Y Pwyllgor Deisebau - Y Bumed Senedd

Petitions Committee - Fifth Senedd


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

David J. Rowlands AM
Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Mike Hedges AM
Neil McEvoy AM
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Graeme Francis Clerc
Kath Thomas Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Kayleigh Imperato Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Bore da. Good morning and welcome to the Petitions Committee. There are no apologies this morning, but Rhun is delayed in the Business Committee—Rhun ap Iorwerth—and he will join us, I'm sure, a little later.

2. Deisebau newydd
2. New petitions

The first item on the agenda is new petitions. The first of these is 'Fair Funding for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and all other Local Authorities'. The petition was submitted by Unison, having collected 225 signatures. We will point out that this is acceptable as a petition, in that it includes every other unitary authority in Wales. The call is, really, that the Welsh Government now need to spend smarter and not spend less, thus freeing up more funds for unitary authorities.

I think there have been quite a lot of angry people running local authorities, and members, of late, with the budget. I think it's fair to say we have had extra funding from the UK Government, despite claims of austerity. I do believe that—. At some stage, I think the formula definitely needs to be looked at. It's gone against us in Aberconwy, because we have a higher proportion of 65-year-olds. It used to always be based on how many children and younger people, and I think there needs to be a bit more equity. So, I've got every sympathy with this.

I've got every sympathy with it. I think that you don't just want to go back to the Cabinet Secretary for local government. We need to go back to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services and the Cabinet Secretary for Education, but, unfortunately, the way that the budget is created, you have the aggregate external finance, which replaced the old rate support grant, but other money goes in from other places as well, and I think we need to get to the bottom of where that other money goes in. On the formula, when you've got exactly the same amount of money in the system, anybody who gets more, somebody else has to get less. Monmouth has the least, and Blaenau Gwent the most. In Monmouth, over two thirds of the properties are band D and above. In Blaenau Gwent, under 5 per cent are band D and above. So, a 1 per cent increase in council tax in Monmouth raises over twice as much as it does in Blaenau Gwent. So, it's more complicated than the aggregate external finance; you need to know about how much they raise money themselves. But all we can deal with is the money coming in, and I would suggest we write to those two Cabinet Secretaries, and possibly to the Cabinet Secretary for the economy as well, because there's economy money that can go into local government—it doesn't—and transport money can go into local government. So, these are moneys that can be allocated. They've been allocated around the different departments, so going to the finance Cabinet Secretary, because that money's now been allocated to other people—. It's how those other people are going to allocate it, and where local government comes in that. 

That's very true. I will point out that we have received a response from the Cabinet Secretary on 27 of September, but I think what the petitioners are calling for is a tightening of the Welsh Government's belt in order that there is a greater amount of money that's to be allocated to the unitary authorities. Neil.

I'll declare an interest because I'm still a Cardiff councillor until they change the law. I've got a background in local government; I was deputy leader from 2008 to 2012 in Cardiff, and was responsible for those budgets. Just the other side of the road with Cardiff Council, and other councils, members are squeezed, officials are squeezed. They could clearly spend the money better sometimes, but as a new Assembly Member in 2016, what has really caught my attention is the way that money, in this organisation, as the Assembly Government and the Assembly, is thrown around like confetti, really, to be honest—£8 million on the Circuit of Wales just gone. And I don't think that would happen with the culture that you now have in local government, so I think it may be an idea to—. Clearly, this is talking about this budget, but this is an annual event, and what concerns with me with local government—and I speak for councillors of all parties and colours now—is that I think this is seen as an easy cut, because you cut local government here, and then the problems are transferred locally, and they've got such a difficult job, then, in making those budgets.

So, I think we should write to the local authorities and maybe keep this petition open and ask them what their experience is, how they think the Government could save money. If you look at the third sector as well, local government has been cut, cut, cut, cut generally, and yet the same culture doesn't exist in the third sector. In some parts of the third sector, you've got chief executive after chief executive on £90,000, £80,000 a year, five or six charities all doing the same job. There is a huge overlap and huge bureaucracy. So, it would be a good idea, maybe, if this committee could start a discussion on this, ongoing, really. That's not a party political point, it's more of a structural point. 


I think what's starting to happen now is there's a bitterness creeping in, because a lot of the budget goes to health, and we're not disputing that, but when you look at how the health boards are managing their finances, and often running into debt despite the huge amounts of money they're getting, then it begs the question. The local authorities are being stripped back of their funding and still managing to just carry on delivering. I worry that, at some stage, a local authority may go bust, and that might be a wake-up call for the Welsh Government. 

