What will Roger Lewis and the Cardiff Capital Region do for RCT?


There is a desperate need for economic growth and jobs in this area. The latest unemployment figures as of April 2014 show that the Rhondda has the highest unemployment rate in Wales at 15.4%. The Cynon Valley is in 4th place with 12.3% whilst the Pontypridd constituency fares a little better in 13th place with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell says
"This is what years of Labour domination has done for South Wales. Whilst many are still fond of blaming Thatcher for closing the mines and in their opinion ruining the valleys it is the Labour party that have failed miserably in providing any alternatives and in attracting new business.
"RCT Council produced their economic development strategy in 2012 but it has proved to be little more than lofty ideals. There has been little action either from them or their colleagues in Welsh Government.
"From the Welsh Labour Government viewpoint everything seems to be revolving around Cardiff. Now this would be fine if it were producing sufficient jobs for people here, and if the public transport network allowed people to access them, but it isn't.
"Just last week a survey by the Welsh Government revealed the lack of effect that the Enterprise Zone is having on Cardiff with many not even realising they are part of it. On top of that the Minister has introduced her city regions plan - are we to believe that will fare any better?
"It was six months before the Board even officially came up with a name - the one the Minister had already indicated she preferred, Cardiff Capital Region. It suggests that there will be little in the way of innovation forthcoming.
"The Board is made up of Council representatives from Councils that are already failing to make any real difference. They have been given no powers and will simply report back to the Minister - all the hallmarks of a taking shop."
The city region plan was announced last September by Business Minister Edwina Hart. It covers Cardiff and Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau-Gwent, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend.
She announced that the region would be overseen by a Board made up of Council representatives as well as public sector and university representatives. Yet two months later when the make up of the board was announced there was disappointment in some quarters as there was no-one from RCT Council there.
Welsh Liberal Democrats locally accused the Welsh Labour Government of snubbing the area, and RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager Karen Roberts says there is little to give people in the area confidence that things will change.
"Amongst the non-Council Board members are known Labour favourites - BT Director Ann Beynon, the wife of Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews, and John Phillips of the Labour leaning GMB Union. Also Chairman Roger Lewis, Chief Executive of the WRU, whose recent record in that post certainly will not inspire confidence amongst people locally.
"Rhondda Cynon Taff is the second biggest Authority in the region and given the high levels of unemployment and deprivation here we need someone fighting our corner.
"The idea is to boost economic growth by encouraging cross border working. To do that there is surely no need for any working title other than South East Wales. The impression this gives is that the whole region is to be sucked into greater Cardiff.
"Now there is no problem with that being a central hub, and growth there will provide jobs for a wider area. However to package places from Bridgend across to Newport as 'Cardiff' suggests a loss of identity for everywhere else. The city region concept should celebrate diversity and extol what is on offer across the region, not package it as Cardiff Extra."





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