I HAVE the utmost respect for nurses and ambulance staff who like many others are suffering from the impact of inflation and the rise in energy costs.

However, the 19 per cent pay rise being asked for is just not affordable. The unions must realise that any pay rise received by nurses would have to be given to everyone else in the public sector.

Some may believe that nurses are a special case deserving of a higher pay rise than anyone else, but other unions representing other public sector bodies will not agree and will want the same.

If everyone across the public sector received a pay rise of 11per cent , it would cost every household in Britain around £1000. It would also create further inflation the following year and further demands for inflation busting pay rounds. Inflation hits everyone in the pocket but is especially hard on those who rely on a non-index lined pension.

The last government fell after trying to borrow and spend more money than the country could afford. This government cannot make the same mistake.

I wish a Happy New Year to all NHS staff and other public sector workers, but I would urge their unions to be more realistic about what the country can afford to pay at a time of worldwide economic crisis.

Next year should see a number of good news announcements for Wales. A Welsh Freeport, a series of Levelling up Fund projects, Community Renewal fund projects, Community Ownership projects, Shared Prosperity Fund money, and more growth deal projects.

All of these schemes are being delivered with the full support of local authorities and will replace and easily surpass the money which Wales received from the EU. I look forward to visiting many of these projects, in Monmouthshire as the local MP and beyond as the Welsh Secretary. Wherever people live in Wales it is important that they can not only find work but can develop careers without having to move far from home.

Congratulations to Chepstow Male Voice choir who gave an amazing performance at Chepstow Leisure Centre last week along with The Cinderford Band and a talented young tenor, Sam Britner.

Amongst other things the choir movingly sang a Ukrainian folk song without any notes. The audience contained a Ukrainian lady and her son who said that the pronunciation was perfect.