Saturday, 4 February 2017

Labour Hypocrisy over regional bias

I did not suppport Devolution and fight for an Independent Wales to see Cardiff  becoming  the London of Wales where all the jobs and investment are invested.

Indeed for me Indepemdence should lead to a sharing of investment and a spreading goverment  throughout Wales.
Maybe as I have no plans to stand for public office it is  easy for me  to criticise  a The BBC reports that
The headquarters for a new tax-collecting body for Wales is to be set up in the south Wales valleys.
The South Wales Valleys? Treforest is almost as close to Cardiff as to make hardly any difference.

It may be where I live but i don't see it as giving amassive boost to my area, whereas it would do so if it went to Wrexham or Porthmadog say.
The report says that the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA), with a total staff of around 40, will be based in Treforest, near Pontypridd, subject to a review after 18 months.
Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said it was a "clear demonstration of our commitment to spread prosperity" into the valleys.
Mr Drakeford said staff at Treforest would have "a high degree of expertise and specialist skills in tax compliance; digital services and data management".
He said Treforest was chosen after detailed analysis of six potential locations as it was felt that "to attract and retain these specialists it is important the WRA is located in the same area of Wales as other organisations carrying out similar functions".
So why even go through the motions of considering  other parts of Wales? Is Mr Drakeford  saying that the policy of Welsh Labour  is to retain all power and investment in Cardiff?

There was an immediate response from Plaid Wrecsam surely the best local party blog on the web.

In it Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM has described the decision to locate a new Welsh Government department a few miles from Cardiff as “shameful”.
This Labour Government has, once again, ignored the North. This is despite there being more than 400 tax workers based in Wrexham and Porthmadog who are ideally placed to work for a new revenue authority. They’ve got the skills and expertise and they’ve been shamefully ignored. To make matters worse, just six weeks ago, a government cabinet secretary spoke of his desire to ‘share opportunities right across Wales’. "That cabinet secretary, Ken Skates, actually represents a constituency in the North. Can he explain to his constituents, some of who work in the HMRC in Wrexham and will be losing their jobs in a couple of years’ time, how creating this new tax authority a few miles from Cardiff will help those skilled and experienced workers?“Labour is failing Wales – and failing north Wales in particular. It is centralising institutions in Cardiff rather than sharing and all the warm words we hear about devolving and sharing power are just hot air. This was a wonderful opportunity to show that places like Wrexham could benefit from this new authority and they’ve blown it. Shame on them.”.....“Plaid Cymru is committed to the North, in particular over this issue. We have argued the case for devolving financial services here, to make sure that public spending is shared equally. We have made the case that the expertise we have in both Wrexham and Gwynedd should be utilised.“It’s clear that ministers are saying one thing in public while their civil servants are working to another brief. The only locations on the WRA appraisal shortlist were in Merthyr, Pontypridd or Cardiff – none in the North or West of the country. How many more times is this Labour Government going to be allowed to get away with this sort of behaviour
This led to the response from Pontypridd MP Owen Smith

 14 hours ago14 hours ago14 hours agoMoreMore great news that Govt. investing in RCT. Trust Plaid to attack them 4 bringing jobs to the valleys!

Mr Smith may well be fighting for his Constituency , bur criticising a Welsh AM for doing the same  is rather shameless.

Indeed we should be asking where are the North Wales Labour   AMs and MPs  in fighting for their part of Wales.

By sheer coincidence the day after the Welsh government announcement  we get the news from the BBC that

 Labour is vowing to "close the gap" between spending in the north and south of England and end the "bias" it says there has been in transport investment.Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will say in a speech that London and the south-east have disproportionately benefited from projects such as Crossrail.He says a Labour government would act to prevent regional imbalances.
Mr McDonnell will say the north has consistently lost out in terms of spending - and will promise a future Labour government would try to rectify that.He will cite figures from the National Infrastructure Commission suggesting projected capital spending per head of population in the north of England will increase by just £1,491 by 2020-2021, compared with by £3,114 per head in London.
He will say Crossrail's £14.5bn price tag is four times the entire public investment budget for Yorkshire and six times that of the north-east.

Can Labour seriously argue  for approach from Westminster in ending the bias in the North of England, while they are doing the exact same thing with its Cardiff bias from the Assembly?

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