Thursday, 28 October 2010


A couple of things caught my attention, one of which was the fact that the Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is investigating whether the rate of Corporation Tax should be cut. The UK Government chancellor is planning to reduce the tax in the UK from 28% to 24% over the next four years however corporation tax in the Republic of Ireland is only 12.5%. At the moment MPs are considering whether Northern Ireland should have a similar or lower rate of Corporation Tax, something that will help attract investment and provide opportunities for business why can we not do the same thing here in Wales.

In Scotland, plans for a huge tidal energy project which is set to be developed in the Pentland Firth after the rights to the site were awarded to a consortium by the Crown Estate. The Inner Sound, which lies between the Caithness coast and island of Stroma, as one of the Firth's "most energetic" tidal areas. The proposed scheme could involve up to 400 submerged turbines, generating enough energy to power 400,000 homes with a 25-year operational lease for the site was awarded to MeyGen.

This is a joint venture between tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources Corporation, International Power and investment bank Morgan Stanley. The news of the award of the lease comes after two years of feasibility work in the waters of the Pentland Firth. Obviously this is subject to planning consent, the consortium plans to install hundreds of turbines in the Inner Sound area and construction is expected to take place on a phased basis until 2020. The real good news is that project will be one of the biggest in the world, with the potential to generate up to 400MW of sustainable renewable power. So why not here in Wales...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Despite the positive growth figures, which the Con Dem Government and their media coat-holders have understandably made much of, the cuts are still a major gamble (of epic Mississippi riverboat proportions) on the part of the Con Dem Government. This is literally a case of win or bust, the problem is that this is a major gamble not only with the state of the economy but on the lives of every person who live in Wales.

The reckless combination of slash and burn cuts and the crazed Thatcherite obsession with privatisation (Forestry in England, the Post Office, possibly even the Passport Office, etc) could lead to the loss of half a million public sector jobs - a figure which could well be doubled when considering the impact on the private sector. Certainly Con Dem Government suggestions that the private sector will be able to step in to the jobs vacuum left behind is not so much a case of staggering naivety and more of case of an utter failure to understand the realities of the intertwined nature of the public and private sector in Wales.

Certainly whatever economic planet the Tories (who may be on Planet Bullingdon) and their Lib Dem little helpers /partners /collaborators believe they are living on, certainly does not include Wales, where the private sector is not as strong as it could be, but, is thoroughly intertwined with the public sector and somewhat happily dependent on relatively fat public sector contracts.

There is something else though, which over the term of this Government (however long it lasts) may have a more lasting impact, and that is any scant thought about the impact of their decisions upon Wales or the people of Wales. Even the South Wales Argus, has picked this up (and it is no lover of ‘Welsh Nationalism) in relation to the on-going campaign to save the passport office, stating in it's editorial (27th October) that “Whitehall’s failure to recognise the inalienable rights of Wales to equality with the other nations smacks to us of institutionalised racism” – I could not have put it better myself.

Let's be honest, if the last New Labour Government was pretty ignorant (and somewhat London centric) when it can to Welsh issues (economic and other) and that with the alleged strong Labour voice's around the cabinet table, then this lot in the current Con Dem Government in London are going to be even more cut off from the economic, social and political realities of life as it is lived here in Wales.

I mean these people think that providing a pilot area (in Herefordshire) for next generation broadband project which are set to take place in Scotland and England - will suffice for Wales. Moving swiftly on, the impression given is that the current Welsh Secretary of State is less than a strong voice for Wales in Government. It may well be the literal case that she is not sat around the cabinet table, let alone in the same building or the same city when it comes to decisions being made that affect Wales.

What would be useful is a speedy reform of New Labour’s unfair Barnett Formula and need to be able to exercise control over levels of corporation tax so that our businesses can get the support that they will need during tough times. The reality is that we had better not be holding our collective breath and be expecting the current government to even notice if we collectively went blue and passed out over an issue of principle – get used to the fact that Wales is not and will never be on the Con Dem’s economic or political radar.

