8 February 2001

Alison Halford (Delyn):

What has been the impact of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending review on North Wales. (OAQ9409)

Edwina Hart:

The 2000 comprehensive spending review has resulted in substantial increases in the Assembly’s budget for the next three years, which will have a positive impact on the whole of Wales. The parts of north Wales that are attracting structural funds will also benefit from the increases in the Assembly’s budget to cover this expenditure. The excellent local government settlement has benefited local authorities in north Wales in particular.

Alison Halford:

Do you think that this welcome settlement, which sees a substantial increase in police funding in my area, and across Wales, will be enough to protect rural police stations, particularly in Flintshire, from closure?

Edwina Hart:

There was an excellent discussion yesterday in the Local Government and Housing Committee about rural policing. When we were discussing the formula, Members raised the need for a visible police presence not just in urban areas, although there are problems in terms of police presence and accessibility in urban areas outside the city centres, but also in rural areas. Members made the point about access to the police service and that there are sometimes long delays. People feel confident if they have easy access to the police. As I said to the Committee, I meet with police authorities and chief constables regularly and I will explore this issue with them. This raises the wider issue, which was also raised yesterday, about how the police should be funded.

Janet Ryder:

One county that will suffer as a result of the new standard spending assessment formula is Flintshire, which does not fall within the Objective 1 area. Flintshire will have to cope should jobs be shed at Corus in Shotton. What extra money can you make available to that county to help it at this time?

Edwina Hart:

I do not accept that Flintshire is badly affected by this year’s local governemnt settlement. When we consider the amount of money that Flintshire receives, we will see that it has done well. The same applies in terms of the grant regime. I am mindful of Corus’s decision. Highly skilled workers are bei ng laid off in Shotton. It is important that we consider what training and job transition schemes may be available for such workers, bearing in mind the excellent news about British Aerospace, where perhaps those highly skilled workers could fit in.

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