Sunday, December 17, 2006

Montgomeryshire Post Offices Under Threat Again?

Montgomeryshire could lose all its village Post Offices following a government announcement this week

In Britain as a whole the government plans to reduce the current network of 14,300 post offices to 11,760. If that pattern were repeated in Montgomeryshire at least 20 could close but Plaid Cymru fears it could be far more as the government withdraws subsidies and leaves only "viable" offices open.

The Labour government is complaining about a subsidy for the Post Office of £250m per year in the same week that, because of its own incompetence, it is writing off debts of £1.1 billion to the Child Support Agency. The Post Office is not a private company. It is a public service and basically does a lot of the government's own administrative jobs such as selling car tax.

Under Labour 4,000 post offices have already been closed and it looks as if rural Wales will bear the brunt of this next round of closures. Labour has downgraded post offices by siphoning off government services which makes them less viable businesses. Plaid has been campaigning against Labour’s plans to close Post Offices which are used by over 350,000 people in Wales to access their benefits and pension. I believe that Post Offices have an essential social role in preserving communities as living entities and help combat social exclusion. Plaid wants to use post offices as government shop windows, providing income for local sub postmasters and so enhancing an essential service to the community.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


On Friday 19 January in Neuadd Llanerfyl we're all looking forward to getting the campaign off to a bang with a Noson Lawen led by Arwyn Groe, one of our budding poets on the national stage and well known as a local commentator on the cultural scene. Arwyn will be joined by Dafydd Iwan, Sian James and local new band Gwiber. There'll be a few short speeches as well so that I, Nerys Evans and David Senior (Plaid Regional List Candidates) can get to know the audience and also at least one poetry competition for the audience to join in. Dyffryn Banw football club are running the bar and there'll also be a raffle.

With tickets at just £6 and £3 for concessions this promises to be an enjoyable and memorable evening so book yours on 01691 870642 as soon as possible.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Welsh Tax Payers Service Gordons' £161bn PFI Debt!

A statistic which passed almost unnoticed in the Chancellor's pre-Budget statement last week was that the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Debt has now reached a staggering £161bn, up £13bn in just one year. That means that Gordon Brown has had to set aside an extra £13bn in one year alone to service this debt, a figure which is only £1bn less than the entire budget for Wales!

This should concern us all very deeply in Wales. There have been very few PFI projects in Wales because, wisely, local authorities have preferred only to use the money they have rather than mortgage their budgets for decades to come. Now however there is a squeeze on the capital provision for local authorities (Powys County Council will be at least £12m short of its requirements next year) and there are endless calls for "efficiency savings" whatever that may mean in schools and old people's homes. We are constantly being told that there is "no more money in the pot" for education and social services, yet clearly there is £13bn to service the PFI debt in 2006 - 07 as well as £25bn for Trident and £70bn de-commissioning costs for the new generation of nuclear power stations Blair is so keen on.

Is now clear that we, as Welsh tax-payers, are mortgaging our own futures since it is partly our taxes which are going to service this £161bn debt, nearly all of it used for schemes outside Wales. If Welsh authoriites prefer not to use PFI there should surely be a sizeable uplift in their dirtect grant since they are, effectively, saving Gordon Brown billions of pounds a year.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What is Jane Davidson there for?

Just what is the point of Jane Davidson? For the second time in three months she has been caught completely unawares by an announcement from Labour in London and then has had to pretend embarrassingly that she knew about it all along but just hadn't told anyone!

Millions of pounds of our (taxpayers') money is currently being spent on reviews of GCSE syllabuses, GCSE coursework, International GCSEs, A level syllabuses and now the International Bacalaureate. Every one of these has been a Westminster initiative which Jane Davidson has meekly complied with even though nobody in Wales wanted them. And it is just pathetic of her to pretend that nothing will happen unless "the three countries [England, Wales and N Ireland] agree" since Wales and N Ireland have effectively nothing more than "observer status" at the disucssion table. What England wants England gets.

Whitehall retains complete control over the curriculum and over GCSEs and A levels as well as over the pay and conditions of teachers i.e. everything it regards as "important". Only what it regards as trivial has actually been devolved to Cardiff.

Once again Jane Davidson has allowed herself to be pushed around by the Whitehall mandarins. She has lost control of the education agenda in Wales and has lost the confidence of teachers in all sectors. She should consider her position.
Does the Right Hand know what the Right Wing is Doing?

Why has Blair suddenly decided to make A levels "harder" when his government is currently spending millions of pounds of our money making them, arguably, easier by reducing the number of units to be studied from 6 to 4 from 2008 onwards? Does his government have money to throw away?

Sunday, November 26, 2006


The Dyfi Biosphere is exactly the sort of sustainable development of the environment, in the broadest sense, which Plaid Cymru has been campaigning for over the past 20 years and I am very pleased to give it my full support.

The concept of having a core area surrounded by a buffer zone which itself is enveloped by a transition area seems eminently sensible to me. Economic activity to sustain employment is incorporated into this scheme so that the Reserve will not be some kind of museum piece but a populated and lively environment.

Preserving and enhancing the cultural distinctiveness of the Dyfi Valley, including its rich Welsh language heritage, is a central element to this plan and anything which helps to maintain our unique traditions must be a good thing.

The government is planning to spend £100bn of our money on ‘the nuclear option’ which would be much better spent on energy conservation and research into alternative fuels.

At least £30bn will be spent on the Trident replacement and £70bn will have to be put aside for decommissioning costs for the new generation of nuclear power stations. This sort of money, if it were invested in energy conservation and renewable fuels, could have a massive impact on the UK’s carbon footprint.

