Rhun ap Iorwerth looking forward to getting stuck into new portfolio role

Having today been announced as Plaid Cymru’s new Shadow Secretary for Economy and Finance, Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has expressed his excitement about the new challenges that lay in front of him.

Serving as the party’s Shadow Secretary for Health and Social Care for the last two years, playing a key role in Plaid Cymru’s success securing a Medical School in north Wales, Mr ap Iorwerth has been handed the Economy and Finance portfolios in party leader Adam Price’s shadow cabinet reshuffle.

Following the announcement of the party’s new shadow cabinet portfolios this afternoon, the Ynys Môn AM expressed his excitement and outlined the priorities he has set as the party’s new Shadow Spokesperson for Economy and Finance.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into some pretty big tasks. On finance, it is about leading Plaid Cymru’s charge on using new taxation powers in the best way possible, and holding government to account on the way it spends money now.

“In terms of the economy, it is about making Wales a more prosperous nation and sharing that prosperity to every part of the country. It is about building a transport system that works for all of Wales and brings Wales together – I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the job.

“This is a strong team that I’m proud to be a part of. Labour has had its chance, governing Wales since 1999 – it’s time for a change. This is a team that can govern Wales, and govern well, from 2021.”

Anglesey AM to push for new Llangefni railway bridge support

Anglesey Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has insisted he will be fully supporting Isle of Anglesey County Council and Network Rail following the removal of the old railway bridge in Llangefni last weekend.

Following the bridge’s removal on Sunday after a lorry crashed into it, Mr ap Iorwerth has said he will be raising the matter of support for a new bridge in the Assembly next week, with the hope of bringing the matter to light in First Minister’s Questions if successful in the ballot.

Prominent in the campaign for reopening the disused railway line between Gaerwen and Amlwch and linking it back up to Network Rail’s mainline, Mr ap Iorwerth insists that whilst reopening the mainline is a long-term possibility that would benefit the island’s economy, the goal in the short-term must be to install a new bridge that leaves all future avenues for use open.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“Following the very careless accident last weekend that led to the removal of the old railway bridge in Llangefni, I will be supporting Isle of Anglesey County Council and Network Rail in exploring the possibilities of installing a new bridge here that leaves every possible avenue open for its future use.

“Any new bridge has to be suitable for carrying trains, especially if there is any possibility of the line from Gaerwen to Amlwch reopening in the future, as having running trains on the line would be fantastic for the economy of Anglesey, but that is a matter for another day.

“I will be raising the matter of support for a new bridge in the Assembly next week, and I will be doing everything I can to help see a new bridge installed, and perhaps explore other possibilities regarding the road leading into Llangefni in the process.”

Welsh Government Electric Vehicle plans need a jolt says Anglesey AM

The Labour Welsh Government needs to significantly up its game regarding the development of a network of rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging points, according to prominent EV campaigner Rhun ap Iorwerth, Assembly Member for Ynys Môn, after Plaid Cymru recently secured £2m in funding to develop a rapid charging network.

The Plaid Cymru AM has led the party’s campaign for better adoption of EV technology, proposing legislation in the Assembly that would make charging points a part of future planning guidelines and regularly raising questions with Welsh Government.

Mr ap Iorwerth recently borrowed an EV to conduct his weekly Assembly business in a bid to demonstrate the challenges of owning an EV using the current infrastructure.

In a statement by Mr Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, in the Assembly last week, the Labour AM provided an update on the progress of the EV charging network development, noting that he “aimed” for Transport for Wales “to go out to procurement” to develop the network next spring.

Mr ap Iorwerth has called on Welsh Government to up its game and move forward in its plans with more urgency, and had this to say following the Cabinet Secretary’s statement:

“Plaid Cymru is proud to have secured £2 million of funding towards the development of a national EV charging network as part of the two-year budget deal with Welsh Government, but Welsh Government really needs to up its game in developing the network as progress has been very slow, with very little enthusiasm being shown for the excitement and potential of such a development.

“In the spring it was announced that, whereas in Scotland there is one for every 7,000 people, in Wales there is only one publicly-funded charge point for every 100,000 people. That is appalling, and this is a situation that needs to change very quickly.

“Wales is being left behind again by this Labour government. Investing this £2m quickly and efficiently would be a positive first step – it’s time for Welsh Government to take this matter seriously.”

Rhun stands shoulder to shoulder with the NHS on Cancer

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has shown his support for NHS workers in Wales who diagnose, treat and care for people affected by cancer at a Cancer Research UK event in Cardiff Bay.

