Edwina Hart is to run the new social justice and regeneration
ministry in Wales.
The former finance and local government minister will lead the
regeneration of the nation’s most deprived areas.
First minister Rhodri Morgan has emphasised the importance of the
new portfolio, which echoes the post in Scotland that has existed
since 1999. Despite not appearing in Labour’s Welsh assembly
election manifesto, it was a key demand of the Liberal Democrats –
coalition partners until the 1 May poll.
Hart said the ministry’s budget and staff numbers had yet to be
set. But its key task will be to revive the 138 Communities First
wards, often in the heads of the southern valleys and the old
northern quarrying districts which have been untouched by the
economic revival in much of Wales.
The department will tackle poverty, social economy, the voluntary
sector, community safety, drugs and alcohol, police and fire, youth
justice, housing and equality.
But Hart said part of her task of reconnecting neglected
communities would also involve issues such as education
“There has been a lot of talk for a long time, since the early
1990s with [then Labour leader] John Smith about the need for a
social justice ministry,” Hart said.
“If this portfolio does not deliver, nothing will deliver.”