The benefits of public access to outdoor recreation are something the Welsh Labour Government has long promoted. Over the last decade the Welsh Government has opened over 460,000 hectares of upland, common land and woodland to walkers, made significant improvements to public paths and created the internationally acclaimed Wales Coast Path. It’s great that here in West Wales we’re able to enjoy such a wide range of activities on our doorstep, from walking, angling, caving, canoeing, climbing, to wild swimming. Carried out responsibly, I believe these activities can co-exist with each other and with land uses such as farming and forestry, and bring substantial benefits to Wales’ economy. It’s been recognised that Wales needs a better and fairer approach to public access and the Welsh Government will be asking people for their views soon on proposals to improve current laws on public access and activities to make them simpler, and to better communicate access rights and responsibilities. I hope you’ll feed in your views when they do.
This week, the Welsh Government has announced £1 million to establish a National Endowment for Music, which will enable more young people to access musical opportunities. I very much welcome this new and innovative approach to supporting young people to develop their talents in music and am pleased to say this was pledged in Welsh Labour’s manifesto for last year’s Assembly elections. The money will be used by the Arts Council of Wales to cover the set up costs of the Endowment with a further contribution to be made to the seed fund once it is in place. The Welsh Labour Government’s ambition is that the fund, through the Arts Council of Wales, will eventually generate at least £1 million each year to pay for additional music activities for young people across the country, further supporting creative teaching and learning in schools.
Front-line advice services and Citizens Advice Cymru are to be given support from the Welsh Government to the tune of £4.4 million this year. The sum will help these vital services which offer much-needed direct advice relating to welfare benefits, housing, debt, money management and discrimination. Amazingly, during just six months advice organisations respond to over 33,150 requests for information and advice in Wales.