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.”

Rhun seeks government help to repair damage of storm Emma in Holyhead

Following the devastating effects of storm Emma on Holyhead marina last week, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM tabled an urgent question to the Welsh Government, which was answered in the Assembly today.

The Ynys Môn Assembly Member made a plea to Welsh Government for help for the businesses affected, for an assurance that all is being done in the short-term to limit the environmental damage of the polystyrene debris, and in the more long-term for research into the possible need for a sea defence for this part of the harbor in Holyhead.

Speaking at the Senedd today, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“I was at Holyhead marina on Friday, immediately after the storm. Many of you will have seen the pictures on television. It was truly heartbreaking, utter destruction. There were many pleasure boats, which were important to the area, but there were also commercial boats in the marina, and many of those had been destroyed or partially damaged. All of the businesses using the marina make up an important part of the marine economy of Anglesey, and I would like to know what kind of support package the Government can put together to support these businesses in their hour of need in the short term.

“Secondly, and looking beyond the short term, may I be given a commitment that the Government will assist to fund research into the possible need for a sea defence for this part of the harbour in Holyhead? And would you agree that there’s an important role for the oceanography department at Bangor University in this important work, including use of their research ship, the Prince Madog?

“Finally, and crucially, you have referred to this: in the short term we are facing a grave environmental problem as a result of the storm. Now, I understand that there wasn’t too much fuel in most of the boats, and most of it has been collected, but there is certainly a huge problem in terms of the polystyrene debris and the pontoons in the marina. Now, five days later, I would like an update on what is being done to deal with the pollution, and an assurance that whatever needs to be done will be done to ensure that we don’t face more environmental destruction that we’ve already seen.”

He later added:

“I was pleased to hear the Cabinet Secretary say that she was happy to give consideration to possible financial support for public infrastructure repair, and I look forward to being updated regarding the environmental issues after her visit to Anglesey tomorrow.”

Electricity Connection should respect Future Generations Act, says AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth yesterday quizzed Welsh Government about the role of the Well-being of Future Generations Act in developing electricity infrastructure in Anglesey.

Rhun said that an underwater or underground connection, rather than new overhead pylons, would safeguard the interest of the people of Ynys Môn now as well as future generations, and that this was what the people of Anglesey are asking for. He pointed out that we have a Future Generations Act in Wales and this connection plan should only happen in accordance with the principles of that Act.

Speaking in the Assembly chamber, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The National Grid intends to have a new electricity connection across Anglesey with the cost being the main, if not the only, factor in deciding what kind of connection that will be. What they intend to do, therefore, is to go for the cheapest possible option, which is pylons above ground rather than undergrounding, or placing cables underwater, which is what we on Anglesey would want to see.

“Going underwater or underground would safeguard the interests of Ynys Môn now and for future generations, and we do have a Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 here in Wales.

“You’re the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for the implementation of that Act. Are you willing to give a commitment that you will work with me and others such as campaigners against pylons to urge the National Grid, Ofgem and the UK Government, who will ultimately make the decision, to ensure that this connection plan can only happen in accordance with the principles of this important piece of legislation passed in this place.”

In his response, the Cabinet Secretary responsible replied:

“I know of the work that you have done in the context of the island on this issue. We as a Government are working more closely with the local councils on the issues that he has alluded to.

“I was pleased to see a statement from the National Grid…on well-being where they state, in the context of the Act,

‘While these do not specifically place requirements on the National Grid or the development of new transmission lines, National Grid believes that the aims of the Act are important and deserve consideration.’

“So, there is some recognition there by the National Grid of the impact of the Act. The Act is binding as far as the local council is concerned. The Secretary of State will be influenced by it. I hear, of course, what the Member says about under grounding and over grounding and the Welsh Government’s starting position is that under grounding is the preferred option, but there will be discussions that will be needed and the local authority and Welsh Government will be involved in them as we seek to maximise the benefits for the island while mitigating the impacts of these developments.”

Speaking after the exchange in the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth added:

“I will be meeting National Grid in the near future to discuss this matter further with them. Even though the Act is not binding on them, it is important that the principles of the Act are respected.”

National Assembly backs preference for underground cables rather than pylons

The National Assembly for Wales has called on National Grid to favour undergrounding when developing new transmission programmes in Wales, such as the one proposed for Anglesey as a result of a motion tabled by Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth.
 
During the Plaid Cymru-led debate, Rhun spoke of the opposition on Anglesey to National Grid’s plans to build a new lines of pylons across the island and the preference towards alternative solutions which would have less of a visual impact.

