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Watch: Andrew RT Davies accuses Mark Drakeford of misleading the Senedd in a bad tempered exchange over coal tips

01 Feb 2022 5 minutes Read

Mark Drakeford and Andrew RT Davies have clashed in a bad-tempered exchange over coal tips, in which the leader of the Welsh Conservatives accused the First Minister of misleading the Senedd.

The Welsh Conservative leader had pointed to a 2014 document that noted that a coal tip at Taylorstown that slipped after Storm Dennis in 2020 had “stability issues” but noted that there was “no funding” available for a reclamation scheme.

He accused the Welsh Government of “prioritising the economy over safety” and said that they should have used £200m spent on Cardiff Airport in order to clear coal tips instead.

In a scathing response however, the First Minister described his comments as “absurd” and heckled him to “just get on with the question”.

“Well, there’s no need to bite back, First Minister,” Andrew RT Davies said. “You have the responsibility. You have the responsibility, you had the money and you had the choice to do it. Why haven’t you done it?”

Mark Drakeford said that the accusation “was not true at all” and there was never a funding application to clear the Taylorstown tip. “So, that’s the first piece of nonsense that we should lay to rest this afternoon,” he said.

“Well, fancy that, before you spend public money, you need a business case; £4.5 billion-worth, of course, of fraud leading to the resignation of a Tory Minister in London, without a business case in sight,” he said.

“We understand the way that his party goes about these responsibilities. Here in Wales, if you’re spending public money, of course you would expect there to be a business case.”

He said tht responsibility to clear up the coal tips rested with the UK Government which had created the issue before devolution.

“No nonsense about airport money being spent of coal tip remediation will disguise the fact that the responsibility for putting right the legacy that we see in Wales—with all the history that we have here in Wales, with all the fear that that engenders in Valleys communities—relies on a UK Conservative Government, and the answer they give is, ‘There’s not a penny piece to help,'” he said.

Andrew RT Davies responded that the First Minister knew “full well that the UK Government have made money available for coal tip restoration, First Minister, so you’ve misled the Assembly there by saying ‘not a penny piece’ has been made available”.

But he added that “it is your responsibility. That was part of the devolution settlement and the choices you made have not made that money available to make coal tips safe here in Wales, First Minister.”

The First Minister fired back that he didn’t “take very kindly to” the accusation of misleading the Senedd, “because I can tell you that I did not do anything of the sort.”

“The money that we have received from the UK Government was to help with the emergency work that was necessary in Tylorstown,” he said. “It is not a penny piece towards that long-term programme that the Coal Authority has recommended is necessary here in Wales.”

‘Rhetoric’

The argument came after campaigners for clearing coal tips in the south of Wales discovered a 2014 document that noted that the coal tip at Taylorstown had “stability issues” but noted that there was “no funding” available for a reclamation scheme.

The document by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council notes that “the Welsh Government has traditionally funded reclamation at 100%”. ut in this case the Welsh Government had “informed the council that it is unlikely to fund future reclamation work unless there is a ‘business case’ for it”.

“The focus of the business case being on economic outputs such as bringing forward development land.”

The document adds that “this leaves the other sites, some of which have historical stability issues, without potential funding and an increased future liability for the Council”.

It lists among these the “Tylorstown and Llanwonno Tips”. In its response to a coal slip following Storm Dennis in 2020, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council identified the tip that slipped as the Llanwonno Tip.

The Welsh Conservatives said at the time that the document showed that the Welsh Government’s “hypocrisy” was “staggering”.

“It appears the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay have put profit over safeguarding communities, which flies directly in the face of the recent rhetoric we’ve heard from ministers,” Tory MS Janet Finch-Saunders said.

“Labour have been in power for two decades and had ample opportunities to protect people and communities by making these coal tips safe, but as ever, they’ve chosen not to act, instead they’ve opted to blame others.

“It’s Labour’s responsibility to fix these tips – no ifs, no buts – and there can be no more excuses as lives are potentially at stake.”

Data released by the Welsh Government in October identified over 300 tips in the highest risk category across the country and estimated it will take up to 15 years and cost between £500 – £600 million to make them safe.

At the time, the Welsh Government asked the UK Government for financial support to clear the coal tips, saying that they were a problem created before devolution.

