EDITOR'S CHAIR: Newport's future mustn't be derailed by snail's pace of public sector decision-making

PACKED FULL  The Newport City Centre Summit, which was held at the Newport City Centre campus, University of South Wales (3799039)

PACKED FULL The Newport City Centre Summit, which was held at the Newport City Centre campus, University of South Wales (3799039)

First published in News

NEWPORT has had a lot of good news in the last couple of weeks - and that makes a refreshing change.

The £15m in Welsh Government money for city centre housing, cash from the same body to move forward some of Re:Newport's proposals, the formation of the apolitical Newport Rises group, the demolition of the Capitol car park and this week's first city summit have combined to put a spring in the city's steps in the early weeks of the new year.

I am not the first to say this and I will not be the last, but 2014 is a pivotal year for Newport. It would not be an overstatement to say the city's future will be defined this year.

There is a positive feeling about the city for the first time in years.

Private and public sector leaders are working together on exciting projects.

The Friars Walk shopping and leisure development will start to take shape from next month. As I have always said, the development is not a panacea or a solution to the city centre's problems. But it will be a catalyst and will inspire confidence among those with the capacity to bring jobs and wealth to the area.

The NATO summit in the autumn is a huge opportunity for the city. It is already bringing in substantial amounts of money for the hotel trade throughout Newport and the M4 corridor.

The thousands of delegates and journalists who will attend the summit and the events that surround it all need somewhere local to stay and it is already almost impossible to book a room anywhere in and around Newport for that period.

The eyes of the world will be on Newport for a few days in September and everyone with the good of the city at heart needs to make the most of it.

The protesters who will inevitably descend on the summit should also be viewed as an opportunity.

They also need places to stay and food to eat.

Tuesday's city summit at the university's Newport campus was a hugely positive event.

Many of Newport's leading business people were there, along with representatives from the public sector.

There is a realisation and an understanding that Newport's future cannot depend on the public sector. It does not create jobs or wealth - but it can provide opportunities and a helping hand to those who can.

The key to this year being the success it can be is pace. Things cannot be allowed to drift because to do so will breed cynicism and lead to some influential people simply walking away.

As regular readers of this column will know, I have not been shy with my criticism of the political leadership of the city council.

However, I had a clear sense at the summit of a desire and drive at the top of the organisation to make this a year of achievement, a year that is going to leave a lasting legacy.

That is to be commended and encouraged.

My fear is that the public sector in general is not known for its ability to deliver change at pace.

The worst thing that can happen this year - and let us not forget we are already well into the second month of 2014 - is for great ideas to become bogged down in red tape, or bureaucracy, or archaic planning rules.

If the pace of change can be kept up, then this could be a truly great year for Newport.

Comments (16)

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10:49am Thu 6 Feb 14

Woodgnome says...

How odd. We were told that the Leader and Cabinet system would put an end to the old slow decision making of issues going to the Council meeting every blue moon. The problem is that the decisions are then entrusted to just a handful of the individual old guard who in Newport's case, simply aren't up to the job. The rest of the Council just have to sit there and watch and have very little power.
How odd. We were told that the Leader and Cabinet system would put an end to the old slow decision making of issues going to the Council meeting every blue moon. The problem is that the decisions are then entrusted to just a handful of the individual old guard who in Newport's case, simply aren't up to the job. The rest of the Council just have to sit there and watch and have very little power. Woodgnome
  • Score: 5

10:56am Thu 6 Feb 14

Abertillery29 says...

I fully agree with the Editor and Woodgnome . It is vital that decisions are made and acted upon speedily.
I fully agree with the Editor and Woodgnome . It is vital that decisions are made and acted upon speedily. Abertillery29
  • Score: 4

11:31am Thu 6 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Don't often agree with the editors opinions myself - but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation, head in the sand, delusional dross and propaganda.

All of this and not a dicky bird about the NUJ voting last week 80% in favour of strike action against Newsquest - the company that owns the Argus, who have told journalists in Bradford and York that they will have to move to Newport or face the sack.

Not a whisper about the local, national and international organisations already mobilising against the NATO conference - right here in NEWPORT - instead we just get some drivel about how the protestors can be milked for capital gain.

