VALE COUNCILLORS VOTE FOR “CITY DEAL” WITH CARDIFF

Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward) Leader of the Vale Glamorrgan Council - spells out the reasons for the City Deal

Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward) Leader of the Vale Glamorgan Council – spells out the reasons for the City Deal

In a special meeting last night, the Vale of Glamorgan Council voted by 34 to 5 in favour of moving ahead with the next stage of the complex multi-million-pound so-called “City Deal”.

The deal commits the Vale of Glamorgan Council to working with Cardiff Council and eight other South East Wales local authorities to develop infrastructure –  and particularly a new transport system for area –  with the help of government grants and private finance.

Cllr Ian Johnson Plaid Buttrills Ward)

Cllr Ian Johnson Plaid Buttrills Ward)

The leader of Plaid Cymru Cllr Dr Ian Johnson (Plaid Cymru, Buttrills Ward, Barry)  said he had  “quite strong reservations about the scheme”.

Cllr Johnson said he was worried about the proposed transfer of powers over Housing and Planning which would be moved upwards to “the leaders of this authority” . Cllr  Johnson said “I must be honest – the idea of putting Planning and Housing in the hands of the people who have massively inflated the numbers of required housing in the Vale of Glamorgan is quite scary”.

He said that the Growth Commission had estimated that 7,200 new homes over 20 years in the Vale of Glamorgan. he said “That’s 360 per year and that’s quite different from  the 660 houses per year which are actually part of  [ the Vale Council’s Local Development Plan]”    

Plaid Cymru's leader suggested the council meeting had been convened so that on March 1st St David's Day the First Minister could pose for photographs at a ceremony at Cardiff Airport

Plaid Cymru’s leader suggested the special Vale Council meeting had been convened so that on March 1st (St David’s Day) the First Minister could pose for photographs at a ceremony at Cardiff Airport

Cllr  Johnson said there had been originally an 18-24  month timescale given for the council to consider its participation in the project. He suspected that the real reason it was all being done in a rush now – and this “Special Meeting” had been called –  was to approve the deal in time for the First Minister Carwyn Jones pose for what he called a “contrived photograph on the 1st of March at Cardiff Airport [St David’s Day ].”

Cllr Johnson said there had been a lack of consideration about the governance of the proposed scheme. Whereas the Vale Council had had a large amount of time to discuss the [ultimately abortive] proposals to merge with Cardiff Council and Bridgend –  the City Deal on the other hand had “snuck up on us from behind” and there had been no discussions on the various powers involved the deal and “where they should be lying”   .

Cllr Johnson said the Vale Council would be “signing-up for 25 years of payments and discussions . I think that all 10 councils should really have left this until after we’ve had the elections in May”  .

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully)

Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent Sully) said the scheme was not the huge deal that was being presented to the public.   The vast majority of the money would be used on the so-called Metro transport system. Transport was the responsibility of the UK and Welsh Governments  – and the franchise operators – rather than the local authorities. Once the Metro costs had been stripped out of the scheme, there would only be net receipts of £19,000,000 to be split between 10 councils . The council had been told the Metro system would not be coming unless the council signed up to the scheme – which was “nothing short of blackmail” . “Why shouldn’t we have decent transport links?” – he asked  and “why shouldn’t the UK Government or the Welsh Assembly or the transport companies be paying for them ? “.

Conservative Leader John Thomas and Cllr Jeffrey James (Conservative Rhoose) spoke in favour of the scheme although Cllr James noted that questions such as who would audit the managing authority of the scheme were as yet unresolved.

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) said the scheme meant the end of hopes for a Dinas Powys By Pass

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) said reading between the lines meant there would be no Dinas Powys By Pass

Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) said he was concerned that the UK Government Treasury would be “calling the tune”  .It seemed to him that the whip hand would be held by the UK Government and there would be “very little economic development in the Vale”. “Reading between the lines” he said, the documents appeared to show there would not be a Dinas Powys By-Pass.

Cllr Franks said “It is as plain as a pike-staff that with the focus on the airport and on aerospace, with Five Mile Lane    being reconstructed there will be a direct link up the Ely Valley to Junction 34 of the M4”. He looked forward to the Conservatives stating their position in leaflets for the forthcoming election.  At this point  there was an inaudible interjection from the Conservatives to which a councillor replied “Tell your fellow Tories that in Dinas Powys!” . There was then a call for order from the chair.

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council attacked Plaid Cymru

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council attacked Plaid Cymru

Deputy Leader Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) attacked what she called the “scarcity mentality” of the scheme’s critics which was “focused solely on making sure we had big enough slice of the cake” . She urged councillors to “adopt a more abundant mentality where we all work together to make a bigger cake so we all get some”. “If the City Deal succeeds” – she said – “we all succeed”.

Cllr Nic Hodges (Plaid Baruc)

Cllr Nic Hodges (Plaid Baruc)

It was Cllr Nick Hodges (Plaid Cymru ) who again raised the issue of the suspect Welsh Government Population Projections which “informs this debate”.

