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‘Save Our Surgeries’ campaign to restore funding for GP services in Wales.

 

Llyr Gruffydd MS has urged the Labour Welsh Government to adopt BMA Cymru Wales ‘Save Our Surgeries’ key campaign to restore funding for GP services to 8.7% of the existing NHS Wales budget.

 

Llyr Gruffydd said-

“GP practices are the gateway to the NHS. But as we are on the verge of witnessing the 100th practice closure in Wales in just over a decade, it’s a stark realisation that the sector is in crisis. We know that access to these services are symptomatic of capacity issues. It’s a vicious circle of GPs retiring earlier or leaving the profession due to increased workloads, leading to further strain on the remaining workforce. This is all symptomatic of chronic underfunding from the Labour Welsh Government who fail to even acknowledge the scale of the problem.”

Since 2012, the number of GP practices have dropped from 473 to 374, with a number of GP practices also being managed directly by health boards due to partners handing back contracts. The total number of GPs in Wales has also decreased by more than 400 in ten years due to increased work pressures and reduced budgets.

There is widespread disquiet across north Wales, as access to GP practices was a growing problem and that there were more health board-managed practices in the Betsi Cadwaladr region than in the rest of Wales put together.

Llyr Gruffydd added-

“A Plaid Cymru Government would recognise that the problems in our health service run deep and would take immediate action to address the problems in primary care. Alongside reversing a decade of cuts and restoring the general practice budget to 8.7% of the NHS spend, Plaid Cymru will work with the profession to develop a retention and training programme to recruit 500 more GPs over a two-term period. Bold action is needed more than ever to save our NHS.

“The problem is one for all parts of Wales but is particularly acute here in the North, where we have 13 managed practices and huge problems with GP practices in terms of recruitment and retention. In recent months I’ve met with GPs in the Deeside, Wrexham and Conwy areas and it’s clear that the Labour government has no vision to ensure that this essential part of the NHS is safeguarded and strengthened. We need bold action.”

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Will the government rectify the situation that leads so many disabled people into poverty?

 

Yesterday in the Senedd Llyr Gruffydd MS asked if disabled adults in Wales are being plunged deeper and deeper into financial difficulty and asked -what will the government do to rectify the situation?

In a question to Lesley Griffiths, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice Llyr Gruffydd asked-

"Do you agree that the proposals to increase the cap on adult non-residential social care in Wales are ill-advised and do you acknowledge that this will actually plunge disabled people even deeper into financial trouble?"

This question was tabled in response to reports by the Trussell Trust network in Wales that they distributed nearly 190,000 emergency food parcels in the 12 months from April last year. That's the highest amount of packages they've ever had to supply. In that period, 73 per cent of those people referred to food banks were disabled people, which is more than double the proportion of the population who are registered as disabled.

Further to this, in a report by the Bevan Foundation released last year it was highlighted that the cost-of-living crisis is not affecting everyone equally, with some groups being especially hard hit, including people with disabilities. The report highlighted that disabled people sometimes, often or always struggled with the cost of essential items 10% more than the Welsh average. It also highlighted that 41% of disabled renters reported that they sometimes, often or always struggle to afford the essentials. Disabled people are amongst the most likely to report cutting back on or going without food or heating and are at a greater risk of being in debt than the general population.

Research by disability charity Scope suggests that the cost of living is higher for people with disabilities, which shows that disabled households spend on average £625 more each year when compared with non-disabled households.

In her response to Llyr Gruffydd, Leslie Griffith said

"As a Government, you will know we've been working with disabled people to make sure they receive everything that they should do, and we also have the Welsh benefits charter, which I look forward to taking forward."

 

 

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Llyr Gruffydd asks if the First Minister regrets not doing more in response to allegations of historic institutional abuse in mental health units in north Wales.

 

 

On Tuesday Llyr Gruffydd MS asked Vaughan Gething, the First Minister if he would revise his previous view on the allegations of historic institutional abuse in mental health units in north Wales.  This comes in the light of new evidence of the culture of abuse in units in the past.

In his question to the First Minister Llyr Gruffydd asked-

“Do you wish now to revise your previous view? Should you not have done more at the time to get to the truth? And do you now regret painting a very different picture when you were Minister, given that we now know that the reality was very, very different?”

 

It was revealed in recent weeks that the Nursing and Midwifery Council had taken steps to strike off a psychiatric nurse after a hearing for what they describe as institutional abuse at the unit, going back over 10 years. At the time of the alleged incidents of abuse Mr Gething was the minister responsible for health.

 

Mr Gething responded-

“When I was both the Deputy Minister for health and, indeed, the Cabinet Minister for health, I was always really clear about the fact that there were significant failings in healthcare, and at the time when I made those comments, there wasn't the evidence to support the finding of institutional abuse.

