Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Our small businesses in Wales make a vitally important contribution to our economy and account for 99% of all businesses in Wales; it is vital we support this sector. Business rates account for a significant part of operating costs for small businesses and as a result prevent businesses from growing, from investing in themselves and in many cases, creating more jobs. We need to remove the burden of business rates and allow our private sector to flourish and create employment opportunities. 

Small businesses are vital for our economy, they form the backbone of our economy and they are vital in terms of spreading economic growth beyond the cities and into our smaller towns like Abergavenny, Chepstow, Caldicot, Monmouth and Usk. If we want our small towns across Wales to be thriving, then we have to support small businesses. Business rates are a burden – they account for a far greater proportion of operating costs for a small business than they do for large businesses.

Plaid has long championed the importance of local economies when it comes to generating national wealth. Every £1 spent in a local business selling local produce is worth twice as much to the economy as £1 spent in a supermarket, due to local reinvestment and spending. As noted by the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England, every £10 pound spent in a local business circulates at least three times before it leaves the local economy rather than vanishing when spent in the branches of chains.

A Plaid Cymru government would extend the rate relief scheme that we implemented in Government to covers all businesses whose rateable value is £10,000 or less and extend the tapered relief scheme up to £20,000.  Some 90,000 businesses would see a reduction in their business rates as a result and more than 70,000 businesses across Wales would be taken out of the rates system.

Plaid would raise the money, which would go towards paying for this, by mirroring the business rates system, as it currently exists in England where large businesses pay more than small businesses. While larger businesses would pay more, they would still pay less in Wales than they would across the border. The extra money raised through the increased bill for large businesses would raise more than enough to cut bills for small businesses.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


Ahead of a crucial meeting of the board of Tata Steel to discuss the future of the company’s Port Talbot site, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:
“This is a difficult day for those working in the steel industry as they wait to hear for a decision on the future of Port Talbot steelworks. Wales has a long tradition of steel production, and the industry could have a good future here with the right support from government.
“It is important is that Tata knows that the whole country is behind the workforce and that there is a great commitment to the steel industry and its workforce here, and I hope that the Welsh Government has communicated that to senior management at the company.
"We have a skilled and experienced steel workforce in Wales and I hope that the Welsh Government will be proactive as it fights for their future.”
Plaid Cymru South Wales West AM Bethan Jenkins said:
“The people of Port Talbot face a difficult wait for news today. Given the gravity of the decision being taken today, the Welsh Government should be proactive in seeking to protect the future of steel production in Wales.

That's why I cannot understand why the Labour Welsh Government has not sent a representative to Mumbai today to make the case for Welsh steel directly to the board. Neither is the Conservative Secretary of State for Wales present. This industry is too important to lose and I hope that both governments have made serious representations to the company.”

Sunday, 20 March 2016


When it comes down the revitalising of our railways (a vital part of our transport infrastructure) Wales comes of second best in comparison with Scotland and parts of England. Part of the reason comes down to the poor devolutionary settlement which failed to give Wales adequate powers in relation to infrastructure developments and part of it relates to a simple lack of will on the part of the recent Labour in Wales Government in Cardiff.  

The Transport (Wales) Act which came into effect in February 2006 gave the National Assembly powers to plan and co-ordinate an integrated transport system, how much longer do we have to wait to see some vision? In the meantime the rail companies have been busy ramping up rail fares, attempting to reduce rail services, all with the tacit co-operation of successive Westminster Government's (regardless of their political hue) and the Department for transport (in London). 

Such duplicity has never been acceptable - it’s time for our government in Cardiff to take the long term view, to bite the bullet and actually put its money where its mouth is and work to redevelop our rail services, boost the development of rail freight and to co-ordinate rail and bus services across the whole of Wales. To do this effectively Wales needs to have full control of it's transport policy and transport budget devolved as quickly as possible and the franchise when it is renewed in 2017 needs to be run on a not for profit basis. 

In Monmouth constituency we need to ensure that our railway stations have more frequent stopping services and have safe, secure and reasonably priced park and ride facilities at Abergavenny, Severn Tunnel and Chepstow. New railway stations at Llanwern and Magor and at Caerleon / Ponthir would do much to cut congestion.

