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Safwynt Plaid with Simon Tomas I WAS delighted to attend the official

opening of Wales’ first eco-community, Pentre Solar, in Pembrokeshire. The six houses that make up the ‘eco

hamlet’ of Pentre Solar were opened for the first time with a great deal of media attention. It was a positive feeling, knowing that

West Wales was home to the first eco village of its kind in the UK. It was a pleasure to be able to appreciate

the hard work and creativity that’s gone in to this project first hand. With County Council housing lists full,

and carbon emissions reaching a hazardous level across the world, it is great to see companies taking the initiative and creating an eco-friendly community in West Wales. The combination of eco-friendly

infrastructure and instilling of a brand new cooperative, community spirit is much needed today in Wales, and I can only thank, commend and congratulate Glen Peters, CEO of Western Solar, and his hard- working staff for their success. I hope that this is the first of many eco-

friendly homes in Wales. Wales has the capacity of becoming a global elite in eco- friendly, renewable energy. Following the opening, I pressed the

Labour Government during First Minister questions to support many more renewable

energy projects over the Fifth Assembly. The cross party Environment and

Sustainability Committee of the Fourth Assembly’s report ‘A Smarter Energy Future for Wales’ recommended the creation of a not-for-profit energy company for the whole of Wales. This would be an umbrella body for developments such as Awel Aman Tawe’s locally owned wind farm, and the local energy trial in Bethesda, Ynni Ogwen. The Welsh Government can take a big

step to increase energy generation from renewables by establishing a national energy company, Ynni Cymru. Plaid Cymru believes Ynni Cymru should be run as a not-for-dividend company at arms-length from the government, investing profits in improved services and prices. We need to bring people together and to

get the best possible deal for the customer as well as the environment and Wales. If people want a vision of the future

that is anticipated in the committee report, they should visit Pentre Solar, in Glanrhyd. These are the kinds of developments that are possible now in Wales and we should see far more of that developed here. The First Minister told me that

discussions have taken place between officials and several bodies with regard to developing schemes to establish an energy company for Wales and the talks continue.

Eluned Morgan Mid & West Labour AM

I CHAIR the Cross Party Group on Arts

and Health in the Welsh Assembly. We’re exploring the benefits of social prescriptions. At the moment, that’s things like exercise referral classes in your local leisure centre for people recovering from back and knee operations. These ‘prescriptions” extend the boundaries

of traditional general practice in the health sector, and strengthen links between primary care and the voluntary sector because they mean health professionals can refer people to non-clinical services. What’s the link with the Arts? The positive therapeutic advantages of mediums such as arts and music in combatting loneliness and isolation offers a great alternative approach for the elderly in particular. It’s difficult to imagine the isolation felt by those

forced to stay at home for days, weeks, even months. Just imagine how awful it must feel to be unable to go out, to have no one to talk to, to constantly be alone. This is the unfortunate reality for many older members of our society with thousands lonely and cut off from society, especially those over the age of

75. The joy and stimulation of meeting others as well as the chance to do something different from sitting at home can provide a huge boost to many isolated and older people. Thanks to befriending services and voluntary

organisations, vital support is offered to those in isolation. Pembrokeshire’s Solva Care is one outstanding example. Hailed as the first of its kind in the UK, the community-led project brings together volunteers to deliver a wide range of support services to older people and those in need of care, helping people stay in their own homes, to maintain independence and to remain part of the community. Volunteers aim to help older people get out more, to assist with chores, and they offer invaluable support to carers and visit those who are spending too much time on their own. We must work to ensure that resources are

available to help older people deal with the challenges and opportunities they face, whilst improving life quality beyond the traditional health and social care agenda. That’s why I also spoke about this in the Assembly earlier this week.

