Rhun’s Column for the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail 18.07.18

I was pleased to be chosen in the ballot recently to present a short debate to the Assembly on a topic of my choosing.

Having been impressed by hearing of (and seeing for myself during a recent visit) the excellent work done at the Bangor University Ocean Science department at Menai Bridge and being aware of Anglesey’s potential when it comes to marine energy as well as research, I decided to use my time in the Assembly chamber to discuss the future of the research vessel Prince Madog.

I’m sure that the Prince Madog will be a familiar site to many of you who have seen it tied to the pier in Menai Bridge. It’s the largest ship to be seen regularly on the Menai Strait and all those who are proud of it know it’s a symbol of excellence in the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor.

My debate not only celebrated that role, but also pressed on Welsh Government the importance of the Prince Madog now and its national potential for years to come, making the case for it to be made into a National Marine Research Vessel for Wales. Ireland already has two!

The Wales marine area includes valuable and varied natural resources that can provide significant economic and social opportunities, and which contribute to the well-being of the nation and of future generations. But, in reality, we know virtually nothing about those resources. It’s staggering how little of our sea bed has been mapped, given the detailed onshore mapping.

Mapping of this kind is a priority on an EU level and has been for some time, but there has been no co-ordinated plan for the UK—no plan for Wales. The process of gathering data has been ad hoc. It hasn’t been properly co-ordinated, and that must change. Of course, we have the resource that we need to do that work: the Prince Madog. Let’s be innovative and make it happen.

The pupils of Ysgol David Hughes certainly know a thing or two about innovation! I had a great time talking business and entrepreneurship at the Ysgol David Hughes Innovation Fair last week. It was a fair full of great ideas and a great group of students. Last year, the fair was where Arfordir Clothing began, and they’ve gone from strength to strength, having just launched a new product. We need to support and promote these young entrepreneurs. Go for it with your plans! – I wish you all the best.

Securing the future of the Prince Madog: The case for having a national maritime research ship for Wales

My Short Debate in the Senedd this week: Securing the future of the Prince Madog: The case for having a national maritime research ship for Wales

The Wales marine area includes valuable and varied natural resources that can provide significant economic and social opportunities and which contribute to the well-being of the nation and of future generations. But, in reality, we know virtually nothing about those resources. It’s staggering how little of our sea bed has been mapped, given the detailed onshore mapping. Mapping of this kind is a priority on an EU level and has been for some time, but there has been no co-ordinated plan for the UK—no plan for Wales. The process of gathering data has been ad hoc. It hasn’t been properly co-ordinated, and that must change. Of course, we have the resource that we need to do that work: the Prince Madog.

Anglesey says No to Pylons campaign comes to Senedd

Fideo ddwyieithog / Bilingual Video

Thank you to all the campaigners who travelled down from Anglesey to Cardiff and to all the AMs who supported us in sending a message to National Grid that pylons would be a blight on our island and they should instead put cables underground. The Assembly have spoken with one voice on this, the people of Anglesey and all its elected representatives have spoken with one voice on this. It’s time for Grid to listen.

Rhun’s Column for the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail 25 04 18

“Smile!” Clad in lycra a group of intrepid cyclists took a final photo before their ride from Anglesey to Cardiff, and I joined them to wish them well. The 200 mile journey ahead would make some cry rather than smile! However, I’ve done it myself, and know how rewarding it is to reach the journey’s end – especially having raised money for or awareness of a good cause.

In this case it was the new St David’s Hospice being opened at Ysbyty Penrhos Stanley in Holyhead. The Chairman of Trustees, Lyndon Miles was among the cyclists. Since opening in 1998, the St David’s Hospice in Llandudno has provided the best possible palliative care for thousands of people in Ynys Môn, Gwynedd and Conwy. Now that care is set to be offered closer to home for people on Anglesey. I’m grateful to the St David’s team for their commitment to the island.

I made it to Cardiff by less exhausting means, where I was able to put a number of Anglesey issues on the agenda. I asked the Environment Minister to explain why staff monitoring Afon Cefni to help plan new flood defences have been moved to other duties. It’s not good enough – we need answers to the flooding threat with some urgency, in Llangefni and elsewhere.

Also weather-related, we’re still dealing with the effects of Storm Emma. After the destruction of the Marina, I’m glad to say we’re getting closer to the first meeting of a Holyhead Port Users Group, which I’ll co-chair with the island’s MP. I also paid a visit to Moelfre last week to see the effects of the storm there. I’ll help liaise with the local authority on what needs to be done to deal with the impact the storm had on the village’s pebble beach.

Finally – a political storm hit Cardiff Bay last week with the Labour Welsh Government threatening to take the Assembly to court to stop it discussing a report linked to the death of AM Carl Sargeant. I was bitterly dissapointed in the Government’s actions. The Assembly is there to hold Government to account – not the other way around!

