Election 2016 – The Manifestos: Greens

 

For People. For Planet. For Wales. – English (pdf); Cymraeg (pdf)

Health & Social Services

 

  • Oppose privatisation of any part of the NHS.
  • Address the behavioural causes of ill health such as lack of exercise, addiction and poor eating habits. Will ensure schoolchildren know how to cook and grow their own food. Public health measures will be funded by Wales’ share of the proposed “sugar tax”.
  • Free eye and dental checks for everyone.
  • Will introduce a minimum-per-unit alcohol price.
  • Restrict advertising of high-sugar drinks and food aimed at children.
  • Supports the introduction of an Autism Act covering health and education in order to provide support for autistic children and their families.
  • Pilot virtual consultations with doctors.


Education & Young People

 

  • Create a free early years childcare service from birth until the start of formal education, run by local education authorities. They’ll insist early years educators have qualified teacher status.
  • Will raise the starting age of formal education.
  • Aim to reduce class sizes to 20 pupils.
  • Continue to oppose academies and free schools in Wales, as well as the closure of small schools in rural areas.
  • Ensure disabled pupils have a right to access mainstream education and ensure parents have a right to home-school their children.
  • Pilot virtual lessons for schools to broaden the curriculum, particularly rural schools.
  • Create a single funding body for universities and further education colleges, arms-length from government.
  • Protect and extend the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
  • Reintroduce support grants for full and part-time university students.
  • Scrap tuition fees for Welsh students studying in Wales; introduce fee and maintenance loans for postgraduates.
  • Lower the voting age to 16 in all elections and referendums.


Economic Development

 

  • Ensure the public sector procures as much of its goods and services from within Wales as possible.
  • Support the development of “buy local”schemes, local markets and farmers’ markets.
  • Build partnerships between businesses and universities to support innovation.
  • “Develop a level playing field” for small and medium sized businesses.
  • Incentivise green businesses to base themselves in Wales.
  • Ensure tourism developments have year-round community use specified in planning consents.


Transport & Infrastructure

 

  • Create a Wales Fund for Infrastructure, with 5% of public sector pension pots invested in it.
  • Ensure equality of access to superfast broadband throughout Wales.
  • Supports : south Wales mainline and Valley Lines electrification, the South Wales Metro and reopening the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth rail line.
  • “Bring together” existing franchises in Wales to create an integrated bus and rail network.
  • Will cancel the M4 Newport bypass, saving £1billion.
  • Will explore new types of public transport in rural areas, such as car-sharing, community-run bus routes or electric vehicle hire.
  • Will provide job seekers and apprentices with discount travel cards.
  • Will introduce blanket 20mph zones in residential areas and improve foot and cycle links, particularly in rural areas.
  • Improve information provision on public transport with audio announcements on all buses, coaches and trains.


Finance & Tax

 

  • Nothing.


Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs

 

  • Raise the ambition shown towards tackling greenhouse gas emission targets and prioritise infrastructure developments to meet these targets.
  • Work to mitigate against climate change impacts like flooding.
  • Aim to produce all electricity demand from renewable sources by 2030.
  • Will ban fracking.
  • “Create jobs” by expanding micro-generation projects throughout Wales and ensure the national grid is equipped to deal with small scale energy generation.
  • Ensure energy projects “give something back” to the community through benefit funds.
  • Oppose all nuclear energy projects in Wales and will take that argument to Westminster.
  • Appoint a Land Reform Group to look at how land ownership affects access and how concentrated land ownership is.
  • Use planning policy to ensure green belt land is used for small scale farms, market gardens, dairy sector and forestry.
  • Will maintain Wales’ GM-free status.
  • Opposes a badger cull and will continue to support the badger vaccination programme; will also ban the use of snares and legislate against puppy farms.
  • Will increase support for farms to achieve organic status.
  • Refocus forestry policy to produce higher-quality timber and fuel for local biomass projects.
  • Encourage local authorities to open more allotments where land is available.
  • Consider creating National River Parks to co-ordinate the management of land use in river catchment areas.
  • Fully-implement Marine Conservation Areas around the Welsh coast.
  • Ban beam trawling and scallop dredging in Special Areas of Conservation.
  • Require local authorities to compost organic waste for local use.
  • Will encourage Welsh businesses to use recyclable materials – to the point of taxing them for disposal of packaging waste – and will work with large food retailers to reduce food waste.