I think it's very true that the health authorities are being treated as a holy cow, and therefore they can't be looked at or scrutinised in the way that all other authorities are. And I think that there is a call for a cut of waste in those areas before more money is allocated. 

Can I say from the other point of view as well that there are opportunities for local authorities to raise revenue, but they've not got the power to do so at the minute? But the power does rest here. For example, a bed tax in cities. If you go to Barcelona, you go to Venice, you go to most places on the continent, you routinely pay a tax when you leave. So, in Venice, I think it's €2 a night. If, for example, in Cardiff, there was a tax of £1 a night, the authority would raise £2 million a year, which could be put into marketing the city and so on and so forth. So, that tax doesn't fall on local people, it only falls on visitors, and yet the authority cannot implement that because they don't have the power. But that power does rest here. So, there are revenue-raising things that can be done as well. 

I just want to make to very good points. I think Neil is absolutely right that we're not very good at raising revenue in the way that people around the world do. And people who come in as tourists, yes, they bring money in, but they also bring in litter and a whole range of congestion and a whole range of other things as well, which the local residents pick up. 

The point I was going to make, which I think is quite important, is that nobody's seen this report. The auditor general did a report on the health survey, identifying interventions that either did harm or did no good in how much it added up to. But nobody in this room has seen it. It's got lost. We have auditor general reports on a whole range of things, but there's a huge problem. Health boards do a whole range of things that either do no good or actually do harm, but until we get over the principle that every £1 spent on health, even if it involves somebody standing over a drain and dropping it down it, is good expenditure, then we're going to keep on having every other service under pressure. 

Yes, I think you're absolutely right. Look, this is a very wide area, and, obviously, we could debate it for some time. But if we have some possible actions—we could share details of the petition with the Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee ahead of the budget scrutiny session, but I think, Mike, that you said that we ought to be sharing this information with the other Cabinet Secretaries. Is that right?

Maybe we write to the Welsh Local Government Association as well for their comments. 

Yes, write to the WLGA for their comments, although they are coming to an event in the Assembly sometime in November, details of which will be sent to everybody shortly. But it's really getting into all the other committees, because it isn't only local government that gives them money—they get money from education, they used to get money from environment, but they don't get much, if any, now. But there's a whole range of areas where money goes out. So, it might be worth writing to every committee, not just local government, because all local government will see is the aggregate external finance. There's a lot of other money going in. Health, for example, is the health and social services budget, so how much of that—. The fact that it has given nearly everything to health up until now—it could give more to social services.


And, of course, the third sector, which Neil mentioned earlier on. So, I think we really have to—

Yes. Why not write to local authorities, though—chief executives? 'How could the budget process be done better, differently?' Just comments, really. Then, each cabinet could discuss it and come back with good ideas. 

Would you prefer to write to each individual local authority rather than the WLGA, or to the WLGA in the first instance?

Write to the WLGA and ask them to get the information from the councils, because they'll be able to collate it and organise it.

I'd like to go direct to the councils, to be honest.

I think it might be worth a letter out to each of the local authorities as well—

—to find out exactly how they feel about it. So, we can also, of course, write to the Cabinet Secretary to ask him to provide further information about the implications for local government once the spending plans have been published, which I believe is today. Is that—?

Yes, today, that's right. We would seek clarification on whether the £30 million of additional funding for social care identified in the draft budget will be provided to local authorities through the revenue support grant or to local health boards, recognising that regional partnership boards are not able to be grant recipients in their own right. Okay? Are we happy with that? 

Fine. Thank you for your inputs into that, committee members. The next petition is—

Sorry, Chair, just to be clear. Are we going to include the LAs? Sorry, to interrupt, but are we going to write—

The next petition is 'Include the alternative 3rd Menai Crossing proposal "Pont Bendigeidfran" in the formal assessment process'. The petition was submitted by Benji Poulton and collected 278 signatures. 

I'd just like to welcome Rhun ap Iorwerth to the committee. Good morning, Rhun. I think, in all fairness to Rhun, as it was quite an important petition that we just discussed—. Did you want to put any input into the previous petition?

Perhaps the clerk would just bring you up to date on what we have suggested.

Can I just apologise? We had the longest ever Business Committee meeting this morning that I've just come straight from.

