Live updates

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

Tories want elected commissioners to run Welsh NHS

The Welsh Conservatives are calling for locally elected health commissioners to take over from health boards, which they say are subject to political patronage as their appointed by ministers.

Communities across Wales have felt powerless to influence the decisions which have been made about health services in their areas. The Welsh NHS must become more accountable to those it serves and more responsive to the taxpayers who fund it.

Elected Health Commissioners will put the patient voice at the heart of decision making in the NHS, transferring decision making over health services from central government and into the hands of the people.

You vote them in, and you vote them out - that's our vision for patient voice in the Welsh NHS.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

The Conservatives claim that the new system would lead to greater openness, as the commissioners would be publicly answerable when something went wrong in the running of the health service. Labour have dismissed the proposal as a waste of money.

This month the Welsh Labour Government announced nearly half a billion pounds of extra funding to secure our safe, modern NHS, free at the point of use. Now the Tories want to cream off some of that money, take it away from the front-line and put it into the pockets of Health Commissioners. What planet are they living on? Welsh Labour is on the side of patients and NHS staff, we want health money spent on health services, not another layer of bureaucracy.

– Welsh Labour spokesman

Advertisement

Welsh Tory leader rejects police devolution - for now

Andrew RT Davies says he's against the devolution of policing powers Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies is to tell his party that he's opposed to the devolution of responsibility for the police from the Home Office to the Welsh Government. In a speech to Tory activists he'll say that there is no current evidence to support the idea and that "serious questions must be answered" before it can be considered.

Policing was one of the few areas of disagreement when the Welsh party leaders met to reach a joint position on further devolution. Any explicit reference to the police was dropped from the joint motion that they will ask AMs to debate. But it does call on the UK government to "make progress on Silk 2", meaning the second report of the Commission on Devolution, which did call for the police to be devolved.

Let’s look at the evidence on policing. Since 2010, crime in Wales has fallen by 15 per cent. In many ways, the Conservatives have gone beyond police devolution in England and Wales with the creation of Police and Crime Commissioners.

So today, I want to say clearly, the evidence is yet to be made for the devolution of policing. We know that the Welsh Labour Government and the other parties want these powers, but the question is, do Welsh Labour MPs support these moves? I think not. Just take a look at the comments of some Welsh Labour MPs and you’ll see very clearly that they disagree.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM

Mr Davies is not totally ruling out Welsh control of the police. Instead he says that there must be a series of "clear commitments and promises" before the Welsh Conservatives can support any change.

  • Front line services must not be affected
  • The Welsh Government must say how the fall in crime will continue
  • The police themselves must be given a say in what should happen
  • The Welsh Government must set out its priorities for the £1.2 billion Welsh police budget

Mr Davies argues that Wales has fallen behind in too many areas for which the Welsh Government is responsible and that must not happen to the police. He will also claim that the First Minister has "forgotten his day job" and is giving too much attention to constitutional reform, rather than concentrating on health, education and the economy.

The issues surrounding future devolution in Wales are hugely important. Of that there is no doubt. This week’s cross-party agreement on the broad principles to take forward and collaborate upon reflects that. There is work to do and there are discussions to take place. But constitutional change doesn’t take place overnight.

Labour’s First Minister is so wrapped up in the constitution he can’t see the wood for the trees. He’s forgotten his day job.

Carwyn – Stop diverting attention from your domestic failures. Constitutional questions must be answered but not at the expense of the economy and public services.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM
  1. Nick Powell

Labour councils win 'dodgy' budget deal claim Tories

The Welsh Conservatives claim that there are signs of "dodgy budget manipulation" in the funding cuts faced by local councils. The Tories point out that eight of the ten councils with the smallest cuts in their money from the Welsh Government are Labour controlled.

The Labour Party seems to be protecting money for traditional Labour-voting heartlands ahead of the election instead of delivering a fair deal for every part of Wales. This appears to be a cynical and crude attempt to manipulate local government funding to force Conservative, Plaid Cymru and independent-run councils to make tougher choices between raising council tax and cutting services.

The figures speak for themselves. The ten councils with the best deal from the Welsh Labour Government are almost exclusively Labour-controlled, while councils led by other political parties are having their funding slashed.

