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Question raised over need for ‘tokenistic’ North Wales minister role

Ken Skates MS -Cabinet Secretary for North Wales

THE NEED for a dedicated Welsh Government minister for north Wales has been called into question after the role was labelled as “tokenistic”.

First Minister Vaughan Gething announced he had decided to keep the post created by his predecessor Mark Drakeford after becoming Welsh Labour leader last month.

Clwyd South MS Ken Skates was given the renamed title of Cabinet Secretary for North Wales, as well as taking on responsibility for transport in Mr Gething’s new cabinet.

However, Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Grufydd has challenged whether it should exist, claiming ministers should represent the whole of Wales.

He raised the issue during Mr Gething’s debut First Minister’s Questions session, which was held in the Senedd yesterday (Tuesday, 16 April).

Mr Grufydd, who represents north Wales in the Welsh Parliament, said: “On the continuation of the role of a minister for north Wales, this could clearly be seen by some as being tokenistic.

“After all, where is your minister for mid Wales, west Wales, or elsewhere?

“Surely every minister in your government should be a minister for north Wales.

“In fact, isn’t your need for a minister for north Wales a statement in itself that those other ministers, potentially, haven’t been representing the whole of Wales maybe as they should?”

Mr Skates took on the north Wales portfolio for the second time after Mr Gething announced his cabinet last month.

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He initially had oversight of regional issues when the role was first created in 2018, but returned to the backbenches following the 2021 Senedd election citing personal reasons.

Wrexham’s Lesley Griffiths then served in the position until March this year when she became Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice.

During his leadership campaign, Mr Gething promised to give the north Wales minister more powers and to create an office in the area.

The First Minister reaffirmed his commitment to strengthen the role during yesterday’s session.

Responding to Mr Gruffydd’s comments, he said: “I don’t agree with that at all. I actually think that stakeholders across north Wales welcome the creation of a minister for north Wales and look forward to Ken Skates continuing the work that Lesley Griffiths has already done previously.

“I look forward to working with Ken and ministers across my government, to make sure that we do deliver for the whole country.

“On the challenge of a minister for north Wales, it was a recognition that some stakeholders do think that there is a challenge in making sure that the whole government acts for the whole country.

“We are deliberately looking to do that, to reach out, to make sure that people can see clearly someone who holds the ring for the government around north Wales.”