A new political party has vowed to end lockdown the day after May’s Senedd election if it were elected into power.
Propel, set up by former Plaid Cymru MS Neil McEvoy has released its list of policies ahead of the Senedd election, due in May.
Mr McEvoy is the only MS who currently sits under the Propel banner. He was elected as a regional AM in 2016 but fell out with his party and was excluded and has set up a new party, formerly known as the Welsh National Party.
The document is not called a manifesto but a “contract with Wales” which it says will “transform our nation”.
The document says that on the first day of the new Senedd term the party would end all lockdowns. Instead, coronavirus will be fought through a “mitigated scenario” of social distancing measures and shielding.
Other coronavirus policies include reclassifying gym as essential services and the furlough scheme – set by the UK Government – would be “renegotiated”. Schools would remain open.
Two other policies for the first day would are to order an independent audit of “Welsh Government waste, fraud or corruption”. An independent investigator would also be appointed to look at the Welsh Government response to coronavirus.
Further suggestions are for St David’s Day would be made a bank holiday, councils would be cut from 22 to eight counties and there would be a study into setting up an upper house for the Welsh Parliament based in North Wales. The First Minister would be directly elected.
Wales Matters delivers the best of WalesOnline’s coverage of politics, health, education, current affairs and local democracy straight to your inbox.
Now more than ever this sort of journalism matters and we want you to be able to access it all in one place with one click. It’s completely free and you can unsubscribe at any time.
To subscribe, click here, enter your email address and follow the simple instructions.
The document goes on to promise that within the first 100 days of the next Parliament, 10 bills will be published. They are:
1. The Coronavirus Recovery Act
“We will formally end all lockdowns, commit not to return to them and repeal draconian policing powers. Coronavirus will be fought through a mitigated scenario of social distancing measures and shielding the vulnerable.
“Gyms will be reclassified as essential services and will stay open, as will schools. A policy of full transparency of all data and decisions taken.
“Renegotiate the furlough scheme to pay people impacted by Covid-19 restrictions to work safely, while continuing to support shielding of the vulnerable. Significant additional funding for mental health support for both adults and children.”
2. The Welsh Energy Independence Act
“Establish a Welsh national energy company, majority owned by the Welsh Government and local authorities, for conventional extraction of Wales’ known gas reserves in former coal fields in order to replace use of foreign, imported gas. Cheaper energy supply will be used to support local employment in our key strategic industries, including steel and manufacturing.
“The billions of pounds of revenue generated will be used to create a Sovereign Wealth Fund and to achieve long-term energy independence through investment in renewable energy. Utilise Welsh universities to become a world leader in Carbon Capture and Storage technology.
“We will reject the building of any nuclear reactors and veto any attempts for nuclear material produced outside Wales from being stored or dumped here.”
3. The Modern Direct Democracy Act
“A revolutionary package of democratic measures to create a Welsh constitution and bill of rights. The constitution will enact the principle of ‘modern direct democracy’, meaning the public will have the right to bring about national and local referenda by collecting signatures.
“The proportional Single Transferable Vote system for elections will be adopted for national and local elections. Wales’ twenty-two local authorities will be replaced with eight counties, largely based on Wales’ preserved county borders. Each county will have a recognised capital, a directly elected governor and a community co-operative bank.
“Each county shall be considered to be sovereign, except where law-making power has been reserved to the Welsh parliament. The Presiding Officer (y Llywydd) of the Senedd must sit as an independent to prevent political bias. The Welsh First Minister will be directly elected. A feasibility study on the creation of an upper house for the Welsh Parliament, to be located in North Wales. Citizen journalism will be supported to provide a more diverse and accurate picture of politics and current affairs.”
4. The Planning for Wales Act
“Reform Local Development Plans to deliver affordable local housing based on local need as well as protection of green fields. Introduce a right of appeal for residents against disputed developments.
“Establish Rural Development Boards for each of the Welsh counties. Upgrade Wales’ strategic road network to expressway standard, including a North-South National Expressway. Reinstatement of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen and Afon Wen to Bangor railway lines. A single ticketing system for public transport journeys.”
5. The Public Service Accountability Act
“Implement Robbie’s Law to make a duty of candour legally binding on medical practitioners and across the public sector, meaning they must be truthful in the event of mistakes or negligence. Establish independent, non-party political and elected Public Services Investigators (PSI) to investigate complaints about public services in Wales.
“Enact a mandatory lobbying register, meaning all corporate lobbyists must record details of their lobbying, its purpose, their clients and how much money was involved.
“The Act will also introduce the recall of politicians, so that any elected politician who is found to have broken the law can be subject to a new election.”
6. The New Welsh Economy Act
“Establish a Stock Exchange Cymru for listing Welsh companies who wish to publicly trade company shares. A Welsh Sovereign Wealth Fund to develop a long-term, sustainable portfolio of investments, under the Santiago Principles.
“Create eight co-operative community banks, with a primary focus on investing in existing and new small and medium-sized local businesses. Re-industrialise Wales for the 21st Century through emphasis on developing high-tech, sustainable manufacturing for export.
“A new public procurement strategy will be adopted to move towards 100% of public spending being awarded to Welsh companies.”
7. The Children Before Profit Act
“Outlaw profiteering from looked-after children in care homes. No vulnerable child should be a money making opportunity for poorly regulated private companies. All children taken into care in Wales must remain in Wales.
“Safely reduce the number of children adopted and in care by supporting families through a trauma informed approach, with early intervention and advocacy. Establish an enquiry into the way Children’s Services operate in Wales. CAFCASS Cymru to recognise, and act upon, parental alienation.”
8. The Growing for Wales Act
“Establish an Agriculture Commission to consult with the farming and fishing communities on the best way to ensure more quality Welsh food is grown, caught and consumed in Wales. Environmental improvements will be led by the farming community and not imposed on them from afar. Farmers’ knowledge and expertise, as stewards of Welsh land, will be respected, retained and utilised.
“An emphasis will be placed on the future of farming as a way of life and career. We will legalise the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabinoids through the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG), with all cannabis-based medicines grown and produced in Wales.”
9. The Celebrating Welsh Culture Act
“Establish St David’s Day as a major bank holiday, with a day off for public sector workers and school children in Wales. Encourage private sector companies to do the same. St David’s Day parades and celebrations to be funded for every Welsh county. Create a Welsh ‘Culture Passport’ of historic Welsh places, with recognition for those who visit and receive a ‘stamp’ at every site. Free Welsh language immersion classes and tuition.
“A new Welsh Medium Education Act to bring together all existing legislative strands to provide unambiguous legal clarity in the future.”
10. The Housing Justice Act
“A package of measures to end injustices in Welsh housing. We will commit to a ‘housing first’ policy to end Welsh homelessness and close the second homes loophole, whereby second homes are reclassified as businesses to avoid local taxation.
“The package will also bring in an annual Service Charge cap for leaseholders, linked to the Consumer Price Index, and stipulate not to grant building contracts to existing developers until they have rectified dangerous fire cladding in previous developments. Introduce a new Right to Buy scheme for social housing tenants, with all revenue directed towards building more quality social housing.
“Set compulsory targets for local authorities to bring long-term empty properties back into use. Outlaw the renaming of Welsh-named properties to protect Welsh culture. A guarantee that all military veterans who have seen active service will be prioritised for public housing and healthcare.”