“What we did, though, was to have a searching investigation into what had taken place there, and, indeed, that continues now, not just in the one unit but actually to look at mental health services across north Wales. So, the Government, Eluned Morgan, has ensured that the Royal College of Psychiatrists have undertaken an independent review of mental health services to understand and provide assurance on progress that is being made against previous recommendations.”

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Welcoming Bryn Tabor and Bro Alun pupils to the Senedd

Llyr Gruffydd MS has welcomed “eager” pupils from two schools in Wrexham county to the Senedd where they learned about Welsh democracy.

The pupils from pupils Ysgol Bryn Tabor, in Coedpoeth and Ysgol Bro Alun, in Gwersyllt, were given a guided tour of the Welsh Parliament.

Llyr Gruffydd spoke with the young people how the Senedd works and about his role fighting on behalf of constituents and scrutinising the work of the Welsh Government. 

Llŷr Gruffydd said: “It was great to speak with pupils from Ysgol Bryn Tabor and Ysgol Bro Alun, during their visit to the Senedd so they could learn about the work that goes on here.

“They were very eager to find out in how democracy works in Wales and they asked a lot of thoughtful, intelligent and incisive questions.

“They clearly demonstrated that young people want to be engaged in politics, so they can shape how it impacts on their lives.

“Fostering this kind of positive engagement from young people with the Senedd is important for the future of our democracy in Wales.

“I would like to say a thank you to the pupils from Ysgol Bryn Tabor and Ysgol Bro Alun as well as the members of staff for extending to me the privilege of speaking with them about the work of the Senedd.”

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A state of the art Metro, or an ambiguous candyfloss concoction for north Wales?

 

 

This week in the Senedd Llyr Gruffydd challenged the Government to divulge their plans for the transport network in north Wales.

 

The £1BN+ investment in the south Wales Metro will bring a state of the art public transport system, but what about the north?

 

Llyr Gruffydd MS remarked in the Senedd-

 

"Many of us in north Wales look jealously at the investment going into the south Wales metro, the £1 billion plus upgrade of services, which, of course, is welcome, but, by contrast, we have a rather ambiguous candy floss concoction that's been branded a north Wales metro that merely links up existing rail and bus services.

 

"Bus services, as we know, have long been a poor relative of rail, with services in decline since before COVID, actually. I welcome Government proposals around bus franchising and ending the grip that private bus firms have on those services, but for it to work properly, it obviously has to be funded properly."

 

Llyr Gruffydd went on to ask the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Cabinet Office - Rebecca Evans -

 

"Can you assure us today that you will be investing more money in bus services to ensure that the proposed bus legislation is as effective as we all hope it to be? And can you also assure us that north Wales will get its fair slice of the cake?"

 

The Cabinet Secretary replied specifically on the issue of bus franchising-

 

"Unfortunately, I'm not able to say more in terms of the future funding for the bus franchising, purely because we haven't yet had those discussions, we haven't yet had our settlement from the UK Government. We haven't entered into a spending review period of that sort yet. But we absolutely will be considering the importance of bus services, as we enter those discussions."

 

 

 

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Celebrating Ysgol pentrecelyn's birthday in the Senedd!

 

Today in the Senedd Llyr Gruffydd marked the 150th anniversary of Ysgol Pentrecelyn near Ruthin.

 

In an address to the members in the chamber Llyr Gruffydd praised the school anf paid tribute to its alumni.

 

Here's a translation of his speech-

 

"Congratulations to Ysgol Pentrecelyn, which is celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary this week. As a former parent and current governor of the school, I want to mark such a major milestone for this small rural school in the beautiful Vale of Clwyd.

 

Now, the school was opened on 11 May 1874, with 34 children on the register, and Mr Owen Henry Owen, Gaerwen, as head. Sarah Ann Winter from Siop Pentrecelyn was the first name on the register and many hundreds of pupils have followed in her footsteps on that register since then. People such as the actors Rhys Ifans and his brother, Llyr Ifans, the actor Victoria Pugh, the internationally renowned pianist Teleri Siân and the well-known singers Sera Baines and Elis Jones, and Elis, by the way, is also a world champion clay-pigeon shooter, and that's just to name a few of the former pupils.

 

And the school of course continues to go from strength to strength, with a glowing report from Estyn last year, demonstrating that Ysgol Pentrecelyn is an outstanding school that provides high-quality education and learning experiences for its pupils. 

 

Several hundreds of people attended a celebratory concert a few weeks ago, and there will be a day of celebration and a big birthday party at the school this Saturday. Gareth Neigwl wrote in his wonderful englyn:

 

"Its education was my foundation – all my life,
To its small yard I’ll belong;
Wherever life takes me, all paths lead
Home to Pentrecelyn."

