Council leader urges government to push for more powers to be devolved to Wales
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
The leader of Gwynedd Council has paid tribute to an outgoing giant of Welsh politics but also urged the incoming government to push for more powers to be devolved from London to Cardiff Bay.
Noting Dafydd Elis-Thomas’ contribution to both local and national politics, Dyfrig Siencyn went on to attack the “contemptuous and offensive” way in which the Welsh government and ministers were treated by those in the “English government” during the pandemic.
Following Welsh Labour’s securing of exactly half the seats in the recent Senedd Cymru election, the Plaid Cymru leader of Gwynedd Council congratulated Mark Drakeford for his “steady, honest and no-nonsense” approach to the pandemic, which he said “vastly contrasted to that of the UK Prime Minister.”
Cllr Dyfrig Sienwyn added: “The past year has shown that Wales can operate in a more effective and wiser way than the English government and clearly showed the need for many more powers here in Wales.
“Over the past year there was never better dialogue between local government and the Welsh government ministers and I myself witnessed the contemptuous and insulting way in which the Welsh government and ministers were treated by those in the English government.
“Their domineering efforts to undermine devolution have been disgraceful, but the challenge for Labour now is to show they are ready to stand up for Wales by demanding more powers and establishing themselves as an independent Welsh party by breaking free from the UK party.”
Meanwhile, with Dafydd Elis-Thomas having deciding not to contest the Dwyfor Meirionnydd seat he had represented in various guises since 1999, the leader also used Thursday’s full council meeting to pay tribute to the veteran politician.
Lord Elis-Thomas, having spent almost 50 years at the political service of Meirionnydd, Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and Dwyfor Meirionnydd, was first elected as an MP in 1974.
Going on to become the leader of Plaid Cymru for a time, he later entered the House of Lords before being lured back to elected politics upon the formation of devolved government, spending the Welsh Assembly’s formative years as its neutral important Llywydd (or Presiding Officer).
Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn also congratulated Arfon’s re-elected MS, Sian Gwenllian, and Lord Elis Thomas’ predecessor, Mabon ap Gwynfor, who ensured that Dwyfor Meirionnydd will once again be represented by Plaid Cymru.
“I’d like to wish Sian and Mabon well, having both secured notable majorities,” said Cllr Siencyn.
“Both are former county councillors of course so I hope they will remember local government in their day to day work and support all efforts to protect and strengthen local government against any threat while ensuring we’re adequately funded.
“I’d also like to wish Dafydd Elis Thomas well as he retires from the Senedd after a lifetime of service to Wales and especially Meirionnydd.
“As a man of Meirionnydd I well remember listening to the result on the square in Dolgellau in February 1974 when he won the seat as a very young man.
“Ever since he has served the area in some legislature or another and I have worked with him over many years.
“His knowledge of the constituency and its people was remarkable and was a hard working and active member for the county.
“Everyone knows we have disagreed several times, almost to the point of blows on one evening, but I have always admired him and his work as Llywydd was pivotal in securing the establishment and giving it status.
“His readiness to work across party lines has been controversial at times but I believe he did so out of conviction and was what he felt was the best way to achieve results.
“I’d like to thank Dafydd for all his work and for representing us for so long, and I’m sure he’ll continue to contribute via the House of Lords.”