With Easter Weekend passing and the days getting longer, I have certainly felt a sense of cautious optimism for the remainder of the year. Whilst there is still a way to go in overcoming the many challenges which Covid-19 has imposed upon us over the past 12 months, I am pleased that normality is slowly starting to return to our lives.

The herculean task of vaccinating the entire population continues at a great pace, and I am very much in awe at the rollout’s progress across the UK with nearly 60% of the adult population now having received their first dose. The news is even more positive in Powys which reached the amazing milestone of 100,000 vaccinations last week, with over 60% of Powys residents now vaccinated. This has been a huge effort, and I praise the fantastic work that continues to be carried out by Powys Teaching Health Board, Powys County Council and the many volunteers helping with the rollout.

On Thursday 6th May, Wales will go to the polls to vote in the Welsh Parliament elections. I have been critical about First Minister Mark Drakeford’s handling of restrictions here in Wales, with an unworkable 5-mile restriction which has thankfully now been lifted, and the lack of a robust and detailed roadmap to give families, workers and businesses across Wales the clarity they deserve.

There are of course wider issues too. The Senedd has responsibility for our schools, health, transport, agriculture and much more. Powys is one of the most underfunded council areas in Wales after years of successive cutbacks from Cardiff Bay.

The contrast is clear to see, with the UK Government focusing on investment in Mid Wales with a £110 million Mid Wales Growth Deal, plans for a bypass around Llanymynech and Pant and a commitment to improve rural broadband and mobile services through the Universal Service Obligation. Meanwhile, the Welsh Labour-Lib Dem Government have repeatedly forgotten about rural Wales by applying blanket regulations which simply do not suit Wales’ differing needs. Vital issues have been ignored such as calls for a new Mid Wales Health Facility to be built, and the failure to support Montgomeryshire’s farmers with the issuing of all-Wales NVZ regulations.

I will be campaigning to support Russell George, my fellow Welsh Conservative in Montgomeryshire. Since first being elected as our Member of the Senedd in 2011, Russell has been a tireless champion for Montgomeryshire within the Welsh Parliament, and I very much hope you can lend him your support in May.