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  • Jul 15, 2014:
    • Patients waiting over a year for hearing aid reassessments
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats have revealed today that many people in Wales are waiting months on end until they can attend an NHS hearing reassessment. A Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Liberal Democrats to Health Boards reveals that waiting times for: hearing aid reassessments within Cwm Taf HB are more than 17 months;  hearing aid reassessments within Hywel Dda HB are over 9 and half months; children requiring hearing tests are over 4 and a half months within Hywel Dda HB routine referrals into the ENT (ear, nose and throat) department at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UHB are around 8 months. Currently, the maximum waiting should be no more than 14 weeks.  Peter Black, Assembly Member for South West Wales, said: "It's completely unacceptable that many people are waiting well over a year for a hearing test re-assessment.  The Welsh Labour Government is letting these people down and they must take action immediately. "Last year the Government announced that reassessments would be  included in the 14 week target. It would seem that culture change simply hasn't happened. "Losing your hearing can be a terrifying experience for a person and is something you would want help with immediately.  It can also lead to feelings of isolation from friends and family. "In general, waiting times for diagnostic tests in Wales are a national scandal.   Over 30% of patients are waiting more than 8 weeks for specified diagnostic services, whilst in England only 2.2% of patients wait longer than 6 weeks.  The difference in waiting times across the border is stark and the Welsh Labour Government should feel ashamed that patients are being forced to wait so long." Richard Williams, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, said: "People with hearing loss are being left with hearing aids that don't function effectively because of these waiting times. "It is so important that patients have their hearing reassessed and reviewed every three years to ensure they are getting the best out of their aids. It's not acceptable that these patients, often vulnerable and in age, are facing these problems. "We need health boards to get on top of this situation quickly. Every month of delay costs people their ability to communicate, be socially active and independent." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jul 8, 2014:
    • Local Government White Paper leaves many unanswered questions
      Responding to the Welsh Government's White Paper published today, 'Reforming Local Government', the Welsh Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson, Peter Black said that it left many questions on reorganisation unanswered, details on costs and council tax levels remain unclear, whilst without reform of the way the new councils are elected we will end up with more of the same: "The Government's White Paper says that it wants to ensure that locally elected members are truly representative of the communities they serve," said Mr. Black, "The best way to achieve that is by introducing a fair voting system, which will ensure that we have less uncontested elections, a better choice of candidates and outcomes that reflect the way people vote. If a council is more representative of its community in that way then it becomes more open, more transparent and more accountable and as a result we get better services. "The Minister's view on the costs of mergers is wholly unconvincing. She appears to pluck figures out of the air without any detail of how savings will be realised and when. This is not an issue that can be glossed over as the white paper attempts to do. In a time of austerity every penny counts and unfunded costs will lead directly to cuts in front line services. "Finally, the Williams Commission highlighted the impact of mergers on council tax levels. They made it clear that without an extra penny being spent and before the new councils set their budgets, many families will find themselves paying more, whilst others will be better off.  Thus in terms of the proposed merger of Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot, council tax payers in the latter council will pay 4.4% less, whiilst Bridgend familes will face a 4.8% increase. "Council taxpayers in Anglesey will face a 6.9% hike as the price of becoming part of a new Gwynedd Council; Conwy taxpayers will pay 6.1% more; in Pembrokeshire council tax bills will soar by 9%; Newport by 6.5%; whilst the price for residents of Caerphilly of a merger with Blaenau Gwent will be 10.1% extra on their bills. The Minister does not have a convincing answer to that issue either. "My view is that if this agenda is to proceed then we need a lot more detail and some answers to fundamental problems in the process. I am afraid that none of those answers are to be found in the Welsh Government's White Paper." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jul 3, 2014:
    • Liberal Democrats promise Carer's Bonus of up to £250 for Wales' "unsung heroes"
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has welcomed a manifesto promise by his party to see carers receive a bonus worth up to £250-a-year under a future Liberal Democrat government, which would help more than 13,000 people in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, and Bridgend. In total more than 63,500 people in Wales would benefit from the Carer's Bonus. The annual payment will help full-time carers get a bit of extra help and recognises the invaluable contribution they make to society. Mr Black said: "For every carer the experience is different, whether they provide support for a friend or family member who is ill, has a disability, mental health issue or an addiction. But common to all carers is the personal commitment that they give to help someone they are close to. "Carers provide almost 97% of unpaid care in Wales, saving the Welsh economy £7.72 billion a year. "These are people who deserve our support even in straightened times, which is why the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a Carer's Bonus paid to those on Carers' Allowance or Carers' Premium to give them a little extra help. On today's figures, that's 5,410 in Swansea; 4,740 in Neath Port Talbot; and 3,330 in Bridgend. "It's completely up to the carers themselves how they spend it - it's a no strings attached bonus from a nation that is grateful for the superhuman work they do." ENDS Note to Editors The bonus would be worth £125 at the start of the next parliament and would rise to £250-a-year by 2020, with over 63,500 people in Wales eligible. It would be available to anyone who receives the Carer's Allowance or the Carer's Premium. Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Bring Tour de France to Wales say Welsh Lib Dems
