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Welsh Lib Dems to outlaw “outrageous” politician pay rise

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would take action to ensure that never again will politicians be able to benefit from “outrageous” rises in pay.

In November 2015, Assembly Members voted in favour of the Assembly Commission’s budget, which included a £10,000 payrise for Assembly Members. The Welsh Liberal Democrats were the only party to vote against these plans.

Assembly Members’ £54,000 pay will increase to £64,000 in May 2016. This 18% rise will cost taxpayers around £700,000 more per year.

Our party will in future link rises in Assembly Members’ pay to general rises in public sector pay. We would look to introduce legislation to link future rises to public sector pay and would change the remit of the Remuneration Board whilst leaving them with overall responsibility.

It’s outrageous that, at time when public sector workers have had their salaries either frozen or rise only slightly, politicians are getting a salary hike of 18%. Never again can such a rise be allowed to happen.

It was disappointing that the Welsh Liberal Democrats were the only party to vote against the budget that included the payrise. It was politicians’ opportunity to send a clear message to the new Remuneration Board that we are against the 18% pay rise; yet the Tories, Labour and Plaid all voted in favour.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would take action to ensure that such similar rises in AM pay never happen again. We would link rises in Assembly Member’s pay to general public sector rises. That is the fair thing to do.

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Welsh Lib Dems launch Cycling Charter

Following the success of the Tour of Pembrokeshire, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will create an active travel fund to encourage the development of new active travel infrastructure.

The party’s Cycling Charter, includes proposals to:

1. Create an active travel fund to encourage the development of new active travel infrastructure and make progress towards a target of £10 per person per year cycling investment.
2. Work with local government to roll out 20mph zones in residential areas.
3. Make a commitment to teaching every school child to safely cycle and encourage walking and cycling by providing support for route development and education programmes.
4. Make it easier to combine rail and cycle travel, including taking your bike on the train.
5. Ensure all major new developments include provision for sustainable, integrated public transport, including access to walking and cycle routes.

We have a vision of a new deal for cyclists in Wales. There has never been a better time to encourage cycling, nor greater interest. With an obesity crisis looming and climate change one of the greatest threats facing the planet, we want to ensure cycling can be a major method of transport.

Wales currently only spends £3.93 per head per year on cycling, whereas the Netherlands spends £19 per head per year, an investment that has allowed the Netherlands to achieve a significant modal shift towards cycling. For too long Welsh transport policy has been too focused on cars, with only 2% of Wales’ transport budget being spent on cycling. How can we expect cycling to be a major method of transport if we’re not willing to invest in it? We are also committed to working towards better facilities for cyclists on the bus and train network in Wales, so as to support cyclists and foster green tourism.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would create an active travel fund to encourage the development of new active travel infrastructure across Wales. We will also make progress towards spending £10 per person per year on cycling investment. This investment in safe and convenient cycle routes could lead to a substantial increase in the amount Wales cycles, bringing substantial rise in cycling rates in Wales, bringing major health, economy, environmental and educational benefits.

It is clear there is a large number of people across Wales want to take up cycling or cycle more but need it to be safer and have better cycling infrastructure in place. Together the changes the Welsh Liberal Democrats are proposing will dramatically increase the numbers of Welsh cyclists, bringing multiple health and environmental benefits in the process.

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Unlike UKIP, we’ll ensure Wales plays its part on world stage

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have announced their plans to double Welsh Government spending on international development over the next Assembly term – in stark contrast with UKIP.

Under the party’s plans, spending on international development projects would gradually increase over the next five years to £1.72m from the current level of £860,000. Projects currently benefiting from the grants promote cultural exchanges and foster relationships between Wales, and include the successful Wales for Africa programme.

Liberal Democrats also ensured the Coalition Government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GDP on international aid, and passed legislation to enshrine that commitment into law.

The Welsh Lib Dem approach is the opposite of UKIP, who have long campaigned for an end to UK foreign aid spending.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat vision is of a Wales that’s outward-looking, compassionate and unafraid to play its part in making the world a better place.

