THE half-term recess was a great opportunity to get around the borough and see some of the fantastic businesses on our doorstep in Blaenau Gwent.

It’s true we need investment in this part of the world to bring more companies in. But we also shouldn’t forget the success stories that are here, creating jobs and opportunities in sectors we might not even know exist.

Neem Biotech near Blaina is a good example. They make a garlic and citrus product for the livestock industry, a natural product that may help both encourage animal growth and reduce methane emissions. They’ve doubled their staff from 12 to 24 and it was fantastic to hear that their products are getting lots of interest.

Meanwhile, Liberty Steel are going from strength to strength at their plant near Tredegar after a tough time. It was good to meet some of the local team who are clearly glad to be back on site. It was also pleasing to hear Liberty's plans for extra shifts, greater production and additions to the plant for the future.

There’s also a lot of work going on to give our youngsters the best chances possible. It was great to see Eden Education Centre near Aberbeeg, and their works with Lego Education, Careers Wales and local businesses to encourage young people into engineering and robotics.

That’s also not forgetting the thousand or more youngsters at Valleys Gymnastics Academy. Going to a Tredegar evening session was a delight and the club should be proud of its fabulous growth and standard.

Back in Parliament, everything is getting set for the budget. With one less statement from the chancellor every year, these events are all the more pivotal for setting the course for the year ahead.

Welsh infrastructure is a top concern and I’ve been pushing hard for the improvements promised to Gwent getting the backing they need. Especially with Brexit on the horizon, funding must be secured and I would hope the Government recognises this at the dispatch box.

Finally, the Parkrun club at Parc Bryn Bach has quickly become one of my weekly rituals. I might be shaving seconds instead of minutes off at this phase, but it’s fantastic for fitness and really sociable too. I’d urge everyone to give it a go.