Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Whole Family Is Helping In The Last Minute Rush!

Monday, April 23, 2007


Small businesses in Montgomeryshire have been hard hit by the changes to the Rural Rate Relief Scheme. A Plaid government will cut business taxes by up to 50% and will make the Post Office a government service point.

Because of Labour underfunding of Powys County Council the Tourist Information Centre in Llanwddyn, the primary schools in Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, Carno, Llangurig and Llanwddyn and the library in Llanfair Caereinion are all under threat.

A Plaid government would fund Powys taking due regard of its rurality and would give a strong voice to the people of Montgomeryshire.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Plaid is the only party which intends to set year-by-year reductions of carbon emissions. Our 3% annual reduction will keep us focussed on the target of creating a cleaner, greener Wales by 2011.

Already Wales is in the forefront of clean energy production. The biomass heating system in my village of Llanwddyn which heats the school, community centre and 29 houses by woodchip is a prime example of the sort of cleaner, community-based energy production which Plaid will encourage. On-shore windmills (Labour’s preferred solution) have a place but Plaid wants to see a much broader range including off-shore windfarms, solar, biomass and water energy generation. Plaid will review the TAN8 regulation governing the citing of onshore windfarms.

We may not all be able to generate energy but we can all save it and Plaid will give universal 50% grants for insulation with more help for those on low-incomes and the elderly. We will introduce a national reward scheme for businesses and households which reduce energy usage. All government buildings will be carbon neutral by 2012 and Plaid will seek to devolve building regulations so that we can adopt the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Transport in Montgomeryshire is a real problem. We are at the crossroads of Wales on both the North-South and the East-West routes. The A44 from Llangurig to Aberystwyth is regarded by the AA as the most dangerous in Britain and public transport is so poor that more households own two cars than anywhere else in Wales. Plaid is in favour of bypasses for Newtown and Llanymynech and a massive investment in rail and bus transport within the county. The challenge to keep Montgomeryshire a green county while also improving transport links is a stiff one but Plaid has the expertise and imagination to meet it.
This is a bilingual message. Please scroll down for English.
Yn anffodus, oherwydd rhesymau technegol, mae hi'n amhosib cyhoeddu'r annerchiad etholiad ar y blog yma ond dyma crynodeb.
Unfortunately I am unable to publish my electoral address on this blog due to technical reasons. Below is a summary and I hope to publish further extracts in the next few days.

Five severe problems facing Montgomeryshire and how Plaid Cymru can solve them.


Montgomeryshire has the lowest average wage in Wales and England. It also has the highest number of households with two incomes which is normally a sign of wealth but in our case it’s a sign of desperation! Many people in Montgomeryshire are also holding down two jobs just to make ends meet and those with the lowest wages have just been badly hit by Gordon Brown’s budget. Plaid Cymru will introduce a National Living Wage set by an independent commission and higher than the minimum wage payable by all public bodies with Assembly contracts.


Montgomeryshire has been losing jobs at an alarming rate and there has been a triple whammy in Machynlleth with WEFO, WTB and MWEA all shedding jobs or moving them out of the area. Labour has just one AM in its cabinet representing a constituency north of Pontypridd and Rhodri Morgan has completely abrogated his responsibilities as Minister for North Wales (everything north of Merthyr!). Plaid Cymru has the interests of the whole of Wakes at heart and, moreover, will move three Assembly departments out of Cardiff by 2011.


Montgomeryshire relies heavily on the family farm. Elin Jones AM single-handedly secured the future of Tir Mynydd funding for 2008 – 11 in the Assembly but the Labour cuts of 2007 – 08 cannot be reversed. Plaid will work with the CAP changes up to 2013 to ensure that the base of Welsh agriculture will not be further eroded. We will introduce a favourable scheme to encourage new entrants into the business and appoint a Milk Commissioner to regulate prices for dairy products. We definitely oppose double tagging of young lambs. Plaid has been in the forefront of the battle to secure adequate compensation for TB and it is obvious that the spread of the disease must be halted immediately.


