Y Pwyllgor Deisebau - Y Bumed Senedd
Petitions Committee - Fifth Senedd12/05/2020
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Jack Sargeant MS|
|Janet Finch-Saunders MS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Leanne Wood MS|
|Michelle Brown MS|
|Neil McEvoy MS|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
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.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 14:00.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 14:00.
Prynhawn da a chroeso. Good afternoon and welcome to the Petitions Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are to be excluded from attending this committee meeting in order to protect public health. This meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and all participants will be joining by video-conference. A Record of Proceedings will be published and all other Standing Order requirements do remain in place. In setting the agenda for this meeting, we have prioritised petitions relating to COVID-19 and other time-sensitive matters. We do not have any apologies.
I'll move forward now to 2.1, 'Recent Decisions Regarding AS Grades 2020'. This petition was submitted by Siân Williams, having collected 219 signatures.
'A decision was recently made by Education Minister Kirsty Williams regarding AS Level qualifications 2020. The statement released says: in summer 2021, current AS learners will have two options for their A level award. They will choose whether to: only sit the A2 units, with the A level grade based on their performance in the A2 units; or sit both the AS and A2 units. They will be awarded the best grade from either route.
'However, this fails to take into consideration students that have worked extremely hard to achieve good predicted grades throughout the entirety of Year 12, and who were therefore prepared for upcoming exams, the first of which were due to begin in only four weeks from when this decision was made. Year 12 would ordinarily contribute to 40% of the overall A Level grade.'
An initial response was received from the Minister for Education on 21 April. A research brief has been provided, and the petitioner has provided further comments. So, how would you like to take this petition forward? Leanne.
I think we all would understand the need for the decision to be taken really quickly in terms of the exams, when it was taken by the Minister as a result of the COVID crisis, but I do think we need to listen to what the young people are saying here. I've picked up similar concerns about this issue in the Rhondda, in my constituency, so I think this whole question needs some debate. I'd like to know what arrangements there are, what plans there are, for us to be able to have Plenary debates in the future, because I think if there are going to be online virtual Plenary debates, then this may be a topic that we could ask to be covered in Plenary.
I wonder if we could ask the Welsh Youth Parliament for their view on this. I can see the arguments that the Minister is making. I think that the points from the petitioner need to be put back to the Minister, and I think if there are any other options, in addition to the two options that are available to AS students at the moment, then we should look at those to ensure that those students who have put in a great deal of work don't end up being penalised or losing out on the effort that they've put in thus far.
Okay. Thank you. Jack.
Yes. Thank you, Chair. For me, we all know we're in really uncertain times at the moment, and we can understand decisions being made at a Government level to protect everyone in Wales, but this does concern me. I mean, I remember, going back to when I was sitting my exams, there is an extreme amount of pressure on students to do well, especially in year 13 when they're looking at potentially going on to university or other options, whether that's full-time employment and so on, where they need a certain set of grades.
One of the key points I think the petitioner has made is the well-being of the students, maybe feeling pressurised to take that second exam, so the AS and the A2 at the same time, to get the better grade that they might need to go on to do what they want to do in the future. I don't know what the answer is to this, but I do feel we definitely need to pass the concerns of the petitioner on to the Minister. I think this definitely warrants some real clarity and answers to her questions, because, first and foremost, the well-being of the students has got to be put up there, and if they are feeling pressurised to take an additional exam at what is an already extremely stressful time, then clearly they're going to be under some real mental strain, and that's something I wouldn't like to see.
So, for me, I'd like to go back to the Minister as a matter of urgency, really, to try and (1) give the petitioner and fellow students confidence in the decision being made, but (2) also give them a bit of confidence that the decision, going forward, will take into account their mental well-being, which I'm sure it is, but just give them a little bit more confidence that, 'Look, we are doing the right thing by you and you won't feel pressurised into doing something that you wouldn't normally do just because of the coronavirus outbreak.'
Okay. Do any other Members wish to come in on this? Michelle.
Yes. I empathise with the students who are raising concerns about the decision that's been made, and I think Leanne's idea to ask the Youth Parliament for their opinion is a good one. I also think that asking the opinion of headteachers across Wales would be quite a good idea. I'd also like to see the comments of the petitioners put to the Minister for her response. Having said that, I think, to be fair to the Minister, these are highly imperfect, unique times. I think it's going to be rather a big ask to come up with something that's absolutely perfect for everybody, so I would cut the Minister some slack in that way. But I do think that the petitioner's comments should be put forward to her for her response.