      Ahead of the Tour de France's Grand Départ in Yorkshire on Saturday, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have repeated their calls for a stage of the Tour to come to Wales. It was in the Welsh Liberal Democrat 2011 manifesto for Wales to bid for the Tour de France, and with the world-famous race visiting England this year, the possibility of visiting Wales in the future is even greater. Peter Black, Shadow Minister for Culture and Sport, commented: "Cycling has grown from strength to strength over the past few years, boosted by double British success in the Tour de France and home-grown talent like Nicole Cooke and Geraint Thomas. "From the Milennium Stadium playing host to Rugby World Cup games to golf's Ryder Cup visiting Newport, Wales has shown its ability to put on successful world-class sporting events. Hosting the Tour de France would once again put Wales on the world stage, bringing tourists to our nation and boosting revenues particularly for independent businesses. According to estimates, the Welsh economy could benefit by up to £115 million if this were to happen. "Wales has already hosted major cycling events, including stages of the Tour of Britain and most recently the National Road Race Championships in Monmouthshire. Our mountains and hills and our beautiful scenery makes Wales a challenging and spectacular backdrop for the world's top cyclists to visit. "The Welsh Liberal Democrats pledged in our last manifesto to bring the Tour to Wales. With the right leadership and vision, this iconic race could come here and help encourage a generation of budding cyclists to get involved in a thrilling sport." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jul 2, 2014:
    • Install energy saving improvements and get up to £7,600 back!
      South Wales West Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Peter Black is encouraging South Wales West residents to install energy-saving home improvements, under the Coalition Government's Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF), and claim up to £7,600 back.   The GDHIF is a new scheme open to all householders, landlords and tenants in England and Wales who want to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The scheme helps pay for a range of measures such as solid wall insulation and new boilers if people get at least two eligible Green Deal energy efficiency improvements.    Up to £120 million is available this financial year. More than 800 companies have signed up to offer GDHIF and since the start of June almost 3000 applications have been made.   "The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is open to all," commented Mr. Black. "But it is a time-limited offer so I would urge all those who may be interested to act quickly.   "If you have solid wall insulation put in, you could get up to £6000 back and if you have moved house in the last year you can get an extra £500. The fund can also pay £100 towards the cost of a Green Deal Assessment.   "While the weather is good, summer is the perfect time to make changes to your home. This money will help people to have more control of their energy bills and have a warmer, greener home."      Residents can find out everything they need to know about the GDHIF by contacting the Energy Saving Advice Service on telephone number: 0300 123 1234 or go online at: www.gov.uk/greendeal   If you are already a Green Deal Provider or Installer you can register now with the GDHIF Administrator at:  enquiries@energy-saving-home-improvement-fund.service.gov.uk   For businesses to get involved they need to be Green Deal Authorised. More information about becoming a Green Deal Home Improvement participant can be found at: http://gdorb.decc.gov.uk/ Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • 'Vulnerable and elderly being let down over chaotic blue badge scheme'
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Local Government and Equalities, Peter Black, has accused the Welsh Labour Government of failing to sort out the confusion and bureaucracy surrounding the issuing of blue badges to disabled and elderly people in Wales. Peter is hosting a debate on this issue in the National Assembly on Wednesday evening. Across Wales, Welsh Liberal Democrat parliamentarians have received a significant number of pleas for help from constituents who have faced major problems accessing blue badges. These problems include: elderly people who do not have access to consultants having no way to provide medical evidence as the Minister has excluded GPs from providing notes; unqualified council officers making assessments; Councils refusing to carry out occupational therapist assessments on appeal even though the Welsh Government guidance says that they should do so. One constituent complained that his local council wanted to charge him for an OT assessment; Councils insisting that the condition affecting the applicant must be permanent even though the blue badge only lasts three years. Peter Black, Assembly Member for South West Wales said: "The current system is a complete mess and the Welsh Labour Government is failing to sort it out. "Firstly, I believe it is wrong for GPs to have effectively been taken out of the decision making process. Council staff are not medically trained, yet they are being forced to make judgements on complex medical conditions.  That simply isn't right. "There is also an over reliance on consultants.  If we are to rely on consultants to provide medical evidence, then this only adds further delays into the current process.  After all, most people end up waiting twelve months for an appointment with a consultant.  Unfortunately, the outcome of this confusion is that vulnerable and elderly people are being denied assistance they desperately need. "There are also issues with the guidance being issued.  According to the guidance, a person's condition must be permanent and already present for six months if they are to receive a blue badge. Yet many conditions that would require a blue badge can be resolved within a reasonable period of time, such as needing a knee replacement.  These people need help too and are not getting it. "This chaotic system has been going on for too long.  It is time the Welsh Labour Government actually showed some leadership on this issue and sorted it out once and for all." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Assembly Member backs dog awareness week
