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    25 October, 2006

    Assembly Diary

    This week we are debating the draft Assembly budget. This includes of course money ear-marked for the new Rhondda hospital, for our schools, GP practices and dentists, the ambulance service, for investment in rail and roads and all the other areas which the Assembly has responsibility for.

    Unfortunately, the Opposition parties are not happy with the budget. They are proposing amendments which would transfer money from the Rhondda and other Valleys communities to better-off areas like Ceredigion and Powys - rural areas where most of their Assembly and Parliamentary seats are. Plaid Cymru has joined up with the Liberal Democrats and Tories to make proposals which would mean the Rhondda losing out. A good example is rate relief for small businesses. Currently we have a business rate relief scheme which means that only 13 small businesses in Rhondda Cynon Taff draw benefit. Most of the money goes to the rural areas.

    The Assembly Finance Minister wants to make this fairer, and ensure that areas which really need the money get it. That’s why she has proposed a new scheme, currently out to consultation, which works in our favour. Instead of 13 RCT businesses getting support under the new system, 3,000 of them would. Including most post offices in the Rhondda , many of whom would no longer pay any business rates. The Opposition proposals would mean diverting money from the Rhondda to prop up businesses elsewhere. I am against this and will campaign in support of what the Labour Assembly Government is proposing….

    I was delighted to attend the formal opening of Porth Plaza last week. It is very good news that the Council has managed to find tenants for the building who are now delivering training courses for young people. The building looks more interesting inside than it does from the outside. The building project was funded by European money but it was becoming known locally as one of the white Elephants left over from the days when Plaid Cymru ran the local council. Congratulations to the Labour-run Council for getting this project off the ground now….

    The new Rhondda Calendar is now in the shops. I think it looks great. Congratulations to all those whose photographs were chosen by Rhondda Leader readers to be included.

    Rhondda TV
    The Labour Party

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

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