§ 7. Mr. Ray Powell
asked the Secretary of State for Wales why he refused to meet representatives from Ogwr borough council to discuss the proposed return of Ogwr's regional development status and of related matters.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
As has been explained in various letters sent to the borough's chief executive officer 597 by my office, there is no possibility of the assisted area map being revised so soon after the major changes of November 1984. In the circumstances, a meeting with representatives of the borough council to discuss a change in the status of Ogwr would not have served any useful purpose.
§ Mr. Powell
The Secretary of State will be aware that the council in its letter requested him or the Prime Minister to meet it, and it outlined the difficulties and problems in Ogwr borough. Does the right hon. Gentleman understand that there are 10,000 unemployed in the area and only 300 job vacancies? Every pit in the Ogmore and Ogwr borough area has been closed since the Governent came to office in 1979. Surely the right hon. Gentleman should have attended a meeting to discuss the problems which are besetting the coalfield area of Ogwr, or, in the interests of Ogwr, borough and its residents, prompted the Prime Minister, in the time that she is devoting to invest in stocks and shares, to attend such a meeting.
§ Mr. Edwards
I am aware of the problems of that borough. We were asked to meet to change the arrangements under which regional policy is administered, and we have made it clear that now is not the time to do that. We have, however, approved an urban programme allocation for 1986–87 which is more than double the allocation given to 1985–86. I have therefore met my commitment to the hon. Gentleman on that point. Since the review of regional policy carried out in 1984, offers of assistance totalling more than £2.5 million have been accepted in the Bridgend travel-to-work area. Those projects will create 500 new jobs and safeguard more than 100 existing jobs.