NEWPORT-BORN billionaire Sir Terry Matthews has said Newport should become a district of Cardiff.

The Gwent businessman said Newport would do "better economically" as a region of the capital.

In an interview with BBC Wales he said: "If Newport was a region of Cardiff it would do better economically. Many people won't like these words but I believe this started a long time ago - size matters."

The tycoon added: "If I was king, I would go [from] Swansea to Newport and I'd circle it and include the valleys. I'd say that's Cardiff."

The comments came in an interview Sir Terry gave to BBC Wales' Week In Week Out programme which looked at proposals for a £1.5bn metro transport system which could improve links between Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys.

Its promoters say the system would help establish a south east Wales city region, driven by Cardiff but including Newport, which was recently proposed by an expert panel reporting to the assembly.

Gwent AM Mohammad Asghar slammed Sir Terry's comments, saying: “I have great respect for Sir Terry Matthews and for his skills as a businessman but I totally reject his call for Newport to become a region of Cardiff.”

“Newport is a city in its own right. I recognise it has its economic problems with one quarter of shops in the city centre lying empty but that is the result of years of failure by Labour in Wales to create the conditions for businesses to grow and to thrive.”

“The economic development of Cardiff has been a great success and I want Newport to emulate Cardiff and not to be submerged by Cardiff.”

Former mayor of Newport Miqdad Al-Nuaimi‏ said on Twitter: "Have much admiration for Sir Terry's achievements, but his comments are ill-timed and bode unwell for Newport prosperity. I offer Sir Terry the opportunity to drive him round in Cardiff to show how shabby that's in many places. No thanks!"

Do you think Newport would do better as a district of Cardiff? Vote and leave your comment below: