Who benefits from devolution anyway?

At a time when momentous things are happening elsewhere in the political firmament, the passage of the Wales Bill has remained implacably within the confines of the Westminster and Cardiff Bay bubbles. UKIP leader Neil Hamilton described the process of shifting the latest batch of powers to Wales as "unexciting". He’s right enough I suppose although for the wrong reasons. Leaving aside how the UK Independence Party has become a bit quieter in its view that Welsh devolution is overrated ever since they gained half-a-dozen or so Senedd seats, the proceedings have admittedly been turgid to say the least. More pertinent is the nagging question of whether the transfer of power is primarily intend

Free press comes at a high price

My first inkling that something might be wrong with newspapers occurred to me as a teenager when a national tabloid misquoted the lyrics of a contemporary pop song. As I read on, it dawned on me that this was not a mistake made by out-of-touch oldies. This was a deliberate action to stoke up outrage among readers in the days when the dissolute lifestyle of rock 'n rollers was news. Thereafter, the warning that one should not believe everything you read in the press took on a practical meaning. It may sound strange for someone who operates in my field of work but I very seldom read a newspaper. That’s more a choice made out of personal convenience than any position statement but the outcome a

Big Brother makes the connection

I’ve been reading that a new super-computer system about to be fully deployed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has been christened ‘Connect’. The name implies a sort of benign relationship between citizens and the state. The reality however is a surveillance package designed to uncover tax avoidance by garnering info from a spectrum of government, corporate and commercial sources. The aim is to create a profile for each of us as taxpayers, rather than rely on what we put in our tax returns. Any significant differences are then flagged up and could prompt an investigation. ‘Connect’ has been under development for some time. The estimated cost is around £100 million although it’s claimed t

Making the city smarter

There was an unseemly outburst of laughter in the Whiterock office the other day when I made an informed reference to the ‘internet of things’. "Internet thing is something my gran would say", snorted a young associate. That particular comment stung because I happen to know that her gran was only a year above me in primary school. Armed with a suitable scowl I explained I was talking about the internet working of smart devices which collect and exchange data, or something like that anyway. According to the item I was reading, the idea is that IoT creates opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems. This in turns enables stuff like interconnecte

Turning a problem into a crisis

If 2017 turns out to be anything like the year just gone then we can expect plenty of challenges to go around. On that front, you’ll get no apologies from me for returning to a pet subject of how Wales can ever develop a decent capability towards meeting a need for more affordable homes. Help to Buy, the government scheme which assists mortgage opportunities for first time house buyers comes to an end in England this month. No announcement has been made about Wales so far. This is understandable given that the Welsh Government has promised to provide 20,000 new properties over the course of its current assembly term. This commitment has been welcomed by Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the umb

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