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Economy and transport minister Ken Skates faces questions over 23 per cent overspend on A465 Heads of the Valleys Road project

MINISTER for economy and transport Ken Skates, has been questioned by Welsh Government (WG) assembly members over a 23 per cent over spend on major road project. The A465 Heads of the Valleys Road – between Brynmawr and Abergavenny – is being converted into a dual carriageway and aims to improve transport links and provide economic benefits. As previously reported, Ken Skates revealed WG are in dispute with contractors Costain to ensure the firm are paid only for what they are contractually entitled to.

In response to questions from Russell George AM in the Senedd, the minister confirmed the overspend would be spread over three financial years between now and the end of construction. He added that “future budget profiles would reflect these increases” and that Costain is exposed to a greater chance of financial risk than WG. “I’m determined that we will do everything we can to protect tax payers from the potential costs which we’re assessing currently,” he said.

The Senedd heard that the project itself has already seen 2 million tonnes of earth moved,2.5km of retaining wall built,44 completed service diversions and 6,000 soil nails installed. Mr Skates added the completed project would have the biggest concrete arch of it’s kind “anywhere on the planet” and added it would be somethingWales would be proud of”. Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay reflected residents’ concerns about the overspend, while Andrew RT Davies AM asked if the figure could be taken from reserves rather than existing budgets being “hollowed out”.

A review on the long-awaited works, originally estimated to cost around GBP220 million, had been ordered by concerned ministers in October.

A completion date of autumn 2019 has now been earmarked, five years after work on the 8.1km stretch began.

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