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22/06/2016

Profile – Who is Lesley Griffiths AM?

 

Ms Griffiths gave her first major key note address as the
newly appointed Cabinet Secretary responsible for Planning  to RTPI Cymru’s Welsh Planning Conference. She
emphasised the Welsh Government’s track record on developing planning policy, referring
to the ongoing implementation of the Planning (Wales) Act and picking out a few
key issues such as land banking.

Background

Ms Griffiths was elected to the Wrexham constituency in May
2007 and has a firm base in North Wales politics, an area of Wales that Welsh
Labour is consistently accused of neglecting by opposition parties. She played
an active role supporting the 1997 ‘Yes
to Wales’
campaign which saw the creation of the National Assembly, marking
the start of Welsh devolution. She had been a school governor and a Community
Councillor alongside her twenty year career in the welsh health service.

She caught her first ministerial break after the 2011
Assembly Election when she was appointed as Minister for Health and Social
Services. She’d previously been the Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and
Skills. In 2013 she was moved by the First Minister into Local Government and Government Business, giving her experience of
the role played by Local Planning Authorities, and then Communities and Tackling Poverty in 2014 where she became responsible for housing.

In this role Ms Griffiths was seen by many to have focused
her housing responsibilities directly towards tackling poverty in some of
Wales’ poorest communities, which involved primarily working with local housing
associations and other registered social landlords. Ms Griffiths also
championed the Welsh Government’s Help to Buy Wales scheme, which she claimed “would deliver around 4,800 new homes by
summer
[2016]”, with “75%” of
those going to first time buyers.

Land banking

At the planning conference she referenced her party’s manifesto
policy on tackling ‘land banking’,
an issue which she claims is widespread across Wales and hinders the
construction of new homes as landowners sit on valuable plots waiting for the
market value to increase. Many in the construction industry and property sector
will be interested to understand her stance on this and see what solutions she
puts forward to remedy an issue that many housebuilders in Wales will state
does not make financial or operational sense.

A new focus in Welsh
Planning?

Working collaboratively with other ministers in Government,
she will be closest to Carl Sargeant AM (who is responsible for fulfilling the
Welsh Liberal Democrat pledge for 20,000 new affordable homes) and Ken Skates
AM (who is responsible for establishing the new National Infrastructure
Commission). All three Cabinet Secretaries are based in North Wales, so we can
expect the emphasis of Welsh Government to shift slightly to incorporate
northern areas.

You can contact Lesley via her Correspondence.Lesley.Griffiths@gov.wales
or follow her on twitter:

Ministerial account: @wgcs_enviro

Constituency/personal account: @lesley4wrexham

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