So there we are, we face instead the grim prospect of ill-judged and reckless cut backs in public spending, which may lead to an end result of our communities being blamed for being poor and lacking in aspiration by the Con Dem ministers. Wales needs to be in charge of her own resources, and free to make its own economic decisions so that we can mastermind our own economic recovery, rather than cling onto the Con Dem Government's coat-tails and hope for the best.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Now when it comes to control of natural resources there has been much UK (sorry London centric) media coverage of the Con Dem's avid pursuit of the 'flog it' agenda, especially in relation to the suggested sale of the Forestry Commission. I was pleased to see that Plaid's Elin Jones AM, the Welsh rural affairs minister clearly state that there are no plans to sell swathes of the country's forests in Wales. After all Forestry is a clearly devolved matter and any decisions that affect the future of Wales' national forests will thankfully lie with Welsh ministers, in Cardiff, not in Westminster. I wonder how long it will take for the London centric Press to catch up...

Saturday, 23 October 2010


When Conservative Minister Iain Duncan Smith told people in the south Wales town of Merthyr Tydfil they have become static and should seek work in Cardiff and that unemployed people "get on a bus" to find work - there were echo's from the 1980's of the then Tory minister Lord Tebbit's "get on your bike" comments. Understandably these have ruffled more than a few feathers.

Now I suspect that this was not a cheap throw away line (on a BBC 2 Newsnight interview) this is what the Tories really think, this was the moment when the mask slipped, and despite the cuddly "Call me Dave" Cameron makeover this is what the hard-line and not so hard-line Tories actually think.

A measure of proof of this could be the way that most of the Tory backbench MP's were gleefully cheering (if not baying) in the House of Commons by way of vocal support during the Spending Review statement (which also announced details of the fact that over 400,000 public sector workers services were going to be dispensed with) last Wednesday. There were some serious shades of Ra! Ra! We are going to smash the Oiks!!! So much for one nation Conservatism.

One question I would like to ask is how is the National Assembly supposed to help people get to the work on the coastal belt from the valleys - whether by car or bus, by road or rail - when the cuts will reduce capital spending, which is money to be invested in new roads, rail (not to mention hospitals and schools) is going to be cut by 41%.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


So there we have it, the devil is in the detail, the Welsh budget has been cut in real terms by 11.4%, with capital spending, money to be invested in new roads, hospitals and schools, being cut by 41%. This works out at around £4.8 billion over the next four years.interestingly enough, the previous New Labour Government, planned, this time over three years to cut Wales' budget by £3 billion. The Con Dem government now also plan cuts of approximately £3 billion over next 3 years which works out at about the same. While the ConDem cuts are a heavy blow, so would the proposed New Labour cuts have been. One thing is true, both the former New Labour Government and the current ConDem Government have no interest in making sure that Wales has a fair funding formula.

The Welsh budget, this year, is some £1.4 billion less than it would have been if we had kept pace with spending increases in England under New Labour. It's also worth noting that Spending Review also announced a further £7 billion cut from the welfare budget, on top of £11 billion previously announced over the Summer. There is a significant degree of geographical unfairness (for want of a better phrase) in this Spending Review on a number of levels. Wales, amongst the devolved nations, is worst off, and is taking a bigger hit than Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are significant if not huge differences between Wales and the south-east of England.

The ConDems are carrying on with the Crossrail, a multi-billion pound infrastructure project in London, not to mention three major science projects all of which are located in the south-east of England, not to mention continued spending on museums, galleries and culture in London.These cuts are far too deep and far too fast, they threaten Wales’s economic recovery and could expose us to the risk of a ‘double-dip’ recession. I (and no doubt many other people would expect this from a Consevative Government, but, their super keen Lib Dem little helpers should really know better.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


The Severn Barrage was always an expensive unsustainable ‘silver bullet which was relentlessly pushed by New Labour's Peter Hain (and his ilk) to show off their allegedly green credentials, but, in truth it was more likely to have been used to offset the emissions from newly expanded Heathrow. There were plenty of opportunities to invest in and develop smaller, sustainable, less environmentally damaging and more credible renewable energy schemes in the estuary (and elsewhere), such as tidal lagoons and tidal reefs, which would have generated significant amounts of energy (with a far longer period of generation) with significantly less environmental damage, yet New Labour Government conspicuously failed to do so.

We should not expect too much from the Com Dem Coalition Government - it has already quietly shelved plans (17th August) for an independent inquiry into the £25bn-a-year energy industry which has been subject to repeated criticism surrounding accusations of profiteering on electricity and gas. So it should come as no surprise to even the most impartial observers of the consequences of a warm unquestioning and financial rewarding relationship (in cash and kind) between the political parties within the Westminster village (and without) and the energy supply companies.

