When I first heard of the Circuit of Wales project back in the early part of 2013 I was somewhat sceptical of its chances of success, and the reasons for my scepticism were set out in Vroom, Vroom – The Next Gravy Train?
Despite being doubtful that the project would ever materialise I was (in the even-handed manner for which I am rightly acclaimed) also critical of some of those raising objections to the CoW, not least the environmentalists who seem to oppose anything that might benefit those who live permanently in Wales.
For various reasons that I don’t have the space to analyse here, the project has ‘drifted’ somewhat since my original post, and in recent weeks we have witnessed attacks on the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HOTVDC) and its Circuit of Wales from what might, at first sight, appear to be unconnected sources. So let’s look at these attacks and see if we can make sense of them.
A long-time critic of what could be the economic salvation of the region is Conservative MP David Davies, who represents the neighbouring constituency (to Ebbw Vale) of Monmouthshire, perhaps the most affluent area in the country. It’s reasonable to assume that those who vote for Davies don’t want anything noisy on their doorstep, attracting people who will drive through their area to get to the circuit. So while not wishing to be unfair – for there may indeed be more to it – I suspect that nimbyism with a dash of snobbery lies behind the attacks from that direction.
But as I say, Davies, chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee at Westminster, has been a consistent critic, and no doubt he’d argue that he’s just doing his job. And his job has been made easier for him by some strange spending of the millions already invested by the ‘Welsh’ Government.
But the criticism of this project comes from beyond leafy Monmouthshire and its well-heeled inhabitants, from those who cannot be dismissed as nimbys or snobs.
On November 1, after regular sniping from its news broadcasts, BBC Wales made a frontal assault using its Week In Week Out series with A Safe Bet? (Video available here for a while.) There was little pretence at impartiality. Anyone watching this programme with no knowledge of Wales, and how it works, would have concluded that the Circuit of Wales is a complete waste of money and should be ditched immediately.
I admit that Michael Carrick, the man behind HOTVDC, doesn’t always instill confidence, and he has certainly made mistakes. Even so, it appears to me that critics have too often been playing the man rather than the ball. By which I mean, the project needs to be considered on its merits; after all, Einstein being a philanderer didn’t undermine his Theory of Relativity.
The attacks have continued, culminating today in a front page lead continued on page 2 plus an editorial in the Wasting Mule. All written by my old mucker, Martin Shipton.
The justification for today’s attack seems to be that the HOTVDC used the Silverstone circuit in England in 2015 and 2016 to host MotoGP races that it had contracted to host at the Circuit of Wales, and had lost money. Now with the best will in the world, I detect an element of having your cake and eating it in this criticism.
Because those attacking the HOTVDC for making a loss at Silverstone – due to the Circuit of Wales not being completed – are the very same people who have been doing their very best to derail the CoW project altogether!
As for losing money by going to Silverstone, even before reading the response from the HOTVDC I knew the answer. The owners of the Silverstone circuit creamed off the profits, from the hot dog stands to the champagne hospitality suites and from the Ducati baseball caps to the sales of £300 leather biker boots.
A child could work that out, and a younger sibling could add that those profits would have accrued to Ebbw Vale if the Circuit of Wales had been operational, as would other benefits to the area from those visiting for a few days.
God Almighty! Break somebody’s leg and then criticise him for limping.
So how do we account for this recent onslaught from BBC Wales and the Wasting Mule? I suspect there are two, linked, answers.
First, just last month, it became clear that the project had a good chance of proceeding without needing to be underwritten by the ‘Welsh’ Government. Even so, this report from WalesOnline still manages to put a negative spin on the news with, “However, without approval on underwriting from the Welsh Government, the project will effectively be dead as there is little private sector appetite to take a 100% risk exposure position.”
Though I’m a little nonplussed by the phrase “approval on underwriting”. If the writer means underwriting, why not just say that rather than employ such a convoluted phrase? Though with heavyweight backing from Aviva and Kleinwort Benson underwriting from the ‘Welsh’ Government may no longer be needed . . . and it may be this realisation that has triggered the recent attacks.
The article in question was written by Siôn Barry, of whom I shall have more to say in a moment.
