Wednesday, 31 March 2010

More Nats = Less Cuts.....Plaid and SNP unveil ‘4 Wales 4 Scotland’

The leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru, Alex Salmond MSP and Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, today unveiled '4 Wales, 4 Scotland' - the SNP and Plaid Cymru's joint agreement to secure a better deal for the people of Scotland and Wales in the event of a hung parliament.

Deputy First Minister of Wales Mr Jones and Scotland’s First Minister Mr Salmond were joined at the press conference by SNP and Plaid Cymru group leaders at Westminster, Angus Robertson MP and Elfyn Llwyd MP.

The key elements of the four part programme will be:

1. Fair funding for Wales and Scotland

2. Protecting local services and the most vulnerable

3. Action to help the green economy

4. Support for business growth

Mr Salmond and Mr Jones signed a large scale copy of the agreement at the press conference.

Plaid Leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said:

"In their race for the keys to Number 10, the London Parties have forgotten about what really matters to voters in Scotland and Wales but the SNP and Plaid Cymru have not.

“With the prospect of a balanced parliament becoming more likely by the day, we believe that an election that gives no single party an overall majority would be the best possible outcome for our nations.

“A Celtic alliance of Plaid and SNP MPs would be in a position to negotiate real benefits for the people of Wales and Scotland.

“The greater the vote for Plaid and the SNP – the better the deal for Wales and Scotland. This is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference.

“We would demand fairer funding for Wales and Scotland to protect jobs, our schools, our hospitals and the most vulnerable in society.

"At the heart of our platform there would also need to be a real commitment to grow our economies through fast transport links and additional support to create thousands of high-quality jobs in the green and creative industry sectors.”

SNP Leader Alex Salmond said:

"With the real possibility of a balanced parliament at Westminster, the situation is redolent with real opportunity for Scotland and Wales.

"Both Labour and the Tories are threatening deep, harsh cuts which will endanger the Scottish and Welsh recoveries.

"Chancellor Alistair Darling has already admitted that the cuts planned by the Labour Government will be "harsher and deeper" than those inflicted by Margaret Thatcher.

"Only a strong bloc of SNP and Plaid MPs, using our votes and influence to win vital concessions, can protect Scotland and Wales.

"As it currently stands, the UK Government can and does slash the Scottish and Welsh budgets with impunity. The Barnett formula has let Scotland and Wales down. That's why in Scotland we need fiscal autonomy and Wales requires a fairer funding deal.

"The cuts proposed by the London parties are a real threat to Scottish and Welsh schools, hospitals and front line services. This must change.

"Working together, SNP and Plaid MPs will champion fairer funding and guarantee provision of public services which are vital to most vulnerable in our communities."

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Think Different.Think Plaid.

At the end of the live hustings debate on Tudno FM, Head of News, Siôn Pritchard asked all four candidates why people should vote for them at the forthcoming General Election.

Here's my response:

I've been knocking on doors for over twelve months now and people are telling me that they've never felt so angry, so let down, and so sick of the same old politics from the London parties.

Professors, Political Editors and Pollsters tell us that only Plaid can beat the Conservatives here.

So the people of Aberconwy have a clear choice.

They can either have a Plaid MP, answerable only to our communities, standing up for them and for Wales in Westminster, very possibly in a hung parliament, or a Conservative MP who would be bound by what his London party dictates.

A Tory victory isn’t a foregone conclusion here - it doesn't have to happen here in Aberconwy like it surely will happen elsewhere.

I'm standing for election to work side by side with our AM and colleagues in the Welsh Government, working to protect and improve our hospital not to cut NHS spending, working with our police and council officers - not against them, fighting for fair funding for Wales and for a better future for the people.
I'm standing up for our communities here, for farmers in the Conwy valley, for pensioners in poverty, for the small businesses and motorists and the average worker who have all been taxed till the pips squeak because these London parties have let the banks run riot.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

More and more of your listeners are turning to Plaid because they know Plaid offers something different to the rest. I don't have to toe their London party line. I am here to work hard for our people – for fair play, honesty and justice.
This isn’t a time for politics as usual. You can make this happen.