Okay. So, Clerk, you've picked up on that, so we're going to write to the Minister, we're going to write to the Youth Parliament and invite them to have a look at this. There was a suggestion about writing to all the headteachers.
Yes, I think the committee could write to the headteachers' union, certainly, to get a collective view from them.
Okay. So, I move forward to item 2.2, 'Give Welsh Vulnerable Access to Priority Supermarket Shopping Slots During COVID19', and this petition was submitted by Lindsey Jones, having collected 73 signatures. However, the clerk has an update for us on this.
For Members, I can confirm that since we published the agenda for this meeting, the petitioner has expressed a wish that the petition be withdrawn at this stage, but that would be your decision as a committee to take.
Could I have some feedback from Members as to how you wish to go forward with this? Leanne.
I'm a bit disappointed that the petition has been withdrawn, although given that some of the issues that were outlined in the petition have since been resolved, I can understand the reasoning behind it.
As far as I'm concerned, representing people here in the Rhondda, there are still problems in terms of people getting supermarket delivery slots. I'm not talking about the shielded group now, because those problems do seem to have been ironed out, but there are still many people who don't want to be going to supermarkets if they can at all avoid it, and there is an issue with capacity. I think Tesco said that they increased their capacity by 20 per cent. Well, that's clearly not enough.
I think we have to respect the wishes of the petitioner to withdraw the petition, but I wondered if there was any other avenue for us to be able to write to the Minister about this issue of capacity, to ask if the Government can do anything at all to support, incentivise, coerce, cajole the supermarkets to do what they can to put more vans with more people on the roads, because there is a real public need for supermarket delivery slots and that's not being met. I think it's probably more of an issue in more rural areas than it is in city areas, because deliveries can be more easily organised where there is a big population mass, so there's a discrimination issue, potentially, on this question as well.
Okay. Michelle. Unmute your mike. I think there's a few seconds' break before—. If you start now.
Okay. Can you hear me? Right. Cool.
I agree with what Leanne just said, but I think that there's an additional issue with supermarket deliveries. It's great if you can get a delivery slot, but if there are essential items missing from that delivery when it arrives, it pretty much negates the point of the delivery. Because if really important things like toilet rolls and other things, staples, are missing from the delivery, it means you have to go out anyway. So, for me, it's not just the availability of delivery slots; it's also what's actually delivered because it can render the delivery pointless if certain things aren't delivered. So I think if you're going to address delivery slots, we need to do it in the round, and address the fact that the supermarkets haven't delivered to certain people those essential goods, perhaps. But whether that's feasible from their point of view, I don't know.
Okay. Any other Members? Jack.
I think we have to respect the wishes of the petitioner on this, and to be fair I think Leanne's absolutely right there. Now, there are clearly issues still with deliveries from supermarkets, et cetera, that do need to be ironed out, but I don't think—. You know, this petition is particularly to do with shielded groups. Yes, there are still issues with vulnerable groups, and I've been one to raise that in Plenary, but I think for the purpose of this petition, perhaps this has run its course as well, and given the fact that the petitioner wants to withdraw, I think we should respect that as a committee and maybe close this petition for the time being.
Okay. Is that supported? Yes. Okay.
So, moving on, 2.3, P-05-960, 'Fund the funeral costs of all NHS staff who die from or with Covid-19'. This petition was submitted by Professors Jane Henderson and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen having collected 414 signatures. The text of the petition reads:
'They gave their lives to save ours. We call on the Welsh Government to fund the funeral costs of all NHS staff who die from or with Covid-19. The average simple funeral costs £4000. We ask the Welsh Government to ensure that bereaved families immediately have access to the funds to pay for funeral costs.'
A research brief has been provided. An initial response was received from the Minister for Health and Social Services on 5 May. The petitioners have provided further comments to allow the committee to consider the petition at this meeting, which we are grateful for given the timescales involved. So, how would you like to take this forward, please? Neil.
Thanks, Chair. I think we should write to the Minister for Health and Social Services to clarify whether medical workers who are not based in the UK are actually covered by the death-in-service scheme. I think that's important, to find that out, really. So I wouldn't like to close the petition. I think we should get more detail.
