Recently I have seized all the opportunities that I can in my new role as a backbench Assembly Member, since I left Government in November after a record eighteen and a half years as a Government Minister.
Stepping down from ministerial duties has opened up the space, time and power to speak up for Barry, the Vale of Glamorgan and for the campaigns I have been supporting for decades – many of which took me into politics and still need active support.
Eliminating violence against women and girls is at the top of my priorities, as we mark 40 years of Welsh Women’s Aid at an event on January 25th St. Dwynwen’s Day, at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay.
I was the first Co-ordinator of Welsh Women’s Aid when there were only a handful of refuges in Wales, and helped establish the Wales wide network of support services for women and children at risk of domestic abuse. At the end of November last year I marched to Llandaff Cathedral to mark White Ribbon Day, also known as the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls, with a multi faith service, which has now become an annual event. The First Minister positively responded to my questions about the Welsh Government’s ongoing support to tackle violence against women with a renewed focus on the impact of the Violence against Women and Domestic Abuse Act. I am honoured to accept invitations to become Patron of Atal y Fro in the Vale of Glamorgan, and also BAWSO, a Wales wide organisation – both leading the way in tackling domestic violence.
We know how much more needs to be done when we are reminded of the statistics:
*Every week 2 women are killed by their partner or ex partner in England and Wales.
*At least 13 women in Wales were killed or suspected to have been killed by men(2016).
*1,221 children or young people stayed in a refuges after their parent fled domestic abuse.
Supporting Shelter was one of the first campaigns I was involved in as a student, and many will remember the groundbreaking film, ‘Cathy come Home’. We must not let the scourge of homelessness blight lives, especially the lives of children and young people. The ‘End Youth Homelessness Campaign’ got a huge boost, with the announcement of a extra £10m to target youth homelessness in the final Welsh Government Budget for 2018-19, in addition to the £20m to tackle homelessness announced in the draft budget in October.
The work of Llamau – supporting young people in housing need -is vitally important, and local authorities will also benefit from this funding to meet housing need, and the extra £20m for local government announced on December 19th by Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance will be a welcome boost to support our local public services. Last year Llamau supported 8,144 young people facing homelessness, including those they supported from their base in Barry.
At a local level, I have published my Objection to the Barry Biomass Incinerator ( https://janehutt.wales/2017/12/23/janes-objection-to-nrw-draft-determination/ ) in response to the latest round of Public Consultation by Natural Resources Wales, and hope it will contribute to the strengthening evidence against this blight on our town. In support of the campaigning group Docks Incinerator Action Group, and all those who join me in opposing the incinerator, I hope we can make an impact with our objections in this eight week period of consultation.
In wishing my constituents a happy and peaceful New Year, can I assure you that I am full of energy, spirit and renewed determination to make this world a fairer place, and I will make the most of my new role in the Assembly serving on the Finance and External Affairs Committees and taking part in Cross Party Groups and campaigns, including supporting Barry Town Council’s bid to become the first Real Living Wage Town in Wales.
I was recently asked to give five New Year resolutions to the Barry and District News for publication – these are:-
1. To continue to make the case against the approval of an Environmental Permit for Biomass in Barry in support of the Docks Incinerator Action Group and the people of Barry
2. To support Barry Town Council in making Barry the first town in Wales to become a Real Living Wage Employer
3. To support all volunteers and carers in the Vale, and continue to stand up for the most vulnerable people in the Vale and in Wales
4. To welcome and support the Syrian Refugee families who have come to live in the Vale of Glamorgan
5. To support my charities Vale of Glamorgan Foodbank, Cardiff and Vale Credit Union, Vale People First, Ocean Watersports, Vale for Africa and Atal y Fro – making 2018 a year when I focus on tackling violence against women 40 years after the launch of Welsh Women’s Aid.
A Happy New Year to all constituents, colleagues and friends in the Vale of Glamorgan
Jane Hutt AM