Wales politics

Wales' enterprise zones on track for 2012 - Edwina Hart

Five Welsh enterprise zones to help nurture businesses will be up and running this year as planned, says Business Minister Edwina Hart.

Mrs Hart defended her handling of the policy after opponents said Labour was dragging its feet.

The zones are being set up to support key industries around Wales.

In an interview with BBC Wales' Sunday Politics, Mrs Hart said the criticism of her had come from rival politicians and not from business people.

"So I take that criticism with a pinch of salt," she said.

The zones - in Anglesey, Ebbw Vale, Deeside, St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Cardiff - "will be alive in 2012", she insisted.

The Welsh government had looked at the boundaries of the zones with its partners and there had been "constructive discussions" about education, training and transport.

Talks are continuing with the UK Treasury over capital allowances which let businesses write off the cost of certain assets for tax purposes.

"So I don't take the criticism from other politicians on this at all," Mrs Hart said.

With enterprise zones being set up close to the English border in Hereford, Bristol and Liverpool, she rejected the notion that Wales was being left behind.

Some businesses had expressed interest in moving into the five Welsh zones, Mrs Hart said, adding that Scotland had only recently announced it would be following the model.

"Not everybody's out in the media publicising what dealings they may or may not have with us, and I'm very confident that we will have the policy right in Wales in terms of enterprise zones," she said.

Her comments come after Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams challenged First Minister Carwyn Jones in the Senedd on Tuesday, where she said Wales was "behind the game".

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