Leanne Wood has criticised the Labour Government for their continued negligence of the Rhondda.
The Member of the Senedd for the Rhondda was speaking after receiving a reply from the Government in response to her concerns about the local economy and the impact of coronavirus. Recent analysis from The Centre for Towns showed that Porth and Tonypandy in the Rhondda are listed in top 20 towns most vulnerable to the economic fall-out from Covid-19.
In her correspondence to the Labour Government, Ms Wood said: “This evidence is not surprising. Both towns – like the rest of both Rhondda valleys – have suffered many years of neglect and under investment. The pattern continues to this day. As you know from my many questions to you and your colleagues, I have been disappointed at the lack of any direct benefit for the Rhondda from the Valleys Taskforce.
“This is in contrast to the job creation investments worth tens of millions of pounds for Blaenau Gwent which, like the Rhondda, also has two towns in the top 20 most vulnerable to the economic fall-out from coronavirus. You will recall questions I have asked about contracts for public sector uniforms which could have been awarded to a collective co-operative of workers with connections to the former Burberry factory in the Rhondda.
“I do not raise this to take investment away from one part of Wales and I never have. I am merely pointing out the stark contrast in the different treatment between two similar constituencies and I am standing up for well-deserved investment for my constituency.”
In reply, Lee Waters MS – the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport – mentioned an Empty Homes Grant ‘where over 150 applications from residents within Rhondda Cynon Taf were approved,’ a Foundational Economy Challenge Fund, where Rhondda Housing Association were awarded £100,000 to revitalise the High Streets of Tonypandy, Treorchy and Treherbert and the Targeted Regeneration Investment (TRI) which has scheduled pipeline projects within Tonypandy.
After receiving the correspondence, Leanne said: “The projects earmarked for the Rhondda – while welcome – do not amount to much in the grand scheme of things. We need targeted investment to kick start the local economy and our High Streets and what has been announced is a drop in the ocean.
“The Labour Government, as it has done for a long time, is turning a blind eye to the needs of the Rhondda and its people. Where is the plan? Where is the urgency to give people the choice to work closer to home instead of travelling out of the Rhondda five days a week? Providing jobs closer to home for people will become even more important following the Coronavirus outbreak but the Labour Government does not seem to grasp that.
“Meanwhile we have high levels of poverty – and child poverty in particular – which need addressing urgently. I will keep standing up for the Rhondda so that we get an equitable share of investment and projects to regenerate our communities.”