The event marked the 70th birthday of the NHS and the contribution made by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals across cancer. Cancer Research UK used the event to call for everyone to stand with the NHS and highlight the importance of staff to diagnose and treat cancer.

Every year, over 19,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Wales and as the population grows and ages, that number is only set to rise.

Speaking after the event, Rhun said: “It was good to welcome Trevor Hughes-Morris – who, along with his wife Carol, has raised thousands of pounds for Breast Cancer charities – to this Cancer Research UK event.

“After the past 70 years of fantastic work from the NHS, it is important to thank the men and women involved in cancer care.

“Many of us have been affected by cancer in some way, and 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed in our lifetimes.

“We all want a world-class service where people are given every opportunity to survive this devastating disease, for it to be diagnosed early and for patients to receive the best treatment possible.

“That’s why I’m backing Cancer Research UK’s call to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS against cancer.”

Andy Glyde, public affairs manager for Wales at Cancer Research UK, said: “We are grateful to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM showing his support at our event. The NHS has been central to improvements in cancer survival over the years.

“By 2034, our ambition is for 3 in 4 people to survive their cancer, but advances in technology and treatment mean nothing if we don’t have the NHS staff to deliver them.

“That’s why the support of AM’s like Rhun is so vitally important to help make Wales’ cancer services the best in the world.”

For more information visit cruk.org/shouldertoshoulder or join the conversation on twitter #ShouldertoShoulder and #YsgwyddWrthYsgwydd.

Rhun ap Iorwerth supports Inquiry into hospital care for people living with dementia in Wales

Last week the National Assembly’s Cross Party Group (CPG) on Dementia and Alzheimer’s Society Cymru launched their Inquiry into hospital care for people living with dementia in Wales. In support, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM for Ynys Môn who is a member of the CPG on Dementia and is backing the call for evidence from people in Ynys Môn.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Fix Dementia Care report showed that at least 25% of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia, and on average, people with dementia in hospital stay more than twice as long as other patients aged over 65.

The Inquiry follows on from the launch of Welsh Government’s Dementia Action Plan earlier this year, which pledged to take action to improve hospital care for people living with dementia, and calls for evidence directly from people affected by dementia in Wales, as well as professionals working in the health and social care sector.

The Inquiry will cover:
• Knowledge and understanding of medical staff
• Admission to hospital
• Discharge from hospital
• Quality of care

Evidence will be used to form as assessment of the effectiveness of the Welsh Government’s recommendations contained within the Plan and whether it is working in practice.

The Cross Party Group, unites its membership, which has representations from political parties across the Assembly, in its focus on gaining understanding of the experiences of people affected by dementia and aims to work collaboratively to make improvements to the care they receive.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, said:

“When a person living with dementia is admitted to hospital they are often at their most vulnerable.

“In my role as an Assembly Member I have heard too many stories of people with dementia becoming distressed and receiving poor care whilst in hospital. This Inquiry aims to shine a light on the challenges across Wales, and to make recommendations to the Welsh Government for improvements.”

“If you are living with dementia, or caring for someone with dementia, and have experienced hospital care, then we want to hear from you.”

In a focus group organised by Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, who provide the secretariat support to the CPG, people living with and caring for people with dementia shared some of their experiences:

“It must have been absolutely traumatic for my dad – no understanding, no knowledge, no support. He couldn’t communicate” – Ceri Higgins, carer of a person living with dementia – Pontypridd

“Most of the nurses, especially in the general ward, just don’t have a clue. They’re just not getting the education on how to deal with people with dementia” – France Savarimuthu …. person living with dementia, Newport

“I took the staff nurse aside and explained he has dementia and that it’s in his notes. She hadn’t looked at the notes. She said ‘he doesn’t look like the average dementia patient to me’.” – Helen Savarimuthu, carer of a person living with dementia, Newport

“I’ve got to have a hip done whenever they say. I’m frightened to death of going in” – Lilly Harris, person living with dementia, Bridgend

The charity along with the CPG on Dementia opened the Inquiry today with a survey and would particularly like to hear from:

• People affected by dementia
• Third sector organisations including those representing carers
• Healthcare professionals and professional bodies
• Healthcare and service providers

Sue Phelps, Country Director of Alzheimer’s Society Cymru said; “There are 45,000 people with dementia in Wales.

“We want to hear from people all over Wales so that we can understand the scale of the challenge, and work with the Welsh Government in their implementation of the Action Plan to make sure hospital care for people living with dementia is shining example of excellence.”

