Looking at a different kind of enterprise

Economic initiatives in Wales are as much a part of our historical character as the castles that dot the landscape. Beneath our feet are a strata of discarded regeneration plans dating back to the pre-dawn of devolution - laid down by political parties and institutions over the last couple of decades. Among these is the Conservative flagship policy which started with the premise that what Wales really needed was a barrage across Cardiff Bay. No sooner had the laughter died down than the Welsh Office was writing blank cheques - with none of the parsimony displayed by Gwydyr House incumbents nowadays. Meanwhile it was the Thatcherite solution of Enterprise Zones that was sold to Swansea’s city

No such thing as affordable housing on the cheap

About a month ago I warned how national policies could actually mean a lesser number of affordable homes in the long run. It seems these concerns are growing. Earlier this year the UK government published new guidance in England linking housing and economic need. The reaction has been largely negative. The big controversy surrounds a clause which encourages councils to “fund schools and other education buildings through developer contributions”. In other words, Whitehall wants the private sector to make up for a shortfall in Treasury spending on education. This might sound fine in social terms, but such a one-size-fits-all principle takes no account of how that the house-building industry ra

What will it take to clean up our act?

Most weekday mornings I check out a site where high-level public affairs gurus share their thoughts on issues of the day. I fully expected the week to start with the usual commentary on Brexit machinations. Instead, the chatter focused on irritation about a new exhaust emission zone that has come into effect in London. The authorities hope the move will cut the number of polluting cars in the capital. They estimate about 40,000 vehicles will be affected every day. This isn’t going down too well with the Federation of Small Businesses who reckon smaller firms in particular will be hit by the new levy. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading that tackling pollution through extraction of harmful gase

Negative impressions aren’t helping

Like a lot of people I was a bit taken aback by a Daily Mail story claiming that Swansea had the worst High Street in Britain. Of course, this was hyped national tabloid treatment of an item that had earlier appeared in the Evening Post – and while the closure of a pub due to anti-social goings-on is always bad news that doesn’t make our city something akin to Gomorrah. We have problems and it would be pointless not to recognise that. Yet I can tell you that there a parts of central Cardiff and Bristol which are best avoided. Nonetheless, it’s understandable that people feel angry about social decline. The impressive level of investment that has gone into upgrading key sites like the Grand H

Weekly Column

© whiterock wales (2020)