TWO issues have dominated my postbag in recent weeks - the Welsh Government’s proposed ban on e-cigarettes in public places and, of course, the Velothon.

I’m not alone in thinking the e-cigarettes ban is plain daft. Quit-smoking organisations and cancer research charities have also voiced concerns that under the proposals “vapers” will be forced outside into smoking areas where they will be more likely to fall back into their old habit. E-cigarettes have proved an effective aid for many people trying to quit. I also believe we are heading down a dangerous path if we start banning things without evidence that they are harmful. Whatever next?

Then there is the Velothon. On paper this event promised much, including a £2 million boost to the local economy. Sadly any economic benefits seem to have been completely over-shadowed in recent weeks by the disadvantages of the multiple, lengthy road closures and the prospect of severe disruption for many of my constituents, some of them marooned in their homes.

Last week I called on the Welsh Government to see if compensation can be made available for the many businesses adversely affected. I understand that this is potentially the first of five planned events over the next few years. There is simply no way my constituents can be expected to put up with this sort of disruption on an annual basis. We either need to see a more sympathetic organisation of big events like this in future with shorter, rolling road closures or we clearly need to think again. One thing is certain - the threatened disruption of the last week must not be repeated.

Recent constituency visits have included a tour of the impressively renovated Usk Castle and a visit to this year’s inspiring Gwent Scouts Portcullis Jamboree at the Monmouth Showground.

Friends of mine will know I’m partial to a curry so it was also good to catch up with food producers including Paul Willetts, creator of “My Own Curry” at the recent Llanyrafon Food Festival, held at the superbly restored Llanyrafon Manor.

Food festivals both large and small are proving an increasingly important, sociable way for producers to reach potential customers. More now needs to be done to link these food festivals to national and international markets so we can better promote Monmouthshire and Welsh produce on a wider stage. Judging by my own Welsh curry, they certainly deserve it!