Column in the Barry and District News by Alun Cairns MP:
Last week the very first Aston Martin DBX was driven off the production line at the new facility in St Athan. Having been involved from the outset, I was always optimistic we would get to this stage and it was a huge privilege to be there for this significant milestone.
Firstly, I want to pay tribute to the local workforce who made this possible. This really is a key moment for the Vale of Glamorgan and Wales more widely.
Aston Martin will export these vehicles around the world and each car will bear the words ‘Made in Wales’, a fantastic display of what Wales has to offer as we seek to boost our global trade. To produce an iconic British brand in Wales, demonstrates the positive role that Wales will play in Global Britain and I look forward to the opportunities that we will have going forward.
There was further good news last week with the Chancellor’s announcements to cut VAT for the tourist and hospitality sectors and the launch of the Eat Out to Help Out initiative, along with many other measures to kickstart the economy. This can have a really positive impact for local traders and particularly for those on Barry Island who will have lost a lot of business over recent months. These measures, in particular, will apply directly to Wales and you can now register for the discount dining initiative through the Gov.UK website.
I am also pleased that pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars are finally permitted to re-open in Wales, after they opened in England two weeks ago. I would urge readers to support their local pubs and restaurants and make sure that they do so safely, keeping to social distancing. After such a challenging period, they really need support from the community. I recently visited the Glenbrook Inn, who have been working hard to get the pub ready and I wish everyone across the whole of the Vale, who have opened their doors again, a very successful return.
I’m glad to see things moving, however, I recognise that many are still frustrated that these businesses can only open outdoors.
Unfortunately, not all premises have the outdoor space they require to re-open, leaving them in a position where they must remain closed. Having spoken to businesses across the Vale there are many in this position, including the vast majority of pubs.
This decision rests with the Welsh Government and the First Minister has indicated that he will allow them to open indoors from 3rd August. My concern is that this is too long to wait and many local businesses, and the jobs that depend on them, will be at risk if they are forced to remain closed for much longer.
In England they are operating safely, and I hope that the Welsh Government can follow their best practice so that the Welsh economy can open up again as quickly as possible. Until then, I fear for local jobs and businesses.