This is my first column of 2024 so, belatedly, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones a good year, writes Joyce Watson MS.

Major elections are coming. We will finally get the chance to vote our verdict on 14 years of Tory failure and austerity at a General Election. We are waiting for the Prime Minister to call this, hopefully before November’s US Presidential elections.

In Wales we have Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May. Welsh Labour party members will choose a new leader, who will become the First Minister of Wales. This follows the resignation of Mark Drakeford, to whom I pay tribute for all his hard work and leadership.

I’m backing Vaughan Gething for leader. I believe he has all the attributes a leader needs in the challenging years ahead, and has demonstrated those qualities that will be essential to take Wales forward.

I was delighted to learn that ospreys had built a nest at Gilestone Farm near Talybont-on-Usk. This is the first time in over 200 years that ospreys have nested this far south in Wales and hopefully more of these rare and beautiful birds will follow them. While this changes plans related to the Green Man festival, it also offers new, much-needed economic chances for this area.


The Dyfi Osprey Project near Machynlleth has grown from enthusiasts watching an osprey nest into a world-leading attraction with a wildlife centre, observatory and café serving delicious food. It attracts many visitors, has a global online audience, and also works with local schools and colleges.

Similarly, the Red Kite Feeding Centre on a working farm near Rhayader is another flourishing business, built up from the love of nature.

County Times:

Many readers will be pleased that the new Dyfi bridge near Machynlleth has opened, with the help of £46m of Welsh Government funding. It is a key strategic route linking north and south Wales, with local links to healthcare, education, employment and leisure.

It replaces the 19th century Pont-ar-Ddyfi bridge, which was not designed to carry the current volume of traffic and was often closed due to frequent flooding.

I was pleased that the builders nurtured local talents through apprenticeships.

Finally, I was saddened to hear that HM King Charles is facing further health challenges. My thoughts are with him and his family, with my best wishes for a full and swift recovery.