For sometime before the last Westminster general election, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats made repeated criticisms of New Labour for its failure to tackle prices charged by the Big Six suppliers. Both the opposition parties demanded an inquiry by the Competition Commission. There was a hope that an inquiry into the nefarious activities of the energy supply cartel (sorry companies) might have had the power to reform the industry, encourage new entrants to break the hold of players such as British Gas, EDF and the others on 99 per cent of the market and even possibly impose price caps.

Sadly the ConDem government is equally unimaginative and lacks any aspirational vision for future sustainable green energy development. This failure to invest in renewable energy in the Severn Estuary is unforgivable and clearly shows why it is so important that energy powers be devolved to the National Assembly for Wales. We have rich natural resources and here in Wales we should priorities the development of sustainable, renewable energy. The lands of the Crown Estate off the Welsh shoreline and powers to develop major energy infrastructure must also be devolved immediately to the Welsh Assembly if we are to make any realistic progress on these important issues.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


As the ConDem cuts begin to hit home, all of our public funded bodies are going to be under pressure to make savings and under threat of reduced budgets. In Wales, the Arts Council of Wales is already planning to withdraw funding worth £3.6m from 32 arts groups in 2011.

Locally, in the former county of Gwent, the cuts are going to hit home hard. One of the casualties of funding cuts could be Gwent Theatre which was has worked hard over the last three decades taking amongst other things live theatre in many of our schools. Gwent Theatre which has previously received £250,000 a year from the Arts
Council of Wales, may be wound up as a result of the loss of funding.

The Theatre's small company of six people: actors, stage manager, educational and administrative staff who will all lose their jobs as the impact of the loss of funding begins to hit home. It's worth remembering that Theatre Gwent's staff have worked with the Theatre company for over twenty years and have consistently delivered work of the highest quality throughout the former county of Gwent.

There will also be a knock on effect with a further reduction in employment opportunities for actors, script writers, musicians, poets and storytellers all of whom will now lose out when the cuts begin to bite. Gwent Theatre provides employment opportunities for up to 40 people in any given year.

The jobs loses and loss of opportunity are bad enough, but, they are only part of the story. Probably the most significant impact of the loss of Gwent Theatre is going to be the loss of its role in educating countless pupils and young people in Gwent's schools. In 2009 – 2010 alone, Gwent Theatre was able to deliver 220
performances to some 14,000 + young people in some 219 schools.

Gwent Theatre held 81 theatre workshops with over 2500 participants. The highly acclaimed Gwent Young Peoples Theatre put on seven productions, with 5183 youth theatre attendances and audience figures of 1,794. This is a pretty good if not an outstanding delivery of work in a single year from a small theatre company.

Gwent Theatre has worked hard over the years to establish itself as a highly successful company which regularly takes its excellent work into our schools and our communities across Gwent – something that more than than fulfils the aims and objectives of the Arts Council of Wales to put the experience of live theatre into
individuals and communities lives.

This may on the surface appear to be an easy hit, but, it is a cut that is far too deep - Gwent Theatre has successfully and faithfully served individuals, schools and communities across Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen, and has worked solidly for years to build up good working relations across the greater Gwent area.

It's time to think again funding wise, Gwent Theatre does not deserve this fate and neither should our communities be culturally deprived of the important future contributions to could and should made by Gwent Theatre in future years.

Follow this web link to sign the petition to Save Gwent Theatre.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


Plaid's Leanne Wood AM, South Wales Central - speaking at the rally. 
The march and rally calling for Newport's Passport Office and save the 300 jobs was held in Newport today (Saturday 16th October) was well organised, well attended and well supported. The event which was organised by the PCS union began around 11am outside the Westgate Hotel and then the march went down Skinner Street, Upper Dock Street, Corn Street and Commercial Street before ending with a rally in John Frost Square addressed by elected members from the National Assembly, the Westminster Parliament, Newport City Council and the PCS and the RMT Trade Unions. It was a rousing, very colourful start to what will be a hard fought campaign to save Newport's Passport Office. Sign the South Wales Argus Petition.