It is quite clear that we cannot continue to consume energy at the current rate. Developing countries have every right to enjoy the same standard of living as we do yet we are robbing them of the chance because we use fossil fuel energy to excess. One of the ways in which energy use could be reduced is by localising resources so that food, for example, travels less distance from producer to consumer. I am delighted that Plaid will make procurement of local food by public bodies a top priority in government after 3 May 2007.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rhodri Morgan says DGHs have had their day!

It beggars belief that Rhodri Morgan should herald the end of District General Hospitals in favour of more community-based health services when his government is underfunding Local Health Boards to such an extent that, in Powys, at least 4 such hospitals which provide a wide range of very valuable services are having to virtually close their doors.

In addition Dr Bryan Gibbons, Labour's Health Minister, has badly miscalculated if he thought that the hospitals under threat would turn on each other and fight for each others' patients (or "clients" in the current market-based jargon). As the demonstration by CHANT (Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together) at the Senedd on 22 November shows the ordinary people care more for the health of their community than Rhodri Morgan realised and his government will surely reap the consequences on 3 May next year.

Many families in Montgomeryshire will be having a miserable Christmas because of the recent collapse of the hamper company Farepak and the fund set up for the victims of the collapse may not pay out any money until 18 December. This is an intolerable situation for these unfortunate people who have lost money through no fault of their own.

Farepak was a popular means of obtaining Christmas goods especially for people in isolated areas or for those with limited mobility. The most vulnerable have been affected and I am calling for the fund to be split up and redistributed much earlier than 18 December so that they can make alternative arrangements. The company Chairman, Sir Clive Thompson, who took £100,000 for his part-time job on top of his £894,000 salary with an investment company could also be doing more to help Farepak customers as this difficult time.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What's Labour Got To Hide?

On 6 November I asked Powys Local Health Board if they would send me a copy of the Agenda for their Briefing on 15 November when it is widely expected that, under pressure from Ann Lloyd, Chief Executive, NHS Wales, they will postpone any consultation about down-grading or closing Community Hospitals such as Llanidloes until after the Assembly elections on 3 May.

On 7 November I received a reply from Powys LHB promising to send me the Agenda as soon as it had been finalised but on 8 November I was told that no formal papers for the meeting were available for the public!

It seems that Labour's much-vaunted Open Government slams shut when it has something to hide.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Labour Assembly Government Fears Embarrassment Over Hospital Closures

May I congratulate the hundreds of demonstrators who turned out in Llanidloes last week to protest against the down-grading and possible closure of the local hospital.

At the time of the rally we all thought, quite reasonably, that Powys Local Health Board would keep to its published timetable of considering the issue at their meeting of 29 November with a view to completing the consultation process between January and April 2007, i.e. before the Assembly elections of 3 May.

Now however it appears that, in order not to embarrass the Labour Assembly Government by going into that election with a string of hospital closures around its neck, the Chief Executive of NHS Wales has conspired to head off any threat by calling an "informal" meeting of the Powys Local Health Board on 15 November at which the timetable for consultation will be delayed until June or July 2007 i.e. after the Assembly elections of 3 May.

Plaid Cymru resents this kick in the teeth for the hard-working campaigners in Llanidloes and calls for the agenda of the informal meeting of 15 November to be published now and for the minutes to made public well before the date of the formal meeting of 29 November. Democracy must not be frustrated by back-room political fixers.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Text of Speech given to Save Llanidloes Hospital Rally Saturday 28 October 2006

I should very much like to thank Mr Crisp and the Save LLanidloes Hospital Action Team for inviting me to speak today and I want to say that Plaid Cymru in Montgomeryshire and I, as the Plaid candidate in Montgomeryshire, stand alongside you because we who live in Montgomeryshire know that the trend to downgrade or close our hospitals, our schools and our libraries is part of a creeping trend towards centralising services in the bigger towns which will lead to the inevitable death, sooner or later, of our rural communities. Forget about trying to attract people into viable communities if there are no schools for our children, no libraries for leisure and education and no hospitals for our sick. If we do not stand up today for our local services then in a generation we will find that large swathes of Montgomeryshire are like parts of central France – depopulated, deprived and devoid of any community life.

I should like to congratulate you on your attendance today but we have to make a big, big noise because we need to be heard today not just in LLanidloes, where the people know we support them, but throughout Montgomeryshire. We want the people of Newtown to hear that we support them in the loss of their Birthing Centre and the overnight GMS service. And we support Welshpool hospital as it tries to keep open its kitchen to prepare fresh meals for patients instead of warming up frozen ones.

But we also need to raise our voices today so that they will hear us in Bronllys because that’s where the decision will be made on 29 November on how far to go with this plan and we need to make sure that Andy Williams, Powys Health Chief Executive, hears that we in Montgomeryshire have a proud tradition of caring for our ill as close to home as possible. Andy Williams are you listening because while it may be only 15 miles to Newtown from LLanidloes it’s another 8 to Staylittle and that 8 will take you as long as the 15 to Newtown. Sometimes I think decisions like this are made by people who can’t read maps – they think the landscape is all flat and straight like a piece of paper and can’t see the hills and valleys inbetween.

This document is called Doing More Doing Better. In Plaid Cymru we call it Doing Less Doing Worse and we reject its premiss and we reject its conclusions and we say to Andy Williams - Start Again. Go back to the drawing board. We reject the Loss of Day Hospital facilities in Llanidloes hospital, of Out Patient services, of GP beds, of X Ray facilities and of the Birthing Centre. Get up to date population figures Mr Williams not those from 2003, and work with other agencies which make up the patchwork of rural support in Montgomeryshire.

