2. Business Statement and Announcement

– in the Senedd at 2:30 pm on 11 June 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 2:30, 11 June 2024

(Translated)

The next item is the business statement and announcement, and I call on the Trefnydd to make that statement—Jane Hutt

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour

(Translated)

Thank you, Llywydd. Two oral statements have been added to today's agenda, namely on the context for and approach to the next spending review period, and on the six goals for urgent and emergency care—two years on. Draft business for the next three weeks is set out on the business statement and announcement, which is available to Members electronically. 

Photo of Darren Millar Darren Millar Conservative

Trefnydd, I'd like to call for a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for climate change on household recycling. I'm delighted that due to the hard work of residents across Wales, Wales has one of the best recycling rates in the world. That's great news, but we also need to make sure that recycling's easy for people and that local systems work. The Labour-led Denbighshire council has just spent millions on scrapping its popular, easy-to-use and high performing blue wheelie bin co-mingled or recycling collection service, and instead it's replaced it with a very unpopular Trolibocs system, which has been making recycling a nightmare for local residents, and it's cut down the residual waste collections to every four weeks. 

Now, the roll-out, I have to say, has been an absolute shambles. Waste collections have been missed. There's bin clutter all over the streets and litter everywhere too. And it simply isn't good enough. So, can I urge the Welsh Government, instead of promoting kerbside recycling only, to promote simpler household recycling systems such as that which was previously used in Denbighshire, to require bins also to be collected at least once a fortnight in the interest of public health, and can we have a statement that confirms that that is the approach that the Welsh Government will take? Thank you.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour 2:32, 11 June 2024

Thank you very much, Darren Millar. Yes, I'm glad you welcome this fantastic announcement that Wales is now second in the world for recycling—testament, I would say, to the partnership working. It's partnership working that's supported our journey, including the vital role of our local authorities, including Denbighshire County Council, of course, increasing the amount and quality of resources that local authorities collect for recycling. 

Just in terms of the introduction by Denbighshire of their new recycling service, we welcome this introduction. It should put them in a very good position to achieve the 70 per cent minimum target that begins this financial year. And I recognise they launched their new recycling waste service on 3 June. Denbighshire have moved to a service that is in line with the Welsh Government's best practice set out in the collections blueprint. You asked for that to be confirmed. I can do that. But also, just to say, in terms of preparation, Denbighshire have been working on the implementation of a new kerbside sort service for the past couple of years. That's working with their public—the people they represent—in preparation for that 70 per cent minimum recycling rate that came into force in April 2024, and also, implementing our collections blueprint, which is aligned to the new workplace recycling requirements. 

And let's just remember what this is going to achieve for us, for the planet, let alone for Wales. It means that we collect high-quality recycling that can then be fed back into the economy, and Wales's high recycling rate has already contributed to a saving of around 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. So, I'm grateful for the question, and that I can put all of that on the record this afternoon. 

Photo of Heledd Fychan Heledd Fychan Plaid Cymru 2:34, 11 June 2024

Trefnydd, I'd like to request a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice outlining the discussions that have taken place with South Wales Police following the arrest last week of 19 pro-Palestine activists in less than 48 hours. An extensive list of signatories have signed a statement with calls directed at South Wales Police, but also calling on the political establishment to respect the right to protest. One of those arrested in Swansea was a 12-year-old Palestinian child, and many others here in Cardiff are students. The police approach is obviously directed by the cruel UK legislation regarding protests, but I'd like to know the Welsh Government's position on this, and how we ensure that people are able to protest and show support when that is very much needed. 

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour

Diolch yn fawr, Heledd Fychan, and you raise a really important question. Obviously, as a Welsh Government, we have stood up and spoken for and really embraced the right to protest. The right to protest, of course, has been threatened and undermined by UK Government legislation, which, indeed, we resisted. And as you'll recall, when I was in the role of Minister for Social Justice, we addressed those points and the impact it would have on our democratic—. This is about our democratic right to protest, but also, in relation to specific incidents, and you've given an example today, I will ask the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice to look into these particular circumstances and situations. And perhaps just to say that we recognise that, throughout not just Wales but across the UK, there are these protests, there's peaceful coming together of people, raising the issue of what is happening in the middle east, and to recognise how important this is to the people who are affected. Because, of course, it's community cohesion and recognising that this is an area where we want to engage with the communities, all the communities that are affected.

