Eluned Morgan, Labour AM has called on the Welsh Government to develop an economic plan specifically for rural Wales.
The call has been made along with key business players in rural Wales who have a track record of delivery.
The group which met in Trinity College stated that, “Whilst the City Region model may work in parts of Wales it is not a model that is relevant or suitable for vast areas of rural Wales.”
The group has suggested that there is an urgency to develop such a plan following the BREXIT vote. They have argued that the impact of BREXIT on the rural economy is likely to be greater than elsewhere in Wales as European funding is withdrawn.
Eluned Morgan, the Labour AM who represents the vast rural area of Mid and West Wales in the Assembly said, “I am delighted that a range of accomplished individuals have agreed to work towards presenting the Welsh Government with the broad structure of a plan. We will then encourage the Government to elaborate on this by preparing specific and measurable targets.
“The economic challenges for rural Wales are many and varied. These include low productivity rates, low paid jobs, a low skills base, transport and IT infrastructure weaknesses, a lack of affordable homes, and an ageing population. Due to a lack of varied employment opportunities there is a loss of many of our brightest people who feel they need to leave in order to find work. In order to build a balanced and more sustainable economy these are just some of the issues that need to be addressed.
“The group agreed that insecurity in terms of the long term future of agriculture – an important sector for rural Wales following the BREXIT vote, suggests that we need to start preparing now for a new approach which focuses on added value and broadens the debate to include the wider food and drink industry. In addition to this we must work to enhance the quality of the tourism offer and take advantage of the low pound to attract new visitors to the area.
“Many sectors have received economic support through European Funding initiatives over the years. The loss of this additional support will have longer term impacts if it is not replaced”
The group will endeavour not to re-invent the wheel and not to duplicate work already underway by the Welsh Government, local authorities, the City Region and other organisations committed to economic development in the area. They will identify key sectors on which the Rural Development Plan should focus, and make the case for the proposals within the plan to be enacted by Welsh Government.
She added, “I have already discussed this matter with the First Minister Carwyn Jones, the Economy Secretary Ken Skates, and the Rural Development Secretary Leslie Griffiths. They are all interested to hear what progress we can make on this matter.”
The group has invited the Economy Secretary Ken Skates to attend a meeting where he will be presented with the plan in April this year.
Eluned Morgan has also sent a questionnaire to all town and community councils in Mid and West Wales to gauge their views on Economic Development in Mid and West Wales. These will be fed into the deliberations of the group.
Members of the group include:
Eluned Morgan, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales
Susan Balsom, Director, Cambrian Mountains CIC, Trustee Artes Mundi
Melanie Doel, Chair, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
Professor Medwin Hughes DL DPhil DPS FRSA, Vice Chancellor, University of Wales Trinity St. David
John Idris Jones, Chair, Snowdonia Enterprise Advisory Board
Stan McIlvenny OBE, Chair, Milford Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone
William McNamara, CEO, Bluestone National Park Resort, Pembrokeshire
Glen Peters, Managing Director, Western Solar Ltd
Huw Thomas, Puffin Produce, Managing Director, Puffin Produce, Haverfordwest
Stephen Thornton, Valero Pembroke Refinery
Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice Chancellor, Aberystwyth University
Eirwen Williams, Director, Menter a Busnes
Elinor Williams, Ofcom Wales