First Minister agrees to visit Holyhead port to discuss its economic potential

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS will meet with Mark Drakeford to discuss the investment and support needed to unleash the port’s potential.

During questions to the First Minister this week, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn took the opportunity to invite Mark Drakeford to Holyhead port to see for himself what investment is needed to ensure that the port’s “future can be a bright one for Holyhead”.

Rhun ap Iorwerth stressed that the Welsh Government must continue to urge the Irish Government to remember the importance, and to promote the direct crossings from Ireland to Wales, through Holyhead – the busiest port in Wales, following the publication of a map by the Irish Government last week celebrating the opening of 44 crossings from Ireland to the European continent.

In his question to the First Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“As the impact of Brexit continues to cause major challenges in Holyhead, there are also major opportunities – new opportunities that we could be pursuing, and the most important of those are opportunities to develop Holyhead as the port to service the next development in wind energy in the Irish sea. And in that context, may I invite the First Minister to visit the port of Holyhead to see for himself what investment needs to be secured in that port as soon as possible to ensure that, whatever challenges we face now, the future can be a bright one for Holyhead and the workers there?”

In his response, the First Minister confirmed that Welsh Government have a major meeting later this week with Ministers from the Irish Government, where they will discuss opportunities and the potential for both countries from working collaboratively.

In his response to Rhun ap Iorwerth’s question, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS said:

“I am aware, of course, of the challenges facing the port of Holyhead. I would be more than happy to return to Holyhead once again to speak to people there. I agree, and I’ve read an article by the Member this week also, which focused on the opportunities that exist in Holyhead in the context of renewable energy—wind energy—and using the port to help us to create that green economy that we want to see here in Wales. And I’d be more than happy, when the opportunity arises, to come to Holyhead and to discuss the possibilities available.”

ENDS

“With more freedom must come reflection” – Rhun ap Iorwerth calls for reassurance that lessons have been learnt by government

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS calls for “increased vigilance” now, with a move towards a Wales-focused inquiry

Ahead of the expected confirmation that there is to be a further lifting of restrictions, Rhun ap Iorwerth is calling for increased focus on monitoring the spread of the virus now that more freedoms are restored.

He says this extra vigilance must coincide with reassurance that lessons have been learnt from the pandemic.

Welsh Government is expected to confirm that Wales will move to Alert Level Zero from Saturday 7 August.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, supports the move as long as Government can provide “even more stringent vigilance” and that they are “ready to take a step back if necessary.”

But Mr ap Iorwerth says that “now is the right time” to have a detailed review into the Welsh Government’s handling of the pandemic, while events of the last 18 months are still fresh in Welsh minds.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“The lifting of restrictions is where we all want to head, after an 18 months that has weighed heavily on us all.

“The situation has to be monitored now with even more stringent vigilance, and should there be an adverse reaction in terms of case numbers and hospital admissions due to COVID, Government must be ready to take a step back if necessary.

“We also need reassurance from government that lessons have been learnt from this time, and that is why Wales needs its own public inquiry into the Welsh Government’s handling of the pandemic.

“Government has to take responsibility for its actions – good and bad. As Wales gains more freedom, now is the right time to reflect on what we did right, and what must change, to ensure that we never have to repeat the last 18 months.”

KEEP FACE MASKS IN SHOPS, SAYS RHUN AP IORWERTH

“Is it responsible to insist a shop worker wears a face mask to see a doctor, but that same doctor doesn’t have to wear a mask in the shop?” – Rhun ap Iorwerth MS

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Rhun ap Iorwerth has called for the wearing face masks to remain mandatory in retail outlets, and said today: “Imagine a scenario where a shop worker would have to wear a face covering in order to access their local surgery, but a doctor wouldn’t to wear a mask to go to the shop?”

In questions to the First Minister, Mr ap Iorwerth also called for Welsh Government to be “uncompromising” in their protection of children and young people from the virus, including taking measures to improve ventilation in schools and rolling out vaccines.

Mr ap Iorwerth raised particular concern about the impact of Long Covid on young people, and asked for the development of Children’s Long Covid services.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, who is the Plaid Cymru’s spokesman on Health and Care, said,

“Governments shouldn’t be picking and choosing which close contact settings require the use of face masks – coronavirus certainly doesn’t make such a distinction!

“I welcome the confirmation that people will still be required to wear face coverings on public transport and in healthcare settings, but being in a busy shop is also a risk, including to staff.

“Welsh Government needs to share their reasoning behind this decision, otherwise we’ll have the situation where a shop worker will have to wear a face covering to go to their doctor, but their doctor will not have to wear a mask to visit their shop.”

Lack of urgency in addressing young people’s mental health support service waiting lists “not good enough”

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has called for the same urgency as seen with the vaccine roll-out to be applied to addressing the long waiting lists for young people in need of support with their mental health.

The Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (sCAMHS) first appointment waiting times were published last week, and show that during the pandemic, at least a quarter of those referred to the service have had to wait more than 4 weeks for their first appointment.

Today, Rhun ap Iorwerth challenged the First Minister during Senedd Plenary, asking “Is that good enough?”

The Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee reviewed the impact of the pandemic on young people, and identified the “missing middle” as a particular concern. This refers to the significant number of children and young people who need mental health advice and support, but who may not need acute or specialist services.

Mr ap Iorwerth extended an invitation to the Welsh Government to work with Plaid Cymru on their proposal for a network of walk-in centres across Wales offering free and confidential mental health advice and support for young people.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, who is the party’s spokesman on Health and Care said,

“A year ago our schools started reopening after a lengthy lockdown, and we know that the isolation had a heavy impact on the well-being and health of many young people.

“Throughout the year, the number of young people waiting more than four weeks for a CAMHS appointment has never fallen by under a quarter. That’s simply not good enough. We have an accelerated vaccine roll out programme, a schools catch up programme, but no urgency in addressing the long waiting lists for young people in need of support with their mental health – this needs to change.

“Welsh Government must also address the ‘missing middle’ of young people who need support with their mental health, but who are not ill enough to require advanced psychiatric treatment. Plaid Cymru has already proposed a network of mental health hubs across Wales, and extend an offer to Welsh Government to work with us in putting this into realisation.”

ENDS

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS welcomes £20m Anglesey cheese plant investment to create 100 jobs on the island.

Responding to today’s announcement on the Mona Island Dairy £20m cheese factory development on Ynys Môn, which will create 100 jobs on the island, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

 

“I very much welcome the news. I have consistently called on the Welsh Government to invest in the food sector on Anglesey, including the possibility of creating a food production business park on the island.

 

“I hope to be able to use the Mona Island Dairy development as a further driver to push for the development of this sector, building on the existing expertise we have in the many food companies we have here on the island, to help them grow and create jobs. I will be continuing these conversations with Ministers in the coming weeks.”

Full story: Cheese plant investment on Anglesey could create 100 jobs – North Wales Live (dailypost.co.uk)

Rhun ap Iorwerth welcomes funding for hydrogen potential on Anglesey

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of the Senedd for Ynys Môn, has welcomed the announcement that £4.8 million has been earmarked for the Holyhead Hydrogen Hub in the UK Government’s budget this week.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“I’m very pleased to hear that additional funding has been made available for this project. This is great news for Ynys Môn. Almost exactly a year after I led a Senedd debate, setting out my vision of the real potential of Hydrogen energy, we see those benefits being realised on Anglesey.

“Welsh Government supported that Plaid Cymru motion I presented last year, and subsequently provided support and funding to take the Holyhead project forward.

“I’m delighted to see this significant move forward having supported and encouraged this project from the outset. My thanks goes to the work of hydrogen energy innovator Guto Owen and the Menter Môn team for making this happen.

“It’s good to see energy innovation in action, and we in Plaid Cymru are committed to setting up the headquarters of a new national energy company, Ynni Cymru, here on the island, giving Anglesey a key role in green energy rollout Wales-wide for years to come. This hydrogen project in Holyhead is about offering greener and longer-term jobs for generations to come.”

ENDS

SCHOOL CONSULTATION: ‘PLEASE let the community be heard’

SCHOOL CONSULTATION: ‘PLEASE LET THE COMMUNITY BE HEARD’

Talwrn activists say closure consultation should not take place during a pandemic

At a time when everything is being held virtually, campaigners battling to save Ysgol Talwrn from closure feel that their voices are not being heard because of the constraints of a pandemic.
At a virtual meeting held by Rhun ap Iorwerth, Member of Senedd for Ynys Môn, campaigners expressed serious concerns that the restrictions in place due to Covid-19 had affected their ability to effectively oppose Anglesey County Council’s plans. They have called on the local authority to delay the consultation process until they can object fully and fairly to the proposals. The plans would see Ysgol Talwrn close, with pupils being transferred to Ysgol y Graig in Llangefni, which would be expanded to accommodate additional pupils.

Last week, the Council’s statutory consultation period came to an end, but campaigners claim the system has not been open enough, and plans are being pushed through at a time when children are being educated from home and when groups cannot meet face to face to fully raise their concerns.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:
“At a time when we are very limited in what can be done to oppose the proposed closure of Ysgol Talwrn, campaigners have approached me because they want a fair opportunity to have their say.”
Mr ap Iorwerth has previously written to the Council asking them to delay the plans until we are on the other side of the pandemic, but has been told that the process cannot be delayed forever.