I definitely think we should take this forward. This is a matter that I raised in Plenary with the First Minister a few weeks ago. I didn't receive an answer on that, and it is something I intend to follow up on. Yes, there's been a commitment to pay a death-in-service benefit to NHS families, but this is something separate to that, as the petitioners make clear. The question I asked to the First Minister in Plenary was about all key workers, and I think this is a question that is much wider than NHS workers; there are care workers, there are people working in supermarkets, people driving food, people driving taxis and buses. There are a whole range of people who collect our refuse, and so on, who are low-paid in the main and face serious risk, and their families should not be facing this extra financial burden in the terrible, terrible situation where they lose a loved one because of this. So, I think all workers who have died as a result of COVID in the work that they do deserve to have their funerals covered by the state at the very, very minimum. I think we can do a lot more for people than that, but at the very, very minimum, we should be covering the costs of the funeral.
Now, when we look at Office for National Statistics figures that have come out just this week, we see that it's men in professions like security, like taxi driving; those are jobs that are considered essential but those are the people who seem to be most at risk of dying as a result of COVID. All of those people should be helped, and I think we as a committee should do what we can to support the people behind this petition, and the wider network of key workers that we're all completely dependent upon right now.
Okay. Yes. So, any other comments on that? Jack.
Just simply to say that I share the thoughts of Neil and Leanne. I'd second their comments.
Okay. So, Clerk, you're clear on where we're going forward with that. Okay.
And this is the first of our time-sensitive new petitions, 3.1, P-05-908, 'CF3 against the Incinerator'. This petition was submitted by Andrew Evans, having collected 2,224 signatures online. Paper signatures have also been sent but not verified due to the current working arrangements. And the text of the petition is:
'A new incinerator is planned to be built in CF3 on...Wentloog Cardiff. This is in very close proximity to homes & schools. For example it is only 500 meters away from Eastern High School. Many residences and other schools within the CF3 are also well within a 1/2-mile radius of it.
'The planned incinerator will burn 200,000 tonnes of industrial waste per year and will operate 24/7. It is planned to be built as early as 2020/21...we believe this will generate noise, air pollution, traffic and will not be good for the health of those living in the CF3 community.'
An initial response was received from the Minister for Housing and Local Government on 26 February, and a research brief has been provided. The petitioner has provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward? Neil.
I'd like to take this forward with—. We need to write to the company asking particular questions. Maybe we could liaise outside of the meeting on the questions to ask. I'd like to throw some of the questions at the Minister as well. I think we should be taking this forward as an evidence session, because it's just quite incredible that an urban community is going to have an incinerator dumped in the middle of the community just spewing fumes all over houses, all over schools. I mean, what the hell are they doing? It's staggering again. But this is happening all the time now.
I'd like to ask the Minister how this proposal and some other proposals, one of which is subject to a petition, how those developments square with the declaration of a climate emergency, because the two directions of travel seem to be completely mutually exclusive to me. But I'd like to know how the Minister squares those two off.
Okay. So, a letter to the Minister. Leanne.
I think we need to ask some questions about the strategy as well, because the strategy is quite old now and it's meant to take us up to 2050. And by then, we're meant to be recycling or reusing all of our waste. So, I don't understand why we've got to 2020 and we're still building incinerators; we should be reducing the amount of waste now that's going to incinerators.
There's already big incinerator coverage in the south-east Wales area, in Cardiff, in the Vale of Glamorgan, in Newport. We've been campaigning against these monstrosities for many, many years now, especially within the environmental movement. And it isn't consistent with the declaration of a climate emergency; we should be doing everything we can now to drive down the amount of waste that we are not reusing or recycling, and we need to start asking some questions about that strategy, I think, because it just makes no sense to me how, a decade after we've started having this discussion, we're still building these incinerators. We should be closing them by now.
Okay. I think that's fairly conclusive—to write to the Minister with those challenging questions, Clerk.
Okay. So, our next petition is 3.2, P-05-946, 'Save—
I just wanted to say, could we circulate the letter so that we can add that to it, in terms of questions?
Oh, yes, definitely.
—Save Royal Glamorgan A&E'. This petition was submitted by Geraint Williams, having collected 14,564 signatures. He says that there are serious concerns that a closure or partial closure of A&E services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital could be taking place very soon. This will have a significant impact on access to A&E for patients in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and will also put additional pressures on A&E departments in Merthyr Tydfil, Cardiff and Bridgend. The Welsh Government should intervene and do all it can to prevent any reduction of service in the provision of A&E services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, and do all it can to facilitate the recruitment and appointment of badly-needed A&E consultants to the health board.
