Leanne Wood has been holding the Labour Government to account for failing to deliver for the Rhondda.
During a debate on the Welsh Government’s draft budget this week, Ms Wood challenged a Labour Minister to provide a solid example of the Rhondda benefitting from the creation of the Valleys Taskforce. The Minister, in her address to the Siambr, did not answer any of Leanne’s questions nor did she reference the Valleys Taskforce.
Following Labour’s election defeat in the Rhondda during the Assembly elections in 2016, the Valleys Taskforce was established with a remit that included to ‘further economic development and regeneration.’
In the three-and-a-half years that have followed, there is no discernible benefit scheduled for the Rhondda. This week in plenary, Leanne took the Government to task for continuing the neglect of the Rhondda that flourished under Thatcher but has never been put right since despite Labour being in power in Westminster between 1997 and 2010.
She said: “I'd like to ask two very specific questions to the Minister—questions that I've asked many times in this Chamber and I've even had to resort to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in order to try and get answers to these questions, still to no avail. I have not received answers yet.
“But what I have asked on numerous occasions in the past is: how much has been allocated for improvements and job creation and economic development in the Valleys as part of the Valleys taskforce?
“I've also specifically asked how much and what type of investment we can expect to see in the Rhondda, over and above what you're already investing everywhere in buses, in empty homes and so on.
“Previous answers have mentioned expenditure planned for other parts of Rhondda Cynon Taf, but not the Rhondda. So, my questions are clear and specific and I'd be really grateful if I could have clear and specific answers this time.
“How much new money is the Valleys Taskforce getting, and how much new money is the Rhondda—not Pontypridd, not Llantrisant, not Aberdare, not Mountain Ash, not even Blaenau Gwent—but how much money can we expect to be invested in the Rhondda as part of the work of the Valleys Taskforce from this budget, and what can we expect to see as a result?”
Afterwards, Leanne said: “It is revealing that the Minister for Finance did not answer of my questions. Either the Rhondda is not on her radar – much like with the rest of the Welsh Government – or she could not answer the simple questions I asked. Either way, it is a damning indictment of Labour’s neglect of the Rhondda. We need a new, Plaid Cymru government in 2021 in Wales so we can set about building up our economy and making the changes that are so needed.”
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