Ron Davies – full text of Saturday's Aberystwyth speech

Following on from the post below, this is the full text of Ron Davies’s historic speech in Aberystwyth yesterday, delivered without notes, in which he urged voters in Wales to support Plaid Cymru on May 6th and particularly Penri James in Ceredigion. I don’t want to labour the point for those who already fully understand its significance but it can’t be over-emphasised that this is a former Cabinet Member in Tony Blair's government speaking:

“Thank you very much. I was tempted to say, “Good Morning. And it is a very good morning in Aberystwyth".

“I am not going to try to attempt to speak with the degree of hwyl and local conviction that we’ve just had from my very good friend Dafydd Iwan. But the message I bring to you is no less heartfelt. I’m here today to support Penri.

“I hope that people throughout the length and breadth of Wales will think very seriously about the way that they will cast their vote on May 6th. We have not been well served by our governments in Westminster. We have had 40 years of political consensus which has put the interests of London at the heart of all of our decision- making. And that political consensus is shared between those people that Dafydd described as 'those three men'.

“The Conservative Party, unfortunately the Labour Party, and the Lib Dems have shared that political consensus, that what matters in Britain is the future and prosperity of that square mile in the city of London. And when you have a political consensus without any real challenge to the priorities you have a country descending into the country that we see today.

“We’ve had the worst economic collapse that any of us have seen. Following from that we have political corruption on an appalling scale in London. We've seen a growth of inequality right throughout the length of Britain. And we’ve seen the British people led by a British government into overseas military adventures when we’re killing innocent men, women and children in the name of the British state and in the name of the Americans.

“Now that is the consequence of having a political consensus. Like me, you’ll have watched some of the debate on television. And they talk about change - “We are the party of change”. The only difference is the colour of their ties. They shouldn’t call themselves parties. They should say, “The Blue Tie Party”, or, “The Red Tie party”, or, “The Orange Tie Party”. They don’t offer any difference.

“This election offers us in Wales the chance to send a very clear message. Every vote which is cast in this election for Plaid Cymru is a vote cast on behalf of the people of Wales. Every vote cast for Plaid Cymru candidates will be noted in London. In terms of politics, in terms of what we offer, it is now only Plaid Cymru which can challenge that political consensus.

“If you want to affect those issues that are concerning us, if you want to change the structure of politics, if you want to change the quality of democracy, if you want to bring equality, if you want to make sure that communities know where they stand and have secure futures, there’s only one thing to do on May 6th. And that is to support your Plaid Cymru candidate.

“Penri, I’m delighted to be here. I wish you every success. I have no doubt at all that you and many, many other Plaid Cymru candidates are going to be successful on May 6th. And Wales will be better for it."

Youtube clip here (diolch i Iolo ap Gwynn): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hX4LAjBY1E


Ron Davies comes to Aberystwyth to back Plaid

Plaid Cymru set the Ceredigion election campaign alight on Saturday with an old-style street rally in Aberystwyth town centre that had the cheers echoing round Owain Glyndwr Square.

Many of Plaid’s most prominent stars were there – Ieuan Wyn Jones, Jill Evans, Leanne Wood, Dafydd Iwan, Elfyn Llwyd, and others. But the star of the show wasn’t a Plaid Cymru member, it was Ron Davies, the former Labour Party Secretary of State for Wales, known as the architect of devolution. The man who made history by announcing the successful referendum result in September 1997 delighted the huge crowd by dramatically announcing his full backing for Penri James, Plaid’s Ceredigion candidate, and adding to speculation that he may stand for Plaid in next year’s Assembly elections.

The rally was the biggest street event in the town for many years and showed that Plaid Cymru, more than any other party, still has the ability to pull together the kind of passionate, inspiring occasion that people used to enjoy about politics.

The top picture shows Ron Davies speaking from the platform.
The second one shows Penri James, Plaid's Ceredigion election candidate (third from left), flanked by (L to R) Ieuan Wyn Jones, Elfyn Llwyd, Ron Davies, Elin Jones, Dafydd Iwan and Jill Evans.

My pictures of the event can be seen here
Dogfael's can be seen here
Rhys Llwyd's can be seen here


Calan Mai yn Aberystwyth

cliciwch i ehangu / click to enlarge


Aberystwyth bus and train stations to be revamped

Ceredigion Council are planning a major revamp of Alexandra Road in Aberystwyth, centred around the bus and train stations.

