Rhun ap Iorwerth responds to Hitachi’s withdrawal from Wylfa Newydd Project

In response to the announcement that Hitachi have officially withdrawn from the Wylfa Newydd project, Plaid Cymru MS for Anglesey Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“Horizon were saying as recently as the last few weeks that their parent company, Hitachi, were still hopeful of winning the support of UK Government. Obviously, that support hasn’t been secured, and the hopes of those who wanted to see a new nuclear power station developed at Wylfa have been raised and dashed once again. To me, this was the danger in relying too much on external investment and on the ability of UK Government to deliver.

“While there will need to be urgent consideration now on alternative options for the site, there must be a step up also in the work to secure other opportunities for the island, including in fields that I am very supportive of such as tidal energy, hydrogen energy and advanced technologies in M-Sparc, for example. I will be pressing Welsh Government to respond to that challenge as a matter of urgency.

“I am also looking forward to seeing Plaid Cymru establishing the headquarters of a new national energy company for Wales on the island in future.”

Plaid Cymru calls for local lockdown blueprint

The Welsh Government should provide a clear strategy on local lockdowns so that the public understands the early warning signs, Plaid Cymru has said.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister has said people should be able to have confidence that emergency responses are happening as quickly as possible. Mr ap Iorwerth said that “we all want to avoid new lockdowns if possible” but that a clear blueprint from the Welsh Government was needed on local lockdowns where they are deemed necessary, so that the public is fully aware before further lockdowns are imposed.

Local lockdown has been imposed on Caerphilly County Borough Council, and includes a requirement for everyone over the age of 11 to wear a face covering in shops.

Mr ap Iorwerth also renewed calls to make the wearing of face masks compulsory in shops, to help prevent lockdown in other areas of Wales.

Currently face coverings are not compulsory in shops in any other part of Wales. With rising infection rates in other county boroughs, Mr ap Iorwerth says it “makes sense to enforce the use of face coverings before the next spike.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister says:

“We all want to avoid new lockdowns if possible, but the Welsh Government must publish their local lockdown strategy – what is their early warning system, who makes the call and who is responsible for enforcing the rules? This should be sensitive to differences between communities in different parts of Wales.

“With the relaxing of restrictions, there has to be clearer enforcement of the basics, including social distancing, hand washing and – of course, the wearing of face masks. And without a clear guide for the alarm bells to watch for, the public did not have fair warning that a local lockdown could be imposed.

“Face masks should have been part of keeping us safe. They’re a preventative measure to limit transmission. And with rising infection rates in other county boroughs, the wearing of face coverings should be made compulsory in all shops in Wales at once. It makes no sense to only make it mandatory after a spike in cases has been confirmed.”

Plaid call for regular Coronavirus testing in schools

There should be regular, significant Coronavirus testing in schools, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, has said.

Mr ap Iorwerth said it “just makes sense” for testing capacity to be used to help ensure our school settings remain safe to be opened fully.

Schools in Wales re-open this week.

With Public Health Wales data showing an increase in new cases last week and with a warning “Coronavirus is still circulating in the community” issued as pupils return to school,

Mr ap Iorwerth has said the “only way to be sure of the full picture” is to test in schools as widely as possible. This is especially important as people often display no or very mild symptoms.

Currently, swab tests are only available for members of the public in Wales with symptoms of coronavirus, with the exception of care home settings.

Recommendations from a recent report by the Royal Society DELVE Initiative include “implementing an effective monitoring regime…including broad surveillance, linked to an effective, sufficiently scaled and rapid test-trace-isolate system.” This report has led to the Children’s Commissioner in England calling for teachers and pupils in England to have weekly tests.

Premier League footballers received twice weekly tests throughout May – July and regular testing is expected to continue when the league restarts. The testing regime has been very effective in finding positive cases where the person displayed no symptoms.

Mr ap Iorwerth said that “if it’s important enough for our footballers, it should be important enough for our teachers, students and everyone who works in our schools.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister, said,

“Testing has been available for everyone in Wales who displays symptoms of coronavirus for some time. However, we know that children – and many adults – often display no or mild symptoms, so the only way to be sure of the full picture is if testing capacity is used as much as possible to bring possible cases and clusters to light.

“Schools are the new unknown. Given that it is so important for them to remain open and safe for everyone in them, it just makes sense to use the testing capacity in Wales to provide reassurance to teachers, parents and pupils alike that we have a complete picture of where coronavirus might be circulating.

“This is especially important as people return from holiday into school settings, amid reports that there is increased risk of transmission from holidays to certain locations.

“It’s important that the Welsh Government gives us a programme of ‘broad surveillance’ – they should start in areas where coronavirus is known to be circulating, they should test as widely as possible, and regular sampling should start now, as pupils return to schools.

“If regular testing is deemed important enough for our footballers, then it should be important enough for our teachers, students and everyone who works in our schools.”

Ynys Mon MS writes to Welsh Government regarding AS/A Level results

I have written to Welsh Government today asking them to reinstate teacher-assessed grades for this year’s A and AS Level students. You can find a full copy of my letter to Education Minister Kirsty Williams below.

