As your elected representative, it is my role to ensure that your voices and the voices of all my constituents are heard in the Senedd.


One key issue that I have had raised to me by many across the constituency is the issue of our local economy.


Small businesses are the beating heart of not only the economy of towns and villages across Monmouthshire, but also of Wales as a whole.


We therefore cannot afford to let them simply go under.


While I believe in limited Government intervention in the affairs of businesses, I believe it is the role of both local councils and the Welsh Government to ensure that business can operate smoothly and have the best environment in which to thrive.


Actions such as the removal of free parking over the Christmas period by the Monmouthshire County Council have huge detrimental impacts on small businesses, especially at a time where businesses on the high-street are facing ever increasing pressures.


Recent statistics from the Welsh Government show that business confidence in Wales fell by 7% during February compared to the UK average of 2%.


Clearly something is going very wrong here in Wales.


While businesses in the hospitality, retail, and leisure sector in England get 75% rates reduction on their business rates, businesses a few miles down the road in Monmouthshire get just over half that support because of the Welsh Government’s inaction.


This means that the typical pub in Monmouthshire could pay up to £6800 more than in England.


No wonder pubs in Wales are closing at a higher rate than in England.


Even without this support, small businesses in Wales pay a higher rate of business rates than their counterparts in England and, while the Welsh Government has capped the increase at 5%, this is still an increase on the previous year putting a significant strain on businesses here in Wales.


I want to see businesses in Monmouth thrive not cling on to survive.


I will continue to hold the Welsh Government to account and voice the concerns of the business community in the Senedd ensuring that they are not punished for living in Wales.