Second, if the Circuit of Wales goes ahead then it will challenge the thinking behind the Cardiff Capital Region project. Which, in its simplest terms, is as follows: As many jobs as the Region’s architects can get away with are to be concentrated in Cardiff, as are the Region’s sporting, recreational, cultural and other facilities. So that people from the Valleys will come into Cardiff to earn their crust, and they will come back into Cardiff to be regularly relieved of a great part of that crust.
Which makes it anathema to those behind the City Region that places like Ebbw Vale should be allowed anything as grand as a race circuit, ‘Bloody hell, people will go there spending their money rather than going into Cardiff. Where will it end? They’ll all want something!’
Now the Wasting Mule, despite its hyperbolic claim to be ‘The National Newspaper of Wales’, is, as we all know, a Cardiff newspaper, and the mouthpiece of those seeking to enrich the city at the expense of the rest of Wales. This explains today’s editorial.
The Wasting Mule does not want the Circuit of Wales to progress even if it has 100% private funding, for fear it might limit Cardiff’s ability to enjoy the full benefits of the City Region scam.
Consequently, the final paragraph of Shippo’s editorial is a direct appeal to his friends in the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government to put obstacles in the way of HOTVDC, perhaps to use environmental or other planning ruses. We can be sure that representations are also being made through more ‘private’ channels.
Fundamental to the Cardiff Capital Region project is the Metro system – for how else are people from Merthyr, Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and other outposts of the empire to reach the City of Milk and Honey? Since 2010 the job of promoting the Metro has fallen to a Mark Barry, some might go so far as to say that the Metro is his idea.
After working for the Welsh Development Agency (2002 – 2003) he has maintained good connections with the ‘Welsh’ Government. Though some might suggest a conflict of interests in the following roles:
- Owner of M&G Barry Consulting (Sept 2009 – Present) His Linkedin profile tells us that M&G Barry Consulting was set up to promote the Metro project.
- Board Advisor for Transport and the Economy for the Cardiff Business Partnership (Oct 2010 – Oct 2013)
- Founder of the private sector Metro Consortium (Aug 2011 – Nov 2013)
- Metro Development Director and Advisor to the ‘Welsh’ Government (Nov 2013 – Jan 2016).
(Though seeing as M&G Barry has been going since September 2009 I would have expected the website to be up and running by now. But then, I suppose it’s not looking for business, it’s a one-trick pony.)
I’m telling you this because of course Mark Dafydd Barry is the brother of Siôn Barry, Business Editor of Media Wales, and this explains Siôn Barry’s regular plugging of his brother’s Cardiff Metro scheme, and of course his hostility to the Circuit of Wales.
Yet another example of the incestuous relationship between politics, business, media and academe in Cardiff is provided by the fact that since April this year Mark Barry has been Professor of Practice in Connectivity at Cardiff University, “Exploring the wider economic and regional benefits of the South Wales Metro”.
Though some might think that’s an odd post – created specially? – for a man who did his degree at Manchester in Physics and The Analysis of Science & Technology and who, for many years after leaving university, worked in software design. In fact, Barry seems to have neither qualifications nor experience in the fields of transport and communications before he was granted his vision of the Cardiff Metro . . . and sold it to his former employers at the ‘Welsh’ Government.
This defence of Cardiff’s interests tells us why the Wasting Mule is hostile to the Circuit of Wales, while BBC Wales’ attitude can be explained by the fact that it has as much claim to being our national broadcaster as the Mule has to being our national newspaper.
The Circuit of Wales is a real test for the ‘Welsh’ Government, in a number of ways.
First, and most obviously, it is a massive project, promising thousands of jobs, in an area that badly needs those jobs and the economic boost they’ll bring to the wider economy.
Second, it is becoming clear that for those who believe Cardiff must be the hub for all investment in the south east the Circuit of Wales poses a challenge, partly of itself, and partly because it might encourage other distant towns to question their allotted status of dormitory settlements.
The issue can’t be funding alone. Certainly not for the ‘Welsh’ Government which, it is rumoured, will give more than £100m so that near-bankrupt Aston Martin can relocate in the Vale of Glamorgan, very near to Cardiff. And then there are the hundreds of millions of pounds squandered on the Third Sector for what often seems to be no other reason than providing jobs for Labour cronies and hangers-on. Communities First, which has spent over £300m would be a good example.
Then there are the hundreds, maybe thousands, of smaller projects that have cumulatively swallowed up more money over the years than Aston Martin, Communities First and all the others we know of. Read this puff from 2013, and then read this from just a few days ago. This project was a non-starter, doomed from the outset – but what the hell, it’s only public money!