Friday, 15 October 2010


Just when you thought it was all over it turns out that another MP is in trouble over his expenses. Bill Wiggin (a Conservative MP) has been told to repay £4,294 and apologise to House of Commons after he over-claimed on his expenses. The Standards and Privileges Committee (the Westminster Parliament's sleaze watchdog) has told him to say sorry for wrongly designating his second home in London as his main home. The Committee made reference to his “serious” breaches of the rules and “disappointing” failure to co-operate with the inquiry by providing invoices. Just to rub some salt into his wounds he may lose his job in the Chief Whip's Office and lose the Conservative Party this space!

Thursday, 14 October 2010


A march and rally calling for Newport's Passport Office to remain open will be held in Newport on Saturday. The event organised by the PCS union will start at 10.30am outside the Westgate Hotel, for an 11 am start. The march will go through Skinner Street, Upper Dock Street, Corn Street and Commercial Street before ending with a rally in John Frost Square. Leanne Wood AM's bog entry on the threatened closure of Newport's Passport Office is well worth a read, Leanne will be one of the speakers on Saturday.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


I for one very warmly welcome Professor Peter Midmore's independent economic study of the Severn Bridge tolls which has recommended that the revenues should stay in Wales, once the crossings revert to public hands. The study for the Welsh Affairs Select Committee at Westminster, which is looking at the impact the tolls on Wales amongst other things.

The Professor's study found that Welsh businesses were unfairly penalised by the tolls and concluded that the money should be shared with the Assembly Government and used to improve Wales’ roads and public transport. Under the current stitch up (sorry set-up), once the cost of the Second Severn Crossing is paid off (by 2014 or 2016) the revenue stream will revert straight to Treasury coffers in Westminster.

The study of 122 businesses commissioned by the Federation of Small Businesses found the tolls had a negative impact on 30% of firms in South Wales, compared with 18% in the Greater Bristol area. While noting that the economic impact was not substantial for most, the study found that transport, construction and tourism-related companies reliant on regular crossings suffered increased costs and reduced competitiveness.

There are also concerns, if not fears that the bridge tolls, which currently range from £5.50 for a car to £16.40 for a heavy goods vehicle (HGV), may stop the development of small-to-medium-sized business in the areas surrounding the bridges.The study 's findings which come only a few weeks after the private company running the bridges blamed growing unemployment and a rise in the cost of fuel on a 20% drop in traffic in the past two years.

Severn River Crossings plc further warned that unless traffic levels pick up, then it could take longer to pay off the cost of the second bridge – delaying the handover of the bridges to public ownership until as late as 2018.

The study, which will be submitted as evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting a cross-party inquiry into the economic impact of the tolls and the future of the bridges. concludes that its “highly unlikely” the tolls will be abolished even when the bridges revert to public ownership.

The private company that runs the Severn Toll Bridges (and we can thank the Tories for that) managed to raise around 226m over the last three years (up to June 2010) yet barely spent £15m on essential maintenance on the original crossing's damaged cables. That the bridge tolls have been used used as little more than a cash cow, to fleece bridge user should come as not much of a surprise to many people.

Plaid Cymru's South Wales Central AM Chris Franks, (in June 2010) used the Freedom of Information Act to show the significant difference between the large amounts of money raised by Severn River Crossing plc from the toll, and the relatively small amount being spent on treating the damage to the cables on the old crossing. His FOI request revealed that (since 2006) some £15m has been spent on main cable work on the first Severn Crossing (the M48 bridge). The Highways Agency suggested that another £5.8m worth of maintenance will take place over the next five years.

This despite the fact that some £225,733,000 has been collected in bridge toll revenue since 2006. People may well begin to wonder if they are going to get saddled with major work to maintain the bridges after the toll profits have been siphoned off by the concessionary company when the bridges are finally returned to public ownership in 2014 or 2016.

The knowledge that Severn River Crossings plc may, due to falls in traffic levels, take even longer to pay off the cost of the second bridge, thus delaying the eventual handover of the bridges to public ownership until as late as 2018, will bring little comfort to bridge users facing yet another annual increase in the Severn bridge tolls in January 2011.

Yet, despite persistent bleating from Westminster sheep over the years along the lines of there is nothing we can do to reduce or stabilise the tolls! It turns that this is or was not quite true as the last New Labour Government actively intervened in October 2009 in relation to the Humber Bridge.

