EDUCATION minister Jeremy Miles is clear about the direction he wants to take Wales in if his party's members make him the next first minister – and it is “absolutely not” looking to revive the M4 relief road project.

The education and Welsh language minister, who represents Neath in the Senedd, is vying with economy minister and Cardiff South and Penarth MS Vaughan Gething to succeed Mark Drakeford in March.

Mr Miles enjoys the support of 16 out of 30 Welsh Labour MSs including John Griffiths (Newport East) and Rhianon Passmore (Islwyn) in Gwent.

Jayne Bryant (Newport West) and Hefin David (Caerphilly), meanwhile, are two of the 10 to have endorsed Mr Gething. Another two, chief whip Jane Hutt and Mark Drakeford, have not declared their support either way due to their government positions.

Mr Miles spoke to the Argus in Newport, setting out some of the detail behind his “positive vision” for the future of Wales.

“I think actually Welsh Labour has done very well in guiding Wales for the first quarter-century of devolution and we take none of that for granted. We've had to work very hard over 25 years,” he said.

“With the funding challenges that we now face, we are having to make choices about the areas we focus on in order to try and support people. I've set out in my pledges the six key areas I think most resonate with people's daily lives.”

Barry And District News: Jeremy Miles says his pledges resonate with people's daily livesJeremy Miles says his pledges resonate with people's daily lives (Image: Jeremy Miles)

Among those pledges are promises to increase the percentage of Welsh Government budget spent on schools and establish dedicated orthopaedic centres for knee and hip replacements in a bid to cut NHS backlogs.

Mr Miles also wants to see the government have more “levers” to control the bus network, which he says would ensure better service for communities and open “fairer” ways of devising fares.

Asked whether that meant people could expect cheaper bus travel with a Jeremy Miles government, he said: “I think for a sustainable bus network into the future, finding fairer ways to construct our fares is going to be very, very important.”

The former European transition minister has also pledged to tackle climate change and create quality, sustainable jobs in the process. He told the Argus he would be “honest” where people needed to make sacrifices in order to meet the government’s sustainability goals.

“I think it’s important that we are able to explain what it means in practice, in people's lives, and for people to see the chances which come from this as well as the changes it demands.

"That’s called a just transition and I think it’s a very important part of our journey in meeting the challenges of both the climate and nature emergency,” he said.

READ MORE: Vaughan Gething on his Wales Labour leadership punt

Asked where he stood on important issues in Gwent, Mr Miles said: “The Gwent Levels were an important part of some of the decisions we took around the M4 relief road and I think it’s a very important contributor to meeting our biodiversity goals.

“I am absolutely not looking to reverse the decision which the government took in relation to that [M4 relief road], but we also have a set of positive proposals the Burns Commission have developed, which address the pressures on the M4, and I would like us to take forward those proposals as fast as we can.”

Mr Miles also remains confident in the 20mph default limit, despite pledging to launch a review in his first week as first minister if elected. He said: “The review has two purposes. Firstly, to identify whether we need to give different, clearer or better guidance to local councils.

“The second is listening to what people are telling us about the designation of existing roads and where there are roads designated which don't fit.

“So, the review has two purposes, but the purpose of introducing the 20mph default limit was to make our roads safer and I'm confident that will be what happens.

“These things, these big changes, always take a time for people to get used to them but it is also important that we retain people’s confidence by showing that where there are things that we can adjust, that we should do that.

"I'm absolutely confident that I am capable of doing the job well. I am also open to challenge and my style of leadership is one in which I have a clear direction of travel but I've shown I'm successful in bringing people with me, by listening and being inclusive, as well as leading. That's the kind of government I want to lead."