Wales politics

Cardiff MP's city region deal warning to councillors

Cardiff Bay Image copyright Damien Myer/Getty Images

Councils in south east Wales cannot half commit to the Cardiff city region deal, a city MP has warned.

Conservative Craig Williams said the 10 local authorities must see upcoming votes on the project as binding.

Some Labour city councillors say they were assured a vote for the deal would not lock in the council financially until specific projects are agreed.

Meanwhile four business organisations have said they "strongly urge" the councils to back the deal.

Cardiff council's Labour group decided to back the deal on Monday following concerns some were unhappy about it.

A spokesman for the group said it will be voting for the deal and accused Cardiff North MP Mr Williams of playing politics.

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

All 10 local authorities will have full council votes on the matter over the next few weeks.

Councillors will begin to receive legal and governance papers later on Thursday setting out how the deal will work.

But full details on every project the deal will fund will not be known for some time.

Former Cardiff council leader Russell Goodway said Labour councillors had listened to legal advice on the deal, which would see Cardiff provide 23.7% of local authorities' contribution.

"We were given an absolute reassurance no council will be locked in financially to the main elements of the city deal until each and every council has agreed the programme of projects," he said.

"The reason for that, we were told, is how can a council be asked to contribute money until you know what the projects are and that they will justify the investment?"

Mr Williams said he was "careful about wading into this debate".

"But the time has come to endorse the city deal approach, seek partners to raise additional investment, and get on with delivery," he said.

"The remarks that any local authority can only half commit, in my opinion, is a very unwelcome one and Cardiff should see this vote as binding and a full commitment to re-energising our south Wales economy and hugely needed infrastructure investment."

Council elections take place for all of Wales' 22 local authorities in May and there has been concern that the process could be delayed if firm commitments are not in place before then.

A spokesman for the Cardiff Labour Group described Mr Williams' intervention as "bizarre", stating the MP had not been involved in local government discussions on the deal.

"The Labour group in Cardiff are very proud of this city deal and will be voting to support it next week," added the spokesman.

"This is a deal that was started and led by Labour politicians locally and backed by a Welsh Labour Government."

Meanwhile leading figures from four business groups have urged councils to back the city deal, stressing its "critical importance" and "significant potential impact on the area's future economy and well-being".

The statement was signed by CBI Wales director Ian Price; Ben Cottam of the Federation of Small Businesses Wales; Robert Lloyd Griffiths of the Institute of Directors Wales; and Liz Maher, president of the South and Mid Wales Chamber of Commerce.

"We strongly urge all the authorities to support the City Deal, and we welcome the opportunity to sit down with Regional Cabinet at the earliest opportunity to discuss the next stages of implementation," they said.

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