An agreement to seek a solution to the current housing crisis in Wales and the devolution of broadcasting are two parts of a partnership deal that has been agreed between the current Labour government and Plaid Cymru, the County Times' sister paper The National understands.

Labour's Welsh Executive Committee and Plaid's National Executive Committee discussed the deal yesterday and it is understood that both sides have endorsed it. 

County Times: Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru have agreed a deal. Photos: Huw Evans Picture AgencyWelsh Labour and Plaid Cymru have agreed a deal. Photos: Huw Evans Picture Agency

Labour won the Senedd election in May with 30 elected members but did not win a majority. A deal with Plaid Cymru - a party with 13 members including Ceredigion MS Elin Jones serving as the Llywydd (speaker) - could create a supermajority in the Senedd. Forty or more votes are required for any Bills that deal with protected subject matters to pass, including electoral reform.

It would not be the first time the two parties have worked together. The 2007 to 2011 Labour government featured Plaid Cymru as junior partners and then Plaid leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, was Deputy First Minster. Labour won only 26 seats in 2007 but Plaid’s 15 seats meant a government with a comfortable majority could be formed. 

However, this time around, Plaid Cymru members would not be entering government, since the deal would not amount to a coalition between the parties.

Housing has been a focal point of the current discussions with a promise to introduce a white paper that that will include the following proposals:

  • A right to adequate housing.
  • A fair rents system that would make the private rental market affordable to local people on local incomes.
  • New approaches to making homes affordable.

Second homes, which have been the focus of numerous protests across Wales over recent months, also receive specific attention in the agreement. The document promises to: "take immediate and radical action to address the proliferation of second homes and unaffordable housing, using the planning, property and taxation systems."

Actions also being planned include:

  • A cap on the number of second and holiday homes.
  • Measures to bring more homes into common ownership.
  • Greater powers for local authorities to charge council tax premiums and increasing taxes on second homes.

READ MORE: Housing crisis protest attracts hundreds to Senedd

Broadcasting and the media in Wales, which is another topic that has come increasingly under the spotlight, also receives specific attention. Under the terms of the deal, the Labour government would: "Explore the creation of a shadow Broadcasting and Communications Authority for Wales" with the aim of "Addressing the concerns about the current fragility in the media and the attacks on its independence."

The agreement document goes on to say: "This body would support the use of the Welsh language, particularly in digital and encourage media plurality". It concludes by stating, "We believe broadcasting and communications powers should be devolved to Wales".

READ MORE: Actor and director to work on devolving broadcasting to Wales

Broadcasting in Wales and the lack of controls over it have long been a bone of contention. In the last few days, have been expressed by the Welsh and Scottish Governments regarding the process to select the next Chair of Ofcom. Both countries are asking the UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries to be included in the process and to be given a role that ensures the successful candidate is “someone who can work impartially and independently in the interests of all the nations.”

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson did not confirm the details of the deal but in a statement to the The National said: “Talks have been held with the Welsh Government about developing an agreement. Those talks have reached a conclusion and discussions and now ongoing with political groups and parties.”

Welsh Labour were also approached for comment.

County Times: Mabli Siriol from Cymdeithas yr Iaith. Photo: Rebecca WilksMabli Siriol from Cymdeithas yr Iaith. Photo: Rebecca Wilks

Cymdeithas yr Iaith, The Welsh Language Society, has long campaigned for broadcast and digital to become devolved competencies. Mabli Siriol, Cymdeithas’ chair, told The National: "It's very encouraging to see these commitments to many of Cymdeithas yr Iaith's demands, including a cap on the number of second homes and holiday lets in communities, rent controls and further broadcasting powers for Wales. We welcome the intention of both parties to work together on these issues and look forward to seeing action.

“Diolch to everyone who has played a part in campaigning for these key policies over recent years - this is your work paying off."

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