* First Minister Mark Drakeford addresses
Labour Party members in St Collen's Community Hall.
Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford spoke about Tory austerity, the far right and his party’s proud record of standing up for Wales during a visit to Llangollen.
The First Minister was the special guest at an event at St Collen’s Community Hall organised by Clwyd South Labour Party and local AM Ken Skates on Thursday night.
The visit came on the same day it was announced that the town is to get £25,000 from the Welsh Labour Government towards the cost of a traffic improvement scheme as part of the Llangollen 2020 project, headed by local Labour county councillor Graham Timms.
Mr Skates said: “I was delighted to welcome Mark back to Llangollen and would like to thank him for giving up his time. This visit was arranged several months ago, but it is fitting that it should fall on the day it was announced that Llangollen is to benefit further from Welsh Labour Government support.
“Mark was the health minister who committed almost £5m of Welsh Government money to deliver our brand new surgery just a few years ago, which has been a fantastic addition to Llangollen.”
The announcement of funding for Llangollen 2020 comes after news that the Welsh Government is providing a grant of £75,000 to Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
Mr Drakeford told the audience that Clwyd South was lucky to have Mr Skates as its AM and described him as ‘one of the most likeable and decent people in the Assembly and an outstanding minister’.
He added: “I couldn’t be more proud that we have him speaking up for North Wales.”
The First Minister also said that Labour are the only party that can defeat the far-right and ‘the only party that is fiercely devolutionist’.
“We are the party that has a record through devolution of leaving money in the pockets of the people who need it most and we are finding ways to carry on that tradition – free prescriptions, free school breakfasts, free hospital parking, council tax benefit to name just a few,” said Mr Drakeford.
“We are 10 years into austerity. Year after year after year the resources available to us here in Wales have gone down. It’s the longest and deepest period of austerity in 200 years.
“It’s impossible to think of a greater contrast between the first 10 years of devolution under a Labour Government at Westminster and the second 10 years under the Tories. In the first term under a Labour government our budget grew by 10% every year. In the second it grew by 5% every year and even in the third term we had real terms growth every year.
“In the second half of devolution our budget is now back to where it was in 2009 – a whole decade reversed. We’ve tried to prioritise the things that mean most to people in Wales, but you simply can’t patch everything. These are real challenges and they’re getting sharper and more real every day.”
The First Minister told the event that the current Brexit crisis being presided over by the Conservative Government at Westminster was ‘the greatest failure of political leadership I think we’ll ever see’.
He added: “The far right are the real danger in our politics. UKIP is desperate, disruptive and distasteful force and are prepared to do anything which gives them a fractional advantage. Their latest incarnation in the Brexit Party are some of the least pleasant hard-line right-wing views that have ever been presented. They don’t belong to the mainstream and it’s our job to expose them.”
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