The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed the long over due decision to close the Panally Camp in Pembrokeshire which has been housing asylum seekers for several months.
Alistair Cameron Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire said:
“It is absolutely no surprise that the Camp is to be closed following the damning report from the Independent Inspector of Borders and Immigration into the unsafe and distressing conditions for the residents at the camp. This left the Home Office with no option but to close the Camp.
“It is now vital that the Home Office works closely with the Welsh Government in order to provide safe, secure and decent accommodation which any of us would expect if we were in a similar position.
“There have been a lot of unpleasant and nasty scenes outside the Camp due to demonstrations from the far-right who have tried to stir up hatred. However, we must remember that many local people volunteered to help the asylum seekers with clothing, language assistance and many other acts of kindness. This represents the true spirit of Pembrokeshire.
“I know this has been a distressing experience for many of the residents in the Camp and that many have suffered depression and anxiety in accommodation which was not suitable for long term use. I wish them all the best for the future and hope they can rebuild their lives for the better.
“As we move forward, the Home Office needs to act urgently to address the “fundamental failures of leadership and planning” highlighted in the Independent Inspector’s report. In particular, it must consult with local residents and service providers over its proposals and assess the impact on local services, particularly in rural areas where there are less facilities than urban areas.”
Kirsty Williams the Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister has announced an additional £30 million to develop new Welsh-medium education.
The capital investment aims to help reach the longstanding target of 1 Million Welsh speakers by 2050, by supporting young learners to become Welsh speakers by the time they leave school.
This announcement follows hot on the heels of the new Welsh Curriculum approved by Senedd members this week which will be introduced after an extensive consultation and is the first complete reform of the curriculum in a generation.
Kirsty Williams Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister, said:
“Providing first class schools for children in Welsh-medium education is a key driver for Cymraeg 2050. Attending a Welsh-medium school ensures children become at least bilingual.
“We also need to increase the number of learners in English-medium and bilingual schools who are learning Welsh successfully. I want to ensure more bilingual schools introduce a greater proportion of the new curriculum in Welsh, to give learners a strong linguistic foundation.
“The funding complements our fantastic 21st century Schools and Colleges programme, which has completed 170 new schools or college projects in its first phase, with 43 new projects in the pipeline.
“We are driving forward the delivery of capital projects to increase the percentage of learners in Welsh-medium education, helping achieve our long-term goal of a million Welsh-speakers by 2050.”
Jane Dodds Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has questioned the science and logic behind the decision to allow supermarkets to resume selling goods deemed non-essential from Monday 22nd March yet keeping non-essential retailers, including many small businesses, shut until 12th April.
Jane Dodds said:
“By keeping small retailers closed while allowing supermarkets to undercut them, Mark Drakeford and Labour are throwing many small shops and high streets under a bus.
“Mark Drakeford have been briefing for weeks that retail could open up after 15 March. Businesses have been making preparations and incurring costs. This last-minute U-turn risks people’s businesses and livelihoods. The Welsh Labour Government has treated the High Street with complete contempt.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats will always put recovery first, and that means backing the high street.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats challenged Plaid Cymru on the eve of their conference to provide clarity on their position on LGBT+ rights and equality.
Last week a young trans woman of colour was removed from a hustings meeting after protesting about her inability to question a panel member and sitting Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Helen Mary Jones, over her previous comments on trans rights. The young woman has since blogged about her experience.
Leena Sarah Farhat, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Diversity lead, said:
“I was in the hustings. I saw a young woman removed from the hustings just for displaying a trans flag. The organization has given a mealy-mouthed statement that means nothing. But even worse, is the Plaid Cymru response. Helen Mary Jones remains a candidate, despite supporting groups that use language that harms and puts trans people at risk.
“If she was a candidate who said similar things about race, or disability, she would have been shown the door a long time ago. Does Plaid Cymru believe trans rights are less important? The lack of action by Plaid when it comes to discrimination is worrying."
Helen Mary Jones has been criticized widely for her support for the anti-trans group Women’s Place, and has shared content that uses trans people’s dead names – an action that puts them at huge risk of reprisal, or other hate crime.
