The Lib Dem week in Wales

welsh lib demsHere is our weekly roundup of what the Liberal Democrats, led by Kirsty Williams, have been getting up to in Wales.

In the Scottish roundup, we saw Tavish Scott condemn the late CAP payments to farmers. Labour in Wales have been just as bad, with Kirsty Williams telling Wales Online that farmers were under so much pressure that they have been calling her on the brink of suicide:

Farmers have been calling on the brink of suicide due to the financial difficulties they face.

This is on top of the fact that, because of the mishandling of the changes to farming support by Welsh Government, farmers were already only to receive 80% of their entitlement.

Like any business, farmers have bills to pay. They rely heavily on the December payments to pay those bills, so it has a knock-on effect to the wider rural economy. The Welsh LabourGovernment need to sort this mess out and they need to sort it out quickly.

Tackling Doctor shortage

Kirsty has also called for a unified list of GPs to help tackle a shortage of doctors in Wales.

She the Conservative UK Government of being unwilling to work with Wales and has urged Conservative Assembly Members to lobby their colleagues in Westminster on the issue.

All GPs who perform primary medical services must appear on a Performers List. The list provides an extra layer of reassurance for the public that GPs are suitably qualified. Currently each part of the United Kingdom has different Performers Lists.

Having separate Performers Lists in England and Wales has had a detrimental impact on recruitment to GP practices as it makes it harder to recruit GPs and practices have not been able to work together.

There is no denying that there is an acute shortage of doctors and consultants here in Wales. We need these vacancies to be filled as a matter of urgency.

Doctors have been contacting me highlighting the problems of having two separate lists. It badly affects the potential for practices on either side of the border to recruit and to work together. We need a unified list to help break down many of these barriers.

Many GPs, understandably, don’t apply to be on two separate lists. This automatically makes it tricky for GP practices on either side of the border to recruit doctors quickly.

There is also a major problem with the availability of locums for border practices, as locums only on the English list are unable to undertake work in Welsh practices and vice versa. Once again, this narrows the choice available to practices as to where they can recruit from.

Traditionally, GP colleagues in nearby practices cover for each other when needed, yet this is tremendously difficult to organise for those practices on the border. This ultimately affects patient care.

Conservative Assembly Members have remained silent on this issue for too long. It’s time they spoke out and at least tried to convince their colleagues of the importance of this matter. Simply sitting back and doing nothing isn’t good enough.

Lib Dems ahead of the game on challenging Labour over “punishing” local government settlement

Meanwhile, Peter Black slammed Plaid for being late to bother about the local government settlement that punishes rural areas:

If Plaid really cared about an unfair funding settlement for rural local authorities, why didn’t they engage constructively with Welsh Government Ministers immediately when the settlement was announced weeks ago?

The truth is simple: while the Welsh Lib Dems have spoken several times with Ministers about this issue and worked with them to address it, Plaid have done very little aside from sniping from the sidelines.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats announced last month that we will not support this local government settlement without a grant to mitigate the unfair cuts handed to rural councils under Labour’s plans.

If rural councils do end up with a fairer deal than the current proposals then it’ll be down to the hard work of Welsh Lib Dem AMs, not Plaid jumping on the bandwagon at the eleventh hour.

Parrott opposes greenbelt building plan

Eluned Parrott has criticised a Labour local development plan that would see houses built on the greenbelt:

Cardiff needs a fully integrated local development plan. There is no point in building an additional 45,000 homes, if there is no clear plan of how residents of these homes will move around the city, use public services and find jobs.

Our roads are already badly congested and without a clear public transport plan this will make the situation worse. Our Sewer and water drainage system is already at capacity.

Cardiff needs new homes for people to live in, but you can’t just build houses without thinking about everything else that comes with them; schools, parks, shops and transport.

During the consultation I submitted many ideas for what could be done differently. A Lib Dem vision for the future of Cardiff would see the expansion of the green belt to protect Llanishen Reservoir and turn it into a nature reserve, and increased cross-border collaboration with neighbouring local authorities to ensure Cardiff retains Green spaces but houses can still be built.

I was disappointed to see that the LDP is not what local residents wanted, and is yet another out of touch plan from an out of touch council.

A nation of sanctuary

William Powell called for Wales to become a “nation of sanctuary” for Syrian refugees:

The response by Conservative Ministers in Westminster to the Syrian refugee crisis has been truly shocking. Not only have they refused to take in those who are most in need, they are still resisting calls by Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron to take in thousands of orphaned children with nowhere else to go.

Wales has a golden opportunity to take a different attitude; to recognise that these people are vulnerable and need our support, and to do all that we can to help them. That’s why I’m calling on the Welsh Government to declare Wales a Nation of Sanctuary: to send a message to the world that refugees are welcome here.

Although the Welsh Government has limited powers over who’s allowed into this country, there is so much more that could be done to make those refugees who are being resettled here feel much more welcome. It’s these actions that I hope Ministers will take today.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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One Comment

  • Martin Thomas 16th Jan '16 - 1:09pm

    William Powell speaks for the tradition of Welsh hospitality to refugees. Many of the Czech Kindertransport children saved from the Nazis in 1939 by Sir Nicholas Winterton were boarded and schooled at the Abernant Lake Hotel in Llanwrtyd Wells in his patch.

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