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.

Plaid Cymru call to extend HPV vaccine to boys supported by Vaccines Committee advice

Plaid Cymru welcomes decision by JCVI and urges immediate response from Welsh Government

Responding to the JCVI statement released today on recommending extending the HPV vaccine programme to adolescent boys in line with the current programme for girls, Plaid Cymru’s shadow cabinet secretary for health Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said,

“I was pleased to be able to bring forward a debate to the Assembly last month on expanding the use of the human papilloma virus vaccine to adolescent boys, because of the clear evidence of the effectiveness of this vaccine in preventing serious cancers, including head and neck cancers. In that debate, Welsh Government said it was awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on whether to extend the HPV vaccination programme to adolescent boys.

“Now we have their advice – to recommend extending the HPV vaccine programme to adolescent boys in line with the current programme for girls, why wait? Now, surely the Welsh Government have no reason to delay the decision any longer. Other parts of the UK have taken the deicision already – what are Welsh Government waiting for?”

“In response to the announcement, I’ve written to the Cabinet Secretary to ask for an immediate response from government to press ahead.”

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.

Rhun uses Assembly statement to wish happy birthday to Holyhead Centre that has put Anglesey on global sporting map

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth used a 90 second statement in the National Assembly this week to praise the work of Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre.

Rhun had attended the Centre’s 50th Birthday celebrations at the Trearddur Bay Hotel over the weekend, which was also a chance to celebrate the success of star lifters Gareth Evans, Hannah Powell and a host of others, and pay tribute to the club founder and Commonwealth medalist Bob Wrench (who was unfortunately not able to be there, but sent a message read out by Ray Williams).

This week, Rhun made a statement at the Senedd praising the work of the Centre in the local community as well as on a global stage. He said:

“Thank you for the opportunity to wish a happy birthday to an institution that’s made a huge contribution to health and fitness on Anglesey, and which also happens to be a centre of sporting excellence of worldwide renown.

“One of the highlights of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was Welsh weightlifter Gareth Evans’s stunning gold medal-winning performance. His lifting was immense, but just as impressive was the passion he showed in running over to his coach, Ray Williams, to celebrate. Ray himself had realised a dream as a coach, but before coaching, he himself had won gold for Wales at the 1986 games in Edinburgh. Ray had been introduced to lifting by Bob Wrench, a bronze winner in the Christchurch games in 1974, and it was Bob who had the vision to establish the Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre 50 years ago.

“A high-school sports teacher, not only was he hugely talented at weightlifting, he could see what lifting could offer to the area’s young people, many of whom would otherwise not have such opportunities. Ray and Gareth were among thousands to benefit. To give you an idea of HAWFC’s success, Ray himself has coached lifters to 97 gold medals of youth and senior at Welsh and international levels. But it’s the community aspect of the club that’s just as important. This is a centre with its doors open to ALL.

“So, happy birthday Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre, and a long life to an institution that’s done so much for its community and, through its excellence, has done so much to put Holyhead and Anglesey on the global sporting map.”

Video: Prioritise those who’ve missed out on broadband, says Anglesey AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth yesterday questioned Welsh Government about the Superfast Cymru Successor scheme on behalf of communities on Anglesey who are still waiting for a fast broadband connection.

In April of this year, the Anglesey AM made a plea to constituents on facebook and in the local papers to let him know about their experience of broadband, and specifically where problems still existed after the end of the Superfast Cymru scheme.

The response he received showed that although the problem in some areas was that people were able to get access to fast broadband but were unaware of that, in other areas, broadband problems still exist with some work having been done, but with some properties just missing out.

Rhun therefore used a questions session in the Assembly to the relevant Cabinet Secretary to ask her to make sure that these areas would be a priority under the successor scheme to Superfast Cymru.

Speaking at the Senedd, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“I’ve contacted you, as a Minister, in the past, reporting problems with broadband in Ynys Môn. I made an appeal back in April for the latest information. It’s evident that there are a number of areas that have missed out by a hair’s breadth, perhaps, on Superfast Cymru — Llanddona, Llansadwrn, Brynsiencyn, Cefniwrch and Rhydwyn are some of those that have come to prominence.