But it doesn’t matter how loud we shout today, even if our voice carries to Bronllys, because Andy Williams still won’t hear us. And do you know why? Because the architect of this plan doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of his actions because he doesn’t even live in Powys. He lives in Carmarthen. And bless him his local health board – and this too shows what happens when a committee gets divorced from reality - wants to downgrade the large District General Hospital in Glangwili in Carmarthen and do the same to Withybush in Haverfordwest and build a new one inbetween which will also be the main hospital for people from Cardigan. Do you know the Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire border?! There is no “inbetween” except Whitland and then you will be contending with all the holiday traffic in the summer.

But today we will make our voice heard in Bronllys and in Carmarthen and in Haverfordwest and in Bronglais, Aberystwyth, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Prestatyn, Llandudno, St Asaph, Builth Wells and Knighton and stand side by side with all these communities in their fight to retain local health services.

And finally we need to make ourselves heard in Cardiff Bay. Brian Gibbons, Rhodri Morgan, Carwyn Jones are you listening because we will not be treated in Montgomeryshire as second – class citizens. Rhodri Morgan do you want Montgomeryshire to survive? If so why is Powys County Council being funded as if wages here were equal to the average in Wales when in fact they only come to 76% of the Welsh average? And why is it facing a further 10% cut its budget in 2007 – 2008? Brian Gibbons are you listening? The health economics of the M4 corridor just don’t work in Montgomeryshire and Powys Local Health Board has to be funded accordingly. Get your priorities right for the WHOLE of Wales Rhodri or pass over the government of Wales to people who really care for it. And Carwyn Jones are you listening because if you scrap Tir Mynydd in 3 years there will be no upland farming left in Wales in a generation.

Can you make yourself heard today in Cardiff? If so then just one more thing – can you make your voice heard in London too? Goodness knows we pay enough tax and I’m fed up of paying Scandinavian-level taxes for US-level public services. It’s time we said to Tony Blair “Sort out your priorities Prime Minister”. I for one do not want to spend between 25 and 40 billion pounds on an “independent” nuclear “deterrent” if it means that the only places where a mother can give birth in the whole of Montgomeryshire in 2007 will be in Welshpool hospital or at home!

Since 1999 the London government has tried to fund Wales more and more each year as if it had the average wage of the UK instead of the 79% we actually have. Plaid Cymru has calculated that since 1999 Gordon Brown has effectively robbed us of £1.1bn. Our share in Powys of that would be £48m. That’s your money and my money. Raise your voices today and tell Bronllys, Cardiff and London – the people of Montgomeryshire united in a good cause will never be defeated.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What's Rhodri Morgan got against Opera?

What on earth was Rhodri Morgan talking about last week when he said in the Western Mail that cultural opportunities "will be open to the many, not reserved for the privileged few"?

Mr Morgan needs to get out a bit more! In Montgomeryshire, where the average wage is 76% of the Welsh average, the sole theatre, Theatr Hafren in Newtown, "gratefully acknowledges" the funding it receives from the Arts Council of Wales and, of 49 performances it is hosting in its Autumn season, only 8 (4 of plays, 2 by orchestras and 2 by dance companies) could be termed "high-brow". In fact the most expensive tickets of the season are for "The Counterfeit Stones"!

The sinister tone of Mr Morgan's remarks, however, is clearly revealed when he states that, when the Arts Council under Labour becomes politicised, he will "take on vested interests". This usually means the WNO for being so "elitist" but just what does Labour have against opera? Many of the plots champion the poor but resourceful ordinary people and many of the best tunes in Mozart and Verdi for example are variations of folk tunes. I can personally recommend the £5 seats in the opera at the Wales Millennium Centre to Mr Morgan and, even if he were to pay for the most expensive seat in the house, it would still be less than his dinner in a restaurant on a Saturday night.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Threat to Rural Post Offices

I am appalled at the latest proposal by New Labour in their attack on our Post Offices. To remove the ability to receive benefit and pension payments via the Post Office Card Account system is a callous move which befits the Thatcherite obsession of New Labour.

Under New Labour 4,000 Post Offices have closed and industry experts estimate that as many as 10,000 of the remaining 14,000 could close unless there is urgent action. This would have a devastating effect on communities across Wales and the rest of the UK.

The Federation of Sub Postmasters is therefore organising a lobby of Parliament on the 18th of October. The event is part of the Federation's ongoing campaign calling on the Government to deliver a sustainable future for the post office network. Federation representatives will deliver the national petition to the Government. Thousands of Sub postmasters and their customers will attend a rally at Westminster Central Hall, followed by a mass lobby of Parliament.

Plaid Cymru has also initiated a petition to coincide with that of the Federation, and we have collected thousands of signatures Wales-wide, as well as organising public meetings to inform constituents about the threat to local services if Post Offices are closed.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Closing Llanfair Library will be a disaster not only for the town but for the surrounding areas and will leave a whole swathe of Powys between Welshpool and Machynlleth without a basic community service.

I have written to the County Librarian, Ms Tudfil Adams, and have urged her to consider the effects of closing the library in a town like Llanfair which has both primary and secondary schools and has well below average internet uptake. Families and older people who need this public service most will find it most difficult to replace from their own incomes.

Unfortunately a mobile service will not come close to replacing the existing facilities and in any case might end up costing the same as the current library, £7,000 a year. Llanfair residents have been fighting for years to retain services in the town and are fed up at being treated as if they were a suburb of Welshpool.

I am supporting the Town Council and Mrs Viola Evans, Town and County Councillor, in their efforts to arrange an Open Day when residents can call and see just what the library has to offer these days.

Monday, October 09, 2006


“Dobry wieczor. Witamy na naszym zebraniu”. This was how I greeted the audience at the opening of Plaid’s public meeting in the Raven Inn, Welshpool, on 28 September.

I want to get away from the mistaken idea that you have to speak Welsh or be Welsh to vote for Plaid Cymru. It doesn’t matter if you come from Welshpool, Wolverhampton or Warsaw and it certainly doesn’t matter what languages you can or cannot speak, if you live in Wales then Plaid Cymru is your local party.

