Could more be done for Wales with the City Deal?

The City Deal is a Treasury driven stimulus for empowering local areas to drive growth by putting greater resources and financial freedoms into the hands of local leaders and it is gaining much attention in Wales. It has the potential to deliver an extra investment of circa £1billion and if used wisely might have a significant and long-term impact on the economy of a region.

But could it also have an impact on Wales? After all, we are a small country in terms of population and could, with a bit of effort and innovative thinking, develop a plan that might transform the country rather than just a single city-region. My belief is that if can but to do so we will need to think and operate differently to the way things are currently aligned. Continue reading “Could more be done for Wales with the City Deal?”

What’s happened to Penarth?

penarth_town_centreI went to Penarth yesterday, hadn’t been there for some time, but I remembered it as a smart little town but I was shocked when I saw how the centre of the town has changed.

Standing in the middle of the shopping area I could count 3 supermarkets, 4 coffee shops and 5 charity shops.

When I walked less than 100 yards “just round the corner” I found another 4 charity shops.

What has happened to what was once such a nice little place to turn it into the Charity Shop capital of south Wales?

“The Welsh Class” circa 1963: where are they now?

Clearing out a few cupboards this weekend uncovered this old photo of the London County Council run “Welsh Class” in HungerfordRoad School, probably around 1963. I wonder where they all are now.

You probably couldn’t call it the Welsh Class now, would infringe some law or other I’m sure.

Buying Votes – another act of folly

Ed Miliband MP speaking at the Labour Party co...
Ed Miliband MP speaking at the Labour Party conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, Ed Miliband wants to raise the minimum wage over the course of the next Parliament from £6.50 which is due to take effect in October to £8 an hour.

This is a remarkably easy vote winning strategy for a Labour leader to throw out there, but he needs to understand the reality of what he’s doing because somebody has to pay.

Let me take an example of somebody I know who runs a takeaway and fast food restaurant, he employs around 40 staff, working seasonal and shift patterns to deal with demand. Most are young people, working in their first jobs, in an area where work is quite hard to come by. Continue reading “Buying Votes – another act of folly”

More Rubbish on Rubbish

I live in Cardiff, but am lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Aberaeron in Ceredigion.

One strange thing I’ve noticed is that the 2 councils place different recycling demands on me, and other residents, and are not working in a common national agenda.

For example: we’ve all got those horrid little food recycling bins now, one in the kitchen and another that probably sits outside or in our shed for the larger collection. With such a small market in Wales you’d expect them to be the same throughout the country. One single purchase would have got the best price surely. They are not the same; both the small and large variants are different in both locations.

But then of course so are the bin bags: different colour, different printed messages, different contents accepted.

Recycling is inconsistent with bottles (beer and wine for example) being acceptable in Cardiff but not in Aberaeron. When I’ve got empty wine bottles in Ceredigion the policy is to take them to the local collection point. Consequently one can regularly see people driving to the big bins to drop off their glass. That does not seem to promote a green agenda as far as I can tell.

I accept that there are challenges to be addressed in terms of managing our recycling and I am not anti any of the efforts to manage our future better. I do however object to a small country like Wales having different implementations of such simple policies, creating decision points that don’t need to exist, working to differing local agenda and, in the final answer, wasting money that could be spent better elsewhere.

No doubt someone will claim that “we are doing so much better than them” and I commend them for that. But let’s adopt the best practice and spread it across the whole country whilst removing the need for rubbish decisions to be made at local levels and at unnecessary cost.

Don’t try Picnicking in Aberaeron

Riverside Picnic Spot in Aberaeron

There’s a really pleasant walk along the riverside in Aberaeron. It’s perfect for a lazy stroll and for many it offers an opportunity to picnic in the shade whilst listening to the sounds of the passing River Aeron.

I took a walk down there yesterday with Ben my Labrador and was appalled at the state of the path.

How can an area of pleasant natural beauty that is a magnet for tourists, be left to grow to such an unkempt state?

Much of the grassed areas in the town are like this with extremely long grass and a general air of malaise.

For a town that relies so much on tourism the authorities responsible for such a decision should hang their heads in shame, once they’ve finished the strimming the grass.