Fresh-faced Plaid look to begin recovery

Plaid Cymru members are hoping their new leader will give nationalists a boost at the polls, as the party launches its local government elections campaign.

Leanne Wood, who took over from Ieuan Wyn Jones on March 15th, will be hoping to increase the number of councils Plaid controls – currently standing at just two – when voters go to the polls in 21 of Wales' 22 local authorities on May 3rd.

Plaid is suffering from declining support, having slipped to third place in 2011's Welsh Assembly elections. It won just 11 of the Senedd's 60 seats, with Labour on 30 falling just one seat short of an overall majority.

Now the nationalists hope Ms Wood will be able to reenergise her party. She is launching her party's manifesto in Ammanford today, signalling the party's ambition to take overall control of Carmarthenshire council. Plaid is the largest party, but kept out of power by a coalition of Labour and independents.

"In our cities, towns and villages, we cannot afford more of the same," Plaid's local government campaign manager Alun Ffred Jones said.

"It's not about politics, it's about pride and determination and self-belief. It's about seeing beyond the failures of the London parties and believing in a Welsh alternative and believing in Wales."

Ms Wood told party members last month she wanted to "build a new Wales" after running on a campaign built around her 'real independence' slogan.

"We are finished with putting up with things as they are because that's how it has always been," she said.

Plaid Cymru's candidates are promising to provide paid apprenticeship, training and skill schemes, as well as offering help local businesses secure public contracts and bringing empty properties back into use.

"Plaid is committed to using the powers of local authorities to the full to help families through these times," the party's deputy leader on Cardiff council, Neil McEvoy, said.

"Vote for your local champions, vote Plaid – the only party with the ambition to see beyond the tribalism and inertia of today's politics."