 

Happy birthday to Ysgol Pentrecelyn from all of us here at Senedd Cymru."

 

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Welsh Government confirm that they will deliver on Plaid Cymru's demands to delay farming scheme

 

On Tuesday, May 14th in a statement from Huw Irranca Davies MS - the new Cabinet Secretary responsible for rural affairs - that the controversial Sustainable Farming Scheme will be pushed back a year.

 

Instead of starting in 2025, the scheme now will take effect in 2026 after constant pressure from Llyr Gruffydd and Plaid Cymru.

 

The Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) has attracted a lot of criticism from the farming industry since its announcement. The farming unions and wider agriculture community hve be vocal in expressing their concerns to the plans, with widespread concern with the plans to plant 10% of farmland with trees attracting criticism.

Responding to the news,  Llyr Gruffydd MS in his role as Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesperson said: “I’m glad that through Plaid Cymru’s co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government we have secured more time to get the Sustainable Farming Scheme right.

 

“I’ve long argued that rushing headlong into a scheme that will impact generations of farming is both irresponsible and foolish. We now have an opportunity to take a step back and make the necessary changes that will ensure both buy-in from the industry and a more sustainable scheme for farming and for nature.

 

“I’ve been consistent from day one that achieving all the changes set out by the Government in the time scale provided was unrealistic, especially with the need to listen and respond to the concerns of farmers. The delay of a year is much needed and will be of relief to many.

 

“I’m pleased that today we’ve seen the Cabinet Secretary take a pragmatic and sensible approach to the Sustainable Farming Scheme, and that many of Plaid Cymru’s calls have not just been listened to but have been delivered.”

 

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Petition to create banking hub in Denbigh

 

Recently Llyr Gruffydd launched a petition to create a banking hub in Denbigh.

 

Llŷr Gruffydd says the petition is an “opportunity to send a powerful message” following a series of branch closures in the town.

The petition has the full support of the Plaid Cymru group of councillors on Denbighshire County Council, who have also been calling for the creation of a banking hub.

Denbigh has been left without a single high street bank after HSBC, Halifax, NatWest and Barclays shut their branches in the last few years.

 

A wave of branch closures across the UK have led to banking hubs being created so that people can access essential banking services.

The UK’s cash access and ATM network, LINK developed the idea for these hubs but so far they have declined to create one in Denbigh.

A new banking hub was opened in Prestatyn in December 2023 in response to branch closures in the town.

 

Banking hubs operate in a similar way to traditional bank branches. But the spaces are shared and the hub includes a counter service operated by Post Office staff.

Customers of any bank can withdraw and deposit cash, make bill payments, and carry out regular banking transactions. There is also access free ATMs, and cashback without purchase.

 

They have private spaces for dealing with more complicated issues. In these customers can speak to a staff member from their own bank.

These banks work on a rotating basis, and this means staff from different banks are available on different days.

 

Llŷr Gruffydd MS, of Plaid Cymru said: “It’s abundantly clear that there is a real and urgent need for a banking hub in Denbigh, and that’s why I have launched this petition.

“It’s completely unacceptable that the people of the town and the surrounding area have been left without access to the banking services they need.

 

“This is an opportunity to send a powerful message to LINK who have so far declined to create a banking hub in Denbigh, even though they have done so elsewhere.

“Prestatyn now quite rightly has a banking hub and it is only right that a town the size of Denbigh has one too.

 

“You often hear this argument wheeled out that people just aren’t using traditional banking services anymore.

“But the fact of the matter is that there are still an awful lot of people locally who rely on using cash. It simply isn’t the case that everyone is moving to online services.”

 

Denbigh councillor Rhys Thomas, who is the Deputy Leader of Plaid Cymru on Denbighshire County Council, said: “The Plaid Cymru group on Denbighshire County Council fully supports this petition calling for the creation of a new banking hub in Denbigh.

“This is an opportunity for local people to make their voices heard and therefore we are urging as many people as possible to get behind it and make it clear to LINK that there is a significant demand in Denbigh for this vital service.”

 

To sign the petition - sign here

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Concerns over North East Wales National Park

 

Concerns have been raised that plans to create a new national park in north-east Wales could make house prices unaffordable for local people.

 

The Welsh Government is looking to create a national park based around the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, which is already designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

 

If the plans go ahead, it would become the fourth national park in Wales alongside Eryri (Snowdonia), the Pembrokeshire Coast and Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons).

 

Draft plans showing areas which could be covered were revealed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in October last year, including parts of Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham and Powys.

 

The pledge to establish Wales' first new national park since 1957 formed part of Welsh Labour's manifesto at the last Senedd election in 2021.

