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Ten councils agree on 'combined authority'

Ten Welsh councils have agreed to work together to develop a combined authority for the south east Wales region.

The new 'combined authority' will see the councils work to deal with issues on economic development, transport and planning.

The councils making up the new body are:

  • Blaenau Gwent
  • Bridgend
  • Caerphilly
  • Cardiff
  • Merthyr Tydfil
  • Monmouthshire
  • Newport
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Torfaen
  • Vale of Glamorgan

The authorities will now look to discuss the proposal with Welsh Government and other stakeholders.

On behalf of all council leaders in South East Wales, Cllr Bob Wellington CBE, Leader of Torfaen and the Welsh Local Government Association said:

"The development of a combined authority will not create a new or ‘extra’ organisation. It will create a clear decision making structure that will allow councils to deliver at a strategic regional level, while also ensuring local communities retain a strong role in shaping their sense of place and the services they receive.

“There is much work left to do, and we look forward to discussing the proposal further with Welsh Government and our wider regional partners. If successful, the proposal will bring regional collaboration to previously un-reached levels, and will mark a significant evolution of local government’s role in Wales.”

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Final debate on tax and borrowing Bill

MPs will hold their last debate later on plans to give the Welsh Government some tax and borrowing powers and make changes to the way the Assembly is set up.

The Wales Bill gives ministers in Cardiff control over stamp duty, landfill tax and aggregates tax as well as allowing for a referendum on devolving income-tax varying powers.

It also makes other changes including giving the Assembly the power to lower the voting age to 16 in any Welsh tax referendum.

This is the last debate on the bill which is expected to become law without any further challenges.

Welsh Secretary named Politician of the Year

Stephen Crabb's prize was a cartoon by Mumph, depicting his political juggling act Credit: Mumph

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has been named politician of the Year at the annual Welsh Political Awards. The judges praised his achievement in setting a new constitutional course for Wales following the referendum in Scotland in September.

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Welsh Government is 'out of excuses' on a cancer drugs fund says Welsh Secretary

Following Labour's pledge to introduce a cancer, surgery and radiotherapy fund in England if it wins next year's UK election, the Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has urged Welsh Labour to follow suit.

The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham is to commit the party to introducing an expanded Cancer Treatments Fund costing £330m to replace the current fund which is restricted to drugs.

The Welsh Labour Government has repeatedly refused to introduce a Cancer Drugs Fund, saying that more cancer patients are treated in Wales without such a scheme. But Stephen Crabb says ministers in Cardiff can no longer justify their position.

The Welsh Labour government are all out of excuses for not implementing a Cancer Drugs Fund in Wales.

The CDF has significantly enhanced the lives of 55,000 cancer sufferers in England. That's why the UK Labour Party have signed up to it and it's why 97,000 people signed a petition calling for one in Wales.

It is now time for the Shadow Welsh Secretary to call on his Labour colleagues in the Assembly to bring this policy to Wales as both he and his party clearly support it for England.

The Welsh government received an additional £123m in the Autumn Statement last week. That's enough to pay for a Welsh Cancer Drugs Fund several times over and so there is no excuse for denying the people of Wales this life saving, life enhancing cancer treatment any longer.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Take heart from poll -and take fight to UKIP, First Minister tells Labour

First Minister Carwyn Jones has been talking about the latest Welsh Political Barometer poll, which shows Labour support for next year's Westminster election down to 36%. Two years ago, the party enjoyed 54% support in Wales.

UKIP is the only party showing a gain in support Credit: ITV Wales News

What I take heart from is the fact that despite being in government for 17 years, despite what we've seen happening unfortunately to our colleagues in Scotland, we remain by far the most popular choice for the people of Wales.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Carwyn Jones also said that Labour was ready to take the fight to UKIP, which appears to be on course to become a significant force in the Senedd, according to expert analysis of how people said they would vote in an Assembly election.

Labour still hold the majority with 28 seats Credit: ITV Wales News

We are very keen to combat them by emphasising that UKIP is -when they decide what they stand for- very much a party of the right.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM
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