I urge you to Think Different.Think Plaid.

Why don't they sign the Real Policing Pledge?

I took part in a lively and interesting hustings debate with the other three main candidates yesterday live on local community radio courtesy of Siôn Pritchard and friends at Tudno FM.
The first of the questions focused on our differing plans to improve policing in Aberconwy and I have to say while my fellow candidates can certainly talk a good game, their actions in reality fall far short of their rhetoric.

As an ex-police officer myself with thirty years' service, and as the former General Secretary of the North Wales Police Federation I find this complete disregard for their campaign deeply disturbing.
I have responded to the pledge and I support all five measures:
  • Commit to the office of constable as the bedrock of modern policing 
  • Maintain the number of warranted police constables in England and Wales 
  • Ensure that all constables are adequately trained to do their jobs
  • Commit to maintain an effective ratio of constables to support staff on community policing teams 
  • Honour the Police Negotiating Board
It's not too late so I urge my fellow candidates to sign up to the Real Policing Pledge today.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

More good news as pensioners to get £500 to scrap old boilers

And here's the second bit of good news from the Assembly today, again courtesy of our AM Gareth Jones.


I have had a number of enquiries from constituents regarding the details of the boiler scrappage scheme so I'm pleased with news today from the Welsh Government that eligible homeowners over 60 will be able to scrap their old G-rated boiler and get £500 towards the cost of a new one.

The scheme is very much targeted towards those people regarded as being in fuel poverty, which is defined as spending 10% of household income on fuel bills.

If you think you are in this category then from the 6th April you’re advised to call 0800 316 2816 or register with the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme on their website at

If you need to know what kind of boiler you’ve got then from the same date 6th April EAGA can tell you if you ring the same number.

I’ve also had a number of enquiries from local plumbers and heating engineers and if they wish to to be considered as registered installers they too need to register from 6th April on the HEES website,

Anyone experiencing problems in registering is welcome to contact my office on 01492 642014.

Gareth Jones AM

Some shocking news from the National Assembly today

Here's the first of a couple of good news items from the Assembly today, courtesy of my colleague Gareth Jones AM, that are sure to be of interest to people locally.

Wales today is leading the way as the first nation in the UK to ban the use of electric shock collars for dogs and cats. The tough stance on these shocking devices taken by my friend and colleague, the Minister for Rural Affairs Elin Jones AM is very much to be welcomed and we can be very proud of this simple and efficient Welsh legislation. Despite strong opposition from manufacturers of these collars, the vast majority of responses to the three consultations carried out by the Welsh Government were in favour of the ban. In terms of their use as a training aid I know from my long experience in North Wales Police working alongside police handlers and their extraordinarily well-trained dogs that these shocking devices are just simply unnecessary. 


Over the last few years I’ve been very pleased to support the team from the Kennel Club and help promote their campaign to ban these electric shock devices in Wales. Inflicting pain and fear are neither humane nor effective methods by which to train any dog and that alone is a good enough reason to ban these devices but they have also the very clear potential for abuse and cruelty and that is not acceptable.

I have to confess that I was not brave enough to be shocked myself – some AMs were and I applaud their bravery – however for personal health reasons I chose not to - a weak excuse I know but therein lies another lesson. I had the choice not to be shocked – the poor animals who receive this shocking treatment don’t have that luxury – they have no choice in the matter.

All dogs can and should be trained by praise and encouragement just as those most highly-trained dogs already are by the police, military and all those organisations that have been training assistance and rescue dogs for decades. Dogs can be trained to the highest standards without any cause to use such shocking devices.

It’s not often that we get the opportunity to introduce Wales-only legislation in the Senedd – finding Welsh solutions to Welsh problems - so I am absolutely delighted that today my colleague Elin Jones has acted to outlaw this shocking practice and that the National Assembly has enacted this pioneering legislation in the UK.

Gareth Jones AM

The National Assembly for Wales unanimously approved the Welsh Government motion to introduce this Wales-only legislation at 18:47 this evening.

Regulations including penalties and enforcement to be found here:

Monday, 22 March 2010

Stop this fuel tax disgrace - duty hike must be postponed

Today we've renewed our calls for a freeze on fuel duty ahead of the Budget on Wednesday.

