Page last updated at 19:07 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 20:07 UK

Minister attacks Olympic funding

Alun Ffred Jones
Alun Ffred Jones is a former journalist and television director

New Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has spoken of his concerns about the 2012 Olympics hitting funding in Wales.

Alun Ffred Jones said the London Olympics had created problems funding Welsh events and there would need to be a fight to secure more of them.

He was appointed after Rhodri Glyn Thomas stood down amid claims he took a lit cigar into a pub.

In Mr Jones' first full-length interview in his new job, he said he took over in unfortunate circumstances.

Mr Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Arfon, was appointed to his post in the Labour-Plaid Cymru administration after Mr Thomas quit almost two weeks ago.

There had been reports of Mr Thomas walking into a pub near the Senedd in Cardiff Bay with a lit cigar.

If money is taken out then to promote one activity in one specific area then I think that is wrong
Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones on the 2012 Olympics
A few weeks earlier Mr Thomas was at the centre of more controversy when he announced from the podium the wrong winner at a ceremony for the Wales Book of the Year.

Mr Jones he was proud to take the cabinet position but admitted the circumstances were unfortunate.

"I wouldn't have wanted to take over the reins in these particular circumstances," he said.

"But I am proud to have been offered the post and I was proud to be elected as member for Arfon."

Mr Jones will have responsibility for overseeing the arts and sport in Wales.

Heritgae Minister Alun Ffred Jones tells Vaughan Roderick about his concern at the impact of the 2012 Olympics on Wales

There has been opposition criticism about the slow pace in bringing forward legislation on the Welsh language.

But Mr Jones said work was underway and a Legislative Competence Order (LCO) seeking authority from Westminster for a new law should be ready later in the year.

"Work is ongoing on a Welsh language LCO and in late autumn hopefully will be brought forward," he said.

Mr Jones also said the 2012 Olympics would mean events in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and others could follow.

"We know that the stadium will see some action but there is some hope that there will be another activity coming to Wales, but that is something we have to fight our corner on," he said.

But he said he was very worried about the impact of the Olympics on grants.

"I'm very concerned about the effect of the London Olympics on the level of grants that is available both for cultural activities and sporting activities in Wales, but of course throughout the length and breadth of Britain," he said.

"It certainly has created problems. If we believe that sporting activity should be promoted more widely in communities then you have to put the money in.

"If money is taken out then to promote one activity in one specific area then I think that is wrong."

Mr Jones, a former teacher, television director and journalist, became AM for Caernarfon [now called Arfon] in 2003.

Cigar blunder minister quits job
18 Jul 08 |  South East Wales
Gaffes stub out minister's career
18 Jul 08 |  South East Wales

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