Friday, 31 March 2017


Morgan Bowler-Brown, Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales's
candidate for Tredegar Park Ward
In Tredegar Park Plaid Cymru is proud to have Morgan Bowler-Brown representing the people of his local community.

Morgan, 25, married father of one, is passionate about many things – but if pressed his main drive for standing in the upcoming elections is improving equality for all.

If elected Morgan promises to:

Curb congestion along Pencarn Way and the B4239

Slow speeding along roads in the ward, particularly Duffryn Way and Tredegar House Drive.

And to work to fix the flooding on the foot[paths to Duffryn infants School.

Morgan has also engaged with Gwent Police, where he learned about the activities taking place to combat crime and anti-social behaviour, within Duffryn and the wider City. He has recently represented Plaid Cymru at ‘Rainbow Newport’ the cities first ever LGBT conference, speaking up for the LGBT community in Newport – a large yet mainly underrepresented part of the City.

He is passionate about young people being given a voice and he believes that voice should be listened to. He has been involved in Plaid Cymru since the Age of 13 when he represented The Party of Wales in his schools mock election and has campaigned for Youth involvement in politics ever since.
He is the Chair of Plaid Ifanc Casnewydd – The Plaid Cymru Youth Movement Newport Branch – Find out more about this by following @PlaidIfanc on twitter
You can follow Morgans Campaign of Facebook – by joining his ‘Tredegar Park’ group 
Morgan recently represented the local Plaid Cymru group at the Parties annual conference held in the Riverfront Theatre.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


What happens in Stow Hill interests me, particularly, issues affecting the quality of life for all of us. Being active in politics motivates me to take up issues ranging from street litter, to campaigning for restoration of the Royal Mail’s postbox removed when Bridge Street Railway Bridge was rebuilt (an ongoing project). Keeping our parks safe for all who use them (including the removal of drug abuse detritus) is important. A wholesome living environment is good for all of our collective self-esteem.

Rhys Ab Elis, Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales's candidate for Stow Hill War

If elected I will campaign to extend the City Centre CCTV system, installing extra cameras in places known for anti-social and criminal activity, in places not presently covered. I would press to make our one-way streets, truly and effectively one-way and for properly road-marked pedestrian crossings, where they are needed. All this means listening to what our council tax payers are telling us.

I am a retired civil servant, aged 70, a resident of Stow Hill ward for over 27 years. Before retirement I was 34 years in the civil service, predominantly in middle management, the last 7 years in the Department of the Environment, producing housing statistics for government publications. For most of my career I was an active trades unionist, latterly as Branch secretary, taking up personal cases for union members.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017


Here in Wales we need to create a national energy company for Wales to generate sustainable and reasonably priced energy, which can also be part of the solution to create a low carbon society. Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Simon Thomas, (Mid and West Plaid Cymru Assembly Member) has backed the idea to establish a national energy company, Ynni Cymru, which will run as a not-for-dividend company at arms-length from the Welsh Government.

Plaid Cymru’s vision for energy and the environment is for a Wales that reduces its carbon emissions, harnesses its natural resources sustainably, and seizes opportunities in the low-carbon and circular economies. The link between energy and climate change is clear.

One step, which the Party of Wales believes the Welsh Government should take now, to increase energy generation from renewables is to set up a national energy company, Ynni Cymru. to be run as a not-for-dividend company at arms-length from Welsh Government.

A number of actions could fall into the remit of Ynni Cymru, including: reducing the cost per unit of energy to homes and businesses in Wales, reducing the consumption of energy in homes and businesses and helping consumers to make informed decisions based on smart metering technology.

Ynni Cymru would be tasked with funding the mass installation, outsourced to local companies, of solar panels on the roofs of households, business premises and lampposts in Wales, beginning with public buildings and social housing. The company would coordinate and facilitate the use of publicly owned land for renewable energy purposes.

The company could finance the acquisition and development of new large-scale generating and storage capacity, ensuring Wales becomes self-sufficient in renewable energy and becomes a renewable energy exporter. It could boost our energy market by ensuring the development of a national producer cooperative among community energy organisations.

The problem we face is that our energy production and distribution model was restructured to primarily benefit the big 6 energy cartel members, their interests and their (City) profits. From the perspective of energy consumers and smaller scale energy producers, or anyone who wants things to change the problem is that all the Westminster based political parties have quietly bought into this cartel dominated model of energy production and ownership (or perhaps more truthfully were quietly bought).

The reality is that the UK’s cartel dominated model for energy production and distribution is not necessarily the norm everywhere in Europe or around the world. Now contrary to what you might think, and here from Westminster; realistic alternatives exist and actually prosper, a particularly good example of a balanced and healthy energy mix can be found in Germany. Small may very well be beautiful, even with a geographically sizeable state, especially in relation to energy, in 2012 some 22% of the countries energy came from small scale green entrepreneurs.

Community based co-operatives (both urban and rural), farmers and homeowners are part of the 1.3 million renewable energy producers and part of the energy mix. In Germany, citizens’, cooperatives, and communities own more than half of German renewable capacity. Small-scale electricity generation is having a knock on effect encouraging change throughout the energy system.