Certainly, Chair. Thank you. So, the committee has agreed to share information about the petition with a range of committees in the Assembly, who will all be doing budget scrutiny; to write to the WLGA; and to local authorities individually, to seek their views on the budget process and challenges for local authorities; and to write back to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance to ask for details of local government spending after it's been announced today.  

Okay. Thanks for that. The only comment I'd make is that, as an Assembly Member, all of us can feel the real pressures on the ground now. Talking to our local authority leaders, we know that there's no more room to slim down. So, I'm glad that we have this petition that allows us to at least share those constituents' concerns with Government and, hopefullyl, get them to understand the seriousness of the situation.

Okay. We've moved on to—. I'm glad you are here, obviously, Rhun, because it's very close to your locality and it's good to have your input on this: 'Include the alternative 3rd Menai Crossing proposal "Pont Bendigeidfran" in the formal assessment process'. The petition was submitted by Benji Poulton, having collected 278 signatures. An initial response to the petition was received from the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport on 25 September. The First Minister announced the preferred purple route on 11 October. Do you have comments with regard to this?

Yes, I have been lobbied, as have many Assembly Members, by Benji Poulton, who has put forward a novel idea for the dualling of the Britannia crossing. I like the idea. I think it's exciting. I think it's a matter of combining Welsh history and the story of Bendigeidfran, which everybody knows, I'm sure: the brother of Branwen, who married Matholwch, the King of Ireland, and who was mistreated by him, and Bendigeidfran crossed the Irish sea to save her. He was a giant, so he could walk across the sea. So, the idea of this bridge is to have Bendigeidfran holding up the bridge. It would be a tourist draw, no doubt. It would be a celebration of our history, as well as being something that could fit into the engineering task of crossing the Menai strait.

I would love for us now to push for more Government recognition of the proposal that has been put forward. It actually runs now in—. It clashes a bit with the announcement of 11 October, in that this is on the—. The pont Bendigeidfran proposal is on the western side of the Britannia bridge, whereas Welsh Government has opted to choose as its preferred route the purple route, which is to the east of the Britannia bridge. Now, I must say, whilst I'm a keen supporter of the dualling of the Britannia, I want to learn more from the Government about why they've gone for the option to the east, which doesn't seem to me to be the best option, and so on. We can ask all these questions by asking the Government to give careful consideration to, and give a real appraisal of, the suggestion that's been put forward by the petitioner.


I must admit, I tried to look on YouTube to actually see the proposal, but the video was taken down, unfortunately, so I couldn't quite get the concept.

Bendigeidfran holds up the bridge in the middle of the Menai strait.

You elucidated the thing completely for me; thank you very much for that. And the history, of course, that you talked about. So, possible actions: write to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to ask for his views on the petitioner’s detailed comments and whether he is prepared to formally include the petitioner’s proposal alongside the original options, as requested by the petitioner. Does that come along—

Fine. Thank you.

So, our next new petition is 'Give young people a voice when commissioning local services in Wales'. The petition was submitted by the Changing Minds campaign group, having collected 4,252 signatures. I think that we should point out that this is particularly aimed at the fact that those who have some difficulties will be able to be consulted as well—those who have mental difficulties will be consulted. They feel that some of the forums are very difficult for them to actually attend, given their disorders.

From my point of view, at the outset of this, it was a pleasure to meet some of the young people who presented us with this petition recently. We're at the early stages of discussing this. I think the first thing that we need to do is just get the Cabinet Secretary's full response to the suggestions that they're making. 

Are there any other comments? Okay.

Right, I think that we ought to point out now that the three following petitions are all from the same petitioner. But, given the fact that each one deals with some different aspect, I think that we should deal with each one as a separate edition. Are we all agreed on that? Yes? Fine. Thank you.

So, the first of the petitions is 'More Third party rights in planning appeals'. The petition was submitted by Emma Eynon, having collected 59 signatures. An initial response to the petition was received from the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs on 25 September.

I've got to be honest, we've got a huge controversial issue in my constituency at the moment, and we're just awaiting a planning inspector's decision. But, I've got to be honest, the inquiry itself—. A lot of people—we are talking nearly 2,000 people—are objecting to this particular scheme. They feel already, before the decision's even made, that their voices were not heard. They felt an arrogance from the planning inspector; they felt an arrogance from the barristers working on behalf of the developer. This is a scheme that's not on the local development plan and shouldn't really be going ahead. The technical advice notes all stack in favour of it not going ahead, but we're all on tenterhooks, and we just believe that for one person to be able to come and ride roughshod over a local community, such as a planning inspector can do, I think that we do need to actually—. Local democracy goes out of the window. It was refused by the planning authority—


Yes, and even the planning officers were working hard to substantiate that it should go through, because they didn't want the expense of a costly appeal and an inquiry. And I just think that developers are able to ride roughshod. Yes, we need new housing, but there are parcels of land in my constituency that have already been granted permission. Are they building on those? No. They're actually bringing about and trying to go for sites that were never allocated previously after we'd done our LDP, and, really, it's making a mockery of our planning system, and it does rile me. This is not the first time the planning inspector has gone through the motions just to go, 'It can go ahead'. So I do think this is really timely. 

