Rhun ap Iorwerth writes to Health Board regarding GP services in Holyhead

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth has written to Betsi Cadwladr Health Board to ask for urgent action to be taken to restore GP services in Holyhead.

Constituents have been raising concerns after the loss of doctors in recent months led to the Health Board taking over two surgeries.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“It is a matter of grave concern that two surgeries in Anglesey’s largest town – Longford Road and Cambria – have lost so many doctors that they have now been forced to come under the management of the Health Board.

“Constituents say to me that they’ve been told there are no doctors there at all on some days and that the surgeries are manned by hard-working nurses and reception staff only. I’m told that when patients phone for appointments, in need of a doctor urgently in some cases, they are told to ‘phone back on another day. I’m also hearing of delays with the signing of prescriptions.

“Workforce shortages are among the biggest problems facing our NHS. I’m proud that Plaid Cymru was successful in its campaign for a centre to train doctors at Bangor University, training medics in areas like ours where we experience some of the greatest shortages. But it’ll be a number of years before we see the first qualified doctors coming through. We need action now to get primary care back on track in the Holyhead area.”

Ynys Môn AM raises over-60s bus pass concerns in National Assembly

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has asked Welsh Government for certainty that everything will be done to ensure constituents who benefit from the Concessionary Travel Scheme will receive their new bus passes in time for them to come into force in January 2020.

Mr ap Iorwerth’s office has been active in assisting constituents apply for the new-style travel cards which are being introduced, and raised the matter in the National Assembly, as well as concerns regarding raising the age of eligibility for the passes which Welsh Government is proposing as an element of new transport legislation.

On the subject of raising the age of eligibility for the passes, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“The concessionary pass, of course, is something that everyone appreciates and treasures. People look forward, I think, to reaching 60 years of age and receiving that pass, so, it’s not something to be taken lightly, of course, with regards to increasing the age of eligibility.

“There are questions that are important to ask with regard to the effect of this, and there could be a number of costs incurred because of raising the age of eligibility such as environmental costs if people choose not to use the bus and use their own cars, and social costs as well of people choosing not to go out from their homes.”

After Transport for Wales’ website was hit with issues soon after welcoming applications for the new passes, causing the site to crash, the problem now appears to have been resolved and the Ynys Môn AM’s office are welcoming constituents who need support to apply for the new card online.

210,000 applications have been made for the new card throughout Wales, with 750,000 card currently in circulation. Mr ap Iorwerth raised concerns regarding the application process with Welsh Government and also asked that they pull out all the stops to make sure everyone who applies for a new card receives it by December 31st 2019 when the new cards go live.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“On the issue of providing the new passes, the difficulties with the online system did cause a great deal of concern to many of my constituents. It’s important to look forward and not back, but what kind of stress test was made with the system, considering how many people were being asked to renew their passes?

“We heard one Minister—the finance Minister, I believe—saying a few weeks back, ‘Oh, they have plenty of time; they have until the end of December’. That’s not how people work. I’ve come across I don’t know how many people in my office who want to sort this out today, because they’re concerned that they’re going to lose their passes, and I’ve seen the pain in their eyes.

“That’s why I’ve been in my office with my staff providing a service to people, making the application on their behalf, and there are scores of people who’ve been coming into my office, and it’s been great to be able to assist them.

“I asked Welsh Government for certainty that everything is being done to engage with people as soon as possible to ensure that they can renew their passes, and also certainty that when the final day of December nears, the work increases to ensure that people have received the new passes.”

Mr ap Iorwerth’s is offering a free service to constituents who need help renewing their bus passes online. Any constituents who need help in completing their application are invited to visit his office in Llangefni with their current bus pass and national insurance number to complete the application.

250m wind turbine proposals for Ynys Môn ‘completely inappropriate’, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

A National Development Framework proposing the potential erection of wind turbines on Ynys Môn that could measure up to 250m in height is completely inappropriate and ignores the island’s significant potential for creating renewable energy by innovative means offshore, according to the island’s Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth.

