Life in the old schemes yet

This is something of a ‘shortie’ because I’ve had things to do and I’ve spent a lot of time in recent days looking for a new theme, an attempt to give a new look to this blog. I’m not happy with this theme – 2016 – but I’ll stick with it until I find summat better.

So if anyone can recommend a clean yet flexible blog theme, offering sidebars and plenty of options, let me know. I don’t mind coughing up a few quid for the right one.

Among a number of problems with this theme – post too narrow, too much space around the header, etc – is that comments don’t show on the home page, and the link to the comments is almost invisible, lying as it does at the bottom of the tags in the left sidebar.

But enough of my trifling problems.

For in this post I bring news that there may yet be life in two projects we assumed were on their way to the knacker’s yard – the motor racing circuit at Ebbw Vale and the Swansea tidal lagoon.

Let’s look at Ebbw Vale first.

IF ONLY FANGIO COULD HAVE LIVED TO SEE THIS!

The original scheme, you will recall, was the brainchild of one Michael Carrick, who ultimately revealed himself to be a bit of a lad.

He achieved this status by running up debts, buying a motor cycle parts firm with grant money he’d received, even paying his gardener from the same source, and by generally exposing himself to be a man with a vision . . . of making himself very rich out of spin and hyperbole.

Image: WalesOnline, click to enlarge

Despite the backing of the equally avaricious Lord Kinnock it was eventually realised that the Circuit of Wales project pushed by Carrick’s Heads of the Valleys Development Company and Aventa Capital Partners Ltd was a pipe-dream that was never going to draw the tifosi to Ebbw Vale. (And to call it a ‘pipe-dream’ is being generous.)

But, wait! is that a highly-tuned engine I hear whining its way towards the Heads of the Valleys, powering a sleek Le Mans-style sports car? Yes, it is, and at the wheel we find Newport-born Roger Maggs, or possibly Mark Rhydderch-Roberts of Crickhowell. ‘Who they?’ you demand. Well read about them for yourself.

Their plan differs in a number of regards from Michael Carrick’s vision. Perhaps most notably in the declaration that they will not be trying to attract high-prestige events; their plan being along the lines of “providing state of the art laboratory and testing facilities for the global automotive industry”.

Which would obviously complement the ‘Welsh Government’s Automotive Technology Park at Rhyd y Blew.

Another major departure from the Carrick vision is that Maggs and Rhydderch-Roberts say they won’t be demanding vast amounts of public funding. Their project is priced at a modest £150m, roughly a third of the estimated cost of the Circuit of Wales, and would not seek “any direct financial support or underwriting from the Welsh Government”.

Though funding would be sought from the £1.2bn City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region, which is where I fear they might run into difficulties.

To begin with, there are ten local authorities in the Cardiff Capital Region and some may not favour such a development on the northern edge of the region, especially, perhaps, the largest of those local authorities.

For £734m of the City Deal funding has been ring-fenced for electrification of Valleys’ railway lines so as to make it easier for people to travel from dormitory communities into Cardiff to work and spend money. If the developments we’re discussing take off they will be of little or no benefit to Cardiff. Yet whether or not a project benefits Cardiff is often the prime consideration for ‘Welsh Government’ funding decisions and so things may not bode well for the Maggs-Rhydderch-Roberts plan.

On the plus side, with the widening of the Swansea – Hereford A465 proceeding apace Ebbw Vale becomes more reachable from the English Midlands, heart of the automotive industry.

Yes, I know, I’ve just mentioned the Automotive Technology Park at Rhyd y Blew, but don’t get carried away. After building up people’s hopes by supporting the Circuit of Wales, and then pulling the plug, the ‘Welsh Government’ had to offer something to Ebbw Vale. Motivated not by guilt but by the consideration of saving Labour seats.

I wish both projects well. But if they are to truly benefit the Heads of the Valleys region, the most deprived part of a poor country, then we need assurances that local people will be recruited and trained and that as much as possible of the money involved stays in the area.

Let us now take that A465 to the city of my dreams.

WAVING OR DROWNING?

Another ‘character’ who has been entertaining us for a few years now, in many ways a contemporary and rival to Michael Carrick, is Mark Shorrock of a host of companies under the Tidal Lagoon umbrella. His particular vision was for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay tapping into Neptune’s bounty.

It’s enough to make an old Sea Scout like me nostalgic for the smell of brine and Robert Newton impersonations, ‘Arr, Jac lad’. But enough of that.

This project also went mammaries skyward when the UK government refused to fund it. Though Shorrock, a man with a number of unfulfilled dreams to his name, believed it could still proceed. Like the man who has covered the floor in broken crockery he insists that given one more try he really can do this trick with the tablecloth.