We’re committed to doubling Wales’ international development spend because we know the benefits it brings, both for the developing world and for Wales too. We want to foster genuine relationships with developing countries, involving marginalised groups in Wales and supporting cultural exchanges while helping to lift more people out of poverty.

We’ve long known that helping some of the world’s poorest nations is the right thing to do. We stand in stark contrast to UKIP, whose narrow-minded attitude wants to cut all UK foreign aid expenditure at a time when we should be supporting the developing world.

The choice on many regional lists across Wales is between re-electing a hardworking Welsh Lib Dem who’ll stand up for you, or a UKIP AM with that attitude who isn’t even guaranteed to show up and take the people of Wales seriously.

That’s why we’re urging supporters of other parties to lend us their regional vote on May 5th and help keep UKIP out of the Assembly.

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A record number of new homes promised by Welsh Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would deliver a record number of affordable homes. The Welsh Government’s Main Current Programme Allocation for new housing within the Social Housing Grant budget is £35million per year. We would increase this to £70m per year in the next Assembly term.

The Welsh Government’s target for the 2011-2016 Assembly term was to build 10,000 new affordable homes between 2011-2016. We would double this target for the next Assembly term.

We will oversee a house building revolution by building 20,000 new affordable homes.

People need a government with ambition, yet figures show that the number of homes started to be built by Labour has dropped. Such a poverty of ambition is unacceptable.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that every person should be able to provide a secure environment for their family. That is why we will double Labour’s unambitious house building target.

We have consistently been the party that has put housing on the political agenda. We will match these words with action by building a record number of affordable homes to ensure a Wales that works for you.

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Kirsty Williams issues challenge to parties over education

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party that will protect education spending, Kirsty Williams has said. She has challenged other parties to match the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ pledge.

Kirsty said that the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ priorities going into the election would be to cut class sizes, increase funding for the Welsh Pupil Premium, and protect the education budget.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have said they would establish an Infant Class Size Reduction Grant, with funding prioritised towards the largest classes. The party has also pledged to increase the Early Years Pupil Premium to reach £1000 per child on free school meals.

“We are the only party that has said we will protect education spending. If you value the importance of education, then we are the party for you,” said Kirsty.

“We have listened to parents’ concerns, which is why we will cut class sizes so that teachers have the time to teach every child to the best of their ability.

“The last five years have shown that we are the party of education: we’re the only party to prioritise education in budget negotiations, which has delivered over £282m for our schools through our Pupil Premium.

“We recognise that education is vitally important to ensure everyone has a fair start in life, and so that we have a well skilled economy. That is why we will ring-fence spending on education: both for schools and higher education.

“It’s now time for other parties to step up to the plate and say that they too would protect education spending.”

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A&E waits “absolutely shocking

Figures released this week show Welsh A&E waits in March were worse than the ‘winter pressure’ months, with only 70.8% of patients at major emergency units discharged within 4 hours.

Health boards have been expected to meet a target of 95% of patients seen within 4 hours, yet not a single one with a major A&E department has met that target.

Labour Ministers are also going backwards on their target to eradicate waits of over 12 hours, with 4,387 patients in March not seen within the 12 hour benchmark.

These figures are absolutely shocking. If the people of Wales weren’t already questioning Labour’s ability to fix the problems in our NHS, they will be now.

I can’t understand how we’ve seen such a massive nosedive in waiting times. We need answers now, especially now that Labour Ministers don’t have the ‘winter pressures’ excuse to hide behind this time.

Labour have the gall to claim they’ve kept all their promises, yet the 4,387 patients left for over 12 hours without being treated will testify that they’ve failed on their pledge to eradicate lengthy waits.

Welsh Liberal Democrats will take action to reduce pressures on our A&E departments, ensuring that all patients have a nearby out-of-hours GP they can visit with more minor injuries and a new model of care for older people to minimise unnecessary hospital admissions.

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