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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Some unfortunate facts about the M4

Opposition to the extension of the M4 around Newport remains very strong within the Welsh Assembly, so much so that it is unlikely that the Labour Government would be able to get a majority to approve the £1 billion scheme.

Plaid Cymru feel so strongly about it that they pulled out of the budget negotiations with the Welsh Government leaving a clear field for the Welsh Lib Dems to get a much better deal for children and young people.

Plaid Cymru must be feeling fairly embarrassed this morning therefore as a result of this story on the BBC.

The BBC report that the Welsh government owns more than £12m in property, land and farms along the controversial black route and it has spent more than £20m in professional fees to consultants since 1998.

Some of this expenditure was incurred under a previous Labour Government but a large chunk of it was committed by the former Plaid Cymru Transport Minister. Oops!
To suggest that some areas of land acquired by the Welsh Government while Plaid was in coalition is an indication that Plaid were in favour of, or colluding with the proposed M4 'black route' is false. This land was purchased due to the final wind down of the hot rolling mills at Llanwern which needed an environment rehabilitation scheme, the closure of LG electronics, the closing of railway laidage associated with the old steelworks and a number of schemes in the Newport LDP relating to cycle routes and re-routing the arterial route on the western edge of the river. These schemes had nothing to do with the M4 relief road route, and to suggest it was is gutter politics Peter. Are you suggesting that similar land acquired by the Welsh Government at Llandarcy, the old LPG, or at Llansamlet or the 3M site at Penllegaer is an indication of a new motorway in Swansea? The Welsh Government acquire land for more reasons than building new roads.
This from the Plaid Cymru spokesperson, who seems to agree with me on the reasons this land was purchased:

This is a matter of transparency, and it is the Government’s failure to be open and open-minded that has led us to the situation that we find ourselves in now. If the Government had been open-minded, then, of course, we would know that you had considered each and every option. In terms of being open and transparent, it has taken a number of freedom of information requests for us to actually find some details on some of the expenditure to date, and on land purchased and so on.

Will the Minister give us a pledge now to be open and open-minded, and to start with a clean slate, and thereby give a pledge that she is willing to sell, according to the usual arrangements, the land that has been purchased on the black route, if she was to be persuaded that there were other options available?
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