CEWales E Bulletin May 2021

A distinctive and different Wales. Politics calls the shots and politicians like to use construction as a policy football – sometimes kicked in the long grass, sometimes into goal. So, let’s consider the political pitch right now. What are conditions like following this month’s Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru) elections.

Welsh Labour has now been in power for over two decades, with Mark Drakeford being re-elected as First Minister in the sixth Senedd. The dominant narrative in Welsh media has been of Labour's success and Plaid's disappointment; however, the Welsh Conservatives have made significant gains in the Senedd winning 16 seats - its best result ever.

But, Welsh Labour also had its best performance with 30 seats, including Natasha Asghar as the Senedd's first female MS from a BAME background. UKIP, Abolish and Reform were wiped out, Plaid Cymru won 13 seats, Lib Dems cling on with one seat in Mid Wales, Leanne Wood lost Rhondda which was hugely disappointing for Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives gained 5 seats.

During the election campaign, Mark Drakeford said that the handling of the pandemic was the thing that came up most on the doorsteps. So, people feeling safe in Wales is perhaps his greatest achievement, giving clear visibility to the people of Wales that Welsh Labour can do things differently through devolution.

There are many challenges facing the new government. But what does it all mean for us in the Welsh built environment sector? With no obvious ministerial responsibility for construction or for that matter, the built environment, where do we fit in. There is no specific Minister for Construction, Transport or Housing. Julie James MS will head up a new climate change department with Llanelli MS Lee Waters as deputy minister. The First Minister said he had put the transport brief into climate change to deal with the three biggest drivers of carbon production. "Our houses, our travel, and how we produce energy are the three great drivers of carbon in our lives and I want to bring them together with planning and environment to create a powerful new climate change ministry to make sure Wales plays our part in the next five years in the twin emergency of biodiversity losses and climate change."

Whether the rest of the construction sector is included is yet to be confirmed but there is clearly an overlap with Economy Minster Vaughan Gething.  There could also be a link under a social and wellbeing banner and the Local Authority brief held by Minister for Finance and Local Government Rebecca Evans. We will need to investigate the detail to understand what the ministerial briefs cover. But that’s a core function of CEWales – to work with Welsh Government, both civil servants and ministers to speak with one voice for the construction sector.

Looking forward, the First Minister promises continuity in the approach to the pandemic and ambition in other areas, to build a 'stronger, greener' fairer Wales' to which we in the Welsh Construction and Built Environment sector play an integral part.

Exciting times ahead. Stay tuned!