Activities outside Parliament

Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis writes about his summer in his constituency

September 2006

The Summer Parliamentary Recess provides the only real time for me to meet lots of people and organisations in my constituency which I am unable to meet throughout the year because of my Parliamentary duties in London. One of the most important duties of a Member of Parliament is to be accessible and to listen to as many constituents as possible.

The Summer began with some marvellous visits meeting young and not so young people mainly in Sandfields. I met the St Theresa's Primary School Council and was very impressed by the questions from the children about my work as their MP. I think the idea of an elected School Council is a marvellous way of introducing young people to the importance of local democracy. Then I met those who had over the years served in our Armed Forces, with their families and friends. I was honoured to present them with their Veterans' Badges.

At the other end of the constituency, up the Afan Valley, I met with Scott Jones, who is secretary of the newly re-built Croeserw Workingmen's Club. It was a pleasure to see how the local community rallied round after the fire destroyed their building and rebuilt it in such a short time. The Club is such an important social, cultural and sporting centre for people of all ages in Croeserw.

I also met representatives of the Port Talbot Muslim Welfare Association, the Port Talbot Tigers Football Club and the Seamen's Mission in the Docks. We discussed how I could help them with their concerns and their plans for the future.

Meetings and visits to the SNAC Summer Fete (which my wife opened), a local Rotary lunch and the Cwmafan Flower Show (opened by our Mayor Councillor Elwyn Jones) revealed to me that community and voluntary activity is alive and well in the Aberavon Constituency. I was very pleased to be persuaded to present a new cup for the best rose competition!

At the moment I am very pre-occupied with two projects in the constituency. They have involved discussions with bodies as different as the Carers' Action Movement, Corus management and unions, Lloyds TSB, Swansea University and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. These projects centre on better cultural opportunities for young people in memory of Richard Burton and an independent carers centre in the locality. I am especially delighted that the Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, Port Talbot born Professor Richard Davies, is taking such an interest in building stronger links with Neath Port Talbot so as to provide better lifelong learning opportunities in the locality.

I return to Parliament soon and I am looking forward once again to welcoming many of my Aberavon constituents to the Palace of Westminster. What will be really exciting is that the historic Westminster Hall will have been completely refurbished and a new visitors' centre will be opened. Despite all the security difficulties MPs are still very keen to make Parliament as welcoming and as accessible as possible.

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