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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


Controversial fund closure late but welcome says Tory

The decision by the Welsh Government to take direct control of the controversial Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales has been welcomed by the Conservative AM who first raised the concerns. But Byron Davies says he wants to know why it's taken so long to reach such a decision.

I welcome the cancellation of activity by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (RIFW) as currently constituted. For over a year, I have been voicing my concerns about why the taxpayer has lost millions of pounds in the mis-selling of pieces of land.

Openness and transparency are critical in rooting out wrongdoing from public life and delivering value for money for hard-pressed taxpayers.

Selling off large pieces of valuable land in private deals was never going to deliver value for money for the public purse and it is vital that this Labour Government learns the lessons.

Investigations are still on going, and I will be asking serious questions about why it has taken this long for this decision to be taken given how long serious concerns have been raised.

– Byron Davies AM, Shadow Transport minister

Welsh Govt closes under-investigation investment body

The Welsh Government is to close down an arms-length investment organisation in the light of Wales Audit Office investigations into the sale of land. Housing and Regeneration Minister Carl Sargeant told AMs that he will take direct control of the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales.

This action is intended to ensure that the resources currently tied up in the Fund should be made available for investment in communities around Wales as soon as reasonably possible.

– Carl Sargeant AM, Housing and regeneration minister

RIFW's activities had been suspended in 2012 when the investigations were launched by the WAO. The minister says he's taken his latest step because he's concerned that the suspension is stopping the flow of investment to communities.

These investigations are still continuing and in the circumstances I have concluded that I am not in a position to remove the moratorium on the activities of the Fund. I am conscious that the effect of that would, without further action, simply be to extend the uncertainty surrounding the Fund. I am also very concerned that unless I take further action resources which should be made available to invest in our communities will instead be lying unused in RIFW’s bank account.

Following consultation with the RIFW Board I have therefore concluded that we should draw the investment activities of the Fund as currently constituted to a close. This will ensure that the resources currently locked up in the Fund can instead be reallocated for other projects supporting jobs and growth across Wales. My Department will assume direct responsibility for overseeing the Fund through this process.

– Carl Sargeant AM, Housing and regeneration minister


Boost airport ahead of payback - Shadow minister

We believe that after a period of revitalisation, investment and growth, that Cardiff Airport should be sold as a vibrant economic hub and that every taxpayer should get their £38.50 dividend back and share in the proceeds of growth.

Cardiff Airport should be seen as Wales’ gateway to the world, but unfortunately the airport is suffering from neglect and a lack of leadership and vision.

Welsh Conservatives opposed the Welsh Labour Government’s decision to nationalise Cardiff Airport, but now it is in public hands, we need to make it a success.

– Byron Davies AM, Shadow Transport minister