Post-Covid Wales: Contribute Your Ideas
The Covid-19 crisis has shone a light on the structural problems that exist within society and the political system in Wales. The work of rebuilding that will take place over the coming weeks, months and years will require us to be innovative, bold and far-reaching so that the nation that emerges from this crisis is more sustainable, equitable and fair.
Plaid Cymru has already proposed a host of ideas, including a plan to reboot the economy, but we want to hear directly from you about what changes you think need to happen. If you have any ideas, however big or small, this is your chance to make your voice heard and be part of our plans to build a new nation.
We welcome any and all contributions, no matter if it’s a very specific proposal you have to put forward, a comprehensive plan, or whether you simply want to let us know of a problem that requires fixing.
You are welcome to write your ideas in the form below, or if you wish to send something lengthier such as a document, please email Plaid Cymru’s Post-Covid Coordinator: [email protected].
We cannot promise to adopt every proposal, but we do commit to considering every suggestion, so send us your ideas!
You can tag or respond to suggestions by clicking on their headline.
Tax on static caravans
Static caravans are being used as second homes it's about time the owners paid tax on them
Grŵp Anabledd / DisabilityGroup
I would like to see Disabled Members get together, form a group, increase our profile on all Plaid publications so that disability is an issue in its own right and doesn't just become swept up within the category of equalities.
As a group we can then liaise with all the other disability groups in Wales and UK and add to the campaigns to prepare for elections in May.
We can look at many issues effecting Disabled people today e.g. what are the barriers that make it harder for a Deaf/Disabled candidate wishing to stand for election.
View to implement Univesal-Basic-Income-esque scheme with a move to a 4 day work week
With COVID hitting Wales & Wales' industry hard, unemployment going up and a lot of people it would be good to start looking into a Finland-style UBI Scheme (one of the more successful in developed countries) and whether it would be feasible to implement in Wales over the coming years. Avoiding the currently implemented universal credit scheme would be hugely important as its results have so far been inconclusive, besides bad press... There have also been a number of studies which have proven that moving to a 4 day work week has no negative effects on productivity, and generally increases population happiness. It would be good to further look into these studies and how they might have an impact on the Welsh Population
Cymru annibynnol gwyrdd
Look into the feasibility of a Singapore / Netherlands based economy model
Netherlands is about twice the size of Wales in terms of Land size, but has strived in the European Economy, Whereas Wales is 29 times bigger than Singapore & Singapore had a similar population size to Wales in 1992. It would be good to look into how these 2 economies, who's countries have similaries to Wales have managed to grow and really build themselves, and look into whether it would be feasible for implantation in Wales
Tech, Green energy & Water Investment
Tax breaks for technology, greener energy & water companies to invest in Wales, allowing certain "rewards" for investment into certain areas. Additional breaks for training / retraining local population for employment - Think (in green investment) something along the lines of a Tesla giga factory opening up, with breaks / grants for training / retraining anyone with x miles - With Tech, something along the lines of tax breaks for tech companies opening an office in Wales / moving an office to Wales, with additional grants available for taking on additional staff from local areas & universities (which may only be applicable for companies who would pay X amount of tax per year). The additional tax coming in off these larger companies should help repay the grants (although I'm no economist) Wales is actually in a good geographical location to support those. Having a lot of space for warehouses / factories, being close to England / London, being an entrypoint / exit point from & to US / Canada / Ireland & Europe Then of course, Welsh Independence would allow the ability to add on additional import / export taxes.
Greater co-operation and connectivity with our other Celtic Cousins
Ireland is obviously something we should aspire to. Not only had they won their independence from the Union, but have become a successful nation on its own in Europe, and is now a member (albeit temporarily) on the UN Security Council. While Welsh Language and Culture has survived throughout the centuries, in Cornwall (Kernow) and Brittany (Breizh) it could use more attention. As we share the same linguistic and cultural heritage, we should help support them by offering classes on Brezhoneg or Kernowek, as well as teach more about their culture and history in a Wales alongside ours.
Implement a Canadian-style GST/PST/HST taxation on luxury goods.
In Canada, depending on where you go province-to-province and the territories, a system of taxation is implemented on luxury goods, vehicles, clothing and some services etc. For example, in British Columbia, there is a system that has Provincial Sales Tax and Goods and Sales Tax. In B.C’s case, it’s 5%+7% on top. In this case, a T-Shirt costing $30 would be $3.60 on top including PST and GST applies at the till. Some areas like Nova Scotia and Ontario have this collated already called the “Harmonised Sales Tax”. This tax is later collected directly and used to support businesses and enterprises in Wales.