Okay. I think I ought to just point out that the issue of third party rights to appeal has been subject to discussion for some years, and was discounted by the independent advisory group set up by the Welsh Government, because of the significant risk of overburdening the planning system. We need to discuss that with that in the background. 

But I would underburden the planning system, because I do agree with the appeals mechanism. If you don't like it, you can go to judicial review. That's what you do with everything else. 

I know but, at the moment, you've got—. It's a win-win for the developers. They put a planning application in, they get permission, if they get it; if they don't get it, they can go to appeal. Somebody who knows nothing about the area will come along and make a decision. I think we need to go back to the Cabinet Secretary on this. I know we've got something else that we're going to speak to the Cabinet Secretary about. If we're not happy with the response, perhaps we could hold this again as something we might want to ask the Cabinet Secretary to come in and discuss.  

Yes, this is completely contrary to what we should all be about, not the petition, but the present system. So, I fully support the petitioner. Local communities should have the sovereign right, really, to vote and have their views taken into account with planning matters. As it stands now, they don't. And if you look at Cardiff's experience: a couple of inspectors came in and overruled 75 elected members of Cardiff council, back then. We're seeing it all over Wales. The system is designed for the developer and the system promotes corporate interests and corporate greed. If we take individuals out of this process, if we just look at the system, it's a recipe for corruption and something should be done about it.  

Well, do you think that perhaps we ought to go down the road of local referenda on things like this, on planning?

I don't know. People are fed up with elections, aren't they? 

I think so, but the problem with it—. Local referenda, I fully support, but the problem with the present system is no matter how reasoned the arguments are that you put forward—. And with the Cardiff experience, there were former planners involved in inputting into the Cardiff LDP, but every single point they raised—experienced planners who'd retired—every single one was ignored and there was no recourse for them, there was no recourse for anybody. So, I think third parties should have a right to appeal. 

I think the technical advice notes get hugely misinterpreted by the ones who want to interpret them to suit them and that worries me as well. I think this is really timely, and I think we should perhaps get the Cabinet Secretary in, because the planning system affects us all and it affects everybody out there. 

Let's get the Cabinet Secretary's written response first and then we can see how we take it from there. 

Of course, but I don't think it's going to address—. Because for those of us who've been working behind the scenes on trying to get some sense into our planning system in Wales, it's difficult.  

Why don't we tell the Cabinet Secretary, whilst asking for more information, that we are considering asking for a witness session, depending on what we hear back?   

Are you happy with that? Any further comments to make? I think that I must say that at the back of my mind is a comment by a planning officer when we were looking at some other TAN planning matters, where he said, 'I am the arbitrator. I'm the final arbitrator', and that certainly worries me.

Okay. Fine. So, are you happy with that? I think that we should write to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales as well, should we?


Yes, because the ombudsman deals with third parties' opinions on things. No harm in asking.

Yes. That's on the basis that, in the comments from the petitioner, she has suggested that the ombudsman has raised concerns about the lack of ability for third parties to have their voices heard in planning processes, so we can see if we can get more detail about that.

It would give us evidence for a witness session with the Minister.

Okay. We'll move on to the next petition, which is the 'Immediate review of the Neath Port Talbot LDP'. This petition was submitted by Emma Eynon, having collected 56 signatures. It says,

'We require action to be taken sooner than the scheduled review in 2020',

which is when the LDP will be reviewed. Are there any comments with regard to this?

It's the same kind of comments, really. The planning system does not work; it doesn't allow people to input and the review system is a farce, really. So, I think these petitions certainly have legs, in my opinion.

Shall we write to the Cabinet Secretary again? And, again, holding him to what Rhun said—we may wish to deal with this in an oral session.

The one that strikes me is that it's about bringing forward a review that is going to happen in 2020, anyway, but—. 

Okay. So, we'll write to the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs to ask for her views on the benefits of introducing a mechanism to ensure that requests for content changes to an LDP between strategy reviews should be logged and properly considered.

