IF THERE’S one thing I’ve learned since first being elected to the National Assembly in 2007 it’s that AMs are often required to be in many places at once!
There has certainly been no shortage of events to attend so far this year.
May saw the Olympic Torch pass through Monmouth under the watchful gaze of the Shire Hall’s statue of Henry V, the town being chosen as Wales’ first port of call for the Torch relay.
Last month we all came together at the myriad of street and garden parties celebrating our Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
This year also marks a more local but in its own way equally important anniversary - the bicentenary of the opening of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
It’s this anniversary I’d like to talk about here.
In its heyday the canal was part of a network of waterways spanning across much of the UK transporting freight and raw materials to and from the docks to export around the world.
However it was a network which only operated fully for a relatively short period of time before being replaced by railways in middle of the 19th century.
They soon fell into disrepair but how things have changed.
As chair of the Assembly’s crossparty waterways group – a longrunning cross-party group originally set up by formerAMBrian Hancock – I’m particularly aware of just how successful the transformation
of the Mon-Brec has been, a turnaround from decline into an economically powerful tourist destination.
A particularly nice touch this year has included Brecon Brewing’s creation of celebratory ale, delivered by barge to a number of pubs along the length of the canal.
Needless to say I was pleased to hitch a ride and help with the deliveries!
This month has seen responsibility for our waterways pass from their British Waterways to the newly created charity, Glandwr Cymru, the Canal and River Trust in Wales.
Wales will be in a position to determine how its waterways are to be used for the benefit of everyone living here.
I want to know what local people want from their local canal so I can feed in opinions to the new trust.
The transformation of the canals shows how failure can be turned into success.
Once seen as the past, their best days actually lie ahead. In this Jubilee year, let’s remember that if we believe our best days are also still ahead of us, they really can be.