Welsh Government Budget: Free Parking Pilot Scheme, Additional Council Funding & Increase in Higher Education Spend
The Draft Budget is being delivered this afternoon, with a possible Welsh Football Museum being a winner for Wrexham…
The Draft Budget ‘narrative’ document is out (here) that is now being presented down in Cardiff. The possible Wrexham location of a football museum was in the manifesto and mooted by Leanne Wood when she had a pre-election chat with us.
Professor Mark Drakeford while presenting the budget called it a ‘budget for stability and ambition, investing for today and preparing for tomorrow’.
The Welsh Government website has the following documents for download:
Original information below…
A piloted free parking scheme across Wales, increased spend on mental health services and additional funding for local authorities are due to feature as part of the Welsh Government’s draft 2017/18 budget this afternoon.
The multi-million pound deal which has been struck between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru
which will further investment in schools, the NHS, local government, the Welsh language and the arts, as part of the draft Budget 2017-18.
The Welsh Government say that the agreement delivers a package of spending commitments ‘reflecting Plaid Cymru’s policy priorities amounting to £119m’.
It includes an extra £30m for higher and further education; £25m for local government and £44m additional investment in the health service. The Welsh language will receive an additional £5m as a result of the Budget agreement, and funding for the arts will rise by £3m.
A total of £3m in funding for a pilot to end town centre parking charges is also included in the draft budget.
The Budget agreement was negotiated through the formal Finance Liaison Committee set up between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
In addition to the funding commitments, a number of other measures have also been agreed.
These include a commitment to explore the development of an all-Wales plan to increase the level of Welsh-domiciled medical students in Wales, including the development of medical training in North Wales, and exploring options to accelerate the Llandeilo bypass scheme if more capital funding becomes available through the Autumn Statement.
Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “The establishment of the Finance Liaison Committee has been a milestone in the maturity of Welsh politics and the productive discussions we have had with Plaid Cymru have been conducted in that spirit.
“As the First Minister said at the start of this Assembly, no party has a monopoly on good ideas and we have been able to incorporate many of Plaid Cymru’s spending plans into this draft Budget.
“The Budget agreement delivers a kick start to delivery for many key policies and programmes so the people of Wales can start to see their benefits as early as possible.”
Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths has welcomed the announcement and said:
“Since 2010, the Conservative UK Government has cut the Welsh Budget by £1.4bn. With the UK Government pursuing austerity measures and the Brexit fallout remaining unclear, there can be little doubt there are uncertain times ahead.”
“However, this draft Budget announcement has demonstrated a maturity in Welsh politics, and in spite of unprecedented Tory cuts, two parties have worked together to achieve the best possible outcomes for the people of Wales.”
“Locally, I hope this latest announcement can result in a dedicated national football museum opening in the town. This is something I have long called for, having corresponded with the Welsh Government and made my feelings clear to the local authority.
“I hope relevant parties can work together to achieve this goal for Wrexham.”
Plaid Cymru North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd said: “Not only is this the biggest budget deal in the history of the National Assembly for Wales, but it is the best ever deal for north Wales – thanks to Plaid Cymru. From the beginning of this Assembly term, Plaid Cymru made it clear that we will use our role as the Official Opposition to deliver real gains for the people of Wales, and that is what we have achieved today.
“Our deal will see greater investment in education, through our universities and Further Education colleges, and by creating thousands of new apprenticeships. Plaid Cymru has also secured investment in the health service, which will mean more diagnostic equipment to bring down waiting times, and that we can train more doctors to work in the NHS at new locations such as a medical school in Bangor.”
He added: “Plaid Cymru has secured a feasibility study into creating a national football museum in Wrexham, and the extra funding that we have secured will mean that bodies such as the National Museum for Wales will see an increase in their budgets. And by doubling the budget for Visit Wales we can make Wales a world-renowned travel destination and help the businesses that depend on tourist trade.
“Plaid Cymru’s goal has always been to deliver the best deal possible for the people of Wales and our budget deal represents a massive £119 million investment package that will strengthen the NHS, boost the economy, improve educational standards and deliver better public services.
“We have delivered more in less than six months as an opposition party than any other party in the history of the National Assembly, and we will continue to fight for the best interests of people all across Wales.”
Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham spokesperson, said: “The additional funding in the Welsh budget that Plaid Cymru has obtained for areas such as Wrexham is hugely welcome and comes on top of the previous agreement in May.
“There’s money to help rejuvenate the town centre through a pilot scheme for free parking together with additional funds for apprenticeships and a welcome boost for Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr University.
“Frontline council services will be better protected due to the extra funding we’ve secured from the Welsh Government too.
“Our NHS, which has struggled so much in recent years, is going to see better investment to train more doctors here in the North as well as investment in specialist diagnostic equipment to treat patients more quickly.
“On a personal level, I’m also delighted that the plan for a National Football Museum here in Wrexham is a step further on. This is something Plaid Cymru locally has called for over the past year with other interested parties such as the football club and supporters’ trust. I hope the feasibility study can turn this dream into reality as it would be a real boost to the town and the region.
“Our Plaid Cymru team of AMs in Cardiff have delivered real results for North Wales and Wrexham in particular.”
However the deal between the two parties has been questioned by Welsh Conservatives, who have today said they will continue to be the ‘real opposition’ to the Labour-led Welsh Government.
Responding to the announcement that Plaid Cymru and Labour have struck a budget deal, a spokesperson for the Welsh Conservatives said: “There’s little reason to believe that this budget will be any different from those that preceded it – all of which have categorically failed to deliver the necessary levels of education, prosperity and health for communities across Wales.
“It is no surprise that Plaid Cymru have once again chosen to flout their responsibilities as a party in opposition by seeking the solace of their Labour comfort blanket just days after the resignation of one of their longest-serving members.
“Welsh Conservatives will continue to be the real opposition to the Labour-led Welsh Government where others will not.”
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