The next petition is 'End Conflict of Interest in Local Authority Constitution'. This petition was submitted again by Emma Eynon, having collected 56 signatures. Currently, planning authority officers are able to run private planning consultancy companies at the same time as maintaining their public roles. She believes that this is not in the public interest.

Can I say how right she is? We know this happens, and it shouldn't happen. I would be really interested in just knowing what the rules are, what the expectations are and what the Government's thoughts are on this.

We received a response from the Cabinet Secretary, where, basically, she's saying there is a code of conduct—the Code of Conduct (Qualifying Local Government Employees) (Wales) Order 2001—and she's also pointing out that the Royal Town Planning Institute has its own code of conduct and that the code of conduct for local government is based largely upon their input. Neil.

It's a bit like politicians being lobbyists—'It's okay, we have a code conduct'. No, it's wrong. Again, it's a systematic flaw that should be ironed out, really, because, again, without talking about any individual, if you look at the system, it's a systematic recipe for corruption again and it needs to change.

It shouldn't happen. You know, at the end of the day, if you're working in a local authority, you should be able to be completely neutral and this shouldn't be—.

So, there is concern in the committee, obviously. I will point out the RTPI have not been willing to enter into discussions in relation to local concerns about the petitioner's response. So, the possible actions are to write back to the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services to ask for his views on the petitioner's detailed response, and, in particular, how effectively adherence to the current code  is monitored and whether he would consider a review of the code in relation to arrangements for local planning officers, and/or we could write to the public services ombudsman, again to seek his views on the issues raised by the petition and asking him to share any concerns he may have about the possible conflicts of interest in relation to planning authorities. Are we happy to do that?


I'd like to write again to the RTPI. They could say, 'We're not prepared to engage with you', because they have every right to do that, but I'd like to write to them again so that we've got it on the record that they've actually refused.

Or whether it's that they won't engage with the specific allegations in Neath Port Talbot—no, there are no specific allegations.

The letter from Carwyn highlights, doesn't it? It says here,

'The Audit Commission recently made public the report of its investigation into member conduct—'

but this is 'member' conduct,

—'and planning decisions'.

I should just clarify that the petitioner states that the RTPI are not willing to engage with her. We haven't made an approach yet, so they haven't refused to engage with the Petitions Committee.

3. Y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ddeisebau blaenorol
3. Updates to previous petitions

Item 3 is updates to previous petitions. The first of these is 'Reconsider the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant and support disabled people to live independently'. This petition was submitted by Nathan Lee Davies and was first considered in October 2017, having collected a total of 631 signatures. Nathan's concern is that when this is devolved to local authorities, and the responsibility for the living grant is devolved to those, then the same amount of funding for each individual will not be the same; it will be reduced. I think his concerns are based on a great deal of anecdotal evidence and that it's not working as intended in England, where it has already been introduced.

I have a view on this which is that we seem to have specific grants and we put money in the rate support grant. I'm very much in favour of an intermediate position where the money goes in the rate support grant, but local authorities report back on how much they spend on the independent living grant—the average amount per person, the number of people supported and the total amount. So, we can then see whether that money is going as expected, or whether it's being moved to other places. So, I'd like to ask the Cabinet Secretary to consider that.

Are you talking about monitoring it sometime in the future, or whether we should be—?

When local authorities submit their final accounts, within that final account, they have the people who have the independent living grant—how many there are, how much they're getting on average and how much is being spent in total, which we'll then compare to what was before.

No, it wouldn't be ring-fenced, but it would shine a light on what they've done. Ring fencing means, 'You have £10 million, you have to spend it on the independent living grant'. Put it in the rate support grant and you can spend nothing on the independent living grant. This is the intermediate stage where you could spend nothing on it or you could spend the £10 million, but you have to report and tell people what you've spent—how many people you've supported and what's the average amount you've supported them with. So, it's not ring-fencing it, but it shines a light on what's being done.

I should point out that, despite writing to around 25 stakeholder organisations on 8 August, only three responses have been received so far, and one of those is from Torfaen County Borough Council. So, we have to take that into account, I think, when we're discussing these matters. Do any other Members have any comments with regard to this?

Do people think we should do a report now, or is it too soon?

Well, I think we'll have to get more information before we can do a report, otherwise we haven't got enough. But I think we need to go back to the Minister for an update on where the review is. We were due that sometime, weren't we, last month?

