The pandemic has really shown how our communities rely upon our hardworking frontline and essential workers who have kept us going and continued to deliver vital services during these difficult times.

Bus drivers are the definition of essential workers and have quite literally kept things moving throughout the pandemic – helping other key workers get to work, people get to appointments and to access other critical services.

The Stagecoach drivers who are currently striking for a wage of £10.50 an hour deserve our full solidarity and support in their campaign and I hope that the management of Stagecoach will now respond to what is an extremely reasonable request for better pay and conditions.

We also need to look at this in a wider context of improving public transport across Wales.

Buses are a lifeline for a great many people across our communities, but services have been utterly decimated over the decades since deregulation.

Deregulation was a failed Thatcherite experiment whose time has passed but it’s communities like Blaenau Gwent that are left still paying the price.

The Welsh Government has taken action to help fund local routes and particularly to support providers through the pandemic, but there is only so much we can do within the current framework and a failed operating model, which is why it has committed to using additional powers to reregulate services and take buses as a whole back into public control.

Public transport should be publicly-run and publicly-accountable and I have been pushing Ministers for a timeframe on when this legislation is likely to be brought forward. I have made it clear that I want to see this on the statute books and going into effect as soon as possible so that our communities have the services they need and deserve.

I’ve also been pressing about transport links to the Grange.

Projects of this size need to be properly publicly accessible and it is clear that significant work still needs to be done to ensure this. I am pleased that when I raised this with the Deputy Minister for Climate Change that he recognised the issues and identified specific actions the Government was taking to improve bus services to the hospital and I will be following progress on this very carefully over the months ahead.