Dear All,

Welcome to the latest of our Policy Soapbox newsletters, designed to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the Welsh Assembly and UKIP’s latest opposition to the nonsense coming from the Welsh Government.

MINIMUM PRICING OF ALCOHOL

The latest idea from the nanny state Welsh Government is to put alcohol prices up in order to curb harmful drinking.

They are pushing through legislation at the Welsh Assembly to put a 50p per unit charge on all alcoholic drinks. With Labour again being backed by their socialist bedfellows in Plaid Cymru, the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill is sure to pass through the Assembly and become law. The Conservatives are tabling amendments, but once again they are caving into the political Left by backing the general principles of the Bill.

By December, the brandy for your Christmas pudding will be roughly £5 dearer due to this ill-considered piece of legislation. UKIP is the only Party in the Assembly which is opposing this Bill. Once again, it is only UKIP which is standing up to the Loony Left.

The pretext for the Bill is to push up alcohol prices to stop people from drinking harmful amounts of alcohol. But we know that it will do nothing to stop hardened alcoholics, who may end up not paying their rent (and being evicted) in order to pay for their liquor. Or they may turn to crime to meet the cost of their fix instead. Or lastly, they could even switch from alcohol to more damaging illegal substances such as Spice, which is already being dealt on the streets of Cardiff and other major towns and cities in Wales. This is the stuff that turns people into zombies for hours on end.

On the other hand, the Bill WILL penalise moderate drinkers, who will have to pay more to buy alcohol. The whole thing is being driven by the Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, on public health grounds. But perhaps the craziest element of the Bill is that none of the extra charges will actually go to the National Health Service, or indeed any other branch of the Government. It will simply accumulate as extra profits to the supermarkets which sell the booze!

UKIP raised objections to the Bill in a debate at the Assembly on 9th May, and you can watch some of the highlights here:

Gareth Bennett AM on Minimum Alcohol Pricing

WELSH BACCALAUREATE

One of the bugbears of many parents of teenagers in the Sixth Form (and at college) is the Welsh Baccalaureate. This is an extra A Level that pupils in Wales – and Wales alone – have to take.

The problem with the “Welsh Bacc” is that it gives no advantage to the students when they come to apply to Universities to get on a good course. In fact, many leading Unis still do not accept the Welsh Bacc as a valid qualification when it comes to offering a place on the University course.

So effectively, students in Wales are being asked to study an extra subject. This is actually putting our young people at a disadvantage compared to students in England. Just so that the Welsh education system can be different. Another great idea from our old friends in the Welsh Government!

SPENDING A PENNY ON THE TRAIN

If you are travelling anywhere on an Arriva train, please make sure that you “go” before you go – if you see what we mean.

There have been recent press stories about the loos on Arriva trains potentially being locked. The problem is that Arriva’s loos do not comply with disabled legislation, namely the Persons of Reduced Mobility Regulations, or to give them their full title, the “COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1300/2014 of 18 November 2014 on the technical specifications for interoperability relating to accessibility of the Union’s rail system for persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility”.

The inference being that Arriva can’t modify their carriages to comply with the disabled laws when they come in at the end of this year. So, to get around this, they may simply lock the doors and keep the toilets closed – meaning nobody can use them. Perfect!

This issue ceases to be Arriva’s problem come December when they leave the franchise for running trains in Wales. But the problem will be inherited by the new train operating company, as there is currently a four-year delay for bringing in new rolling stock. So the new train operator won’t be able to comply with the disabled laws for possibly four years.

UKIP AM Gareth Bennett asked the First Minister if this meant that toilets on trains in Wales would ultimately be locked. The First Minister, Carwyn Jones – who will soon be leaving his own franchise running the Welsh Government – denied point blank that any loos would be locked. We shall see…

You can watch Gareth’s question here:

Gareth Bennett AM on Accessibility of Trains

BREXIT NEWS

Leading Remoaner Gina Miller has popped up again to tell us that the Brexit Referendum doesn’t mean anything, as “the will of the people” changes from week to week. Therefore, we shouldn’t leave!

The gobby girl from Guyana (yes, she wasn’t even born in Britain) appeared in a debate at Cardiff University to give us her latest thoughts on Brexit.

UKIP AM Gareth Bennett appeared on ITV Wales’ Sharp End to tell presenter Adrian Masters that it was Gina who was talking rubbish.

Gareth also travelled to Westminster with the Assembly’s Environment Committee to meet UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Fisheries Minister George Eustice.

Plaid, Labour, and Conservative AMs had many concerns over Brexit, and how it will impact on Wales – and on the devolved powers that Wales has had since 1999.

To their credit, Michael Gove and George Eustice both seemed well aware of the Welsh issues and seemed to be in good command of their briefs. After the meetings, the other committee members found that they had far less to complain about over Brexit!

That’s it for this newsletter, but you can always get in touch with me by clicking the various links below to our email address and follow us on social media.

All the best,

Gareth

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