Llyr Huws Gruffydd – Plaid Cymru – Clwyd South
All views on this page are from the candidate unedited.
1 – Aside from Covid and Covid recovery, what do you feel is the top issue for this constituency in the forthcoming parliament term, and briefly explain how you would like to see your desired outcome achieved ?
Health – the pandemic has made us more aware of the importance of the NHS. Despite the challenges, the overstretched workforce in our hospitals and GPs have coped under huge pressures.
But we know the under-resourcing of the NHS over the past decade has taken its toll. That’s why we’ve been calling for 1,000 more doctors and 5,000 more nurses and allied health professionals to make up ground and get our NHS back on track. This should have been done many years ago – we’ve been calling for a medical school in north Wales and for expanded nurse training in the North for more than five years. A Plaid Government will deliver.
2 – What is your plan for helping residents and businesses in your constituency in the coming years to recover from the pandemic?
A Plaid Cymru government will establish a £6bn Welsh Green Deal to begin a longer-term investment in green infrastructure and create 60,000 jobs. This programme will contribute to our effort to move away from a low-wage economy. It will invest in high-skilled, well-paid jobs in housing, construction, transport, energy, broadband and other key areas. This would place Wales at the leading edge of the green industrial revolution as we emerge from the pandemic.
3 – The pandemic has highlighted to many for the first time the powers that the Senedd have under devolution. How has the pandemic changed your views of devolution?
The pandemic has confirmed that Wales needs the powers to decide its own future. The past year has changed perceptions especially in border areas such as this. The facts are that, despite greater challenges of an older and generally less well population, Wales has coped better. Our track and trace system run by the public sector as well as NHS vaccination rates have been positive. The contrast with a Tory Government that has thrown money at a failed track and trace service by a private company as well as procuring PPE from their friends and donors could not be starker.
4 – What would you have done differently on the Welsh covid response?
Wales should have moved earlier into lockdown and should have done more to limit overseas travel to reduce new infections. variants. New Zealand showed us all the way on this and their experience of covid has been totally different. It felt at times that the Labour Government seemed more concerned not to upset Westminster at times than to do the right thing.
5 – Would you support legislation to hold an independence referendum for Wales? How would you vote in such a referendum and why?
Yes and yes, because experience has shown that the UK Government does not act in our best interests and that smaller nations can react better to crises such as the one we’ve faced.
6 – What actions would you take, or support, as a MS to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
We support the target of more than a million Welsh speakers by 2050. This will be achieved through better and more effective Welsh medium provision in the education system and in providing more opportunities to use the language at work and in social settings. The Welsh language belongs to everyone in Wales and everyone should have the opportunity to be bilingual.
7 – What does “climate emergency” mean to you, and why?
The climate emergency is a race against time to reduce our carbon emissions before the earth’s temperature reaches a point that will cause irreversible damage to all our lives. An increase of global warming at current rates will significantly increase the risk of drought, floods, extreme heat, and climate-related poverty for millions of people across the world.
Describing is as an emergency underlines the urgency with which we need to respond – just in the same way as the world has responded to the pandemic.
Plaid Cymru believes the current Welsh Government target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is too slow. That’s why we’ve set out a plan to meet the target by 2035.
8 – There can be a perception that politicians are too “South Wales focused” and can see a north south divide. Do you think this is the case, and realistically if elected which of your North Wales specific goals do you think you can deliver?
Two decades of a Labour run Senedd have left the North feeling left behind. Labour has focussed huge investment along the M4 corridor and with the Tories promising an eye watering £1bn investment on a 12 mile road in Newport it seems they’re no different.
Plaid Cymru is committed to making sure north Wales gets its fair share of jobs and investment. That’s one of the reasons I set up and chaired the Senedd’s Cross Party Group for North Wales – to bring all our MSs together to strengthen the voice of north Wales amongst politicians in Cardiff Bay.
9 – What are your views on a LGBTQ+ plan for Wales?
I support a LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales which is expected to be published for consultation following the elections in May. I also believe it’s vital that the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people guide the content and actions of the plan throughout its development.
Plaid Cymru is committed to ensure that LGBT+ voices and experiences are heard and affirmed and will continue to actively promote LGBT+ rights. On education for example we will require schools to keep a register of bullying incidents related to sexuality, to take action where necessary and to involve students in anti-bullying initiatives.
10 – Children and young people have missed almost a full year of regular education – what are your plans to make sure that children who have missed out on academic and social experiences are not left at a disadvantage in the next few years?
I have four children in the school system so I’m acutely aware of the challenges they’ve faced from not being in school. We also know that children in more disadvantaged areas have lost the most learning. A Senedd Committee recently heard evidence that schools in the most disadvantaged areas had the fewest log-ins to online learning portals.
Plaid Cymru has set out an Education Recovery plan that would support schools and pupils to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19 by investing in teachers and increasing one-to-one and small group working. We would also establish a two-year national Teacher Volunteer Scheme, aimed at retired teachers and other education professionals; as well as engaging artistic practitioners to help pupils express their COVID-19 experiences creatively. We also need to suspend Estyn school inspections for a year and remove unnecessary bureaucracy.
A recent report showed that Wales spends far less on education recovery than Scotland – eighty-eight pounds per pupil in Wales compared with two hundred pounds per pupil in Scotland. This will change under Plaid Cymru.
11 – Local services such as libraries, leisure centres and community centres have been badly affected in recent years due to lack of funding – how would you support local authorities?
10 years of austerity and cuts to public services have left our councils and many of their services on their knees. Communities have fought back, notably in saving Plas Madoc after the local Labour council decided to close it. As someone who worked with a number of community enterprises before my election I’m particularly interested in encouraging more community involvement in some of these services.