Our Glorious Leader mumbled something about his mob getting involved, but like most of what he says ’twas naught but piss and wind. (As Ms Sturgeon and countless others can testify.)

More plausible perhaps was the salvage attempt mooted by Holistic Capital. And this may, or may not, be the scheme favoured by Swansea council and involves one of the local degree factories. Certainly the council is showing enthusiasm for pushing ahead with the project it has dubbed ‘Tidal Lagoon 2.0’, even setting up a ‘task force’.

The Circuit of Wales would have made Michael Carrick very wealthy (and has certainly enriched him considerably), the Swansea tidal lagoon would have showered even greater wealth on Mark Shorrock and his nearest and dearest. Perhaps especially his wife’s company, Good Energy.

Mark Shorrock, courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

At one stage, on the understanding that the UK government would fund the lagoon, the Welsh Local Government Association promised to invest in the project. Then there’s possible funding from the Swansea Bay City Region deal. There are also recent reports that private funding is being sought.

Your guess is as good as mine as to the state of play now.

Though I hear that Swansea Labour’s inner circle recently discussed pushing ahead with the lagoon by investing some of the council’s own money in the scheme. Possibly pension funds. How those with money in the pension scheme feel about this has yet to be ascertained.

But I’m sure they have nothing to fear. If this goes ahead it will be an investment made after due deliberation by the finest minds in the Swansea Labour Party – what could possibly go wrong?

Again, joking aside, I wish this project well. As with Ebbw Vale, I hope it takes off and benefits the local community. In fact, I look forward to visiting in a few years and viewing the whole shebang from the new cable car running from Kilvey Hill.

FROM THEM THAT HAVE NOT SHALL BE TAKEN

The uncomfortable fact is that Wales attracts far too many like Carrick and Shorrock for the simple reason that Wales is a colony of England. Let me explain.

As a colony, the last thing either the ‘Welsh Labour Government’ or their masters in London want is to encourage Welsh initiative. With many in Labour it’s due to an atavistic, leftist aversion to ‘capitalism, innit’; while with their London bosses it’s a desire not to give the natives any thoughts about being able to do things for themselves.

The second being classic, ‘You couldn’t manage without us’ colonialism.

On a more prosaic level there is the purely economic consideration. By which I mean, if the UK government gives the the ‘Welsh Government’ a sum of money every year – let’s say £18bn – then the UK administration will want to recoup as much as possible of that funding, or in other ways take advantage of what cannot be sucked back over the border.

This may be achieved by flooding Wales with English retirees, persuading the ‘Welsh Government’ to put up wind turbines to help the UK meet emissions targets, allocate social housing to those who’ve never set foot in Wales, get said ‘Welsh Government’ to accept and fund bankrupt luxury car makers, improve the M4, or direct to Wales con men or dreamers with half-baked schemes that might just work.

The word soon spreads via the Con Man’s Chronicle and other outlets that Wales is a soft touch for funding and lunatic schemes. You want dosh to built a 900 foot helter-skelter atop Cader Idris? – then all you’ve got to do is get your ten-year-old nephew to put together a bisnuz plan, tell Ken Skates it’ll pull in the tourists better than the Flint Sphincter and he’ll embarrass your pockets with big wodges of folding.

And that’s without considering the third sector, where we find thousands upon thousands of self-righteous shysters who’ve moved from England to ‘help’ nobody but themselves – to our money!

Such is life in a colony. Woe to Wales!

♦ end ♦

14 thoughts on “Life in the old schemes yet

  1. sibrydionmawr

    Can’t even see the link to the comments, so either I’m going blind, or the last lot of dosh I sent Specsavers way was a waste, and was done. Agree about the theme Jac, but if it’s a WordPress theme, surely your technical department could find someone to tweak the css for you so you get exactly what you want? I agree that the space for text is too narrow, but most blog configurations seem to be like this for some reason. I think the header is just about right in terms of ‘white space’ but this sort of thing is very much personal choice.

    I’m not sure that I’d be prepared to buy a used car from either of the characters you describe above, they are both chancers. I’m not talking about the shower in Cardiff Bay, (as I don’t consider them either ‘leftists’ or even proper socialists) but there is, and always has been a core of pragmatic socialists who, whilst not liking capitalism very much, recognise that as far as economic systems go, at the moment capitalism is the only one that functions at all. You will have no doubt heard of Yanis Varoufakis, who is as dyed in the wool a leftist as you could possibly think of, but is constantly stressing that it’s the only economic system we have, and the emphasis should be on making it deliver for everyone, until such time we think of a better economic system. Detractors of socialism often make the mistake of decrying what they call socialist economics, but the truth is there is no such thing. What passed for ‘socialist’ economics in the USSR was in fact state capitalism practised a little more intensely than state capitalism here in Wales. Even so, whilst the countries of the Eastern Bloc operated a nominally ‘socialist’ economy in terms of it’s aims. it had to operate within the global context of capitalism. Capitalism is a bit like democracy, possibly the worst forms of operating possible, until the alternatives are considered.