The meeting heard from Ieuan Wyn Jones, Plaid’s leader in the Assembly, that a Plaid government in Cardiff would support graduates who stayed to work in Wales by helping them to pay off their student loan. “The cost of living and the price of housing in Montgomeryshire are forcing many of our graduates to look elsewhere for jobs” said Mr Jones. “Plaid Cymru will help them to stay in their communities and stem the “brain drain” from Mid Wales”.

Nerys Evans and David Senior, Plaid candidates for the Mid and West Wales seat, gave their support for the Save Llanidloes Hospital Campaign. “Rural Wales is under attack from the Labour Assembly Government” explained Miss Evans. “It wants to concentrate services like health and education in the bigger towns and is undermining the family farm unit by threatening cuts to Tir Mynydd. Plaid Cymru stands by local communities who deserve a decent level of public service”.

The so-called Manchester to Swansea trunk road grinds to a standstill in Llanymynech and Newtown and peak time jams are adding up to an hour on drivers’ journeys. No wonder it is so difficult to get people to invest in Montgomeryshire because for businesses time is money. Mid Wales deserves a decent transport infrastructure and a Newtown bypass would be a good start.

Plaid Cymru supports integrated transport and is pressing for more investment in rail and bus links as well. The Labour Assembly Government has neglected Montgomeryshire badly and the elections on 3 May 2007 will be a chance for long-suffering Newtown residents to show their disapproval. Newtown is at the centre of both north-south and east-west links yet both are totally inadequate for the current volume of traffic

Monday, October 02, 2006

Shameful closure of two Birthing Centres

One of the most serious effects of the round of cuts in Montgomeryshire hospitals announced last week by Powys Health Board is the loss of the birthing centres in both Llanidloes and Newtown. These facilities provide a homely and welcoming perinatal environment and their loss could reduce the options of giving birth in Montgomeryshire to Welshpool or a home birth!

The National Childbirth Trust estimates that 85% of the costs of a birth (in hospital or at home) are those of the midwife so closing these valued birthing centres will save Powys Health Board very little money. Also the increased likelihood of stress by giving birth further away from home and in more stressful surroundings is likely to increase the incidence of trauma and raise costs even more in the long run.

In addition Powys Health Board's cuts are based on a population projection worked out in March 2005 since when there has quite clearly been an increase of young workers from the EU accession countries including some young couples who may well require perinatal services in the near futrure.

The economics of the health service along the M4 corridor just do not apply to Montgomeryshire and it is time that the Labour Assembly Government funded these maternity services to give Montgomeryshire mothers the help they deserve.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Plaid helps first-time home buyers

I was very please last week that both "Nelson" in the County Times and Glyn Davies AM welcomed Plaid Cymru's analysis of the affordable homes crisis in Powys and, to lesser extent in Glyn Davies' case, Plaid's proposal to give first-time buyers a grant of £5,000.

I was most disappointed, however, to read the response of Mick Bates AM in the local paper. I have not spoken to any young people struggling to find a £15,000 deposit on a "starter home" of £150,000 who think that Plaid's proposal is a "simplistic and expensive gimmick".

Plaid Cymru takes the needs of young people in Montgomeryshire seriously and that is why we are proposing to help them in a positive and practical way by giving them a lift onto the first rung of the housing ladder. This crisis is causing serious concern to very many first-time buyers and I am astonished that the Liberals are so dismissive of their problems.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

LibDems' massive tax hike for farmers

While I welcome the Liberal Democrats' attempts to tackle climate change their new green tax shows once again that they have completely forgotten about the realities of life in rural Montgomeryshire.

The Liberal Democrats want car tax to rise from £175 for the basic model Landrover, for example, to £1500 and anything more powerful to £2000! Their proposed 2% reduction in income tax which is meant to compensate for this increase would still leave farmers having to find between £1300 and £1500 extra per year per vehicle even after tax relief.

This anti-rural policy, along with the LibDems' proposed land tax, will drive a stake through the heart of farming in Montgomeryshire. The Liberal Democrats say they want to "discourage marginal journeys" so it is fuel consumption not the annual excise duty which they should tax.

To equate a Landrover (a farmer's essential tool for the job) with a Chelsea Tractor used for the suburban school run betrays a woeful indifference to our way of life.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


What on earth was Peter Hain on about when he told the Labour Party they had to attract the voters of Middle Wales?! The place - and the concept - just does not exist!

Virtually all of us are only two generations at most removed from a family of tenant farmers, coalminers, steelworkers or dockers. Wales simply does not share that tradition of the English middle class of inherited wealth and property, routine private education and health care and a whole lifestyle devoid of any concerns about money.

Some of us may be better educated and some may be better paid but we're all gwerin - peasant folk - at heart and so much the better for it.

When he made this comment and when Rhodri Morgam called for for more middle class (not just middle income) people in Wales they showed more clearly than ever where the Labour now feels its real home is. What a betrayal of its roots and of the true Socialists who gave their lives for it!

Peter Hain has clearly spent too much time mixing with the wrong class of people. His idea of Middle Wales is a fantasy land and belongs in Middle Earth!


1 “I can’t speak Welsh”

False – it doesn’t matter what language you speak or don’t speak you can vote for Plaid Cymru if you think the interests of Wales should come first in Wales. It doesn’t matter if you speak only English or if you speak French, German, Swahili or Welsh as well. Plaid Cymru is a political party not an evening class for Welsh learners. Lots of our candidates don’t speak Welsh and even Gwynfor Evans, our first MP, learned Welsh as an adult. All of Plaid’s literature is in English as well as Welsh so there is no problem whatsoever if you don’t speak the language.

2 “I’m not from Wales”

False – it doesn’t matter where you’re from – Welshpool, Wolverhampton or Warsaw - if you live in Wales you can vote for Plaid Cymru. Plaid Cymru means The Party of Wales i.e. the party for everybody who lives in Wales not just the people who were born here and we are the party for you because we are the only party which is run in Wales for the benefit of the people of Wales. We don’t have a London HQ like all the other parties so we don’t have to worry about what our masters are thinking – we are out own masters and our priority is not a Party but the people who live in Wales.

Two of our Presidents – Dafydd Wigley and Saunders Lewis – were not born in Wales. Where you come from, what colour your skin is, what religion you are, what language you speak, what clothes you wear – none of these things matter to Plaid Cymru. If you live in Wales you can vote for us because we have your interests at heart.

3 “I don’t believe in the Assembly”

False – None of the parties in the National Assembly for Wales wants it abolished so it is definitely here to stay and at the moment it stands right at the centre of our politics with Community/Town Councils and County Councils on the one hand and Westminster and the European Parliament on the other. The Assembly is getting more powers in 2007 so even if you didn’t vote for it in 1998 it will play an increasingly important part in your life from next year onwards. Best therefore to vote for a party which has your interests as its sole concern - Plaid Cymru.

4 “I don’t think Wales can go it alone”

False – neither does Plaid Cymru. There is scarcely a country in the world that could be considered genuinely “independent” these days. Certainly in Europe 25 countries, including the UK, have given up part of their independence or sovereignty because they see the benefits of a union of nation states. Many of those 25, including a number of the newest members, are smaller (some much smaller) than Wales but are storming ahead in economic development taking a lead from Ireland which, although with about the same population as Wales, has received 30 times more aid from Europe because it is a sovereign state.

We believe the next step for Wales should be Parity with Scotland so that things like the organisation of our police forces, how we control foxes, whether we have new nuclear power stations, what happens to our water, whether we can smoke in public, what happens to our council houses and a host of other issues can be decided by Welsh politicians in Wales not, as they are at the moment, in Westminster where English MPs have an overwhelming majority of votes.

5 “I don’t live in Wales”

True! If you don’t live in Wales you can’t vote for us – or for any other party for that matter. If you haven’t got your main home in our lovely country then you won’t be registered to vote in the National Assembly elections on 3 May 2007 but if you like what you’ve read and you’d like to support Plaid Cymru in any way we’d be very pleased to hear from you. Please go to for details about the party nationally or, to help out in Montgomeryshire, contact David Thomas, Plaid Assembly Candidate for Montgomeryshire, on 01691 870642 or or www.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Another blow to rural life!

From 31 July it has no longer been possible to buy TV saving stamps from the Post Office. A savings card has been introduced which can be topped up at Paypoint outlets only and not the Post Office.

Now yet another service previously available in rural Post Offices has been relocated to larger villages if not towns.

Electricity companies who are changing domestic meters to swipe cards are making savings cards redundant and obliging customers to obtain key cards which, it seems, cannot be topped up in Post Offices. Residents of Llanwddyn, for example, were assured that top up facilities would be available within 3½ miles of their Post Office but in fact a journey of 9 miles is required to the nearest point.

It is well known that many rural Post Offices located in shops indirectly help the shops to remain viable by attracting customers to make purchases while also undertaking essential business in the Post Office. Any reduction of services offered by the Post Office can have only a detrimental effect on the villages which make up such a proportion of the communities in Montgomeryshire.

Some joined-up thinking between the various agencies involved is urgently required.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Powys Health Board Owes Us An Explanation.

On 6 June I attended a meeting with Mr Andy Willams, Chief Executive of the Powys Local Health Board, in Llanfyllin and was pleased with the categorical reassurance he gave during his presentation of the Board’s Consultation Document “Doing More, Doing Better” that there would be no changes in the Board’s commissioning policy regarding Powys residents who are normally referred for treatment to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen. Indeed Mr Williams was clear that neither of those English Hospital Trusts would be solvent without the contribution made by the Powys Local Health Board (approximately 10% in each case).

It came as a surprise therefore to see that Mr Chris Mann, Chairman of the Board, is already proposing changes to the service in the model set out in “Doing More, Doing Better” even before it has been adopted! John Howard, Chief Executive of the Montgomeryshire Community Health Council has spoken of “a huge degree of faith [required] from the people of Powys” towards these plans. He can say that again! Surely what is needed now is for the Local Health Board to come back to the public with definitive long-term plans so that Montgomeryshire residents can see where they stand.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the current uncertainty is that some hardworking fundraisers are finding it difficult to continue their work because of suspicion regarding the Health Board’s plans. Sadly throughout the country there are a number hospitals under threat of downgrading or even of closure which were built with funds raised from public subscriptions alone and the contribution of Welsh people to raising funds for the Royal Shrewsbury and Orthopaedic Hospitals should not be forgotten. The Health Board owes it to us all - patients, prospective patients and fundraisers - to clear up this confusion as soon as possible.
Repeal the Government of Wales Act!

The Government of Wales Act, passed on 25 July, far from settling the democratic process in Wales “for generations at least if not for ever” (as Peter Hain hopes) should be repealed as soon as possible as it makes us 4th class citizens in our own land.

Both the Northern Ireland Assembly (when it meets) and the Scottish Parliament have far more control over their own affairs than the Welsh Assembly and, given that Westminster, with an in-built majority of 529 English MPs out of a total of 646, virtually functions as an English Parliament that means we in Wales have less responsibility than any legislature in the UK over even the handful of matters which have been devolved to any degree at all.