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has given his support to the Royal mail's dog awareness week to raise understanding of the issue of dog attacks on postmen and women in Wales. In the SA postcode area, around 29 postmen and women were subjected to attacks by dogs from April 2013 to April 2014, a 4 per cent increase on the previous year. In Wales as a whole over all seven postcodes, the number of attacks during the same period was 205. Mr. Black, who is pictured with Milford Haven postman Ben Wilcox (left) handing over a posting peg (for putting letters through letter and Mitzi, the dog, believes that owners need to be aware that even the most placid dog can attack a stranger delivering to their home and should take appropriate precautions to prevent such attacks. "As somebody who also delivers leaflets to people's homes I very much sympathise with the plight of postmen and women in this regard," said Mr. Black. "I support Royal Mail in encouraging responsible dog ownership and in appealing to dog owners to keep animals under control when the postman calls. "New legislation means owners can now be prosecuted for dog attacks that take place on private property. On average around nine postmen and women a day are attacked by dogs across the UK with over 3,300 attacks taking place from April 2013 to April 2014, an 8 per cent increase on the previous year. This campaign can help to reverse that trend." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jul 1, 2014:
    • Gender based violence bill does not go far enough say Welsh Liberal Democrats
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats Equalities Spokesperson, Peter Black has voiced his disappointment that the Welsh Labour Government are not going far enough to support women who suffer from violence and domestic abuse in the Bill introduced in plenary today: Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill. The Local Government Minister has confirmed that the Bill will focus on prevention, protection of victims and support for those affected. The Bill aims to reduce the incidents of gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence and improve the public sector response. However, Mr. Black questioned why the Bill fails to address issues such as education and perpetrator programmes, effectively repeats strategies and protocols that already exist, and does not recognise that the vast majority of domestic violence is against women. "Whilst I support the aim of this legislation, I believe it is essential that it has teeth," said Mr. Black. I am concerned that this Bill does not reflect the day-to-day reality faced by many women. Nor does it do anything that Ministers are not already doing and clearly have the power to do now. "I am disappointed that the Bill does not include education, the most important way of ensuring future generations know that violence against women is unacceptable.  Those outside of school need to be educated as well as those within the mainstream curriculum. This is not just a curriculum issue but also one of legislating for champions in education settings that can take this issue forward. "I am also concerned that there is no mention of the work that needs to be done with perpetrators.  The Welsh Government are ignoring their own research - Building effective responses: An independent review of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services in Wales.  Rehabilitating perpetrators is essential if we are to reduce Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. "The Welsh Government already has the power necessary to produce strategies, in fact it already has a decent strategy - The Right to be Safe.  The Welsh Government can appoint a Ministerial Advisor now if it wants.  The Minister for Local Government has not created the comprehensive Bill that is needed and which covers the full range of issues and services associated with gender-based violence.  As it stands currently, the Bill poses the question as to we are legislating at all?" ENDS The Right to be Safe - Annual Report 2013-14 http://wales.gov.uk/topics/people-and-communities/safety/domestic-abuse/publications/right-to-be-safe-annual-report-2013-14/?lang=en Building effective responses: An independent review of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services in Wales http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/building-effective-responses-independent-review-violence-against-women/?lang=en Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jun 24, 2014:
    • Watch out for payday lender wolves in sheep's clothing warns AM