– Shadow Local Government Minister Janet Finch-Saunders AM

Welsh Government sources point to the local government funding formula, which they see as being far from cynical or crude, although it's undeniably complicated. They draw attention to the so-called "damping" mechanism, which has protected from even deeper cuts three of the worst-hit councils -Ceredigion, Powys and Monmouthshire. They're led by Plaid Cymru, the independents and the Conservatives respectively.

They still face cuts of between 4.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent, while the three with the smallest cuts -Labour controlled Neath Port Talbot, Newport and Merthyr Tydfil- lose between 2.4 per cent and 2.6 per cent. The largest single factor is that above-average increases in pupil numbers have had an even bigger impact than usual on this year's funding formula. That's because the money for schools is being increased despite cutbacks in overall council funding.

Tory blames 'selfish unions' and council incompetence

Conservative Assembly leader Andrew RT Davies has blamed incompetence by Cardiff's Labour council leaders for today's traffic gridlock in parts of the city after the public sector strike closed a major route.

He called it the 'selfish motives of a small cabal of trade union leaders'.

The Butetown Tunnels were closed for safety reasons after the workers who monitor CCTV cameras walked out.

The resulting traffic jam blocked the dual carriageway linking Cardiff Bay with the M4 motorway. Other roads became clogged as drivers sought alternative routes.

We have known about these strikes for some time and yet the council were unable to make arrangements to prevent the capital’s roads descending into chaos once again. The knock-on effect of the closure of the Butetown Tunnels has been enormous. Commuters from all walks of life and all professions have been hit by the ensuing gridlock, along with businesses across the city. It is difficult to find an explanation other than incompetence as to why a contingency plan was not put in place.

People are perfectly entitled to withdraw their labour, but trade unions need to think long and hard about the impact that these strikes have on people’s everyday lives. Many families have also been forced to take annual leave because their children’s schools are on strike, and some households will miss their fortnightly rubbish collections. Once again, hardworking families face mayhem as the result of the selfish motives of a cabal of trade union leaders.

– Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies AM

Advertisement

Conservative call for anti-extremism summit

Opposition Leader Andrew RT has used an Urgent Question in the Assembly to call for a summit of Welsh ministers and Muslim community leaders to try to find ways of tackling extremism. It follows revelations that two Cardiff men appeared in an Iraqi Islamist recruitment video.

Deputy Communities minister, Jeff Cuthbert, said he couldn't commit to holding a summit but said he would consider one as part of ongoing efforts to work with communities.

Welsh Conservatives call for anti-extremism 'summit'

During an urgent question in the Assembly, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has called for Welsh ministers to hold a 'summit' with Muslim community leaders in Wales to try to work out ways of dealing with extremism.

Deputy Communities minister Jeff Cuthbert said that he couldn't commit to a summit immediately but said the Welsh Government would consider such a meeting as part of moves to work with communities to combat extremism.

Inquiry finds 'no grounds' for action over 'drunk' claims

No further action will be taken against a Conservative AM accused of being drunk druing a Senedd debate. Assembly chiefs say there were 'not grounds' to have prevented Nick Ramsay from taking part in that debate.

The inquiry began after a member of the public complained about Monmouthshire AM Nick Ramsay made contributions that were 'slurred, incoherent and insolent.' For further details click here.

But a spokesperson for the Presiding Officer has issued this statement:

The Presiding Officers have looked into the circumstances thoroughly and have reached their conclusions. They confirmed that there were not grounds to call the Member to order during the plenary session on 10 June. They will not be making any further statement about the matter.

– Assembly spokesperson

'Cosy club' will protect itself says man who alleged AM was drunk

The person who complained to the Presiding Officer about Nick Ramsay's conduct in the Senedd yesterday says he has no faith that anything will come of it. He's identified himself as Jonathan G Williams, of Whitchurch in Cardiff.

Why I made this complaint ... was a matter of principle. I would say that the response of the Welsh Assembly has been exactly as I expected. No one will take this matter seriously because politics is a cosy club. All they are interested in is protecting their collective reputations. It's mucky and makes me wonder why I bothered writing in the first place.

– Jonathan Williams
Load more updates