The Welsh people’s priorities have been abandoned in favour of vanity projects and inaction,


Time to bin Cooperation Agreement one year on


The Welsh people’s priorities have been abandoned in favour of vanity projects and inaction, say the Welsh Conservatives, a year on from the Labour Government’s Cooperation Deal with Plaid Cymru.


Last year, Adam Price abdicated his party’s role as a genuine opposition to sign an agreement with Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford, while enjoying privileges given to parties both in and out of government.

However, it’s clear that over the last year the public services Welsh people care about most have been ignored, while the deal has focussed on issues that matter more to the Cardiff Bay bubble, Labour and Plaid.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said:

“One year on since the Cooperation Agreement, Labour and Plaid have brought in one disastrous proposal after another, from default 20mph speed limits to tourism taxes to creating more politicians in Cardiff Bay , that are not only far removed from the wishes of the Welsh people, but their needs too.

“The priorities of voters have been completely ignored, with NHS waiting lists sky-rocketing beyond anything seen elsewhere in Britain, the blocking of a Wales-specific Covid inquiry, and school standards, public transport services, and pay packets all diminishing.

“Only the Welsh Conservatives would do what the Welsh people want and need: Bin this plan for more politicians and instead focusing on growing wages, tackling waiting lists and building the roads we need so we can get Wales moving again.”

Areas of the agreement under particular criticism include:

  • Making 20mph the default for Welsh roads: Roads across Wales will become 20mph, costing £32.5m to implement and draining the economy by 4.5bn, despite little public support and removing the choice from local decisionmakers.
  • Tourism Tax: Putting 1-in-7 jobs at risk, this charge on overnight stays in Wales, universally condemned by the tourism industry, has been found by the Labour Government’s own analysis to lead to less money being spent in areas that implement it.
  • Water Regulations: Plaid betrayed rural voters by u-turning on their opposition to NVZs, which will see onerous and costly new rules imposed on farmers across Wales to tackle isolated and localised pollution.
  • Universal Free School Meals: Under plans to expand free school meals to all primary school pupils, taxpayer money will be used to feed the children of millionaires instead of being used to support those on the lowest incomes.
  • Rent Controls: Despite overwhelming evidence abroad and in Scotland that rent controls reduce supply, create a black market, reduce housing quality and, even, increase rent for new entrants, the deal includes a White Paper to introduce them.

The Welsh Conservatives argue that the Agreement wilfully ignored the most significant issues facing Wales:

  • NHS waiting times: These have continued to grow, meaning Wales has three-quarters of a million people on a treatment waiting list (1-in-4 for over a year, and 60,000 for over two), the worst A&E waits in Britain, and its slowest ambulance response times on record.
  • Covid-19 Inquiry: Mark Drakeford, unlike Nicola Sturgeon, chose not to commission an inquiry to look at how their government handled Covid, deciding to obscure his own shortcomings in a UK-wide investigation.
  • Schools: The deal makes no mention of lifting Wales from the bottom of UK PISA rankings.
  • Pay: The agreement does not address Wales having the lightest pay packets in Britain.
  • Transport: The pact did not end the roadbuilding freeze or improve rail capacity in Wales.

While ignoring these issues, the two governing parties are intent on pursuing creating 36 more Senedd members, a broadcasting authority, and a Constitutional Commission. Both broadcasting and the constitution are reserved to Westminster.

The parties are also behind on making progress on the headline policies in the agreement:

  • Building safety: A second phase of the Welsh Building Safety Fund to help those living in properties with cladding has still not started.
  • Flood Review: This is yet to report on flooding in winter 2020/21 preventing any action on recommendations and delivering on flood capital investment and resilience.
  • Net Zero: The commitment to commission independent advice to examine potential pathways to net zero by 2035 has not yet begun. It only appointed a Chair in August.

Welsh Conservative analysis from this year found that between September 2021 and June 2022 found that the Plaid leader has used fewer than half of FMQ sessions to exclusively question Mark Drakeford on his responsibilities.

In the before the 2021 Senedd election, Adam Price said he “wouldn’t support a Labour government under any circumstances – a Labour-led government under any circumstances.”

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