He added: “While I understand that the Council has to deal with issues other than Covid-19, there is a community that cannot fully participate in the consultation process – they can’t meet face to face, they tell me that covid restrictions, coupled with poor internet connection in the area, have affected their ability to meet in virtual reality, and as a result they feel like a “muted community.”
This is the latest in a series of consultations on the future of Ysgol Talwrn, with the Council having already postponed the current process since March 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Rachael Jones, a childminder from Talwrn said she believed the school should have a bright future:
“The school has recently been listed as ‘Green’, the Cylch is busy and my small business is busy as a result. I am concerned about the effect the closure of the school would have on my business, but I’m really concerned about the impact it would have on our community. I know some parents are not enrolling their children at school because of the threat of closure. ”

Rhun ap Iorwerth added:
“Numerous consultations are bound to leave scars on a community, and the fact that opportunities to voice the community’s views are so limited at the moment add to the feelings of unfairness. I will write to them again following this meeting to express their opinions”

RESPONSE TO WYLFA NEWYDD ANNOUNCEMENT

Hitachi/Horizon’s decision to withdraw their planning application for Wylfa Newydd marks the end of the road for their project. The UK Government ultimatly failed to deliver, and there’s a real cost to that in terms of long-term job opportunities.

We have to concentrate in the immediate future on growing other employment opportunities – new projects and those already in the pipeline. Many are in the energy sector – offshore tidal, wave and wind, creating green jobs, developing new technologies that can be exported to the world, and bringing investment to the port of Holyhead.

The M-Sparc science park, and our School of Ocean Sciences can and will be a hub for research and development for that and other technology and digital ventures. I’m looking forward to Plaid Cymru being given a chance to establish its Ynni Cymru/Energy Wales body here on the island.
And of course the Wylfa site itself and the skills developed there over many years remain very valuable, potentially for a smaller development that could ultimately be more sustainable for our communities. I’ve already spoken with potential developers. But we can’t build up hopes until we know there’s a realistic deliverable plan.

Of course, we have much more than energy to offer. We have exciting businesses across many sectors. We can do so much more in food production, and there are opportunities to develop homegrown and locally-driven tourism and hospitality ventures.

I know Wylfa divided opinion in many ways, and I’ve always respected the different views held. Today’s announcement will be welcomed by some, but it is a real blow to others, many of whom I know well, who had hoped for speedy progress on the Wylfa plan for the opportunities it represented. Now we must all focus on all those new and existing opportunities than can and will give hope to them and generations to come here on Ynys Môn.

RHETORIC IS LEVELLING UP, REALITY IS CUTTING DOWN

RHETORIC IS LEVELLING UP, REALITY IS CUTTING DOWN – Rhun ap Iorwerth AS / MS Ynys Môn

Plaid Cymru hits back at Westminster’s failure to fund Wales adequately during “perfect storm” of Covid and austerity

Responding to the draft budget 2021 to 2022, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru Finance spokesperson said:

“This is a wholly inadequate financial settlement for Wales from the UK Government that in no way reflects the challenge of rebuilding the entire fabric of daily life in the Covid era.

“Wales is being hit hardest by a perfect storm of Covid and austerity, and our ability to invest in growing our economy is being hampered by Westminster’s failure to fund Wales adequately and its punitive borrowing cap.

“The Tory rhetoric of levelling up is betrayed by the reality that they’re cutting the Welsh Government’s capital budget at a time of economic crisis.

“Nothing that we heard from the Labour leader in his speech on devolution today suggests that the Welsh economy would fare better even with a change in government in Westminster.

“Whilst we welcome Welsh Ministers’ small step towards finally addressing the growing problem of second homes, a Plaid Cymru government would go much further and would build ten thousand new social homes every year to address the underlying causes of the housing crisis.

“Building resilience in our economy means spending smarter. A Plaid government’s focus on investing in infrastructure to create high-skilled, well-paid jobs and regionally rebalancing the economy would do just that.”

‘Supporting Small Businesses ‘More Important Than Ever’

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS visits businesses to mark Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is a simple message to encourage people to ‘shop locally’ and support businesses in their communities. To support that call, and raise awareness of the day Rhun went to visit some Anglesey businesses hoping for a successful Christmas after a difficult year.

In Menai Bridge, Awen Menai was definitely seeing an increase in the number of people wanting to shop at local small businesses. The owner said “People are making an effort this year to support local businesses”.

After a difficult year – including having to adapt stock as many of the clothing and footwear factories had to close at the beginning of the year – the owner of the Butterfly Boutique clothing store also stressed the importance of attracting local customers through the door before Christmas – “For our High Streets to survive, we need people’s support”.
In Gaerwen, the Bragdy Mona crew had to adjust their business plan as pubs and businesses closed, and they were hopeful of being able to attract enough buyers to their new brewery shop.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MP said: “After a year like this, supporting your local businesses is more important than ever, so support your local businesses here on Anglesey, and remember that for every pound you spend in a local business, 63p stays in the local economy, so make this a Merry Christmas for yourself and Anglesey’s small businesses. ”