Despite the economic gloom and the fact that we still remain in a parlous financial position, long term aspirations for our country are important and two issues that I am looking at in some detail and which the Shadow team will be considering are the need to build substantially more houses than has happened over the last decade, and also the need to invest in new rail lines and to enhance the existing rail services that we have.
I believe that we need a spurt of house building which will involve giving local authorities an incentive to release land for development and to encourage the private sector to build more houses. There is a massive need for more housing in communities up and down Wales and, of course, construction is very labour intensive which will help the economy.
We will be looking at ways of providing incentives to local authorities to build more and, of course, the new houses will be built to strict regulations to ensure that we promote green friendly energy policies and ensure that homes are carbon neutral. This will also help grow the green economy in Wales.
Similarly, supportive of a green agenda, will be a commitment to enhance existing rail services in Wales. I believe strongly that we need, once resources allow, a high speed rail link to Swansea from Paddington. This underpins the union as well as being of immense economic and social significance for Wales and the west of England. As a priority we need to see what the cost of this is and when it can be reasonably delivered.
Additionally we need to look at opening new stations, improving existing rail services and possibly opening or re-opening rail lines.
I have always been a strong supporter of rail. Once it may have looked like romantic quixoticism, now happily it makes social, cultural and economic sense as well, and contributes to saving the planet.
That is why I am keen, as is the Party, to look at ways of enhancing rail services in Wales.