There is currently a public consultation ongoing regarding Welsh Government’s National Development Framework Draft for 2020-2040, which has identified sites on Ynys Môn that should be considered as priorities to develop solar and wind energy projects, based on the assumption that the turbines reach heights of up to 250m.

Turbines of that size would reach higher than the highest land on the island – Holyhead Mountain – which is only 220m in height, and more than twice the height of the former Anglesey Aluminium chimney, which is 122m in height.

Mr ap Iorwerth raised concerns with Welsh Government Minister for the Environment, Lesley Griffiths, in the National Assembly recently, stating that wind energy developments on a smaller scale would be much more appropriate to the local landscape, and argued that the framework should recognise the island’s significant potential for offshore renewable energy generation.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“In the face of this Climate Emergency, we must increase the amount of electricity we produce from renewable sources, and we also need to ensure that we have the public’s full support in doing that.

“The National Development Framework Draft recognises a significant area of Ynys Môn that should be considered as a priority site for creating solar and wind energy on the island, but the research supporting this is based on raising turbines of up to 250m in height.

“If we think of the tallest things on Ynys Môn, Nelson’s Column measures at just 106m, Anglesey Aluminium chimney is only 122m and the highest land on Ynys Môn – Holyhead Mountain – is only 220m. On Ynys Môn’s low landscape, it is perfectly clear that recommending turbines of this size – or anything even close to that height – is completely inappropriate.

“There is room to consider wind energy on a scale appropriate to the landscape, but I don’t know if the Minister realises that all that has happened here is causing fear and concern among the public.

“There is so much scope around Ynys Môn to create renewable energy offshore – whether that be tidal or wind – but this isn’t even referenced in the framework, so I wonder if the Minister sees that this is the best way for us to produce the clean, green energy that we need, and to secure the public’s support for it?”

Rhun ap Iorwerth asks First Minister to allow Welsh Government ministers a free vote on Assembly name

Plaid Cymru have made a last ditch appeal to the First Minister to allow Labour Welsh Government ministers a free vote on naming the National Assembly for Wales when it will be debated today.

There had originally been a form of consensus with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, noting his support of the Welsh-only ‘Senedd’ name. However, the Welsh Government have since confirmed they will be whipping ministers to support an amendment put forward by previous First Minister and current Labour backbencher, Carwyn Jones, to drop the already widely-used Welsh-only name.

Speaking ahead of the debate on the Senedd and Elections Bill today, Plaid Cymru’s deputy Leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said that Plaid Cymru strongly supported Senedd becoming the official name in both the main languages of Wales noting that the Welsh language belongs to all the people of Wales, whether they speak the language or not.

Mr ap Iorwerth said that whilst the matter went ‘beyond party lines’, it was time to ‘take ownership’ of one name that ‘belongs to each and every one of us’.

He urged the First Minister ‘at the eleventh hour’ to allow Welsh Government ministers a ‘free vote’ on the matter.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, Plaid Cymru deputy leader said,

“Where there was originally consensus, the Welsh Government now support an amendment put forward by previous First Minister and current Labour backbencher, Carwyn Jones, to drop the already widely-used Welsh-only name.

“It is patronising to assume that those who do not speak Welsh will not understand the name Senedd – a name that is very widely used already. Furthermore, if it is a matter for Members, as the First Minister argues, will he not allow his Ministers a free vote on this matter?

“While this is a matter that goes beyond party lines, I appeal to the First Minister at this eleventh hour to show confidence in the ability of the people of Wales, whatever language they speak, people should be able to take ownership of one name that belongs to each and every one of us.

“Let’s instead be confident in ourselves, uniting the nation behind the name that belongs to everyone regardless of their language, reflecting both our heritage and the dawn of a new kind of democracy. This is our Senedd, a unique name for a unique Parliament.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth joins Citizens Advice Cymru to celebrate 80th Anniversary

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM joined Citizens Advice Cymru in the Senedd as the organisation celebrated its 80th anniversary recently.

