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From Wylfa to the Welsh language: Ynys Môn constituency guide for the 2021 Senedd election

12 Apr 2021 10 minutes Read
Holyhead Harbour. Picture by Darren Glanville (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter

Covering Holy Island and the Isle of Anglesey, Ynys Môn has tended to be a much less interesting seat during Senedd elections compared to its marginal status on Westminster election nights.

It has been held by Plaid Cymru since the formation of the National Assembly in 1999, with former BBC journalist Rhun ap Iorwerth currently holding the biggest majority in the Senedd (9,510).

Among his challengers this time round will be Llanrwst-based teacher and Labour campaigner, Sam Egelstaff, and Cardiff county councillor, Lyn Hudson for the Conservatives.

Historically the seat has been fiercely loyal to incumbents while showing an ability to ride roughshod over national trends – truly an island in both a geographical and political sense – but this theory was called into question in 2019 when the Brexit wave saw the seat swing to the Conservatives, with the ‘remain’ or left of centre vote split in the middle between Plaid and Labour.

Despite some heavier industry, mainly within the towns of Holyhead and Llangefni, this is a largely rural constituency containing mostly Welsh-speaking communities inland but some more recently Anglicised coastal communities which are more reliant on tourism.

Having been held in Westminster by both Labour and Plaid Cymru in the past – who also lead the coalition running the local authority – both the Tories and Labour will be hoping that any uptick in turnout this time out will boost their chances.

Economic inactivity remains an issue of concern which, despite the divisive nature of nuclear power, has not been helped by the scrapping of the multi-billion pound Wylfa Newydd project which was expected to create a thousand well-paid jobs once up and running.

The local authority’s ongoing schools reorganisation and modernisation programme has also caused unrest in some communities, despite millions of pounds being invested by the Welsh Government and the council into building 21st-century facilties and replacing some smaller primaries.

One of the island’s biggest employers, Holyhead Port, has also seen a substantial slump in light of post-Brexit red tape and the ongoing pandemic.

Fears over the inability of many locals to climb onto the housing ladder and the fate of the Welsh language have also started to surface – including concerning generational language transfer patterns – as well as question marks of the fate of the Penrhos coastal park on the outskirts of Holyhead, with outline planning permission being in place for a holiday park development on part of the site.

Candidates

Rhun ap Iorwerth. Picture by Plaid Cymru.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru

Briefly tell us about yourself and why have you chosen to stand on Ynys Môn?

“I am a husband and father of three, brought up and living on Anglesey. After a career of almost 20 years as a BBC journalist and broadcaster, I was elected to represent Ynys Môn in the National Assembly for Wales, now the Senedd, in 2013.

“Since then I have been proud to be able to champion the island in our national parliament, ensuring that the interests of its people are represented at all times, always seeking support and new opportunities for our communities and holding Welsh Government to account.

“I’m offering myself as a candidate again so we on Ynys Môn can be sure of an experienced representative who, as a part of the community myself, genuinely understands the island, its needs and concerns and shares in its aspirations.”

What would you wish to achieve as an MS during the five year term, if elected?

“We face a period of unprecedented challenge following a year like no other. Covid recovery cannot simply mean getting things back ‘as they were’ – we have to come back from this stronger than before.

“So if re-elected, as well as continuing to help constituents in every way I can, I will want to ensure that no stone is left unturned in seeking to deliver better health and care for the people of Ynys Môn, better economic and job opportunities, backing our farmers and small businesses, and providing more support for young people with their mental health and wellbeing, and with housing.

“In my time in the Senedd, I have taken on a number of different Shadow Ministerial roles including Health & Care and the Economy, which give me in-depth understanding of the key issues which will dominate during the period of covid recovery ahead of us.

“Together, we can face up to the challenges and overcome them.”

Sam Egelstaff, the Welsh Labour candidate for Ynys Môn. Ynys Môn Labour handout photo.

Sam Egelstaff, Welsh Labour

Briefly tell us about yourself and why have you chosen to stand on Ynys Môn?

“As a mother, teacher, and daughter of an NHS nurse, I understand the challenges for hard-working families, young people and workers.

“Ynys Môn has been represented in the Senedd by Plaid Cymru, but that has not ended the cycle of rural hardship for many. Now, it’s time for a fresh, strong voice, creating a fairer future for all.