Having said that it might help with the important task of helping people distinguish between the Assembly and the Government. The Assembly is the democratic voice of Wales. YOUR voice. Government – which can be changed at any election – must respect it always.

Rhun’s Column for the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail 11.04.18

Many Mail readers will have followed closely the row over plans by the RSPB to charge visitors £5 to park at South Stack. I have been deeply uncomfortable about the proposed charge.

I wrote last month to the head of the RSPB in Wales, and met her at South Stack at the beginning of last week. I asked for a rethink, highlighting the importance of South Stack to the people of Holyhead and Anglesey, and asking for a more sensitive plan to be developed.

I suggested a number of models – from an annual pass for local users to separate long and short-term parking areas, or varied pricing. I also asked that proceeds should be shared with the social enterprise running the lighthouse – after all, that’s why many go to South Stack, as wonderful as the birdlife there is.

I listened to the RSPB, too. I was told there was no real alternative. Their grant funding has reduced over the years, and they need to make South Stack sustainable. The charge would be £2.50 out of peak season, not £5. It would be free before 9 and after 5 – ideal for regular local visitors and dog-walkers etc. (positive information that the RSPB should have publicised, surely?). But I still wanted compromise.

Thankfully, a strong campaign had grown since the proposed charge became public, and I’m grateful for all those who lobbied the RSPB hard. Later last week, the RSPB said they would now introduce a £20 annual pass, available to residents of Ynys Cybi. It’s a start, but not yet enough. It’s still a fair amount to stump up, and the net could be cast wider. There’s also the issue of sharing proceeds. But we do now have some movement.

So let’s continue to use the power of persuasion… and I’d also like the RSPB to use the power of research so they can work out much better how the charge would affect local users and affect their income, including by visitors to their cafe, for example.

South Stack may belong legally to the RSPB, but we on Anglesey know it belongs to all of us really.

Update from Dŵr Cymru – water in Llanddona

I’ve just come off the phone with Dŵr Cymru Chief Executive Chris Jones to discuss the latest in relation to the properties without water in Anglesey. Many of you have been in touch, and I have been in constant contact with Dŵr Cymru. I now understand that there are around 200 properties still affected – a figure that is, of course, still worrying, but I had the opportunity to discuss Dŵr Cymru’s response and the work being done to restore the supply.

First of all, it is very important for me that the most vulnerable people get all the support, and I urge you to phone 0800 052 0130 to report any special needs that you or your family member or neighbours have. I’ve been given a commitment that all possible help will be given.

I also understand that bottled water is going to continue to be distributed in Llanddona and Llangoed to the people who have no water.

The big question is obviously ‘when will the supply be back?’. Well, it’s certainly hoped that properties will be reconnected by tonight. The system itself is now ‘pressurized’ again, but some specific properties on sub-networks are still without water due to ‘air blocks’ in the system, or perhaps because water is still leaking from some pipes. It is hoped that all water supplies will be back by tonight, but Dŵr Cymru are nervous about giving a concrete promise in case problems take a little longer to sort out in certain properties.

Please keep in touch with my office on e-mail rhun.apiorwerth@assembly.wales or 01248 723599 if there are any specific issues that you would like to discuss.

I am grateful to the local Plaid Cymru Councilors in the Seiriol ward for their work for their constituents in this area which has suffered.

Rhun ap Iorwerth’s Column for the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail 14 02 18

I’m pleased to report, first of all, that your Assembly Member is still in one piece after another tough Assembly v Commons/Lords rugby clash! It is an annual event, held on the day of the Wales v England 6 Nations Fixture. The Assembly won again (for the 7th game in succession) on Saturday, but more importantly we were able once again to raise awareness of our partner Charity, Bowel Cancer UK/Beating Bowel Cancer. My Plaid Cymru colleague Steffan Lewis is currently fighting bowel cancer, and our thoughts were with him as we took to the field at Rosslyn Park in London.

Also on a sporting theme, a word of thanks to Ray Williams of the Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Club for giving such compelling evidence to the Assembly’s Health Committee last week on the need for urgent measures to increase physical activity among young people. I wanted him to come to talk to us because I know what a passionate and knowledgeable advocate he is in this field. It’s up to us as Assembly Members now to press the case for Government action.

My exercise with a special group of school pupils on Anglesey last week was mental rather than physical. It’s always good to meet up with pupils, but I must say a big thanks to year 3 and 4 pupils at Ysgol Henblas for doing such good homework before our meeting, that I faced an hour and a half of non-stop questions. I really enjoyed myself with you – diolch bawb.

Our physical activity enquiry in the Health Committee is aimed at pupils just like them – giving them every opportunity to stay fit and healthy. As well as being good for them, it’s part of the long-term strategy we need to take the pressure off the NHS and care system – keeping people healthy and out of hospital. My visit to the morning “safety huddle” at Ysbyty Gwynedd the week before last showed me the kind of pressure they’re under. To all the doctors, nurses, managers and other staff, thanks for the welcome and the insight.