Affordable housing in Montgomeryshire is very hard to come by. We have the second highest differential between average wages and average deposits for a house in Wales. Plaid aims to put the bottom rung back on the property ladder by releasing more land for development, encouraging Community Land Trusts and providing up to £5000 grant to match fund savings over 3 years


Everywhere in Montgomeryshire we are fighting for our way of life. Because of year-on-year underfunding from the Labour Assembly Government to Powys County Council schools, libraries, TiCs and even public toilets are threatened with closure. Labour is running down our Post Offices and our hospitals. Plaid will stop the hospital closure programme in its tracks, make the Post Office an access point for government services and adequately fund the Council so that it has the money to deliver decent services in a rural area.

Only Plaid Cymru can make a difference on 3 May. Vote Plaid – twice.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Plaid4Maldwyn - an important blog in Welsh politics!

No doubt along with the other 46 Welsh political bloggers this blog has been chosen by the National Library as part of the UK Web Archiving Consortium Pilot Project "because of its importance to Welsh politics"!

I am truly flattered and mark the occasion by a genuine blog entry rather than the usual copies of letters and press releases which I put up.

I am aware that I have been criticised in the blogosphere for hosting a blog which has not been personalised enough but, in my defence, I should like to point out that I have authored all but perhaps one or two of the entries so far. Two, I believe, at most are adaptations from press releases received from Cardiff. Right now I can't remember which they are but maybe that could form a research project for some nerd in the future!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Your vote in the election on 3 May can really make a difference.

It looks as if Labour will lose the iron grip on Welsh politics which it has enjoyed for generations. Only Plaid Cymru will be strong enough to form an alternative government to Labour or to lead a coalition of parties opposed to Labour.

A Lab-Lib coalition would be dominated by Labour and would be no better than what we have at the moment. Nobody is prepared to join a coalition led by the Tories.

Montgomeryshire is in crisis
- farm incomes are dropping, manufacturing jobs are being lost at an alarming rate and we have to fight just to retain our basic public services like schools, libraries, hospitals, post offices and even toilets in both the villages and the towns.

Who do you think can defend the interests of the people of Montgomeryshire best?
The Liberals, who have tried and failed for the past 8 years? The Tories, who will never, ever gain a majority over Labour in Wales?

Or Plaid Cymru – your local party? We can choose policies which are best for us here in Montgomeryshire and here in Wales. We don’t have to check with the bosses in London first because we haven’t got any!

A vote for any other party will let in Labour or a Labour-dominated coalition.

The sky will not fall on our heads if we don’t vote Liberal or Conservative in Montgomeryshire! It’s a secret ballot – nobody will know if you’ve broken the habit of a lifetime and voted Plaid! I promise you that the interests of Montgomeryshire will be safe in my hands. We’ve had Labour Assembly governments and a Lab-Lib government and we’re no better off with either.

It’s time for a change. It’s time to make a difference. Make your vote really count this time.

On 3 May Vote Plaid – twice: once for Montgomeryshire and once for Mid and West Wales.
Gall eich pleidlais chi yn yr etholiad ar Fai’r 3ydd wneud gwahaniaeth.

Mae’n ymddangos y bydd Llafur yn colli’i gafael gadarn ar wleidyddiaeth Cymru am y tro cyntaf ers cenedlaethau. Dim ond Plaid Cymru fydd yn ddigon cryf i ffurfio llywodraeth yn lle Llafur neu i arwain clymblaid i wrthwynebu Llafur.

Byddai clymblaid ‘Lib-Lab’ yn cael ei ddominyddu gan Lafur ac yn ddim gwell na be’ sydd gyno’ ni’n barod. Does na neb yn barod i ymuno â chlymblaid yn cael ei harwain gan y Torïaid.