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson on social justice, Peter Black has warned people to beware of payday lenders seeking to pass themselves off as credit unions after Somerset Savings and Loans credit union accused them of doing just that in their own area. Reports in the Western Daily Press say that Somerset Savings and Loans treasurer, Paul Urch is writing to MPs and church leaders in a bid to expose big pay day loan companies, who, he says, are disguising  themselves as credit unions and posing as ethical bankers so as to bypass bad publicity.. Mr. Black, who is a member of his local credit union in Swansea, said: "It is absolutely disgraceful for any payday lender to attempt to take advantage of people in this way. Many of those who find themselves in financial difficulty are under great stress, and may not always check what is being said to them. "While I have not yet had an example of this happening in our region, I feel it is important to warn local people ahead of anything happening that there are unscrupulous lenders out there who are happy to misrepresent themselves in order to get a customer. "There are three large credit unions operating in our region. All are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, and are regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority in exactly the same way as the High Street banks. "They are Bridgend Lifesavers Credit Union, LASA - Swansea's Credit Union, and Neath Port Talbot Credit Union." ENDS Note: The Western Daily Press report can be found here: http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Warning-credit-union-payday-loaners/story-21131834-detail/story.html Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jun 19, 2014:
    • Drop in affordable housing starts worrying says Assembly Member
      New figures released today show that new affordable houses completed by Registered Social Landlord (housing associations) in the last quarter of 2013 was down 16% on the previous year, despite the fact that there are nearly 90,000 households on social housing waiting lists. The Welsh Housing Minister has set a new target of 10,000 new affordable by the end of the Assembly term, yet these figure reveal that during the October to December quarter 2013-14 only 159 new dwellings were built by housing associations. Commenting on the figures, the Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing Spokesperson Peter Black, said that if this became a trend it would be very worrying: "We need to see housing associations build more homes, not fewer. I accept that public money is short and their grant has been cut but this has more than been made up for by additional capital allocations and the new bond scheme which has been adopted. "A lot of public and private money is now going into affordable housing. We need to see the results in more homes that people can live in." DIWEDD / END The document can be found at: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/statistics/2014/140319-new-house-building-october-december-2013-en.pdf Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Welsh Government lacks leadership on local government reorganisation'
      Peter Black AM has accused the Welsh Labour Government of demonstrating a 'complete lack of leadership' with regards to plans for reorganisation of local government in Wales. Later today the Local Government Minister is expected to announce that she will legislate so that local authorities that merge early will hold elections in May 2018. However, despite the Welsh Government pledging that it will work with other parties, it did not consult on this issue. This follows a trend, after the Welsh Government failed to include members of all of the parties to be on the Williams Commission - which was responsible for drawing up the blueprint for the future of local government in Wales. Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Local Government, said: "The fact the Minister has made this announcement outside of the Assembly, after failing to consult on it, once again shows how her Labour Government has no plans whatsoever to properly work with other parties. "The Williams Commission stated that arrangements for the mergers should be agreed by Easter 2014. That was never going to be likely when this Welsh Labour Government has shown a complete lack of leadership from beginning to end with regards to local government reorganisation. "Whilst I support the reduction in the number of councils in Wales, I believe it is essential that councils, especially if they are to be larger, gain more powers and responsibility. Devolution must not stop at Cardiff Bay." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jun 17, 2014:
    • Assembly Member calls on First Minister take the lead and galvanise UK nations for back-up bid if Qatar lose host status for 2022 World cup
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats spokesperson on sport, Peter Black has called on the First Minister to show some leadership and work with other nations within the UK to put together a stop-gap bid to host the 2022 World Cup, if Qatar loses its status as host because  of corruption allegations and recent revelations that it may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Speaking in the Senedd today, Mr. Black said that there was a real possibility that FIFA will be forced to reconsider its position regarding Qatar hosting the 2022 and that this offers an opportunity for the UK to step into the breach. "Across the whole of the UK we have enough stadiums of a sufficient standard to be able to step up to the mark quickly if required," said Mr. Black. "A back-up bid should not therefore be expensive but it could bring huge benefits to the UK and to Wales in particular." "It is important though that we are prepared for a possible change of mind by FIFA, so clearly there needs to be discussion about a back-up bid now. I accept that we are a small country when compared to the English FA but that should not stop our First Minister taking the initiative at a political level in bringing parties together to make the necessary preparations. "I was disappointed therefore at Carwyn Jones' negative response to my suggestion and would ask him to reconsider it." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jun 5, 2014:
    • Barriers must be broken down
