Question to Business Minister on South East Wales City Region

 

Dydd Mercher, 9 Ionawr 2013
Wednesday, 9 January 2013

 

Mark Drakeford: A wnaiff y Gweinidog ddatganiad am y camau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn eu cymryd i ddatblygu dull gweithredu Dinas-ranbarth yn ne ddwyrain Cymru.

[Will the Minister make a statement on what actions the Welsh Government is taking to develop a City Region approach in south east Wales.]
 

Edwina Hart: We have taken a number of steps to develop the city region approach in south-east Wales. I have established a task and finish group to encourage an integrated approach and to promote joint working. The group will be co-chaired by a local authority lead and a private sector stakeholder.

 
Mark Drakeford: I welcome all of those developments, including the new appointments that you have made. Do you agree that in the wider European context, Cardiff matches or surpasses the size of some other cities that form the hub of successful city regions, but that their success depends crucially on effective working relationships between those cities and their hinterland?

 
Edwina Hart: I totally concur, because one of the key areas that we will have to look at is the areas outside of the city region and how the city region concept impacts on those. It is important that the city regions do not just benefit Cardiff, Swansea or whatever might emerge in north Wales, but also their hinterland and the areas outside. This is why the debate surrounding city regions has been very difficult. We have had the report from Dr Elizabeth Haywood, and she has now finished her work except for the work that she is undertaking in north Wales. The work is being taken forward by David Rosser, who heads up the city regions project with a group of officials, because we have to be careful to ensure that we are on the task about looking at the city region and how it develops. It has been a 20-year task in some areas of Europe and the UK to get that type of co-ordination, and we must not run before we can walk. We must concentrate on the key area of co-operation, and that is why Alun Davies, as the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes, will be heavily involved in the first year to concentrate hearts and minds on the importance of structural funds and their impact on city regions.

 
William Graham: I warmly welcome what the Minister has said, particularly now that the name of the city region has been changed to ‘south Wales’ rather than simply ‘Cardiff’. It has every chance of being a great success, but I am a little concerned, and I would be grateful for the Minister’s confirmation, that there will be no conflict with the enterprise zone.

 
Edwina Hart: I do not think that there will be any conflict with the enterprise zone. I have been very pleased by the way in which the enterprise zones have understood the role and function of other organisations, and I have also been very pleased by the way in which local authorities have taken the enterprise zones to heart in working collaboratively with them. The reason why I have chosen a task and finish group mechanism for city regions is because I want to ensure that there is no conflict, and the fact that I have appointed independent chairs and that the Deputy Minister will be attending those meetings will ensure that people will be on the task, rather than looking for areas of conflict and matters that divide them. Instead, they will have to look for matters that join them for economic wellbeing.

 
Lindsay Whittle: Minister, it is good to hear you and Mark Drakeford mention the hinterland. Cardiff’s bid to be the European Capital of Culture in 2008 failed because of the failure of council leaders, although not all of them, to back that bid. My concern about the task and finish group that you have established is that it is possibly too small. Will you commit to ensuring that every area is represented as we move forward with the city regions, especially to ensure that Cardiff as the core city, Newport as the main second city and the Heads of the Valleys are represented properly, too, but, in particular, represented at local government level? These are big players.

 
Edwina Hart: I have asked the initial groups that I have established to look at this at the core to make some proposals to me by the end of January about how they think that it will work. I will then look specifically at their terms of reference, take advice from the Deputy Minister, who will lead on behalf of the Government on this, and then I will take that into account. There is a lot of preparatory work to be undertaken in the first instance. Some successful city regions have divided up bits of what the city region issues are for different local authorities to run. I want some of these groups to start to see what might have happened in Manchester or elsewhere and how it has always there before they put things in place definitively. However, I will bear that point in mind.