An initial response to the petition was received from the Minister for Health and Social Services on 19 March. An initial response was received—sorry, I've moved on. A response was received from the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board on 4 March, and a research brief has been provided. The petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed at this meeting, but has not provided further comments. How would you like to go forward with that one?
If I can start on this, Chair. There are a number of petitions circulating on this issue. This is the official Senedd petition that people have chosen to focus on. The various other petitions have got thousands of signatures on them as well. If I can say thank you to the organisers of the petition and the army of people who've been going around collecting signatures on it. The campaign for retaining these really valued services has been superb, and obviously, things have changed in more recent times, but a lot of work has gone in with public meetings, with town centre petition signature collecting sessions, and so on. The community has really, really come together on this.
We learned, on 15 and 16 February and so on, how important our A&E department was and our Royal Glamorgan Hospital overall is, because, during the floods, the Rhondda—the constituency I represent—was cut off in all directions, and there was only one route out, and that was the route that takes us to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Had we been reliant upon other hospitals at that point in time, all routes were cut off. So, even if we put aside COVID, which we can't of course, just having the floods and the aftermath of that, has made the argument for retaining those services at the Royal Glamorgan.
And now, of course, we've got COVID-19 to deal with, and all of the staff, everyone connected with the Royal Glamorgan, has been superb, absolutely brilliant, right throughout this, as I know other Members will say about other hospitals in their areas, I'm sure, from the highest graded consultant, through to the catering, cleaning and the portering staff. All of these people, of course, are risking their lives every single day.
So, a decision has now been taken by the health board to put this whole process on pause, through the COVID crisis. But surely, this crisis must mean that we can't go back to the way that we were before. So, I want to push for assurances—and I know that there are many campaigners in, not just the Rhondda, but in the other communities affected by this as well—we want assurances from the Minister that there will be no removal or downgrading of services at the Royal Glamorgan A&E after this crisis is out of the way. So, I want this petition to proceed on that basis, and I want us as a committee, if we can, to get behind that. Because the position has changed now since the petition was first drawn up—I don't think we can ignore the COVID element to this issue now.
Okay. Any other comment? No. So, Clerk, were you clear there?
So, we would write to the Minister, to seek those assurances, if that's the agreed action by the committee.
I think it says here that we don't—. There have been so many signatures that there should be a debate on this. The problem we have at the moment is that the Assembly's not working—well, hardly working at all, actually—and relying on some very dubious Standing Orders to do that. So I'd like to write to the Business Committee to establish when we can actually start debating things like this. Because the COVID crisis is ongoing, it's here, we have to work around that, and we have to get back to work. And matters like this must be debated. So, I'd like to write to the Business Committee, to see when we're going to get back to work, really.
Okay. So we have a proposal to write to the Minister, outlining our concerns, as Leanne has mentioned, and also a proposal to write to the Business Committee, to see about getting this on the agenda for a business meeting. Are all Members happy with those proposals? Leanne.
Well, under normal circumstances, a petition that has got more than 5,000 signatures—and this one has got considerably more than double that—then there would be a Plenary debate on this. So, I would welcome a Plenary debate on it—no question about that. How we actually go about that in a virtual Senedd, I don't know, but that is a matter for the Business Committee to determine. I think, if we can bring this to debate in a fuller meeting of Members, then I certainly would welcome that.
Thank you. Okay, Clerk?
Okay. We can make that request to the Business Committee as well.
Thank you. Now, 3.3, P-05-948, 'Save the green fields at Cefn yr Hendy, Miskin'. This petition was submitted by Sophie Seymour, having collected 697 signatures online. Paper signatures have also been sent, but not verified, due to the current working arrangements; we do have less, however, than 5,000 in total. So again, Clerk, you have some updated information on this.
Yes, thank you, Chair. Just to alert Members to the fact that, again, in the time since we published the agenda and papers for this meeting, the petitioner has requested to withdraw the petition, due to a change in her personal circumstances. Again, that would be a decision for you as the committee to reach at this point, but that's the latest information.
Okay. Can I have Members' views on that, please? Leanne.
I withdraw—I move that we withdraw, then.