What’s worse, is that one of the women involved in this doomed venture, Gill Wright, featured in Ancestral Turf, a post I wrote in September 2014. She belongs to a network of people in the Tywi valley – all of whom seem to be English – who appear to be in competition to dream up ever more ludicrous ‘schemes’ for milking the Welsh public purse. And it works – for they get grant after grant that benefits no one but themselves!
The other woman involved with setting up the Level Crossing Bunkhouse in Llandovery, Jane Ryall, is a ‘social enterprise advisor’. So not only do our funding bodies attract all manner of grant-grabbers to take advantage of the easy money, they also pull in those who are now living off those who are living off the Welsh public purse. And it’s all dressed up as economic activity. What a system!
And how can we forget the land deals that were so beneficial to Sir Gilbert Stanley ‘Stan the Pies’ Thomas yet so damaging to the public purse? For those who need to be reminded, read my posts Pies, Planes & Property Development and the sequel – with the same stars! – Pies, Planes & Property Development 2.
So any reticence on the part of the ‘Welsh’ Government to supporting the Circuit of Wales can’t be due to a fear of wasting public money, or a worry that some malcontents might suggest a lack of financial rectitude. For ‘Welsh’ Labour is inured to such criticism.
The Circuit of Wales offers tangible benefits for thousands of our people and a whole region of our country. Which is why the ‘Welsh’ Government needs to put aside its Cardiff bias, ignore the fact that there may be few sinecures in it for Labour Party cronies, and for once – just once – suppress its suspicion of business and entrepreneurship.
Help it happen!
~ ~ ~ ♦ end ♦ ~ ~ ~
UPDATE 17.11.2016: Would you Adam and Eve it! Shippo has returned to the attack on the Circuit of Wales, and what’s more, now he seems to be having a go at my old mate Neil! Bloody hell! where will this end? (Though I note there was no mention of the Brothers Barry.)
I can’t provide a link because the article doesn’t appear to have been uploaded yet to WalesOnline’s appalling and almost unnavigable website.
UPDATE 24.11.2016: Shippo mounts another attack, this time using a spokesman for the Silverstone circuit.
40 thoughts on “Circuit of Wales Revisited”
The Welsh Audit Office has now belatedly criticised the Welsh Assembly for tipping 9 million quid down the drain and for conspiring in money laundering by allowing most of said money to be transferred to other companies owned by the recipient of this largesse, and out of reach of said Welsh Government. Don’t expect heads to roll in this latest scandal, but which public servant was involved. According to my mole in Cardiff Bay, step forward one Chris Munday (of RIFW fame, or should that be noteriety).
Interesting story in today’s Wales Online by Shippo about Lord Kinnock tapping up Blaenau Gwent Council for a £50m loan for the Circuit of Wales project. Naughty Neil sent the begging (more a blackmail) letter on House of Lords headed paper and this was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms as he was acting in the role he performed for the company. The story also reveals Kinnock had put the wrong entry in the House of Lords Register of Interests about his role in the company the last five years – he hasn’t been paid a penny after all! What a beacon of goodness and philanthropy this man is – though one does wonder with all the Kinnocks’ millions the troughing bastards could have underwritten the Circuit themselves!
Shippo vs Kinnock snr. – is this a sign of schism within Labour ? Can we hope for a major civil war between umpteen factions, each pursuing its own utterly irrelevant agenda but totally obsessed with their content. And Carwyn’s contribution – “now calm down boys & girls, we got a 1000 year rhech to maintain here and we can’t have shows of disunity this side of the Bridge”.
When I read that double-page spread in yesterday’s Mule I wondered what was behind it. Clearly the movers and shakers in Cardiff, those behind the Cardiff City State (because it goes beyond a region), don’t want major investments outside of Cardiff, and certainly not within 70 or so miles. This explains the opposition to the Circuit of Wales and might also explain why we’re hearing so much now about the Cardiff tidal lagoon, raising suspicions that the one planned for Swansea has been sabotaged from Cardiff.
The spat between local bigwig (and former council leader) Hedley McCarthy and Kinnock is significant and, I suspect, long-standing. There’s no doubt that McCarthy and Shipton collaborated on yesterday’s spread, But I was surprised to see letters between McCarthy and Kinnock used. So thus far we have a very personal squabble between two Labour figures being exploited by the WM which wants to undermine the CoW.
