Assembly row over purdah press release

The Welsh Assembly Government has defended a press release it issued during purdah, following criticism from the leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

Welsh Assembly Government: purdah row
Welsh Assembly Government: purdah row

Heritage fund minister Alun Ffred Jones and environment minister Jane Davidson were behind the release, announcing news of a £17.5m tourism grant. The release, issued on 12 April, announced to Welsh media that the money will fund three visitor centres which will 'provide top-class, environmentally friendly facilities for people to enjoy the coast by foot or water and experience water sports'.

Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne refused to accept Welsh Assembly Government permanent secretary Dame Gillian Morgan's passing of the announcement.

Bourne accused the Plaid Cymru and Labour ministers of using their roles in the assembly government to try to influence voters in the run up to the 6 May general election.

He said: 'It's pretty clear the area is going to benefit from the money. It shouldn't be made in the election period - it should be made either before of after. It's a political act to announce it during the election period.

'It shouldn't be happening whether it is devolved or non-devolved; people won't make that distinction.' Bourne has called on Morgan to revise her ruling.

But a Welsh Assembly Government spokesman responded to the allegations by telling PRWeek that the announcement complied with election period advice:

'The announcement ... is a joint one between the heritage minister and the environment minister. It fully complies with the election period advice given to the cabinet and Welsh ministers and was cleared in the usual way.'

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