Mae’n argyfwng ym Maldwyn – mae incwm ffermydd yn cwympo, mae gwaith cynhyrchu nwyddau yn cael ei golli ar raddfa chwithig ac rydem ni’n gorfod ymladd dim ond i gadw gwasanaethau cyhoeddus sylfaenol fel ysgolion, llyfrgelloedd, ysbytai, swyddfeydd post, a hyd yn oed toiledau yn ein pentrefi a’n trefi.

Pwy ‘dech chi’n meddwl all amddiffyn buddiannau pobl Maldwyn orau? Y Librals, sy’ ‘di trio a methu am wyth mlynedd, neu’r Torïaid, all byth bythoedd ennill mwyafrif dros Lafur yng Nghymru hyd nes y bydd y lleuad yn gaws Stilton!

Neu Plaid Cymru – eich plaid yn lleol? Gallwn ni ddewis y polisïau sydd orau i ni yma ym Maldwyn ac yma yng Nghymru. Does na’m rhaid i ni holi efo’n cap yn ein llaw i’n meistri yn Llundain gynta’ – achos does geno’ ni ddim! Bydd pleidlais i unrhyw blaid arall yn rhoi rhwydd hynt i Lafur neu glymblaid yn cael ei harwain gan Lafur, i redeg Cymru eto.

Fydd yr awyr ddim yn cwympo ar ein pennau os na fotiwn ni i’r Librals neu’r Torïaid ym Maldwyn. Pleidlais ddirgel ydi hi – fydd ‘na neb yn gw’bod os ‘dech chi wedi torri habit oes a phleidleisio Plaid Cymru! Dwi’n addo y bydd buddiannau Maldwyn yn saff yn fy nwylo. ‘De ni ‘di cael Llywodraeth Lafur a hefyd Llywodraeth ‘Lib-Lab’ yng Nghymru a ‘den ni ddim gwell ‘ffwrdd efo ‘run ohonyn nhw .

Mae’n bryd cael newid. Mae’n bryd gwneud gwahaniaeth. Gwnewch i’ch pleidlais gyfri tro yma.

Ar Fai’r 3ydd fotiwch Plaid – ddwywaith. Unwaith i Faldwyn ac unwaith i Ganolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


“Only Plaid Cymru has the policies and the imagination to solve the housing crisis in Wales and in particular the desperate shortage of affordable homes in Montgomeryshire”.

This was the message given by David Thomas, Plaid’s Assembly Candidate for Montgomeryshire at a meeting on Wednesday 18 April organised by Land for People in the Town Hall, Welshpool.

Explaining how Montgomeryshire was particularly badly hit Mr Thomas continued “Montgomeryshire has the lowest average wage in Wales and the gap between the average wage and the average house price nearly doubled in four years. People who could have bought a detached house four years ago can now just afford a terraced house because their wages have not kept pace with house price inflation”.

Outlining measures to help those looking for an “affordable home” Mr Thomas pointed to Plaid’s offer of a £5000 grant to match-fund savings and more land available for Community Land Trusts. In addition Mr Thomas claimed “Plaid will put the bottom rung back on the housing ladder and, for those unable to purchase a home, we will repeal the Right to Buy in housing hotspots to create more rented accommodation within everybody’s reach. Planning laws will also be amended so that more homes can be built on the edges of villages and in the countryside”.
Montgomeryshire is in crisis - farm incomes are dropping, manufacturing jobs are being lost at an alarming rate and we have to fight to retain our basic public services like schools and hospitals.

Who do you think can best defend our interests in Montgomeryshire?

The Liberals who have tried and failed for the past 8 years?

The Tories who have no sympathy for our way of life?

Maybe a Lab-Lib coalition dominated by Labour and no better than what we have at the moment?

Or Plaid Cymru – your local party? We have the policies which are best for us here in Montgomeryshire and here in Wales. We don’t have to check with the bosses in London first because we haven’t got any!

A vote for any other party will let in Labour or a Labour-dominated coalition.