Oliver Townsend, the Welsh Lib Dem candidate for Islwyn, and himself married to a trans man, added his voice to Leena’s call for action:
“This is about fairness, about hearing the voices of people who are under constant attack. My husband’s entire life feels like it is under constant attack from a right-wing element in our country – and I expected better from someone like Helen Mary Jones.
“I used to look up to her. When I was much younger, I thought she spoke so passionately for young people. It breaks my heart that she cannot see the damage she is doing, but sometimes standing up to people you respect is more important than staying silent.”
Both Leena and Oliver have called on Plaid Cymru to issue a statement addressing the row, and to pledge that action will be taken.
“If I was in the workplace, and I was sharing content and views like this,” Oliver said, “I would be disciplined. Plaid really need to think about what message they are sending to LGBT+ people, and those who stand with us.”
On first sight there seems little in Rishi Sunak’s budget to scare the horses. With tax threshold increases delayed and Covid support continuing for the time being, Sunak has avoided an immediate hit to families’ wallets.
Look below the surface though and what becomes apparent is that those on the lowest incomes will suffer the most once the measures outlined in the budget kick in.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Economy Spokesperson Andrew Parkhurst said:
“The most glaring example of this is the cruel decision to reduce universal credit at the end of September by £20 per week, just at the time when unemployment is expected to rise. This will hurt the poorest families the hardest and shows the lack of compassion and empathy that is at the heart of Tory thinking.
“The freezing of income tax thresholds may look harmless enough. The effect though will be massive – particularly if inflation takes off - and will hit the lowest earners the hardest as more and more workers get caught by the threshold and have to give up a fifth of the additional cash they earn. The wealthy on the other hand don’t get the personal allowance so freezing it has no impact on them.
“Even raising the rates of corporation tax will end up hurting ordinary people. It may seem like a tax on the rich – hence its initial popularity – but ultimately the tax is paid by customers, workers and shareholders. It will therefore put upward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on pay and dividends.
“The existing rate of corporation tax may be relatively low compared to other major economies but there are many factors that influence international businesses on where to invest. Leaving the EU has already made the UK a less favourable destination for businesses wanting access to the EU so this just seems like the worst possible time to remove a competitive strength.
“There was precious little in the budget about helping the excluded 3 million entrepreneurs, and nothing on reforming the broken business rates system or helping exporters hit badly by Brexit.
“Reforms to social care were also absent (despite Boris Johnson’s assertion 20 months ago that he had a ready-made solution), as was anything extra for NHS staff or carers.
If the Tories were serious about rebuilding our shattered economy fairly there would have been more about enabling businesses to flourish, encouraging exports, attracting inward investment, ensuring the economy is more resilient and able to withstand future shocks, investing in public health and protecting the most vulnerable.
“As it is, Sunak may have kept the Tory’s manifesto commitment not to raise headline rates of income tax, national insurance or VAT but in doing so he has sacrificed the poorest members of society and risked damaging our national interest.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are pleased to announce their candidates for the Mid and West Wales region in this year’s Senedd election.
The list will be led by party leader Jane Dodds. Jane will be joined on the list by former Assembly Member William Powell, Alistair Cameron, Cllr Steven Churchman and Cadan ap Tomos.
Jane Dodds and William Powell are both former parliamentarians and will be fighting hard to regain this seat along with holding Brecon and Radnorshire for the party.
In 2016 the Welsh Liberal Democrats were just 2,214 votes short in a region of almost 450,000 voters from winning a regional seat in addition to Brecon and Radnorshire.
Jane Dodds and William Powell (photo taken in 2019)
Jane Dodds said:
“I’m delighted to be leading the list in Mid and West Wales. As we emerge from lockdown and hopefully put Covid behind us we need a strong voice in our Senedd to ensure our rural communities are represented in the corridors of power.
“I am passionate about bringing people together, improving life chances for the least advantaged and finding ways to protect the natural world while generating a thriving economy.
“If elected I will speak up for all of Mid and West Wales and ensure that in the coming years every decision I make will help put our recovery first.”
William Powell added:
“I am looking forward to this campaign. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the difference one Liberal Democrat can make to the Senedd and I’m keen to see that number grow.