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative 2:36, 11 June 2024

Can I also ask for another update from the Welsh Government on the disastrous Trolibocs bin roll-out in Denbighshire? This of course comes within the remit of Denbighshire County Council, however a lot of the funding and guidance for this came from the Welsh Government, including recycling targets, and Denbighshire had a recycling rate of 65.9 per cent under the previous blue-bin system, where the Welsh Government's target is 70 per cent. So, Denbighshire were nearly there in terms of the blue bin, and the disastrous roll-out that has happened within the last week has seen constituents of mine not being able to access—. Their recycling has not been able to be collected in time, when the dates were scheduled, and also, because of the nature of the Trolibocs system, it's allowed recycling and waste to be strewn on the streets because of the delays happening. So, are you convinced that the 70 per cent target can be achieved under the new Trolibocs system, and will you liaise with Denbighshire County Council, in terms of making sure that the 70 per cent can be achieved under the Trolibocs system? And if it is proved that it can't be the case, over time, will you be open to looking at alternative systems that would be both in the best interests of my constituents and hitting that 70 per cent recycling target, which I doubt is going to happen under this current system in the Vale of Clwyd? Thank you.

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour 2:37, 11 June 2024

You have raised this issue before, and, indeed, it's been raised by your colleague Darren Millar this afternoon. What Denbighshire is doing, and we welcome the introduction, as I said, is putting it in a good position to meet that 70 per cent minimum target, which begins this financial year. But any change—any change to a service that impacts people, the residents in an authority, will inevitably experience some teething issues. They have been working on this for the last two years. But the changes mirror what are delivered by neighbouring authorities. Now, you've got colleagues who represent Conwy. It's been implemented successfully there, next door to your authority. So, I think you can have confidence that Denbighshire will implement this and meet the 70 per cent target. And, of course, one has to go back to the fact that Denbighshire have been working in partnership with expert delivery partners, funded through our long-standing programme, which has successfully supported many authorities through these changes. And again, once more, I hope you will welcome—I haven't heard it yet from you, Gareth—the fact that Wales's world-class performance has been acknowledged only in the last week.

Photo of Rhun ap Iorwerth Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru 2:39, 11 June 2024

(Translated)

I would like to request a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language regarding the situation of the Mona Dairy site in my constituency, following the announcement that the company has been placed into the hands of the administrators. We've heard that they've had difficulties in securing adequate funding in the short term to continue to operate, although this new plant, where there has been great investment, has never delivered the pledges, and has never been fully operational.

It's a blow for the local economy, in terms of the loss of that potential, but, of course, it's also a blow to the sector and to the workforce, the 30 and more people, or, rather, the 24 workers and 30 suppliers too. Now, there is a very strong feeling of having been let down. There are questions being asked about where exactly that investment has gone. The Government has been supportive and has invested. We need to understand how we've reached this point, and then, of course, to consider what steps could be taken with the support of Government in order to proceed. And because of that, an urgent statement from the Minister would be very valuable to us on Anglesey. 

Photo of Jane Hutt Jane Hutt Labour 2:40, 11 June 2024

Diolch yn fawr, Rhun ap Iorwerth. And I think we all viewed this news with great concern not just for the workforce, but for the local economy and for the community. And we now, obviously, recognise this is very distressing news for employees and suppliers as well of Mona Dairy, and, as you say, their families and the local community. So, just to reassure you, from the Cabinet Secretary for economy and, indeed, the Cabinet Secretary for north Wales, we're closely in contact with the company and we'll support them while they secure the options available to them. 

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 2:41, 11 June 2024

(Translated)

Thank you, Trefnydd.