Which means that McCarthy, a Blaenau Gwent councillor, has lined up with the opponents of the CoW to pursue his vendetta with Kinnock. I can only assume that he’s standing down at next May’s council elections. And that McCarthy was so ready to put the boot into the noble lord suggests that Kinnock is not universally loved among his ain folk.
Actually, I think Shippo of the Mule has realised that he’s about to hit a mother-load of sellable tabloid dirt on Lord Kinnock. No need for fatty to put in much legwork. Of course, this mutual back scratching and arm-twisting in Labour Party circles is so typical of the way the Bully of Bedwellty tried to influence McCarthy. I suspect this is just a minor skeleton in the Kinnock wardrobe. As soon as Article 50 is signed there will be hoards of current and former civil servants and chin bashed commissioners in the Brussels only too willing to spill the beans on his type of Operandi during his stint as European Commissioner and EC president
It could be that within a few years of his death Kinnock will be as reviled as George Thomas, just for different reasons. The high point of his political career will be putting down Militant – ‘Who were they?’.
As we know, Kinnock has announced he did not receive payment for his work. But there are quite a few rumours on social media that he’s been promised a share in the development company, indeed may already have a stake in it. To me this is similar to rumours about Peter Hain’s relationship to Hafren with the Severn Barrage scheme. No money that anyone can pick up as changing hands yet surely inconceivable that these men of fine principle were acting solely out of the kindness of their hearts. That would be in total contrast to their behaviour over many decades.
When you mention that it makes me think of the strange business of Alun Davies the local AM. He overstepped the mark in his support of the project, and he lost his ministerial job, but at least he could argue that it is his constituency. But then, is he on a ‘promise’?
To the Editor – In my last comment I deliberately wrote “1000 year rhech” as was attributed to CJ, well known windbag !
Sorry, correction made. Or should that be correction unmade?
On another issue you raised Jac, you may have got your wish of removing some caravans!
There’s a lot to be said for tornadoes.
just read that Severn Trent are taking over Dee Valley Water with agreed bid. So much for Dwr Cymru, more like Dwr Hanner Cymru ! And those much hailed “rights” passed to our Cynulliad over water, just a fuckin’ joke which is doing a good job of tranquilising the dull majority. Keep vigilant boys and girls there’s no crock of gold at the end of the rainbow, just a pile of shite.
I don’t understand some people, honestly. Did they really expect anything of substance from the Tories? Yet there they are up on their hind legs salivating. Pathetic!
Hi i think i drew your attention to TLC bunk house, llandovery a few months back as i noticed it wasd shut all the time, and had hardly run as an accommodation establishment at all.
BTW, talking about “deadas a dodo/ white elephants/ what the heck happened to that graNt money situations?”
Check out non existant Welsh language centre in llanelli trumpeted by our gvrmnent, but try finding the door open, or anything happening there, many people surprised to hear there is a Welsh Language Centre in town, Welsh teachers didn,’t
I didn’t realise it was you. I get information flying in from so many different quarters and by many different routes. Though Gill Wright was known to me, I’d written about her before. Do you have any more info about the Llanelli Welsh Language Centre?
Very well said and great research. Tg
Not convinced by the Circuit of Wales, too many big promises being made that won’t come off, but interesting to see the connections and the bias of the Welsh media exposed.
Talking of Ebbw Vale, the Welsh Affairs Committee was there yesterday talking about Brexit, but none of Labour’s Welsh MP’s turned up to meet the public and answer questions. It was busy judging by the pictures, what has Labour got to hide?
As for due diligence, yesterday the Assembly’s Public Account Committee questioned civil servants about the Kancoat, the steel coating firm that failed in July after a £3million grant from Welsh Government, Neil McEvoy question produced some interesting responses http://senedd.tv/Meeting/Clip/85557764-3f97-4b24-a326-1663b3175ebe?inPoint=0:43:10&outPoint=0:52:00
More details on PAC’s twitter feed https://twitter.com/SeneddPAC and BBC Wales report http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-36786266
Like I’ve said all along, I’m not entirely convinced either, but I’m beginning to wonder if certain people, certain ‘interests’, may want to kill the project even if it gets full private funding.