Following the debate, Assembly Members voted unanimously in favour of a preference for underground cables or alternatives to pylons.
 
Speaking during the debate in the Senedd today, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:
 
“It is cost which is at the root of the National Grid’s plans on Anglesey.  Pylons are the cheapest option, or at least the short-term cost for the Grid is lower than other options.  But what about the cost of pylons to the people of Anglesey? – on the value of their homes, to businesses, to tourism, not to mention the effect on living standards?
 
“Rather than putting financial pressure on the people of Anglesey, the cost should be shared between all energy users.  The grid has agreed to do that in other areas of the UK.”
 
Speaking after the debate, Mr ap Iorwerth added:
 
“Today we asked the National Assembly for Wales to say that we believe that undergrounding should be the norm here in Wales – in the north Wales connection project, across Anglesey and the mainland, and every other project. 
 
“I am pleased to have received the backing of the majority of Assembly Members, and of Welsh Government, for a preference for undergrounding. 

“Even though I was disappointed that the Welsh Government tabled an amendment that weakened the original motion somewhat – and that a
north Wales Ukip AM give a passionate speech in favour of pylons! – the message is still a strong one. The Grid must now take into consideration that Wales’ democratic representatives have said that they should stop just looking for the cheapest option.
 
“Today’s vote will send a clear message to National Grid that more consideration needs to be given to alternatives to pylons, as well as a clear message to the people of Anglesey that the Assembly is behind them on this subject.”

Llangefni RFC to take on National Assembly of Wales Team

Ynys Môn AM and Llangefni RFC juniors coach Rhun ap Iorwerth has invited the Welsh Assembly Rugby team to Llangefni to raise money for the Ynys Môn National Eisteddfod 2017.

This will be Welsh Assembly Rugby’s first match in north Wales, and even though Rhun is a member of the team, he’ll be putting on the Llangefni shirt to play against his Assembly teammates.

Looking forward to the match, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“It’s great to be able to bring the National Assembly rugby team up to Anglesey. I look forward to a friendly but tough encounter – and to raising funds for the 2017 Eisteddfod and Bowel Cancer UK.  Being a Llangefni RFC Juniors coach and an Assembly Rugby team member, I’ll have a choice of which team to play for… so I can’t lose!”

Kick off is 2pm on Saturday, 12th November (just a few hours before the Wales v Argentina game). Please come along to support both teams.

AM’s open meeting in Holyhead

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth yesterday held a public meeting in Holyhead, where constituents controlled the agenda.
 
The meeting at the Sea Cadets Building in Newry, Holyhead, was an opportunity for local residents to have their say on matters of importance to them or the town.
 
Speaking after the meeting, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:
 
“Thanks to those who came along to the open meeting.  We had a constructive discussion on a range of issues – from local job opportunities to the single market, from transport connections between north and south to electricity connection across the island.
 
“For those not able to make it, I’m always available to discuss any issue of importance to you.  Get in touch with me – rhun.apiorwerth@assembly.wales – or come along to my next public meeting in Amlwch.”
 
Rhun ap Iorwerth will be holding another public meeting with a warm welcome to all at the Dinorben Arms, Amlwch on Thursday, November 10th at 6pm.

Rhun ap Iorwerth urges those in ‘at-risk’ groups to get the free flu vaccination

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM is urging all those eligible for the free flu vaccine to protect themselves against catching or spreading flu, which is a debilitating and potentially deadly illness.

Mr ap Iorwerth, who represents Ynys Môn, is joining calls being made by leading health professionals urging people aged 65 or over, carers, pregnant women and those with certain long-term illnesses to make an appointment with their local GP and get the free flu vaccine soon.

All children aged two and three years old on 31 August 2016, and children in primary school reception class, year one, two and three in school are also being offered protection with a nasal spray flu vaccine. The two and three year olds will have their nasal spray vaccine at their GP surgery and children in reception class, year one, two and three (generally aged 4 – 7 years old) will be offered their nasal spray vaccine at school.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said: “A major immunisation programme is underway throughout Wales to offer flu vaccines to individuals most at risk of serious complications from flu, and my message to them is ‘beat flu before it beats you!’

“Last year in Wales less than half (47%) of those in at-risk groups under the age of 65 took up their free NHS vaccination, and we really need to significantly increase the numbers of people being vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of this largely preventable illness.”

Commenting, Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, said, “Flu vaccine is strongly recommended for everyone at higher risk of severe influenza, a group which includes those aged 65 or over, people who have long term health conditions, pregnant women as well as all two to seven year olds. Flu vaccination is available free for all these groups, and also for those who are unpaid carers.  This year the NHS is also providing free vaccination for morbidly obese adults – that is adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above.”

