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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Childcare at the Assembly

Today's Western Mail reports proceedings at yesterday's Equality of Opportunity Committee when Huw Lewis again called for on-site childcare facilities in the Assembly's Cardiff Bay offices (no link available as yet). Huw makes the perfectly fair and reasonable point that we need a creche to stop us "sleepwalking into becoming another Westminster boys club".

Having been a member of the House Committee for its entire five-plus years of existence I wholeheartedly concur with this view. Indeed one of the frustrations of being on this Committee is how difficult it has been to effect change. We managed to get an Access Officer appointed but on smoking for example, despite a decision to move the smoking room outside the building into a shelter, we are still waiting for this to be actioned.

I have been arguing strongly for most of those five years for a creche. The survey that is currently underway is the second that has been undertaken. In many ways its results are irrelevant as creche provision should be a matter of principle and be open to AMs, staff and visitors as well as other workers in Cardiff Bay if that is what is needed to make it economically viable. Obviously those associated with the Assembly would take priority.

On the agenda for next Thursday's House Committee meeting is an item on childcare arrangements. Unfortunately, it is a verbal item so I cannot tell you what it is recommending. However, the fact that we do not have a written report containing costings and a clear recommendation is discouraging. It indicates that we are still in limbo on this issue and that we are some way off actually delivering on our good intentions. Frankly, that is not good enough and I will be saying so.
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