Our bus services should be fully integrated with our rail services and our railway stations should be fully accessible with easy access to services for all passengers. The National Assembly should commit to redevelop and expand our rail services, as has happened in Scotland. Personally I would work for feasibility studies into a new station near Little Mill / Penperlleni and into the reopening of the line to Usk and the construction of a new station west of the town.

Friday, 18 March 2016


I am backing Earth Hour 2016 when people across Wales and around the world will be switching off the lights for an hour to help save energy and build a more sustainable future. Earth Hour is a global initiative and takes place this year on Saturday 19th March at 8.30pm, organised by WWF. this year increasing numbers of Welsh businesses and public bodies including County Councils, Universities, and the Senedd have already pledged their support. Back in 2015, WWF Cymru asked people in Wales to mark the event by holding a candlelit dinner. Simply by switching off the lights for just an hour as a gesture that can makes a difference to our energy consumption, it will teach us to consume less and send a message that saving energy and developing sustainable energy is important. By consuming less energy and making sure that the energy we do use comes from sustainable renewable sources is vital for all of our futures. Let's show the world in 2016 how much we in Wales care about the planet.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


I welcome the planned reductions in the Severn bridge tolls announced in the budget. The Severn bridge tolls are a current significant financial burden for many businesses, commuters and motorists and will remain so after 2018. The tolls can impact on where people choose to locate and do business, Plaid Cymru has repeatedly said that the ultimate goal should be to scrap the Severn bridge tolls altogether.

In government, Plaid would work to achieve this aim, beginning with a reduction to a fee that would cover maintenance costs only. The Party of Wales is committed to removing all obstacles, which are holding back the Welsh economy. The Severn bridges are of strategic importance and it is vital that they operate in a manner, which helps rather than hinders Wales's economic development.

Westminster still needs not just to come clean on the future of the Severn Bridge tolls, which are a tax on commuters, business and jobs. I have long stated that the National Assembly should have control of the Severn Bridges, it should also be directly involved in any discussions about the future of the Severn Bridge tolls as well, as the record continues to shows that successive Westminster governments remain largely indifferent to Welsh interests.

I remain seriously concerned that the Department for Transport may find even the reduced tolls far too useful as a source of income to simply to either eliminate or to hand over to the control of the National Assembly in Cardiff. Based of the fact that relatively recent Labour Governments in Westminster with significant majorities and various shades of Conservative `(and Liberal Democrat) Governments between 1997 and 2015 did practically nothing to relieve the burden of the bridge tolls.

One thing remains clear, the fact that successive Westminster governments have failed to act in a timely manner when Wales or Welsh interests have been raised in the past. The future reduction in tolls is nice but it is frankly not good enough. At present the long-term future of the tolls still remains unclear – save for the fact that as far as we know Westminster has no plan to remove them. 

Monday, 14 March 2016


Plaid Cymru has announced that it will create a ‘National Innovation Body’ to double Research and Development in Wales. Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru Leader, has said that a Welsh government under her leadership would establish a National Innovation Body in order to achieve the party's target of doubling Welsh R&D (Research and Development) spending, and building a global reputation for Wales as a centre of excellence for research and innovation. The body will fund and direct a national network of sector-led Research and Technology hubs to help indigenous spin-out and start-up firms and, would work with the new WDA in attracting innovation-linked investment. It would also lead on introducing innovation in the delivery of public services. Wales's universities, and their relationship with the private sector, would play a key role in achieving these goals.

Party of Wales Leader Leanne Wood said:

"A Plaid Cymru Welsh government would make Wales a nation of innovation. Our National Innovation Body would work in partnership with the private sector, with the aim of doubling Research and Development spend, learning from international best practice.

“Wales needs to see more projects such as ESRI, SPECIFIC, Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating the Swansea Computational Foundry, the innovation and knowledge centre in Baglan, or the new Advanced Semiconductor Centre in Cardiff, in order to revolutionise the Welsh economy and generate wealth.”