Mark Drakeford AM has brushed off calls from Welsh Conservatives to honour his promise of an open vote on the M4 relief road.
In a bizarre outburst, Mr Drakeford made it clear to the Welsh Parliament chamber that he had no intension of delivering a free vote on the matter of the relief road.
Following questioning from Shadow Minister for Business, Economy and Infrastructure, Russell George AM, on why the First Minister is not allowing AMs a promised binding vote, he said: “Let me be clear to you, that I am the decision-maker here,” adding: “whatever your views may be, members of this Assembly generally, are not”.
Tempers have flared across the Welsh Parliament today since the First Minister’s announcement this morning that the Welsh Labour Government will not back the M4 relief road ‘black route’ proposals.
The announcement accompanied the release of a report from a public inquiry, which recommended the building of the road.
Welsh Conservative Leader Paul Davies AM challenged Mr Drakeford over the inconsistency of Welsh Labour’s message on the relief road.
He highlighted to the First Minister that the delivery of the relief road was not only in the last Welsh Labour manifesto, but more recently Mr Drakeford himself campaigned in Newport West for an MP who promised the Party would deliver the road.
He also questioned why the First Minister had kept the public inquiry report to himself for six months, and why the chamber had not been given the chance to scrutinise it before the announcement.
Speaking outside the chamber, Mr Davies said:
“Today, I asked the First Minister to apologise to Members of the National Assembly for breaking his promise of a free vote on this contentious issue. It was then incredible to see him go on to claim that the elected members present were not there to help make decisions for Wales.
“This long drawn-out mess from successive Welsh Labour Governments could have come to an end today for the good of businesses, commuters and the public in Wales, but after his dithering, we find we were left waiting for no reason. We’re no further forward to seeing a result for users of the M4.
“It is now crucial that the First Minister acts quickly to give us an alternative plan to alleviate congestion on this key route, to bring some consolation to those who are disappointed across Wales today.”
Speaking out earlier, Russell George AM added his frustration over the decision:
“Today’s announcement is a kick in the teeth for Welsh commuters and the future progression of this country.
“After years of procrastination from successive Welsh Labour Governments, £44 million spent on a public inquiry, and numerous pleas of help from business leaders, we’ve got nowhere.
“It’s shameful that the First Minister has poured millions of pounds down the drain in completing the inquiry, yet only to ignore its findings.”