Citizens Advice was formed the day after the outbreak of World War II, and initially helped people deal with the impacts of war, and the huge changes it brought to their daily lives.

While the problems that people bring to Citizens Advice have changed over time, demand for the service has only increased. Last year, Citizens Advice Cymru helped over 3,000 people in Ynys Môn.

Universal Credit, the Personal Independence Payment and council tax debt were the three most frequently seen issues, but the service helps people with everything from housing problems, to unmanageable debt through to discrimination at work and more.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“Access to good advice is vital for everyone. Citizens Advice Cymru perform a crucial role for people across Wales, providing free, confidential and impartial advice to everyone – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.

“I know how important our local Citizens Advice services are to constituents in Ynys Môn, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to provide services to people who need it most.”

Contraflow plans for A55 at Holyhead Port in event of No Deal Brexit revealed by Welsh Government

If additional space is required to for HGVs attempting to cross the Irish Sea at Holyhead Port in the event of a No Deal Brexit, Welsh Government has revealed one of its plans to tackle the problem in a response to Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth today.

Plans to secure additional capacity for up to 1,000 HGVS wanting to cross at Holyhead have long since been publicised, but today Welsh Government revealed what steps it would take if even further capacity was needed, outlining how contraflows would be used to ease non-port traffic in and out of the busy town if necessary.

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Mr ap Iorwerth sought updates from Welsh Government today regarding their plans for Holyhead Port with a possible crash-out Brexit on October 31st edging nearer.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“I am pleased that preparations have been made to ensure ease of passage for vehicles across the A55 after October 31st and that roadworks will be cleared to make sure that there aren’t any additional obstacles for the problems that traffic will encounter on the way to Holyhead.

“I have asked Welsh Government today to divulge more about their plans to minimise the impact of disruption at the port of Holyhead on local traffic specifically.

“We know capacity in Holyhead is around 600 lorries and there are plans that have been explained to us previously to have a couple of extra locations available to increase that capacity to around 1,000 HGVS, but there is potential of problems within the locality of the port that has traffic problems as it is.”

In response Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates said:

“Rhun ap Iorwerth is absolutely right that on site and with another area that we have secured there will be room for just under 1000 HGVs.

“In the event that additional space is required our proposals are to utilise the westbound carriageway of the A55 and have contraflow traffic on the eastbound carriageway.

“We wish to minimise disruption at the port of Holyhead but we cannot guarantee that in the event of hauliers not obtaining appropriate documentation that they won’t be turned back and stacked on the A55, but we wish to avoid this if at all possible.”

First Minister should stick to his instincts and back ‘Senedd’ renaming, says Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru state that indigenous Welsh name should be given to Wales’ National Parliament

Rather than teaming up with the Conservative Party to throw out a Welsh-only name, the Labour First Minister should back renaming the National Assembly for Wales to ‘Senedd’ to reflect the importance of the Welsh language according to Plaid Cymru.

The Labour Welsh Government wants to give the National Assembly for Wales a new bilingual name instead of a Welsh-only moniker, after former First Minister Carwyn Jones tabled an amendment to the bill, favouring a bilingual name which it is believed Welsh Government will support.

Plaid Cymru, however, is campaigning to rename the institution to ‘Senedd’ and in First Minister’s Questions Rhun ap Iorwerth made the case for using an indigenous Welsh name to mark an exciting new chapter in the institution’s history.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“It was clear that there was consensus to give this institution the name ‘Senedd’. Senedd has increasingly become a norm when people refer to this place.

“‘Welsh Parliament’ would be enshrined in new legislation as a descriptor, but an indigenous Welsh name would be given to this place to note a new chapter in its history.

“Yes, people call it the Welsh Assembly, the National Assembly, the Assembly – but more and more it is known as ‘Senedd’ in both languages that belong to all of us in Wales. Now we can take the small but significant step of adopting that name for the institution itself.”

