Nick Smith MP has called on the Government to keep the valleys region moving as the future of EU-funded projects remains unclear.
Mr Smith has been asking in Parliament for the Government to financially support Blaenau Gwent and neighbouring boroughs, who have been aided for years by EU grants and capital investment.
On the request of Chancellor George Osborne, Mr Smith has written to the Treasury team making the case for the Government to back vital infrastructure projects across South East Wales.
These include the further developments to the Heads of the Valleys road and the proposed South Wales metro system – both of which are currently underpinned by EU funding.
Speaking after the Treasury questions session in Parliament, Mr Smith said the Brexit negotiations will be vital for Blaenau Gwent’s future for years to come.
“It’s the Government’s job to ensure we now get the best deal possible in the wake of Brexit”, he said.
“However, they must resist the temptation to funnel funding to the same old areas, the big city projects or the areas rich with Tory voters.
“I don’t want to see support for Blaenau Gwent dropping from the tens of millions to the tens of thousands and I think however you voted, we can all agree on that.
“I disagree with the Chancellor on a whole host of policies, but I hope his willingness to listen is a sliver of hope for the time ahead.
“We won’t forget it in this borough if we are abandoned. The Government must extend the same helping hand that the EU gladly offered for so long.”
A copy of the letter is below:
I am writing to you to follow up your offer in the commons chamber to detail proposals for the Government’s future infrastructure investment. Thank you for your positive and constructive response to these important questions.
I know you support the electrification of the valleys lines and have noted the city region metro, but with the detail still to be worked through on Brexit, future investment in these key infrastructure projects is unclear.
The South Wales Metro and the continued improvements to the Heads of the Valleys road past the Merthyr Tydfil area in South East Wales are of vital importance. They are projects that will be shovel ready, which will not only create jobs in their construction, but also will provide the links needed for business to thrive in my area. They are established plans that have received Welsh government, cross-party and business support.
However, both of these projects have EU funding at their core. The doubt that surrounds these projects is very real and my fear is that Blaenau Gwent and neighbouring boroughs will be left behind as everyone begins to fight for funding.
There will be many good projects that were to have received EU support which may now be stymied. I am sure they will all be brought to the attention of the Treasury for the future.
But given the special needs for economic regeneration in South East Wales I would be grateful if you could consider these points and back these projects financially. They are projects that promise to boost the economy in an area that needs boosting much more than most.
Nick Smith MP