He said the Welsh Government quoted  the current population of the Vale of Glamorgan as being 127,985 – and forecasts this to rise –  by the year 2036 –  by just 730 people . Cllr Hodges said “Do you believe that?” “Do you believe that with our LDP [ Local Development Plan ?  Do you believe that with the massive house-building  that’s been going on in the Vale? – and Do you believe that with the loss of control that we will have over our land in this scheme when they will be going helter-skelter to build in the Vale of Glamorgan to further condemn us as a suburb of Cardiff?  ” 

However Cllr Hodges said the Cardiff and Vale LHB 2009 projections had indicated the population of Cardiff would actually rise by 76,000 (a 24% increase) and that the Vale of Glamorgan population would rise by 24,700  (a 20% increase) .  Cllr Hodges said of the Welsh Government Population Forecast “If this whole [City Deal] document is based on fanciful and quite frankly ridiculous information such as that I just wonder where we are going with it”.

In the end the Vale Council’s involvement in the City Deal was approved by vote was 34 for and 5 (including all those Plaid Cymru councillors present ) voting against.

After the debate was over a live microphone broadcast a private conversation between the Mayor Cllr Stuart Egan and Vale council's managing Director Rob Thomas

After the debate was over a live microphone broadcast a private conversation between the Mayor Cllr Stuart Egan and Vale council’s managing Director Rob Thomas

After the debate,  the microphone of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Mayor Cllr Stuart Egan was left on  – and Vale Council managing director Rob Thomas could be heard in private conversation with him:-

  • Rob Thomas: “That was a very good debate wasn’t it?”
  • Mayor : “Yeah . It’s wrong to stifle it”
  • Rob Thomas : It’s strange isn’t it because you know that with the LGR , Plaid have been very firm that they want this regional approach . It’s very strange because it’s playing into the hands of what they’ve always asked for”
  • Mayor “I don’t think they’ve done themselves any favours whatsoever”

At this point the microphone was turned off.

 

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5 Responses to VALE COUNCILLORS VOTE FOR “CITY DEAL” WITH CARDIFF

  1. Janet Jones says:

    Does anyone know if this meeting was streamed on the internet please?

  2. Kevin Mahoney says:

    As a clarification of my point in regards to £19m which perhaps isn’t made quite clear in the article.

    It is that once the cost of the Metro transport improvement is removed which in reality for me is a stand alone project in itself, the amount of money per annum available to the ‘City region’ of 10 county councils is the grand sum of a max £19m per annum between the 10 which all ten councils will have to scap for without any guarantee of having any nominated scheme in their council area accepted by the other 9 authorities.

    Even if every council recieved an equal shareout this would amount to £1.9m per council each per annum for 20 years and this figure could also be further reduced taking into account regular performance analysis assessments which will mean the witholding of further funds if these assessments are not favourable, as well as eliciting extra contributions from councils depending on the time scale of the drawdown of funds for projects, this could possibly double the Vales contributions over the course of the scheme.

    To put into perspective the £19m shared each year between the 10 councils, the recently announced 5 mile lane improvements will be costing £38m alone ( this is already funded from a different source I should add) so one would have to question just what a shared £19m each year between 10 councils is going to produce in the way of meaningful projects.

    Whilst I welcome any extra money, I do feel that the blaze of glory headline of £1.22 bn made available to the ‘City region’ as announced to the public through the media is not quite the full story when you dig down to the finer details.

    I of course welcome investment in our transport system and greater collaboration by adjoining councils for the greater good but I feel that there are also grounds to be cautious also.

    I counted 22 councillors out of the 47 on the Vale council who attended the presentation and question and answer question on the ‘City Region’ deal held by the Vale’s managing director before the subsequent meeting to vote on the proposal. Whilst acknowledging that reports have been circulated beforehand for the examination of councillors, I expected more to attend, one labour councillor who did attend actually asked the MD if questions could be held until the end as she would like to see the presentation finished by 5.30pm (even though it only started at 4pm)

    One can only surmise that anything over one and a half hours spent discussing a £1.22bn deal and it’s implications were deemed to be excessive by some.

    I voted yes to the project with my stated reservations as to the lack of real major financing other than to the Metro transport project which I really feel should be the responsibility of the UK government, Welsh assembly and the various passenger transport companies anyway.

    We were told that if the ‘City Region’ deal didn’t go ahead then no finance for the Metro transport improvements would be forthcoming.

    Which is the reason for my blackmail comment in the report.

  3. AK says:

    Why are they discussing major reorganisation / spending / funding until we know the financial implications to Wales (and to the whole of the UK) of the Brexit deal ?

  4. Chris Franks says:

    There are additional serious implications beyond the funding issues. For instance one proposal is that major planning allocations in terms of land use could be the role of the new regional organisation. So it could well be that the Regional Cabinet will be able to decree that say the Michaelston valley or the fields off Sully Road should be zoned for housing. Basically the Vale could see another 10,000 new houses on top of the 10,500 already allocated in the Local Development Plan. This is one reason why Plaid could not support the City Deal.

Comments are closed.