Posted: Thu 23rd May 2024

North Wales minister calls for ‘firm commitment’ from UK Government on Wrexham to Bidston line upgrade

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

North Wales receives “crumbs from the table” compared to the Welsh Government’s investment in the south of the country, according to a Conservative MS.

Darren Millar, who represents Clwyd West, warned that north Wales is not receiving its fair share as he called for a levelling-up agenda within Wales.

The Conservative MS criticised a “disparity” in spending, with the south Wales metro getting more than £1bn while the project in the north has been allocated a “mere” £50m.

He told the chamber: “Even when accounting for population differences, south Wales is still getting more than five times the investment per capita than north Wales.”

“That is not good enough, what are you going to do to address that gross unfairness?”

‘Vague promises’

Ken Skates, cabinet secretary for north Wales and transport, said the south Wales metro is part of the city deal but the north Wales rail project is not part of the equivalent growth deal.

Pointing out that the Welsh Government is not responsible for rail infrastructure in north Wales, he said: “We have to have those responsible for funding them writing the cheques.

“We’re not getting that. We’ve had a vague promise of money for the mainline electrification, which, with just £1bn, would probably only electrify it from Chester to Prestatyn at best.”

[Darren Millar MS]

Mr Skates called for a firm commitment from the UK Government on the Marches and Wrexham to Bidston lines as well as the mainline.

“We need them to promise that it won’t just be electrification from Chester to Prestatyn, but the whole way through to Holyhead,” he said.

‘Pittance’

Mr Millar criticised a lack of investment in road infrastructure and warned north Wales councils usually fare worse in budget settlements.

During questions on north Wales and transport, he told the Senedd: “You’re building new hospitals in south Wales, but not in the north. That is the record of this government.”

The Tory added: “A pittance has been thrown, like crumbs from the table, to the people of north Wales, who, frankly, are very angry with the Welsh Government for that situation.”

Mr Millar highlighted a “huge disparity and unfairness” on railway ticket prices, saying people in north Wales have to pay double for similar journeys.

After the meeting on May 22, he warned that the north-south divide has never been worse.

‘Treasury says no’

Mr Skates, who returned to the frontbench in March, reiterated calls for the UK Government to invest in north Wales infrastructure and capacity constraints at Chester.

“They kept saying ‘no’,” he said, pointing out that the Welsh Government has invested in the Wrexham to Chester doubling despite the UK Treasury being responsible.

Wales’ transport secretary, who represents Clwyd South, also criticised UK ministers for rejecting calls for a degree of control over Avanti West Coast.

Mr Skates told the Senedd: “Transport for Wales’ punctuality is far higher, far higher than Avanti West Coast, which the UK Government is responsible for….

“They went ahead with giving Avanti West Coast, a very poor performer compared to TfW, another several years of operating that failed rail service.”

 

By Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter

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