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  1. Nick Powell

First Minister urges Labour to listen to voters

First Minister Carwyn Jones is urging Welsh Labour to re-engage voters who've been turned off politics. In a speech in Cardiff today, he'll address party members who are putting forward policies for next year's Westminster election and the Assembly election in 2016.

We know that the increasing fragmentation of politics we are seeing across the UK makes Welsh Labour’s open and democratic policy process more vital than ever before. We must balance ambition and hope with pragmatism and careful planning. Sadly, too many people are now expecting their politicians not to honour their promises and that’s why my watchword for the Welsh Government is delivery.

We have been engaging with our local parties and outside organisations like never before. We know that in an age of tightening budgets, no one party can pretend to have a monopoly on good ideas.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

The First Minister will also tell a meeting of the party's policy forum that it's been an "historic week", of jobs announcements, a deal with the UK Government on rail electrification and a Wales-only pay deal for NHS workers that guarantees them the Living Wage.

In a message to activists ahead of today's forum, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has stressed the importance of getting back into power in Westminster in 2015.

Labour has spent its time in opposition preparing a programme that will answer the questions facing modern Wales and the wider UK. Our manifesto will have the benefit of the thousands of ideas and submissions that have been made to us by members of the public and the members of our party.

We already know that we’ll be pushing for improvements to the devolution settlement for Wales, and an extension of Jobs Growth Wales, Welsh Labour’s youth employment programme, to the rest of the UK.

– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP


David Cameron tells summit 'Wales is coming back'

ITV Wales Political Editor Adrian Masters is tweeting from David Cameron's speech at the UK Investment Summit in Newport.

The Prime Minister told delegates that "four things are vital for a country... fiscal common sense; a business friendly approach; modern infrastructure; and openness to investment".

We've delivered Welsh control of rail service say Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats say the decision to hand control of the Wales and borders rail franchise to the Welsh Government demonstrates their influence in the Westminster coalition. But Plaid Cymru say the railway track itself should have been brought under Welsh control.

Today's announcement is a landmark as it means decisions on Welsh train services will now be made in Wales. The fact that this power closer to the people of Wales shows just how strong the Liberal Democrat influence is in the Wales Office.

Until now, the Governments at either end of the M4 have been able to pass the buck between them over who is to blame when things go wrong. Now we will know absolutely where responsibility lies for making improvements to services and giving Wales the trains it deserves.

The Welsh Government have less than four years to decide what all of Wales needs now and in the future, run a franchise competition, select an operator and then ensure they have the trains they need to deliver decent services. This will be no mean feat, but with matters resolved and commuters knowing where to look for answers, our rail services will be properly accountable at last.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Eluned Parrott AM

Eluned Parrott also said she was "absolutely delighted" that the Welsh and UK Governments had resolved the funding of Valleys lines electrification. Plaid Cymru's spokesperson, Rhun ap Iorwerth also welcomed it as a "good step in the right direction" but said his party would continue to argue for complete Welsh control of the railway.

Plaid Cymru welcomes the devolution of the rail franchise. For the first time, Wales will be able to choose who operates its own railway. This is something that our party has underlined the importance of for several years. The current and next Welsh Governments now have an enormous challenge in planning and delivering the next franchise, but this is a challenge that we know can be reached.

Plaid Cymru believes this must lead to more areas of the country being opened up to rail services, and that work on this must begin as soon as possible.

Previous Secretaries of State appeared to want Wales to pay the full cost of Valley Lines electrification. They have rowed back on this and have reached a deal. The deal itself is a good step in the right direction but it still appears to leave control of rail infrastructure in the hands of Westminster. We would prefer to see both franchising and infrastructure in Welsh hands so that they can be planned together, and will continue to press on that issue.

– Plaid Cymru Transport Spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

Welsh Govt didn't pay attention to rail deal say Tories

The Welsh Conservatives have blamed a lack of attention to detail by Labour ministers when Valleys rail electrification was first announced for the row over money that put the entire project at risk. Originally the UK government expected the entire £460 million cost to be repaid by the Welsh Government, primarily by increasing train fares.

Under the new deal announced today the UK Government will contribute £230 million to the scheme, though the rest of the money will still have to be repaid.

This deal will have a hugely beneficial impact on the lives of tens of thousands. It is a massively important investment that puts Wales first, prioritises infrastructure and transport, and provides a hugely welcome boost for business.

Labour didn't electrify an inch of rail track – and their mistakes and lack of attention to detail led to the circumstances preceding today’s solution. In stark contrast - this announcement is the real action Wales needs.

I wholeheartedly welcome the hard work of Conservatives in Wales in securing a pivotal and life-changing deal for our communities. From Newport to Swansea and - crucially, into the Valleys - this is what the region needs to secure growth and move forward.

– Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies AM


Network Rail promise better service with electric trains

Network Rail say the go-ahead for rail electrification in the Valleys will mean a better train service and boost the Welsh economy.

Electrification will transform the railway in south Wales, making journeys faster, more reliable, greener and quieter. An electrified railway will also help support economic growth by creating jobs and boosting the supply chain when work is undertaken, as well as providing a building block for future growth. It will help reduce journey times and boost commuting opportunities, making Wales a better place to do business.

– Mark Langham, Route Managing Director, Network Rail Wales

Arriva Trains Wales responds to Valleys electrification deal

Arriva Trains Wales has responded to today's announcement that the UK Government will pay £230 million towards electrifying the Valley Lines.

Electrification will bring many benefits including quicker journey times, reduced running costs, lower carbon emissions and the replacement of the current rolling stock on this part of the network which is nearing forty years old.

This important investment builds on the huge growth we have already seen in Wales over the past 10 years and is a great recognition of the importance of rail services in Wales.

– Arriva Trains Wales

Welsh troops take part in NATO exercise

Troops from Wales are among hundreds taking part in a NATO military training exercise currently going on in Poland.

Troops from 1st Batallion The Royal Welsh are working alongside others from the alliance to 'reassure' allies in Eastern Europe at a time of tensions involving Russia and Ukraine.

David Wood reports from Poland:

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