SECURING better transport arrangements in Blaenau Gwent remains a “priority” for the council’s leader during Cardiff Capital Region City Deal talks, a meeting has heard.

Independent councillor Nigel Daniels told councillors that the £1.2 billion arrangement would “collapse” if connectivity issues were not properly addressed by the South Wales Metro.

Leader of the Labour opposition, Councillor Steve Thomas, asked the leader to clarify how he was representing the authority while meeting with other leaders on the regional cabinet.

The Metro, a network of trains, trams and buses running throughout the region, represents £734 million of the City Deal outlay agreed by 10 local authorities.

Under the proposals, Blaenau Gwent could have four Metro stations, including the Ebbw Vale Town railway station which opened in 2015.

The Ebbw Vale line is also served by Ebbw Vale Parkway and Llanhilleth rail stations, with plans being considered for an extension to a reopened Abertillery station, which has been closed since the 1960s.

KeolisAmey, the new operators of Wales and Borders rail services, has also committed to reinstating the Newport-Ebbw Vale passenger line by 2021.

READ MORE: Full details of new rail contract - including restoration of Newport-Ebbw Vale link - revealed

Speaking last week, Cllr Thomas referred to the City Deal’s regional cabinet agreeing to spend £40 million on the redevelopment of Cardiff Central railway station.

“We’ve come along at pace, and everyone within their local authorities is looking at what gains they can get,” said Cllr Thomas.

“How does the leader feel our voice is being heard in relation to the Metro, which is crucial to us? What is the pressing for us regarding a solution in this area?”

Cllr Daniels told councillors that Welsh economy secretary Ken Skates had told him he was “committed to looking positively” at transport issues in Blaenau Gwent.

“In the northern part of the region where we’re made up of three valleys, connectivity isn’t easy, and this has to be a priority,” said Cllr Daniels.

“For me, if they can’t get transport right inside the City Deal, it’s just going to collapse. There’s no question about that.

"It’s right that the capital city of Wales has the appropriate transport facilities, but rest assured that every time the Metro is mentioned, our case is being heard.”

Cllr Daniels also said the City Deal was “moving in a new direction” under regional programme director Kellie Beirne.

The former deputy chief executive of Monmouthshire County Council took up the role over the summer after being appointed in April.

“Kellie is a driver. She’s well connected at Welsh Government and UK Government level and she’s started talking about new initiatives,” said Cllr Daniels.

“I’ve raised the issue with her about transport. It was interesting that in her first meeting she said what the City Deal had done well in the last 12 months is governance, but now is the time to start delivering.”

The meeting also heard that the IQE compound semiconductor foundry in Newport, which received £38.5 million from the City Deal, is currently behind on recruitment.

Richard Crook, corporate director for regeneration and community services, also told councillors that there was currently no one from Blaenau Gwent employed at the facility.

“[IQE] are a long way off job targets but there’s a big training programme going on to get people prepared for the roles required,” he added.