Take, for example, the building of new nuclear power stations. Both the NI and Scotland Assemblies could refuse planning permission but not we in Wales. In fact the UK government could force one on us and the minister who would currently take the decision on our behalf could be a Scottish MP! Even laws proposed unanimously by the Welsh Assembly can be blocked in five different ways by Westminster. What sort of democracy is that!

As a matter of natural justice and of human rights we in Wales should have the same legislative powers as NI and Scotland. We deserve to be treated as 1st class not 4th class citizens.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Make the 1st Law for 1000 Years!

The challenge has gone out to the people of Wales to suggest which laws should be the first to be proposed by the National Assembly - the first time for 1000 years that an Assembly representing only the people of Wales has been able to propose "primary legislation".

The Government of Wales Bill became an Act on 25 July and, in spite of its pitiful nod in the direction of genuinely devolved democracy, it does at least give the National Assembly a chance to propose laws to Westminster (where they have to clear 5 hurdles before they become law). Dafydd Elis Thomas, the Presiding Officer of the Assembly and a past President of Plaid Cymru, has challenged the public to come up with suggestions for the first law they wish to be passed and Plaid Cymru in Montgomeryshire is making a bold attempt to canvass the people's views.

On four evenings in the autumn Plaid candidates David Thomas, Nerys Evans and David Senior and a Plaid elected member will be holding open, public meetings in informal settings where the public will be encouraged to suggest new legislation and question the candidates on their own opinions. It is unheard of these days to hold public political meetings inbetween election campaigns and many parties only admit their own members anyway but Plaid is convinced that people are interested in politics if they think their views can really make a difference. With current concerns about health, energy and farming high on the agenda the meetings promise to be lively affairs.

Everyone is welcome to attend one or more of these public meetings for all or even part of the evening. They will all start at 7.30 p.m and will be on Tuesday 19 September in the Hand Inn Llanrhaeadr with Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Leader in the House of Commons), Thursday 28 September in the Raven Inn, Welshpool with Ieuan Wyn Jones AM (Plaid Leader in the National Assembly), Thursday 9 November in Plas Dolerw, Milford Road, Newtown with Jill Evans MEP and Thursday 16 November in Plas Dolguog, Machynlleth with Dafydd Elis Thomas AM.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Blaenau Gwent - a not-so-silent earthquake

Congratulations to the people of Blaenau Gwent who gave in neither to the perceived threats nor bribes of Peter Hain.

Let us hope their brave stand will encourage others in next May's Assembly elections to believe that the sky won't fall on their heads just because they don't vote Labour and that principles are more important than a voting tradition which goes back generations.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ambulance Crisis in Montgomeryshire

It would be easy to forget, amidst all the furore over the NHS Welsh Ambulance Trust, that the men and women who staff our ambulance stations are doing a sterling job and that they themselves are as much concerned about the conditions they are having to work in as we, the general public, are.

Since May I have visited one of the ambulance stations (Llanfyllin) which was highlighted last weekend on three separate occasions to talk to the crew and on each occasion was struck by their expertise and by their commitment to their job. However they are being asked to work under conditions which both the NHS Welsh Ambulance Trust and the Powys Local Health Board deem unacceptable.

The station is closed completely between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. each morning during which time the local on-call firemen, who have been trained as First Responders, provide First Aid though not paramedic cover. However, if at any time the ambulance from Welshpool is called out the Llanfyllin ambulance crew has to take their vehicle to Welshpool leaving the whole of north east Montgomeryshire, including the accident blackspot of Pistyll Rhaeadr, without any emergency vehicle cover at all.

It is no wonder that the rural target time of 18 minutes for emergency response by ambulances is being missed so often but it is no fault of our dedicated crews. Brian Gibbons, the Labour Assembly Health Minister, needs to get to grips with this situation and stop treating those of us who choose to live in the countryside as second-class citizens.
Plaid’s Montgomeryshire Team Gets Grilled!

Labour has made a mess of the Assembly and shouldn’t be trusted with the new powers it will receive in 2007. That is the message that three of us - all Plaid candidates in the 2007 Assembly elections - will be taking around Montgomeryshire in the next few months.

Nerys Evans and David Senior (first and second on the list for Mid and West Wales) and I (Montgomeryshire candidate) will be holding a series of “Grill the Candidates” sessions in the coming months which will be open to members of the public.

Labour has made the Assembly a talking shop. They haven’t used their existing powers responsibly and have been content by and large to follow the party line dictated by London. Plaid aims to change all that by using the new powers from 2007 in a responsible and sensible way for the benefit of all the people in all parts of Wales.

Plaid has chosen a great team to represent Montgomeryshire. David Senior is a Welshpool Town Councillor and Nerys Evans, a political officer in the National Assembly, at 26 really does represent the up-and-coming generation of Welsh people who have confidence that the Assembly, in the right hands, can deliver for the people of Wales. If people wish to vote for another party in the constituency they can put Plaid as their first choice on the Regional List in the certain knowledge that we have a team which is dedicated to improving schools, hospitals and roads as well as stimulating private enterprise in Montgomeryshire.

The “Grill the Candidates” meetings start in the Railway Inn Penybontfawr on 19 September and continue in the Raven, Welshpool on 28 September, Plas Dolerw Newtown on 9 November and Plas Dolguog on 18 November all starting at 7.30 p.m. There is a warm welcome to the public of all political persuasions and none.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Another English solution to an English problem!

The Labour Party really needs to get its energy policy sorted out.

While Labour at Westminster wants Wales to build more nuclear power stations Labour in Cardiff is pressing for more and bigger wind farms but not, it would seem, in their own back yard as the Labour AM for Conwy, Denise Jones, apparently opposes the 300 turbine off-shore Gwynt-y-Mor project.