      Responding to research released today: 'Barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in accessing domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, and sexual violence services', the Welsh Liberal Democrats Equalities spokesperson, Peter Black has welcomed the recommendations but has expressed concern at the findings. The research found that LGBT victims of violence and abuse face specific barriers when accessing services. As well as the "individual barriers" people may face, due to the service providers knowledge and perceptions of LGBT people, there are "structural and cultural barriers" as existing services have been designed to meet the needs of heterosexual women. Commenting, Mr. Black said: "It is saddening that anyone experiences the terrible pain and suffering caused by domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, and sexual violence. It is even more disappointing when certain groups of people, who have already suffered so much, are unable to access the services they need. "I look forward to the Welsh Government launching the Domestic Abuse, Gender-based Violence and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill this month, which will work to prevent this abuse and violence from occurring and provide protection and support to victims. I will seek to ensure that the recommendations from this report are carried through the Bill and resulting strategies." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • We can't leave struggling families in the lurch again
      Welcoming the news that council tax support will continue for another two years, Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing, said: "I'm glad that the most vulnerable tenants and homeowners in our society will continue to receive support for the foreseeable future. However, we shouldn't forget that the Welsh Labour Government acted appallingly when the whole council tax benefit fiasco unfolded last year. "We need to keep in mind that this arrangement is only a short-term one. With the amount to be spent on council tax support projected to increase dramatically under this system, it's crucial that we plan for the future and create a long-term solution. We must do all we can to avoid leaving struggling families in the lurch again." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Jun 4, 2014:
    • Assembly Member calls for an end to misleading broadband claims
      During a debate in the National Assembly on the digital economy today, Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for an end to misleading broadband claims which often see customers paying for high speed broadband contracts which do not reflect the speed of service they were advertised. The Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has backed the call. He said: "I am very concerned that people in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend may not be getting a fair deal from their broadband provider. Customers are paying for high speed broadband contracts but in reality they only receive very slow broadband speeds which do not match the level of service that was advertised. "Many businesses and individuals have contacted me to say that the current system is very unfair, because companies are able advertise that their broadband service is 'up to' a certain speed even if the majority of customers will receive a lower speed in practice. In some places such as Skewen, Jersey Marine and Birchgrove businesses are still waiting for their service to be upgraded with the result that they have been put at a further disadvantage. "The EU is taking steps to ensure that operators must be more transparent about the actual broadband speeds provided and end misleading advertising. Under current ASA guidelines, advertised speeds must only be achievable by 10% of a provider's customers, which is clearly unfair. "The measures being proposed by the EU would help end excessive claims of internet companies who claim to deliver more megabytes than they actually do. Thi8s is another example of the European Union working in our interests. "Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government on these measures to ensure that we can bring an end to the unfair treatment of customers by powerful telecoms companies." Notes: The Welsh Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to debate NDM5520 (June 4th 2014) which "Calls on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to end misleading claims by broadband companies which see customers in Wales paying for a high speed service which they cannot receive." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • May 21, 2014:
    • Assembly Member raises the confusion and bureaucracy surrounding blue badges with Welsh Minister
      Assembly Member raises the confusion and bureaucracy surrounding blue badges with Welsh Minister The Welsh Liberal Democrats spokesperson on local government and equalities, Peter Black has challenged the Welsh Transport Minister to sort out the confusion and bureaucracy surrounding the issuing of blue badges to disabled and elderly people in Wales. Speaking in the Assembly today, Mr. Black said he has had many representations from constituents regarding the issuing of these badges. Problems include: elderly people who do not have access to consultants having no way to provide medical evidence as the Minister has excluded GPs from providing notes; unqualified council officers making assessments; councils refusing to carry out occupational therapist assessments on appeal even though the Welsh Government guidance says that they should do so. One constituent complained that his local council wanted to charge him for an OT assessment. Councils insisting that the condition affecting the applicant must be permanent even though the blue badge only lasts three years. "Like many other Assembly Members I have received a large number of representations from applicants for blue badges and their families angry that they have hit a wall of confusion and bureaucracy in seeking to navigate the application process," said Mr. Black. "The situation is made worse by the fact that the Minister has still not issued the toolkit promised to councils to help them administer this scheme. "This is a disaster and the Minister needs to get a grip and sort it out. She has now promised a statement before the end of the month. I hope that this will begin to address these issues." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • May 15, 2014:
    • Welsh Lib Dems the only party with a plan on student living costs
