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  • Lawrence Bailey

Old and new revisited

The State of Brexit

The only thing you can say with any clarity about the present state of Brexit is that it continues to be in a right old state. In recent weeks we’ve had muddled ministers retracting statements while others have opted to wash their hands of it altogether. We get confused news reports about plots and counter plots and claims of future customs chaos.

We’re told Theresa May has secured a deal. Then we hear she hasn’t. And even if she has, the issue then becomes whether the proposals can get parliament’s support or even the backing of her own cabinet. Meanwhile, business bosses sink further into despair. I recently blagged myself a listening role at a phone conference where one of the participants, and who moves in some pretty exalted political circles, speculated that Mrs May could well decide to by-pass parliament altogether and take her deal directly to the people via another snap general election. Interestingly, there were no dismissive noises from other contributors. I’m guessing that’s because (like me) they were too busy taking notes.

The other forecast from the mountaintop is that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will continue to lose support among younger voters who thought that ‘distinctive socialism’ involved the UK staying within the EU. Without his backing, goes the thinking, a so-called People’s Vote is also unlikely.

Maybe that’s just as well. All the revelations so far indicate that “Project Fear” was ably matched by “Project Facebook” whereby hired firms used illegally obtained user data to target Leave voters during the referendum.

Apparently, there are insufficient controls in place to stop the same thing from happening again, say the experts. Happy Days.


Making heritage a part of the future

More years ago than I care to remember, I joined a group of visitors on a day-trip to a place called Coalbookdale.

Located in the Severn Valley, this part of Shropshire is renowned as being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. It is also home to the famous Iron Bridge open air museum and visitor centre.

I should explain that we weren’t there on a ‘jolly’. This was a serious and critical look at whether something similar could be achieved in the derelict industrial areas of the lower Swansea Valley.

Everyone agreed the potential was definitely there. However, the inescapable fact is that as much as we value our historical heritage in Wales, there’s actually quite a lot of it. Moreover, the task of getting hold of necessary resources is a challenging one, to say the least.

Sometimes it needs the planets to be in the right alignment before things can happen. More often though it’s a combination of long-term commitment and one of those public-private partnerships at which Swansea excels, that ends up delivering the goods.

The last few decades has seen Swansea Council, Swansea University plus community and commercial interests quietly but purposefully working towards the establishment of a major visitor attraction at Hafod-Morfa Copperworks. This has now secured a £3.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It’s a significant step forward in what could prove to be a much wider and exciting project. My heartfelt congratulations go to those who stayed with the vision for Copperopolis. Cheers.

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