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Senedd21: Plaid Cymru | South Wales West Region

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PLAID CYMRU CANDIDATES –
SOUTH WALES WEST REGION

1. Sioned Williams

What is the most important thing you think the Senedd should do in the next five years?

There is so much work to do. Our society is riven by inequality – just as we saw the poorest shoulder the burden for the austerity agenda, so will they be the hardest hit by the recession that is already upon us.

I started a volunteer community group during the first wave of the Covid crisis and I have witnessed how fragile and economically vulnerable so many are in every community – the safety net is full of holes, and it’s not just the Tories who are to blame. The shameful legacy of the failure of decades of Labour Welsh Government is an unacceptable level of child poverty in Wales. We know this will only get worse as the economic consequences of the twin catastrophes of Covid and Brexit hit. The ambitious policies put forward by Plaid Cymru such as direct payments for low-income families and universal free school meals and childcare will help eradicate the social injustice that blights Wales. This is also the time finally to act rather than endlessly discuss social care reform. There can be no argument, following the terrible lessons of the Covid crisis, against combining the health and care services. When my father was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, I saw at at first hand the effects of an underfunded, undervalued and under resourced social care service.

Plaid Cymru’s vision of free and equal care provided to all at their time of need, with an emphasis on early intervention to keep people within their communities, and care workers valued, trained and paid equally with those in the NHS, is a crucial step in ensuring a more caring and fairer Wales for all generations.

What will you do for your constituency/region if elected?

My priority will be to address the shameful levels of poverty and neglect in the Neath area, which include tackling the lack of transport infrastructure and connectivity, digital poverty, a loss of social amenities and a need to address the cynicism which is taking root – resulting from unrealised promises and unsuitable initiatives.

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As someone who has worked in education and outreach community programmes, I will aim to foster a renewed self-confidence and self-reliance for our communities. I believe in developing the potential of our area. We lose far too many of our young talented people to other places. My political vision is based on creating opportunities for all people within the Neath area, strengthening and securing our communities, and offering hope for the future. Climate change is the biggest global challenge of our time. We know that we must act, and we now know direct, swift intervention is possible when needed. Energy is key to rectifying the poverty gap. Neath and the wider South Wales West region could be at the forefront of the Green Jobs Revolution being proposed by Plaid Cymru which could create the opportunities we need in this area. Green economic regeneration needs to be linked to education and training. We must support our young people especially to get through the tough economic time ahead. Further Education colleges are a crucial component in developing and expanding key skills and creating a more prosperous Wales and more valued workforce, and Plaid Cymru believes that the sector needs better attention and urgent reform.

Covid has changed how we see retail and supply chains. Although there are plans afoot to develop Neath Town Centre, there seems a need to get back to basics. We need to be supporting local independent businesses in the town centre rather than building large expensive retail units, and we need to improve transport infrastructure and links. We also need to support our valleys communities’ high streets – they have been a lifesaver during this crisis and we must now encourage and develop our homegrown businesses and local ventures.  The pandemic has shown just how reliant we are on food imports and international supply chains. Now is the time to rethink and rebuild our food supply chains and retail sector from the ground up, putting an emphasis on local producers and using public sector procurement to support this.

2. Luke Fletcher

What is the most important thing you think the Senedd should do in the next five years?

There are a number of issues facing Wales right now, chief among them, for me, is poverty. More and more people are relying on services such as food banks to get by. I believe it is a matter of urgency that we look to get powers over the administration of welfare devolved to the Senedd so that we can tailor our welfare system to meet the needs of people living in Wales.

We also know that Covid has amplified issues around poverty for many. The number of people who have relied on Free School Meals (FSM) during the pandemic is truly eye watering and a sober account of how the current Labour Welsh Government has forgotten about the communities that need help now more than ever. For example, current FSM eligibility criteria set out by the Labour Government has excluded 70,000 children living below the poverty line in Wales from accessing FSM.

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Free School Meals should be immediately extended to any child in any family receiving universal credit or any equivalent benefit and if it’s not done before the election, then after the election, it will be a priority for me. We should all want to live in a Wales where everyone is looked after in tough times.

What will you do for your constituency/region if elected?

A priority for me is tackling poverty and its causes so I would be looking to meet and help organisations working in that field across the constituency – alongside lobbying for change with Welsh Government.

Alongside this, there is real potential in my area for us to be at the forefront of a ‘green industrial revolution’. I would want to put us on the map as the place to be in Wales for the research and development of green technologies, bringing good paying jobs to our local area, ensuring people who want to stay in the local area and want good quality and good paying jobs can do so.

Finally, public transport infrastructure is not up to scratch. For example, the Ogwr and Garw valleys rely on infrequent bus services that are under constant threat of being cut. This is also true for the wider area. We must ensure that bus services are much more reliable and frequent as a starting point in order to connect communities and places of work. I would also like to look at the feasibility of building new, light rail or tram train tracks to connect our valleys not just with the mainlines but with each other.

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3. John Davies

What is the most important thing you think the Senedd should do in the next five years?

2021 is a pivotal year for Wales. We need an urgent debate on our future, and I want to be part of it.

Wales has suffered from decades of underinvestment from Westminster, and a total lack of good governance from Labour administrations in Cardiff. Despite having similar GDP per-head as Spain and Portugal we are the poorest nation in northern Europe. We now only earn £1 in Wales whereas our counterparts in Eire earn £2.75. There is something really wrong.

Our children’s futures are stunted, their dreams unfulfilled. Real poverty exists – communities suffer.

Brexit and the failing UK response to COVID-19, coupled with climate change, make Wales’ future precarious – both economically and socially. But it does not need to be like this. I want to be at the forefront of a progressive government that will lead Wales forward to be an equal partner with all our north European counterparts, such as Eire, Denmark, or even Finland (all of which are wealthier than the UK per person).

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A green, successful economy will create vibrant, healthy communities. This is within our grasp, when the private and public sector work together for the benefit of all.

I will fight tooth and nail to ensure our children’s future lives up to their dreams. Our children’s future belongs in Wales and they can go as far as their imaginations will allow. We can not afford to fail.

What will you do for your constituency/region if elected?

The gradual economic decline of Swansea/Gower has led to deep social and economic harm, but it can be reversed – if we just have a different politics; a Welsh government that can instigate the ‘real change’ to transform Gower/Swansea. 

We will campaign for Swansea Council to support local businesses. As local businesses benefit, we will campaign for the living wage. Together we will turn the tide on the desperate poverty that exists here.

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I will also campaign to make Gower/Swansea the centre for the ‘New Green Revolution’ in Wales, the hub for the design, development, building and running of the Tidal lagoon, owned by Wales, providing us and local business with 100% clean energy.

Working together we can again be the hub of the next industrial revolution in the green re-industrialisation of Wales: for job creation for all of us and our children. We need to reverse our slow decline, countering it with a vibrant healthy green future.

4. Jamie Evans

What is the most important thing you think the Senedd should do in the next five years?

I’d like to see more affordable homes being built to ensure young people like myself can afford to get on the property ladder and live in their local area.

What will you do for your constituency/region if elected?

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I’ll ensure I do everything I can to get the best deal possible for the whole region, supporting the Swansea Bay and the Western Valleys Metro, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. Holding the Westminster Government to account on failure to deliver projects such as INEOS to Bridgend.                  

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Swansea shows rise in business growth despite fears high streets are empty

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Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) are celebrating the opening of the 60th new business in Swansea City Centre since January 2020.

According to a recent Federation of Small Business report on Welsh towns, only 3% of people feel their town centres are thriving; but given the impact of Covid-19, Swansea BID have continued to see businesses opening since the pandemic began. 

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High Street Giants Replaced by Independents

Since January 2020, 66 new businesses have opened in the city centre. In the same period, only 27 have closed, with over half of these businesses citing the pandemic as the reason. As many large high street names such as Debenhams, Disney, Topshop and Pizza Express have closed, the rate of smaller, independent businesses opening has increased.

“We have seen strong growth in start-up businesses over the last few years. I think excellent customer service and experience is a key factor in their success,” said Russell Greenslade, Swansea BID Chief Executive. “We have also seen sharp growth in the hospitality sector, independents and more sustainable businesses.”

Responses to the FSB survey showed that 67% of people in Wales feel that their town centres are ‘bad’ or ‘bleak’. The Vision for Welsh Towns report makes a series of recommendations to support and grow businesses in town centres, many of which Swansea BID actively do; including helping to reduce business costs and directly supporting businesses. 

A new independent restaurant has opened at the former Pizza Express chain next to Swansea’s castle

The High Street is Resilient 

Simon Kendrick, Director of the Games Emporium on Swansea’s High Street said the business is likely to renew their lease for another 10 years thanks to their confidence in the developments happening in Swansea.

“We’ve enjoyed growing with the High Street, it has been fabulous to see the once run down and talked down part of town continue its transformation towards a vibrant part of the city’s cultural life,” he said.

“Swansea BID have been helpful in driving some of that change with initiatives like the Big Heart and city-wide treasure trails to drive shoppers our way, as well as more behind the scenes support like advocating reductions in street-table rates for local cafes. 

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“Currently, the BID is assisting us (and many other businesses) with applying for grant funding to renovate our shopfront, which will further enhance the appearance and character of the High Street,” said Kendrick.

Swansea’s High Street has seen massive transformation over the last few years

Investing in Regeneration

With £1bn set to be invested in regeneration projects over the next few years, the landscape of Swansea is set to transform. 

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Tourism said, “The growth is encouraging. It shows the combination of our business talent and the work the council and its partners are carrying out to regenerate Swansea to create a modern, confident city that’s attracting more and more businesses to invest.

“We’re doing all we can to create an environment where businesses can thrive, such as the £135m Copr Bay district and our work to transform the look and feel of The Kingsway and Wind Street.

“Much more is planned too, including a revamp of Castle Square Gardens, a state-of-the-art office at the former Oceana nightclub site, and the work our development partners Urban Splash are leading on to transform parts of the city centre, including the old St David’s Shopping Centre.

“Our business community, residents and visitors have lots to look forward to.”

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Aldi responds to call to #GetOnARoll by including cancer symptoms on toilet roll packs

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white toilet paper roll on toilet paper holder

Aldi is to add signs and symptoms of bowel cancer to all its packs of own brand toilet roll in response to Bowel Cancer UK’s #GetOnARoll campaign.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s fourth most common cancer and the second biggest cancer killer. Yet almost half of adults around the UK could not name a single symptom of bowel cancer in a recent survey.

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Red flag symptoms include changes in bowel habit and bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, which can all be noticed while people are on the toilet.

Knowing the symptoms to look out for, and acting on them, can lead to bowel cancer being diagnosed at an earlier stage when it is easier to treat and even cure.

Now, Aldi has teamed up with Bowel Cancer UK to include the potentially life-saving information, together with a QR code for customers to find out more, on over 70m packs of toilet rolls every year.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying, at Aldi, said: “It’s shocking to learn that almost half of all adults in the UK cannot name a single symptom of bowel cancer. When we heard how powerful it could be to simply print the signs and symptoms on loo roll packaging – so they are there when people most need to see them – we were really keen to get involved.

“Spotting signs early is so important, so anything we can do to raise awareness of what people should look out for, and signpost them to Bowel Cancer UK to find out more, is crucial.

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“We’re delighted to be the first retailer to announce we’re getting on board since the launch of the #GetOnARoll campaign and we’re calling on all other retailers and loo roll brands to follow suit.”

Genevieve Edwards, CEO at Bowel Cancer UK, added: “We are delighted to partner with Aldi to raise vital awareness of bowel cancer symptoms with people all over the country. It’s the UK’s fourth most common cancer, with someone diagnosed with the disease every 15 minutes in the UK. 

“Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early, but 60% of people are diagnosed at later stages when it is much more difficult to treat. Part of the problem is low awareness of the red flag symptoms of bowel cancer that should prompt people to contact their GP.

“It’s such a simple idea to share this vital information on loo roll packaging. It could help us reach millions more people every year, and will undoubtedly help save lives. We want to thank Aldi for taking this step and encourage all other retailers to follow suit.”

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Swansea 7 year-old girl badly burned by buried disposable BBQ on beach

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Beach-goers in Swansea are being urged to use purpose-built bins designed for disposable BBQs after a young girl suffered severe burns to her feet.

Swansea Council has condemned the actions of individuals who buried a disposable BBQ in the sand on Swansea Bay beach, which was then walked on by a seven-year old girl. The child is now waiting to see if she needs skin graft surgery

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Simi Adenaike, 7, and her mother Alex Adenaike from Mt Pleasant, along with other family members, had not been on the beach long when their day out turned to horror.

Simi’s mum, Alex, said: “We had only just arrived at the beach and were looking forward to having some fun. The children started playing almost immediately and had been running around in the sand. We heard a horrifying scream and my daughter came running back.

“She was in so much pain, she was unable to tell us what happened. Eventually we realised one of her feet was very red and blistered. We had some help from some other visitors on the beach to cool down the burn with water and we got her to hospital immediately.”

The family had discovered a disposable BBQ buried in the sand and were told by witnesses that a group had been seen burying the foil tray before leaving.

Alex’s mum said: “This is so upsetting and my daughter is now needing further treatment and possibly a skin graft.

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“The Council has made the effort to install disposable BBQ bins and there was one not far from where the BBQ had been buried.”

Cyril Anderson, Cabinet Member for Community said: “This incident is horrendous and we wish Simi and her family all the best as she receives medical treatment.

“The dangers associated with discarding or leaving disposable BBQs on our beaches are well known and that’s why we have gone to the trouble of installing fifteen bins at all of our beaches.

“Anyone who thinks that it’s OK to bury BBQs or any other waste in the sand on a day out is simply irresponsible and thoughtless to the injuries they can cause to beach users.

“We’ve invested thousands of pounds installing permanent BBQ waste bins along Swansea Bay beach and also at Port Eynon, Horton, Caswell and Langland with more to come at Rotherslade.

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“BBQs and charcoal retain their heat for hours after they’ve been used and can cause serious burns for people who accidentally step on them.”

The Council’s beach cleansing teams clean the beaches every morning during the summer and throughout the day. They are often supported by volunteers who also want to see pristine-clean beaches. Additional teams also target littering hotspots at the busiest times.

Beaches in Swansea where disposable BBQ bins are located

  • Langland Bay – 2
  • Port Eynon
  • Horton
  • Rotherslade

Locations on Swansea Bay between West Pier and Mumbles, including:

  • Swansea Point playground car park entrance to beach
  • Top of the Civic Centre steps near the beach
  • Bay View slip
  • Steps by Secret car park opposite Victoria Park
  • Near the Secret
  • Brynmill Lane Slip
  • Just above Clyne stream near the Footgolf attraction
  • Blackpill, one at each end of the picnic area

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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