Okay, that seems to be—. Could you all acknowledge that, please? Just raise your hand. Thank you. Right, the proposal is to acknowledge the wishes of the petitioner to withdraw. Okay.
So 3.4, P-05-949, 'Save Cowbridge old girls' school from demolition'. This petition was submitted by Sara Pedersen, having collected 5,541 signatures. They're calling on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to protect the former Intermediate School for Girls in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan. This was the first intermediate school to be built specifically for the education of girls in Wales and England, and is the subject of a planning application for demolition. Failure to protect it will lead to the loss of a nationally important historic asset.
'In summary, the former Cowbridge Intermediate School for Girls’ survives as a prominent and attractive testimony to a pivotal moment in Welsh history and the equal opportunities afforded to underprivileged girls of the time.'
They urge the Welsh Government,
'as custodians of our heritage, to protect this building either through listing or the provision of additional social housing funding to allow its conversion.'
Now, an initial response to the petition was received from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on 6 March and a research brief has been provided. The petitioner has provided further comments and a number of supporting documents, including correspondence and detailed assessments of architectural and historical significance. The petition is potentially time sensitive, as the planning process is currently under way with Vale of Glamorgan Council. What actions would you like to take forward on this petition please? And if I could just remind Members more than 5,000 signatures have come in. Neil.
Thanks, Chair. Well, again, this is something we should be debating. We're only working one afternoon a week. If we scheduled the Assembly to work on a Tuesday afternoon as well then things like this could be debated and, again, I think we should refer this to the Business Committee with a request that we can actually get back to normal work now. I'd like to also write to the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism to ask for an independent peer review by Historic England or Historic Scotland to look at this matter, to look at the decision. I just wonder why Cadw exists, to be honest, just speaking personally there, because they never seem to save anything.
Right. Do other Members have a view on this? Leanne.
It looks difficult to see any movement on it, but I wouldn't oppose any action being taken. Given that there have been more than 5,000 signatures, then the same principle applies as to before. Under normal circumstances, we would have a debate about this. There isn't anywhere else in terms of a committee, any other pieces of work that are being done anywhere else in the Senedd, that we can share this with at all, is there, so that it doesn't completely disappear if we're not able to debate it in Plenary?
No, not to my knowledge. This is—. The particular planning application this relates to is really a local issue for the Vale of Glamorgan Council. However, because it's a decision of Cadw, as a national body, as to whether the school should be listed that's why the petition can be considered in the Senedd. So, I think, as Neil has suggested, maybe a letter back to the Deputy Minister at this point might be the suitable way for the committee to take it forward, as well as what's been mentioned.
Okay, I'd agree with that then.
I'd just say that I would support an independent peer review of Cadw's decision. Call me cynical, but I would call in—. I don't know; I think it would benefit from an independent review and then everybody could be confident that the right decision had been made.
Okay. Okay, so we know where we're going forward with that one.
Then 3.5, P-05-955, 'Objection to proposal by Costain to implement Option B in the rerouting of the A465 at Brynmawr'. This petition was submitted by the Heads of the Valley Petition Group, having collected 1,128 signatures. So, the text of the petition is:
'we the undersigned, object to the proposal by Costain to implement Option B in the rerouting of the A465 at Brynmawr. Costain favour option B and intend that it will be implemented in April 2020.'
Gone a bit past that.
'There will be no entrance or exit to or from Brynmawr from the Western Valley. Option B will dramatically increase the already excessive volume of traffic through Beaufort Village and Brynmawr as drivers heading West have no way of getting onto A465 from the Western Valley areas...Nantyglo, Blaina, Abertillery, Aberbeeg, Llanhilleth, Blaenavon...as the already struggling towns will be bypassed by traffic travelling from the East. The environmental impact on both towns will also be unacceptable due to the increased carbon emissions from slow moving traffic which, during peak times is already at a standstill.'
An initial response to the petition was received from the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales on 17 April, a research brief has been provided to you, and the petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed at this meeting, but have not provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward?
I'll speak on that.
I think—I'm not familiar with the location and the geography and the particular road, but, from the content of the petition, it would seem that the same mistake is being made here as was made in relation to Broughton and the A55 up in north Wales. Traffic going west along the—. If you want to join the A55 to head west, you have to go through Broughton village itself, which causes massive problems for people in Broughton. I hope that the relevant authorities will learn from the experience of Broughton and really think about whether an exit is needed in the place suggested by the petition.
