Labour Fails to Fight for the Future of AHVLA Laboratories

The Welsh Government has failed to give evidence to the inquiry into the future of two Welsh laboratories

The First Minister has admitted that his government has failed to give evidence to the inquiry into laboratory downgrading, despite the threat to two Welsh laboratories.

Plaid Cymru is concerned about the effect that the downgrading of the AHVLA laboratories in Carmarthen and Aberystwyth will have on its capacity to carry out its work to the necessary standards, and have secured an inquiry by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee to look at the knock-on effect of this decision.

When pressed by Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on Rural Affairs Llyr Huws Gruffydd AM, the First Minister has admitted that his government has failed to consult with this inquiry.

Mr Gruffydd has said:

“These two laboratories are extremely important resources in west Wales, and downgrading them will reduce their capacity and capability, and will undermine responsiveness. The decision to downgrade them runs contrary to most of the key targets set for the AHVLA as stated in their latest annual report, and puts quality, important jobs at risk. The AHVLA also represents good value for money as it contributed £10m to the public purse through profits generated last year.

“Therefore I cannot see how the Welsh Government can justify its decision not to fight the downgrading of the Carmarthen and Aberystwyth laboratories. Whether it’s laziness or sheer ignorance of the importance of the AHVLA’s laboratories to rural Wales that’s behind the inactivity, the people of rural Wales deserve better.”

Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, Jonathan Edwards, a member of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee who called for the Inquiry, added:

“The biggest concern to me and the rural constituency I represent is that Wales could be left as a black spot for the diagnosis of livestock diseases if the current downgrading proposals are pursued.

“Following my visit to the Carmarthen Laboratory last week I believe there is a compelling case to retain the services in high density farming areas such as Carmarthen.

“As the proposals stand, not only will Wales lose its vital testing facilities, it will lead to the loss of 12 specialist jobs and may have untold consequences on the rural industry. It therefore beggars belief the Labour Welsh Government has chosen not to represent the interests of farmers and the rural economy.

“Plaid Cymru is the only party challenging UK Government Ministers over the proposals to downgrade our laboratory services.

“Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Wales. If the Labour party can’t be bothered to defend the interests of this industry, what hope is there for our smaller businesses?”

ENDS

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