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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The train now standing...

It was as if we had never left. The first day of formal meetings after the Christmas recess started as we had ended 2005, talking about trains.

The very first question to the First Minister was from Laura Anne Jones who wanted him to make a statement on rail travel in Wales. From then on it all went downhill. We only had a half-decent wordplay to illustrate a serious point from Leighton Andrews to liven up the next hour:

Leighton Andrews: Are you aware that in the Rhondda, Arriva Trains Wales is rapidly gaining the nickname ‘never Arriva’? When you next have the opportunity, will you take up with Arriva, under the terms of the franchise, a range of issues relating to punctuality, to the quality of the rolling stock and to the ability of Arriva to collect fares from passengers? At present, in the Rhondda, and, I suspect in many other Valley constituencies, Arriva Trains is rapidly becoming something of a music hall joke.

I have to admit that Leighton never struck me as the type to frequent music halls but I think I know what he meant.

This morning I chaired the first Education and Lifelong Learning Committee of the new year, a meeting that managed to produce the question of the week so far. About halfway through the Minister's report one AM, who shall remain nameless, asked the Minister: "How are you encouraging partnership working in sex and relationships education?"

Even for the Welsh Assembly Government, which has had an obsession with partnership working since it was set up in 1999, that was possibly a step too far.
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