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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

NHS Wales Employers 'pleased' with pay settlement

The organisations which make up the NHS in Wales say they are "pleased" that the uncertainty surrounding a pay dispute between workers and the Welsh Government has been "removed", and strike action has been avoided.

We welcome the decision by our TU partners to accept this pay deal. We are pleased that the uncertainty surrounding this issue has now been removed and further strike action, which would have caused considerable disruption to services, will now be avoided.

Throughout this whole process discussions have been positive and constructive on both sides. We now look forward to working with our trade union colleagues and staff to address the considerable challenge of providing the best quality services to patients and their families against a backdrop of increasingly constrained finances.

– Allison Williams, on behalf of NHS Wales Employers

NHS workers' unions welcome pay settlement

Unions representing NHS workers in Wales have welcomed the end of a pay dispute with the Welsh Government over pay, and the agreement to a new Wales-only deal.

The Royal College of Midwives described it "a fair pay offer", while UNISON said: "this agreement does not make up for the real term loss that NHS workers have suffered in recent years, but we hope we can build on this settlement in the future."

It has taken time to get to this point and the Welsh Government has taken a sensible and practical decision to end this pay dispute.

This is a good example of how unions and the Government through meaningful negotiation can produce the right result for the staff and, the right result for the people they care for.

We have fought for and delivered a fair pay offer for our members in Wales. We can now move forward and put our energy into working together to improve maternity services in Wales.

– Helen Rogers, Director for Wales at the Royal College of Midwives

Taking strike action is always a last resort for our members. The settlement is an improvement on the previous offer and we welcome achieving the Living Wage for our lowest paid members.

This has been a difficult process for all involved, particularly given the challenging financial climate that we are in as a result of the UK Government's continued austerity programme.

Clearly this agreement does not make up for the real term loss that NHS workers have suffered in recent years, but we hope we can build on this settlement in the future.

– Dawn Bowden, UNISON Wales head of health


Euro aid spending approved

A detailed agreement between the Welsh Government and the European Commission has been reached on how £2 billion of European aid will be spent over the next seven years.

It's split between a regional development fund, worth about £1.1 billion and a smaller social fund, which supports skills development and helping people into work. Most of the development money will be spent on the European Commission's objectives, including research and innovation, the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises, renewables and energy efficiency,

But £252 million will be spent on transport, which the Welsh Government argued was also a priority for economic growth. The metro scheme to improve public transport in Cardiff and the Valleys will be a major beneficiary but the Commission has also agreed to some of the money being spent on road improvements to the A40 in west Wales and the A55 in the north.

Wales is the first to adopt programmes in the UK and indeed, it is a model for the rest of Europe's regions in terms of 'partnership in action'. Thanks to the tireless work and dedication - from ministerial level to the grassroots, we are able to launch these vital programmes for investments that will set Wales on the path to smart and green growth - connecting people, skills and jobs

– European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu

The EU is a unique partnership of nations working together for the benefit of their citizens, and as a pro-European Government we value the role of Wales in Europe and to the UK’s membership of the EU.

– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM

Welsh Health Minister hails 'made-in-Wales' settlement

Wales' Health Minister has hailed the "made-in-Wales pay deal" over NHS workers' pay, which has meant strike action was avoided.

Some NHS staff in England and Northern Ireland will stage a second set of four-hour walkouts this coming Monday.

This two-year, made-in-Wales pay deal demonstrates our ongoing commitment to staff working in the NHS in these challenging financial times.

Our overriding priority has been – and continues to be – to maintain jobs at the frontline of NHS Wales against a backdrop of severe cuts to our budget.

This is an excellent example of working collaboratively and co-production and I am pleased that in Wales we have been able to avoid significant strike action by agreeing a mutual position – this is a credit to all parties.

– Mark Drakeford, Welsh Government Health Minister

NHS workers agree first Wales-only pay deal

Union leaders representing NHS workers in Wales have settled their pay dispute with the Welsh Government, by accepting a new two-year deal.

It is the first Wales-only pay deal for NHS staff, on negotiations that have been traditionally UK-wide, but some have questioned whether this will open the floodgates to other regional pay settlements.

Pay deals for NHS workers have previously been set at a UK level. Credit: PA

Included in the deal is a 1 per cent pay rise from next April, a cash payment of £187, and the living wage implemented for all directly-employed staff from 1 January 2015.

The pay settlement does not include doctors and dentists.

Members of the Unison union called off a planned strike earlier this month, after the Welsh Government improved its offer.

Council chief slams Welsh Government funding cut

A council leader has criticised the Welsh Government's decision to cut £1.6m of funding to the organisation which represents local authorities. You can catch up on the story by clicking here.

The Deputy leader of Flintshire council, Labour's Bernie Attridge, has taken to twitter to voice his concern about the reduction.

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