How simpler it would be if we in Wales could decide ourselves what to do with our own natural resources. Currently Wales generates about 36,000 GWH per year (about 10% of the UK total) but consumes only about 21,000 GWH. The Labour government in London wants us to increase production to about 45,000 GWH. There might be a case for this if the wealth generated stayed in Wales and was used by those communities where the natural resources were found in the first place as happens in Norway where remote communities often have first class school and recreational facilities because they receive the profits generated by the sale of hydro-electricity in their region.

Far from sensitive community-based alternative means of energy production, however, Labour in both London and Cardiff want to foist either nuclear power stations or massive wind farms onto the landscape or seashores of Wales.

This is an English solution to an English problem. Energy production should be totally devolved to the National Assembly and the many sensitive, community-based schemes such as the wood fuel heating project for the school, Community Centre and 29 homes in Llanwddyn should be the template for the future.
Hands off our water!

After 2 weeks' unseasonally heavy rain in Montgomeryshire we may be forgiven for thinking that the drought orders in the South-East of England have nothing to do with us.

The Government of Wales Bill, however, currently going through Westminster specifically forbids any future Assembly government from making use of Welsh water in any way which affects the "water resources, supply or quality of water in England".

Indeed not only will the Assembly Government not be able to profit from one of Wales' natural resources (and an increasingly valuable one) but there will be nothing to stop water companies in England from obtaining compulsory access to water sources in Wales since the required legislation will go through Westminster and not Cardiff. Another Lake Vrynwy or Llyn Tryweryn cannot be ruled out so watch out Dolanog and Cwm Nant-yr-Eira - they could get you yet!
British Values? Don't make me laugh!

When English schools come to the chapter on Fair Play in their textbook on British Values I hope that there will be room for an alternative point of view, in the interests of fair play, you understand.

If there is then maybe it will include reference to the fact that the Government of Wales Bill currently going through Westminster specifically excludes any future Assembly Government from profiting from the sale of Welsh water, one of our natural and increasingly valuable resources, to England. English companies, though, could obtain compulsory orders from the Westminster government to gain access to Welsh water sources.

And when they come to the chapter on Democracy I hope they will be told about their Leader who, against the wishes of the natives, is forcing on them more nuclear power stations and a re-structuring of their police forces. They may also learn about the rules for electing representatives to the National Assembly which even their own Electoral Commission regards as undemocratic.

This "British Vales" book should be a scream!

And why do English schools have to learn about British values? Haven't they got any of their own?
Police Powers should be devolved to Cardiff

Dyfed-Powys Police has the best crime detection rate in the country. It recently seized a large haul of drugs in Pembrokeshire and in August 2001, the time of the BNP rally, coped with the largest threat to public order in Montgomeryshire since the Chartists Troubles of 1839 yet the Home Office and Peter Hain want to reform it on the basis that it cannot cope with drug-trafficking and terror threats. In addition the Westminster government wants us, the taxpayers, to pay for the £40m this pointless exercise will cost.

The wishes of the people of Mid and West Wales are being totally ignored in this matter. Responsibility for policing should be devolved to the National Assembly with the requisite level of funding so that the people of Wales alone decide the future of the police forces in Wales.
Labour is failing Montgomeryshire on Health and Transport

Health and Transport were the main issues raised at the latest meeting of the Plaid Montgomeryshire Constituency Committee.

Members were distressed to hear of Rhianwen Emberton and Jessica Regan, two local cases of patients who seem to have been discriminated against because they live in Wales.

Brian Gibbons, the Health Minister for Wales, has a lot to answer for. No patient in Wales should struggle to obtain a drug or wait longer than strictly necessary for treatment just because they live a mile or so this side of the border. Powys is unique in Wales in not having a District General Hospital and Brian Gibbons needs to make sure that money is available to treat those patients who have to travel to England for treatment.

Members also discussed a paper received from transport expert Angus Eikhoff concerning a direct rail link between Newtown and Cardiff. This may not be a flight of fancy as the Assembly is looking to develop new rail links and members decided to press the Assembly to fund a feasibility study into the project.

It may be some time away but we must look at ways of increasing sustainable energy consumption as well as increasing non-road traffic through the county. We have the highest proportion of second-car owners in Wales here, not because it’s a luxury but of necessity and any way in which we can encourage cheaper alternatives in the long run must be justified. In addition we desperately need better North-South links in Wales and this could provide a real solution to both passenger and light freight needs.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What is Peter Hain for?

What is Peter Hain for exactly?

It was reported in the media last weekend that Peter Hain had kept his two jobs in the cabinet because Tony Blair believed he "had done a good job in Northern Ireland". Exactly. No mention of how well or otherwise he was doing in Wales.

Why is it that we in Wales suffer such a man solely because of the quality of the job he is doing in another country? And why is it that Peter Hain is so keen to reconvene a NI Assembly which will have a huge range of devolved powers when he will not even offer them to us "for a generation at least"?

Closer inspection also reveals that his success in NI has been very limited. His failure to reconvene the Assembly even while the infrastructure of government has continued in place (including paying the members their salaries for doing nothing) has cost us, the taxpayers, millions of pounds.

Sooner or later Hain will have his promotion and will leave us behind. He ought now to pay more attention to the views of people such as Bishop Barry Morgan and Cymru Yfory/Wales Tomorrow who are here for the long run, who have a sympathy for the past which is not confined to petty politics and who have a real vision for the future of Wales, a country which is well able to determine its own affairs.

