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Double trouble for Gething as more questions are raised about election donations

30 Apr 2024 5 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image: Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

Vaughan Gething has come under further pressure in the Senedd for his controversial campaign donations following two questions from his own backbenchers.

During First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday (May 30) Member of the Senedd for Cardiff North, Julie Morgan raised the issue of disabled constituent, Ryan Moorland, who been refused a taxi to an urgent medical appointment.

The Labour MS said that when the taxi driver saw that Ryan had a guide dog, he “drove past, hid at the end of the street and cancelled the job.”

Ryan ordered another taxi, but the driver added £5 to the bill because he had a guide dog with him.

Ms Morgan asked the First Minister to join her in condemning the actions of such “shameful practices”.

‘Appalled’

Mr Gething responded saying he was “genuinely appalled” to hear of the experience of Ryan.

He said: “It’s unlawful for taxi drivers to refuse to carry assistance dogs. It is unlawful for them to add an extra fee.”

The First Minister added that it was a “positive” that taxi firm Veezu had “removed” the driver in question.

Veezu Holding Limited donated £25,000 to Mr Gething during his campaign to become the Welsh Labour leader.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies asked the First Minister to “declare an interest” and put on the record that Veezu had donated to him.

Mr Gething said, the donation had been “formally and properly declared”.

He added that he was “pleased” that the company had removed the driver from their platform and reported the matter to Cardiff Council.

Wetlands

Also in the Senedd Chamber today, Labour backbencher John Griffiths raised the issue of the Gwent Levels.

He asked the First Minister to join him in “praising all the volunteers” for everything they are doing for biodiversity at the site and Wales as a whole.

Mark Drakeford, Mr Gething’s predecessor as First Minister, was credited with helping to save the level in 2019, when his government rejected plans for the M4 relief road that would have split the Gwent Levels in two.

Mr Gething said an enhancement programme for the site had already begun and would continue with his government.

He said: “we understand its importance for all of us.”

In March, Nation.Cymru revealed that Mr Gething had received two donations of £100k each from waste company Dauson Environmental Group Ltd.

Andrew RT Davies pointed out that the group’s main director, David Neal, had received two suspended prison sentences for illegally dumping toxic sludge in the sensitive wetlands area.

Nation.Cymru later revealed that Dauson Environmental were £400,000 in debt to the Development Bank of Wales – a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government.

The loan was awarded to the company when Vaughan Gething was the Economy Minister.

The Welsh Tory leader said: “We’ve heard from other senior figures within your own ranks over the last week. Andrew Morgan, for example – a big fan of mine on Twitter, I might add – has highlighted obviously his concerns, and he is leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council and chairman of the Welsh Local Government Association.

“We’ve also had Beth Winters, the Member of Parliament for the Cynon Valley, and even your de facto deputy, Ken Skates, when interviewed on this last Wednesday, was struggling, I think, to put it kindly, to defend the position.

“So, what do you say to those substantial individuals within the Labour movement who do have genuine concerns and the wider public who have real concerns when they look at the evidence that is before them?”

Rules

The First Minister responding saying it was a matter for his own party to “decide the rules of future leadership contests”.

He added: “What we are doing is focusing on the business of this Government and of this country, what really matters to people: the cost-of-living crisis; the reality that many families still go to bed worrying about paying their bills at the end of the week or the end of the month.

“The reality that we know that we have more to do around our public services; the key importance of the funding settlement we have; and of course, last week, the news from Tata that they are looking to go ahead with their proposals to shed not just more than 2,500 direct jobs but have an impact on the economy of more than 10,000 people. That’s the business this Government is engaged with.”

Plaid Cymru Leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth said Mr Gething had shown “poor judgement” when he accepted the donations.

He too called for the First Minister to declare an interest on the record regarding the the taxi firm, Veezu.

Mr Gething replied: “The fact that a declaration has been made and referenced today, and I was pointing out factually what they had done in response to the very, very difficult and wholly unacceptable treatment of Julie Morgan’s constituent. And that is a simple matter of fact that that report has been made.”

On Wednesday (May 1), Mr Gething will face debates brought by opposition parties in the Senedd over the campaign donations.

Plaid Cymru’s motion calls for a cap on future political donations whilst the Welsh Conservatives have called for an independent advisor to investigate any conflict of interests that may exist in relation to the donation.


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jim
jim
24 days ago

As an aside, whatever one thought of the M4 relief road it is factually wrong to say it would have “split the Gwent levels in two”. It mainly passed along the edge of already developed areas. (If anything split the Gwent levels in two it was building the Great Western main line in the 19th Century – perhaps we should remove that.)

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
24 days ago

Shouldn’t they keep this playground stuff for after school, they are, when all said and done paid to make our lives better for their wages…

No other employer would put up with such time wasting second class rubbish as we get for our money…

Last edited 24 days ago by Mab Meirion
hdavies15
hdavies15
24 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Agreed. Time to move on this matter. Gething is well dug in and won’t budge. Opposition and critics should mark his card and recall such matters in detail at election time. This highlights the weakness of Opposition at Y Senedd who rely far too much on rhetoric and grandstanding while failing to engage in the less visible detailed forensic work that would dismember the facade of Labour’s tenures in government.

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