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.”

Programmes to support homeless people on Anglesey must be protected, says AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth this week asked Welsh Government to maintain the financial support for organisations dealing with and tackling homelessness and said that not doing so would put pressure on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

During Ministerial Questions in the Assembly this week, Rhun praised the excellent work of organisations on Anglesey such as The Wallich, Digartref Môn and Gorwel.

This followed a visit by Rhun to the Wallich Housing First Project in Llangefni last week, where he learnt more about the work they do and the importance of the Supporting People programme.

Housing First Anglesey helps homeless people to find a permanent home quickly, providing ongoing support to help them settle in and maintain their new home. The project provides an intensive support package to actively address issues in a creative and innovative way.

Shian Thomas, Project Manager for Housing First Anglesey at The Wallich said:

“It has been a pleasure to talk to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM about our work on Anglesey and the benefits of Housing First as a model of support to those experiencing homelessness.

“Anglesey Housing First is the only Housing First project in Wales and we are proud to work with the local authority and landlords across the island to alleviate homelessness and provide housing for some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“Services like ours are key in helping to relieve and prevent homelessness and make sure people receive the right support whilst living independently.”

Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“I had a good meeting with The Wallich team in Llangefni about their work tackling homelessness.

“Welsh Government must protect the Supporting People programme. Many of the Wallich’s projects are funded through the programme, and so I was pleased to be able to raise the matter in the Assembly chamber this week.”

In his question to Communities Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“This month, I met with staff and managers of some of the organisations and charities that do excellent work on Anglesey in tackling and dealing with homelessness, including The Wallich, Digartref Môn, and Gorwel.

“Unfortunately, being asked to do more and more with reducing resources means that they are now reaching a point where it is entirely impossible to achieve, and the threat of a cut to the Supporting People fund from the Welsh Government risks undoing and undermining much of the good work that is and has been done in Anglesey and other parts of Wales.

“Does the Minister recognise that fact and accept that if the Welsh Government doesn’t maintain the financial support for these organisations they will be making a grave error and putting pressure on some of the most vulnerable people in our society?”

Unfortunately, the Cabinet Secretary didn’t give a guarantee about the Supporting People programme but said that he had listened to concerns ahead of the announcement on the draft budget on October 3rd.

Pictured: Rhun ap Iorwerth with Shian Thomas, Anglesey Project Manager and Sophie Haworth-Booth, North Wales Area Manager

AM makes case for strengthening Broadband provision in Anglesey

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth last week hosted a visit from the Minister for Skills and Science, the Welsh Government Minister responsible for broadband, to Anglesey.

During her visit, he took her to Mona Industrial Park and to a community in Llangoed so that she would have a snapshot of the problems faced by businesses and by individuals and communities on the island.

Prior to the visit, Rhun had invited constituents to share their experience of broadband and was able to collect the information together in a paper to present to the Minister.

Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“A fast data connection is not a ‘luxury’ these days. From education to tele-medicine, from business to leisure, our need for a broadband connection is an integral part of our everyday lives, and being rural should not be a reason for failing to get this connection. Rural areas expect, and receive, water and electricity. In the 21st century, we should have similar expectations in terms of data connectivity. Ynys Môn may be rural, but it’s not remote!”

“I would like to see a one-stop shop for practical help and support for those without and acceptable connection. At the moment, if there are alternative solutions available, people often aren’t aware of what those solutions are, nor who to turn to to ask the question even, and it’s not obvious what help could be available.

“I also want to see clarity for those who are unable to get a clear timetable for connection to their property through the Superfast Cymru programme (or similar) – including a clear statement if it’s NOT possible to connect, and for financial support aimed at those that are unable to get a ‘traditional’ connection, including developments on a community-wide level.”

“During her visit, I was able to make the case to the Minister for strengthening broadband for people in Anglesey. The Minister agreed to look at what can be done – for example, we agreed that I would host a Business Forum with the government’s connectivity team so that local businesses could find out what Welsh Government can do to help them.”

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.”

Have your say on boundary changes, urges AM

As new boundary proposals are published, Rhun ap Iorwerth calls for Ynys Môn to be treated as a special case

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth is urging the residents of Anglesey to have their say on the Boundary Commission’s proposals for new Westminster constituencies.

The proposals, released today, would see Ynys Môn disappear as a parliamentary constituency, and instead join parts of what is now Arfon.

The changes would not affect Assembly constituency boundaries.

Rhun ap Iorwerth commented:

“Other islands have stayed as they are – the Isle of Wight and the Scottish Isles have been excluded from the changes. I believe that Ynys Môn should also be treated as a special case. As an island, Ynys Môn’s boundaries are very clearly defined, and there’s real value in keeping the clear link between the people of the island and those representing them.

“I will be writing to the Boundary Commission as part of the consultation, and I would urge others on Anglesey to voice their opinion too. They can do that either by getting in touch with my office or through the Boundary Commissions’ website http://www.bcw2018.org.uk/

Video: Rhun calls for better mobile coverage in rural areas like Anglesey

During First Minister’s Questions, Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth talked about the unreliable mobile signal in rural areas such as Anglesey. He said:

“Although rural areas such as Ynys Môn pay exactly the same as everyone else in the British isles for their mobile phone signal, the service is often second rate. To be honest, many pay more for a mobile phone in areas such as Ynys Môn—some pay for two phones, one for work and one for home; some pay for a box to boost the signal; and others have to pay roaming charges because the signal from Ireland is stronger than the signal available on Ynys Môn. The ‘Daily Post’ at present is running a campaign to try and improve mobile signal in north Wales and they revealed some figures yesterday on 4G coverage: I think that the Netherlands are on 83 per cent, Britain is on 53 per cent and Wales is on just 20 per cent. Given that connectivity is so important in rural areas, what has prevented the Welsh Government from encouraging the mobile phone providers to do more to provide enhanced signal in rural areas and in Ynys Môn?”

Anglesey named as ‘Holiday Hotspot’

Ynys Môn AM calls it a tribute to hard-working local tourism industry as Anglesey comes second in list of top UK holiday hotspots

Responding to the news that Anglesey is number two on the list of the UK’s top holiday hotspots, Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth has said that this is further proof of the importance of the tourism industry to the island’s economy.

A recent Office of National Statistics report found that, when looking at the average expenditure per day visit for holiday locations in the UK, the Isle of Anglesey has the second highest spend per day, with £48.92. Number one on the list was Cardiff, which can of course be reached in 40 minutes from Anglesey Airport!

Local Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth commented:

“These latest statistics show once again how important the tourism industry is to Anglesey. They are also a tribute to the fantastic work done here by local tourism businesses to attract visitors here and to tempt them to spend their money here.

“And who can blame visitors for wanting to come here? When they can enjoy our fantastic scenery, learn about our unique heritage, take part in adventure sports or simply enjoy our delicious food and drink produce.

“These statistics also strengthen our argument to the National Grid about the importance of the tourism industry and therefore of the need to consider other options rather than erecting new pylons across the island.”