Wales politics

Rural economic plan call by Labour's Eluned Morgan

Eluned Morgan
Image caption Eluned Morgan says many of the issues are important everywhere, but especially in rural Wales

The rural economy needs a dedicated plan from Welsh ministers at this "critical time", a Labour AM has said.

Eluned Morgan brought together firms and public bodies on Friday to help develop proposals to put to ministers, saying there was a "huge amount of insecurity" after the Brexit vote.

She said strategies for "quality tourism" and providing more affordable homes could be part of the plan.

The Welsh Government said it would urge UK ministers to replace lost EU funds.

Ms Morgan, who represents Mid and West Wales, said: "There are economic development plans which are relevant for cities, the city region of Cardiff and Swansea.

"Our case really is that those are not relevant or appropriate for a rural environment and we need our own specific plan for economic development in rural Wales.

"I think it's a critical time for the rural areas at the moment, there's a huge amount of insecurity in all areas but in particular in rural areas because of the Brexit vote.

"We have no idea what, for example, agriculture will look like in four years from now, so we need to get ahead of the curve."

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Low pay, low skills, weak transport and IT, a lack of affordable homes and an ageing population were among the "many and varied" challenges faced in rural Wales, Ms Morgan said.

She warned: "Due to a lack of varied employment opportunities there is a loss of many of our brightest people who feel they need to leave in order to find work."

A Welsh Government spokesman said EU withdrawal may be "most dramatically and quickly apparent" in rural communities.

"It is vital the challenges faced by our rural communities continue to receive dedicated and additional investment - and we are pressing the UK Government to make good on promises made during the referendum campaign that Wales would not lose funding as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

"We are currently refreshing our economic priorities and, as part of this work, we will ensure rural interests are protected and feature strongly as Wales works towards a future outside the EU."

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