Vote Plaid Cymru on 3 May and your vote will really make a difference.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


One of the first acts of a Plaid Assembly Government after 3 May will be to stop the current round of hospital closures masquerading as ‘downgrading’. This was the promise I was pleased to give on a return visit to Llanidloes Memorial Hospital today when I was given a tour of the facilities by Pat Scull (left).

Llanidloes is just the sort of hospital which Plaid wants to see replicated throughout Wales. It provides a range of both primary and secondary care and is also an efficient way of treating patients who would otherwise have to travel to Aberystwyth, Shrewsbury or even Telford.

Accompanying me on my visit were Dafydd Wigley, Plaid’s Honorary President and North Wales Assembly Candidate and Nerys Evans, Plaid’s Mid and West Wales Candidate. Both were extremely impressed by the facilities and Mr Wigley added “The Labour Assembly Government has treated Mid Wales appallingly over the past 8 years. Without a District General Hospital Powys residents need and deserve all the community care they can get and Llanidloes Hospital is a shining example of what can be done with dedicated staff. It would be an absolute scandal if it were to close”.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

An Open Letter to Rhodri Morgan

Dear Mr Morgan

Given that you pay so little attention to what happens beyond Merthyr Tudfil you may not have noticed that Powys County Council is threatening to close four primary schools in Montgomeryshire by August 2008.

None of these schools offers anything less than a good education, indeed one of them, Ysgol Efyrnwy has just had one of the best Estyn reports ever awarded. None of these schools is lodged in unsuitable buildings and every one of them is a real focal point of their community.

The only thing which marks out these schools as candidates for closure is that they have “spare places”, each “empty desk” apparently costing Powys County Council £1000.

I recognise that it is more expensive to fund “small” schools but only in the same way that it is more expensive to perform a hip replacement than set a broken arm. Surely you should not close a school, as Powys intends to do, simply because it is more expensive to fund than a neighbouring school.

The four schools under threat in Montgomeryshire - in Llanwddyn, Llanfihangel-yng-Gwynfa, Carno and Llangurig - between them have 41 “spare places”. I appeal to you, Mr Morgan, to do two things on behalf of these four genuinely community schools. First, out of the £1.2m Assembly surplus for 2006 – 07 would you please direct a paltry £41,000 into the coffers of Powys County Council in order to keep these schools open for another year at least and secondly, given that we are in an election period, would you please instruct Powys County Council to immediately suspend its so-called “consultation” process until it at least sends formal notification of a timetable to the Heads and Chairs of Governors of the schools concerned?


David Thomas
Chair of Governors
Ysgol Efyrnwy, Llanwddyn
Plaid Assembly Candidate for Montgomeryshire

Thursday, April 05, 2007

How can Plaid help our School Children?

As a Chair of Governors at Ysgol Efyrnwy (the primary school in Llanwddyn), as a teacher in a secondary school and as a parent of a university student I feel that I have an insight into what affects pupils, teachers and parents across the whole age range of education from 3 – 21.

Both my children attended our local primary and secondary schools and received a first-class education in each. Powys can justly be proud of its record in providing schools which are close to the community and which pass on its values from one generation to another. It is such a shame, therefore, that Powys’ “review” of primary schools has so far picked on the smallest regardless of their quality, the state of their buildings or the role they play in the community. If elected I shall vote against any proposal when it comes to the Assembly to close these six schools.

In opposition Plaid Cymru secured an extra £4.1m for small schools in 2006 and has arranged for up to £16,000 to be added to each secondary school’s budget (£10,000 for primaries) through the county councils in 2007.

Plaid believes that a good school is not just what is taught in the classroom but that other factors can have just as big an effect. A Plaid government will introduce a programme of free nutritious school meals in primary schools and provide laptops for every child going to secondary school. We will expand the school nurse programme so that there will be at least one for each secondary school and introduce more 20 mph and 10 mph zones outside schools during school hours.

Plaid opposes top-up fees for students and will also pay back student loans for those who live and work in Wales for five years after graduating.
How can Plaid ensure a Healthier Wales?

Only Plaid Cymru can stop the downgrading and eventual closure of Llanidloes, Newtown and Machynlleth hospitals. For all their fine words the LibDems will be powerless in a Labour-dominated government to prevent Labour’s programme of cuts and closures and we all remember what the Tories did to the Health Service while they were in power.

Llanidloes is a prime example of the kind of hospital Plaid Cymru would like to see throughout Wales – primary, community care which provides first class treatment for patients who do not need the specialist services of a district general hospital or who need somewhere to convalesce after surgery. If the Birthing Centres in Llanidloes and Newtown close then the only places to give birth in Montgomeryshire will be Welshpool hospital or at home. Only Plaid Cymru can stop this happening.

A Plaid government will create a Community Health Service which will include nurses in schools, check-ups at work and Centres of Wellbeing throughout Wales where primary care and walk-in facilities will be available, beginning where GP and NHS dentist provision is particularly sparse. Plaid believes that prevention is better than cure.

Mental health services have been particularly poorly served by Labour but a Plaid government would follow Scotland’s lead by implementing a strategy based on local community needs and provision.

A Plaid government will create a Patients’ Rights Contract which will ensure that core services are delivered within defined localities and a no-fault pay-out system if patients receive sub-standard care.

Plaid aims to secure free care provision for older and disabled people. In the short term Plaid will cap charges set by local authorities, raise the threshold for contributing to residential costs and create Benefit Take Up teams to ensure that older and disabled people receive the benefits they deserve.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Powys Wants To Close Six Primary Schools

It is so disappointing that Powys County Council has decided to open its review of 6 primary schools in the county through the pages of the newspapers rather than directly with the staff, pupils, governors and parents of the affected schools themselves. It was through the press that, as Chair of Governors at Ysgol Efyrnwy, Llanwddyn, I learnt of Powys' intention to review the school with its possible closure in August 2008. Sadly, Powys failed to send any prior information concerning these plans to the schools or governors affected, an omission of astonishing insensitivity.

No doubt there will be fierce debate in the coming months but I should like to clarify two glaring misrepresentations which are always bandied around on these occasions.

First, Cllr David Jones talks about surplus spaces in Powys as constituting "more than one in four empty seats" as if all the space in a classroom had to be filled to the brim. We should have moved beyond the idea of every classroom crammed with 30 pupils with no room to engage in the investigative activities through which children learn best. In Ysgol Efyrnwy it is true that there is an "empty classroom" but it is also stocked with musical instruments and equipment which simply would not be in the school otherwise.

Whatever the economic argument "surplus spaces" does not mean nothing is happening. The very space created by fewer pupils often gives those who are left much greater opportunities - something both Powys and the Assembly would surely applaud.

Secondly, Cllr Jones says that surplus spaces "cost more than £4m a year". No they don't! Empty space costs nothing! Maybe it makes it more expensive to educate those who remain but the two issues should not be confused. Of course a small school is more expensive to run than a large one but so is a medium-sized one. The most "cost-effective" primary school is probably a mega-school that serves a radius of 30 miles but is that what we want for our children?
Plaid Helps Pensioners With Council Tax

With Powys County Council Tax bills falling through the letter box householders on fixed incomes, pensioners in particular, will no doubt be wondering how they can afford to pay the extra money demanded in 2007 - 08.

Plaid Cymru recognises the plight of pensioners caught in this situation and, as a prelude to scrapping the Council Tax altogether, proposes to cap their payments to no more than the rate of inflation every year until it is finally abolished. The difference between an inflation increase and the Council Tax increase will be paid on behalf of pensioners by a Plaid Cymru Assembly Government enabling pensioners to keep more of their money and not forfeiting it because of a property market spiralling out of control.