Tourist and Second Home Tax
As has been suggested, introduce a Tourist tax and further taxes on second/holiday homes. The proceeds to be invested in the Welsh Developement Agency to re-balance the economy
Welsh Green Development Bank
A fund for promoting green businesses in wales allowing them to access favourable loans. Can also be loans for community projects with key aims of environment and society. Maybe link it all with Kickstarter campaigns so we as individuals can donate to specific projects. Or even a national kickstart campaign, to get investors from across the world to help us build nationally/internationally important projects. Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon etc
Senedd control over railway infrastructure
Railway infrastructure is an essential tool in economic development. We will never be able to develop our economy in our own interests while this power resides with Westminster
A less tourist focused economy in Wales
Welsh National Cricket Team
With Wales known across the world for its sporting heritage, Wales needs to add to its sporting repertoire to include our male and female national cricket team. with the recent match of Irish victory in the Ireland vs England ODI, it can be seen that small nations have what it take to hold their own on the international sporting stage.
Independent Wales to become a candidate country to join the EU
Social, Physical and Emotional Health through Physical Activity and Physical Education
Social Emoitonal skill development, health, and fitness do not begin in secondary school. Physical, psychological, and social health begins at birth. This needs to be addressed consistently beginning in Foundation all the way through old age. Reactionary programs and policeis need to turn into proactive programs and policies.
Recognise and support Welsh higher education as the anchor of a prosperous Wales
Higher education is the anchor of any prosperous society, by providing the skills and knowledge to create, equip, and sustain a modern, innovation-based economy. Wales is lucky to have numerous world-class universities and colleges, in all regions of the country. And in addition to equipping the future economy, they are critical to the current economy as well. A recent report found that jobs supported by higher education sector contribute more to Wales' economy than the entire tourism industry. Higher education in Wales needs real support from the Welsh government. Whilst, admirably, the Welsh government for years capped student fees and paid thousands of pounds for each student topping up the difference, they did not restrict this for study at Welsh universities. This meant that hundreds of millions of pounds of Welsh taxpayer monies were spent at better-resourced English universities, rather than spent in investing in our own institutions of higher education. A future Plaid Cymru government needs to recognise that we can't build a prosperous country if the best and the brightest do not stay here. To that effect, they must incentivise students to study in Wales, which will directly and indirectly create jobs and opportunities for work here, helping create a sustainable, equitable, forward-looking, and technologically modern society.
Power to the people
Bringing power back to the people. The exploitation of the natural resources of cymru has been in the hands of rich individuals often absent from the locality, either wealthy foreign investors or local landlords whose primary residence was far from the resources that they exploited. As a consequence the exploitation of that resource was conducted with little or no regard to the effect it would have on the workforce, the locals, the landscape or the ecology of an area. With the rise of renewables we are risking falling into the same trap once again, with multinational owned wind farms etc building with no regard to the locality but merely trying to exploit the resource as efficiently as possible. Community run power resources are what will give us the greatest level of energy security and ensure that the profits go to those effected by the energy generation. From turbines on rivers, to windmills, to solar panels, to tidal barrages the opportunities are enormous but the power and the wealth they generate must go to the people. Anglesey used to be an island of windmills, creating a new local and specialised vernacular in house building on the island could create a wonderful local style that would be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. There are hundreds of rivers and streams in Cymru. Each one providing the opportunity for community schemes and micro turbines producing electricity for individual homes and contributing any excess back to the grid. The valleys of South Wales give ample scope for energy generation schemes to produce electricity on a grand scale, this is how and where the industrial revolution began, by harnessing that power. Solar panels and insulation on all old housing stock could bring us up to date. Reducing the cost of heating and powering our homes and putting any excess back into the grid. This would free up extra capacity to green technologies that Wales has been famous for, like steel production. The tidal barrages should be built and managed without private investment. If cymru could borrow money at a low rate and build the barrages then then the ongoing profit from them will be a great fillip to the national purse going forward. It would act as a clean green resource generating wealth for the country in much the same way, only greener, as the oil resources of Norway that created their sovereign wealth fund.