Fuel duty is set to rise by a further 2.55 pence per litre from April 2010 (1% above the rate of inflation) which will cost the average family an extra £200 a year and cause further problems to small businesses already struggling with higher fuel duties. Plaid has insisted that this duty hike should be postponed.

Campaign organisations such as the Road Haulage Association and local dairy farmers and contractors have come out in support of our calls for a fair fuel duty regulator. Under such a plan, an unexpected spike in petrol prices would lead to a freeze on fuel duty.

MPs from Plaid and the SNP have tabled an Early Day Motion urging a freeze on fuel duty and repeating calls for the establishment of a fuel duty regulator.

This will be the third time in as many years I have called for the introduction of a fuel regulator. It is the people of Aberconwy that will feel the pinch again if this fuel hike goes ahead. This will affect everybody from our dairy farmers, small businesses, and our struggling tourism industry. But as ever, it is always those who can afford the least who will be hit the hardest.

This is an issue that affects all parts of Aberconwy. Hard-working families feel the struggle of trying to run a car, but also these sky-high fuel taxes also impact on businesses, on prices in stores as costs rise to deliver food and other products to the shops, on the emergency services and on other public services.

Many people do not realise that when the VAT was decreased, the Westminster Government stuck an extra tax on fuel to compensate. That extra tax is still there and we are now facing another hike on top of it. This is deceitful and underhanded and I urge the Chancellor to come clean and give our people a break.

I'm pictured here with agricultural contractor Arwyn Vaughn who like every rural business will be badly affected by this fuel hike.

More from my colleague, Plaid's Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd MP, follows.

Phil Edwards

Rising fuel duty prices are already crippling industry – but it is also an unfair burden on struggling families, small businesses, rural areas in particular, and also sectors such as the emergency services will be hit especially hard by this.

This is just punishing ordinary people for a banking system failure that the London government helped to create. If the Chancellor needs to raise revenue he should do this by doing more to address tax avoidance by the affluent.

He needs to go much further than he has so far in introducing a genuinely progressive tax system. For example he could abolish the pension tax relief for the wealthy - not simply reducing it - and introduce he higher rate of tax at £100k not £150k. 

We will continue to fight this fuel hike and urge the introduction of a fuel duty regulator at the Budget to ensure price stability as well as lower fuel taxes.

Elfyn Llwyd MP


Plaid Cymru has long campaigned for a new mechanism to cap petrol prices. Together with the SNP, a motion to amend the Finance Bill in 2008 to create a Fuel Duty regulator, was voted down by Labour.

1. FUEL DUTY Early Day Motion, tabled this week by Plaid’s Adam Price MP and the SNP’s Stewart Hosie MP, reads:

That this House notes the recent unexpected spike in the price of petrol at the pump, recognises that unexpected increases in the price of fuel impacts significantly upon hard-working families, businesses of all sizes, seriously affects those living in rural areas who have no transport alternative except private cars, and impacts upon the costs of public services; recognises the need for greater research, development and support for reducing our dependency upon oil for everyday use, but in the short-term calls for a freeze on fuel duty in this Budget to protect those affected by the current price spike and further calls for a fuel duty regulator to prevent unexpected spikes in prices from affecting hard working families in future.

2. SNP/PC motion last vote on 2 July 2008 (Finance Bill) – 308 to 14. Labour voted against, Cons and Lib Dems abstained. PC and SNP voted for. 2 weeks later, 16 July 2008, Tories put down a similar motion.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Tories just don’t get it do they?

The Tories just don’t get it do they?

In his response last week to our quite fair questions about non-dom Lord Ashcroft’s tax-free donations to their party, David Jones MP may be correct to say that Lord Ashcroft’s donation was technically legal, but what he doesn’t say though is that they refused to allow their staff to be interviewed – so is this more a case of lack of evidence than innocent?

It was also technically correct for them to claim for duck houses, moats to be cleared and houses to flipped.

But it doesn’t make it right does it?

