A DECISION on the M4 relief road will not be made until next month at the earliest, it has been confirmed.

Last week first minister Mark Drakeford, who has now received the report of the public inquiry into the scheme, said he was receiving advice on whether he was able to make a decision on the scheme, estimated to cost at least £1.6 billion, while the Newport West by-election campaign is on.

Although purdah rules prevent governments from making major decisions during election campaigns to avoid influencing the outcome of the vote, it was unclear whether a decision to be made by the Welsh Government would apply to a Parliamentary by-election.


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But, speaking during First Minister's Questions on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Drakeford said he had been given advice that the decision did fall under these rules.

"I'm unable - the government is unable, prevented by the right-and-proper rules - from making an announcement that could have an impact upon a local by-election of that sort.

"So there will be no announcement formally. I am unable to make any announcement until that by-election is concluded."

Leader of the Assembly's Conservative group Paul Davies slammed the news, saying: "It seems to me that it's one excuse after another."

Calling for the full inquiry report to be published, he said: "Even though successive Welsh Labour governments have dithered on this topic for nearly 20 years, you are still struggling to find the accelerator and deliver an answer to the nation.

"Welsh businesses, commuters, and others have come forward in support of a relief road for this choking artery at the heart of Wales's economy.

"And yet, despite paying £44 million for this inquiry, we're still waiting for a commitment from you and your government."

But Mr Drakeford replied: "Those are the rules, it's nothing to do with being held up here, it's the way decisions are made."

He added the report would be released "as soon as the rules allow" and said a commitment that AMs would be given a vote on the scheme remained.

Conservative candidate for Newport West Matthew Evans also criticised the news, saying: “The first minister should come to Newport and speak to some of the residents forced to sit in traffic jams, or businesses that need to be able to get in an out of the city without these interminable delays."

The by-election will be held on Thursday, April 4.