Welsh election: Let pubs reopen to control drinking, says Tory leader

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Image caption,
Large crowds have gathered on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay at weekends as pubs remain shut

Scenes of disorder and littering due to crowds drinking outdoors during the pandemic can be avoided if pubs were allowed to reopen sooner, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives has said.

Andrew RT Davies said the Welsh government had been "too slow" in reopening hospitality after lockdown.

He told a BBC Radio Wales election phone-in that coastal communities had felt "blighted" by the nuisance.

Landlords and staff want to get back to work and earn a living, he added.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be able to reopen outdoor areas from Monday, while First Minister Mark Drakeford has said he will announce on Friday whether they can reopen indoors from 17 May.

The move could depend on which party is in power following the Senedd election on 6 May.

However, Mr Davies told listeners on Thursday: "The Welsh Labour government have been too slow in reopening hospitality, especially outdoor hospitality, because licenced premises have a key role to play in controlling drinking.

"In particular, some of the scenes that we've seen on the steps of the Senedd and in other parts ... there's been some difficult positions that residents have been placed in.

"If we had opened licensed outdoor facilities, then they could have contained that, because by the very nature of the licence, they have to keep an orderly house, they have to provide the toilet facilities, they have to provide the refuse facilities.

"It's that whole experience that sadly many communities have felt blighted over, as well as the economic consequences of obviously those facilities not being open for landlords and staff to obviously get back to work and do the job that they love and that they've invested in, making sure that they're Covid safe and secure."

The Welsh Conservatives' launched a manifesto earlier this week promising new or upgraded hospitals, 5,000 more teachers and a possible income tax cut.

The plans did not come with a list of how much they would cost, although colleagues in Scotland did provide such a document.

Mr Davies defended the plans on BBC Wales' Ask the Leader programme, saying they were costed.

He said he was proposing investments worth £8bn over five years. Plans for 3,000 nurses would cost £270m, and 5,000 teachers would cost £420m over five years, he claimed.

"I am completely confident this manifesto is deliverable within the envelope of cash that the Welsh government has over the next five years," he said.

"If it's not, boot us out."

He told BBC Wales political editor Felicity Evans that he regretted that two projects promised in the 2015 Welsh Conservative manifesto - the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and rail electrification to Swansea - were not delivered.

"I regret on those two particular projects we weren't able to [deliver them]," he added.

"But there's still the opportunity to resurrect those projects".

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Note: This lookup covers national elections in Scotland and Wales, the Hartlepool by-election, as well as council and mayoral elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in England and Wales. There may be parish council elections or council by-elections where you are. Check your local council website for full details. Last updated: May 11, 2021, 12:35 GMT

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