In Berlin, a cooperative (Burger Energie Berlin – literally Berlin Citizens Energy) continues to campaign to take control of the capital's electricity grid with some 35,000km of underground cables. The cooperative is a free, cross-party coalition of citizens who are committed to a sustainable, sustainable and democratic energy policy in Berlin. Members have one vote regardless of the amount their deposit and anyone who wants the power network to be in civil hand, is welcome.

Ordinary Berliners have invested their cash in the venture with the intention of producing a reliable 100 percent renewable energy supply. The aim is to promote the integration of renewable energy into the grid and to invest a portion of the profits from this directly into the transition to renewable energy.

At present the Berlin electricity grid is run by Vattenfall (whose concession runs out this year) regularly generates millions in profits, members of the co-operative believe that the profits from the grid operation should flow to Berlin’s citizens.

This is grass roots energy generation that has potentially the power to change the nature of the energy supply system (in Germany and elsewhere). They aim to build an energy grid that is better handle the rise of green power and allows local use of locally produced energy. This may well be a case of small being both beautiful and perhaps deeply disturbing from the perspective of Westminster and Cardiff Bay something that it is both community beneficial and community owned.

In Germany, there is a deliberate promoted policy of energy transition (or ‘Energiewende’) – this is a very different approach to what is practised in these islands (at least south of the Scottish border). For a start the ‘Energiewende’ is driven by a desire to reduce and eliminate any dependency on nuclear energy.

The introduction of the Feed-in-tariff (EEG) in 2008 was an important part of this process, along with (post Fukushima) the almost unanimous across the board political commitment to a wide range of targets (in 2011) which included a commitment to reduce energy demand (with a 50% reduction in primary energy use by 2050) and the achievement of an 80% renewable electricity share of total consumption (by 2050). This has resulted in a significant uptake of renewables in Germany.

The real striking difference is that the operation of the grid in Germany means that generated renewable electricity is used first and that distribution network operators (DNOs) are also seeking to reduce demand. This is so radically different from the way the energy is generated, distributed, exported and used here in our country.

A significant difference, aside from the scale and pattern of investment (in Germany), is that small businesses, co-operatives, individual households and local authorities benefit from investment distributed by a network of local banks (something we pretty much entirely lack in Wales). The whole thing is supported by the KfW (state investment bank) to the tune of 23.3 billion euro in the area of environment and climate protection (2012 figures).

These developments are a million miles away from the so-called ‘Free market’ for energy that exists in the UK, which is pretty dominated by the ‘Big 6’ energy cartel members. The fact that some former politicians have found rewarding post political career employment within the energy sector may be co-incidental but suggests that there is little desire for improvement within Westminster.

The way the current set up works, it is difficult to imagine ‘Government’ at most levels (at least outside of Scotland and perhaps Northern Ireland) in the UK grasping the concept, the practicalities and real possibilities of genuine community owned beneficial energy generation projects.

Here we have a visionless Conservative government in Westminster, which is hand in glove with despotic oil producing regimes in the Middle East and has little interest in renewables. This government , along with its predecessor continues to actively work to pull the rug out from under the renewables sector by cutting the feed in tariff something that has cost highly skilled jobs here in Wales.

Sunday, 26 March 2017


PAM BELL, Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales Monmouthshire
County Council Candidate for Llanelly Hill Ward
Over the years, I have seen many changes imposed on our community.  Planning decisions that make no sense to the community, neglect and disruption of rural roads and paths, loss of local services, village school closures... 

All too often, our views seem to take second place to plans made elsewhere, to meet other priorities. 

Plaid Cymru believes in communities, and as your councillor I will strive to ensure that whatever the issue, decisions are taken transparently, with proper consultation, with residents’ views sought and taken into account.

I was born and brought up in London, and moved to Llanelly Hill in 1988.  I graduated in environmental sciences and worked in education, training and travel before becoming self-employed in activity tourism.  Alongside my career, I have always been involved in voluntary work, including social and youth programmes, conservation and public access to the countryside.

Spending your money wisely

Plaid Cymru secured an additional £25m for our councils in the 2016 Welsh Government budget, and our Councillors will scrutinise spending in terms of:

Fairness: closing the gap between those at the top and the bottom by protecting jobs and 
services while challenging excessive top-level pay.  

Ethical Investment of council reserves in local low-risk projects.

Local Businesses supported by appropriate bidding systems for council contracts, and 
‘Buy Local’ policies.

Schools to be accountable to the local community, doing what is best for pupils, not held 
back by red-tape.

Planning that works for People

It is unfair that small-scale sustainable developments are often refused while housing estates are imposed, against the wishes of the local residents. Plaid Cymru councillors will fight for sustainable development; affordable and rooted in the needs of the community.

