If you were a government minister overseeing £120m of taxpayers’ money, what would you spend it on? More teachers? More doctors, nurses and dentists? Addressing the pothole crisis or investing in flood defence schemes? I am sure we could all think of many worthwhile things and I would have a very long list – which certainly does not include blowing the whole lot on creating more Senedd members. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the Labour Welsh Government has decided to do. Last Wednesday (8 May), Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats voted to level up the number of politicians by 36 to a total of 96 members. Welsh Conservatives voted against this reckless vanity project. A new voting system will also be introduced, which means people will only be able to vote for a political party and have no choice over the candidate. The political parties will directly get an allocation of places to decide among themselves who fills them, meaning any freethinkers who question the status quo and are critical of their own parties have no chance of getting elected. It’s a sorry day for democracy on the 25th anniversary of devolution in Wales. 


I do not want to constantly snipe at the Labour Welsh Government because, on the odd occasion, a bit of good news is delivered. The new transport secretary Ken Skates has accepted my invitation and agreed to attend a site meeting at Highbeech roundabout in Chepstow. This notorious bottleneck is the scene of daily congestion where cross-border traffic merges, as I recently witnessed first-hand alongside Mount Pleasant ward councillor Paul Pavia and Dr Sue Kingdom, secretary of Chepstow Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. The obvious long-term solution is a bypass and Chepstow – which exceeds air pollution limits set by the World Health Organization in the Hardwick Hill area - deserves it. In the meantime, a few changes to the configuration of Highbeech roundabout would make a huge difference. I welcome the fact Ken Skates is taking the time to come down.


The campaign by parents to persuade Monmouthshire County Council to allow an extra classroom at Gilwern Primary School continues. Parents are up in arms that 17 children who all live in catchment are going to be prevented from attending their local school. It does seem very short sighted of the council not to fund an extra temporary classroom given the number of pupils involved. If these children cannot go to Gilwern, the local authority will be liable for paying for school transport - so this wouldn’t even work as a money saving measure. I remain in regular contact with parents and fully support their campaign.