A465 project costs not expected to increase any further

(Title Image: Welsh Government via Youtube)

Here’s a round-up of this week’s questions to Economy & Transport Minister, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South).

Market to be incentivised to install electric charging points

Continuing the discussion from yesterday, Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) asked whether the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys would be included in any Swansea Bay Metro (a feasibility study having been promised in a budget deal with her party)?

The Minister was non-committal but said all four local authorities in the area were involved in developing the metro plans and the aim is for the reach of the Swansea metro to be as wide as possible.

Another deal regarded electric charging points:

“….in the final budget deal with the Welsh Government, we agreed not to oppose the budget, and one of the conditions of that was £2 million to be allocated to improving electric vehicle charging points across Wales….This was a commitment to a substantial investment, and I wonder if the Minister can tell us today what has been done with that investment, and how does he account for the fact that we have such low (number of charging points) in some of those communities that need it most?”
– Helen Mary Jones AM

The Minister said the £2million has been used to incentivise the market to deliver solutions instead of funding the installation of charging points. That way it could ensure more than £2million worth of charging points are installed. An electric vehicle charging strategy is due later this year.

Welsh Government infrastructure projects take too long to deliver

In light of recent news on the rising costs of the A465 project and ahead of a Tory debate on roads, Shadow Economy Minister, Russell George AM (Con, Montgomery), wondered why cost overruns and delays were becoming a feature of Welsh infrastructure projects?

The Minister accepted that opposition AMs would be critical of these delays and they have a right to scrutinise. He was, however, confident the costs of the A465 Gilwern-Brynmawr section wouldn’t rise any further:

“….the scheme budget remains as it was in my statement in April of last year. The budget remains the same: no further increase, despite the delay that was announced very recently. It’s also worth reflecting on the fact that this particular project is now more than 85% complete, with construction of more than 7.5 miles of retaining walls; something in the order of 1.3 million m3 of material has been excavated, and there has been the laying of 16,000m3 of concrete; 30,000 trees have been planted and 15 bridges have been constructed. It’s a huge endeavour.”
– Economy & Transport Minister, Ken Skates

Strong foundations

David Rowlands AM (BXP, South Wales East) asked for an update on the foundational economy. He noted some scepticism that even with a focus on the foundational economy, some towns may struggle to catch up economically with the M4 corridor. Did the Minister think this analysis was correct?

The Minister believes that what makes the foundational economy different from previous big economic ideas in Wales is that it focuses more on communities that have been left behind with a greater emphasis on the quality of work rather than quantity.

He pointed to statistics which showed Welsh unemployment at record low levels and household incomes rising faster than the UK average as signs the Welsh Government has been investing smartly in the right areas.

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