Don’t get me wrong the jobs and investment would be great and i agree that the Heads of the Valleys are being shafted because it doesn’t suit Labour’s Cardiff agenda, but the CoW is making big promises to pretty desperate and disillusioned people who need some tlc, not another kick in the teeth and that’s why i mentioned the Welsh Affairs meeting and Labour’s no show. They’re acting as if the Brexit voted didn’t happen and gullible voters in Blaenau Gwent will come back to them at the next election – really?
If the Circuit of Wales goes bad and post Brexit communities like Ebbw Vale don’t see improvement then voters are likely to turn to what speaking for them, my guess is that’ll be whatever replaces UKIP God help us.
I know what you’re saying, and the belief – the desperate belief – of the people in Ebbw Vale shown in the WIWO prog was quite moving. You’re also right about the Cardiff agenda. And I can’t fault your assessment of Labour carrying on as if nothing has happened.
Which makes me suspect that ‘Welsh’ Labour is heading for a crisis in the near future: a) because people in areas like Ebbw Vale aren’t going to accept jam tomorrow for another hundred years, b) the Corbyn effect hasn’t yet hit ‘Welsh’ Labour, c) as I say in my latest post, Labour has lost recent by-elections in Cardiff, there have been resignations in Caerffili, and de-selections in Bridgend and other places.
From a Labour perspective, the one ray of sunshine is that there’s no effective opposition, allowing Labour to struggle on for a bit longer.
Mark Barry now works for one of the bidders to run the Metro. Nice work if you can get it.
How many different hats has that bloke worn? But of course, all connected with the Metro – public, private, academic.
he’ll need a few more hats to match the number of faces he’s got !
Do you mean he’s working for someone who doesn’t appear on his Linkedin profile? If so, who?
no, I’m just saying that “two-faced” is insufficient to describe how duplicious and manipulative he is !
I’ve always been quite sceptical about the Heads of the Valley Development project. The main characters involved (one man and his dog really, namely Michael Carrick) didn’t seem to have a track record (no pun intended) of a project of this nature, and frankly, the thing just didn’t smell right to me. But, as Jac said in his earlier post on this subject, “If this project can deliver what it promises, primarily investment and well-paid jobs for local people, then I support it. But I have grave reservations as to whether it will deliver”.
Surely, if this thing was a goer, why would you need to go cap in hand to the WAG to get public money to underwrite it? With interest rates at an all-time low why not just go to the markets for funding? Peter Hain reckoned sovereign funds were queueing up to plough billions into the Severn barrage. If there’s that much money swilling round the system then why don’t they get all they need from them? Perhaps it’s because private investors not only know a good investment when they see one but can smell a dead turkey from a mile off.
One thing that did catch my eye after reading Jac’s latest article. Since the inception of this project and as previously reported by Jac, one of the names associated with HoVD has been Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty. He has been the Chair of the Advisory Board of the project. Now the Windbag has declared this interest in the House of Lords Register of Interests for several years in “Category 2 – Remunerated Employment”. I would have loved to know what extra pocket money it gave him but curiously, and again a worry for me in terms of the transparency of this outfit, nothing ever seemed to be published on that account. Maybe others have spotted something.
Anyway, that post of Windbag’s no longer pays him any remuneration so I guess he’ll be moving on soon. Because on 9 November 2016 the declaration of interest has been changed to one under “Category 10: Non-financial interests”. Don’t tell me they can’t afford to pay him any longer? Cashflow must be a serious problem in this outfit.
noted your comment that ……that post of Windbag’s no longer pays him any remuneration……. ……..Perhaps they have realised at last that he doesn’t give value for money
Sorry Jac but as much as I agree with you on Cardiff being a sponge sucking up funds and investment to the detriment of regional Wales, this fantasy island project should not be allowed to consume any further public money. If Silverstone and Donnington Park are in financial difficulty then a circuit placed on sodden moorland high above Ebbw Vale and distanced from major population centres is a non starter in my view..Further compounded by poor transport links out of the region, we still have not received the oft promised rail link to Newport, then this project has little chance of success. Moto GP has a strong continental following, especially in countries such as Spain and Italy and while airlines continue to turn their back on Cardiff airport it is unrealistic to expect fans to make a land journey into Wales from Europe. Without overseas fans the UK market will not be strong enough to sustain CoW. As a resident of Ebbw Vale nothing would please me more than to see investment and employment return to Blaenau Gwent but sadly I feel the little faith you place in Micahel Carrick as a businessman is still more than he deserves.