Dr Roberts added “Most people who catch influenza (or ‘the flu’) usually recover after 4-5 days of fever, headache, aching muscles and sore throat. But influenza can also be more serious and require hospital care. Last winter, as in most winters, there were many deaths from influenza.”

It is possible to prevent flu with a simple, safe vaccination which is offered each year at GP surgeries and at some community pharmacies for those in ‘at risk’ groups. This is to protect against a potentially avoidable, serious infection as flu can make a current health condition worse.

The flu virus is spread easily via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed communities such as hospitals, residential homes and schools.

‘At risk’ groups include; all pregnant women, and individuals from 6 months of age with chronic respiratory disease, including moderate to severe asthma, chronic heart conditions including angina and heart failure, kidney disease, liver problems or neurological disorders (such as stroke and mini stroke) as well as anyone with diabetes. Morbidly obese adults are also recommended to have flu vaccine.

A further group at significantly increased risk of severe influenza are those with weakened immune systems due to disease or treatment with certain drugs, such as those receiving treatment for cancer or conditions such as severe rheumatoid arthritis.
Everyone aged 65 or over is at increased risk from flu and recommended to have a flu vaccine each year.

Readers can find out more about how to get their free vaccine by visiting www.beatflu.org or www.curwchffliw.org, or finding Beat Flu or Curwch Ffliw on twitter and facebook.

Protect Anglesey’s natural environment from pylons, says AM

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth this week asked the Environment Secretary about the environmental impact of the National Grid’s plans across Anglesey.

Speaking in the Senedd chamber, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The Cabinet Secretary will be aware of the decision by National Grid to place cables in a tunnel under the Menai Straits. We hope to see a new bridge constructed to go with the Britannia Bridge. I’m sure that the Cabinet Secretary would agree with me that there would be less environmental impact in placing those cables on that bridge, rather than actually building a bridge and digging a tunnel.

“But if the grid goes for the tunnel option in order to protect the natural environment of the Menai area, particularly the visual environment, isn’t the same thing true on the need to protect the natural environment of Anglesey as a whole, by undergrounding across the whole island?”

AM queries effect of UK Government border plans on Holyhead and Anglesey

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth has raised questions in the Assembly chamber regarding the effect on the Holyhead-Dublin crossing if a border is to be placed around the isle of Ireland.

During this week’s FMQs, Rhun ap Iorwerth talked of the importance of Holyhead Port. He said:

“In my constituency of Anglesey, the question of borders with Ireland is one of the most crucial questions in terms of the debate on leaving the European Union. If a border is to be placed around the isle of Ireland, as is suggested—and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said that he wants to strengthen border controls in the ports and airports of Ireland—then what’s the First Minister’s assessment of the likely impact of that on the most important crossing point in terms of trade between Britain and Ireland, and that’s in my constituency, the port of Holyhead?”

In his response, the First Minister also poured cold water over the UK Government’s plans to place the British border in Irish ports and airports, warning of a “number of problems” with the proposal, and saying that no-one had come up with a way to solve the problem, which was not good for the residents of Ynys Môn or Holyhead. However Plaid Cymru says it’s time Welsh Labour took a firmer and more consistent line.

Video clip of the question and answer in the Senedd:

Speaking afterwards, Rhun ap Iorwerth added:

“The prospect of placing a hard border in Ireland would make it very unattractive for people to travel and do business through Holyhead. Around 2.1 million passengers pass through Holyhead annually in addition to 500,000 cars, and 400,000 freight vehicles. The UK Government has stated that it wants to place the British border in Irish ports and airports, which means that passing through the port of Holyhead will create untold difficulty for these travellers and vehicles.

“This yet again demonstrates that ripping Wales and the UK out of the Single Market is folly, because it will mean an EU frontier at Welsh ports which will increase business costs substantially and risk trade and jobs. 

“Leaving the Single Market will have a massive impact on Welsh jobs and yet the Labour party has completely failed to set out a coherent position on it. Despite acknowledging that placing a hard Border in Ireland would create problems, the Labour government in Wales has taken a ‘hard Brexit’ approach and voted to leave the Single Market whilst the Labour party centrally has advocated remaining in the Single Market.

“It’s clear that remaining in the Single Market is best for Welsh jobs, trade and for Welsh travellers. Plaid Cymru will campaign for membership of the Single Market because that’s what’s in Wales’ best interests.”