CBI urges M4 relief road timetable

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Media captionEmma Watkins, director of CBI Wales, said big transport projects could be slow to come forward.

The next Welsh government should set a timetable for the M4 relief road and put an independent body in charge of big infrastructure projects, an industry organisation has said.

CBI Wales said a more "ambitious and effective" approach was needed to deliver the big transport projects to "unleash growth" in Wales.

It also wants the number of councils cut from 22 to no more than eight.

Its manifesto also calls for three development corporations for Wales.

CBI Wales' A Plan For Prosperity has been published ahead of next May's assembly election.

It wants more action to be taken on major transport projects

The business group also warned there had been "little significant infrastructure built over the last decade" because of delays.

It said any decision to postpone or cancel the M4 black route "would have long-term consequences for the government's reputation within the business community - and not just in Wales".

"Within the first 100 days of the new government, a timetable for the construction of the M4 black route should be published to give businesses the confidence needed to invest in Wales."

Infrastructure Priorities

'Unleash growth'

  • M4 Relief road 'black route' + 'smart' tolls on Severn crossing

  • Road Relieve A55 pinch points + targeted A40/A477 improvements in west Wales

  • Rail South and north Wales electrification + South Wales Metro

It said a "gear change" in investment was needed to upgrade the transport network but little economic infrastructure had been developed over the last decade.

Difficult decisions had been delayed and business was looking to the next government to take them "without delay", it said.

Timetables should also be set within 100 days for the South Wales Metro, rail electrification and targeted improvements for main roads like the A55.

"Despite positive announcements about funding for a new South Wales metro and rail electrification, these still remain warm words rather than tangible outcomes."

It called for an independent infrastructure commission to plan, finance and deliver big projects.

Image caption How the regional development corporations would look

It also called for three dedicated regional development corporations (RDCs) - built around the Cardiff and Swansea Bay city regions with another for north Wales.

"As local devolution in England empowers local authorities to drive forward their own growth, Welsh regions must not be left behind," the report said.

"With a population of just three million, we do not need 25 planning authorities, 22 local authorities and dozens of government organisations delivering separate strategies."

It said the RDCs should be free from local bureaucracy, "outward looking, forging dynamic partnerships with neighbouring English cities and exploring opportunities for UK growth deals".

Other recommendations:

  • No more than eight councils - with local government reorganisation in the pipeline.
  • Make growing the private sector the government's overarching goal - unlocking the potential of the "forgotten army" of medium-sized businesses with support to access equity finance.
  • Use powers over business rates, stamp duty and potentially income tax - to implement reforms and drive growth.
  • Help Welsh businesses punch above their weight on the world stage by making the case for the UK to remain a member of a reformed EU.
  • A step change is needed in schools to boost employability and fill skills gaps - the study of maths and English should be compulsory for all staying in education until the age of 18 and separate sciences should be an option at GCSE.
  • Public funding should be more tilted towards science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in further and higher education.
  • Source: CBI Wales - a plan for prosperity

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