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Welsh secretary pushing forward City Deal for Cardiff

The Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb is calling together council leaders in the Cardiff area to work on a City Deal for the region.

The meeting – to be held tomorrow (11 June) – will bring together the local authority leaders who collectively make up the region. They include: Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport City, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan.

Confirmation of the deal was included in George Osborne’s pre-election budget and could see the city gain powers over areas such as training and skills budgets, transport and receive greater investment.

The announcement came as Crabb held meetings with senior business figures to get a City Deal for Cardiff moving in the right direction.

The secretary met Roger Lewis, chairman of Cardiff Capital Region Advisory Board, and Nigel Roberts, chairman of Cardiff Business Council, to discuss how the Deal will support regional businesses.

Crabb said: “Cardiff is Europe’s youngest capital city, a vibrant place which, once a cradle of the industrial revolution, is now creating an exciting future as a place to invest.

“It has already benefitted from 21st century digital infrastructure like the Cardiff Internet Exchange - a great example of government, business and local partners working together.

“It is my hope that we can take forward the Cardiff City Deal in this way - but on a scale that will benefit not only people in Cardiff, but across the capital region.

“The recovery is gathering pace right across Wales and in Cardiff we have a unique opportunity. The task now is to bring together the private sector, the Welsh Government and those councils which make up the Cardiff Capital Region.

“Across the UK, City Deals are delivering major investment, clearing the way for new infrastructure projects and setting a clear strategic vision for growth. I don’t want to see Wales being left behind.”

While excitement for a potential deal grows it is unclear what affect the looming prospect of forced Welsh council mergers could have on any devolution.

In February the Welsh government put a white paper, Reforming Local Government - Power to Local People, out to consultation, detailing its plans to make changes to councils in Wales. 

Minister for public services Leighton Andrews asked for councils to look at arranging voluntary mergers, but then proceeded to reject the proposals by the only six councils who submitted any.

The Welsh government plans to reorganise local authorities have also been described as "wrong in principle, unduly prescriptive and unworkable in practice" in a report by Swansea Council.

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