You may be right, but if those behind the scheme can secure private financial backing then the ‘Welsh’ Government has to support it.
If the project is to be privately financed in its entirety then the Cynulliad’s role becomes a matter of granting the appropriate consents. Sadly, we have a chequered history of failure which is part of the entrepreneurial experience. I get a bit shirty when so called entrepreneurs want government and its agencies to shoulder the burden of risk at the outset of any project, what is the point of enterprise if in reality it’s just a state venture? Similarly when these things fail there is an immediate knee jerk call from the usual suspects to bail out such failures, again replacing enrepreneurial risk with state intervention.
Chopper’s fears have some validity. He defines clearly some of the obstacles to success and in that respect Government has a duty to inform the prospective investor of what it will, or won’t, do to mitigate those obstacles. I suspect that most MotoGP fans would either fly or drive, neither option is too clever in this case.
Of course if Carwyn &Co stopped some of the silly 3rd sector funding and spent the cash on real capital projects – like road and rail links – these issues could be overcome. Back to that question of priorities, isn’t it ?
You’ve omitted that Alun Davies lost his Ministerial job over promoting the Vroom-vroom project. The late head of the late CCW (Morgan Howells) disclosed Davies’s e-mail asking the EAW chief to give the project an easy ride when its officers were setting off to oppose its environmental impacts. Granting £1 million and then £9 million to wide-boy Michael Carrick surely passed Welsh-style “due diligence” tests when others assessed the project as quite unviable. Let’s conclude that the Welsh Government is schizophrenic. Hart and Sargeant out of control, Ken Skates has seen danger over a bill well above Aston Martin’s £100million.
Yes, Mark Barry etc are not serious over the Metro project; they did enough to get Edwina Hart’s support and then win funding from Westminster via the City Deal, though the Euro-tranche is now beyond their reach. Mark Barry did nothing and the Welsh Govt sat by at Cardiff’s LDP Inquiry as the city planners excluded not only Ely Mill station but also excluded the Metro-trams from any ‘regional’ transport interchange with buses and rail on Central Square. That kyboshed the line out to Fairwater and Creigiau/RCT which was to be the second project (after the Butetown link).
The City Deal funding will now be mainly swallowed up on Valley-lines electrification. Though Cardiff might try and grab some for its pokey new bus station (supporting huge office/residential blocks) which has suddenly turned out to be devoid of funding, according to Mark’s brother, Siôn Barry http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/latest-images-new-cardiff-bus-12164780.
I did consider mentioning the Alun Davies episode because it was rather bizarre for a politician to be sacked for trying to do the best for his constituents. If I recall the incident clearly, the excuse used for sacking him was the way he’d gone about it.
What I find rather worrying about the Barry brothers is the way they link business, public sector, media, politics and academe in Cardiff. There’s seems to be an almost seamless connection of influences all pushing for every Welsh pound to be spent in Cardiff, but of course, this will be done for ‘the good of Wales’.
Cardiff is taking on the appearance of a third world capital, with all the development and investment focused there to the detriment of the impoverished ‘provinces. The only difference is that instead of the local tyrant and his extended family and cronies we have it all being carved up between the Labour Party and the Cardiff business community.
One post I have on the back-burner is ‘Cardiff, Capital of Corruption’. I just need a few more examples, but I know they’ll come.
Anybody who has worked both within Cardiff and around the rest of Wales will immediately recognise the investment “magnetic field” that operates in the city and its immediate environs. You have to go back decades to find significant volumes of major inward investments or growth/development of strategic sectors away from Cardiff. Now, with value-adding manufacturing still struggling to recover a decent foothold everything seems to have swung towards a concentration of various service sectors, some value adding but many feeding off the huge tit called the Cynulliad.
Now it’s obviously advantageous to have some resources pitched up close to the building in the Bay but a lot of these so-called modern services should be able to operate from anywhere. Yet they all get crowded into big glass boxes within a few miles of Carwyn’s H.Q. paying the highest rents in Wales. Taking an example close to your heart,Jac, why can’t Hugh James have a few “client facing” staff based in a small, smart unit near the Bay and have a big back office operation at say Pentrebach, near Merthyr where I’m informed Hugh James has its roots.
