Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welsh Liberal Democrats support supermarket ombudsman

A NEW "supermarket ombudsman" for the UK is being backed by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The party said it sympathised with dairy farmers after some processors said they planned to reduce what they pay for milk by 2p per litre. Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, AM, said, "The creation of this new supermarket ombudsman is great news for farmers. "I'm pleased the UK government has made a start, but this can only be the beginning."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats welcome GWR electrification

The Department for Transport this morning announced a "landmark decision to take electric rail beyond Cardiff to Swansea, completing the full electrification of the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington at a total cost of more than £600m, and electrifying the Welsh Valley lines, including Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and the Vale of Glamorgan. These will give two-thirds of the Welsh population access to new fleets of electric trains helping to generate Welsh jobs and growth by slashing journey times and boosting passenger and freight capacity."

Local Liberal Democrats welcomed the boost which the decision will give to confidence in businesses in the Neath Port Talbot area, as well much-needed construction work.

Olympic washout for Wales

An opinion poll has found that the London 2012 Olympics are of no benefit to Wales.

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on business, said: “These results do not come as a surprise to me. The Welsh Labour Government’s childish attitude in engaging with the Coalition Government in Westminster meant that many Welsh businesses that could have won lucrative contracts from the 2012 Olympics lost out.

“In the months and years running up to the 2012 Games, the Scottish and Northern Irish Governments were busy engaging with the UK Government and the London Organising Committee. Instead, in Wales, the Labour Government hadn’t even written to the body responsible for rewarding the £6bn worth of contracts to make representations on behalf of Welsh businesses.

“It is no wonder that the people of Wales don’t necessarily feel engaged with the Olympics because this Welsh Labour Government hadn’t seen the opportunities that the 2012 Games could have brought to Wales.

“For those companies who have managed to win contracts, I am of course delighted and hope that they are able to use the kudos of the Olympics to raise the profile of their business. It is just sad that those companies are few and far between.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

State of the NHS in Wales

The status quo of NHS finances has been branded “unaffordable” as the organisation faces major short-term challenges in managing its budget, a finance watchdog has warned.

Next week, Wales' health minister will face a no-confidence vote in the Welsh assembly in a row about a report into reforming hospital services. Opposition parties united to table a joint motion and called on Labour's Lesley Griffiths to resign.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said: “This was not a decision we came to lightly. It is a serious step when the three party leaders of Wales come together and state that we have no confidence in the Health Minister’s ability to run our NHS. We are effectively calling for her to resign and she and the First Minister should seriously consider what we are proposing.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Labour's approach to evidence-based policy

First, form the policy, then find the evidence, it seems.

The Save Withybush Hospital campaign has a good summary of the methodology of the Longley Report here:

Now the "smoking gun" in the form of emails between Professor Longley and Lesley Griffiths' health ministry has been found.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said: "These email exchanges clearly contradict the health minister's statements that this case for change report was an 'independent assessment' and that it was 'impartial, based solely on the evidence'. "This is an appalling insult to the many people in Wales who are rightfully concerned about the impending NHS reorganisation. How can we now have confidence in the Welsh Labour government's reorganisation process when they sex-up documents to suit their own needs?"

It is easy to draw the conclusion that having found that the truly independent McKinsey recommendations were not to their liking, Labour found a more amenable expert closer to home.

Frank Little

Monday, July 09, 2012

Votes at 16

The Welsh government is in favour of lowering the voting age to 16, a debate in the Welsh assembly has been told. Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts - one of the four members who tabled the original motion - said that while the issue had been part of Lib Dem party policy at UK level for some time, it had also been raised in Wales several times by young people he had met at sessions in schools. "As a country we are willing to see our young people join the armed forces at the age of 16, have children and get married and yet we seem to think that youngsters are not mature enough to vote at that age," he said. "Although I accept that this is currently a matter for the UK Parliament, I believe that the fact that the motion attracts cross-party support is an important indicator of opinion within the National Assembly."

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

First Minister's unilateral support for Trident "an affront to democracy"

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats,Kirsty Williams, claims she's been forced to submit a Freedom of Information request on Trident, after the First Minister repeatedly refused to answer questions put to him publicly in the chamber and in written form on the issue of nuclear subs in Wales.

The questions follow from the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, saying last month that he would welcome nuclear submarines to Milford Haven if they were ever to leave their current base at Faslane in Scotland.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Welsh Government gets poor deal on Enterprise Zones

Commenting on today’s statement on Enterprise Zones by Edwina Hart, Shadow Business Minister Eluned Parrott said:
“ The Minister has yet again been unwilling or unable to answer simple questions about her interaction with Westminster over the funding available to our Enterprise Zones. Progress towards establishing those zones – and actually getting real people into real jobs – has been painfully slow here in Wales by comparison with England and Scotland, and now we see the reason why.
“While Assembly Members were being told that negotiations were ongoing with the UK Treasury as early as January, the Minister’s request for cash for our Enterprise Zones was apparently made just 9 days before the UK Government ‘s budget on 12 March.
“The Minister wants AMs to join with her to seek an 'early, positive response' in her liaison with Westminster, but to get an early, positive response she should have made an early positive request to the UK Government in the first place. She has singularly failed to do so.
“By going down to the wire, the Welsh Labour Government have failed to get the best deal for Wales – in stark contrast to the success of the Scottish Government. By being quick to act, professional and timely in its own negotiations with Westminster, the Scottish Government have stood up for the people of Scotland in a way that the Welsh Government can only dream of. The contrast is frankly shaming, and yet again, Wales risks being left behind.
“Edwina Hart has given no specific or substantive answers in the past and has again refused to answer direct questions today. I will be writing to the Minister with these important questions and asking for an early, positive response from her on this occasion.”
[First published here.]