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  1. Nick Powell

Labour-Plaid deal delays council shake-up

Labour and Plaid Cymru have reached a deal that will see the Welsh Government's local government bill become law. The Public Service Minister, Leighton Andrews, has agreed with his Plaid Cymru shadow, Simon Thomas, that there will be no move to force councils to mereg until after next year's Assembly election.

Plaid Cymru has stopped Labour from enforcing their map for local government reorganisation through the back door before plans are put to people. Large scale changes to Local Government structures should not be decided by politicians with no mandate but should be decided by people in an election.

The demands made by Plaid Cymru will mean that all parties can present their individual proposals in their manifestos and seek a mandate to implement them, without being bound by the current government’s preferences.

– Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM

I’d like to thank Simon Thomas and his Plaid Cymru colleagues for the constructive approach they’ve taken on this matter. It is clear that status quo is not an option for local government, and an important part of the framework can now be put in place for much needed reform. It is now down to each political party to set our their proposals in the coming election.

– Public Services Bill Leighton Andrews AM

The other opposition parties have poured scorn on the deal, accusing Plaid Cymru of selling out to Labour.

Plaid’s leader has happily cosied up and done a deal with them. We should’ve expected nothing less than this astonishing hypocrisy. You’d be hard pushed to make it up.

Thanks to Plaid and Labour, local people won’t get a say on the future of our councils. Thanks to them, councils could now be forced to merge.

Vote Plaid – Get Labour. It’s that simple - and this disregard for Welsh communities is concrete evidence.

– Shadow Local Government Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders AM

Plaid have sold out, but received absolutely nothing in return. It’s bizarre. Their embarrassing u-turn is based on smoke and mirrors. They have achieved literally nothing. There is no commitment for a fair voting system and it was always the case that mergers were not going to happen before the Assembly election.

– Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson Peter Black AM


Cynon Valley Labour candidate quits

Credit: Labour Party

The Labour candidate due to contest one of the party's safest seats in next year's Assembly election has announced that he's quitting "for personal reasons". Local councillor Rhys Lewis had been picked to fight Cynon Valley after Christine Chapman announced that she was standing down as the constituency's AM.

I remain a loyal member of the Cynon Valley Constituency Labour Party and I will stand resolutely behind whoever is chosen as the Cynon Valley Labour Party National Assembly Candidate. I will offer them my full support and assist them in any way that I can.

– Cllr Rhys Lewis
  1. Nick Powell

Labour say Welsh Government's achievements will be "robust shield" for Assembly election campaign

First Minister Carwyn Jones will tell AMs later that his government is on course to deliver on the promises it made to the voters in the 2011 election campaign. In his final report on his programme for government before he faces the electorate again, he's expected to say that out of more than 500 commitments, more than 95% have been delivered -or are on track to be delivered in the next few months.

Credit: PA

Welsh Labour claim that this includes all the main pledges in the the 2011 manifesto, such as Jobs Growth Wales, extra money for schools, low tuition fees for Welsh students, and longer GP opening hours. One source called Labour's record in government in Wales "a robust statistical shield" against attacks from political opponents. Nevertheless, the Conservatives say they will challenge the Welsh Government on its record.

On health – on education – on the economy – the evidence is clear; Wales continues to fall behind and Labour ministers have no answers. Don’t take it from me – listen to the experts, the independent reports and the cold hard statistics.

Over 400 thousand people are waiting to start NHS treatment in Labour-run Wales. When Carwyn Jones became First Minister that figure was just 200 thousand. Global school test performance lags behind other parts of the UK and business support is nowhere near where it should be.

This is the real programme for government update and an urgent focus is desperately needed on our schools, our NHS services, our businesses and our communities.

– Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies AM


  1. Nick Powell

Poll shows increased Labour lead in Wales

Labour has reached 40% support in Wales for the first time in recent polls Credit: YouGov/ITV/Cardiff University Jan 24-27, Sample: 1,189

The first Welsh opinion poll of the General Election campaign shows that Labour has slightly improved its position, reaching 40% for the first time in nearly a year. YouGov's latest Welsh Barometer Poll for ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff University still puts the party well below the 50% plus it was polling before UKIP support started to climb two years ago. But it's 4% higher than the 2010 General Election result.

If opinion doesn't shift further during the election campaign, that should be enough to deliver Labour a couple of extra seats on May 7. The Conservatives on 25% are just 1% down on the result five years ago and Plaid Cymru's 11% shows no change on 2010. Those figures put both parties on course for no overall change in the number of Welsh seats they hold.

The inequalities built into the electoral system mean that the Liberal Democrats, down 15% on 5% can still hope to hold on to at least one seat but UKIP, up 12% to 14% are not on course to break through in any Welsh constituencies. The Greens are similarly disadvantaged, despite being neck and neck with the Liberal Democrats in this poll.

  1. Nick Powell

Welsh Govt due respect and power says shadow minister

The UK Government should admire and learn from Wales, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith will claim later. In a speech to the Welsh Labour conference in Swansea, he'll announce that the Welsh Government would be given responsibility for the Work Programme, which is aimed at the long term unemployed, if Labour gains power at Westminster.

Mr Smith will also say that Labour "has got its mojo back" under Ed Miliband, who yesterday pledged a series of new powers for the Welsh Assembly if he becomes Prime Minister.

From tax avoidance to the abuse of corporate and media power an Ed Miliband led government will deliver the fair play and fair rules - the chwarae teg that people expect in Wales - and rightly expect from Labour in particular.

Ed Miliband has also been clear that a new era of partnership and respect must be rebuilt between the governments in Wales and Westminster, after the Tory War on Wales. Instead of a Tory government that sneers at Wales, we need a UK government that admires and learns from Wales. One area where we have already learned from Wales is on job creation for young people. Carwyn's government has done an infinitely better job than the Tories with our Welsh employment programmes. A UK Labour government will recognise that expertise and invest trust in Wales to do even more in future by devolving to Wales responsibility for the Work Programme - currently run from Westminster by the Department for Work and Pensions.

– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP
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