Plaid Cymru leader pledges to transform Wales in a decade
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has pledged to transform Wales’ fortunes, placing the country in the top ten for economy, health and education after ten years of a government-led by her party.
She also said under her ambitious leadership Wales would see income per capita grow, maths and literacy improve and an extra 1,000 doctors in our hospitals.
In her second speech to Plaid Cymru’s annual conference since becoming leader, Ms Wood said at the moment Wales languishes at the bottom of too many league tables measuring prosperity, educational attainment and doctors per head of the population.
In order to turn this situation around, the Rhondda-based AM said Wales needed a Government that put the needs of its people first, every time.
Ms Wood said a Party of Wales led Government would need two terms to secure such a transformation for the country but that it was possible with ambition, strong leadership and determination.
Speaking at the Arts Centre in Aberystwyth, where the party’s new logo ‘Wales First’ was unveiled, Ms Wood also unveiled a series of policies to tackle the cost of living and boost the ailing economy.
These include a not-for-profit arm’s length energy company that operated in the interests of Welsh consumers and the cutting of business rates to safeguard the small business sector in Wales and revive the High Street.
She said: “Why is it important that Wales is put first? Because we are fed up of seeing Wales last.
“At the bottom of the league. We can do much better than this. Do you, like me, want to see a new decade of change begin in 2016?
“If you do, it is you, the people of Wales who have to play your part. Come with us. Work with us.
“Give us the tools and give us the chance to prove what we, all of us, collectively can do. In return, we will do whatever it takes to turn around this government's failings.
“It is my ambition, over the two terms of a Plaid Cymru-led government, to take this country from where we are now, near the bottom of every performance league table in Europe you care to mention, to the top 10 in income per capita, in literacy and in maths.
“The same goes for the number of doctors in the NHS. Plaid Cymru wants to take Wales from the bottom to the top.
“Because putting Wales First is not just for us a statement of our priorities. It’s a statement of our ambition. And it’s time now to turn that historic ambition into this, our new reality.”
On the day that news broke of the customary energy price hikes ahead of winter, the Plaid Cymru leader said it was time for the Welsh Government to take the matter into its own hands. She said if they didn’t act now, the next Welsh Government led by Party of Wales would act decisively.
“If markets are failing the public, then it’s time the public took back the market,” said Ms Wood.
“What we need for the energy market in Wales is what we did when the privatisation of Welsh Water failed. Dŵr Cymru was set up as a not for dividend company.
“It has re invested its profits keeping customer bills down. People have even been known to have water bill rebates.
“It has been a successful model. And that is why we are calling for the establishment of a non-profit Glas Cymru-style entity 'Ynni Cymru'/ Energy Wales.
“Ynni Cymru/Energy Wales would buy gas & electricity at wholesale prices and then sell direct to all Welsh consumers& businesses.
“This could be set up by the government as an arms-length company. Surpluses will be split between protecting consumers from volatile wholesale prices and an expansion of energy efficiency measures.
“The Party of Wales wants to know what people think of this. We are asking all those in Wales, individuals but also companies and public sector institutions like schools and hospitals to register their interest in such a venture with us through our website.
“If this Welsh Government refuses to act on this then the next Welsh Government will. Plaid Cymru will support the establishment of the company as a mutual society.”
The need for extra doctors in Wales was clear from the Labour Government and health chiefs’ efforts to centralise services across the country. She said a Plaid Government would fund an extra 1,000 through a tax with a sugary drink levy.
She said this would bring “…Wales up to the UK average and reducing the need to take services further away from people.”
She added: “This is Plaid Cymru's alternative to hospital centralisation.
“We are told that hospital services have to be closed because there aren't enough doctors.”