Wales politics

Concerns raised over Cardiff's backing for city deal

Phil Bale
Image caption Cardiff council leader Phil Bale is an enthusiastic supporter of the city deal

Senior local government figures have serious concerns about whether Cardiff councillors will back the south east Wales city deal before May's local elections, BBC Wales understands.

The deal would bring together £1.2bn of local, Welsh and UK government funds to boost economic growth over 20 years.

Cardiff and nine other councils need to confirm their funding for the plan.

There are fears Cardiff council leader Phil Bale might not persuade enough councillors to back the deal.

Broad terms have already been agreed but the council leaders have to secure the full financial commitment from all of their authorities in a series of votes.

A senior local government source said that while the majority of authorities are on board there was a potentially "massive" problem at Cardiff.

Another local authority source said that while the challenge in Cardiff was "not insurmountable", the big risk was not reaching agreement before the local elections in May.

This would the mean new administrations having to be persuaded to support the deal in a process that could take months.

A report for Cardiff council in 2015 warned it could find its contribution to the deal "unaffordable".

Mr Bale has also faced difficulties leading the council.

He survived a leadership challenge at the annual general meeting of the city's Labour group last May.

Earlier this month he batted away calls for him to resign after his working majority was cut to three, in part because of councillor resignations.

There was no direct response from Mr Bale on Thursday but a spokesman for the Cardiff Capital Region City deal said: "All 10 local authorities are very much around the table.

"Work is underway to put in place governance and joint working arrangements.

"We expect to have a formal cabinet in place early next year, subject to agreement from the 10 councils."

The deal includes £734m for the South Wales Metro, bringing better rail and bus travel in the capital and valleys.

With the involvement of the 10 local authorities, the aim is to create 25,000 jobs and attract an extra £4bn in private sector investment.

The next stage of the plan is to secure agreement on a new regional joint cabinet as well as a mechanism to decide how specific projects are given funding in future.

A report will be published on Friday highlighting the growth and competitiveness opportunities for the Cardiff city region.

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