Re­gional plan aims to boost trans­port


Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Gareth Wyn Williams

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

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