It’s Jobs We Need, Leanne Tells Welsh Government

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Leanne Wood has criticised the Labour Government in Wales for failing to provide any job creation plans for the Rhondda.

During a plenary debate that covered the progress of the Valleys Taskforce, the Penygraig-based AM for the Rhondda said it was unacceptable that some of the areas with the highest levels of deprivation in the former coalfield areas of Wales were continuing to be neglected.

She also rejected any notion that the proposed billion-pound M4 relief road would help with the regeneration of the valleys.

During her speech, Ms Wood said: “The pre-existing schemes being mentioned as related to this taskforce are schemes that are already in your pipeline.

“The automotive park in Ebbw Vale is new, but it seems to have been created purely because the Circuit of Wales has been rejected. Plaid Cymru will of course welcome that, but is there a similar solution for other valleys locations?

“What is the big project for the Rhondda, for example? The employment rates for the Rhondda are similar to Blaenau Gwent, but when Rhondda Cynon Taf is considered as a whole, the more affluent southern most communities mask the poverty faced in my constituency.

“Are you talking to big employers in Cardiff and elsewhere to see if they will consider the larger valleys towns for their next expansion? I note there is a mention of the M4 relief road.

“Can you outline how the New M4, in particular your favoured Black route, will actually help the valleys? The Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University, commissioned a report which said that the New M4 would offer “very little” to the valleys.

“And that report focussed on those valleys closest to Newport.”

She added: “Minister, Plaid Cymru will not accept a situation where existing Welsh Government initiatives like the M4, which have little to do with the valleys, are pulled into this work.

“Can we instead have new projects which are for the sole benefit of giving a fair deal to the former south Wales coalfield?

"I, and Plaid Cymru, will champion any new projects which the taskforce proposes, but we want to see the proof that this is new and innovative work, that will deliver results and turn around the poverty and deprivation that is still our hangover from the pit closure programme.

“People in the valleys will absolutely not put up with a repetition of previous initiatives which have either failed or made things worse.”

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