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.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats say today's go ahead for a new motorway around Newport by 2021 is a "huge mistake" by Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart. They say it ignores environmental concerns raised during the consultation on alternative proposals.
The consultation process appears to have been nothing more than a sham. The Minister’s claim that there were no reasons why the ‘black route’ could not be adopted completely ignores evidence provided to her by the RSPB, Sustrans and the Federation of Small Businesses. There are still huge questions surrounding the economic benefit of this development. Investing the Welsh Government’s entire borrowing powers into one single road leaves no money left for other transport projects like the South Wales Metro, which can provide much greater economic benefit for the whole area. Our proposed alternatives are far less expensive, less likely to damage vast swathes of our environment and are academically recommended. It’s shocking that the Welsh Labour Minister is remaining blinkered, ignoring these credible proposals and ploughing ahead regardless.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats say the announcement that the secondary banding system will be "revised" from this autumn, and run alongside a new National Categorisation System, will create "more confusion" in schools, as they are being assessed in too many different ways.
There is already a great deal of confusion, with many schools placed in a position where assessment and monitoring can be undertaken in a number of ways: banding, the National Categorisation System, Schools Challenge Cymru, and schools inspection body Estyn.
The result is a complex and unnecessary series of data collection methods which does nothing to give schools the promised “clear way forward” to improvement.
We said in January that if a new system of categorisation was introduced then banding should go and we stand by that statement.
The Welsh Government said in January that "a single national categorisation model will ensure that the regional consortia are assessing schools in a consistent way", and that the system already works alongside banding.
There is little detail on how the categorisation model works.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have launched their European election campaign, claiming that they are the only unequivocally pro-European Union party. They described themselves as "the party of IN", in contrast to UKIP, which they say is the only other party with a clear position.
The message is clear: are you ‘IN or OUT’? For the Welsh Liberal Democrats the answer is clear: Britain and Wales are better in Europe. We are Britain’s only party of ‘IN’. More than one in ten Welsh jobs depend on trade with EU. Why on earth would we want to risk people’s livelihoods? If you don’t support UKIP’s anti-EU and anti-jobs agenda, then there is only one party for you: the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
The launch took place in Llandrindod Wells at a company that supplies components for carmakers and other firms across Europe.
Leaving the EU would be catastrophic. It’s the surest way to jeopardise jobs, risk our fragile economic recovery and it will leave Wales and Britain alone and diminished in the world. Other than UKIP, no-one knows what the other parties stand for. For those that want to protect Welsh jobs, then they must vote Welsh Liberal Democrat.
We can only tackle the word’s big issues by remaining in Europe. As members of the European Union our police can work with their counterparts abroad to crack down on the criminals who cross our borders. Collectively, our governments can also be much bolder in the fight against climate change too. Together we can and must make a difference.
Welsh Labour, the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and UKIP Wales have also launched their campaigns this week. Election day is May 22 and there are a total of 11 parties contesting the four Welsh seats in the European Parliament.
- Britain First
- Liberal Democrat
- Plaid Cymru
- Socialist Labour
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has been speaking on the second day of her party's conference in Newport.
.@kirsty_williams : 'This is a great nation of ours...too often let down by a Welsh Govt which fails ...time and time again.'
.@kirsty_williams 'How dare (Carwyn Jones) hide behind the people he's meant to lead. What kind of leader does that?'
Welsh Labour has attacked the Welsh Liberal Democrats ahead of a speech in which the party's leader Kirsty Williams is expected to criticise the First Minister for his oversight of public services in Wales. A Labour spokesperson said,
Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats are a growing irrelevance in Wales. They are shouting louder and louder to try and fill smaller and emptier conference halls.
If Kirsty Williams wanted to make Liberals relevant again she could start by demanding an end to the Tory war on Wales. Instead the Libs seem to be saddling up alongside Westminster coalition partners to denigrate the public sector in Wales, using the same bogus arguments and dodgy statistics for political gain. And they have failed miserably to support Wales on rail electrification.
Welsh Liberal Democrat delegates discuss conference issues with Political Editor Adrian Masters. Jane Dodds is the party's parliamentary candidate for 2015 in Montgomeryshire. Alec Dauncey is the Lib Dems' lead candidate in May's European Parliament election.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams is expected to say that only her party is defending Britain's membership of the European Union. She'll use a slogan quoted repeatedly during the Welsh Lib Dem conference, saying 'we are the only party of IN.'
With the European Parliamentary election just six weeks away, Lib Dem leaders have accused the other parties of failing to stand up to the UKIP challenge. In her speech to the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference, Kirsty Williams will join the attacks.
There is simply no point in voting Labour in the European elections, they are too scared to have a voice on Europe and squandered billions of EU funds.
The Tories are a mess. Cameron continues to pander to Euro-skeptics and to UKIP.
And then of course, there is Plaid Cymru – who want to have their cake and eat it. They cannot credibly call for Welsh independence yet proclaim they stand for Europe.
Plaid might be infighting and sacking people over attacks on UKIP, but the irony is, they have similarities: they are two separatist parties and both of them could take us Out of the EU. Plaid’s dream of independence could threaten thousands of jobs. Yes they sneer at UKIP, but you don’t fight little England nationalism by trumping it with Welsh nationalism.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams will blame Labour for recent negative portrayals of the Welsh health service in the UK media. She'll tell the Welsh Lib Dem conference in Newport that her instinct is 'to jump to the defence of my country' when she reads such headlines.
But she's expected to say although 'some of these stories maybe motivated by a political agenda ... many are accurate and too often based on truth.' And she'll add:
"I am furious that we as nation are being portrayed in this manner. Last week Carwyn Jones said these criticisms weren’t a war on Welsh Labour, or the Welsh Government, but a war on Wales as an entire nation.
How dare he take cover behind the people he is meant to lead. What kind of leader does that? These headlines might hurt our sense of national pride, but we must not forget, it is Labour that is Wales’ weak link. Labour is holding us back, Labour – the weight around our nation’s neck."
- Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams will be the main speaker on the second day of her party's conference in Newport. UK Government minister Jenny Willott will also address delegates.
During the conference's first day, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg committed the Lib Dems to a wide-ranging transfer of power from Westminster to Cardiff.
He said the recent Silk Commission report, which recommended devolution of policing, youth justice, energy decisions and teachers' pay, would become the 'blueprint' for his party's 2015 manifesto.