Okay. Anybody else? Leanne.
Can we see what the petitioners' response is to the Minister's letter before considering where we go next with this? We've got a bit of time now, given that the works have had to be paused because of the coronavirus. So, we may as well wait to hear what they've got to say, put those points to them, and then take a decision as to what we do with this a bit later on.
Okay. Everybody in agreement with that? Yes. Okay.
Item 3.6, P-05-956, 'SAVE NEEDED DOCTOR SURGERIES'. This petition was submitted by Anthony Diblasi, having collected 69 signatures.
'We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to reconsider the closure of the following surgeries: Troed y Bryn in Penyrheol; Lansbury Surgery in Caerphilly.
'The two practices combined have a total of 3,962 registered patients. If they close then it would create a knock on effect with other surgeries taking the extra patients. Longer wait times for appointments and/or restricted access due to numbers.'
An initial response to the petition was received from the Minister for Health and Social Services on 20 April 2020, a research brief has been provided also, and the petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed at this meeting, but has not provided further comments.
How would you like to take this forward? I've got lots of hands up here now. I think I saw Jack's first, and then Leanne, and then Michelle.
Thank you, Chair. Obviously, really sensitive towards GP surgeries and closures, quite simply whatever location we're in, really—it's the same in my constituency; we do struggle with the number of GPs we have, and that's even more certain in more rural areas in Wales. Sadly, I think, for this petition in particular, we've seen the surgeries mentioned being closed already, so I don't see really where we can take this petition, as a committee, further forward. But, again, I do have sympathy for this. We've seen, because of coronavirus, obviously, more on-line services by GPs, and, hopefully, that will go some way in alleviating in the future. But, again, there are some challenges with that—connectivity and so on—but at least we've now moved ahead and that is being pressed forward, and, hopefully, we can get some more services into those areas that need them, when perhaps a physical GP surgery isn't available.
But, as a committee, I'm just not sure where we can take this, given the fact they've closed already, sadly.
Well, I just can't tell you how frustrated I am with this whole debate. We've been banging the drum since 2014 in Plaid Cymru about the need to go over and above in recruiting GPs and other doctors. We put forward a plan for 1,000 extra doctors to be trained and recruited back in 2014 and predicted that there would be GP closures, that there would A&E closures, and now it's all coming to pass.
I still think there needs to be work in terms of increasing the number of GPs and doctors that we have. It's too late now, as has already been said, for these particular surgeries. I know that my colleague, Plaid Cymru Member Delyth Jewell, has been campaigning on these particular surgeries, so I'm sure she shares the same frustrations I'm expressing here. I accept that there's very little we can do now that these surgeries have been closed, but this is not an issue that's going away and it's not going to be resolved either by moving appointments online, because you still need to have GPs on the other end of the computer to speak to people. So, it's still a question of meeting the need that's there. The need is increasing, especially, as has been said—. We're in the middle of a health crisis now, so more people are in need of their GPs, if anything. So, yes, I just needed to express my frustration, whilst accepting that, on this occasion, there is very little we can do, but that's really annoying.
Okay and thank you. Michelle.
I think frustration abounds on all sides of this meeting. The situation with GPs is getting worse; we've got houses being proposed and planned by local authorities that will desperately need their own GP surgery and yet none is being planned. And, given the fact that we're still not training enough doctors for our needs, then the situation is just getting worse. It's very, very frustrating. In this particular case of this petition, I think the horse has already bolted, hasn't it? The surgeries have already closed, and, to be fair to the board, they did try to find a replacement. I'm not sure we can pin responsibility for that completely on the board; if the supply of GPs isn't there, it's not there. So, I think, unfortunately, it's a case of having to close the petition and thanking the petitioner for bringing it to our attention and reassuring her that we actually understand and share her frustrations.
Okay. I think that's overwhelming, really, isn't it? We don't really have any other direction we could go with this one. So, the proposal there is to close this petition. Okay.
So, that brings us to the end of the petitions for today. Can I thank Members, our clerking team, the IT team? Our next committee meeting is currently scheduled for Tuesday 9 June, though the current timetable may be subject to further adjustments over the coming weeks. We do have some proposals going forward now to the Business Committee, so that we can perhaps start up again Plenary debates. So, without further ado, I'll close the meeting now and thank you all. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Thank you.
Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 14:43.
The meeting ended at 14:43.