Little known to many of those in power, in particular, those that sit within the confines of the Welsh Labour Government’s cosy bubble, is that there exists a piece of land at the polar opposite end of the A470; south-west of Merseyside; and just to the West of Cheshire and Shropshire.
This place is called North Wales, or Gogledd Cymru in the home language, writes Gareth Davies, the Welsh Conservative Senedd candidate for the Vale of Clwyd.
It roughly spans 81.2 miles. From Saltney in the west, and to Holyhead in the east, you can go on an interesting journey that will see you explore a number of varying communities (national lockdown restrictions may apply). In regular times, you could explore the former industrial heartlands of Flintshire and Wrexham, and should you choose to venture westbound along the A55, you’ll come across the rather glorious victorian seaside resorts of Rhyl, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. You can then have the pleasure of finishing off your exploration by soaking up the soul of our beautiful country as you take the journey over the Menai Bridge, into the beautiful Isle of Anglesey.
This is, of course, a snapshot of North Wales – and although I’m not a travel writer by trade – I hope it offers you a small snapshot of what our great counties have to offer. But I must note, this is not about travel, nor is it about the picturesque castles of Owain Glyndwr. Rather this article seeks to highlight the diversity of our region, and indeed, the importance of a region which has been sadly let down by a perennial Welsh Labour Government.
What has become apparent over time – and at no fault of their own – is that an awful lot of voters have had a limited understanding of the competencies of the Welsh Government. Indeed, the reason for this doesn’t reside in poor education, rather the issue lies in the Welsh Government’s inability to successfully represent any area outside of South Wales.
Councils in North Wales have faced slashing cuts to their budgets, whilst Labour-run Council administrations in the south of the country see project after project funded by their comrades in Cardiff Bay.
For how much longer can North Wales continue to be treated as the deservingly beautiful sister, defined to cleaning after her ugly step-sisters in the south?
One thing is for certain: Mark Drakeford is no fairy godmother to those of us in North Wales.
Indeed, during his time as Health Minister, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – the health board that covers the entire of North Wales – plummeted into special measures, and has continued to sit in the same, stagnant position for the past five years.
During this time, both Drakeford and Vaughan Gething have had the direct responsibility of ensuring and aiding BCUHB’s transition out of special measures, however, over the last five years, we’ve seen no signs on things changing. What we have witnessed however is:
- Spiralling patient waiting times in A&E departments, with targets not being met since 2008.
- Poor IT systems.
- Centralised and bureaucratic recruitment methods, with their main offices being situated roughly 162 miles away.
- The scrapping of beds and the closure of wards across North Wales’ community hospitals, putting considerable stress and pressure on our larger hospitals.
Far from waving his wand and chanting ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’, Drakeford has shown his ineptitude; and to be frank, this cannot continue anymore.
I often find myself having to explain the current devolution settlement to unaware voters, who often attribute blame for the poor standards in public services and infrastructure to my colleagues in Westminster, however, as we have already established, this is not the case.
Welsh Government funding – via the Barnett Formula – has increased year on year, to the point that for every £1 spent in England, Wales receives £1.20 in return. Yet, this isn’t reflected in the levels of public services we’re receiving in North Wales. The UK Government have consistently provided cash injection after cash injection, with little to no acknowledgement from those that sit within the Cathays Park bunker. However, the question remains, why does North Wales continue to miss out?
I want to be a strong voice for my community. I want to see improvements made to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. I want to fight the corner for every NHS of all levels.
I want to continue to challenge the unjust and unfair Local Government funding formulas for North Wales’ councils; making sure our money reaches every single corner of the region.
I want to be an advocate for the much-needed transports links, both in and out of North Wales. Let’s focus on the A55; Let’s reopen the conversation around the electrification of the North Wales coastal railway line.
I will be on the side of small businesses, making sure we finally have a government that is on the side of people who choose to aspire.
But most importantly, I want to make sure that the next Welsh Government recognises that the Vale of Clwyd and our magnificent surrounding areas have a lot more in common with the North-West of England than they doe Cardiff. It’s high time the Welsh Government recognises this.
Let’s ensure that our communities benefit from the Northern Powerhouse and consequent growth deals. We must invest in our rail and transport links; in our super-fast broadband; and in our ability to provide a support network to small businesses. If we make the needed improvements to these areas, then we’ll hugely benefit from the results. We’ll increase connectivity, employment and opportunities for all.
Let me be straight with you. For the past two decades, our great and proud nation has fallen victim to a self-entitled, self-indulgent, nepotistic, namby-pamby, self-serving, totalitarian, Welsh Labour Government – we can do so much better.
This coming May we’ll be presented with a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on our 2019 General Election successes. We can remove the final few bricks in the red wall and break the green dam in places like Ceredigion. With Paul Davies as First Minister, we can revolutionise the way in which our country works. We now owe it to our constituents to deliver a strong alternative, bringing about a real and sustainable future for every voter.
Cllr Gareth Davies is the prospective Conservative candidate for the Vale of Clwyd in the 2021 Senedd elections.