We all want our communities to be places where we can feel safe, which is why it is so important for local councils, the police and the new PCC work well together. I am delighted that Jane Mudd was elected as our local Police and Crime Commissioner.

I know Jane well and she brings great experience to the role. Of course, many of the decisions that affect policing are not made here but in Westminster. Police budgets and numbers, the increasing levels of poverty driving a rise in shoplifting and a stripping of resources from the courts and probation system are all things which I hope a future Labour UK government will address.

There are so many areas where the Welsh government and your council are having to put in extra resources to fill gaps left by Westminster decisions. In 2022 people voted for change here in Monmouthshire, and we can see that over the border, many voters are now making the same choice.

I am sad, though, that relatively few people turned out to vote in the PCC elections. Having worked around the world, I am conscious of how precious democracy is. Here in the home of the Chartists, people literally died to create our democratic rights and we should never take them for granted.

Often, I meet people who don’t see the point in voting. I am concerned that some people are deterred by worries about being on the electoral register, getting a postal vote or having to produce an ID. Some of these will be the people whose voices most need to be heard. Fortunately, our excellent Democratic Services team here at Monmouthshire County Council are there to help, as are the staff in our hubs.

Every week I and my Labour colleagues are out meeting voters, addressing local concerns and trying to make things work better. Doorstep conversations and the concerns you raise are the part of the very essence of democracy.

We are all looking forward to a General Election that can’t come soon enough so we all have a chance to put everything on a better footing.