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.