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Connecting City Deal to the Knowledge Economy

There’s been much media prominence about the Swansea Bay City Deal and how it will be delivered. Getting a £1.3 billion joint initiative off the ground takes a fair bit of effort and its good to see that progress is being made. It’s easy though to get caught up in the appeal of big shiny projects and forget that the overall focus is about people. The grim backdrop to securing this funding package is that despite its many advantages, the Swansea Bay region suffers from income and job expectation levels that are well below the UK average. I hate to bring this up too; but nothing in any post-Brexit projections suggests that this is likely to change. We’re going to be on our own in more ways tha

Getting closer to the cliff edge

As MPs pack up for their summer hols, the approaching Brexit deadline can now be measured in weeks - and despite past promises, we’re still no clearer as to how any of us will fare as citizens and consumers. I’m not a great believer in referendums. They’re not the democratic solution that some claim. If anything they’re an expedient side-step used by politicians who fear losing office if they actually take a credible stance on something and show a bit of leadership. That makes me doubtful about the benefit of having a second vote as some demand. Yet I also ask myself how the hell do you come up with a good deal when there’s civil war on the tory benches over what ‘good’ looks like? Here in t

Time to liven up Swansea's waterfront

It came as a bit of a shock to realise how it’s almost five years to the day since I started this column. Time definitely flies when you’re busy pontificating. I started things off by getting shouty over Swansea’s new ‘boulevard’ – then under construction. I described it as a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Nothing has changed that opinion. Although hyped as a city centre boon, it’s basically intended for through-traffic on its way to somewhere else. What’s more, it has widened the divide between the city centre and the waterfront from four lanes to six. That’s the funny thing about Swansea. Location is supposed to be everything but it sometimes feels that a visitor would have to be

Burning the birthday candles at both ends

It’s been nice to see all the cakes and candles marking 70 years since the birth of the NHS. The nerd in me can't suppress the need to point out though that whilst Nye Bevan was responsible for delivering a national health service in 1948, the conception part was down to the ‘Social Insurance and Allied Services’ report produced six years earlier by Liberal economist William Beveridge. This landmark paper proposed reforms to eradicate what he called the “five giant evils of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease”. Seventy years on, it’s difficult to evaluate if we’ve achieved that aim. I think this comes across in our own complex personal relationships with the NHS. We lavish praise

Not playing those lagoon blues

As someone once said, a week is a long time in politics. It’s even longer when you’ve a column to write. Last Monday’s announcement about the scuttling of the Swansea tidal lagoon came just hours after my deadline. Since then, I’ve been monitoring the fallout. I was told over a year ago by a respected lobbying group – with no involvement in the project either way – that Treasury officials had already designated it as “nice idea but no chance”. Thereafter it was just a matter of waiting for their political masters to summon up the necessary bottle. When it finally happened, ministerial explanations came across as worthless political flannel; mostly, I guess, because they were worthless politi

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