Cymru Culture

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Leanne Wood, Bae watch (March 2014)

(March 01, 2014)

Bae Watch; with Leanne Wood

Leanne Wood - Senedd


The publication of the South Wales Programme Board's preferred options for health re-organisation is potentially very damaging for the Valleys, marking the start of the painful process of withdrawing consultant-led critical care facilities. When the proposals were first suggested, Plaid Cymru said that it was vital to avoid pitting hospital against hospital which is exactly what has happened. Cwm Taf University Health Board has finally come out opposing the recommendations, illustrating that there is not a consensus on the way forward. There now appears to be considerable disagreement between health managers about their vision for the future of our local hospital services. This is in spite of the time and the hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on the consultation. In the meantime, people are left confused about whether they will lose their local consultant-led A&E, paediatric and maternity services or not. Instinct suggests that in the long run, these services will be gone, but people have no idea when these services will go after this confusing fudge.

Whatever happens with the Royal Glamorgan and the Princess of Wales hospitals as a result of Cwm Taf's stance, it is clear that the Labour run Welsh Government – with some health chiefs - see the future of these consultant-led services based around three large hospitals in Swansea, Cardiff and Cwmbrân. People fear our local hospitals will be run down. For the Party of Wales, and the many thousands of people who marched, lobbied, wrote and campaigned online to protect their local hospital services, the removal of these services will be seen as a betrayal of people's faith in the government and their NHS leaders to provide a comprehensive, accessible local hospital service. Centralisation of our hospital services is not in the best interests of people in the Valleys. If this plan goes ahead it will mean additional travel time and costs for many people. Car ownership in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) is low, so people will have to rely on what can be unreliable public transport.

This comes on top of more damaging austerity proposals that were unveiled by RCT council recently. There are proposals to shut leisure centres, venues and swimming pool – at a time when there is rising obesity and child obesity. Figures last year revealed that 28% of five-year-olds in Wales were overweight. In RCT it was even higher at 32%. Limiting opportunities for children and adults to have physical exercise will surely hamper the fight against obesity. which is already become a major challenge for our under pressure NHS. Plaid Cymru wants the council to consider alternatives to closing those valued local facilities. We’ve argued that local people should be involved in determining the priorities for their communities. So far, local peoples’ voices have been largely ignored.

The future of the arts in RCT is now under question following the proposed closure of the Muni in Pontypridd. Depriving the people of Pontypridd and the valleys generally of this high quality venue limits the chances of aspiring young talent, preventing them from honing their skills on the stage, or behind the scenes. It is such a short-sighted decision. Other concerns have been expressed, such as axing bus services and the turning off street lights in residential areas. Such moves will undoubtedly increase feelings of insecurity, especially among older people.

Plaid Cymru’s view is that there are alternatives to hitting services, and savings can be found. Those at the top need to demonstrate that they understand the unfairness of austerity. High earning council officers should take a pay and/or perks cut, as should councillors, while the costs of the office of mayor can no longer be justified. Plaid Cymru councillors challenged Labour members to take an allowances cut – but they refused. Plaid Cymru councillors are donating 5% of their allowances to good causes. We have argued that the Outlook magazine should be axed and that steps should be taken to reduce the communications bill. The council also needs to find ways to bring in more income in rather than just cutting. Social enterprises could raise new revenue streams for the council, something which has been successful elsewhere in the UK.

Times are difficult for local authorities, but there are alternatives. It is just about whether the council is prepared for those at the top to share some of the pain.

Leanne Wood,
Leader of Plaid Cymru and South Wales Central AM, March 2014

Also from Leanne Wood:
     Bae Watch; December 2013

     Bae Watch; September 2013

     Bae Watch; June 2013
     Bae Watch; March 2013
     Bae Watch; December 2012
     Bae Watch; September 2012
     Bae Watch; June 2012
     Bae Watch; March 2012
     Bae Watch; December 2011
     Bae Watch; September 2011
     Bae Watch; June 2011

Leanne Wood's contact details:

     Facebook: Leanne Wood
     Twitter: @LeanneWood

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