Plaid Cymru leader urges north Wales sport focus

  • 15 March 2012
  • From the section Home

Better sports facilities are needed in north Wales to help address the country's north-south divide, according to the outgoing leader of national party Plaid Cymru.

Ieuan Wyn Jones said a stadium, such as that in Wrexham, should be upgraded to give it national prominence.

And he also expressed the hope that the region would produce more sports stars, such as rugby player George North.

Mr Jones was being interviewed by students as part of the BBC News School Report project.

It was one of a series of high-profile interviews by young reporters, including UK party leaders and leading political figures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, many of which are being broadcast on Radio 4's The World at One.

Pupils from other Welsh schools interviewed other Welsh party leaders and their impressions are below.

Mr Jones, who was deputy first minister until 2011 when Labour won a majority in the Welsh Assembly, was questioned in his Anglesey constituency by pupils from Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan and John Summers High School.

One pupil from north-east Wales told him that the "general feeling in our area is we don't get as much funding as south Wales and all the sports seem to be based around Cardiff and Swansea".

In response, Mr Jones said a stadium such as Wrexham should be developed to national standards, pointing to the development of Colwyn Bay which is "now the seat of regional rugby in North Wales".

'Innovation needed'

Cuts to public spending have been a theme raised by pupils in all their exchanges with political leaders, and Mr Jones acknowledged the 40% Welsh budget reduction between 2010-11 and 2012-13 was "very significant".

He said the Welsh government should be looking at "better ways, more innovative ways, to be raising capital" in such straitened times.

Despite giving up the Plaid Cymru leadership, Mr Jones said he would remain very active in politics - not only serving as the Welsh Assembly member for his Ynys Môn constituency but also trying to develop fresh policy ideas for his party.

School Reporters also interviewed other party leaders in Wales - here are some of their impressions.

If you want to read more from these schools, you can click through to their websites from the alphabetical list here.

Wales First Minister and Labour leader Carwyn Jones

Shannon was among those from Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun who interviewed Mr Jones.

"This was a completely new experience for me and was an extremely helpful insight into the world of journalism.

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"Feeling the rush of having to meet certain deadlines and arrive at the Welsh Senedd in time was experience enough of a journalist's busy lifestyle. But we were greeted kindly at the Senedd and upon meeting the first minister I soon discovered that journalism is a very enjoyable job.

"Mr Jones was very relaxed whilst answering the questions, which made it easier for us novices to ask them. We focused our questions on the main topics of discussion for youths in Wales at the moment, varying from the economical difficulties that will have an effect on our future to the environment in our local communities, finally ending our questions with talks of the upcoming rugby game. Mr Jones spoke of a story he had heard about a man bidding his right arm on eBay whilst betting on the game's results!"

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies

Nathan, Rebecca, Ellis and Rhys from Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd asked Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies where he would make budget cuts if he was in charge.

"As well as saying he would ringfence money for health, one interesting aspect he mentioned was that money could be saved within education.

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"He said he believed the Welsh government should fund schools directly, allowing the head teachers, parents and governors to decide how much to spend and what to spend it on.

"Pupils also asked Mr Davies about the 'blue blood heritage' of the Conservative Party. He said he didn't recognise that description at all. He left school at 16, to run his family business, a farm - he used to sell potatoes around the streets of Cardiff. Just like many other Conservatives, he had worked hard.

"After that question, he said he wanted an easier one - and suggested that the school reporters asked about rugby!"

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams

Sarah, Rebecca and David from Howell's School in Cardiff spoke to Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams at the Senedd.

"To decide the questions, we talked to other students about what issues concerned them both for Wales and the UK.

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"We decided to ask questions concerning issues faced by young people today, including unemployment, education, sexuality, tuition fees, aspirations, young people not in education, employment or training ('Neets'), Education Maintenance Allowance and youth involvement in local communities.

"It was a great experience and we learnt that is was OK to make mistakes. We were in control of the interview, which was great. Kirsty Williams was easy to interview, she was responsive and engaging. A big thank you to Kirsty Williams!"

School Report is an annual BBC project which helps young people make their own news reports for a real audience.

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