“I have led highly successful campaigns on issues ranging from better pay and conditions for social care workers, to votes at 16, ending period poverty in schools, higher funding for domestic abuse refuges and better flood prevention for communities.

“I make things happen, and I know I would deliver for Ynys Môn.”

What would you wish to achieve as an MS during the five year term, if elected?

“I would deliver a strong Covid catch-up programme for our NHS and schools, real living wages in social care and a new North Wales Medical School.

“I would protect workers, with a fair wage economy and create the green jobs of the future. I would bring new investment, move forward promising new projects and encourage business and innovation.

“For young families, I would ensure more low-carbon council houses, that harness renewable energy for lower energy bills, helping them progress into a positive future.

“I would also support our young people with an offer of work, training or employment for all under-25s and I will increase leisure opportunities.

“Our island can be a world-leader, through renewables, sustainability and single-use plastics reduction. Through reforestation, hydrogen energy and active travel, we can work together to reduce carbon and end climate change.”

Lyn Hudson, the Welsh Conservative candidate for Ynys Môn. Handout photo by Lyn Hudson.

Lyn Hudson, Welsh Conservatives

Briefly tell us about yourself and why have you chosen to stand on Ynys Môn?

“I have been a successful and enthusiastic County Councillor since 2008, setting up a free community library for those who need it, as I believe in community and people.  I have been a volunteer, carer and dementia friend.  I am also a Welsh learner and speak fluent Italian.

“I will work for ALL citizens of Ynys Môn, to revive industry, to encourage investment and for jobs for the youth of the island so they don’t need to leave, and our Welsh language and culture can, and will, flourish.

“I hope to work in partnership to strengthen the bid for Freeport status which will open the gateway to many opportunities for Ynys Môn.”

What would you wish to achieve as an MS during the five year term, if elected?

“I understand the issues that face Ynys Môn and North Wales, which have been neglected for far too long.

“This is the opportunity for the Senedd and Westminster to work together to bring change to Ynys Môn as the centre of green energy and to strengthen the bid for Freeport status.

“This is a chance that should be embraced and recognised, bringing investment, creating jobs, improving education, protecting the language, and providing the health service with the support it needs.

“If elected, I will work with Westminster to achieve these changes for Ynys Môn.

“As I support the union a vote for me is a vote to strengthen the island.”

Emmett Jenner, the Reform UK candidate for Ynys Môn. Handout by party.

Emmett Jenner, Reform UK

Briefly tell us about yourself and why have you chosen to stand on Ynys Môn?

“I’m standing for election because I live here first and foremost.  Secondly having been involved in politics for the last 15 years I can offer my support to my party to put forward the policies giving voters a choice when they get to the ballot box.”

What would you wish to achieve as an MS during the five year term, if elected?

“It goes without saying that in office I would stand by the pledges made at election.  I know for some parties saying one thing before being elected and doing something different after the election is par for the course but if Reform were not required then I would not be standing.

“On a personal level I prefer the old fashioned ways of doing things and will do my utmost in every aspect of my work to act as a stabiliser and a brake on change for the sake of it.

“There have been some very unwelcome developments in recent years with government taking control of many things they should have no business getting involved in, I would work together with colleagues to help realign representatives with the views of the electorate and to help reign in the nonsense.”

Chris Jones, the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for Ynys Môn. Handout by party.

Chris Jones, Welsh Liberal Democrats

Briefly tell us about yourself and why have you chosen to stand on Ynys Môn?

“My name is Chris Jones. I’m 39 and I’ve worked as an Osteopath at the LEAF Centre in Menai Bridge for the last six years.

I enjoy running and have recently taken the opportunity to learn to sail. I’m passionate about live music, including our many wonderful choirs and local musicians to vibrant festivals such as Gotwood.”

What would you wish to achieve as an MS during the five year term, if elected?

“I have chosen to stand for the Welsh Lib Dems in Ynys Môn as I believe things can be done differently.

“I am blessed to live in in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, inhabited by the most wonderful, hardworking people, and I can’t stand by and watch them suffer in these difficult times.

“I’ve always done my best to improve the health and wellbeing of those that seek my help, and that will be my approach as an MS.  Covid has already transformed much, changing how and where people work and live their lives.

“This will present challenges, but also create opportunities we must be ready for.”

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