Alun Cairns on Levelling Up and investment in Barry

VALE MP Alun Cairns has suggested Barry’s economy was left behind by EU and Welsh Government projects because there were “politics at play”.

The former secretary of state for Wales criticised the way regeneration projects were chosen and prioritised in previous decades, and said the UK Government’s Levelling Up programme would redress the balance.

Speaking in Westminster Hall on Wednesday, Mr Cairns described Barry as having a “history steeped in coal exports” that thrived during the height of Wales’ industrial output.

“However, with the closure of the South Wales coal mines, changes to larger ships and ports, and overseas holidays becoming commonplace, Barry was left looking for a new focus,” he added.

He criticised devolved models of funding, arguing Barry should have received a bigger share of money from Cardiff Bay and Brussels.

“As West Wales and the Valleys received more than £5 billion in EU aid since 2000… Barry – with some of the most deprived communities in Wales – didn’t qualify as a priority area,” Mr Cairns said.

“Other areas in need have been supported in their economic transition but Barry missed out.”

The MP acknowledged “economic development is devolved” and suggested that in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland “the capacity of the devolved administration wasn’t possible to focus in some of these communities because there might well have been more deprived areas elsewhere”.

However, he also claimed there were “politics at play”.

“I’m concerned the Vale of Glamorgan does not receive the Welsh Government support because the Welsh Government chose to prioritise the Valley heartlands where they are represented by their party,” he said.

The Vale seat in the Senedd has been represented by a Labour MS, Jane Hutt, since devolution began in 1999.

Mr Cairns called the new Barry: Making Waves project, which is being backed by £19.9 million of Levelling Up money, an “opportunity for the UK Government to reset that balance”.

The “springboard project”, centred around a 400-berth marina and a large flexible working hub, would “encourage other development into Barry”, he added.

“It is understandable that the Welsh Government has prioritised West Wales and the Valleys, but it is regrettable that Barry has been left to reinvent itself without support compared to other areas.”

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