M4 RELIEF ROAD The building of a new motorway to the south of Newport is back on the agenda with the Welsh Government starting public consultation in a couple of months’ time.

Congestion is a major issue on the M4 in the Newport area, particularly around the Brynglas Tunnels area. Peak times can be very difficult and accidents can create significant problems.

But my view is that such a road which would sweep across the Gwent Levels is too environmentally damaging to be justifiable.

This is not just any old piece of land – it is one of the largest surviving areas of ancient grazing marches and reen systems and is home to species such as the shrill carder bee, brown hare, otter and water vole.

This is one of the most significantly environmental areas, not just inWales but in the UK. The whole area is designated under a series of adjoining Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covering more than 5,000 hectares of land.

A relief road would damage wildlife, habitat, archaeology and also affect what is a fantastic green space, both for local people and those living further afield. Is this the sort of legacy we want to leave our children? Once this beautiful area is gone there is no turning back.

There is also the key factor of cost – something north of £1bn.

Can that spending on one project be justified given the era of austerity we will be in for many years to come? When the public sector is facing increasing pressures, there are surely better ways of spending this enormous amount of money.

I believe there are cheaper alternatives which can and should be considered. What about improving the existing A48 corridor – that would be a cheaper and certainly less environmentally damaging alternative to a M4 Mark 2? And there would also be money left over for integrated transport projects.

SOCIAL SERVICES BILL I will be tabling amendments to the proposed Social Services and Well-Being Bill in the National Assembly.

I’mcampaigning for a ban on smacking – something that has already happened in 17 EU states.

Barnardo’s and the NSPCC, organisations which work with children support the removal of the “reasonable punishment” defence.

Adults should not be allowed to use that as a defence.

Also, I believe the bill does not create sufficiently strong duties for authorities to work together.

The integration of health and social services should be mandatory.