    I personally detest a lot about capitalism, but I recognise that a lot of the bad stuff can be ameliorated if it is properly democratised and that the benefits are more widely enjoyed by those who produce the wealth.

  2. Wynne

    Thanks for reminding us where the comments button is. I was previously jumping to the comments section by clicking on the post title and then scrolling down. If the font size and colour of the comments button could be changed it would probably be an improvement. Perhaps Big Gee could wave his magic wand and make it happen, or perhaps not.

  3. Dafis

    So it looks like the Swansea Lagoon project goes down the tubes because the guy fronting the proposal did not stimulate the desired level of confidence among Welsh Government ministers and officials and appears to have caused some discomfort to a Select Committee. Was that because he was deemed a bit dishonest ? or not sufficiently dishonest ? Apart from this tongue in cheek quip, I also wonder if integrity of the Project leadership was a key factor why didn’t our esteemed government seek out an alternative organisation with the trustworthiness to spearhead such a key programme of work ? Or is it the case that Government has to be “sold” such ideas and the concept of some hard nosed procurement never enters their silly little minds ?.

    1. Brychan

      Out of all the ‘projects’ mentioned, the only one which will benefit Wales is the tidal lagoon.

      A rope and a pulley from a hill above Swansea is not required and does nothing more than make another Dry Ski Slope (remember that?) It consumed a lot of public money and all Swansea got was an abandoned dirty bank covered in moss on an industrial estate. As for the ‘race track circuit’ up at Ebbw Vale is a non-starter, just a pipe dream from knobhead with a maxed out credit card in the hospitality suite at LeMans, or should that be LeMons. Why don’t eco-settler re-wilders use their grants to adopt these old open cast tips at the heads of the valleys, instead of taking good quality farmland out of production?

      Also, what’s with this Welsh obsession with in orange tanned twats in blazers?

      A real goer will have (a) full corporate investment, (b) team led by experts with proven track record, (b) have a full business plan, (d) be matched by the risk of investers own money.

      I recently received an email from Dyfed Powys Police on how to avoid being conned. It said things like – don’t give money to someone you hardly know – always check the professional qualifications of a tradesman – never take just one quote, get a number of quotes, at least three – ask around for references or view previous work. It’s designed to stop elderly auntie Sioned getting ripped off when getting her gutters cleaned or tarmac the drive. This advise would best be re-directed to the Government of Wales.

      1. Dafis

        spot on especially that last paragraph. Government of Wales run by seriously defective deferential politicians aided by civil servants seriously lacking in critical thinking and judgement capability.

  4. Dafis

    My attention was drawn to your tweet regarding Mr B Angwin and his unwarranted interference. Went onto Ein Gwlad site to communicate my anger upon reading this man’s intervention. He turns up frequently on IMJ’s Nation.Cymru site openly brandishing his Liberal entryist stance within Plaid seeking to mitigate the pseudosocialist ideas of so many Plaid members ! That should have made him somewhat tolerant of other people’s mix of ideas at least to the point of debating them but this action exposes him as very anti-liberal, hostile towards anything that he perceives as not fitting into his particular and peculiar band width of orthodoxy. In that photo is he punting in Cambridge or cruising the back channels of Venice ? Pretentious jerk. “Smug duplicious tosser” fails to describe him in sufficient depth.

    1. Dafis

      Point of clarification. I am not a member of Ein Gwlad although I sympathise with much of that which they have said and written over recent months. They have declined to publish my comments regarding the toxic Mr Angwin for reasons made known to me. As I do not belong to any formal political entity I continue to be at liberty to call out any deviant who thinks he can get away with dirty tricks such as those played recently by the pompous ass.

      1. Big Gee

        Diolch Dafis.

        Your application form awaits when you’re ready: https://eingwlad.wales/membership !

        I appreciated your comment, and Jac’s on the ‘Penguin’ post in the News Portal. However unlike a general personal blog, we have to maintain a level of decorum and I suppose a degree of respectability on the News Portal, because it’s the mouthpiece of the party. That does not mean a cowering down, or a tendency to avoid things. However the modus operandi is slightly different, for obvious reasons.

        Also of course, it was not the ‘Penguin’ that we needed to focus on, but Chapter in Cardiff and Plaid, as the ‘Penguin’ associates himself with that party (whether he’s a member or just spouts that he’s a ‘Plaid activist’ we don’t know). But an open letter has been sent to Chapter (you can view it on our News Portal) and a letter to the Plaid leadership has followed.

