Culture Minister refuses to back Pinewood investment

Tensions have emerged at the heart of Welsh Government after the Culture Minister, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, refused to endorse the government’s deal with Pinewood Studios.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Welsh Government issued a statement that it was “proud” of its association with Pinewood, and of the studio, describing it as an “opportunity that Wales could not afford to miss out on”.

However, the Culture Minister, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, has distanced himself from the comments this afternoon – repeatedly refusing to echo that sentiment when challenged by journalists at a Policy Forum debate on the arts in Wales.

Instead, he repeatedly advised that delegates that “this all happened before I was in post”.

The row comes as the Wales Audit Office has published a critical report into the Welsh Government’s management of the studio.

Speaking after First Minister’s Questions, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives – Andrew RT Davies – said:

“Collective responsibility now appears to be out of the window.

“It’s rare that I find myself in agreement with the Culture minister, but it’s hard to make a positive case for the Welsh Government’s handling of the Pinewood project.

“The Auditor General’s report raises serious questions over the investment, and whether the government ever had the expertise needed to make it work.

“We were promised thousands of jobs and £90 million in economic activity as a result of the investment.

“Instead, the Welsh Labour Government has turned the golden goose into a turkey.

“The Minister is right to distance himself from this debacle because you simply cannot defend the indefensible. It’s just the latest in a long line of examples of the First Minister over-promising and under-delivering.”