Plaid Cymru Youth with Llyr Williams RESULTS from the January Welsh

Political Barometer Poll from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre were released this week. Labour’s support in Wales has fallen to levels not seen since before the 2010 general election. But is this really good news for opposition

parties? The results for the Assembly constituency

vote show Labour’s support slump to 31% - the lowest ever seen in a Welsh poll conducted by YouGov - but despite this, they are still 6% above the Tories and 10% above Plaid. What can be said for the opposition in Wales when the ruling party, in turmoil over its new UK leader, facing criticism from all angles, can still maintain a lead over the rest of the pack? To quote Roger Scully, who wrote the

article: “The saving grace for Welsh Labour continues to be the lack of a single strong opponent: while Labour’s performance in our new poll is weak, none of their opponents are exactly achieving glittering ratings either.” Much has been said about the difficulty for

opposition parties in Wales to make the case to Welsh voters without a dedicated Welsh media

and without a high level of public interest in our Assembly. Despite outshining Labour last year, whose manifesto was more pamphlet than a serious programme for government, the opposition still fell short. Until now, Labour have always been miles ahead of the rest of the pack. But this poll is a tipping point. At 31% or lower, Labour will not win enough seats to retain their firm grasp on the National Assembly. It’s time for the Welsh opposition to wake

up and make a stand. Our democracy depends on it. Without a dedicated Welsh media service, the opposition needs to find it’s own ways of getting the message across to voters not only to gain their support but to get them to vote. We, the public, have a part to play. At

just 45.3%, the turnout for Welsh Assembly elections is appalling. It’s time for us all to take part in our democracy and engage with our Assembly. Wales is crying out for a strong opposition,

to maintain a healthy democracy and greater scrutiny of our government. We have four years until our next assembly election. It’s time for Wales’ opposition to change its tactics and to get to work. It really is time for change.

Te Blue View with Paul Davies AM

certainly has its perks, particularly over the summer periods. We have some of the best beaches in the world dotted along our coastline, we have the stunning Preseli Mountains and we have a deep and rich cultural heritage. Pembrokeshire’s natural environment means that tourism is a key industry for the county, an industry that must be protected and promoted. Figures released from the Wales Tourism

LIVING and working in Pembrokeshire

Business Barometer showed that 51% of businesses in South West Wales reported an increase in visitors and that’s something that we need to build on. This is something that governments at all levels and Visit Wales must build on for the future. At a local level, there is plenty that we can

needs to be done on the ground to support small and medium-sized tourism businesses, many of whom are based in Pembrokeshire, by helping them to manage business rates and VAT bills. Recent business rate revaluations have crippled some businesses in Pembrokeshire and I’m pleased that the Welsh Government have finally u-turned and responded constructively to calls to provide businesses affected with more support, but that support must go further. And, finally, more needs to done with the industry to market Pembrokeshire and, indeed, Wales, to both UK and global tourism markets, realising our full potential as a tourist destination. The Welsh Government has named 2017 the

do to make our county more accessible. For example, car parking around tourist sites must be examined to ensure that we are encouraging as many people as possible to visit our local attractions. We should also be doing more to promote local food and produce at every opportunity – we have so much to be proud of – so let’s forge stronger relationships with local farmers to make sure that visitors leaving Pembrokeshire are wanting more! However, the direction and strategy for the

tourism industry in Wales lies largely with the Welsh Government. I believe it’s time for Visit Wales to be removed from Welsh Government control, so that it can operate at arm’s-length, attract expertise and introduce an industry-led approach to the visitor economy. More also

‘Year of Legends’ and is putting a particularly focus bringing culture and heritage to the centre of the Welsh brand. Well, Pembrokeshire certainly isn’t lacking

in the culture department and given that the Year of Legends also comes with an additional budget of £5m secured for Visit Wales, I sincerely hope to see some of that funding used to support and promote Pembrokeshire’s cultural heritage. I’m proud to live, work and represent Pembrokeshire and I want to see our county’s tourism industry thrive. I believe that Pembrokeshire is the perfect holiday destination and that we really do have something for everyone. That’s why it’s important that a much more industry-led, coordinated approach is taken so that places like Pembrokeshire can be shared with visitors from all over the world.

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