The Tories hope to take over the reins of government after the election – but even now, after everything that’s happened, they prove again they can’t be trusted to do the right and honourable thing.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Plaid calls for Milk and Supermarket Ombudsman after Aberconwy farm meeting

Following a campaign led by Phil Edwards in support of Aberconwy dairy farmers, Plaid Cymru has stepped up calls for a milk and supermarket ombudsman to help dairy farmers ensure a fair price for their pint of milk, laying an Early Day Motion to back the findings of a recent Competition Commission report.

Plaid’s DEFRA spokesperson at Westminster, Elfyn Llwyd MP, has this week laid an EDM after a meeting with farmers at Eglwysbach with Plaid Cymru’s Aberconwy candidate, Phil Edwards and receiving a petition signed by a thousand people on the issue.

Mr Llwyd said:

“I have been involved with this campaign for some years now, but the testimony of the Eglwysbach farmers surprised even me.

“Ten dairy production farms per week have closed in England and Wales in the last five years, showing the crisis felt in the industry.

“Meanwhile the supermarket industry has grown to encompass 75% of grocery sales within just four major companies who have a stranglehold on the market.

“The UK government has begun to recognise the issue but we have to tackle this problem in a big way now.

Phil Edwards added:

“After a number of meetings with dairy farmers, I launched a petition at the Royal Welsh Show in 2009 to support our farmers because many of them are not even receiving cost price for their products. We must take positive action to stop this haemorrhaging from the dairy industry before it’s too late.

“The dairy farming industry is one of the backbones of Wales but they have been scandalously let down and have operated with virtually no protection for many years under almost cartel-like conditions from the major suppliers.

“We must stand up for them, we need a milk and supermarket ombudsman with real teeth that will ensure fair play for our farmers.”



That this House welcomes the announcement of the introduction of a supermarket ombudsman as called for by the Competition Commission report of August 2009; notes that 75 per cent. of UK grocery sales are from supermarkets; further notes that the amount of money that dairy farmers receive for their milk from the supermarkets often does not cover the cost of production; also notes that the price farmers get for a pint of milk has fallen in real terms whilst their costs of producing milk continue to increase, and that England and Wales are losing 10 dairy production holdings a week; believes that this is putting the Welsh dairy industry at risk as well as the viability and sustainability of Wales' rural communities, including the care of the countryside and wildlife; and calls for the supermarket ombudsman to be formed as soon as practicable and for its responsibility to include ensuring a fair price and a fair and level playing field for dairy farmers against the purchasing power and market share of supermarkets.

Plaid demands investigation into windfarm compensation payments

Following concerns raised by Plaid’s Aberconwy candidate Phil Edwards about the compensation process for the Gwynt y Mor windfarm off Llandudno, Plaid Cymru’s leader at Westminster, Elfyn Llwyd MP, has laid an Early Day Motion demanding an investigation.

In the EDM, Mr Llwyd argues that the present system often favours international companies rather than the local councils who should be benefiting from the compensation schemes.

Elfyn Llwyd MP said:
“I am calling for an investigation of the current compensation system to ensure that local authorities and communities get the best possible deal when windfarms are erected so that they can address any negative impacts which may arise.

“At present, international energy companies are in a position where they can string out agreements on compensation over a long period of time and manipulate the planning process until it becomes a done deal on their terms.

“I want to see a situation where local authorities can get a fair deal for themselves and their tax-payers.”

Phil Edwards added:

“I am concerned that the amount of compensation paid to some communities and the processes undertaken by the multinationals.

“In the case of the Gwynt y Mor wind farm there have been interminable delays in the discussions between the Government, Conwy County Borough Council and nPower Renewables over the amount of money to be given to the Communities Fund.

“This is money that would go back into our local communities, but is being delayed because there is no efficient and fair method to ensure that the right amount of compensation is paid out by the company involved.

“As we know only too well here in North Wales, Plaid Cymru politicians have been standing up for our communities in Aberconwy. We're on their side in this struggle against the global giants and big business.”



