First Minister admits frustration over Menai Bridge closure
First Minister Mark Drakeford expressed frustration this morning when speaking to Welsh MPs about the sudden closure six weeks ago of one of two bridges which connects Ynys Môn with mainland Wales.
At the same time that his Transport Minister, Lee Waters MS, was visiting the island, Mark Drakeford was giving evidence to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee.
Virginia Crosbie Ynys Môn MP asked the First Minister about, “The sudden closure of Menai Bridge” six weeks ago, and said local businesses were “suffering” as a result
Mark Drakeford said: “The closure of the bridge was a difficult moment for everybody. I myself have made a series of enquiries for me better to understand how engineers concluded that a bridge that was fine to carry all traffic on a Thursday, was unable to carry any traffic on a Friday.”
The First Minister added that he’d found that, “something very difficult to understand.”
He had however, “received repeated information that that is what the structural engineers have concluded. The hangers at the bridge need urgent attention. We remain optimistic that work with begin in December and, provided that it is, it will be concluded in a short number of weeks and the bridge will be able to open again early next year.”
However, Mark Drakeford conceded that “there are a number of ifs I’m afraid – to do with ensuring that the necessary equipment can be secured and necessary people can be mobilised.”
Ms Crosbie then moved on to the question of nuclear and made a dig at Mark Drakeford’s past membership of CND.
She said she wanted “to stress the importance of new nuclear at Wylfa” in terms of jobs and the Welsh economy.
“I wanted to ask about your working agreement with Plaid (Cymru) and Adam Price who doesn’t support new nuclear and that as a party it’s the wrong answer. What are you doing to bring investment into new nuclear in Wales and do you support it?”
Mark Drakeford’s started by reminding the Ynys Mon MP what she must already know, being that the co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru covers 47 areas, and that nuclear is not one of them.
He said: “I understand the importance of Wylfa to Ynys Môn, and I understood it when the UK Government pulled the plug on the redevelopment of the site.
“The local member will know the huge sense of disappointment on the island having been led up that path. And with a development consent order almost agreed, it turned out it wasn’t going to go ahead at all.”
She responded: “It was actually Hitachi that pulled out, not the UK Government.”
The First Minister replied: “This is a distinction without a difference isn’t it. Hitachi pulled out because the UK Government was not prepared to support it in the expenditure that it needed.”
Mark Drakeford added: “We support efforts to develop what is the best site in the UK for nuclear, which is Wylfa. We look forward to seeing whether potential developers actually do get funding to develop through Great British Nuclear – whether that resurfaces again.”
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