Defining in much more detail the Welsh voice in Europe
It's never been more important to differentiate the identity of Wales as much as possible from England and as an approach this is central to the identity of the Party. Let's face it, there couldnt be an easier area to do this than in our approach to Europe. We could incentivise links to other European countries through current town twinning arrangements, establish even closer links to European institutions (EU and non-EU - see another one of my suggestions on Welsh philosophy for a possibly greater link to France), emphasise our links to the European Celtic diaspora and perhaps have a pro-Europe theme to the entire discussion on a post-COVID world. Needs co-operation, of course, with the SNP and Irish friends. A new push in this area could pay massive dividends for Welsh identity and could attract European funding of all sorts.
Welsh philosophy in education
Fake news and populist generalisation hits at the very heart of democracy. Using the wealth of Welsh philosophers, we could make a unique contribtuion to teaching our children what does exist from what really does not exist - this is a real strength of the French education system and is lacking in Britain. We could highlight current educational practitioners using this material, incentivise new practice, make resources for teachers, suggest how the subject could be incorporated into the current curriculum, include options in Univeristy and teacher training and thus build a distinctively Welsh response to a very modern problem.
Breaking the Communication Breakdown
Communication Breakdown, might be a great track by Led Zeppelin, it is unfortunately the sorry case that we currently find ourselves in. Between little to no devolved Media powers, One UK conglomerate media company owning the mainstream monopoly of media in Wales, the bereft teachings of our histories - in addition to an inability to read/understand our histories for many as we are not taught ein iaith in the first place (or taught it as a second / tourist language) - where arguably the communication breakdown started back when Edward laid the first brick at Caernarfon. I suggest, but wouldn’t know how to achieve, that we push for devolved media powers - break apart the monopoly (or legislate as such so that the laws make it so that one company can’t own a monopoly), as well as working towards reconnecting our communities. Our nation was unstoppable at a point in time - when we worked together. We need to return back to our roots - we need to turn back to our neighbouring areas and need a place/facility (physical and/or online) to be able to connect. Dw i’n byw yn Castell-Nedd, ond - we hear absolutely nothing of what happens North/West/East/Hell - lucky to hear what happens in Swansea/Cardiff. We need to work on our own inter tourism across Wales - where I feel that some form of exchange program potentially related to education - to be able to organise for younger minds of how we’re interconnected (today as well as in our histories), but absolutely anything and everything to breakdown the constant media dialogue of “too small to be big”, where we are humble giants in what we’ve given to the world and feel we need to be reminded of that to reaffirm our self worth/self confidence as a nation and peoples. In the words of Noam Chomsky: “Remove a people’s past, Input a present - and you can dictate their future”. Where is our future heading with the communication breakdown of media and spreading of misinformation (as seen in lockdown)? Towards a future not of our own validity - but of our subjugation and assimilation into England. The weapon of our oppressor has always been language, perception and framing. Look at how our nation is framed and perceived in media - and question: Does this represent me? If not - then we have our work cut out for us as I don’t feel it will be an easy feat, seeing as those were the tools that got us to vote against our better interests.
Include the history of Wales, the people and the Welsh language as a core subject across all education platforms
Create an integrated national Housing Policy, which would force developers to build at least 50% of new builds as affordable to local inhabitants. Increase taxation on ALL second or holiday homes. Finally, increase council housing provision back to previous/average historic levels
Wales should be proud to be the first nation in the world to legislate for children's right to play (Article 31 UNCRC). The Play Sufficiency Duty has been described as "a beautiful piece of legislation" and inspires other countries who recognise the importance of play for the healthy development of children and their communities. Children are undoubtedlysome of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and also have little say or control over the decisions being made on their behalf. Communities where the conditions for play, including staffed provision, gives equity of space to children in society and also provides an opportunity for children to being to process this experience and build resilience for the future.
Welsh language tax reductions
A kitemark-style, tiered system of offering tax/rate reductions for business that actively offer/include the Welsh language. i.e., businesses that have internal and external signage bilingual, have their literature/menus etc bilingual and see local/Welsh products could receive different ratings and tax/rate reductions as an incentive to include the Welsh language in their business operations.
Improve Mental Health Provision
We as a Country need to improve the quality and availability of Mental Health Services. Too many politicians pay lip service to this. We need a significant improvement in numbers of Mental Health staff and pay special attention to the increasing numbers of people (especially young people) with ever increasing Mental problems. As an inclusive Wales we need to care for all.