That’s why Plaid Cymru will provide more investment and financial support for social infrastructure, including community spaces, libraries, and parks. We will also support schools in becoming community hubs so that communities can keep access to sport and library facilities.
12 – How would you resolve issues at the local health board that are emerging from special measures?
Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board was in Special Measures for more than five years. It is too large, employs too many management consultants and agency staff, and this needs to change.
We will replace it with two new Boards. One for the North West, centred around Bangor University Medical School, will aim to be a world leader in rural medicine. The other, for the North East, will focus on elective treatment, establish a centre for nursing excellence in partnership with Glyndŵr University, and develop specialist services that too often have been outsourced to England.
13 – What are you planning to do to help those who are finding it hard to find work?
Our proposals for a £6bn Welsh Green Deal will kick-start a longer-term investment programme in green infrastructure creating 60,000 jobs – many of which will be in north east Wales. This stimulus will help transform the investment and growth prospects of our regional economy.
Under-25s now make up a third of new universal credit claims. That’s why Plaid Cymru will also establish a national Youth Jobs Guarantee to provide secure employment, earning at least the Living Wage, for every 16 to 24-year-old that needs a job. This will be a key part of our proactive plan for rapid recovery in Wales which will prioritise greener homes, better public transport, renewable energy and high-speed broadband.
14 – You’ve tweeted previously about the ‘second home crisis’ facing rural communities and young people. For people who can afford second homes, would an increase make much difference in reality or is there a better solution?
A generation of young people are being priced out of their local communities and a Plaid Cymru Government would introduce a package of policies designed to address the second homes crisis in Wales.
We will change planning laws to allow councils to impose a cap on the number of second homes and to refuse permission for changing a dwelling from being a primary to a secondary residence. We will also allow councils to charge council tax premiums of up to 200% on second homes and close the loophole that allows second homeowners to register their property as ‘businesses’ to avoid paying the council tax premium.
We will bring forward regulations to treble the Land Transaction Tax charge on the purchase of second properties and we will empower councils to build houses with a local conditions requirement that makes it easier to bring empty properties back into use.
All of this on top of our commitment to build 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.
15 – Yes Cymru has seen a surge in growth, however that does not appear to be reflected in an increase for Plaid Cymru in the polls. Is Plaid Cymru less relevant on what could be seen as your most unique policy?
The reality is that if you want decisions for Wales to be made in Wales, Plaid Cymru is the only party that will deliver on that. The other parties want key decisions made in London and would continue to accept Wales as a neglected backwater of a frankly rotten and failing state.
16 – In your manifesto your party pledges that free school meals will be introduced by the end of your first term for all primary schools and that you’ll provide free personal care for the elderly and reform the council tax system – how would this be funded and is this realistically achievable?
We’ve seen with Covid that government spending can be increased at a stunning rate when it suits. We saw the same in 2007-8 when the financial crisis saw the banks bailed out.
Are we saying that we can’t do something similar to provide good-quality food for children and personal care for the elderly? The latter has been costed at around £100m a year extra in Wales. When we compare that with the £20m a month Welsh taxpayers are contributing towards HS2 or the £100 billion cost of renewing Trident nuclear weapons, then I think we can reprioritise our spending to improve people’s lives.
17 – A lack of bus services, a poor road network, a need for more active travel and an improved train service are some of the more contentious issues in the area. If elected what would you campaign for and deliver for your constituency?
Plaid will undertake a transformative investment in public transport and active travel infrastructure. Our aim is to reduce car usage to 50 per cent of all journeys by 2030 and to achieve this level of change we envisage a major shift in capital investment from roads to public transport – especially improving bus and train services.
Deregulation of the buses has been a disaster and many of our communities desperately need improved bus routes. Currently half of bus journeys are subsidised yet we have little say in where bus companies operate. That’s why Plaid Cymru will give local authorities the power to establish their own municipal bus companies. Transport for Wales will establish a publicly owned bus operator, ready to step in at any location where commercial operators do not offer good-value contracts.
A Plaid Cymru government will work towards creating 20-minute neighbourhoods in all our towns and cities providing convenient, safe, pedestrian and cycle access to the places people need to go and the services people use nearly every day: public transport, shopping, school, parks, and social activities.
We will also provide free bus travel for young people between 16 and 24 years old.
18 – If you change political allegiance from what you are currently seeking election for (eg. resigning from, or joining another party or group) will you trigger a by-election? If not, why not?
Yes I would.
19 – At the time of writing where has the top three sources of funding for your campaign come from, and are there any funding sources you feel would be relevant to voters to know about?
All funding for this campaign comes from party members. We don’t have millionaire backers like the Tories or union barons backing us like Labour. We rely on our own resources.
20 – In a few lines to wrap this up, why are you the best candidate compared to your competitors?
I have a strong track-record of campaigning for our area both locally and in the Senedd.
On health I helped block plans by Betsi Cadwaladr health board to force our nurses to work additional shifts without extra pay. I stood with nurses concerned about privatisation of renal services. I also exposed the scandal of the health board spending £2m a month on temporary staff – including the infamous “Marbella Man”, a management consultant paid £2,000 a day to work from his holiday home in Spain.
I was prominent in the fight against the Dee Valley Water buy-out and to retain bank services in Corwen, Llangollen and Ruabon. I have also supported local communities in raising concerns about pollution issues at Kronospan and the the Hafod landfill tip.
After a decade of Tory rule from Westminster and two decades of Labour in Cardiff Bay it’s time to choose a new path. I’m passionate about creating a fairer and a better Wales.