Economy Minister Edwina Hart has now issued a statement confirming that she's stepping down as an AM at next year's Assembly election.
Together with Finance Minister Jane Hutt, Edwina Hart is one of just two AMs to have been in the Welsh Cabinet since it was first formed under Alun Michael in 1999. She contested the Welsh Labour leadership when Rhodri Morgan stood down as First Minister but was defeated by Carwyn Jones.
Two of Edwina Hart's constituency neighbours have also announced today that they're standing down. Gwenda Thomas also confirmed her decision to her local party in Neath this evening, with Keith Davies earlier making his announcement in Llanelli.
One of the two Assembly members to have served in every Welsh cabinet since the first election in 1999 is expected to announce tonight that she won't stand again next year. Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart is understood to be making the announcement to her Gower constituency party this evening.
The former Deputy Health Minister Gwenda Thomas is also due to tell her local party in Neath tonight that she too won't be seeking re-election. They join Keith Davies who announced earlier today that he will be quitting Llanelli after just one term as an AM.
So three Labour AMs in neighbouring seats are all leaving the Assembly next year. But it's Edwina Hart's decision that will command the most attention. One of the most powerful figures in the Welsh Government, responsible over the years for finance, health and now the economy, she'd been tipped as a possible successor to Dame Rosemary Butler as the Assembly's Presiding Officer.
The Labour party encourages its AMs and MPs not to leave it so late to declare their intentions and another five have already done so. Last minute announcements are by no means unusual but by delaying her decision Edwina Hart has left herself open to suggestions that she fears the loss of Gower to the Conservatives, who won the Westminster seat for the first time at the General Election last month.
Economy minister Edwina Hart has told AMs that every route was explored to save the Merco refinery in Milford Haven, where a sale expected to save the 400 hundred jobs there has now fallen through.
The minister added that she was really worried about the effect on businesses in the refinery's supply chain. She promised additional support with a physical presence in Milford Haven by Welsh Government officials offering help.
Economy Minister Edwina Hart has told AMs that there was no realistic alternative to building a complete new motorway south of Newport. In particular she rejected the idea that upgrading the existing Southern Distributor Road would do the job.
The Minister set out a timetable for the construction of the new road.
- Public Inquiry in winter 2016
- Start work in spring 2018
- Open new motorway autumn 2021
Wales enjoyed a bumper year for tourism in 2013, a survey has revealed.
Half a million more visitors from Britain alone crossed the border compared to 2012, with an eight per cent rise in overnight stays.
Visitors spent £1.4 billion, with Wales' tourism sector seeing some of the strongest increases in Britain.
Wales saw a marked increase in tourism in 2013, according to figures released today.
The Great Britain Tourism Survey has revealed British residents made more than eight million visits to Wales in the first nine months of 2013 - up 7.8% compared to the same period in 2012.
Last year's tourism figures are also 5.4% higher than in 2011, which was considered an excellent season for tourism in Wales.
The Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, will announce the results for Wales in the Great Britain Tourism Survey later today. It's expected to show the sector is performing well.
In 2011 over 800,000 people from overseas visited Wales, spending more than £300m here.
A new innovation strategy aimed at promoting more flexibility in business and the public sector has been unveiled by the Welsh Government.
Innovation Wales says the public sector needs to be "less prescriptive and more open to fresh solutions."
The strategy recommends that businesses in Wales concentrate efforts on five main themes:
- improving collaboration
- promoting a culture of innovation
- providing flexible support and finance for innovation
- innovation in government
- prioritising and creating critical mass.
Work on the completing the ring road round Cardiff -the A4232- will start before the next Assembly election in 2016, the Economy and Transport Minister has pledged. The western half of the road was built in the 1980s and 1990s but there's been no further progress since devolution in 1999.
That's despite the road currently stopping in Cardiff Bay, less than a mile from the Senedd. Edwina Hart says she will now 'progress' the missing Eastern Bay Link. She says the project is connected to the promised deal with the UK Government on a new M4 south of Newport.
The Five Mile Lane improvements -between Barry and the A48- raise the prospect of another half built route for M4 traffic. The Minister also stressed that work on dualling the Heads of the Valleys Road will continue. Work will also start on several smaller road schemes during the next two years.
- M4 Port Talbot junction 40 to junction 41
- M4 slip road improvements at junctions 32 and 33
- A483 Newtown town centre congestion relief
- A55 emergency refuges