National insulation programme using wool fibre from Welsh farms
Farmers in the UK find themselves in an impossible situation with their wool; https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/farmers-shearings-574-sheep-compost-18493202 This wool could be used as part of a national insulation programme, to upgrade the insulation in every suitable home in Wales. Improved insulation and general thermal efficiency would lead to; # Lower heating bills - less fuel poverty. # Warmer homes - reduced damp and associated ill health. # Less energy use overall - fewer carbon emissions. Wool is not suitable for every property. Perhaps the Government should incentivise or we set up a number of community owned companies, or a nationalised company to go around the country installing different types of insulation in different types of property.
Reform of the LAs must be done. Go back to the previous 8 with some changes: placing Conwy in Gwynedd: Caerphilly in Cwm Taf (former Mid Glam) with Rhondda and Merthyr; to even up the population balance. And align the current Health Boards with them by splitting up Betsi Cadwaladr into 2, also placing Social Care firmly in under the Health Boards.
To help combat the problem of homelessness in Welsh towns and cities, invest in a modular homes project similar to the one recently completed in Cambridge. These units are based on a static caravan/mobile home-type design, whereby each unit is completely self-contained and takes up a relatively small space.
Electric cars require quite exotic materials in their batteries and other systems, and mining these materials damages ecosystems in other countries (particularly the third world), a network of Hydrogen fuel garages every 50km across Wales would be a massive step forward - providing an easy to fuel, pollution free alternative to electric cars - Wales could be world leaders on such a network - you simply cannot provide enough charging points or electricity to supply electric vehicles alone
Why aren't industrial buildings being encouraged or made to fit solar panels to the roofs of their buildings? Surely this would help the environment even if the energy produced only provided enough power for lighting, office equipment, such as computers, photocopier, etc.
Keep grass verges wild
Keeping them overgrown will benefit wildlife, and also in theory encourage more cautious driving. Keeping 80-90% of the verge wild, whilst offering clear visibility for drivers stopping at junctions/roundabouts.
Compulsory teaching of political literacy in schools (and give teachers the tools to do it!)
As a teacher, I usually loathe politicians getting too involved in education and making changes seemingly for changes sake, but here is an exception. The education system - mainly by design - has failed for years to produce school leavers who have a basic understanding of the political system in Wales (or even the UK). Yes, PSE is considered compulsory, but the content isn’t, and speaking as a teacher, leaving the content to the individual teachers or schools means it’s done inadequately or not at all (not teachers’ fault, I must say, when the resources provided are appalling and they simply don’t have the time and inclination to find their own!) Now we MUST do something. Next year 16/17 year olds will be able to vote in local and Senedd elections. In addition, more and more young people are genuinely becoming interested in politics, the one thing stopping them being more involved, perhaps, is that they don’t know how to! Politics and the education of democracy must be given a higher priority in schools. Political education needs to teach students how the political system works, how new laws are introduced, the differences in neighbouring democratic countries and finally how to become directly involved in Welsh politics. Politics is part of everyone’s life. We need to help young people recognise it’s not a dirty word!
Re-organisation of Health Boards
A commission to look into abolition of the current bloated and inefficient Welsh Health Boards that are currently not fit for purpose, eg Betsi. Possible suggestions would be either the formation of an all Wales Health Board or, on contrast, going back to a more localised system such as before reorganisation, which in my opinion, has been an unmitigated disaster, particularly with reference to Mental Health provision, which clearly does not function adequately at present.
More,if not all,tax raising powers to the Senedd
The Senedd to have the ability to raise direct and indirect taxes to fund issues of importance in Wales. A priority would be reorganisation of Health and Social Care into one streamlined Organisation,to be funded by an increase of 1-2% in income tax or NI. Free social care for all to be also funded by direct taxation. Discuss🤔
Bikes on buses
Bus service providers should change their terms of carriage to allow any type of bike to be carried on board so long as there is sufficient space. Alternatively all buses should be fitted with bike racks on the front. This would allow people to ride the first and final miles of their overall much longer journey. This could be useful for commuters and also tourists. Perhaps this applies more to rural areas where distances are greater, bus stops less common and buses often much less busy. It's easy to do this, why not try it?! It works well in other countries.
Re-design all tax systems that we control around the 'polluter pays' principle.
