Welsh Government minister must explain “misleading” statement on M4 inquiry

A Welsh minister has been accused of “misleading” Assembly Members and the wider public over delays to a public inquiry into the M4.

Due to start on November 1st, the inquiry has now been delayed until March 2017.

Last week Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, blamed what “last minute changes” to UK Government traffic forecasts for the delays.

But an official letter published by Welsh Conservatives today proves that Welsh ministers have been aware of the changes – and significantly engaged in the process – since it was first announced in December 2014.

The letter (attached) reveals that plans to update Tempro in 2016 were first made public in December 2014, followed by an engagement event in March 2015.

In early 2016, it also claims, Welsh Government officials were provided with an indicative timetable for the release of Tempro 7, at a periodic engagement event between DfT, Transport Scotland, Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure.

Finally, a “high-level overview” of national results was presented three weeks before the final publication at a further engagement event attended by Welsh Government officials.

The letter also confirms that, despite Welsh Government claims, the “main methodology underpinning the model remained unchanged from the previous version”.

Welsh Conservatives have today tabled an urgent question in the National Assembly for Wales, and will demand that the Cabinet Secretary appears in front of AMs next week to explain his misleading comments.

South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar, who unearthed the evidence, said:

“It is becoming clear that the Cabinet Secretary’s statement was misleading and we now know that there was significant engagement between the governments over many months.

“It is deeply regrettable, therefore, that instead of acknowledging responsibility for yet another delay to this project, that the Welsh Government is seeking to lay the blame elsewhere.

“Despite the Cabinet Secretary’s claims, the Welsh Government has had officials involved at every step of the way since the changes were first announced in December 2014.

“Mr Skates should clarify his earlier comments and must now appear in front of AMs to explain these apparent inconsistencies.”

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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