Our Plan for Arfor
Plaid Cymru’s Arfor strategy entails the creation of three new eco-centres as extensions of existing settlements – on the Menai Strait between Bangor and Caernarfon, at Aberystwyth and at Carmarthen. They would be vibrant employment, leisure, cultural and entertainment hubs serving their rural hinterlands and connected by a western coast rail link between Bangor and Carmarthen.
The Arfor Development Agency would have powers in relation to these locations in respect of land acquisition, together with the funding to provide the necessary infrastructure, housing, and other economic incentives, whilst operating within a local democratic planning structure set by the local authorities.
Arfor’s eco-centres would be focal points for social and work interactions with their wider rural hinterlands, acting as hubs for the creation of new, high quality jobs in innovation and health sciences linked to their universities and local hospitals, in the environmental and creative industries, and in social enterprises. Supporting a vibrant Welsh language cultural scene, they would be a regional focus for a youthful urban experience which is vital for the future of the Welsh language. They would
- Create new jobs in construction, maintenance, and management of affordable social housing, with many training opportunities.
- Be carbon neutral, exemplars for sustainable development, with their energy needs supplied by renewables.
- Be connected by rail, with completion of the missing rail links between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth, and Pwllheli and Bangor.
In addition, the Arfor Development Agency would:
- Collaborate with the Bangor, Aberystwyth and Trinity St David’s Universities to generate research-led spin-off enterprises.
- Co-operate with the Region’s three District General Hospitals to develop related Life Sciences and Healthcare projects.
- Lead on the use of public procurement as an instrument of economic development.
- Develop a skills and labour-market strategy designed to encourage Arfor residents, especially the young, to perceive the region as an entity which provides a wide range of progressive career opportunities.
- Promote localised and community-owned renewable energy schemes.
- Support Welsh-speakers in setting up and developing business enterprises, including co-operative and social enterprises, and encouraging them to run those businesses through the medium of Welsh.
- Support the nation-wide ‘more than a million’ speakers commitment, by making Welsh the language of internal administration of the public sector and the public sponsored organisations across the region, and promoting new private and voluntary spaces where the language is the norm.
- Create sector specific strategies, in particular for agri-food, hospitality, and tourism. The latter should entail the founding of a Food Institute and a Tourism Academy, linked to one of the Universities, with a working hotel teaching hospitality through the medium of Welsh.
Based in Machynlleth, near the centre of the region, Arfor’s Board would include representatives from the local authorities within the region, the universities and the environmental, social enterprise, and farming sectors. It would be gender balanced and proactively improve the representation of other underrepresented groups.
Arfor’s western rail corridor
Working in partnership with Transport for Wales, a major objective for the Arfor Development Agency would be completing the rail link between Bangor and Carmarthen.
The first step would be reinstating the link between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. Providing passenger rail services for most of the western coast would deliver a broad range of economic, environmental social and cultural benefits, providing essential connectivity for the Arfor region as well as strengthen the long-term sustainability of communities, businesses, and public institutions, for example the universities in Lampeter and Aberystwyth.