This would involve:

* Paving over the slip road in front of the station and removing much of the pavement clutter to provide a ‘step-free’ passage from the station to Alexandra Road

* Widening the pavements on both sides of the road. As well as creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment, this would allow people to cross the road more quickly which would also reduce waiting times for traffic. 2000 people per hour use the pelican crossing in peak times.

* Changing the layout of the bus station to incorporate all buses within one area, dispensing with the bus stops at the Park Avenue end of the road.

* Making the taxi rank area more pedestrian-friendly, including the crossing point

* Providing a pedestrian refuge to allow crossing by the Park Avenue rounabout

The Alexandra Road Interchange Plans are being developed on behalf of the County Council by Atkins, a major engineering company, who are currently consulting local ‘stakeholders’ about the plans. It’s to be hoped that the consultation will eventually go wider than that to the general public. In the meantime I’ll be happy to pass on any comments I receive here.

Thanks to Aberystwyth Online Photostream for the picture


Sian Lloyd visits Aberystwyth to back Plaid

Siân Lloyd, the TV weather presenter, was in Aberystwyth town centre this morning giving her support to Plaid Cymru and Penri James in the General Election.

After meeting people in a heaving Owain Glyndwr Square, Penri then went with Sian and her husband to visit the Ffagl Gobaith – Beacon of Hope charity shop to meet local nurses and volunteers, and to donate a bag of designer clothes.

Sian explained,
“I am a very proud Plaid supporter, having grown up in a household in Neath where politics were discussed non-stop. My father is a terrific canvasser and it thrills me to see the way the Plaid vote has continuously gone up in my old town, to the extent that the seat could well become a Plaid one in the future.

“I’m delighted to be spending the day with Penri – and of course visiting the hard working supporters of Ffagl Gobaith. My father's family come from Ceredigion, so I have very close ties with the area. I feel that Aberystwyth could become the flourishing capital of Mid Wales. With Elin Jones at the Assembly and Penri James at Westminster – they would be the dream team, delivering on every single level."

Penri said:
“I’m delighted that Sian and her husband have offered to join me today on the campaign trail and also on a visit to learn more about Ffagl Gobaith’s work. I’ve long been aware of the invaluable contribution that the charity and its staff makes to local patients with terminal and life limiting illness.

“Plaid Cymru believes that patients should be able to receive treatment and remain in the own homes as much as possible. Ffagl Gobaith’s aims to make this happen and I know that Ceredigion is very appreciative of the charity’s dedication."

More pictures of the event can be seen here.

National Assembly Housing Minister Jocelyn Davies was also in Aberystwyth today and spent the afternoon calling on houses in Penparcau.


Police called in as council officers descend on holiday village

No fewer than twenty council officers descended on Aberystwyth Holiday Village in Trefechan on Thursday to interview, document, measure and generally get to the bottom of what exactly has been going on there in the past couple of decades.

One person not able to accompany them was the man who first blew the whistle on numerous breaches of law on the site after being approached by residents for help. When Plaid Cymru councillor Aled Davies walked onto the site on Thursday, holding a letter of invitation from residents, he was told by the owner he was banned. The police were called and insisted that Aled leave in the interests of public order.

This denial of the democratic right of residents to invite their local councillor into their own homes is unlikely to get the site owner off the hook. It’s believed that only 24 of the 68 residential caravans there have planning permission and that the way the site is organised is spectacularly in breach of licensing laws. Aled first began pursuing the issues when he was approached as part of his successful County Council by-election campaign in 2008.

If, once the officers have completed their investigations, it’s established that enforcement action is warranted the Council will then have to decide what degree of enforcement is prudent in the circumstances, given that many people on the site are long-term residents who have unwittingly been led into their situation.

Substantial re-organisation of the site and legal regularisation will take time and discussions with council officers indicate they will be sympathetic to the position of residents, focussing any sanctions on the owner. Meanwhile Aled Davies, whose new blog is here, will continue doing his job of representing residents by meeting them away from the site.


Aberystwyth Town Hall to be converted into library

Aberystwyth Town Hall is to be converted into the new Town Library. The decision to was taken at yesterday’s meeting of Ceredigion Council’s Cabinet. The decision, which will cost £1 million, looks like resolving ongoing uncertainty about the fate of the prestige building after the many Council Officers working there were transferred to Canolfan Rheidol, the new council offices, in September.

Many town residents miss being able to pay their Council Tax in the old Town Hall and it's only been the continued presence of Aberystwyth Town Council in the building that has prevented the windows from being boarded up. I’ve been critical of the County Council for failing to plan properly for the future of such a key building in the town but it looks as if they’ve finally come to the right decision.

