Plaid politician departs Senedd citing childcare concerns

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Bethan Sayed: “We have to try to find common ground where we can”

A Senedd member is stepping down from Cardiff Bay, citing lack of childcare support and the “aggressive” tone of online debate as part of her reasoning.

Plaid Cymru’s Bethan Sayed, who represents South Wales West, said she would not stand at next May’s election.

First elected in 2007, Ms Sayed said she will spend more time with her young son but remain a “pro-active activist”.

She said there was a “long way to go” before Welsh politics was “family friendly”.

Announcing her departure plans, she said it had been a “privilege more than words can properly describe” to represent the region and that she was “immensely proud of all the campaigns and initiatives” she had been involved with.

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Ms Sayed, whose son is five months old, said leaving the Senedd was “in part a decision that could have been different if we had a better set up here in Wales” for dealing with childcare responsibilities.

“Perhaps if there had been a job share opportunity – something that’s been discussed for several years – I may have felt more able and comfortable juggling my work as a politician and being a new mother,” she said.

“Perhaps if parties had worked to increase the size of the Senedd in time for the next term, so that the ever increasing workloads could have been better shared, my decision may have been different.”

“Many people wish to believe that Welsh politics is family friendly,” she added. “I don’t think it is yet, sadly, there is still a long way to go.”

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Senedd members have yet to reach a consensus on increasing their number from the current 60

Ms Sayed also highlighted what she called the “often relentlessly negative nature of our politics today”.

“While there is plenty to be angry and concerned about in politics, there are ways to effect change and talk to each other without the charged, aggressive and often mean spirited tone, too many take as a first step – particularly online,” she said.

“With politics and debate overwhelmingly featured in online spaces, we have to try to find common ground where we can, and change the tone of debate.”

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said Ms Sayed had “stood out as a tireless campaigner in her region and beyond, fighting on behalf of the workers of Ford, Visteon and Tata Steel”.

He praised her work chairing the Senedd’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications committee and more recently promoting “the pioneering idea of introducing locums to cover Senedd members’ maternity leave”.

“On behalf of Plaid Cymru I would like to thank Bethan for her contribution to Welsh public life and from the Plaid Cymru family to her and her family, I send Bethan our warmest wishes” he said.

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