now open from today, with socially distanced outdoor and covered seating for up to 240 people at a time.

Visit Cardiff have put together a useful guide of what you need to know before you visit, which you can see by clicking here.

If you run a business and you’d like to register to sell food and drink in the Quarter via the app, click here.

Cyncoed Post Office

Unfortunately, Cyncoed Post office in its current location has closed this week.

Post Office PLC are exploring alternative options, but this will come as a real blow to the local community who've had a continually disrupted Post Office service in recent years since privatisation.

I've written to Post Office PLC to voice my concerns about this and to stress the urgency in finding an alternative location- once an alternative provider is found, a consultation process will start.

As soon as there is an update on this, I'll let you know.

In the meantime, the Post Office have identified these two post offices for alternative provision:

● St Isan Road Post Office, 42 St Isan Road, Cardiff, CF14 4LX
● Pentwyn Post Office, Pentwyn Shopping Centre, Cardiff, CF23 7EY

You can see a letter from the Post Office with more detail by clicking here.

Sport Wales Grants 

A new fund of up to £4m has been launched by Sport Wales to help grassroots sports clubs and community organisations through COVID19.

Grassroots sports clubs and organisations at risk of folding because of the Covid-19 crisis may need funding to help pay rent, utility costs, insurances or any fixed costs they may have for facility or equipment hire.
 

Give Blood in Cardiff in August

The Welsh Blood service are appealing for donors in Cardiff in August. 

If you're able to, you can donate blood at City Hall between the 4th-6th August, and a number of other venues around Cardiff across the month.

Find out more or book an appointment here.
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