“It is indefensible that the UK Government has refused to work with us and provide funding to support the long-term remediation and repurposing of coal tips in Wales,” Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans MS, said at the time.

“These tips are a legacy of the UK’s industrial past. The need for work to address this impact of disruptive climate change was unknown, and provision was not made when Wales’ funding arrangements were agreed in 1999.

“The UK Government had an opportunity to show it is would stand behind the communities whose efforts created huge wealth for the UK, instead it has chosen to turn its back on them.”


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Marc
Marc
5 months ago

Oh the irony 😂

Mark Hoffer
Mark Hoffer
5 months ago

This argument is stupid. Tubby Gammon knows that the real responsibility lies with Westminster, Drakeford knows it too.
It’s not about tories in Westminster versus Labour in Wales, its about the responsibility of Westminster whoever is in government.
These tips were left in a dangerous state before devolution. It is historically the responsibility of Westminster.
Previous governments have done little or nothing about making them safe, tory and Labour are both guilty of neglect.

Dewi Williamswhat
Dewi Williamswhat
5 months ago

Is there no end to this man’s cynical duplicity? A Vale of Glamorgan Tory suddenly shows an interest in the valley communities only because he thinks he’s identified some political mileage coming out of it. He demonstrates his disrespect and knowledge of the valleys by pronouncing Tylorstown incorrectly. The town of “Tyler town” as he pronounces it doesn’t exist in the Rhondda. I’ve consulted the world atlas but cannot locate it anywhere. This is the sort of disrespect and lack of care he takes in his research for debate regarding these noble communities which are sitting on his doorstep. Fortunately,… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago

Scream for independence.

Saes bach
Saes bach
5 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Absolutely bring home the jobs.

O j Evans
O j Evans
5 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Totally we should look after our coal tips we need no help from Westminster. It is Wales’ responsibility after all. Westminster cannot be trusted.

nobbytart
nobbytart
5 months ago

Fatty complains he’s putting the economy over safety, yet when we had lockdowns, Fatty complains he’s not putting the economy first.

Make your mind up Fatty.

Phil
Phil
5 months ago

He excels (with two ‘l’s) at good opposition??.. You must be watching a different Andrew R T Davies to the one one I’ve been seeing!

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  Phil

ARTD speaks to some degree for 18 to 22 per cent of our fellow citizens … His talent for publicity /,whether seen as self serving by some is vital for those sections of our nation to feel involved and engaged on our excititing journey as a nation towards self determination. Every Gvt needs to be tested, questioned and challenged in a robust way…we do not need to fear debate and discussion. ARTD serves this purpose well and his engagement – however over the top on occasions – offers the folk he seeks to speak for a place in our inclusive… Read more »

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
5 months ago

Exactly how is he good opposition? He is a first Class cheer leader for Westminster. nothing else.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

You answer your own v good question Valerie….

Malcolmrj
Malcolmrj
5 months ago

One of the reasons the labour party is very quiet about the cost of making the Welsh Coal tips Safe they were in power in Westminster and in Wales when they took the money from the Aberfan children disaster fund too make the coal tip that had killed them safe unbelievable but True

Paul
Paul
5 months ago
Reply to  Malcolmrj

Sadly it is very believable. Westminster drips contempt for Wales and Welsh people.

Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
5 months ago

ART Davies never gets the facts right. He’s totally useless.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago
Reply to  Ieuan Evans

So when do most party politicians base arguments around facts ???

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
5 months ago
Reply to  Richard

If You are taking about Trump, Johnson, Oban and Andrew ‘Real Trump’ Davies for example what you say is true

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
5 months ago

Who says right-wing comedians are not funny?😁

Gareth W
Gareth W
5 months ago

The tories in Wales would love the close our airport, they are always banging on about it. Our little bit of independence that really annoys them

Gwyn Evans
Gwyn Evans
5 months ago

Wonderful to hear Andrew R T Davies going on about coal tips and the economy over safety. Firstly, I should be surprised if he knows what a coal tip is. Secondly, coal tips are a legacy of predecessors of his party, spoil dumped anywhere without thought to the future and before the Labour Party was formed. Thirdly, throughout the pandemic, his party, in Cardiff and Westminster, were wringing their hands, bleating about the economy, prepared to abandon safety in order to assuage their supporters.
The man is a joke, anonymous outside Cardiff, as proved by the odious Rees-Mogg.

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