Sioned Williams

Candidate for Neath constituency and South Wales West region (no. 1)

Sioned Williams - NeathSioned Williams - South Wales West (1)

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Tell us about yourself

Brought up in the Gwent valleys, I live with my husband Daniel and two teenage children in Alltwen in the Swansea Valley in the Neath Constituency. A former BBC journalist, I currently work as Communications and Development Manager at Swansea University’s Academi Hywel Teifi, a centre of excellence for the promotion of Welsh-medium teaching and research across the University and south-west Wales. My work includes organising public events and community courses on Welsh history, culture and literature and the management of Tŷ’r Gwrhyd in Pontardawe, a community hub which supports Welsh speakers and learners of all ages.

I am a Community Councillor for Alltwen and Chair of Cilybebyll Community Council. Having served as Chair of Governors at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pontardawe for five years, I'm now a governor at Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur. I'm also a well known Arts and Media commentator for Welsh language television, radio and magazines.

What is the most important thing you think the Senedd should do in the next five years?

There is so much work to do. Our society is riven by inequality - just as we saw the poorest shoulder the burden for the austerity agenda, so will they be the hardest hit by the recession that is already upon us.

I started a volunteer community group during the first wave of the Covid crisis and I have witnessed how fragile and economically vulnerable so many are in every community - the safety net is full of holes, and it’s not just the Tories who are to blame. The shameful legacy of the failure of decades of Labour Welsh Government is an unacceptable level of child poverty in Wales. We know this will only get worse as the economic consequences of the twin catastrophes of Covid and Brexit hit. The ambitious policies put forward by Plaid Cymru such as direct payments for low-income families and universal free school meals and childcare will help eradicate the social injustice that blights Wales. This is also the time finally to act rather than endlessly discuss social care reform. There can be no argument, following the terrible lessons of the Covid crisis, against combining the health and care services. When my father was suffering with Alzheimer's disease, I saw at at first hand the effects of an underfunded, undervalued and under resourced social care service.

Plaid Cymru’s vision of free and equal care provided to all at their time of need, with an emphasis on early intervention to keep people within their communities, and care workers valued, trained and paid equally with those in the NHS, is a crucial step in ensuring a more caring and fairer Wales for all generations.

What will you do for Neath / South Wales West if elected?

My priority will be to address the shameful levels of poverty and neglect in the Neath area, which include tackling the lack of transport infrastructure and connectivity, digital poverty, a loss of social amenities and a need to address the cynicism which is taking root - resulting from unrealised promises and unsuitable initiatives.

As someone who has worked in education and outreach community programmes, I will aim to foster a renewed self-confidence and self-reliance for our communities. I believe in developing the potential of our area. We lose far too many of our young talented people to other places. My political vision is based on creating opportunities for all people within the Neath area, strengthening and securing our communities, and offering hope for the future. Climate change is the biggest global challenge of our time. We know that we must act, and we now know direct, swift intervention is possible when needed. Energy is key to rectifying the poverty gap. Neath and the wider South Wales West region could be at the forefront of the Green Jobs Revolution being proposed by Plaid Cymru which could create the opportunities we need in this area. Green economic regeneration needs to be linked to education and training. We must support our young people especially to get through the tough economic time ahead. Further Education colleges are a crucial component in developing and expanding key skills and creating a more prosperous Wales and more valued workforce, and Plaid Cymru believes that the sector needs better attention and urgent reform.

Covid has changed how we see retail and supply chains. Although there are plans afoot to develop Neath Town Centre, there seems a need to get back to basics. We need to be supporting local independent businesses in the town centre rather than building large expensive retail units, and we need to improve transport infrastructure and links. We also need to support our valleys communities’ high streets - they have been a lifesaver during this crisis and we must now encourage and develop our homegrown businesses and local ventures. The pandemic has shown just how reliant we are on food imports and international supply chains. Now is the time to rethink and rebuild our food supply chains and retail sector from the ground up, putting an emphasis on local producers and using public sector procurement to support this.