However, fears have been raised by a Plaid Cymru politician that it could lead to a rise in house prices in locations which are included within the park.

 

Llyr Gruffydd said it could also lead to problems with parking and traffic, similar to those experienced by residents in Eryri.

Addressing Julie James, cabinet secretary for planning, in the Senedd chamber he said: “I'm aware that there are potential impacts on affordability of housing in that area for local residents who may be affected inadvertently by the designation.

“I'm also very aware of the need to invest in appropriate infrastructure.

“As welcome as additional visitors would be, we need to avoid a situation where we replicate some of the challenges that we've seen in Eryri, where there have been parking problems, blocked roads and a lack of sufficient public facilities.

“What assurances can you give us that, as part of the work of preparing towards a new national park in north-east Wales, all of these factors are being considered?”

 

NRW has been tasked by ministers with evaluating the case for the new park and previously advertised for consultants to carry out an assessment of areas which could be included.

They will be required to provide a summary of their findings, including a detailed draft boundary of the area covered.

 

NRW has already held several consultation events into the proposals, with a provisional map including locations such as Gronant Dunes, Hope Mountain, the Ceiriog Valley and Lake Vyrnwy.

Responding to Mr Gruffydd's concerns, Ms James said a range of issues would be considered before formal plans are brought forward.

 

The Labour MS said: “Part of the designation process is to go through all of the pros and all of the cons…to come to a conclusion that suits the inhabitants of the area.

“It is about enhancing, protecting and recognising very beautiful landscapes across Wales, but it is also about making sure that those landscapes are then not subject to overtourism, for example.

 

“I was in Eryri very recently and I was being told about the number of walkers who consider themselves to be guardians of the environment but think it's fine to drop their banana peel on the road, because they think it's biodegradable.

“The fact that it's full of things that shouldn't be found in that environment is one of the things that they've been working very hard on.”

 

She added: “I was very sad to see the statistics that show that, on most of the major routes up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), there's contamination every two feet with some kind of substance that shouldn't be there.

“Helping the national parks help their visitors to understand the impact of tourism, and what they can do to enhance that environment and not take away from it, is important.”

Ms James said a final decision on the plans was expected to be made next year.

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Welcoming £1,500 of funding to Ruthin Repair Café

Recently Llyr Gruffydd MS welcomed the news that Enfinium, the energy-from-waste operator, awarded the Ruthin Repair Café, located in Denbighshire, £1,500 of funding to help it to repair fixable goods, reduce unnecessary household waste, and save local families money.

Ruthin Repair Café, a community based not-for-profit, has been repairing household goods for local residents since February 2020. Running once a month, its team of 25 volunteers have helped fix 963 items to date across 31 Repair Café events. The most common repairs are electricals, especially toasters and vacuum cleaners, followed by sewing repairs, such as soft toys and clothes.

The grant funding announced today will cover the running costs, including room hire and consumables, and enable training for our volunteers to develop their skills in areas such as first aid training, tool sharpening and PAT safety-testing certification, which is critical for electrical item repairs.

Every item repaired saves a family from the expense of replacing it, reduces the amount of waste sent to climate-damaging landfill and reduces carbon emissions. For example, maintaining a single television for an additional 7 years has been found to save the equivalent of 657kg CO2.

In March 2024, enfinium launched its £60,000 ‘Repair Café Support Fund’, set up to support cafés within a 30 mile radius of one of enfinium’s facilities in Kent, North Wales, West Yorkshire or the West Midlands. Eligible Repair Cafés can apply for funding of up to £1,500 per annum before the 31 May deadline.   

If you would like to learn more about the Repair Cafés Support Fund, or apply for funding, please visit the project website Repair Café or email [email protected].

Mike Maudsley, CEO of enfinium, said: “Repairing broken items is a critical part of reducing the amount of waste we produce. In turn, this leads to lower consumption, lower carbon emissions and less waste ending up in landfill. This is why we are delighted to be awarding Ruthin’s Repair Café with funding today, which has been helping local families to reduce waste and save money since 2020.”    

Anne Lewis, Ruthin Repair Café Organiser, said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded this funding from enfinium. The funds will enable us to continue to help support the local residents of Ruthin, repair their broken items, and provide training to our fantastic team of volunteers.”

Llyr Gruffydd MS commented: “I’m delighted that Ruthin repair café has received this funding from enfinium. It will enable volunteers to ensure that items that would otherwise end up in landfill are able to be recycled, reused and repurposed. It’s a simple but wonderfully effective idea that benefits the environment and also saves people money at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is a very real problem for so many families. I would urge any other repair cafes that are within 30 miles of the Parc Adfer facility on Deeside to apply for funding from enfinium.”

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