‘King' Terry Matthews’ idea for Newport to be absorbed by Cardiff sparks furious web debate
“I OFTEN wish I were a King, and then I could do anything...”
In declaring that if he were king he would draw a circle from Swansea to Newport, include the Valleys, and call it Cardiff, chances are Sir Terry Matthews did not have AA Milne’s poem in mind.
Some reactions to Sir Terry’s comment – made during an interview for BBC Wales’ Week In Week Out programme when asked to comment on city regions – liken it to such nonsensical whimsy, others have been far less complimentary.
But his statement that if Newport was a region of Cardiff it would do better economically, while couched in perhaps unadvisedly monarchical tones, appears at least to have kick-started a debate on Newport’s future and its place in the economic picture.
The Newport-born billionaire admitted that the idea was a controversial one, but said: “If Newport was a region of Cardiff it would do better economically.
Many people won’t like these words but I believe this started a long time ago – size matters.
“If I was king, I would go (from) Swansea to Newport and I’d circle it and include the Valleys. I’d say ‘that’s Cardiff’.”
With proposals under consideration for a city region covering a smaller area but including Cardiff and Newport – mooted in a Welsh Government report last summer and a decision is awaited – and with Newport city centre struggling, his comments come at a sensitive time.
Social networks and the Argus website were busy with reaction, but there is also acknowledgement that a regional approach to boosting the economy is a sensible way forward.
Ed Townsend, Newport’s only Liberal Democrat councillor, said he didn’t think Newport should become a district of Cardiff, saying: “If we were realistic then South Wales has to come together, not administratively but as a fighting mass.” He said the concept of city regions is not that surrounding areas become part of Cardiff: “It is that together those areas become a stronger whole.”
The council’s opposition leader, Conservative councillor Matthew Evans, disagrees with the sentiment of Sir Terry’s comments.
He said: “Newport has to work hard to attract inward investment. To be just a subsidiary of Cardiff would not be in Newport’s best interests.”
With the Welsh Government still considering how best a city region might work, Newport council has decided not to comment.
Some agree, others say off with his head
NEWPORT might have taken a verbal battering from Tycoon Terry – but there has been a vigorous response – and not all in disagreement:
● Mohammad Asghar, South Wales East AM (Conservative): “I have great respect for Sir Terry Matthews and his skills as a businessman but I totally reject his call for Newport to become a region of Cardiff. “I want Newport to emulate Cardiff and not to be submerged by Cardiff.”
● Rosemary Butler, Newport West AM (Labour) and Assembly presiding officer: “Newport has a long, proud history, and with the continued investment and support of the Welsh Government I am confident the city has a bright future.”
● William Graham, South Wales East AM (Conservative): “I acknowledge there will be some disquiet with this proposal, however, a ‘Cardiff brand’ has the potential to realise the widest economic benefit for South-East Wales.”
● John Powell, owner of the kiosk in Newport city centre: “I imagine there would be economic benefits, but I think Newport should stand as a single entity.”
● Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, Newport city councillor (Labour): “I think Sir Terry needs to explain exactly what he means. How would Newport be a district of Cardiff, 12 miles away, across a green belt? How will it work practically? His comments are ill-timed.”
● Risca1 (from Argus website): “Sir Terry’s 100 per cent correct. It cannot get any worse.”
● ngtarr (from Argus website): “I do not agree with the idea of Newport being part of Cardiff. Not only could both cities lose their identity, it could be detrimental to both economies. Newport should be left to be a city in its own right and so should Cardiff.”
● taliesin* (from Argus website): “ ‘If I were king’ – strange phrase, but perhaps illustrates his mentality. Very much a self promoter and personal wealth generator who has little regard for the serfs!”
● Trefor (from Argus website): “What possible reason could there be for Welsh residents to listen to anb Anglo/Canadian resident when it comes to what is best for us? Butt out Matthews, we’ll decide.”
● A poll yesterday on our website – southwalesargus.co.uk asked: “Should Newport be a district of Cardiff?” Of those who responded, 35 per cent answered ‘yes’, with 65 per cent saying ‘no’.
ARGUS COMMMENT: King Terry’s got it wrong
THIS newspaper has always had plenty of admiration for Sir Terry Matthews.
But that admiration does not apply to the Celtic Manor Resort owner’s bizarre suggestion that Newport should become some kind of district or suburb of Cardiff.
In an interview with the BBC Sir Terry says: “If I was king, I would go (from) Swansea to Newport and I’d circle it and include the Valleys. I’d say ‘that’s Cardiff’.”
We think ‘King’ Terry, who built his business and still lives in Canada, may have spent a little too much time away from Wales. If he thinks the people of Newport or Swansea would be happy to be part of Cardiff then he really needs to get out more.
Sir Terry contends Newport would be more successful economically if it was seen as a region of Cardiff.
We would suggest Newport would fare better if the Cardiffcentric Welsh Government took a look outside the Senedd nowand again.
We suspect Sir Terry has a vested interest in making such a statement.
To him, the notion of ‘Celtic Manor, Cardiff’ has a lot more going for it than ‘Celtic Manor, Newport’. Remember the ‘Vale of Usk’ anyone?
Obviously, Sir Terry was trying to enter the debate about city regions but he has gone about it in a surprisingly cackhanded way.
Newport may not be having the best of times economically.
But pretending it is part of somewhere else won’t solve its problems.