Leanne Hails Good Budget Deal for the Rhondda

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Rhondda AM Leanne Wood has welcomed her party’s budget deal with the Welsh Government after it was agreed that the extension of the South Wales Metro into the Fach would be explored.

Plaid Cymru insisted on the possibility of improved infrastructure for Rhondda Fach communities be considered during negotiations. Plaid Cymru also secured an agreement for the Welsh Government to look into taking ownership of the Rhondda Tunnel that runs between the Rhondda and the Afan valleys.

At the moment, the tunnel is owned by Highways England; something the Rhondda Tunnel Society are campaigning to change as they say Welsh Government ownership would open up more funding opportunities.

The Party of Wales also secured 80 new district nurses, £40m for improving mental health services, the re-establishment of perinatal mental health support services in Wales and the protection of the Supporting People Budget which provides financial assistance to more than 57,000 people each year to live as independently as they can and to prevent homelessness.

Ms Wood said the budget deal was significant for the Rhondda and its people.

“The Rhondda has all too often been an afterthought for the Labour Government in Wales,” she said.

“This is particularly the case when it comes to transport and infrastructure. Why else would there be no rail link serving the Fach and a bypass that stops less than halfway up the valley?

“With this budget deal, we have secured an undertaking from the Welsh Government to examine carefully the chance to rectify this unfairness with an extension of the South Wales Metro into the Fach. This would allow people from Ynyshir to Maerdy to finally get a decent public transport system and take the pressure off the congested commuter run along the A470.

“Good public transport links often lead to greater economic activity and further investment. I hope the Welsh Government does not allow this opportunity to breathe new life into the Fach to be missed.

“I am also pleased that we got the Welsh Government to agree to consider carefully the issues around the Rhondda Tunnel’s ownership. Fellow Rhondda Tunnel Society members tell me that this is a real stumbling block for them at the moment.

“If the Welsh Government was to take ownership of the tunnel from Highways England – who have stated they are more than willing to hand it over – then the opening of the tunnel for cyclists and walkers will be a big step closer.”

Ms Wood added: “The budget deal – which provides a significant cash injection for the NHS in Wales and safeguards spending for some of the worst off people in society – will benefit people from all over Wales.

“In under two years, our budget deals and the Compact to Move Wales Forward has secured half a billion pounds for people in Wales. This has meant Plaid Cymru has been able to deliver on more than half of our manifesto commitments from the 2016 manifesto.

“All this has been achieved from a position of opposition in the Assembly. This is testament to the hard work and determination of the Plaid Cymru team I lead in the Assembly.”

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