In order to discourage negative environmental behaviour we should tax polluting behaviours. In Wales we do control some tax revenue streams, and could possibly re-design them to incorporate environmental elements. We could also introduce new taxes or payments for negative environmental behaviour; e.g. road pricing, pay as you throw, home energy use. Redesign business taxes as well as personal taxes. Of course we must protect the least well off, I'm thinking especially of those who are experiencing fuel poverty. The tax could (should!) be ring-fenced to help fund insulation schemes, public transport schemes, re-localisation schemes, etc. These schemes should start before the tax change takes place.
Equip and support communities to become more self sufficient - localise the economy
We should equip our communities to be able to provide more of their basic needs. e.g. food, energy, housing. Food - set up community supported agriculture schemes. Energy - Community owned energy generation schemes. Housing - Council or social housing. This is going on already, but needs far greater adoption and at scale to be able to make a real difference.
Improve the public transport throughout Wales, especially the connection between North & South, on the roads and Via rail network.
Cars on the roads...
I have just edited this suggestion after receiving useful feedback and having conversation about some of the details.
In order to tackle pollution and congestion as we come out of lockdown we divide all traffic in two by only allowing cars with an odd or an even number plate to drive on the roads on certain days of the week, Monday-Saturday, three days on three days off. This will be applied at specific times of day and rather than numeric could even be alphabetic (A-M cars and N-Z cars).
Either way its an easy visual identification that restricts the amount of traffic for six days of the week.
I suggest we first trial this on a section of road somewhere that gets congested, perhaps use two or three lanes of the M4 corridor around Newport and further extend it if it is a success. Overhead matrix boards will say only cars adhering to this system can drive in lanes 3 and 4 (the hard shoulder is not disturbed and is still accessible for all traffic). Once decided on, the days cant be changed as people need time to make arrangements. Drivers don’t need to sign up to anything, as long as they drive in the correct lanes on the correct days they won’t get fined. ANPR cameras check cars are adhering and fines go to pay for it all. There will likely be some drivers that will just try to find an alternative route around the motorway but if a driver is sitting in congested traffic in one lane, seeing traffic moving at a good pace in the next lane, I think it will encourage more people to get involved rather than try and find alternative routes.
It will only work if this runs alongside increased help for drivers to find alternatives on the days they can’t drive. Drivers don't need to sign up to anything but if they do they are sent detailed information on public transport either by post or regular SMS updates and more importantly a tried and tested car share app is provided that encourages drivers to give people lifts and find lifts for the days they can’t drive. These kind of car sharing apps are available and perhaps worth looking at.
The app/website I have in mind is a cross between Airbnb and Uber. When a user inputs their cars registration the app gives out a calendar of exact days and times that car can and cant use specified lanes in the trial. It also makes it simple to car share for chosen time and direction of travel in the area of the trial. It would be run by government and have a bit more credibility for the target user group than any of the currently available car share projects.
A big problem is that most people have access to more than one car so have the option of using another car when they cant use their own. I suggest that the app gives incentive 'points' or 'credits' to a driver and the driver has to first register just one car that they wish to use on the app. A disabled driver can only register one car for tax exemption but may own more than one car, they just don't get the same tax relief. When a user of the app doesn’t use their car and accepts a lift from another app/road users on the days they can't drive, they are given credits. That way, rather than just using their other half's car when they cant drive their own car they are encouraged to get more involved. The aim here is to boost lift sharing and cut down congestion in the trial area. Users of the app can leave feedback, good points, bad points, reviews etc. and they will get credits the more people that they give lifts to and the more lifts they take. There has to be a worthwhile benefit when an amount of credit is reached. Financial benefit is always best, free/half price tickets on public transport, road tax reduction or rebate maybe? There could even be other perks like tickets to rugby, music concerts, family days out. There can also be a phone-line that drivers can call to get involved in the system so it doesn't exclude all those drivers who don't use computers or smart phones. The system can even call/message drivers on a certain route if lifts are needed, even at short notice. EG a driver could receive a text saying "lift required tomorrow @ 8 A.M. from Cardiff to Chepstow, 70 credits" the system can send this message out to all the drivers it knows that drive in that area on that day. As much as possible is available by phone and SMS too, not everyone can download apps.
Its already been tried in other countries and we can learn from their problems, eg government and staff don't get a pass they lead by example and car share, or use the train etc...
