Welsh Conservatives will today call on Labour Ministers to boost their support for rural communities across Wales and stop sidelining a ‘critically important’ part of the country.
Making renewed appeals for increased efforts to deal with a crisis within rural Wales, Assembly Members will highlight broadband provision, planning guidelines, failing bus services, and tourism, within today’s opposition debate in the Assembly.
Rural Wales accounts for 76 per cent of the country and is home to one third of the population. The Brecon Beacons National Park alone contributes £206 million annually to the Welsh economy, with four million visitors a year.
Despite this, a recently published Welsh Government tourism strategy sidelines these areas almost completely.
The 30 page document refers to the word ‘rural’ once.
While rural communities continue to struggle with broadband provision, recent statistics also show bus fares rising more sharply in Wales, while the number of bus journeys falls.
Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, Antoinette Sandbach AM, said:
“Rural communities are still being sidelined by a lazy Labour government that refuses to acknowledge their significance.
“Despite launching a tourism strategy with much fanfare – rural Wales has been ignored.
“Despite highlighting hotspots – it is broadband notspots that continue to blight rural Wales.
“Despite other parts of the UK supporting bus routes via schemes like the Green Bus Fund –Welsh Labour continues to watch services dwindle and die.
“Despite claiming to support farmers – financial assistance for those hit by snow was initially ignored.
“While the junior rural affairs minister may now be a senior frontbencher, it’s difficult to work out what he did to get his promotion. Our countryside is being excluded from opportunities to develop and grow, and communities are suffering.
“It’s about time Labour boosted its support for rural communities and properly backed this critically important part of our country.”