Gwent to have voice in driving South Wales 'city region'
A TEAM who will shape how a plan for a city region in South East Wales will have two senior Gwent council figures at its helm.
Torfaen council leader Councillor Bob Wellington is to be co-chairman of a new task and finish group to shape how a South East Wales city region will operate.
Paul Matthews, chief executive of Monmouthshire council, will be the group's chief executive - in what may be a sign that the region will also cover the rural county.
The Welsh Government wants to get communities in South East Wales and in South West Wales to come together as two city regions to collaborate on issues such as housing, transport and the economy.
Potentially a South East Wales City Region, previously dubbed the Cardiff City Region, could cover a region of at least 1.4 million people stretching from Bridgend to Pontypool and including Cardiff and Newport.
Welsh business minister Edwina Hart said yesterday that a small task group will be set up to develop the concept and its regional structure.
It will be co-chaired by a leader of a local authority and someone from the private sector to ensure a focus on the benefits for economic development.
Rob Lewis, Regional chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, will co-chair the body. Mr Matthews' appointment comes despite the cool reception he gave to a report on the plan on his Twitter feed in July.
The Monmouthshire officer said the report was "silent on Monmouthshire, M4, two Severn bridges, Severn tunnel" and tidal power.
He added that he thought Monmouthshire was part of the city region story.
The report, when it was published, made little mention of the county and one map of the possible city region included towns in all the other Gwent counties except Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent.
Mr Matthews said yesterday: "This is an opportunity for South East Wales to pursue the kind of collaborative working that has been successful elsewhere in the world in raising economic performance and Wales clearly needs this to work."
A further statement on the proposals will be made by the minister in Feburary.