Local Government & Public Services

 

  • Devolve powers down to local government and given them a greater role in decision making.
  • Legislate to ensure a minimum level of public services are provided within a legally-defined distance or travel time to ensure rural areas are able to access key services.
  • Allow local authorities to reinvest all business rate receipts from green energy generation.
  • Ensure Welsh Government and local government pension schemes withdraw investments in fossil fuels.


Housing & Social Justice

 

  • Construct at least 12,000 homes a year, with a third of those being social housing.
  • Launch a 10 year programme to improve home energy efficiency. For those who can afford to pay, they’ll introduce zero-interest loans for energy efficiency improvements.
  • Use planning legislation to ensure new housing developments use district or on-site heating schemes, and also require all new builds to meet the highest energy efficiency standards.
  • Introduce “Right to Rent” legislation to strengthen private tenants rights.
  • Issue a rebate for people affected by the “Bedroom Tax”.
  • Review and strengthen legislation to prevent discrimination on sex, gender, disability etc.
  • Create a Minister for Equality.
  • Ensure local authorities house refugees and ensure they are welcomed.


Culture

 

  • Ensure free provision of Welsh learning at all levels, with extra investment in higher education courses provided through Welsh.
  • Encourage more Welsh-medium teaching from the age of three.
  • Protect S4C’s budget allocation.
  • Support community arts organisations and safeguard rural theatres from local authority cuts.
  • Subsidise school trips to museums and arts galleries in Wales.
  • Identify gaps in sport provision, such as expensive equipment.
  • Ensure equal access to sport regardless of age, gender, language or ethnic background in line with Sport Wales’ Strategic Equality Plan.
  • Ensure sport/PE is a protected subject in the National Curriculum, with at least 2 hours of physical activity a week and half hour of swimming lessons for all children.


Constitutional Reform

 

  • Rejects attempts at “gagging” third sector bodies from criticising government policy.
  • Seek “greater devolution” whilst maximising the impact of powers already held by the National Assembly.
  • Expand the National Assembly to 80 members, with half elected via proportional representation; also introduce a proportional voting system for local government.


Major Faults :

 

  • There are no costings. There are barely any numbers. I realise the Greens were never in line to form a government but, to be frank, it’s still taking the piss.
  • With a few exceptions in some policy areas, the whole thing is vague and open-ended. I thought I was accidentally reading a summary version or early draft of the manifesto. Nope, it was the whole thing.
  • Tax is going to be as significant to the Fifth Assembly as primary law-making powers were to the Fourth Assembly. It’s a massive constitutional development. The Greens only address tax in passing and with regard policies like waste.
  • Unbelievably, for an environmentalist party they’ve set very few hard targets for their own environmental proposals.
  • Advertising regulations (re. high sugar foods/drinks ads) are almost certainly non-devolved.
  • Although the Welsh public sector has equalities duties, equalities policy is non-devolved. Their proposed Minister for Equality would be a highly-paid – and very bored – cabinet member.
  • Broadcasting is non-devolved. The Assembly can’t protect S4C’s budget.
  • Plans to ensure public services are provided within a legally-defined travel distance are well meant, but are the Greens really suggesting they can pass a law in the National Assembly to ensure a post office or library remains open permanently?
  • Private rental rights were largely addressed in the Renting Homes Act 2016.
  • Half hour of swimming lessons for all children (per week?) – I’m not even going to guess how this would work in practice. I’ve taken baths that’ve lasted as long as that.
  • The Lobbying Bill is Westminster legislation. There are no similar restrictions on lobbying at the National Assembly. You can even say the third sector has too much influence in Welsh politics.

 

Minor Faults :

 

 
  • Raise the school starting age to what? 7? 17? If they propose providing free early years care through schools  – delivered via qualified teachers – aren’t….um….pupils starting formal schooling anyway?
  • There’s no indication of what powers the Greens would like to see devolved (or devolved down to local authorities) nor what their stated opposition to the Wales Bill is.
  • Votes at 16 could only apply to elections and referendums within Wales.
  • Suggestions Wales can generate 100% of its energy requirement from renewables in 14 years, at the current pace of developments, is “ambitious” to the point of being undeliverable – particularly if the Swansea tidal lagoon isn’t built.
  • How many jobs would the Greens create through expanding micro-generation?
  • “Bring together” bus and rail franchises – How? Nationalisation? Re-regulation?
  • Scant details on what a “level playing field” for SMEs actually means in practice.
  • What “incentives”for green businesses?
  • What “mitigating measures” against flooding?
  • ….There are so many unanswered “how?”questions (that could’ve been easily answered) I’m going to leave it there or you’ll be here all day.