To take part in the Inquiry please write to us at walescpg@alzheimers.org.uk or post to Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, 16 Columbus Walk, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff, CF10 4BY.

You can also answer the questions through our online survey available at alzheimers.org.uk.

If you would prefer to submit your evidence in a different way, for example over the phone, please call Sophie Douglas on 029 2047 5580.

Third crossing decision a huge victory for Plaid Cymru, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru’s Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has expressed his delight following the announcement of the chosen route for the third Menai crossing by Welsh Government this week.

The Plaid Cymru AM has led the campaign for a third bridge across the Menai Strait since taking office as Ynys Môn’s AM and today welcomed the news that the purple option had been chosen in public consultation, with work on the new bridge possibly starting in three years.

Following the announcement, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“The duelling of the Britannia Bridge is something that I’ve called for consistently since I was elected – and my predecessor Ieuan Wyn Jones before me – and this is another huge victory for Plaid Cymru, as we continue to push for investment in crucial infrastructure for the benefit of all of Wales.

“This new bridge will not just respond to delays at rush hour, even though they’re very frustrating for travellers, rather this is a step towards building resilience for the connections between the mainland and Anglesey and will deliver benefits in terms of trade and for emergency services too.

“There have been many serious incidents over the last few years alone, where the Britannia bridge has had to close due to wind or accidents, leaving the nearly-200-year-old Menai bridge the only link open to the mainland – taking the pressure off, not adding to the pressure on our existing connections is what we should be doing in the future.”

The Anglesey AM added that Welsh Government now needs to push National Grid to incorporate their North Wales Connection plans into the new bridge development, as opposed to pursuing their original plans of building a £300m tunnel under the Strait to house any cables.

“This welcome announcement will allow traffic to continue to flow, give certainty to emergency services, increase trade, and now we must continue to impress on National Grid the need to incorporate the new North Wales Connection into the new bridge development, instead of progressing their very costly tunnelling option.

“Only last month, Welsh Government told me that they are in constructive discussions with Grid, and it is imperative now that pressure is kept on them to ensure a feasibility study is conducted as soon as possible on utilising the new bridge to carry cables.”

Grid and PINS should respect democratic views of Wales when it comes to pylons, says AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth this week asked the First Minister to make sure that those looking at National Grid’s plans for new pylons across Anglesey were aware of the Assembly vote in favour of undergrounding cables.

During this week’s FMQs, the Anglesey AM called on Welsh Government to push as much as possible to ensure that the UK Planning Inspectorate respects the democratic views of the Assembly in favour of undergrounding.

He also said it would be a scandal if money Grid have suggested would go towards a tunnel to carry cables wasn’t spent on a new bridge instead, with the rest being invested in undergrounding.

Speaking in the chamber, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“The DCO application has been submitted, but the grid, since the beginning of this process, haven’t given an inch in response to the pressure from me, the Member of Parliament, the council or, more importantly, the unanimity of the people of Anglesey that we need to underground these cables.

“And let’s recall that this Chamber favoured undergrounding rather than pylons and voted for that. You said in January that you’d remind the grid of that. So, what was their response? But, more importantly, will you give a commitment to push as much as possible as Welsh Government to ensure that the UK Planning Inspectorate realises that the democratic views of this Parliament have been expressed, and that they must respect that?

“And, with a further suggestion that a tunnel that could put cables under the Menai could cost £300 million, isn’t it clear that it would be a scandal if the money, or part of that money, weren’t spent on a new bridge to carry cables and vehicles, with the rest being invested in undergrounding?”

The First Minister replied that they have told the grid that it’s extremely important to consider a third bridge over the Menai Strait in order to ensure that the cables can go on that bridge and also that grid knows the views of the Assembly and the views of local people. However, Rhun ap Iorwerth said that we need a clear statement to this effect.

Give Cymraeg a Cwtsh

Today, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM joined Mudiad Meithrin in launching the second wave of free Welsh language courses at the National Assembly for Wales, following a successful pilot scheme earlier this year.

The scheme, called Clwb Cwtsh, is a course using games and songs to introduce the Welsh language to parents of young children. A joint project between Mudiad Meithrin and the National Centre for Learning Welsh, the project was first launched as a pilot in February this year and saw more than 500 people completing the course.

The eight-week, Clwb Cwtsh courses are for parents, carers and prospective parents, who are welcome to bring their children with them, as Mudiad Meithrin provides entertainment for the youngsters.

Courses are available in 76 locations across Wales during October with another course proposed for early 2019.