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats have reacted to the Finance Committee report on student finance for Welsh students.   The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to introduce a Student Living Support Grant for all Welsh-domiciled students registered for a first undergraduate degree at a UK university, including part-time students, payable on top of the existing means-tested Assembly Learning Grant. This will be funded by withdrawing the Tuition Fee Grant. Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Finance, said: "It's clear from the committee evidence and from what students have told me that living costs while studying are a real problem for many. Students shouldn't need to be working undue hours to support themselves through university. It's living costs, not tuition fees, that acts as the primary barrier for young people accessing higher education. We need to refocus the debate around student funding on living costs to ensure that all students are able to access higher education courses. "The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party with a clear plan to support students with their living costs. Our Student Living Support Grant gives Welsh domiciled students money every year, making sure they can afford to live while studying. We are listening to students' concerns and acting on them." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • May 7, 2014:
    • Welsh Government letting down tenants on welfare reforms
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Welsh Government for letting down tenants on welfare reforms, as only three of the 22 local authorities in Wales applied for extra UK government funding to help mitigate the impact of the spare room subsidy. The Welsh Liberal Democrats Spokesperson on Social Justice, Peter Black commented: "The Housing Benefit bill doubled from £11 billion to £22 billion under Labour's last 10 years of government, which is unaffordable and unsustainable.  There are a quarter-of-a-million households living in overcrowded social housing and we subsidise a million spare bedrooms in the social rented sector, so it is clear that the system needs reform. "Liberal Democrats have consistently worked hard to make sure that changes are made as fairly as possible.  We negotiated an extra £30 million per year for the Discretionary Housing Payment fund specifically to help with the removal of the spare room subsidy.  We secured exemptions for people in the armed forces, foster carers and disabled children who need their own room.  Additional funding was also provided for rural areas, which provided extra support for tenants in Powys, Gwynedd and Ceredigion. "Sadly tenants in Wales are being let down by the Welsh Labour Government, who are failing to ensure that vulnerable tenants receive the support that has been made available to them through Discretionary Housing Payments. "Only three of the 22 local authorities in Wales applied for extra UK government funding.  Too many tenants are not aware of their right to apply for this support because it is not being properly advertised, tenants simply don't understand the system or are being forced to jump through unnecessary hoops. Many local councils treat Disability Living Allowance and Child Benefit as a form of income which is also restricting access to this funding. "Instead of simply bemoaning the welfare reforms, the Welsh Government needs to work with councils to overcome these barriers and help people to get the support and financial assistance they are entitled to. The last thing we want is for this money to be sent back to the Treasury because councils have not been able to spend it where it is needed." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • May 6, 2014:
    • Welsh Government Investment programme welcomed but more can be done for local communities
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats Finance spokesperson, Peter Black has welcomed the updated infrastructure investment announced by the Finance Minister today but has expressed his disappointment that the Welsh Labour government are failing to give local councils the powers they need to invest in their own communities. Commenting, Mr. Black said: "The UK Coalition government are making the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan possible, by providing extra borrowing powers in the Wales Bill.  But the Welsh Labour government are not using all the tools in the borrowing box.  In England councils are able to borrow and invest in much needed regeneration.  Welsh councils are not being given the opportunity to do this.  It is Welsh communities that will suffer.  "The Welsh Labour government are lacking imagination by not using innovative finance arrangements.  Local councils should be allowed to invest innovatively to improve the infrastructure of their areas."  Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • May 2, 2014:
    • Assembly Member welcomes anti-hate crime initiative
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has welcomed the recent establishment of a hate crime initiative by Swansea Bay Regional Equality Council. The initiative, called 'Voices Have Spoken,' aims to provide better help and support to tackle, challenge, and report incidents of hate crime and discrimination against people in Swansea, Neath, and Port Talbot, and has been set up with Big Lottery funding. Mr Black said:- "This is a much-needed scheme which will promote better access to advocacy, advice, and guidance for those who suffer discrimination on the basis of their race, religion, or disability in the Swansea Bay area. "Swansea Bay communities are welcoming and friendly, and have always been firm in their opposition to those who peddle hatred towards people whom they see as 'different' in some way. However, there are still far too many instances where local people are discriminated against, harassed, or worse on the basis of their colour, religion, or disability. "Such behaviour has no place in a civilised society, which is why I am glad to support SBREC and the Big Lottery funded Voices Have Spoken initiative. I would urge anybody who feels that they have suffered in this way, or anyone who has witnessed such a crime, to report it. We all have a responsibility to help stamp out hate crime, even when it isn't happening to us directly. "The Voices Have Spoken team can be contacted on 01792 457035. Incidents can also be reported direct to the police." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY