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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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