Monday, May 01, 2006


David Thomas, Plaid’s Montgomeryshire Assembly candidate, called today for help for Montgomeryshire businesses hit by the latest round of increases in fuel prices. Speaking in Llanwddyn on a visit to Glyn Roberts, a local haulage contractor, David Thomas said “Many of us have no option but to travel long distances to work and businesses have to spend a lot of money on fuel before they can start making a profit. Public transport in Montgomeryshire is not too good and many families have to run two cars as a necessity not a luxury. Although the present rise is caused by fears of a shortage the Chancellor could reduce the tax on fuel (currently about 63% and the highest in the EU) or give a rebate on, for example, road fund tax at least to all businesses registered in Montgomeryshire and he could do this without affecting any of his public spending plans.”

Is the Health Service in Montgomeryshire healthy? That was the question asked by Plaid’s Commission on Wellbeing (Health and Social Care) when it took evidence from members of the public in a special meeting in the Royal Oak, Welshpool, recently the same week that the Labour Government in Wales announced that it had “nearly” reached the targets it had set itself for hospital waiting times but that 69,000 more people were on hospital waiting lists than when it took over responsibility for Health in 1999.

Chaired by Helen Mary Jones, Shadow Minister for Health and Social Services and Mid and West Wales AM, the Commission heard that cooperation on the ground between GPs, local hospitals and the general hospitals in Shrewsbury and Gobowen was generally good but wondered why patients had to travel out of Powys to receive treatment which could, and should, be provided by local hospitals and Health Centres. A lot of money and expertise was being taken out of Powys and was effectively subsidising the Health Service in England which was already better funded.

The meeting also heard from Rhianwen Emberton from Berriew who has faced difficulties in obtaining the drug Copaxone even though it is generally available in England for those who suffer from MS.

Ydy’r Gwasanaeth Iechyd ym Maldwyn yn iach? Dyna’r cwestiwn a ofynnwyd gan Gomisiwn Daioni (Iechyd a Gofal Cymdeithasol) Plaid Cymru wrth iddo dderbyn tystiolaeth gan aelodau’r cyhoedd mewn cyfarfod arbennig yng ngwesty’r Royal Oak, Y Trallwng, yn ddiweddar a hynny yn yr un wythnos y cyhoeddodd Llywodraeth Lafur Cymru ei bod “bron” wedi cyrraedd y targedau a osododd iddi ei hun ar gyfer amseroedd aros ysbytai ond bod bron i 69,000 mwy o bobl ar restri aros ysbytai nag yr oedd pan gymrodd y Llywodraeth y cyfrifoldeb am Iechyd drosodd yn 1999.

O dan gadeiryddiaeth Helen Mary Jones, Gweinidog yr Wrthblaid dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol ac Aelod Cynulliad Canolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru, clywodd y Comisiwn fod Meddygon Teulu, ysbytai lleol a’r ysbytai cyffredinol yn Amwythig a Gobowen yn cydweithio’n dda ar y cyfan, ar lawr gwlad. Fodd bynnag, holwyd pam fod rhaid i gleifion deithio allan o Bowys i dderbyn triniaeth y gellid, ac y dylid, ei rhoi mewn ysbytai lleol a Chanolfannau Iechyd. Roedd llawer o arian ac arbenigedd yn mynd allan o Bowys ac mewn gwirionedd, roedd yn rhoi cymhorthdal i’r Gwasanaeth iechyd yn Lloegr, a oedd eisoes yn derbyn mwy o arian.

Clywodd y cyfarfod gan Rhianwen Emberton o Aberriw, hefyd, a oedd wedi wynebu anawsterau wrth geisio cael y cyffur Copaxone er bod hwnnw ar gael yn Lloegr, yn gyffredinol, i’r rhai oedd yn dioddef o MS.

27 EBRILL 06

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

Cash for Questions and Cash for Contracts - what's the difference?

Many of us who remember the "Tory Sleaze" will have been amazed this week to see the Labour Party surrender the moral high ground and become embroiled in a similar unseemly controversy. The investigation being undertaken by Scotland Yard at the instigation of Plaid Cymru and the SNP is beginning to uncover the extent to which rich businessmen have been buying influence and have been receiving favours in our so-called "democracy". Even the LibDems were embarrassed last year by a £2.4m donation from an American who turned out to be on the run from the Florida Probation service.

Is Plaid any better? Well the Party is congratulating itself on having raised £60k in the past 3 months with none of this coming from big business or organised trade unions but from ordinary people. Plaid can justly claim to be a party of the people of Wales for the benefit of the people of Wales.

Croeso i fy mlog newydd sbon!

Dyma lle mi fyddai'n postio pethau diddorol, doniol, dadleuol a phopeth arall sy'n dechrau gyda'r llythyren 'd'! Yn wir, dyma cychwyn ymdrech Plaid ym Maldwyn i ennill y sedd yma yn yr etholiad Cynulliad 3ydd o Fai 2007.

Mae'n fraint a phleser i mi fod yn ymgeisydd dros y Blaid ym Maldwyn ac mi rydw i'n dibynnu'n fawr ar eich help a chymorth. Os allwch chi fy nghynorthwyo mewn unrhyw fordd, cysylltwch gyda fi cyn gynted ag y fedrwch. Yn arbennig, rydw i'n chwilio am unrhyw fath o gyfle llun!

Yn anffodus, gan nad wyf yn rugl yn y Gymraeg, bydd rhai tudalennu yn Saesneg yn unig, ond rwy'n eich croesawi chi i ddefnyddio y ddwy iaith wrth cysylltu รข mi.

Diolch yn fawr, ac edrychaf ymlaen at eich cyfraniad i'r blog.

Welcome to my brand new blog!

This is where you will find information about Plaid's campaign to win the Montgomeryshire seat in the National Assembly for Wales election on 3rd of May 2007.

It's a privilege and a pleasure to be Plaid's candidate in Montgomeryshire and I will be depending very much on your help and support. If you can assist me in any way please contact me as soon as possible. I particularly need a photo opportunity soon!

Thank you very much, and I look forward to your contribution to this blog.