Pressure is mounting on the Welsh Government after a second of its advisers questioned governance arrangements in the devolved nation, claiming the South Wales Metro transport plan has no suitable delivery body.
A former director of CBI Wales, Dr Elizabeth Haywood has chaired the Welsh Government’s City Regions Task and Finish Group and advised ministers on economic development in North Wales.
Dr Haywood publicly questioned the viability of the key project under current governance arrangements.
‘Putting the Metro at the heart of the Cardiff Capital Region’s strategy was a pretty safe bet, given clear support from Welsh Government for the concept, but where is the delivery body, where is the timetable?’ she writes in the magazine of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.
Similar concerns were raised last month by the IWA’s Economy Group, chaired by economist Gerald Holtham.
Dr Haywood, wife of Labour MP and former cabinet minister Peter Hain, says the Welsh Government should delegate powers to the city regions.
She suggests ‘a City Deal for Wales as a quid pro quo’ for unitary authorities which accept the government’s planned mergers.
‘If city regions are the engines of growth, they must have priority in economic policy and funding decisions,’ she said.
Meanwhile, a local government insider has claimed Metro ‘seems to have gone into a black hole’.
They told Transport Network that following the abolition of Regional Transport Consortia last April, external consultants were being brought in and councils ‘left on the margins’.
The Government responded: ‘We are in conversation with a number of local authorities about Phase 1 Metro projects, and project officials regularly meet with local authority transport officials. In addition, updates on the Metro are provided at meetings of the Cardiff City Region board, which has representatives from all the relevant local authorities.’
The news comes after Transport Network revealed last month that two key bodies questioned the Welsh Government’s commitment to the South Wales Metro plan, with an Institute of Welsh Affairs report and Cardiff CC officers both raising concerns.