Regional plan aims to boost transport
NEW WEST WALES REGION ‘A NECESSITY FOR FUTURE SUCCESS’ CLAIMS PLAID
A NEW regional body could transform economic development and boost rural transport and the Welsh language in west Wales, according to senior Plaid Cymru figures.
At the recent National Eisteddfod, Plaid AMss presented proposals to create a new “West Waleses region”, stretchingg from Amlwch to Llan- elli, containing the existing authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Anglesey.
According to Adamm Price, Plaid’s spokesesman on Business, Econconomy and Finance, the he four western councils share reanumbera number of common features, including higher percentages of Welsh speakers, their rural nature, a dependence on public sector jobs and the inflow of retirees, while at the same time losing some of their young people. The proposals come ahead of the publication of a new Local Government Reform White Paper, which is expected next year. In it, the Welsh Government is set to introduce mandatory regional working between existing councils, but fallingg short of earlier attempts to introduce forcedf mergers. “One could argue that the challe challenges faced in West Wal Wales – the economy, ho housing, connectivity an and planning – are ap applicable to the whole of Wales. “But, from an econ nomic, political and lin linguistic point of view, the west has reached a cris crisis point,” he said. “T “There is a clear pattern of eco economic decline and linguistic deterioration in the Western area areas. The link between the two is clearly visible in the level of young people leaving the area. “There is also evidence of a lack of public investment by the Welsh Government in areas South West and West.”
According to Mr Price, over time, the new regional body could, by lobbying and working with the Welsh Government, look at re-opening the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen and Pwllheli to Caernarfon railway lines, and invest in North-South road links on the A487.
He added: “There is even recognition by Labour members that there is no focus on the unique needs of rural Wales in the current economic strategy of the Welsh Government, and there is a tendency to over- emphasise the West-Eastern and cross-border links with England in our national economic strategies, which downgrades the links between the North and South.
“Now is our chance to create the conditions in which all of these can be addressed.”
Sian Gwenllian AM, Plaid’s spokesperson for the Welsh Language and Local Government, said: “With the Welsh Government recently outlining in its Cymraeg 2050 proposals a commitment to tying efforts to strengthen the Welsh language with economic growth and government investment, a new combined authority for the western Welsh - areas which will perhaps play the biggest part in achieving 1m speakers - is not just desirable, I would argue it is a necessity.
“Now is the time for us to be bold in delivering a successful future for the West.
“We can bring a dynamic edge to economic strategy in Wales, tying our national language and heritage with economic prosperity.”
Train improvements are needed and West Wales is at ‘crisis point’, says Adam Price, inset, left