Yes, so local authorities have been assessing the care needs of previous recipients of the Welsh independent living grant. We understood that was meant to be completed by the end of September, so that's the review referred to in the paper there that we could ask for an update on. Obviously, this funding transfers and the system will have changed from April 2019, so there is a time element the committee needs to consider here in terms of if it wanted to draw any conclusions, make any recommendations to the Government. Members will decide whether we're at that stage yet. 


It's difficult for us to move forward without getting the update that we were expecting from that review that was meant to have finished by the end of September. I think we need to know what happened with that. 

We could write back to the Minister. We could include a question about that review and also the question that Mike has suggested around local authorities reporting back on the level of funding. 

Fine. Yes, okay.

We'll move on now to the next petition to be reviewed, and that's 'Protect children's lungs from harmful pollution whilst at school'. The petition was submitted by the British Lung Foundation Cymru and was first considered by the committee in July 2018, having collected 159 signatures.

Obviously, the petition is with regard to polluting around schools in particular, and the monitoring of that pollution, which is the subject of the petition: how are these schools monitored and the pollution levels monitored?

I think we know, as regards asbestos, the Welsh Government have actually not been too forthcoming, really. It's very difficult to get information on the amount of asbestos in our schools, so I think it's quite timely, because we know, with the British Heart Foundation and that petition, that air pollution is becoming a major concern. 

As somebody who is in favour of a clean air Act, the reason that's not happening is because the Government thinks that its plan will do the same work. I wonder what the Minister's thoughts are on suggestions made by this petitioner and how that could feed into the plan.

I think it's fair to point out the WLGA also states that any school in Wales with a reasonable traffic flow on the road outside will have been assessed already by the local authority, and data will have been gathered for at least 12 months. It points out that, really, what we should be looking at is the school run in general, which is the greater polluter of the area outside schools and if anything could be done to alleviate that. Obviously, we've got the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, which is supposed to apply itself to that. So, do you have any comments?

I welcome the petition. What I find really strange about being in the Assembly is a cognitive dissonance that I find with the Government—that they talk about clean air on the one hand, and yet the policies they implement, of local development plans with tens of thousands of extra cars on the road as a result, dumping the mud, with particles of mud now being deposited on beaches and which will be blown inland; who knows what's in it, really, because it wasn't tested properly—? And yet we have the rhetoric of clean air. I just don't really understand it. So, it's a good petition.

The possible actions are to write back to the Minister for Environment to seek her views on the detailed comments made by the petitioner, particularly around the risks outlined relating to the current monitoring provisions, and to ask if the suggestions made might help inform the clean air plan for Wales. 

You're happy with that? Okay.

The next petition to review is 'Newtown Brimmon Oak Bypass'. The petition was submitted by Mervyn Lloyd Jones and Rob McBride and was first considered by the committee in July 2018, having collected 402 signatures. This is the desire to name the bypass that is being implemented as 'Brimmon Oak Bypass'.


They're clearly very, very proud of the Brimmon oak in Newtown. I didn't know anything prior to our papers for this committee about the Brimmon oak. If there is a feeling locally that that would be an appropriate name for their bypass, then I hope Welsh Government would do what's necessary to gauge public opinion on that and to act accordingly, because we know that roads are given names from time to time. 

I think there's only one new road that's been actually named, as such, and the Welsh Government are reluctant to make it an action that will take place for every new road opening. 

I can't really recall it, but I believe there is just one. 

I think it's probably the Llandudno one. It's the only one I can think of. 

The one refers to an A-road, I think. So, one trunk road has been named.

But they're all named. This is going to be called 'the Newtown bypass', unless they call it something else. They are all named the 'X'—wherever it is—bypass. The proposal for Llandeilo will be the Llandeilo bypass, and the one for Caernarfon will be the Caernarfon bypass. So whether you want to give another name to it, but they will all be named. If it makes people happy, why would people not want to do it?

It would be largely for local use, wouldn't it? It would always be called the A-something in terms of when it appears on your sat nav.

I think it's important to name roads to connect us to local things. This seems eminently appropriate. The new road that was going into Cardiff City Stadium we named Ffordd Fred Keenor, back in the day, and that was important for some people, and Brian Clark Way as well, which the fans voted on, actually. So I think naming local roads after key local things is a perfect way to proceed. 

So, we could write to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to ask him to update the committee once he's responded to Powys County Council. Are we happy with that?

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd ar gyfer eitem 5 yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public for item 5 in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for item 5 of today’s agenda. Are Members content? Yes. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:12.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:12.