Twitter: @PamBell4Plaid

Monday, 6 March 2017


There is a clear need for a Welsh Green belt across all of our country, to fringe our urban areas, to help focus out of town and fringe of town developments, not to mention helping to protect green spaces between and within some of our urban areas. It's worth noting that 'Green belt', if respected is a useful planning tool, originally introduced for London in 1938, it was then rolled out to England as a whole by a government circular in 1955 but interestingly enough not to Wales.

The original concept was to allow local councils to designate green belts when they wanted to restrict or control urban growth.  The idea worked and worked well, as by 2007, Green belt covered something like 13% of England (about one-and-a-half million hectares) despite the best efforts of previous Conservative, New Labour and Conservative–Liberal Democrat Governments it is still remains relatively well protected by normal planning controls against "inappropriate development".

Here in Wales we have one patch of notional green belt (or Green wedge) and that lies between Cardiff and Newport. Scotland has seven and Northern Ireland has 30 - each has its own policy guidance.  The preservation of green spaces aside, it comes down to planning permission, which can be a touchy subject, especially when a development (whether for commercial, housing or energy development) is controversial or the final decision is made against the wishes of local people.

It should be pretty clear to most dispassionate observers that in Wales, we lack a coherent national strategic development plan for Wales judging by the half-baked way local unitary development plans have been put together over the years. A number of which are focussed on housing developments, which have done (and will do) some pretty serious damage to our environment in the process without any necessary improvements in infrastructure e.g new railway stations with reasonably priced (or even free), adequate and secure park and ride facilities at Caerleon (closed as a result of the Beeching cuts in 1962, in the UDP since 1984) Llanwern and Magor.

In the south east, along the coastal belt and in and around Newport and Torfaen (not to mention Cardiff and Caerphilly) the last thirty years has seen a significant if not spectacular growth in the amount of housing, a significant percentage of which has never aimed to fulfil local housing needs. As a result the infrastructure along the coastal belt between Chepstow, Caldicot, Rogiet and Magor is struggling to cope with existing developments and this is well before the projected expansion of housing on and around the former Llanwern site really kicks in.

Northern Newport has now been linked to the south Cwmbran - something that has brought little material benefit to the residents of either urban area but has contributed much to traffic congestion. Similarly linking Cwmbran with Sebastopol will bring scant benefit to local residents. Even if eventually housing is built on the land just exactly how much of it will be affordable to local residents?

When the Severn Bridge tolls are reduced (rather than removed) after 2018, there will be a significant bump in house prices as people living in and around Bristol move cash in on cheaper housing over here.  This will impact on both affordable and available housing, developers will no doubt pitch their developments accordingly to cash in on perceived higher wages in the Bristol area and perceived cheaper housing over here (and no doubt our local authorities will fall over themselves to accommodate the developers wishes regardless how local people feel).

The National Assembly should know better and act accordingly, the institution when established was supposed to have sustainability enshrined in its actions, but, at times you really have to wonder, especially when it comes to the impact of some of the proposed developments on our communities. We need to protect the green wedges around and within our urban communities – because once developed they are gone for good.

The problem caused by a lack of protection to our Green wedges, etc is aggravated by the fact that what one generation of elected officials (and council officers) envisages as a green wedge, green lane, etc is often seen by later generations of elected officials (and council officers) as either prime land for development or a nice little earner to help balance out the books - this means that there is a real lack of stability and a long term vision for many of our urban areas and impacts on our quality of life. 

The National Assembly needs to act like the Welsh Parliament it should be and take the long view and create Welsh Green belt land with full legal and planning protections. This might go some way to calming things down when it comes to development planning and might introduce a more long-term sustainable democratic element into the process. This is something that could be accomplished by creating Welsh Green belt land, as part of the process we also need an urgent and open debate into the planning process in Wales - something that has been long overdue.

Successive Westminster government’s (in England) over the next few years will continue to talk about getting planning officers "off people's backs" with a relaxation of current rules. When they talk about ‘people’ they mean developers. In true Spiv fashion ‘for a limited period, people are able able to build larger extensions on houses (up to eight metres for detached homes and six for others). Shops and offices will also be able grow to the edges of their premises as Plan A (harsh Public Sector Cuts) continues to unravel and on the back of BREXIT a note of desperation may begin to creep into Westminster’s attempts to boost stabilise the economy.

These sounds good; it seems very reasonable save for the fact that somewhere amongst the smoke and mirrors the plan will reduce developer’s obligations to build proportional amounts of affordable housing and avoiding flood risk will go out the window. Not that long ago the previous Westminster government rewrote the entire planning framework (for England) despite some fierce resistance from countryside campaigners. No doubt Westminster ministers will want further changes to planning rules (in England) in an attempt to boost house building and revive the economy.

Not wanting to be left out (and bereft of any fresh ideas), a few years ago the previous Labour in Wales Government in Cardiff also pursued major changes to planning rules in Wales aiming to ‘tilt the balance in favour of economic growth over the environment and social factors’. This decision was in my opinion aimed quite specifically at overturning those few occasions when our Local Authorities have rejected developments (often at the behest of local residents) rather than putting economic needs ahead of economic and environmental benefits and will do little for sustainable, flood free development to deal with local housing needs let alone preserve our green spaces.