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Welsh Conservatives call for an end to Valleys’ “cycle of deprivation”

The Welsh Conservative Shadow Spokesperson for Skills has called on the Welsh Labour Government to once and for all to break the "cycle of deprivation" which continues to blight the Welsh Valleys.

Speaking today in the Senedd Chamber, Mohammad Ashgar AM challenged the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies AM, on how he intends to deliver his newly launched Ministerial Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys.

According to the Welsh Government, the new taskforce will, among other stated ambitions, aim to improve people’s quality of life, economic development and employment and skills.

Mr Ashgar expressed particular concern that the taskforce would be chaired by the Cabinet Minister himself, and not an independent chair from the private sector, equipped with the business experience to drive the initiative forward.

He also questioned what targets the Welsh Government had in place to track the progress of the initiative to ensure that the manifesto commitment was adequately delivered.

Speaking outside the Senedd Chamber, Mr Ashgar said:

"Any initiative which aims to deal with the longstanding issues contributing to poverty in the Valleys is to be welcomed.

"But after so many years of Labour Governance, the South Wales Valleys remain among the poorest areas of Europe so I am sceptical as to whether this new initiative will be a panacea.

"If he is serious about breaking this enduring cycle of deprivation then the Cabinet Minister must embrace a targeted approach to the project’s delivery and cede chairmanship to an independent member of the business community.

"Without these steps I fear that in five years’ time, the taskforce will amount to no more than good intentions and hot air."