The money agreed is only enough for Phase 1 of the planned ‘Town Hall Library and Archives Scheme’, Phase 1 being the library section. It’s thought that the work will entail making most of the central part of the building open plan. Further money will have to be obtained before Phase 2 - the archives - can also be moved and this may be years away.

The Town Council are being offered two small rooms within the building after the work is completed but will have to vacate the place whilst the conversion is being undertaken. It's thought that the work will start sometime this year. Of course the next question will be what will happen to the existing town library in Corporation Street.

Diolch i Dogfael am y llun


A West coast railway for Wales

This interesting video is from the excellent Syniadau blog. It maps out a route for a railway line linking the entire West Coast of Wales from Swansea to Llandudno via Aberystwyth. Aber features about nine minutes forty seconds into the twenty minute video. You can go straight to that point via the scroll bar.

The idea of a West coast line has been raised sporadically over the years since the old Aberystwyth-Carmarthen line closed, most notably by Friends of the Earth Cymru in 1998, but without really taking root. Clearly the current financial climate is not conducive to this kind of grand scheme but it would surely be cheaper than some of the road schemes we’ve seen. Some sections of the route are a bit far fetched (not least the Pen Dinas tunnel!) but I’m featuring it here because I like to keep the general idea of a West coast railway in the air.

Plaid first off the mark on the road to Aberaeron

On the 18 mile journey from Aberystwyth to Aberaeron today I couldn’t resist counting the placards that have sprouted in the last couple of days. The score?
Plaid Cymru - 35
Lib Dems - 8
Conservatives - 4

This contrasts sharply with Brecon & Radnor constituency, thought to be a tight contest between the Tories and Lib Dems, where, on a journey on Wednesday through the northern half, I saw only a couple.

It’s clear that the political scene in Ceredigion is unusually vibrant and this is a feature of seats where Plaid Cymru are strong. Plaid have to work harder on the ground to combat the overwhelming media coverage of the London-based parties and other parties then have to try to up their game to combat that. For example, this year Plaid becomes the first party in Wales to use bus advertising. Penri James, Plaid’s candidate in Ceredigion explains,

“It’s necessary for us in Plaid to continually find new and innovative ways of getting our message across to the communities we represent. This year we’re running our most ambitious Westminster advertising campaign to date.

“We ran a pilot bus advertising campaign in Llanelli last October which proved incredibly successful and received a very positive response from the public. We’ve now rolled this out to towns across Wales including Bangor, Blackwood, Llandudno, Aberystwyth and Cardiff.

“Plaid’s ability to embrace innovation and technology is a well recognised success. In addition to our existing presence on the web on websites, blogs and social networking, we’ll be using internet advertising on sites such as Google to get our message across to as wide an audience as possible.

“All of this will of course supplement our Wales-wide intensive door-to-door campaign. Plaid candidates for the coming election will all be out and about, talking to people in our communities and ensuring that we take the people’s priorities and values with us to Westminster when called upon”.


UKIP keep Ceredigion guessing

The United Kingdom Independence Party, an organisation I have little sympathy with in terms of their attitude to both Wales and Europe, seem to be experiencing some confusion about their General Election candidate for Ceredigion. A couple of months ago their contestant was listed on their website as Mike Wieteska, a Salford-born Christian minister. Then, for a while, he was simultaneously listed as the candidate for Aberconwy before the Ceredigion reference was deleted altogether. An invitation to the party to attend the recent hustings in Aberystwyth went unanswered.

Now there’s a similar confusion with Elwyn Williams, a Conservative candidate in the 1997 General Election who subsequently left to join UKIP. Today on their UK website he is simultaneously listed as the candidate for both Ceredigion and Arfon whilst on the UKIP Wales site he is down as just standing in Arfon with no Ceredigion contender.

The person watching most closely may well be Luke Evetts, the Conservative candidate here whose vote would theoretically be the most affected, although I’ve known votes to transfer to UKIP from both disaffected Labour and Lib Dem supporters. However, as UKIP central office continue to shuffle their candidates around in an attempt to build on the somewhat incongruous election of a Euro-MP in Wales last year, we’ll probably have to wait until nomination day to know for certain their plans in Ceredigion.


Latest length of Aberystwyth cycle path completed

Tarmacing has been completed on the latest length of cycle path running between Llanbadarn Fawr level crossing and the Afon Rheidol near Aberystwyth.

The latest section finishes the addition of a 320 yard spur to the Llwybr Rheidol trail which runs from Aberystwyth to Capel Bangor. The next stage, as reported here in September, will be to put in an additional section of riverside path linking the east side of Llanbadarn.