First Minister Carwyn Jones refuses to confirm M4 relief road by 2021
The First Minister has been accused of downgrading his government’s manifesto commitment to delivering an M4 relief road by 2021, after describing it as merely an “aim” during First Minister’s Questions this afternoon.
Challenged on his government’s promise to deliver a solution to the congestion on the M4 around Newport by 2021, the First Minister refused to commit to the original deadline.
He also appeared to pre-empt the public inquiry, reiterating an earlier claim that implementing the ‘blue route’ would be so unpopular with the thousands of homes nearby that “you could kiss goodbye to winning elections in Newport for a generation”.
It follows a week in which Welsh Government Ministers have been accused of misleading AMs over delays to a public inquiry on the M4 relief road.
Last week Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, blamed “last minute changes” to UK Government traffic forecasts for the delays which are set to push the inquiry back .
But an official letter published by Welsh Conservatives proved that Welsh ministers have been aware of the changes – and significantly engaged in the process – since it was first announced in December 2014.
Speaking outside the chamber today, Mr Davies said:
“The goalposts have been moved once again, and the First Minister is now refusing to guarantee that an M4 relief road will be delivered by 2021.
“It’s distressing news for motorists from the region, who suffer with daily tailbacks and gridlock almost every day.
“Equally damaging is the First Minister’s claim that implementing the blue route would be electoral suicide.
“We already know that he favours the black route, but his choice of language will call into question whether the inquiry can be seen as anything more than a PR exercise.”
Mr Davies also challenged the First Minister after he refused to accept that the Cabinet Secretary had misled AMs over delays to the inquiry.
“We know beyond doubt that there was significant engagement between the two governments over many months.
“It is deeply regrettable, therefore, that instead of acknowledging responsibility for yet another delay to this project, 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.”