Over the course of the last 20 years, Labour-led administrations in Cardiff Bay have wasted eye-watering sums of money which could have gone towards making a real difference to communities and frontline services across Wales writes Myles Langstone.
We can point to countless examples of Labour’s waste, including:
- The £52m purchase of Cardiff Airport in 2013, which continues to be loss-making.
- Spending £114m on plans for the M4 relief road, before scrapping the much-needed project which was also a Labour manifesto pledge.
- Selling off land in Lisvane, Cardiff; which has been worth £39m, for the farming value of £1.8m. This triggered legal action against two firms that advised on the sale.
- Spending £221 million on Wales’ eight Enterprise Zones at a cost of £20,655 to the taxpayer per job.
- £3.2m spent on refurbishment of the fifth and second floors of the Welsh Assembly’s Ty Hywel building in Cardiff Bay.
This list of failures and needless expenditures, which is by no means a complete list, demonstrates how Labour have failed to meet our priorities – and failure has come at a great expense to the taxpayer.
While these large capital costs have dominated the headlines, there are also the many bureaucratic costs which seem to generally go under the radar.
More specifically, I am drawn to the Welsh Government’s current proposals which fall into the latter category and demonstrate this bureaucratic waste perfectly. You may not be aware of the Welsh Government’s plans to introduce Corporate Joint Committees (CJCs), which represent a new and very real example of Labour’s appetite for wasting taxpayer’s money.
For those who are unfamiliar with these proposals, they would establish new public bodies in which local authorities across Wales will be forced to participate in on a regional basis. They will make regional decisions on areas which could include education, transport, land use and economic wellbeing. Each body will have a Chief Executive, support staff and will have the power to co-opt unelected members.
This will bring costs for both the Welsh Government and for local authorities, as they will need to implement the regional decisions taken by the CJCs. In addition to the financial cost, let us not look past the fact that these public bodies will also take decision-making and accountability further away from local communities. Even if members of an individual council disagree with the decisions taken by the wider group on the CJC, they will be forced to accept and implement it. They will no doubt spend thousands of pounds on thinking up names for each of the bodies, too!
Clearly, money can be better spent and in ways which do not impact upon the democratic accountability of decision-making in Wales.
That is one of the key issues I have been campaigning on as a Conservative candidate in this year’s Senedd election. We need Members of the Senedd who are determined to cut waste, to prioritise frontline funding and to prioritise our economic recovery from the pandemic.
I have a plan for Gower which includes boosting funding for schools, supporting our local NHS, keeping tax in Wales low and helping business to survive through the pandemic so that jobs are protected.
We can only do this by ensuring that the money which is given to the Welsh Government by Westminster is used as effectively as possible.
The money received by the Welsh Government for spending on things like health and education comes from the Barnett Formula consequential, an agreement with the UK Government which sees the Welsh Government receive £120 per head in Wales for every £100 spent per head in England. This does not take into account the £5.9 billion of additional funding that Wales has received this year from the UK Government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
There can be no doubt that the Welsh Government has the money available to make a positive difference on the key priorities which I set out for Gower. Unfortunately, it is their wasteful spending which prevents greater levels of funding reaching schools, reaching local health services and reaching local businesses so that they have the best possible chance of getting through the pandemic and saving jobs.
At the election in May, there is an opportunity to change this by electing a new Conservative Government. We can scrap Labour’s proposals for CJCs and clamp down on other sources of bureaucratic waste, which would drain our finances and take democracy away from communities. We can stop the vanity projects and, instead, direct funding to the frontline priorities which really matter.
A Welsh Conservative Government can help to deliver my plan and ambitions for Gower.
Myles Langstone is a Councillor for Oystermouth on Swansea Council and the Welsh Conservative Senedd candidate for Gower