“In those areas, work had started on preparing for connection. Evidently, there was great disappointment in seeing the programme coming to an end without the work being completed. Are you in a situation to give assurance to these constituents that they will be a priority—that is, that finishing the work that was started previously will be a priority under the new programme, when that comes to pass?”

In her response, the Cabinet Secretary confirmed that that was a matter of negotiation between Welsh Government and BT, but that they were still in the middle of the procurement process at the moment for the new programme.

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.

AM looks to spark EV Revolution in Wales

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM for Anglesey continues to lead charge for better EV infrastructure in Wales

Presenting his proposal for an Electric Vehicle Charging Planning Bill in the National Assembly this week, Anglesey Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth is continuing to lead the charge for better EV infrastructure as he urges Welsh Government to invest in more charging points throughout Wales.

The Plaid Cymru AM is proposing legislation in the Assembly Chamber today that would introduce planning guidelines for new developments, ensuring that all new buildings must include electric vehicle charging points, making it easier for people to use EVs, and reduce Wales’ carbon emissions.

Rhun ap Iorwerth has voiced his concerns repeatedly in recent months regarding Welsh Government’s lack of innovation and commitment in terms of developing a significant EV charging point infrastructure in Wales, labelling a recent report which showed that there are only 31 publicly-funded charging points throughout Wales as reflecting ‘shamefully’ on Welsh Labour’s EV efforts.

Outlining his vision and rationale behind the proposed bill, Rhun ap Iorwerth Plaid Cymru AM said,

“This Bill, if passed, would give Wales an opportunity to finally get in the game with regards to electric vehicle infrastructure. At the moment, we’re lagging so far behind the rest of The UK and that is all down to Welsh Government’s lack of commitment to seeing this technology more readily-adopted.

“The Scottish Government have shown tremendous commitment towards EVs, and Dundee City Council, for example, allow EV owners to use their car parks and charging points for free, and they have more electric vehicles in their council fleet than any other in the UK.

“There is no reason why Wales can’t show the same ambition, should Government commit to investing in this fantastic technology. I have seen first-hand how much desire there is across Wales for EVs, the only thing holding the public back from sparking the revolution into life and investing in EVs is the lack of a significant charging network.

“Plaid Cymru negotiated £2m towards investment in charging points in the latest budget deal, showing how committed we are as a party to developing EV infrastructure, and my proposal for this legislation, if passed, would make up for Welsh Government’s lost time and enable Wales to lead the charge on EV technology in the future.”

Electric Vehicle charge point statistics reflect ‘shamefully’ on Welsh Government, says AM

Recently published figures detailing the number of electric vehicle charging points available across the United Kingdom show just how far behind Wales is in terms of embracing the EV revolution, says Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Research conducted by HSBC into the availability of EV charging points shows Wales has by far the poorest infrastructure for charging electric vehicles, with only 31 publicly-funded charging points available in Wales, compared with 743 in Scotland, 185 in Northern Ireland and 2,862 in England.

Per capita figures highlight just how poor Wales is performing, with Scotland having one charge point for every 7,127 people, Northern Ireland slightly higher with one for every 9,789 people, with Wales’ proportion truly staggering at one charge point for every 98,806 people.

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth has been vocal in making his support known for encouraging an electric vehicle revolution, raising questions in the National Assembly calling for more investment in EV infrastructure, and campaigning for Welsh Government to act in a manner that shows they’re taking this new technology seriously.

Mr ap Iorwerth labelled the Welsh Labour Government’s investment in EV infrastructure as ‘shameful’ following the release of these figures.

‘I’ve been calling for a long time for Welsh Government to take this matter seriously, but these figures prove Wales is way, way, behind rest of UK on publicly-funded charge points. Instead of trying to be a leader – which this country is more than capable of doing, Wales is barely in the game, and it reflects shamefully on this Welsh Labour Government.

