South East Wales Conservative AM Mohammed Asghar sparked outrage among members during a speech he made at the Senedd earlier this week when he hit out at the constituency he too represents.

The comments of Mohammed Asghar were utterly offensive. I have been to third world countries when I worked for Oxfam, I have watched people die in front of my very eyes of hunger, plague and disease. I know first-hand what it’s like to live in those places and the suffering these people go to.

Yes we have issues in Blaenau Gwent, but in no way are we third world. To say so makes a mockery of the work so many people in the borough are doing to try and get this area back on its feet – the doctors and nurses in the NHS who work around the clock to provide care at our surgeries and hospitals, the teachers who nurture our children and the local businesses who are trying to survive through this difficult economic climate to provide jobs in our towns.

There are many other people in Blaenau Gwent who give their time freely to try and improve their communities and the lives of people around them and it’s their contribution that keeps our strong community spirit alive.

One of the main issues crippling the poorest among our communities is bedroom tax, a Conservative tax on the poor which he failed to mention when he was in full tirade. Making such a flippant comment goes to show he has no grip on reality. There are people in these valleys who are proud to say they are from Blaenau Gwent and I am one of them.

I demand he comes forward and apologises for his comments. He owes it to the people of Blaenau Gwent.

In other news, I was delighted to have supported the variety concert at Llanhilleth Institute last week to raise money for the Royal British Legion. The concert was held to commemorate those from Blaenau Gwent who served in WW1 and it was great to see so many people coming out in support of such a worthy event.

Well done to all the acts who gave their time freely to perform and everyone who helped organised the event which raised £750 for charity.

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