I WAS delighted to recently attend the formal official opening of Islwyn High School by the first minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones AM.

Work on the state of the art £25m school in Oakdale began in August 2015, and boasts impressive features such as modern teaching spaces, state-of-the-art technology workshops, science

labs and IT suites spread across three floors. The outside space contains a 3G pitch and multi-use games area as well as outdoor learning spaces and an amphitheatre.

Islwyn High is one example of a mosaic of new Welsh schools being built by the Welsh Labour Government. The Welsh Government plans to invest £700 million between 2014-15 and 2018-19. Match funded by local authorities, this would result in £1.4 capital investment in schools and colleges in Wales, supporting 150 projects across all local authorities by April 2019.

I welcomed the Lower Sirhowy Valley Residents Group to the steps of the Senedd to accept their formal objection to Hazrem Environmental’s appeal for a licence to build a controversial waste

plant at Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate near Cwmfelinfach.

The appeal was heard by the Planning Inspectorate at Blackwood Rugby Club on the 4th and 5th October. The campaigners came to the home of Welsh democracy to send a

message loud and clear that they wish to protect the air quality of our valley.

As the Islwyn Assembly Member I was honoured to receive them at the National Assembly for Wales. I stand with them 100% in their continued fight to deny a licence for an unwanted, an unnecessary

and an unhealthy emitter of nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere. At the inquiry my letter of objection was read out, it stated: “I find the acceptance of new and substantially lower emissions data extremely worrying behaviour by a body entrusted with protecting

the natural environment in Wales. These figures should have been robustly challenged to ensure they were genuine and have not been altered simply to ensure a successful appeal.” 

The Welsh Labour Government has unveiled a new budget for Wales. This budget is the first time the Welsh Government is responsible for raising a proportion of its own revenue. This draft

budget comes at a time of continued Tory austerity and uncertainty about the future of important European funding streams.

I was glad to see the Welsh Labour Government making an additional £230m in 2018-19 and £220, in 2019-20 for NHS Wales. Whilst offering protection for social care and education. For my constituents

I was gladdened to note that capital funding will be ear-marked in reserves to buy new rolling stock for the new Wales and Borders franchise, subject to the outcome of the procurement process.