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No gain without some pain

Progress is seldom a straightforward business. Getting people to even agree on what it represents is hard enough, let alone actually making it happen.

When the Swansea Bay City Deal was first mooted as an economic measure, I made the point on these pages how it would be unsustainable to merely put together a shopping list of schemes just to satisfy parochial ambitions without also delivering betterment for the overall region.

As it turns out, those behind the mammoth partnership venture already held the same view. I guess that’s not too surprising given the upfront resources coming from local authority coffers in order to kick-start matters; plus the early involvement of business leaders.

Speaking with the people involved, I can appreciate how this pragmatism means exhaustive viability testing for each project. It’s a time-consuming and frustrating process that often leads towards a review, which in turn can prompt a change in direction.

Because these key decisions get made in the public domain, the impression fostered by sections of the media is that things are going wrong. I suppose it’s easier to paint such a picture – even if the focus is actually on getting it right before moving to the next stage.

I accept that the City Deal has a ‘variable’ fanbase, to say the least. Some of the doubts I’ve read about are based on genuine concerns among partners over the real risk involved. Some of it however also feels like thoughtless rock-throwing from the sidelines.

The best summary of the ambition represented by City Deal could be heard at the annual Fellows Dinner hosted by University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), and who are regional partners.

Prof Medwin Hughes, in unmistakably erudite fashion, reiterated the creed he espoused when starting out 20 years ago as vice-chancellor, in that excellence in higher education must create opportunities that benefit communities – not just corporations.

Some might argue that too many City Deal cooks, which equates to ten partners, including two governments, means a predictable kind of broth.

Consensus is a tough call, I admit. Even so, I’d rather have the pain of making things happen by committee than the fatuous economic approach that has held back this part of the world for far too long.


But is it cricket?

I’ve never laid claim to being a cricket buff. I might have had a few distant relations who played at county level, but anyone who has seen me padded before the wicket will tell you I was born to be a spectator.

I was among those who caught Ashes Fever in 2005 and sloped off home early from work to catch a few exciting overs on terrestrial television. No such luck with this year’s World Cup though - despite us being the host nation.

What’s more, for all the claims that the population was “gripped by England’s victory”, I’d suggest a good proportion were just as caught up in same day events like the British F1 Grand Prix where Lewis Hamilton secured a sixth record-breaking win and the marathon men’s finals at Wimbledon.

Sport is strictly business these days; I get that; but someone at the Beeb bidding team seems to have forgotten the adage that you have to be in it to win.

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