There was also a lift share project that ran for a year on Bristol A4174 ring road. I remember you had a lane during rush hour where only cars with multiple occupants could use and there was a fine if rule was broken, cameras enforced it. I dont know how successful it was, but I know it didnt have any alternative arrangements for drivers running alongside it.
This is the trial if anyone from Plaid wants to ask them the contact is on here: https://consultations.southglos.gov.uk/consult.ti/A4174HOVlanesamendments/consultationHom
I don’t think Wales are developing any of these expensive ‘smart motorways’ which have been called dangerous by many individuals and groups in England, including the person who first suggested it I just read. I hope this sort of system will better manage the increased pressure on our roads.
Obviously there should be a free pass for nurses/doctors/teachers etc.
North and West Wales is in danger of becoming the RAF's playground with consequent deterioration on our quality of life, the tourist industry and our culture. It's application to extend its practices to Llanbedr should be opposed as it will bring little in employment for local people and any small gains are outweighed by the losses. It is directly opposed to Wales sustainability goals due to the increase in the RAFs carbon footprint. Far better use of this area is to use it for sport, educational, leisure, environmental purposes : what about gliding opportunities, ballooning, parachuting, tennis courts and training as tennis is a suitable post covid sport, nature events (consult wildlife trusts) and other attractive civil rather than military pursuits?
Professional Maritime Academy
I believe there is great opportunity for Wales to have an official Maritime Academy to train a new generation of professional seafarers. Scotland has one and there are at least 3 in England, a new vision for Wales could see us training seafarers of our own. I've been working in the industry for 10 years, even for most of my "refresher" training I have to go to English institutes, so this would be beneficial for existing Welsh seafarers also.
Would a ferry service connecting south, west and north wales be feasible.
Take a complete no tolerance approach to discrimination. If any member, MS, MP, PCC or Councillor espouse discriminatory views they should be immediately expelled from the party. A more hard-line approach to be taken to show Plaid as the anti-discrimination party.
Welsh Valleys Regeneration Scheme
The South Wales Valleys are some of the most deprived areas of Wales and the entire UK. Allocation needs to be made for specific funding through the Welsh Budget, alongside a dedicated Minister, aiming to improve the South Wales Valleys to become the engine of the post-Covid Welsh economy. With the population of the Valleys representing roughly 30% of the entire Welsh population, a Plaid Cymru Government must ensure successful investment schemes and funds to be implemented in order to improve housing, transport, schools and local facilities, lowing the level of poverty, unemployment and increasing the household, median and regional GDP of families and communities living in the area.
Freedom of Information Act
A robust and easily accessible Freedom of Information Act should be one of the pillars of the new Independent Wales Constitution. The present FOI seems designed so as to obstruct scrutiny of Public Bodies, including Government.
Independence from Westminster
It has been completely clear to me that the Celtic nations have had a much more grown-up & empathetic approach to tackling this pandemic than that of Westminster. Just hearing Mark Drakeford’s remarks about Ogmore over the last few days has shown immense leadership that Boris and his elite have not with their beach issues. Westminster cares only for money, not its people, and nothing has made that more apparent then recklessly reducing lockdown so nonchalantly that even the media doesn’t have a clue what his exact plan is. The Welsh Government has shown transparency and stated clear guidelines from the start and has only helped reassure the Welsh population instead of confusing them. Ultimately we have shown that we can lead, protect and support ourselves better than Westminster can.
Principles before policies?