Rebecca East and her mother Jenny Hume from Cardiff attended their first Clwb Cwtsh sessions earlier this year with Jenny’s eight-month-old and 4-year-old daughters. Rebecca’s eldest daughter had been attending Cylch Meithrin at the local Welsh-medium school and Rebecca wanted to be able to converse with her in Welsh, so she took the plunge to get up to speed with her daughter. She said: “I thought to myself that starting from the beginning with my children could be the answer for me.”

Making new friends, having fun and learning some basic words, were the main benefits for Rebecca and Jenny. Now they both make sure to practice at home with the children through singing songs and reading Welsh books.

Rebecca added: “I’d recommend Clwb Cwtsh sessions to anyone thinking of learning Welsh, especially those with young children. Learning a second language at an early age is so good for children’s brains and it’s great that we can learn alongside them too. Welsh is a fun language and is all around us.”

Dr Gwenllian Lansdown Davies, Chief Executive of Mudiad Meithrin said: “I’m delighted that we’re here today to launch the second series of ‘Clwb Cwtsh’. Since we started earlier this year, we have received a great response across Wales. The fact that children can come to the sessions with their families has been welcomed. We are looking forward to seeing the project grow at grass roots level.”

For more information on Clwb Cwtsh sessions in your area, visit www.meithrin.cymru/clwb-cwtsh

Anglesey parents’ petition to be considered for debate in Senedd

A petition organised by Cymdeithas Rhieni ac Athrawon Ysgol Gymunedol Bodffordd (Ysgol Gymunedol Bodffordd Parents and Teachers Association) has collected so many signatures that it will now be considered for debate in the Assembly chamber.

In August of this year, Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth accepted the petition regarding a presumption in favour of rural schools on behalf of the National Assembly’s Petitions Committee on the Senedd steps from a delegation of parents from Anglesey. Petitioners had collected over 5,000 signatures and their petition was discussed at the Petitions Committee meeting this morning.

As they had collected so many signatures, the Petitions Committee decided to ask for the petition to be the subject of a Plenary debate.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:

“I’m very pleased that the Petitions Committee decided to ask for this petition and this important matter to be discussed at a full meeting of the National Assembly.

“There are a number of key issues that need to be explored when it comes to the Assembly floor, not least what the petitioners asked for – whether Welsh Government is ensuring that local authorities the length and breadth of Wales are keeping to the code. But also key is whether the code is anything more than words without the resources to support it.”

Rhun Supports Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth has helped Macmillan Cancer Support promote the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, which is the charity’s flagship fundraising event.

It’s the 28th year of Coffee Morning and Rhun ap Iorwerth enjoyed a cuppa and a cake at the awareness event at the Oriel in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. Bronwen, Macmillan’s cancer information and support bus which was designed especially for Wales was also parked near the iconic building.

AMs helped Macmillan celebrate the first birthday of the bus which reached over 37,000 people in communities all over Wales in 2017.

Speaking about supporting the charity event, the AM for Ynys Môn, said, “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is a fantastic fundraising event that takes place in homes, schools and workplaces throughout Wales. It’s a lovely social event and a fantastic way to get together, share a slice of cake and a cuppa and raise some money for charity.

“We know that one if three of us will get cancer. Each year in Wales, 19,000 people receive the devastating news that they have cancer. Cancer can affect every aspect of a person’s life, from their day-to-day living and relationships to their finances and mental health.

He added, “This disease will the personally affect the lives of our family, friends, colleagues and neighbours in our communities and that’s why I am supporting the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and Macmillan Cancer Support.”

Richard Pugh, Head of Services for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, commented:

“It’s great to see Assembly Members supporting Macmillan in Wales and we’d like to thank Rhun ap Iorwerth for his support.

“With the number of people living with cancer in Wales expected to reach around 240,000 by 2030, demand for Macmillan’s services is constantly growing, but we rely on the generosity of the public to provide this support.

“Last year in Wales, we raised just over £1.2 million pounds which just shows what a wonderful, generous nation we are in Wales. We’re hoping to equal if not beat that fabulous total this year.”

“We’re really pleased that Bronwen our information and support bus was parked outside the Pierhead Building. It was a great opportunity for AMs to explore the bus which has been designed specifically for Wales. Bronwen makes such a positive impact on the communities she visits. We’re immensely proud of Bronwen and her team and look forward to continuing to build on her success.

To sign up to host a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning call 0300 1000 200 or you would like to find a coffee morning in your area please visit www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee.

For information or support relating to cancer, call Macmillan’s Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday) or visit www.macmillan.org.uk.