Russell George AM challenges First Minister over £1bn M4 consolation fund

The Shadow Minister for Business, Economy and Transport quizzed the First Minister during scrutiny committee this morning over how much of M4 relief road money will be made available for infrastructure in North Wales.

Mr George joined fellow Welsh Conservatives Janet Finch-Saunders and Nick Ramsay in Wrexham this morning to put questions on the topic of manufacturing to the First Minister, the topic chosen following recent heavy Welsh losses from Ford, Dawnus and Jistcourt.

Mr George took the opportunity to remind the First Minister of the severe disappointment from the business sector over the shunning of the M4 relief road, as he raised the concerns of the Confederation of British Industry and the wider business community.

Following on from his recent visit to Holyhead Port, the Shadow Business Minister took his chance to highlight how the money left over from the M4 project must be used to support infrastructure projects across North Wales.

He relayed what he saw as a ‘clear need’ for improved infrastructure around Holyhead, after the port relayed how it can take as much time to travel from Ireland to Wales, as it does to travel from Holyhead Port to the busy A55.

He asked Mr Drakeford for investment to improve the economy of North Wales, by improving links between the port and the A55, with other improvement at pinch-points on key North Wales routes. 

Shadow Finance Minister, Nick Ramsay AM, added to this by asking the First Minister to assure those gathered that the intended relief road money would be absolutely safeguarded for the action group exploring alternative options for the M4.

Despite also being pressed for a timeline for the action group to disclose their ideas, Mr Drakeford was able only to say that he hopes by Christmas this year the group will ‘have a sense of how much time they will need to work on their ideas.’

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Business, Economy and Infrastructure, Russell George AM, said:

“As Welsh Conservatives, we believe that the First Minister should have accepted the result of the Independent Inquiry, and built the M4 relief road, but as the First Minister has now made this decision, clearly he needs to support infrastructure projects across Wales.

“When I visited Holyhead Port two weeks ago, I was told about the infrastructure problems impeding its work and its progression, so I want assurances from Mr Drakeford that he won’t forget the business sector so let down by his refusal to build the relief road, and he’ll use this extra money for the good of infrastructure across Wales.

“We’ve all heard his ‘assurances’ before, let’s hope this one doesn’t take years to materialise.”