‘This Welsh Labour Government is simply trying to manage the country, to maintain everything at its present level – which it is struggling to do, by the way – rather than trying to take Wales forward and put our country in a position where we can lead, or even compete, with other countries in terms of innovation.

‘One publicly-funded charge point for more or less every 100,000 people in Wales is appalling, and this is a situation that needs to change very quickly before Wales is left behind again, thanks to this Labour government. Plaid Cymru succeeded to secure £2m towards EV infrastructure in the latest budget negotiations, but it is clear that this was a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed.’

You can find the full list of statistics by following this link.

AM asks for support for Holyhead Marina and for lessons to be learnt after storm Emma response

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth today asked Welsh Government for an update on the clean up work at Holyhead following storm Emma at the beginning of the month.

However, he was disappointed with the response, considering the environmental and economic impact of the damage, and the concerns still being expressed by the marina and local people about the clean up effort.

In his question to the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs at the Assembly today, Rhun ap Iorwerth asked:

“Looking back, I think there are some serious questions about the speed of the response to what happened in Holyhead. I think it’s quite clear that there was, and remains, a grave environmental issue. So, perhaps you could update us on whether, on reflection, there was a missed opportunity to get in early, to deal with the environmental impacts of what’s happened. And what lessons have been learned, in terms of making sure that, if there’s disagreement about who exactly should take over, Welsh Government can step in, or your relevant bodies?

“Secondly, looking forward, because that’s crucial now, we do need assurances about what is happening. I’ve heard reports this morning of people returning from sea to Holyhead for the first time since the events, and being shocked at what hasn’t happened up to now. We need assurances on rebuilding the marina, on help for individuals and businesses that have been affected, and of course on the need to step up in terms of the environmental clean up, of which there is a lot yet to do. Because this still is a desperate situation in Holyhead.”

He later added:

“This was another disappointing response from the Cabinet Secretary regarding how Welsh Government and its agencies reacted to storm Emma’s destruction in Holyhead. Those working in the marina, those who have lost boats, and those who have been to Anglesey’s north west beaches themselves to clear up polystyrene because of their concern about the environmental impact tell me that the response was not quick enough, that there was confusion over who should be doing what and that the problem still remains today.

“I appreciate the Cabinet Secretary’s consideration about possible financial support for public infrastructure repair, and environmental damage clean up, but I was really hoping for more leadership on Government on this, especially considering the impact on the environment and on the local economy in Anglesey.”

Rhun supports WWF Cymru’s Earth Hour 2018

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has pledged his support for WWF’s Earth Hour campaign 2018 – the global movement to protect our planet.

Every year, millions of people across the world show their love for our planet and their commitment to protecting it by taking part in WWF’s Earth Hour.

Last year in Wales, an estimated 280,000 took part in WWF’s Earth Hour, as did every single local authority in the country. Iconic Welsh landmarks like the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, the National Library in Aberystwyth, and Caernarfon and Caerphilly castles all went dark.

As part of this year’s Earth Hour campaign, Rhun ap Iorwerth has backed WWF Cymru’s calls for everyone in Wales to make small changes in their everyday lives to live more sustainably – a ‘Promise for the Planet’. Refusing plastics cutlery, using a reusable coffee cup or turning the washing to 30°C are small actions as individuals, but have a much bigger impact together.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“I’m delighted to pledge my support for WWF’s Earth Hour campaign this year.

“We know that climate change is going to have a massive impact on the way we all live our lives, but if individuals take small steps to live more sustainably, and if politicians take action to tackle climate change, we can help by doing our bit.

“I’m encouraging everyone to make a Promise for the Planet and support Earth Hour on the night by switching off at 8.30pm on Saturday 24 March.

“I’ve pledged to make my next car an electric vehicle. I was pleased that Plaid Cymru secured £2M for electric car charging in this budget, but I’ll continue to push Government for better charging infrastructure to make this an easier choice for more people in Wales.”