Thank you very much to everybody that has contacted my office to share your experiences regarding this vitally important matter. I feel for you all and very much appreciate that you, or your family, have contacted me at this difficult time.

Pete’s Burger Bar belongs at Penrhos, says Rhun ap Iorwerth MS

Ynys Môn MS calls again on Land & Lakes to allow the popular ‘burger van’ to resume trading at long-standing Penrhos site.

Ynys Môn Member of the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has asked Land & Lakes to look again at the decision to terminate the business’ contract, which came as a huge disappointment to both Blue Davies, the business owner who has been operating at the site for 10 years, and to many in the local community who were regular customers pre-Covid. 1,624 people have signed a petition calling on the company to reconsider the decision.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“I appreciate that trading had to be ceased during the lockdown period in the interests of public safety, and to comply with regulations, but the decision to permanently terminate Pete’s Burger Bar’s agreement has raised strong feelings in the local community.

“Now that restrictions have been eased locally, I am calling on Land & Lakes to reinstate the contract, especially given that the business has given an assurance that steps can be put in place to ensure that clusters of people do not gather in an unsafe manner, and that risks could be mitigated through safe Covid-19 practices.

“What we have here is a business, operated by a young family, who face financial uncertainty and are eager to keep trading at Penrhos as they have done successfully for years. They are willing to work with Land & Lakes and relevant authorities to agree on a safe way to operate, and I strongly believe that they should be given the opportunity to do so.”

Blue Davies, who runs Pete’s Burger Bar, said:

“It was a shock that our contract with Land & Lakes was terminated just as lockdown started easing and the coastal park re-opened. They are telling me that the decision is being upheld because of concerns surrounding social distancing in the car park. I have offered to work with both Land & Lakes and the local authority in ensuring that I operate the business safely and make proper use of signage and cones and so on, but I’m not being given that opportunity.

“I am overwhelmed with the support I’ve received from the community at this difficult time for us as a young family, and urge the company to look again at the decision to allow me to keep trading. I have enquired with the County Council about an alternative spot at Newry beach as I really need to get back out trading as soon as possible, but preferably I would like to get back up and running at Penrhos.”

Possible Welsh Government Study exploring future public rail and active travel opportunities for Amlwch-Gaerwen rail corridor welcomed.

Senedd Member for Ynys Môn, Rhun ap Iorwerth has welcomed Welsh Government’s decision to seek funding to build the case for reintroducing a passenger rail service across the island from Amlwch to Gaerwen, and on to Bangor. Mr ap Iorwerth says he’s pleased that the study proposed includes incorporating a multi-use path alongside, something he’s long advocated.

Responding to a letter from Mr ap Iorwerth seeking an update on the Government’s position, an official in the Transport Department confirmed that a formal request has been made to UK Government’s railways ‘ideas fund’ looking at how a rail service initially from Amlwch, through Llangefni, Gaerwen and Bangor, could eventually go on to Llandudno as part of the rail network.

“This is an important step forward, and it’s this kind of serious study that we need to consider the opportunities and challenges for this line.” Mr ap Iorwerth said.

“I particularly welcome the fact that the Government specifies the need to look at the options for active travel alongside the railway, and how to incorporate ‘Heritage Railway’ use, too. I’ve long been eager to bring together groups that have opposing visions for the line.

“At the same time, I’ve been corresponding with the local authority and others recently about various options that could be investigated for active travel paths. There are many opportunities on that front, but only one option on the island for developing rail as public transport.

“Professor Mark Barry of Cardiff University recently outlined how he saw potential for including the Amlwch line as part of expansion of rail across the north west.

“There has been significant underfunding of rail infrastructure in Wales over the years, with Wales getting less than 2% of rail improvement spending, despite having 11% of the tracks. We should be looking not only to improve the tracks we already have, but to expand the network, too.

“Here on Anglesey we have one of the few lines that was mothballed rather than dug up following Beeching-driven cuts. We have some funding set aside from UK Government for developing ideas, and we need to try to access that, as well as taking advantage of various active travel schemes, too.”

The Ynys Môn MS added:

“I’ve been invited by Welsh Government to add my support to the proposal by corresponding with UK Ministers, an opportunity I will most certainly be taking up. Various local interest groups would be asked their views, too, which is vital, of course – these are plans that can benefit the whole island in economic, social, transport and wellbeing terms.”

Welsh Parliament Member for Ynys Mon supports calls for sport and play facilities in Dwyran

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS supports the calls to maintain and develop outdoor leisure facilities for the children and young people of Dwyran.

The Ynys Mon MS met members of the local community to hear their frustration at the lack of a children’s play park, especially given the recent development of new housing in the village with many young families living in newly-developed properties, and he also heard disappointment at the proposed sale of the recently closed village school estate, including the playing field.

Mr ap Iorwerth said housing development plans needed to include a commitment to developing community resources, and said he would write to the County Council to request the exclusion of the playing field from the sale of the school.

He also said he was ready to work with the community to see how a location could be secured and the necessary funding raised to provide a play park.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“I have met with many members of the community of Dwyran earlier this week who want to make sure that the young people of the area have sufficient play facilities for the future.

