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Section highlightHouses into homes This report details findings to emerge from the evaluation during the first six months of delivery (April to September 2012).
Written Statement - Update on tobacco policy »Standardised packaging of tobacco products and Sub Committees on The Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.Learn more »
National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
On Saturday 25 May, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth will be host to US radio star, Peter Greenberg.
- Industry and government plan for a healthy future for farming in Wales
- Historic garden is a breakfast TV star
- National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
Sky lanterns: environmental and risk assessment »To establish an evidence base to help any future policy decisions on sky lanterns and helium balloons.Learn more »
- Future management of private water supply pipes
- Amendments to the Motor Vehicle (Competitions and Trials) Regulations 1969 and the Motor Vehicles (Off Road Events) Regulations 1995
- Higher Education (Wales) Bill: Technical consultation
- The draft School Governors’ Annual Reports (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
- The future of agricultural statistical data collection methods in Wales
- Consultation - Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) Regulations 2006 (Amendment) Regulations 2013
Featured consultation »Implementing the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011
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Section highlightFurther and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Bill 2013
Removes a number of technical restrictions and controls on colleges without changing the principal powers of colleges to provide further, higher and secondary education.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
Proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2012-13, which was published on 26 June 2012.Learn more »
Welsh Assembly Government Response to the Recommendations made in the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Report on ICT in Rural Wales
I wish to make statement regarding the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee’s report on ICT in Rural Wales, which was published in May 2002.
I would like to welcome the report and congratulate the Committee on their thorough investigation if the ICT needs of rural Wales. The availability of high quality ICT provision to our rural communities and businesses is crucial to their future. The Cabinet has given the report’s recommendations careful consideration and I have recently sent a detailed written response on behalf of Cabinet to the Chair of the Committee.
The exploitation of ICT to build a strong, sustainable, competitive and prosperous economy is a recurrent theme throughout 'A Winning Wales' and we are in the process of rolling out ‘A Winning Wales’ across rural Wales. This includes addressing the ICT needs of rural areas.
Both “Cymru Arlein – Online for a Better Wales” and “Broadband Wales” have been much discussed recently but I want to highlight what they are delivering for rural areas.
First, Cymru Ar-lein. This explicitly addresses the needs of rural Wales being designed to create a Wales where all businesses, wherever they are located, are able to exploit information and communication technologies fully in order to improve their competitiveness, innovate and grow. It is a European Exemplar of Regional Government action in the development of ICT addressing not just cables, wires and signals but connectivity, content and capability as well.
We support a range of programmes through Cymru Ar-lein designed to assist communities and SMEs to get the most from ICT, particularly for businesses to improve their competitiveness through the effective take-up of e-commerce. These include:
- Providing £750,000 per annum for three years through the WDA for the provision of impartial, free ICT advice to SMEs across Wales;
- Looking at how the existing e-Business clubs operating in Wales can benefit from working collaboratively to help them to raise the level of awareness of the potential benefits of ICT to a wider audience of SMEs;
- Promoting the benefits of ICT to businesses and communities in rural Wales through the £21m Opportunity Wales project;
- Supporting business support initiatives such as the WDA’s mobile training centre, which tours Wales highlighting the benefits of ICT and allows a high-tech, IT equipped, broadband connected facility to be taken out to SMEs.
- Introducing a large-scale e-communities programme, working with ELWa and the WDA, to help individuals, families, businesses, voluntary organisations and schools in communities across Wales make more effective use of the Internet and ICTs.
- Establishing local ICT Support Centres to provide technical or mentoring advice and offer ‘free’ hands-on technical services on a proactive basis.
We also have the All Wales Network of ICT Support Centre Advisors, which can provide demonstrations of ICT solutions to SMEs, and the ICT Support Centres themselves which we have equipped with broadband technology to offer a “try-before-you-buy” facility to the SMEs.
In addition, ELWa has established a pre-pilot e-placement scheme in Pembrokeshire that will be followed by a number of full pilots this year, followed by roll out across Wales.
Cymru Ar-lein also takes full account of Wales’ bilingual identity, in both its policy development and service delivery processes. It is particularly important that service users can access ICT through their chosen language, and the Assembly Government is committed to building on the principles and actions outlined in Iaith Pawb, its National Action Plan for a Bilingual Wales. Set out in this is a range of projects being introduced by the Welsh Language Board, which reflect the importance of developing new opportunities to use the language and ensuring that it is promoted on the internet and in new IT packages.
Moving on to Broadband Wales. This is the largest comprehensive UK broadband initiative and is designed to address market failure in Wales. A 5-year, £115m comprehensive supply and demand-side interventions programme, it will help extend the foundations of an all-Wales broadbandinfrastructure, stimulating significant further private investment in the future.
Our aim is that within 5 years, Broadband Wales will have increased the affordable availability of terrestrial broadband services in Wales by 30 per cent and brought broadband to virtually all new and existing business parks in Wales, which have identified a need It will also make the cost of broadband services in Wales far more competitive, bringing broadband to 310,000 extra homes and 67,000 businesses by 2007. Some key activities include:
- Delivering financial interventions - small tactical subsidy schemes such as for satellite broadband and large-scale strategic interventions through a reverse subsidy auction to enhance large parts of the Welsh infrastructure.
- Addressing high-end broadband users and international connectivity as well as the entry level ADSL-type services that some suppliers would have us believe is all that matters.
- Supporting local projects and initiatives, such as e-fro and Arwain, to show us what different technologies can do.
Crucially, it is technology neutral, supporting the most appropriate technology for the area at the time and allowing different companies to deliver solutions. After all, effective competition and a viable market is what will drive prices down for consumers in the long term, not ongoing subsidies, and that reduction in cost is a major factor for rural users.
A range of initiatives in both the private and public sectors is being introduced. For businesses these include the Satellite Subsidy Scheme, which makes Broadband an affordable option for businesses in Wales and the Broadband demonstration centres throughout Wales which let businesses ‘try before you buy’. For the public sector, there is the Lifelong Learning Network, providing broadband to schools, learning centres and libraries in Wales - we have spent £10m on supplying multimedia equipment at these locations; and a £20m contact to provide broadband connectivity to all hospitals in Wales - providing up to 550 hospitals, GPs and homeworkers with high speed broadband connectivity making it much easier for clinicians to share information and undertake remote diagnostics. We are continuing to work to aggregate public sector demand and Local Authorities are expected to be connected to the core network by the end of March 2003. We are also continuing to press the UK Government and the Radiocommunications Agency to ensure that the needs of Wales are taken fully into account in the issue of licences for the 3.4 GHz waveband spectrum.
Ultimately, affordable access to broadband is impossible without the appropriate means of supply and yet without demand commercial operators will not find it economically viable to invest on Wales and rollout their broadband infrastructure at a competitive price. The Assembly Government has recognised this fact and over the lifetime of Broadband Wales we aim to create a ‘virtuous circle’ where increased demand feeds further supply leading to further increases in demand and supply.
In summary, with these two initiatives and with ICT being a crosscutting theme in our main policies, the Assembly Government is making excellent progress towards meeting the ICT needs of rural Wales. The recommendations made in the Committee’s report have contributed to this and I look forward to working with them to support and develop the delivery of high quality ICT services across rural Wales.