Mr ap Iorwerth also pointed out that the Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford last year had outlined his preference also being for a Welsh-only renaming of the Assembly, and the Plaid Cymru AM criticised the idea of abandoning a Welsh-only name for the institution.

“In November the First Minister said ‘If I had to make a choice, I’d go with Senedd.’ Now Labour’s proposal is to go with Senedd / Welsh Parliament. How incapable does Welsh Government think the people of Wales are to deal with and embrace the word ‘Senedd’, much as the Dail is the norm in Ireland?

“The First Minister should back his own instincts on this, rather than teaming up with the Tories in throwing out the Welsh-only name.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth’s office offering bus pass support to island community

The office of Ynys Môn’s National Assembly Member has opened it’s doors to constituents struggling to renew their bus passes, as Rhun ap Iorwerth AM’s office is aiding constituents who are struggling to renew their Over-60s passes online.

Transport for Wales is working with Local Authorities across Wales and Welsh Government to phase out the current bus passes by the end of 2019, and whilst the process of renewing online is theoretically quicker than renewing via paper forms, it can be challenging in communities that don’t readily have internet access or amongst those who aren’t comfortable online.

The Plaid Cymru AM’s office is offering to help any constituents wanting to renew their passes, and say they have already assisted a number of constituents on this issue in recent weeks.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“Something that may seem simple to many can be very difficult for some in our community, but my office is here to help and we have already been able to assist a large number of constituents that have come to us asking for help to renew their bus passes.

“It is a real pleasure to be able to help in this way. If anyone needs any help with renewing their bus pass then please come and visit my team and I in the office in Llangefni and we will be happy to help with that, or indeed any other matter.”

Ynys Môn AM discusses Holyhead Station refurbishment with Network Rail MD

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has sought updates from Network Rail regarding plans to improve Holyhead Railway Station at a recent meeting to discuss rail developments on Ynys Môn and across Wales.

£1.2m of investment has been earmarked for improvement works to take place at Holyhead Railway Station in the near future, with Network Rail confirming in a meeting with the Ynys Môn AM that a range of stakeholders will be consulted on the most effective way to invest this sum in transforming the station at Holyhead.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“This is an important station that has seen better days, but now there is a real chance to get various groups to come together and work collectively to improve it and deliver positive change for what is a gateway to north Wales at Holyhead railway station.”

In a meeting with Mark Langman, Network Rail’s Managing Director of Wales and Western, and Sam Hadley, Rhun ap Iorwerth also discussed plans to reopen the railway line running from Amlwch to Gaerwen on Anglesey.

Network Rail confirmed that talks regarding a lease to run trains on the line were at an advanced stage, and also confirmed that they would be willing to provide support for the reinstallation of the recently damaged Glanhwfa Bridge in Llangefni.

Rhun ap Iorwerth criticises UK Government’s transport legacy for Wales

There are a catalogue of examples as to why the UK Government has not left a positive transport legacy for Wales in recent years, according to Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Following an exchange between the Plaid AM and Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates in the Assembly on Tuesday, where Mr ap Iorwerth made the case for devolving powers over rail infrastructure to Welsh Government, the Ynys Môn AM on Wednesday in a debate on transport criticised the UK Government’s overall transport legacy for Wales.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“Consensus can build between politicians here in Wales and politicians in Westminster, but because the cards are held by UK Government, it is up to them, not us as a nation what we get to decide on the future of our transport network.

“There’s a catalogue of examples that I could give of why the UK is not a positive legacy for Wales when you look at transport. If you want to make the case for the UK, I’d suggest transport was a pretty poor choice of topic, and in fact I think it’s getting more and more difficult for you to choose a topic that says that the UK is our best bet.

“It was believed that the British empire would never see the sun set on it—that the empire was set for, and I quote the Brexit Party, ‘indefinite continuance’. But the sun did set on it. Now we look to a new dawn, as Scottish independence, Irish unity and Welsh independence rise up the agenda, so rub your eyes and join us on the journey.”