Monday 24 November 2014

It's official - Swansea is crap

This coming Friday is the deadline for Welsh councils to agree voluntary mergers, and so far only four of the 22 have agreed in principle that they would like to get together (Conwy with Denbighshire and Bridgend with the Vale of Glamorgan).

Leighton Andrews, metaphorically wearing his leather jacket and tapping one hand with a baseball bat, has indicated that he might decide to go even further than the Williams Commission and cut the number down to just six.

Under the Williams proposals, Carmarthenshire could remain as a standalone authority, but it would then become one of the smallest Welsh councils. The other option would be for it to merge with Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion to create Dyfed Mark II, but as this blog noted recently, Swansea has been casting covetous eyes on the southern bit of Carmarthenshire, and would like to create a new, overwhelmingly urban authority taking in Swansea itself, Llanelli, Neath Port Talbot and the Swansea Valley.

Rump Carmarthenshire, i.e. the remaining bits, would then have no choice but to throw its lot in with Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire - no bad thing perhaps.

Not only would the expanded Swansea exist within what its councillors regard as the city's natural boundaries, but the new authority would to all intents and purposes put flesh and bones on the rather amorphous concept which is Swansea Bay City Region, that curious quango-like beast which is half planning committee and half chamber of commerce.

Swansea Bay City Region as it is currently set up also takes in the rest of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, although what the benefits are for most of that large rural hinterland is not at all clear.

After conferences and municipal shindigs galore, Swansea Bay City Region board finally settled down to its first meeting - in Port Talbot - last week.

The event was presided over by Sir Terry Matthews, Wales's answer to Alan Sugar (sorry, Lord Sugar), and by all accounts it was a very big affair with all sorts of representatives invited along to watch the show.

If anyone went along with the belief that Swansea Bay City Region was about west Wales, the meeting put matters straight. The clue has always been in the name, and the invitees were told it had been decided that all those lovely EU grants and other spare public dosh would in future flow to Swansea.

Carmarthen was said to be doing well enough not to need any more help, but Swansea was "crap" (the actual word used, it is said), and needed all the money.


Cllr Alun Lenny said...

Some of us suspect that Carmarthenshire and Pembs have been included in the Swansea Bay City Region as a means of diverting EU grants into Swansea city centre. Although the region extends 75 miles west to St Davids, it's feared that the Swansea Bay in question may in fact extend no further west than Mumbles, as Swansea city centre had been designated 'the economic driver' for the region. This dubious development, coupled with the intention of the draft Wales Planning Bill to take planning decisions for 'strategic applications' away from LBAs and put them
in the hands of a partly-unelected Swansea Region Planning Panel is a cause for serious concern. I fear
that those of us who live west of Afon Llwchwr will,
more than ever, have to fight even harder for our share of the economic cake in future.

Dave Edwards said...

All the more reason for Pembrokeshire and Ceredgion to talk to Carmarthenshire about a new Dyfed. If Pembs and Ceredion go for the minimum suggested by Williams and only join with each other we in the far west will have the second smallest authority with no economic driver and precious little clout against Swansea Bay.

Anonymous said...

Its interesting that if you look at Swansea Bay Partnership web site - photos of Swansea {or rather the pretty bits around the bay} and virtually nothing about the other partners . also did not spot a welsh page - so its look as if SWANSEa RULES

Anonymous said...

Greater Swansea according to BBC is now envisaging parts of Llanelli , NPT & parts of Powys presumably the area around Ystalyfera -no of these area will be better off under Swansea . In fact Llanelli will be totally ignored

Anonymous said...

Llanelli is completely ignored now so the upside is that Swansea is somewhat more cosmopolitan and it would be great to merge with them.