That this House notes the ongoing discussions between Conwy County Borough Council and npower Renewables regarding the amount of money to be contributed to the Communities Fund as a result of the construction of the Gwynt y Môr field of wind turbines close to the North Wales coast; further notes that similar discussions are ongoing around the United Kingdom; expresses concern that the bargaining ability of local authorities and communities is dependent upon the stage of the planning process at which negotiations are taking place; finds it unfair that international companies can benefit from prolonged discussions over planning issues and find themselves in a stronger bargaining position so that they pay a reduced contribution to the Communities Fund; and calls for an investigation which will make recommendations into the best way to ensure a just and equitable system that will assist local authorities and communities in getting the best possible deal from such negotiations so that communities can have the best opportunity of addressing the negative impacts such projects can have on an area and local tourism industries.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Aberconwy is not for sale

As the Conservatives gather for their party conference in Llandudno we've challenged David Cameron to come clean over which candidates' campaigns have directly benefited from the funds of their dodgy non-dom donor Lord Ashcroft.

We urge the Tories to be honest with voters - tell us where Lord Ashcroft’s millions have been targeted. Unless they do, the Conservatives actions are likely to further damage public confidence in Westminster politics.

My colleague, Plaid’s Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd MP and the SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP have written to Tory party leader David Cameron calling for answers and a breakdown of where and how much money has been poured into campaigns.

Here's what Elfyn has had to say:
The Conservatives have to come clean on which Tory candidates are being bankrolled by Ashcroft’s millions. As they meet in Llandudno, I think the people of the Aberconwy constituency deserve to know how this man’s personal fortune is being used by the Tories in an attempt to buy their votes.

Aberconwy is not for sale. Voters deserve the truth, attempting to buy them is down right insulting.

Mr Cameron should put his money where his mouth is. Will he practise what he preaches on transparency in politics?

Ashcroft does not play by UK rules but is still using the millions of pounds at his disposal to try and buy this election for the Conservatives.

My guess is that many Conservative candidates in Wales and elsewhere are benefiting both directly and indirectly from Lord Ashcroft’s millions – either through it being pumped into constituencies or through campaigns at their central office in London.

While this man won’t pay taxes here, he’s perfectly happy to try to dictate how ours would be spent.

Welsh voters will not accept being played like this. I just hope that people will make a stand and send a clear message that we want people representing us who will stand up for our communities – rather than the candidates who has the biggest cheque-book.

Angus Robertson MP added:

Bankrolled and run by London, Tory candidates cannot claim to speak up for local interests. Only the SNP will champion Scottish communities.

The text of the letter to David Cameron reads:

It has now been confirmed that Lord Ashcroft broke an undertaking to pay full UK tax in order to become a member of the House of Lords ten years ago.

Since then, he has donated more than £5 million to the Conservative Party, much of which has been spent in target seats throughout the United Kingdom.

Given the public interest in this matter and your repeated calls for disclosure and transparency in politics, could you please confirm how much money from Lord Ashcroft’s donations have been used to fund constituency campaigns in Scotland and Wales and in which seats?

Historic Day for Welsh Language

This Measure is an historic step which for the first time gives the people of Wales the right to receive services through Welsh; reaffirms the official status of the Welsh language and creates a strong Commissioner to protect and promote the language.

This is the beginning of a long scrutiny period and our Ministers will be keen to listen to other ideas regarding the measure and how to achieve our aims.

Were Plaid Cymru not in Government, none of the above would’ve happened – no strong commissioner, no more services through Welsh and no official status for the language.

Diwrnod Hanesyddol i'r Iaith

Mae’r Mesur hwn yn gam hanesyddol ymlaen ac am y tro cyntaf yn creu trefn sy’n rhoi hawliau i bobl Cymru dderbyn gwasanaethau Cymraeg; yn cadarnhau statws swyddogol y Gymraeg ac yn creu Comisiynydd cryf i amddiffyn yr iaith.

Dyma dechrau broses sgriwtini hir ac fe fydd ein Gweinidogion ni yn barod iawn i wrando ar syniadau eraill ynglŷn a sut i gyrraedd ein hamcanion.

Pe na bai Plaid Cymru wedi bod yn rhan o Lywodraeth Cymru, fyddai dim byd newydd wedi digwydd – dim comisiynydd cryf, dim mwy o wasanaethau Cymraeg a dim statws swyddogol i’r iaith.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Three leaders – what about our three countries?