“Mid and West Wales is a very special place made up of unique communities, with land farmed by families over the generations and vibrant towns and villages each of which add character to the Wales we know today.
“I’m looking forward to fighting a positive campaign that champions the issues that matter to people across Mid and West Wales.”
Liberal Democrats across Wales have expressed grave concerns that proposed blanket water pollution measures will cause serious damage to our local farming communities.
The Party has condemned the heavy-handed and uniform policy being debated by Senedd Members today. If approved it will apply to all farms and farmers regardless of their size and the impact of their farming practices, which the Party says will hit small family farms the hardest.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are urging for a delay in the implementation of these measures while evidence is re-evaluated. The Party is also calling for funding to be increased to Natural Resources Wales immediately for an extensive monitoring programme of water quality throughout the country, including around all treatment works and sewage outlets.
William Powell, Agriculture Spokesperson and Senedd Candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire, said:
“River pollution in Wales and across the UK absolutely needs to be tackled.
“However, I share the frustration expressed by NFU Cymru and FUW leaders that the Minister has decided to launch such a fundamental initiative in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, when she promised 11 times not to do so.
“I also agree strongly with the view expressed by NFU Cymru President John Davies that this issue needs a partnership approach and one that extends beyond party divides.”
Mark Williams former Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Ceredigion and Rural Affairs spokesperson added:
“To embark on this initiative as we still grapple we a Covid-19 pandemic, and in the wake of the concerning implications of Brexit, is foolhardy at best.
“There is real concern and anger in the farming community across Wales, and once again, a view that genuine concerns have been ignored. We fervently believe in the principle that the polluter should indeed pay, and the sector must have the resources to deal with this, but Labour's ‘cut and paste’ approach in these regulations is not the focused and nuanced approach that is required."
The Party proposes an eight-point plan to tackle water pollution is available here.
A new Bevan Foundation report highlights has revealed the impact of Covid on household finances across Wales.
A new report from the Bevan Foundation has highlighted the impact that the current pandemic has had on finances of Welsh households. The report indicates that almost a quarter of Welsh households have seen a fall in their income due to a mixture of business shutdowns, furlough pay and redundancies.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said this report needs to act as a wakeup call to Wales and to whoever forms the next Welsh Government.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said:
“This report highlights the real damage done to our economy. Covid isn’t just a health crisis, it’s effecting every aspect of our existence. It should be a stark reminder that many people have lost a significant amount of income over the last twelve months and that when shops and restaurants do eventually reopen, our economy won’t magically return to normal.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross party economy recovery council to be established, made up of representatives of all major political parties, to work alongside business leaders and academics in order to discuss and a agree a sustainable and effective way forward.
“This report needs to act as a wakeup call to whoever forms the next Welsh Government and they need to ensure that their plans are bold and radical and that our recovery from Covid is put first.”
Commenting on the decision from the Office of Rail and Road to reject Grand Union's plan for a new Carmarthen to Paddington rail service which would have directly challenged the monopoly currently enjoyed by GWR, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said that this was a regrettable decision:
"This is a regrettable decision which will disadvantage passengers and only lead to higher fares and less choice.
"If we are to meet our obligations and aspirations on reducing carbon emissions we need to be encouraging people out of their cars and onto public transport, this decision will do the opposite."
Welsh Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Councillor Steven Churchman added:
"I hope this isn't the end for a potential second operator on this route and that soon passengers will benefit from increased choice and lower price on the railways.
"Competition drives innovation and provides the customer with choice and opportunity to challenge pricing. The decision taken by the Office of Rail and Road will be a blow for customers in these three key areas. Ultimately the only winners will be GWR at the expense of the environment and customers.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today called upon the Welsh Government to pledge to remove all unsafe cladding from homes and tower blocks without directly charging home owners.
The news follows a similar announcement from the UK Government. There are an estimated 148 high-rise residential buildings in Wales most in Cardiff and Swansea, several of which have been identified as having cladding which should be replaced.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:
“Three and a half years after the devastating fire at Grenfell it’s worrying that so many properties in Wales are still at risk because of unsafe cladding.
Many people living in high-rise properties across Wales do not feel confident that their property is the safe and are worried about potential fire risks.
“It’s high time the Welsh Government acted to make these homes safe.”