Monday, March 19, 2007

Powys' Change of Heart over Electoral Commission Leaflet

I am very pleased that Powys County Council has finally decided to distribute a leaflet specially written by the Electoral Commission for the Assembly elections on 3 May.

When it became obvious that Powys, alone amongst Welsh councils, was not going to distribute this leaflet I urged the Chief Executive to change his mind. While canvassing during February I encountered a widespread lack of awareness of the upcoming Assembly elections and felt that, with changes to the voting system and the unique mix of seats and lists in Wales, people needed reminding how the 2007 election would operate.

The Electoral Commission wanted councils to be responsible for distributing the leaflets as research has shown that householders are likely to read a communication from the council, particularly if it is bundled with the council tax demand. While that won’t now happen at least a private company will ensure that every household does receive its copy before polling day on 3 May so that Powys residents will be as well informed as anybody else in Wales!
Early action on the Llanymynech bypass is deperately needed

Nearly 2,000 HGV vehicles pass through Llanymynech every day along with an incredible 12,000 other vehicles. This is the so-called Manchester to Swansea Trunk Road but it cannot cope with the traffic of the 21st century. Without a doubt businesses are suffering in Montgomeryshire and right across Mid Wales because of these poor road connections and the long-suffering residents of Llanymynech have had their patience tried for far too long.

With Shropshire County Council likely to decide this week to put off the scheme indefinitely there is need for an urgent review by the National Assembly in conjunction with both Powys and Shropshire County Councils to see how these much needed improvements could be made as quickly as possible.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Nurses' Pay Highlights the Defects of Devolution

Many commentators have recently extolled the power of the Scottish Parliament to improve the lot of ordinary people in Scotland.

Another graphic illustration was afforded this week when the Scottish Parliament decided to award the full 2.5% pay rise to nurses from April and not staggered between April (1.5%) and November (1%) as will happen in Wales and England. This Thatcherite and despised staggered increase now employed by a Labour government will rob a nurse on an average salary of £570 and devalue her pay rise, already below inflation, by a further 0.6%.

The Welsh Assembly needs the same powers as the Scottish Parliament to give our nurses the rewards they deserve. The current devolution settlement is unjust and unbalanced and serves Wales poorly.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Does Rhodri Morgan have any "Independent Thoughts"?

Jane Davidson is defying her London leader by expressing opposition to Trident but apparently she has the full support of Rhodri Morgan who, she says, encourages his AMs "to have independent thoughts".

Perhaps Rhodri Morgan would at last give us his own "independent thoughts" on the Iraq War?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Farmers in Montgomeryshire are Grateful for Plaid's Leadership

Plaid Cymru in Montgomeryshire joins the FUW and NFU in welcoming the extension of the Tir Mynydd scheme thanks to the efforts of Plaid's Elin Jones AM.

Because of an impasse in the Agriculture Committee Plaid's Elin Jones was the first AM ever allowed to offer an alternative budget to ministers for a vote in the Assembly. This agri-environment scheme is very important both to farmers and to recreational users of the countryside and it is unthinkable that the Labour Assembly Government should have considered scrapping it altogether especially when figures for 2006 show a fall in income of 36% for hill livestock farms and 42% for upland enterprises.

Although only about 11% of the working population is directly involved in agriculture in Montgomeryshire many more have an indirect relationship with it and the cuts proposed by Labour (including an irreversible 33% reduction in 2007) would have had severe and long-term effects on the viability of many hill farms in Montgomeryshire.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Plaid Puts The Bottom Rung Back On The Ladder

The Nationwide Building Society's latest report on the housing market highlights the need for imaginative policies to deal with the problems faced by those trying to buy their first home.

The report shows that, compared with just 12 months ago, a first time buyer would need to find an extra £700 for a deposit and would be paying an extra £120 per month mortgage on a typical house. To purchase a starter home at an avergae price now requires an income of £40,000. Added to this grim picture we have, in Montgomeryshire, one of the highest gaps in the whole country between average wages and what is needed for an average deposit on a home.

Plaid Cymru has recognised that the bottom rung has fallen off the housing ladder. That is why we are proposing, amongst other measures, a grant of up to £5,000 (£10,000 for a couple like Lowri and Clwyd above) to help towards a first home.

We will all benefit by giving our young people a chance to stay in Montgomeryshire and local services such as schools, post offices and shops would all gain from having young families as a stable part of their communities.
Labour Admits Its Health Service Failure

Ann Lloyd, Head of NHS Wales, admitted last week that the Labour Assembly Government had "failed to win the public's hearts and minds over the reconfiguration of health services". She can say that again! She added "We have failed to show the alternatives".

Labour has indeed given details about the cuts in Llanidloes, Newtown and Machynlleth hospitals and clinics but has failed to provide specific proposals for replacement services to make up for the loss of treatment.

The good news is that a Plaid Cymru government will stop the downgrading of these hospitals in its tracks and develop a network of services to serve people as close as possible to their homes. That makes sense medically and financially and will deliver the services both patients and medical experts know is best.