There are some great ideas here already, but I think it's important that we decide what shape we want our new Cymru to be. What are the driving beliefs and principles? We have a good start with the Future Well-Being goals (they should be legally binding on WG though!) Once we know those principles, many of the detailed policies will tend to follow naturally from them. So do we need to start with a draft section for our constitution-to-be "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." sort of thing
The explosion in housing and commercial developments around our cities, small towns and villages across Cymru / Wales over the last 40 years - often with little provision for public transport or alternative ways for potential residents to get around beyond using their cars - has flagged up the rapid loss of green spaces in and around our urban and not so urban areas. One thing our country lacks, aside from a serious well though out integrated housing structure plan, and a modern planning system and a realistic vision or plan for strategically developing our housing for the future, is green belt. There is a clear need for formal legally protected green belt, around Cardiff (including the Northern meadows), Newport, Cwmbran and Caerphilly along with our small towns in Monmouthshire: Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth and elsewhere in Cymru / Wales. We have a clear, if not a dire need for the creation of Green belt across all of our country, to fringe our urban areas, to help focus out of town and fringe of town developments, and to protect green spaces around, between and within some of our urban areas. Green belt, if respected is still a useful planning tool, originally introduced for London in 1938, it was rolled out to England as a whole by a government circular in 1955 but interestingly enough it was only enough never rolled out here in Cymru / Wales. Now the original concept was to allow local councils to designate green belts when they wanted to restrict, control or shape urban growth. The idea worked and it worked well, as by 2007, Green belt covered something like 13% of England (about one-and-a-half million hectares) despite the best efforts of previous Conservative, New Labour and Conservative–Liberal Democrat Governments it is still remains relatively well protected by normal planning controls against "inappropriate development". It is worth noting that there is no designated green belt in Cymru / Wales - save for one patch of notional green belt (actually a Green wedge) that lies between Cardiff and Newport. Scotland has seven and Northern Ireland has thirty - each has its own policy guidance. This absence of green belt in Cymru / Wales explains much - it has certainly contributed to urban sprawl and significant out of town and edge of town development - something that has done little to help our communities, economically or socially especially over the last 30 years. The preservation of green spaces aside, comes down to planning permission (and ultimately our planning process), which can be a touchy subject in itself, especially when a development (whether for commercial, housing or energy development) is controversial or the final decision is made against the wishes of local people. In Cymru / Wales we face the same problem across all of our country, be it around Wrecsam, Carmarthen, northern Cardiff, Swansea of any of our smaller towns and villages. More locally, a number of these housing developments, which have done (and will do) some pretty serious damage to our environment have come without any necessary improvements in infrastructure e.g new railway stations with reasonably priced (or even free), adequate and secure park and ride facilities at Caerleon (closed as a result of the Beeching cuts in 1962, in the UDP since 1984) not to mention Llanwern and Magor. In our south east, along the coastal belt and in and around Newport and Torfaen (not to mention around Cardiff and Caerphilly) and across Monmouthshire the last thirty years has seen a significant if not spectacular growth in the amount of housing, a significant percentage of which has never aimed to fulfil local housing needs. As a result the infrastructure along the coastal belt between Chepstow, Caldicot, Rogiet and Magor struggles to cope with existing developments and this is well before the projected expansion of housing on and around the former Llanwern site (where the proposed railway station was recently cancelled) really kicks in. Northern Newport has been linked to the south Cwmbran - something that has brought little material benefit to the residents of either urban area but has contributed much to traffic congestion. Similarly linking Cwmbran with Sebastopol will bring scant real benefit to local residents - when the housing development is complete - just exactly how much of it will be affordable to local residents remains to be seen? The removal of the Severn Bridge tolls resulted (as expected) in a bump in house prices as people living in and around Bristol moved to cash in on cheaper housing over here. This understandably impacted on both affordable and available housing, developers will no doubt pitch their developments accordingly to cash in on perceived higher wages in the Bristol area and perceived cheaper housing over here (and no doubt our local authorities will fall over themselves to accommodate the developers wishes regardless how local people feel). The, then, National Assembly (now Senedd) should have known better and acted accordingly, the institution when established was supposed to have sustainability enshrined in its actions, but, at times you really have to wonder, especially when it comes to the impact of some of the proposed developments on our communities, whether it does or not. We need to develop and protect our own green belt around and within our urban communities – because once developed (or overdeveloped) it’s gone for good. We need to bin the fundamentally flawed UDP process and make our local government structure fit for the 21st century rather than the 19th century and accommodate re realities of devolved government. It should be pretty clear by now to even the most dispassionate of observers that in Wales, we lack a coherent national strategic development plan for Wales judging by the half-baked way local unitary development plans have been put together over the years. The problem caused by a lack of protection to our Green spaces is aggravated by the fact that while one generation of elected officials (and council officers) envisages as a green wedge, green lane, etc as a social necessity they are often seen by following generations of elected officials (and