Senedd Bites #5: More Breathing Room

(Title Image: Wales Online)

Assembly Commission plotting estate expansion?

The draft 2018-19 Assembly Commission budget has earmarked £1.1million over the next three years towards a possible expansion of the Assembly estate in Cardiff Bay. The number of staff has grown recently and with the expectation that an expert review will recommend more AMs when it reports back later this year, there’s need for more room.

The Assembly currently rents Ty Hywel but owns the Senedd building. It’s unclear for the moment what form the expansion would take, but the Commission has already constructed extra committee room and estimates they will require up to 105,000 sqft in the future.

Reports reveal doubts over Circuit of Wales risks

A number of reports have been published casting light on some of the reasons behind the Welsh Government’s decision not to underwrite the Circuit of Wales development in Ebbw Vale. Some of the concerns include the size of the risk the Welsh Government could be exposed to, a lack of transparency, assumptions over ticket sales to events and the impact of Brexit.

Plaid Cymru and Labour have both accused each other of cherry-picking from the reports to support their own arguments (Plaid – pro, Labour – against), while David Davies MP (Con, Monmouth) – who was opposed to the plans – said the “sums simply didn’t add up”.

“Nuclear mud” petition passes debate threshold

A petition launched by Neil McEvoy AM (PlaidInd, South Wales Central) against the deposit of dredged mud from Hinkley Point nuclear power station has collected more than 5,000 signatures and under Petitions Committee rules is eligible for a request to be made for the petition to be debated by the Assembly.

The AM said, “That’s not the kind of future I want for my country. We need a modern economy built on skills and knowledge, not taking the waste other people don’t want. The Labour Welsh Government must now listen. They need to get this mud properly tested and they need to stop being reckless with radiation.”

Welsh Government breaks “no grants” promise

BBC Wales reported that the Welsh Government had paid out £244million in non-repayable grants to businesses since 2010, despite a pledge to stop the use of grants from previous Economy Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones.

The Welsh Government justified the policy as investor confidence was still shaken by the Great Recession, but an updated economic strategy is due to be published in the coming weeks.

Shadow Economy Minister, Russell George AM (Con, Montgomery) said it was, “the wrong policy in the very first place”.

CBI questions Future Generations Act

The CBI has doubts over the value of the flagship Wellbeing of Future Generations Act as well as the position it created, the Future Generations Commissioner.

The act is supposed to enshrine sustainable development in law to ensure the needs and wellbeing of future generations are secured, but there have been big questions recently over whether the Act is being interpreted in however manner the Welsh Government sees fit (in particular with regard the M4 Newport bypass) as well as the “anti-business” attitude of the Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, after she questioned a semiconductor cluster in Newport.

WWF Cymru said, “The latest official reports show the poor state of nature in Wales and the fact that we are continuing to lose species and habitats. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to put this right. Our focus now must be on effective delivery of this important Act.”