Prior to last Welsh Parliamentary election in 2016 Welsh Labour wheeled out their manifesto. It was loaded with a vision for the future, commitments, promises and pledges, writes Michael Enea.
Within the preamble on page 5 of their manifesto, the then First Minister Carwyn Jones said “Unlike the Tories, we’ll never take people for granted. Welsh Labour is a party of the people, for the people.” He added, “If you play fair, play by the rules, and pay in – we are with you.”
Bold words from Carwyn Jones.
However. One problem. Since the last election, Welsh Labour themselves haven’t played fair. They haven’t played by the rules. Why? Move to page 19 of their 2016 Manifesto and there is a firm commitment – “We will deliver a relief road for the M4.”
So on Thursday, 5th May 2016 over 12,000 people voted for Labour in Newport West. Over 9,000 people voted for Labour in Newport East. The main core reason for voting Labour was because of the promise they would build the M4 Relief Road.
Two Labour Members of Senedd in Newport were elected off the back of a broken promise. The M4 Relief Road was scrapped by Welsh Labour just 3 years later.
This isn’t the first time Welsh Labour has broken a promise to the residents of Newport. In their 2011 manifesto on page 38, they stated: “We do not intend to see the closure of any of Wales Higher Educational campuses.” This was also further amplified by Labour’s then Education Secretary Leighton Andrews who said “[the university mergers] does not mean fewer students or fewer campuses.”
3 years later, an announcement was made that the USW Caerleon Campus was set to close. Local Labour in Newport disappeared into the long grass. Sadly, the campus did then close in the summer of 2016. We used to get over 10,000 students living in Newport and now we’re down to less than 400? All that inward revenue into our city – has gone.
Even in Newport itself at a local level, we’re getting told one thing and seeing another. In 2018, our Labour-led Council revealed its City Centre Masterplan at a grand launch even within the Celtic Manor Hotel. It was labelled as “ambitious” and “dynamic”. However, when it was revealed to the public, on closer inspection, the Masterplan was just 8 pages in length. It was absolutely shambolic and during the public consultation, it attracted just over 20 replies.
In 2014 our Labour-led Council closed Newport’s popular Splash Pad at Tredegar Park. After 4 years of campaigning, Newport Council’s Strategy Director, Bev Owen, gave the good news that a planning applicable was imminent and the Splash Pad would be reopened. Fast forward to July 2019 and our Labour-led Council performed a monumental U-Turn whereby scrapping the plans for the Splash Pad.
Newport has so much to offer. It has so much potential. It is the “Gateway City to Wales”.
The problem is a raft of broken promises from Welsh Labour are holding our City back.
You only have to look over the Severn Bridge to the Western Approach Business Park on the M4 near Avonmouth. Look at the sheer amount of distribution centres that have opened up there – the massive Amazon Warehouse, DHL Boots, Next Distribution, Farm Foods RDC, Lidl RDC, Warburtons, The Range RDC, Antalis, etc. All these businesses have opened up on the English side of Severn estuary and not along the M4 corridor around Magor and Newport.
If you were the CEO of a large corporate firm or multi-national, would you seriously open a distribution centre in Newport, knowing how notoriously bad the M4 motorway is around the City? Infrastructure is key to a strong economy.
The scrapping of the M4 Relief Road is catastrophic for Newport.
There have been too many broken promises from Welsh Labour. Newport has been affected more than any other area in Wales. The former Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies, once told me – “You just can’t trust Labour at election time”. He’s right.
I’m greatly honoured to have been selected as the Welsh Conservatives candidate for the forthcoming Welsh Parliamentary Election in Newport West. I will take the fight to Labour. My campaign will be dynamic, positive and very hard-hitting.
My message to Newportonians is simple. Vote the Welsh Conservatives into the Senedd and we will deliver the M4 Relief Road. This election is the last chance to deliver a Relief Road for Wales.
Michael Enea is the Welsh Conservative Senedd Candidate for Newport West.