Speculative building of commercial offices has been helped by virtual assurances that new inward investments will be “directed ” to Cardiff by the usual mix of sweeteners – grants etc. Indeed it gets a bit much when major solicitors start complaining that competing solicitors have an unfair advantage as they received “aid packages” to come to Cardiff. As if we didn’t have enough already, but you have to keep the property bubble fed to maintain a feelgood factor.
In mentioning Hugh James’ Merthyr roots you hit on a major problem we’ve encountered since devolution – various outfits relocating to Cardiff to be close to decision-makers. I recall from the early years the FAW moving from Wrecsam, where it was formed. Then the RSPB moved from Welshpool, which I would have thought was nicely central, with a greater choice of birds than can be found in Cardiff.
Too true. The proposed Circuit of Wales, whatever its other faults, has a major flaw in that it is too many miles away from the Cardiff City Centre. Councillor Bale was at it again in the online version of our esteemed national rag rambling on about sinking loads more money into Cardiff for the good of Wales !
Boy just won’t give up on his shallow mantra. Thinks we’re all gullible, and sad to say most of our fellow countrymen are when it comes to this kind of spin. If he had his way they’d churn up some nice farm land, probably between Cardiff and Cowbridge, build a race track with a pile of hotels and other facilities all round it. And all those valley boys and girls could commute to & from work there on the Metro every day.
Cardiff – Phil Bale’s City State bought to you at the expense of the people of Wales. But we’ll all get something out of it thanks to “trickle down economics”. What generosity ! Personally I don’t think I would ever enjoy the warm feeling of Councillor Bale pissing down my back, I’d sooner take on the chill winds blowing off the Beacons over the Rassau.
The ‘Metro’ is a rather expensive scam to get £600million from Westminster to spend on Cardiff with a false promise to ‘help’ the valleys.
Examples, on the map, above.
(a) The brown route is actually a subsidised bus service from Treherbert across the heads of the valleys to Ebbw Vale, using the A465. Like any subsidised bus service, it will actually fall to the council to keep checking money at it. The Rhigos mountain road is often closed in winter.
(b) The Cynon rail line is extended to Hirwaun along an existing route currently used as a cycle path and the old Tower mineral line. This has been on the table for thirty years, with a huge gentrified housing development on Hirwaun common to justify it. This was scuppered when the good citizens of Hirwaun got village green status for the common.
(c) The Abertillery spur off the Ebbw Vale line would, again, be on an old mineral line currently a cycle path. To do this would either involve a train splitting and joining operation at Aberbeeg or Llanhilleth (ongoing expense) or diverting whole trains from Ebbw Vale to go to Abertillery actually reducing the number of trains to Ebbw Vale.
(d) It shows a new ‘cut through’ from Nelson to Abercynon, which would involve demolishing hundreds of homes in Trelewis, and there is no passenger demand for this as existing busses doing this is under used.
(e) It does not show the extension of the Coryton line to Radyr, now dropped from the plan. This would involve demolishing some posh houses in Cardiff, but it is something that will benefit the valleys. It could be an althernative route into Cardiff from the valleys reliving congestion on the Cathays line which is currently at capacity.
(f) It shows a new ‘tram’ line (in red) via Culverhouse Cross to Cardiff Airport. This is bizarre as there is already a rail line but the Vale loop although not yet connected to the airport. It’s just a cash grab for Cardiff to open up the western suburbs using the ‘all Wales investment’ excuse. Strangely this is the only route in Wales that would be ideal for a high capacity ‘bendy bus’ link up Western Avenue linking the UHW and Gabalfa, but they want the rest of Wales to pay for trams.
(g) Why would someone staying at the Celtic Manor get there by bus? Quite bizarre.
I could go on, but in reality the £600million will be spent in Cardiff itself with a few bus services in the valleys who’s cost will eventually be met by the relavent council or abandoned.
The problem that the Cardiff branch of the English Labour party have with the racetrack is that it is too visible an investment.
If it fails then large quantities of smelly brown stuff will hit the rotary ventilation machine and there will be no hiding place.
This is different to their normal investment plan where money is shovelled in the direction of anonymous companies where nobody really takes much notice of what happens to them.
As usual the watchword is self preservation.
Possibly, but my worry is that even if the Circuit of Wales is fully funded from private sources there will still be objections from certain quarters I have identified.