Plaid Cymru outlines support for better communications, Welsh language online services and more powers from Westminster
Plaid Cymru would support greater powers for Ofcom’s Welsh office, an online Welsh language multimedia platform and better broadband and mobile coverage if it secures a favourable outcome at the 2015 General Election.
The party, which is only standing for seats in Wales, has published its manifesto in which it outlines its immediate ambition of securing the same powers as Scotland from Westminster and its ultimate goal of becoming an independent nation within the European Union (EU).
The existing Superfast Cymru partnership intends to connect 96 percent, or 690,000 premises, and is the largest public-private broadband partnership in the UK with £425m in funding. Last November, Superfast Cymru connected the most remote location in Wales to the Openreach fibre network using 16 kilometres of overhead cable.
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A new project could increase this to 100 percent by targeting business parks and Plaid is adamant that superior communications could help the local economy.
“We want to see an improved broadband connection, getting everybody online so that people can do business from home, with a target that all parts of Wales have access to speeds of at least 30Mbps and ensure that mobile phone operators provide a better service in all parts of Wales,” reads the manifesto.
Plaid also says Ofcom in Wales should have greater responsibility, particularly in the area of licensing, and the party has also called for a new Welsh language online service as part of its crusade to ensure the language enjoys parity with English.
“We support establishing a new Welsh language multimedia service to operate online, on radio and other platforms, in order to reflect the needs of Welsh language audiences and improve current affairs coverage in Wales,” it said.
Education would be boosted by better vocational qualifications and a requirement that all young people must stay in school or training until the age of 18 as well as subsidised tuition fees for undergraduates, especially those taking science, engineering and technology subjects.
Technology would also be used to improve access to NHS services in Wales.
“Improving IT in healthcare could help save lives,” said the manifesto. “That’s why we support the development of eHealth and Telemedicine, to increase quality and speed of patient care, and pushed for this in our 2013 Budget agreement.
Elsewhere, the manifesto outlines support for renewable energy, stronger tax avoidance legislation and a living wage for all residents by 2020, potentially impacting technology firms in the principality.
Plaid would also call for more control over migration to ensure tech businesses based in Wales have access to the best talent.
We will create a Welsh Migration Service to ensure that migration meets Welsh needs and introduce a skills shortage list of trades and skills which are not currently being met by Welsh workers and seek to attract internationals with those skills, including in the health service and in technology,” it said.
The party did not offer a concrete stance on mass surveillance but did say it would support measures to protect Wales against cyber threats.
“Increasing reliance upon technology leaves countries open to attack by foreign powers without the need for conventional weapons,” said the manifesto. “We will bolster cybersecurity defence capabilities to increase security and prevent cyber-attacks.”
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