STIMULATING growth and creating jobs are mine and the Welsh Labour Government’s number-one priority, this of course goes hand in hand with supporting the employers we already have.

I am always keen to speak to the business community here in Islwyn and find out from them first hand what we can do.

This month I visited General Dynamics, who have two sites in Islwyn, one in Newbridge and the other in Oakdale, making among other things communication equipment.

They are exactly the sort of high-tech employer the Welsh Government is working to bring to Wales, they train their staff well and they pay well.

This has a huge knock-on effect on the local economy.

On my first visit I talked to them about overseas trade and what more help could be given, they highlighted a gap in UK government support when it came to trade missions abroad.

I, of course, am an Assembly Member and cannot change UK government policies. I think many in Islwyn wish I could but that is another story.

What I did want is for the Assembly minister for economy, science and transport to hear this first hand, so I returned a few days later, accompanied by the minister.

I am always delighted with the hands-on straight-talking approach Edwina Hart takes to these matters.

Invariably she listens and then says ‘what do you need?’ She has a no-nonsense rapport with the business community and I know they see it as a breath of fresh air, because they tell me so.

I had to laugh, however, at the conversation I had with one of the site managers as I was leaving.

He asked, “where to next, Gwyn?” inquiring about my next engagement that day.

He was expecting me, I think, to describe another high-level meeting.

I replied: “I am off to join the children of Crumlin High Level Primary School for a litter-pick.”

He looked slightly surprised.

You see, that is the great thing about this job, for every meeting about trade, jobs or the future of education and the NHS, there is simple community engagement, helping local people to make their little piece of Wales that little bit nicer and I congratulate Keep Wales Tidy for the work they do.