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Tuesday, November 25, 1997 Published at 23:24 GMT

UK: Politics

Where to now for the Welsh Assembly?
image: [ Not enough: 3.5m Government offer for Cardiff City Hall rejected ]
Not enough: 3.5m Government offer for Cardiff City Hall rejected

The Government faces Opposition demand for a Commons statement on the location of the proposed Welsh Assembly after Cardiff City Hall was ruled out on Monday.

[ image: Snubbed: Ron Davis]
Snubbed: Ron Davis
Plans to use the historic landmark in Cardiff were scuppered after the City Council unanimously rejected a final offer by Welsh Secretary Ron Davis of 3.5m for the building.

Conservative constitutional spokesman Nigel Evans said: "We have stated it would cost 100m over four years. We were told that was a gross over-estimate and that it would cost beneath that figure.

"It may now mean that if the assembly building has to move into temporary accommodation or alternative new-building accommodation the final cost could be far more than 100m over four years."

Mr Davis said the Council's decision would damage Cardiff's campaign to raise its profile as a European capital as it was now unlikely that the Assembly could be based in the Welsh capital.

"I would have thought that the chances of the assembly going to Cardiff in the initial years are now pretty slim," he said.

Cardiff City Council leader Russell Goodway denied accusations that he and his colleagues were asking the Government to pay over the odds for the building.

"We desperately want the Welsh Assembly here in the capital city of Wales where it should be - but we just cannot afford it on these terms.

"We cannot ask Cardiff council tax payers to bridge a gap of 10m ... it is the entire annual budget for children's services and it is also the cost of 1,000 home carers in this city."

The council wants 14m to cover the cost of relocating the 500 staff currently based there.

The Welsh Office says it will now look at possible locations for the proposed 60-member assembly due to commence in 1999 outside of Cardiff.

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