council officers) as either prime land for development or a nice little earner to help balance out the books. This means that there is a real lack of stability and a lack of a sustainable long term vision for many of our urban areas and impacts on our quality of life. The Senedd needs to grow up and act like the Welsh Parliament it has become - it should take the long view and legislate to create and protect Green belt land with full legal and planning protections in Cymru/ Wales. This might go some way to calming things down when it comes to development planning and might introduce a more long-term sustainable democratic element into the process. This is something that could be accomplished by creating Welsh Green belt land, as part of the process we also need an urgent and open debate into the planning process in Wales - something that has been long overdue. Successive Westminster government’s (in England) talked about getting planning officers "off people's backs" with a relaxation of planning rules. When they talked about ‘people’ they meant developers. No doubt post Brexit Westminster ministers will want further changes to planning rules (in England) in an attempt to boost house building and revive the economy. Not wanting to be left out (and also perhaps bereft of any fresh ideas), a few years ago Carwyn’s Labour in Wales Government in Cardiff also pursued major changes to planning rules in Wales aiming to ‘tilt the balance in favour of economic growth over the environment and social factors’. That decision was in my opinion aimed quite specifically at overturning those few occasions when our Local Authorities have rejected developments (often at the behest of local residents) rather than putting economic needs ahead of economic and environmental benefits and will do little for sustainable, flood free development to deal with local housing needs let alone preserve our green spaces. It explains much of the housing overdevelopment in various parts of our country and it does not deliver for our hard pressed communities or our country. We need to look at championing the development of new homes in small-scale housing developments in both rural and urban Wales on ‘exception sites’, where land plots, not covered by general planning permission, will be capped at an affordable price designed to benefit those in local housing need with family and work ties to the area, and whose sale will be conditional on these houses continuing in local ownership in perpetuity. What’s left of our social housing stock that remains under the control of the housing associations needs to remain intact in order to meet the demand for homes. Along with developing social housing stock there is a need to introduce a more rigorous system in the allocation of social housing to give priority to those in local housing need. Part of the problem is that our planning system, along with our almost nineteenth century local government setup is not designed to coexist with devolution or for that matter to deliver planning decisions with real and lasting benefits for local people and local communities. There is a real need for root and branch reform and reorganisation of our planning system; something the Welsh Government has failed to deliver with tinkering and tweaks to existing out-dated legislation rather than and real reform. Our current planning system remains far too focused on railroading through large housing / commercial developments, that often bring little benefits for local people and local communities and often fail to resolve real and pressing local housing needs. We need a fundamental change in planning culture to encourage appropriate and sustainable smaller scale housing developments, which are based on good design and actively promote energy efficiency and good environmental standards and that puts our communities first.
We often see the GERW deficit figure bandied about. Whilst it is something that needs to be addressed in and of itself, we should address the underlying causes, that is GVA and fewer workers on average in the 30-50 bracket. Combined these cost Wales some £7Bn in lost revenue. It's interesting to note that whilst our GVA per Capita bumps around the circa 70% of the UK average, it's notable that capital expenditure on key areas such as Transport, Science & Education is of a similar proportion. So my first proposal is that Plaid campaign to reverse this obvious entrenched economic disadvantage. We should be looking at investing the difference in rail freight services to key manufacturing hubs, addressing the recruitment crisis in schools and fully resourcing them in terms of buildings and equipment. We should establish a national Welsh School of Pedagogical Studies to drive forward excellence in teaching at all levels. Further we should ensure that we support research in Welsh Universities that puts Wales at the forefront of technological advance. Lastly we should move from the inward investment model that is essentially a cash bung for jobs to a model of investment in Welsh entrepreneurship and build our home grown sector. We have to look at how to support such concerns as they grow and ensure that not only do they compete in broader markets, but that they're able to add value here within Wales. Such a focus will enable Wales to sustain more jobs that are well renumerated, help retain our talent and reduce the economic gap in terms of fundementals such as housing cost and income. Coupled with a capital investment plan that is balanced throughout Wales this would help build economic resilience in local communities the length and breadth of the country and lead to many social goods ... not least the position of Cymraeg in Y Fro. I think that such an approach would help close the revenue expenditure gap and help build trust in Plaid as a party that is able to govern effectively and facilitate prosperity for our families and communities.
We need to implement a Universal Basic Income
As we face a long period of economic uncertainty due to the impact of Covid-19 - with many businesses failing and mass unemployment looming - we need to restructure our economy to be fairer for all and resilient against future upheavals (such as the rise of Artificial Intelligence and Mass Automation). One aspect of this would be to implement a Universal Basic Income, a policy that has been tested across the globe and proven to improve well-being, job prospects and financial security. It could replace the majority of existing welfare structures, which are costly and punitive, and can be funded via progressive taxes (e.g. that target the super-wealthy and giant corporations).
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