Sadiq Khan, the then New Labour Minister of Transport, announced a grant of £6m to the Humber Bridge company, saying that, “the Government was committed to doing everything it can to protect communities and businesses from economic downturn and help the country to recover. That is why I decided not to accept the Humber Bridge board’s proposed toll increases”. Very nice - but if that's the case in England, then why not in Wales?

Admittedly the Severn Bridges straddle the Welsh English border something that may complicate the issue of ownership with the tolls on the newer bridge being collected in Wales, and the older one being collected in England. Additionally the questionably worded concessionary agreement (and the Act of Parliament) which enables the tolls to go up each January may also have something to do with it.

One key question that no one appears to be asking or answering is what will happen to the tolls once the concession expires or ends. Will the bridge and the tolls simply revert back to the Department of Transport? Or might a portion of the tolls end up filtering down to the National Assembly, by default or as a result of central government indifference. Will the National Assembly act as merely as a local agent for the Department of Transport? Or is total control of the revenue

If it the whole package ended with the National Assembly, then if the current tolls were halved then, what could be accomplished by using a percentage to cover maintenance of the bridge and using the remainder of the toll for ring fenced capital projects – such as new integrated transport systems, reopening railway lines, funding tram systems and investing in rail freight – which would be far more beneficial for all of us in Wales than the finance disappearing into the Westminster coffers or being used to bail out the bankers?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


The potential loss of Newport's passport office, which employs around 300 people, will have a big impact in and around Newport, where the public sector plays an important role in the local economy. The Passport Office is a significant employer and the potential loss of 300 jobs would have wider impact well beyond those who may lose their jobs - out in the wider business community across Newport. There is only one Passport Office in Wales and its loss will be keenly felt. Here in Wales we should not have to be reliant on making the potentially arduous trek to Liverpool or London to access passport services. It has been said that this decision is not set in stone, so there is room for manoeuvre - its definitely time to think again about where savings can be made. Save our Passport Office. Sign the Petition.

Monday, 11 October 2010


And they say that a picture is the equivalent of a 1,000 words or perhaps half a dozen electoral pledges...

Friday, 8 October 2010


There are some reliable constants in life, for example I used to have an old car that would in wet weather (don't ask me why?) regularly refuse to start, usually when I was trying to go to work. Eventually enough of my friends and family said get rid of it and after some soul searching I did. One of those constants is that not so deep down, under the surface, when you scratch a Tory that they are still died in the wool Thatcherite's. Despite all the spin, the hype, the waffle, the green wash and the layers of gloss paint duly applied by Cameron - that's what they are - hating the poor and the disadvantaged  and  deeply envious of the questionable wide-boys in the City. News from Scotland suggests that this may be the case - a Conservative candidate in next year's Scottish Parliamentary election has resigned after allegedly saying Scots were "so thick" for hating Margaret Thatcher. Car wise, since getting rid of my old car I have not looked back, I wonder how long it will be before the Scottish people finally get rid of the last vestiges of the Conservatives...and then don't look back.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


He's at it again - that David ("Call me Dave") Cameron, the Con Dem Prime Minister (at Westminster) currently running the risk of becoming the new ITMA ('It's That Man Again') with his repeated talk of dread and dire public sector cuts. He has only  managed to go and stir things up so much with his mantra of public sector spending cuts that he has united the Political Leaders of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in opposition to his proposed cuts. With Alex Salmond, Carwyn Jones and Peter Robinson who all want the proposed cuts phased in over a longer period, they all signed the following declaration of opposition.

Basically the leaders of the three devolved administrations have said the coalition's cuts are "too fast and too deep" and may put the economic recovery at risk. They said "The devolved administrations believe that the proposed approach to public spending reductions by the UK government runs the risk of delivering significant economic and social harm and urge the UK government to reconsider its proposals."

This is quite an achievement for PM Cameron, I wonder what he will do next?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader and defence spokesperson, Elfyn Llwyd MP, is right to warn that the UK government must undertake radical steps to help the rising numbers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers. The UK Government has taken its time in responding to the needs of our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan - a number of whom are suffering from PTSD.

The Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, promised today to provide a 24-hour helpline and an additional 30 mental health nurses for veterans and serving soldiers. This is a step in the right direction but far bolder action needs to be undertaken to support our veterans and our serving service personnel and their families, who were promised help by New Labour, who failed to deliver.

