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We’ll support people’s aspirations to own their own home

Labour’s poverty of ambition has held people back from owning their home for too long.

Under Welsh Liberal Democrat plans, young people will be able to buy their own home without a deposit. First-time buyers will steadily build up a share in their home through monthly payments equivalent to rent until they own the property outright after 30 years, just like a normal mortgage.

The party will deliver at least 2,500 ‘Rent to Own’ homes over an Assembly term. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the party that will support people’s aspirations.

For too long Wales hasn’t been seen as a place where young people can fulfil their dreams and ambitions. Seventeen years of Labour’s poverty of ambition has stopped people getting onto the housing ladder. The Welsh Liberal Democrat vision of an Opportunity Economy will help people have a home of their own.

This is about equal opportunity. Under our proposals, it doesn’t matter what your background or family circumstance is, if you can afford your rent then we will help you own your home – something nearly everyone dreams of.”

The average house price is over six times the average annual salary in Wales. Prices have simply got too far out of reach for too many families, with some first-time buyers saving for 15 years to get onto the housing ladder at all.

Wales can reach its potential. We will support people’s ambitions so that if you live in Wales, were born in Wales, have moved to Wales, work in Wales – then you are part of our project to revitalise our great nation.

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Welsh Lib Dems will lead ‘community energy revolution’

Welsh Liberal Democrats will ensure a widespread expansion in community energy projects to help meet the party’s aim of 100% of Welsh electricity demand generated by renewables by 2025.

The party will encourage small-scale community energy projects by:

• Allowing small-scale projects to sell energy within their own locality and giving them priority access to the National Grid
• Reforming planning laws to presume in favour of microgeneration projects
• Revamping Welsh Government support available to budding projects, including a library of resources to support community groups who wish to establish a project
• Giving community co-operatives the right to establish projects on suitable publicly-owned land

Wales has a tall mountain to climb if we’re to reverse our greenhouse gas emissions trend and meet our climate obligations, but this is a challenge that Welsh Liberal Democrats are more than ready to meet.

To help us reach our goal of 100% renewables by 2025, Welsh Lib Dems will ensure a community energy revolution to benefit both our communities and our environment.

Our plans will make it easier for communities to start up local energy co-operatives, allowing them to use public land and developing resources to help them get going.

Small-scale community energy schemes should be the backbone of our energy mix like small businesses are the backbone of the Welsh economy. We’ll help grow a diverse community energy industry to help power Wales’ future.

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59% of infant classes have over 25 pupils, figures show

Government statistics show an increase in the number of Welsh pupils taught in large classes.

According to figures obtained by the independent Assembly research service, 71,724 pupils are now being taught in classes of 25 pupils or more in Wales, and 59% of all infant classes have 25 or more pupils in them. This is despite Estyn stating children perform best in classes of fewer than 25 pupils.

Class sizes are meant to be restricted to 30 (with permitted exceptions), yet in 2015 7,835 pupils were educated in classes of more than 30 pupils, up from 6,969 in 2013. Class sizes have been steadily increasing for each of the last three years.

Teachers have consistently told us that with ballooning class sizes and mounting bureaucracy, they have less and less time to do what they do best: teach.

We’ve listened to concerns from teachers and parents. That’s why our top education priority is cutting class sizes, starting with our youngest children, to give teachers more time to spend with each pupil.

We can only drive Wales forward when we have an education system that encourages every child to achieve their potential. Welsh Lib Dems are the party of education because we understand that education is the key to an individual’s life-chances.

Through getting the basics right in our education system and ensuring every teacher has the time to properly teach our children, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver a Wales that works for you.

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A week to go to stand up for values of fairness and tolerance

The Liberal Democrats have led the charge to force the UK government to agree to take its fair share of unaccompanied child refuges in Europe, 3,000 of the estimated 30,000 currently open to exploitation in camps.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats’ manifesto makes clear the party would establish Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary, an open and welcoming place for those in need.

This follows a vote on Monday when all Welsh Conservative MPs voted against supporting 3,000 child refugees.

There is a week to go to ensure that strong Liberal voices are in the National Assembly.

Wales has a proud history in stepping up and playing its part in confronting crises. I am in no doubt that this is the humanitarian crisis of our generation. We must all do our part to protect the vulnerable.

Let’s be clear that our values of fairness are not shared across the political spectrum. Only this week the Tories voted against supporting 3,000 unaccompanied vulnerable child refugees, while UKIP want to pull up the drawbridge. They should be ashamed.

If you share our values of fairness, then the people need to be voting for the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

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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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