“I spoke with a group of young people and their parents in the village who raised concerns that there’s no play facilities for children and that they’d like to see housing developers in the area offer opportunities to create play facilities as part of their developments, and I completely agree.

“I will be working with the local community to see how I can help and see if we can develop a facility of some sort here. There are also concerns of plans to sell the playing field that was part of the former village school. Whilst the school does need to be sold by the County Council, I do think the field should be protected and excluded from any sale, so that the local people don’t lose this facility.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth calls on Welsh Government to limit non-essential travel to English Covid hotspots

As the lifting of lockdown restrictions are paused across England, and further restrictions have been imposed on a large area of northwest England, Plaid Cymru has called on the First Minister of Wales to follow Scotland’s lead and limit non-essential travel between English Covid hotspots and Wales.

When localised lockdowns are imposed without travel restrictions, it means that residents only need to travel outside the area to be free of localised lockdown rules. Limiting all but essential travel between Wales and the locked-down areas of England, including the Greater Manchester area, will bring clarity to all, and help increase public safety.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS added,

“There are direct implications for areas like Ynys Môn and the north of Wales resulting from the new lockdown restrictions in place in the north of England. We need clear guidance and communication from Welsh Government about the behavioural changes that are needed on travel, socialising indoors, and masks for example.

“People must think very carefully about how necessary their journeys are between our two regions at the moment, in order to ensure that things are brought under control.”

Care sector needs a voice at the table, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

There should be an explicit “voice” for the care sector within Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru has said. This call is supported by a care home owner who lost 21 residents to COVID-19, and who says that the care service structure is “palpably ineffective, convoluted and wasteful.”

These calls are echoed by Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, who has called for parity between the health and social care sectors.

Noting that the “terrible cost” to Welsh care homes had been well publicised throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – from accessibility of PPE for care workers in the early stages, to care homes having to accept untested patients from hospital – the consequence, says Ms Jewell, was “nothing short of a national scandal.”

Plaid Cymru is calling for accountability for the sector to be clarified through a named official in government having lead responsibility for ensuring that the voice of the care sector is amplified, and for there to be greater political accountability. Under current arrangement the person in charge of social care is a deputy minister.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Shadow Minister for Health for Plaid Cymru, said:

“This pandemic has shown clearly that the care sector has been neglected for too long. I want to give parity to those two sectors – health and care – and indeed Plaid Cymru wants to establish a true National Health AND Care Service for Wales.

“But Government should immediately look to fill the gap that exists whereby care lacks the voice it needs at the heart of Government administration. Our NHS Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer have been prominent figures over these past few months. We need someone of equivalent status whose job it is to ensure that the care sector isn’t in any way forgotten again.”

Brian Rosenberg, Chairman of Tregwilym Lodge Ltd said:

“It is a fact that the current structure and system of delivering the Care Budget and the delivery of Care Services to some of the most vulnerable members of the community has been utterly broken for a long time.

“However the arrival of Covid-19 this year exposed in a horrific way the utter failure of the whole cumbersome and clumsy structure currently in operation. Failures in management of PPE, changes in directives from Welsh Government regarding testing, admissions and discharges from hospital and other policies have resulted in many unnecessary Covid-related deaths; 21 in Tregwilym Lodge alone!

“Whilst investment in public sector workers is clearly welcome, it is bitterly disappointing that social care remains overlooked and ignored by Government. The persistent restrictions on social care funding means that this is by default a largely minimum wage sector. As a sector caring for residents with high levels of complexity and acuity we need a robust career pathway and a voice at the highest level.

“Anyone looking at this structure could see how palpably ineffective, convoluted and wasteful it is.”

Timetable for restoring Primary Care services in Holyhead urgently needed, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth has called for urgent action as concerns persist about primary care capacity in the Holyhead area.

With the Cambria and Longford Road surgeries having been taken over by the Health Board recently due to a collapse in their services, it’s understood that a shortage of GPs and other key staff are causing problems at the town’s other surgery, too.

Mr ap Iorwerth has remained in regular contact with the Health Board and has been pushing for the creation of a new state-of the art Health Centre for the town and surrounding area. He has asked for the old Woolworths site to be considered, as a site that could be accessible to all and which could bring vibrancy to the town centre, too.

There are also plans to formally merge the Cambria and Longford Road surgeries, in coming months, with services to be spread over the two sites, but the MS has written to BCUHB’s Chairman asking what urgent steps will be taken now to restore services to an acceptable level.

Plaid Cymru MS for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The problems facing primary care in Holyhead are well known, and I’ve been campaigning for action to ensure health services in the town are rebuilt and are once more fit for purpose. We need a new modern, and sustainable staffed health centre. But what concerns me is that the situation appears to be getting worse, and not better.

“The current pandemic is compounding the problem, and making solutions more difficult to find, but urgent action is needed. Writing to the health board’s Chairman, I have highlighted one particular case of an elderly gentleman whose physical and mental health is deteriorating through being unable to arrange a face-to-face appointment to have his medication reviewed.

“We need a clear timetable from the Health Board detailing what steps they’re taking to restore full primary care provision in Holyhead, and we need it urgently.”