Despite the Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain MP, urging voters this week to rally behind parties who can keep the Tories out, the BBC has restricted the televised election debates to the leaders of three London-based parties.

Here in Aberconwy we're in a head to head straight fight with the Tories, so why should three of the four nations comprising the United Kingdom be excluded from these debates, all of which are scheduled to take place in England?

Plaid Cymru is in coalition government in Wales, the SNP govern Scotland and both are excluded, along with politicians from the north of Ireland.

What a nonsense that these debates have now been labelled “prime ministerial debates”, when they include the Lib Dem Leader. Perhaps those responsible should read the recent article in the Independent newspaper, which spoke of Plaid’s three MPs having had more effect on Parliament than the entire Liberal Democrats - and there's sixty-three of them. This shows a complete lack of respect for our nations and voters, and a disregard for the changing nature of the way the UK is governed.

It’s time the broadcasters and the London-based political parties came to terms with the reality of devolution. It is clear that these debates will have an influence on how people vote, and the fact that Plaid Cymru is excluded flies in the face of democracy.

I would go so far as to say that the people of Wales are being misled, and certainly in this constituency of Aberconwy, the contest is between Plaid and the Tories: the other two participants in the televised debates are also-rans here.

What price now the BBC’s commitment to accuracy, fairness and impartiality?"

Plaid’s Director of Communications, my colleague Elin Jones AM, had this to say and I wholeheartedly agree:

“The people of Wales will rightly feel very aggrieved at being shut out from the democratic process in this way. In many of Wales' constituencies one or two out of these London parties barely feature in the running - yet they will feature prominently in this London stitch-up.”


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Safeguard your right to vote

Some handy advice here from Conwy County Borough Council.

While the date for the General Election is not yet known, don't wait until it's announced before you secure your right to vote.

Registering to vote only takes a few minutes.

Sometimes people don't realise they need to re-register every year. Conwy County Borough Council wrote to all households back in October 2009. If you are not sure you returned your form, or if you have moved house since then and have not re-registered at your new address, then take a few minutes to do so now, and make sure nothing stops you from having your say on election day.

Remember, if you are not registered, you can't vote!

Print off a form from the website of the independent elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission, or telephone the Council's Electoral Services Section on (01492) 576051.

Diogelwch eich hawl i bleidleisio

Er nad ydym yn gwybod dyddiad yr Etholiad Cyffredinol eto, peidiwch aros i'r dyddiad gael ei gyhoeddi cyn i chi ddiogelu eich hawl i bleidleisio.

Mae ond yn cymryd ychydig funudau i gofrestru ar gyfer pleidleisio.

Weithiau nid yw pobl yn sylweddoli bod angen iddynt ailgofrestru bob blwyddyn. Ysgrifennodd Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Conwy at bob cartref ym mis Hydref 2009. Os nad ydych yn sicr os anfonoch chi eich ffurflen yn ôl, neu os ydych chi wedi symud tŷ ers hynny a heb ailgofrestru yn eich cyfeiriad newydd, cymrwch ydychig funudau i wneud hynny rŵan, a gwnewch yn siŵr nad oes unrhyw un yn eich rhwystro rhag dweud eich dweud ar ddiwrnod yr etholiad.

Cofiwch, os nad ydych chi wedi cofrestru, fedrwch chi ddim pleidleisio!

Printiwch ffurflen oddi ar gwefan y corff gwarchod etholiadol, y Comisiwn Etholiadol, neu ffoniwch Adain Gwasanaethau Etholiadol y Cyngor ar (01492) 576051.

Payback time for Aberconwy Tories?

Over on bestforwest our colleague Llyr Huws Gruffydd questions whether it's time that the Clwyd West Tories paid back the money they have received in the past from Lord Ashcroft, the non-dom, who as the Tories major donor and Deputy Chairman, has bankrolled to the tune of millions, many of their campaigns in marginal seats, without paying a penny in tax on his earnings offshore.

The same question should be asked of the Aberconwy Tories.