        Your comments on articles and news stories on the News Portal are always welcome Dafis, it’s just that we cannot target individuals – as you can on here. After all, how can we accuse people like the ‘Penguin’ of closing down free speech, and then attack him personally for what he has said? Free speech is for all, whether we like what’s said or not,

        1. Dafis

          Bore da Gee. I recognised the stance when SM sent me a note regarding content of comments, no problems there. No doubt you will have seen my response to him. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I stay out of formal membership of anything, never have been a member of anything since 1968/9 but have supported causes and movements, even Plaid briefly !

          My attack on BAngwin was not an attack on free speech but rather an attack on his duplicious stance. Here’s a guy who hails himself as a liberal centrist, claiming to be an influencer seeking to modify the pseudo socialist tendencies within Plaid. Yet he’s already made his mind up on Ein Gwlad and worse still seeks to impose that prejudice on others. Classic example of the new fascism of the illiberal pseudo liberals. Man needs to readjust his focus. A good slap on the head might just do it !

          1. Anguished’s hostility was initially directed at me, and when he became aware of Ein Gwlad, and my connection, he simply transferred his hostility to EG without knowing anything about the party.

            But everyone I’ve talked to, everyone who knows him says he’s weird, truly fucking weird. So nobody pays him any attention. That said, he still has the potential to damage Ein Gwlad among those who don’t know him, or those who’ll be prepared to overlook the fact that he’s a fruitcake.

            1. Big Gee

              He, and people like him make great recruiting sergeants for us Jac. The more crap he, and others like him, put out, and the more their comments and reasoning are put down by measured and logical rebuttal, the more people will realise what they are dealing with. It may cause a spike of resistance initially, but over a relatively short period of time fair minded people will come to their own conclusions, based on the rebuttals of the contents of the poison speech. There’s only one winner there.

              We know that from the number of visitors to the sites of Shrewsbury and Phil Parry (as examples). These types are short lived, and in the fullness of time destroy themselves by their own swords. By far the best way to tackle them is by ignoring them, because if the truth be known their problem is attention seeking like children who have tantrums.

              Shatter their arguments and leave it at that – it’s absolutely the wrong tactic to attack them personally, it fuels their attention seeking antics.

              However, blogs like yours have absolute freedom to collect and express the views of others, and no damage is done, as long as it’s clear that views expressed on here are not necessarily the views of Ein Gwlad as a party. I personally think it’s very healthy to let off steam, and it should be encouraged, as long as it doesn’t morph into a negative force amongst those who have limited understanding of what is involved.

          2. Big Gee

            Wedi taro’r hoelen ar ei chlopa Dafis!

            You’re absolutely right. I couldn’t agree more with you. However, as we are now an official political party, we have to focus on the arguments with measured and logical debate. We can highlight the bad/ wrong and lying behaviour of individuals, and highlight their actions, but we cannot go after anyone by attacking or insulting the individual concerned in the hope of shutting them up. What we can do is go after the reactions or lack of by the party they represent, or other third parties involved – on this occasion Plaid and Chapter in Cardiff – that’s exactly what we’ve done.

            There are strange and malicious characters out there who resort to all kind of gutter tactics, but at the end of the day, we have to allow them their freedom of speech, but at the same time destroy their potency by focusing on the facts. If we don’t do it that way we would be guilty of trying to close them down by depriving them of their freedom to say what they want – which is exactly what they try and do with us. Who was it that said if you believe in an eye for an eye, then you both land up as blind men.

            Reasoned debate and the telling of truth whether it hurts or not is our style and way of doing things. -without holding anything back in the cause of political correctness. Fighting your cause like a cornered rat against individuals is futile – it just gives onlookers the wrong impression. Let the silly individuals shoot themselves in their own feet. We have to rise above the sewer and not jump into it. otherwise we will also be illiberal neo liberals as well.

  5. Dafis

    Way off topic I quote a blog which I happened upon via Borthlas – new one to me called Stumbling and Mumbling, which kind of sums me up some days !

    “If your leftism consists only of an emotional spasm, a belief that Tories are “evil”, it will not long survive contact with real human beings.”

    Now that should be compulsory reading for many of the Plaid elite who still find it impossible to acquire a broader range of vision and tolerance. Even Plaid rank and filers who profess to be centrists would do well to entertain dialogue with those they consider to be “on the right” – wherever that is !

  6. Dafis

    Gee We are on the same page, you and EG colleagues are busy filling the page, I’m out there in the margins keeping an eye out for bad buggers who wish to deface content !!

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