Plaid's Elfyn Llwyd has long been at the forefront of a campaign for greater support for veterans of the Armed Forces and recently travelled to the United States as part of a delegation sponsored by the Howard League for Penal Reform to research the issue of why so many ex-servicemen and women end up in prison.

Plaid's Elfyn Llwyd MP said:

“This is an issue I have long campaigned for and I am extremely glad that the UK government has finally realised what a critical problem we face with veterans welfare. It is a crying shame that more is not done to support our young men and women when they leave the forces – particularly when we ask so much of them in going to war. PTSD is a problem that can take years, sometimes decades, to surface. We need to ensure that support is on offer whenever a veteran needs that support – not just immediately prior to leaving the forces. No doubt we have yet to witness the true scale of the mental health fall-out that will come in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan. While I'm glad that steps are being taken, there is a certain 'de ja vu' in this announcement as it seems to be a re-hash of promises made by the last government.

Will this government really commit itself to tackling this ever increasing problem? We need to improve mental health screening of personnel when they sign up as well as developing a holistic and thorough support structure available for every veteran when they leave the forces. I have argued that there should be a thorough and separate review into resources spent on veterans – similar to the Defence review, that way would we would be closer to recognising where exactly, and how much, resources would be needed to begin targeting the problem. A structure needs to be in place to provide support and advice on accommodation, career advice and debt management as well as health and mental health issues, to target the social isolation experienced by many veterans.Only through developing a thorough support network will we be able to tackle the scandalous number of veterans who end up in the criminal justice system and in the homeless population.”

Sadly it should come as no real surprise to even the most impartial observer (or not) that UK Government's have a tendency to treat former (and serving) service personnel badly. On occasion you may well be driven to wonder if anything has changed; once again our heroes and heroines are doing battle in a distant land and their families are living quietly in sub-standard accommodation at home. They (my grandfather amongst them) were promised many years ago 'Homes fit for heroes' – but the last but one Conservative / Liberal Coalition found that honouring promises to heroes cost too much (what price the sacrifice made at the front?) once the war was over thus fell the Geddes Axe...

The only honourable exception to this roll of shame was the 1945 Labour Government, the rest have readily and speedily betrayed their promises our service personnel - admittedly usually after a wars conclusion rather than while it is still going on. It is deeply ironic that with the ninetieth anniversary of a UK Government betraying its promise to our soldiers to ensure that they had homes fit for heroes after the 1914 – 1918 war; that we find ourselves in a situation where soldiers families are living in sub-standard accommodation and our veterans and the sharp end of shoddy treatment for services rendered .

Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, promised today to provide a 24-hour helpline and an additional 30 mental health nurses for veterans and serving soldiers - lets hope this Government keeps its promises to our veterans and our serving service personnel.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Yet another good local example of local people making an effort to keep village and community life going is the group of residents who took over the running of their local village pub. The hard work of residents who took over the 17th century Angel Inn, Grosmont have been recognised as the pub has been included in the Good Beer Guide. The Angel, which was literally the last pub in the village, was threatened with closure, until six local residents raised £250,000 to buy it and prevent its closure. The good news is that the 2011 Good Beer Guide, which has been published by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said the pub was of historic importance. It was one of seven community-run pubs singled out for special mention by CAMRA, which expressed concern that 39 pubs were closing every week in the UK.Well done!

Monday, 4 October 2010


Plaid Cymru members have chosen their South Wales East list candidates for next May's Welsh General Election. Hundreds of party members from across the region took part in the selection process which saw Jocelyn Davies, Lindsay Whittle, Bleddyn Hancock and Jonathan Clark selected as Plaid candidates for the region.

Jocelyn Davies will lead the Plaid team on the list, with Lindsay Whittle second, Bleddyn Hancock third and Jonathan Clark fourth. In 2007 Plaid capture two of the four regional seats.

Lead candidate Jocelyn Davies AM said:

It's a great honour to have been selected to lead such and experienced and dedicated team of candidates into next year's election campaign.

"The Plaid team in the South East will be campaigning hard to make 2011 Wales' Year. We'll be working hard for a Yes vote to give Wales the proper parliament we deserve.

"We'll also be knocking on doors across our communities showing that Plaid is the party with an ambitious plan for the coming decade - a plan designed to meet the major challenges that we face over the coming years.

"As candidates, our local priorities will continue to be ensuring that good quality jobs are created in our communities and ensuring our hospitals and schools are providing our people with the service we deserve."