Council elections 2022: Plaid Cymru councillors “make a difference” to people’s everyday lives, party leader Adam Price has said, as he launched its local election campaign.

Mr Price cited Plaid councils’ policy of aiming to extend free school meals to all their secondary school pupils as a clear example.

Plaid Cymru currently leads four councils in Wales – Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Anglesey and Gwynedd.

The party made modest gains overall at the previous local elections, in 2017.

Increasing its majority in Gwynedd and becoming the largest party in Anglesey, it raised its tally of councillors across Wales by 33 to 202 five years ago.

There were also significant gains in councils that included Rhondda Cynon Taf, Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot.

Joined by council candidates at an event in Deganwy, Conwy county, Mr Price listed three key priorities to put before voters on polling day on 5 May – free school meals, housing and safeguarding jobs and incomes.

Free meals are already being extended to all children in primary education under Plaid’s co-operation agreement with Labour ministers in the Senedd, starting this September with some of the youngest pupils.

Mr Price announced that Plaid Cymru-led councils would aim to extend the offer to all secondary school pupils in his party’s conference speech last month.

d the campaign with party activists just under a month from polling day

“This is the Plaid Cymru family at its best, because I feel we are a family, we are community,” he said on Friday.

“We’re the party of fairness and social justice, and not just social but economic and climate justice as well.

“We are the party that does right by future generations by making a difference today, because we can’t afford to wait when people are facing not just a cost of living crisis but a cost of living emergency.”

Speaking later to BBC Wales, Mr Price agreed that it would be hard for Plaid Cymru-led councils, under increasing local government cost pressures, to fund free meals for all secondary school pupils.

“It’s going to be difficult, but we are going to set the goal of moving on from primary school universal free school meals to secondary in the hope that, by providing that local leadership, we will be able to get the policy adopted at a national level,” he said.

“That’s what we really need, isn’t it? If we’re going to actually have it delivered to every child in Wales then that’s the way that we can ensure that.”

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In his speech, Mr Price highlighted the party’s policy to “tackle Wales’ housing crisis by building more energy-efficient, genuinely affordable housing, and take radical action on second homes and ending homelessness”.

He also promised to strengthen local supply chains and support local businesses – to safeguard jobs and incomes in the midst of what he called a “cost of living emergency”.

But he said the struggle to make ends meet that people are currently facing is “no accident” but a “direct consequence of Tory choices” by UK government ministers.

“Rocketing energy prices and gaping holes in vital safety nets such as universal credit are a manifestation of Conservative values, or I should say their model vacuum,” he said.

“Our local authorities are still suffering the side effects of those Tory cuts, at a time when they are in desperate need of extra funds to secure a real post-Covid recovery.”

Mr Price accused Sir Keir Starmer’s UK Labour Party of being “too weak and too racked by division to offer real leadership” in a crisis.

Providing free school meals to all secondary pupils would be hard for councils, said Mr Price

The Plaid Cymru leader also launched the party’s local election manifesto entitled “Making a Difference“.

Mr Price said the document “identifies problems, offers solutions, and most importantly, proves how having Plaid Cymru councillors are making a difference in communities all throughout Wales”.

Wales will be electing councillors in each of its 22 local authorities next month.

There are also elections taking place in parts of England, in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Analysis by BBC Wales political reporter Emilia Belli

After a performance in the 2021 Senedd election that leader Adam Price acknowledged was “disappointing” Plaid Cymru is aiming for a positive set of results to send the message the party is back on track.

But a co-operation agreement with Labour in the Senedd and a deal with the greens at council level in Cardiff means differentiating Plaid on the doorstep might be a challenge.

While Adam Price had criticism for the UK Conservative and Labour parties in his launch speech, he conspicuously avoided any mention of First Minister Mark Drakeford, whose personal profile was seen as key to Labour’s successful campaign last May and his partner in that Cardiff Bay deal.

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