Monday, 1 March 2010

It's Plaid for Aberconwy - says Labour Minister

Even the Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain has appealed to voters to back Plaid Cymru in Aberconwy - saying that voters should unite behind the only party that can beat the Conservatives.

With Labour out of the race in the Aberconwy Constituency, only Plaid can now see off the threat of a divisive right-wing Tory MP.

Following Mr Hain's widely reported remarks over the past few days, Plaid's Aberconwy candidate Phil Edwards said:

"This weekend we've been campaigning in Llanfairfechan, and, once again, the response has been magnificent and very warm. People I’ve never met are calling out ‘good luck’ across the street as we are out and about

"In the context of Aberconwy, Peter Hain is absolutely right: it's Plaid or the Tories, the tide and the mood are clearly with us. I would ask supporters of other parties to lend me their support in this coming election, to ensure that Aberconwy has someone in Westminster fighting for the interests of all constituents and to get a better deal from Westminster.

"Last weekend I took part in the Plaid pre-election conference. Everyone was in buoyant mood and I can rarely remember such a sense of optimism in advance of any election, let alone a General Election for the UK Parliament.

"Contrast this with the mood of this weekend's Tory conference, providing headlines such as 'Poll fears stalk Tory conference’."

Mr Edwards urged the people of Aberconwy to 'think different'.

"At a time when people in Wales have never felt so angry and let down by the same stale old politics in Westminster, there is the chance for some fresh and independent thinking here in Aberconwy."

Conwy Castle flies the flag on St David’s Day

Phil Edwards has welcomed the sight of the national flag, Y Ddraig Goch - The Red Dragon, flying once more over Conwy Castle, after being absent from its flagpole for many months.

Following complaints from local people about the missing flags, Phil took the issue up with CADW and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Officials confirmed to Phil last week that the flag would be back flying over Conwy today, St David's Day, and so it was!

"Y Ddraig Goch - our national flag, had been absent from its flagpole over the Castle for some months now and, despite my best efforts to find out why, no-one in officialdom was providing me with a satisfactory explanation," said local Conwy man, Robin Jones, who then complained to Cllr Phil Edwards and Cllr Tony Tobin, leaders of the Plaid Group on Conwy County Borough Council.

Phil Edwards took up the issue with CADW and its boss, Heritage Minister Alun Ffred-Jones AM, asking for an explanation and an assurance that the flag would be flying in time to celebrate St David’s Day.

Responding on behalf of the Minister, a spokesman explained:

"There have been a number of health and safety concerns linked to the flying of the Ddraig Goch at Conwy which we have been seeking to resolve and which have prevented us flying any flags from the Castle. Primarily these relate to the hoisting mechanism, which causes some staff difficulties, particularly on windy days, and the problems with seagulls."

Phil Edwards said:

"Conwy Castle has towered over the town since the 13th Century and it’s slightly ironic that, given the brutality of Edward 1st towards the Welsh and the violent history surrounding Conwy Castle , 800 years later Health & Safety steps in and prevents us from hoisting a flag up a pole!

"St David was famous for saying ‘do the little things’ and the least we can do is to make sure that our proud heritage is protected and we fly our flag over Conwy on the day we remember and celebrate Wales ’ Patron Saint."

CADW’s spokesman then confirmed:

"We are continuing to explore solutions to these problems but have in the meantime taken the decision to continuously fly the Ddraig Goch between 1st March and 30th September each year (changing it when its condition dictates). I can therefore confirm that the Ddraig Goch will be flying on St David's Day this year."

Phil Edwards stressed the importance and significance of the flag being flown throughout the year adding:

"I’m hopeful that, whatever the difficulties are at the moment, they can be resolved before next September so as to allow the flag to be flown all year round."

Robin Jones, who first raised the issue with Phil, said:

"I’m delighted that CADW have finally responded in such a positive manner and I am very pleased that Y Ddraig Goch is flying once again from Conwy Castle on St David's Day."

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus i Bawb! Happy St David's Day!

Apologies for the lack of blogging but following a great Spring Party Conference our fantastic team of volunteers has been busy out campaigning in Junction, Llanfairfechan and Penmachno - excellent response everywhere.

Happy St David's Day to you all.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus i Bawb!