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Lib Dems say M4 plan makes budget talks difficult

The Welsh Lib Dems are now the only party talking to the Welsh Government about a deal to support the budget. Their leader, Kirsty Willaims, says that following Plaid Cymru's decision to quit the negotiations over the £1 billion Newport motorway announcement says she'll keep negotiating but the plan for the M4 makes it "difficult".

The Welsh Liberal Democrat priority for the next budget continues to be extra support for Wales’ poorest school children through our Pupil Premium. However, it’s very difficult to see how we can support a budget that prioritises the current M4 proposals and that is what we will explain to the Welsh Government in future negotiations.

The M4 announcement yesterday was a huge mistake. It completely flies in the face of the environmental and economic issues. Our proposed alternatives are far less expensive and less likely to damage vast swathes of the environment. A responsible Government wouldn’t spend its entire borrowing powers on one single road, leaving no money left for other transport projects.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

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Plaid quit budget talks over "reckless" new M4

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has pulled her party out of budget talks with the Welsh Government in protest at the decision to spend £1 billion on a new motorway around Newport. She claimed it was a reckless and undemocratic decision, arguing that cheaper and more effective solutions to the traffic jams on the existing M4 would have left more money to be spent in other parts of Wales.

The Welsh Government does not have a majority in the Senedd and needs the support of at least one other party to get its budget passed. In the past, it has reached a deal with Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats or both. Plaid and the Welsh Lib Dems has reached an agreement to negotiate jointly in future.

This is a stand that Plaid Cymru has been compelled to make. The Welsh Government acted with complete disregard for the democratic institution when it took this decision without proper scrutiny and with no business case.

Plaid Cymru wants the M4 congestion problem resolved now and resolved properly. There is an option to do this at a more reasonable cost giving us the same answer and that is why Plaid Cymru in government turned down this more expensive and environmentally damaging option.

In budget negotiations, we would have worked hard to ensure the best value for money for the Welsh taxpayer, and yet the Welsh Government has blown a billion pounds on this extravagant project when there are more efficient and more cost-effective alternatives.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

Former Plaid Cymru minister to leave Assembly in 2016

Former Plaid Cymru Housing Minister Jocelyn Davies has announced that she will leave the Assembly at the 2016 election.

Ms Davies has been a regional AM for South Wales East since the first Assembly was elected in 1999.

Jocelyn Davies
Jocelyn Davies served in the Labour-Plaid Cymru 'One Wales' administration. Credit: National Assembly for Wales

The AM, who was born in 1959 and comes from Newbridge, is currently chair of the Assembly's Finance Committee.

The next Assembly will lay the foundations for a further increase in the powers of the Assembly, with the powers to increase borrowing being one of the first steps on this path.

It will be a new and exciting period and I feel that with these new powers and with the increasing prominence that the Assembly will play in the lives of the people of Wales, it is time for a new generation of Plaid Cymru politicians, with a fresh outlook, to take the party and the Assembly forward to the next stage of the devolution journey.

– Jocelyn Davies, South Wales East AM

Former minister to stand down from Assembly

Former Plaid Cymru Housing Minister Jocelyn Davies has announced that she will leave the Assembly at the next election in 2016. Ms Davies has been an AM since the first Assembly was elected in 1999.

She was born in 1959 and comes from Newbridge. The former minister is currently chair of the Assembly's finance committee.

The next Assembly will lay the foundations for a further increase in the powers of the Assembly, with the powers to increase borrowing being one of the first steps on this path. It will be a new and exciting period and I feel that with these new powers and with the increasing prominence that the Assembly will play in the lives of the people of Wales, it is time for a new generation of Plaid Cymru politicians, with a fresh outlook, to take the party and the Assembly forward to the next stage of the devolution journey.

– Jocelyn Davies AM

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Former Plaid Cymru minister to leave Assembly

Former Plaid Cymru Housing Minister Jocelyn Davies has announced that she will leave the Assembly at the 2016 election.

Ms Davies has been a regional AM for South Wales East since the first Assembly was elected in 1999.

Jocelyn Davies
Jocelyn Davies served in the Labour-Plaid Cymru 'One Wales' administration. Credit: National Assembly for Wales

The AM, who was born in 1959 and comes from Newbridge, is currently chair of the Assembly's Finance Committee.

The next Assembly will lay the foundations for a further increase in the powers of the Assembly, with the powers to increase borrowing being one of the first steps on this path.

It will be a new and exciting period and I feel that with these new powers and with the increasing prominence that the Assembly will play in the lives of the people of Wales, it is time for a new generation of Plaid Cymru politicians, with a fresh outlook, to take the party and the Assembly forward to the next stage of the devolution journey.

– Jocelyn Davies AM

Labour's adopting Plaid's ideas, claims leader

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said that although legislation is not the only requirement for tackling Wales health and education problems, she's pleased that the Welsh Government has adopted what she claims are some of her parties policies in those fields.

The Qualifications Wales Bill will introduce the independent exam regulating body that Plaid Cymru has called for, although the Labour government will need to do a lot more to convince people that it has the measures in place to drive up standards when it comes to the Welsh education system.

The establishment of a Welsh Treasury through the Tax Collection and Management Bill is a significant move. There is great symbolism in establishing this function, which goes beyond the essential role it will have in administering the devolved taxes and borrowing powers. All self-respecting Parliaments must have the ability to vary taxes. Unlike Scotland, it has taken Wales fifteen years to establish this important symbolic function.

Plaid Cymru very much welcomes the establishment of a Welsh Treasury. For the first time, future Welsh Governments will have acquired the extra economic levers needed for job creation, although the powers proposed in the Wales Bill are limited and will not yet lead to a government that is properly accountable to the people of Wales.”--

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

Plaid back Juncker for EU Commission President

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans was one of very few MEPs from the UK to vote for Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission President -and almost certainly the only one from Wales. Mr Juncker, whose nomination was bitterly opposed by the Prime Minister, secured the votes of 422 MEPs in a secret ballot.

He needed at least 376 votes to secure his new job in today's election in Strasbourg. Welsh Conservative Kay Swinburne and UKIP's Nathan Gill both belong to political groups in the European Parliament that told their MEPs to vote against. Labour defied the Socialist group's support for Mr Juncker.

That left Welsh Labour's Derek Vaughan under orders from his party to oppose the nomination. The Greens were also against but their allies in the European Free Alliance, including Jill Evans, were impressed by Mr Juncker, who's sympathetic to allowing an independent Scotland to stay in the EU.

I always vote in the Welsh national interest in the European Parliament and that's why I voted for Mr Juncker today. I urge the Welsh government to engage with him directly to get the best deal for Wales and the Welsh economy and not to let David Cameron isolate us in Europe.

He comes from Luxembourg, another small European nation, but one that has prospered in the EU as an independent member state. He is on record as being a supporter of EU funding for poorer regions and he supports a minimum income across Europe. He is also opposed to fracking and is open to EU reform.

Although he supported the austerity measures and public spending cuts which I strongly opposed, he recognises the need now for investment in jobs, especially for young people. He has put forward a ten point plan for the new Commission's work and I will be looking at how to get the best deal for Wales from that."

– Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans

Welsh Government calls for 'action' on NHS staff illness

The Welsh Government says it expects action from NHS Wales to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff, and manage sickness absence effectively.

The Welsh Government recognises the importance of improving the health and wellbeing of NHS staff and this includes managing sickness absence effectively to ensure staff are available to the meet the demands of the service.

The Health Minister expects NHS Wales to take action to ensure this happens.

The rate of sick absence has fallen over the last 12 months by some 6,000 staff days.

– Welsh Government spokesperson
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