I mean, I understand that these pieces are your personal opinions and all - but still.....
Don't often agree with the editors opinions myself - but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation, head in the sand, delusional dross and propaganda. All of this and not a dicky bird about the NUJ voting last week 80% in favour of strike action against Newsquest - the company that owns the Argus, who have told journalists in Bradford and York that they will have to move to Newport or face the sack. Not a whisper about the local, national and international organisations already mobilising against the NATO conference - right here in NEWPORT - instead we just get some drivel about how the protestors can be milked for capital gain. I mean, I understand that these pieces are your personal opinions and all - but still..... GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 0

11:54am Thu 6 Feb 14

33daverave says...

GardenVarietyMushroo
m
wrote:
Don't often agree with the editors opinions myself - but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation, head in the sand, delusional dross and propaganda.

All of this and not a dicky bird about the NUJ voting last week 80% in favour of strike action against Newsquest - the company that owns the Argus, who have told journalists in Bradford and York that they will have to move to Newport or face the sack.

Not a whisper about the local, national and international organisations already mobilising against the NATO conference - right here in NEWPORT - instead we just get some drivel about how the protestors can be milked for capital gain.

I mean, I understand that these pieces are your personal opinions and all - but still.....
No mention yet of redundancies at the SWA either.
[quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: Don't often agree with the editors opinions myself - but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation, head in the sand, delusional dross and propaganda. All of this and not a dicky bird about the NUJ voting last week 80% in favour of strike action against Newsquest - the company that owns the Argus, who have told journalists in Bradford and York that they will have to move to Newport or face the sack. Not a whisper about the local, national and international organisations already mobilising against the NATO conference - right here in NEWPORT - instead we just get some drivel about how the protestors can be milked for capital gain. I mean, I understand that these pieces are your personal opinions and all - but still.....[/p][/quote]No mention yet of redundancies at the SWA either. 33daverave
  • Score: 5

12:19pm Thu 6 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

33daverave wrote:
GardenVarietyMushroo

m
wrote:
Don't often agree with the editors opinions myself - but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation, head in the sand, delusional dross and propaganda.

All of this and not a dicky bird about the NUJ voting last week 80% in favour of strike action against Newsquest - the company that owns the Argus, who have told journalists in Bradford and York that they will have to move to Newport or face the sack.

Not a whisper about the local, national and international organisations already mobilising against the NATO conference - right here in NEWPORT - instead we just get some drivel about how the protestors can be milked for capital gain.

I mean, I understand that these pieces are your personal opinions and all - but still.....
No mention yet of redundancies at the SWA either.
Really? That is interesting, and would be a shame if true... for all its faults I think a lot of us, me included, would want to see our local rag protected.
[quote][p][bold]33daverave[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: Don't often agree with the editors opinions myself - but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation, head in the sand, delusional dross and propaganda. All of this and not a dicky bird about the NUJ voting last week 80% in favour of strike action against Newsquest - the company that owns the Argus, who have told journalists in Bradford and York that they will have to move to Newport or face the sack. Not a whisper about the local, national and international organisations already mobilising against the NATO conference - right here in NEWPORT - instead we just get some drivel about how the protestors can be milked for capital gain. I mean, I understand that these pieces are your personal opinions and all - but still.....[/p][/quote]No mention yet of redundancies at the SWA either.[/p][/quote]Really? That is interesting, and would be a shame if true... for all its faults I think a lot of us, me included, would want to see our local rag protected. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: -4

2:18pm Thu 6 Feb 14

DavidMclean says...

'but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation'? Really? Where?

It sounds like your just pulled a phrase out of the air as a stepping stone to help you towards your somewhat unrelated - although perfectly valid in its own context - gripe.
'but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation'? Really? Where? It sounds like your just pulled a phrase out of the air as a stepping stone to help you towards your somewhat unrelated - although perfectly valid in its own context - gripe. DavidMclean
  • Score: 2

2:23pm Thu 6 Feb 14

DavidMclean says...

Further to my point above...

I made exactly the same point as Kevin Ward is making on my blog on Monday, and believe me I am NO fan of privatisation.

Telling the council to stop dithering and pull its finger out does not equate to pro-privatisation, just as telling David Moyes to get his act together does not make you a Liverpool supporter.
Further to my point above... I made exactly the same point as Kevin Ward is making on my blog on Monday, and believe me I am NO fan of privatisation. Telling the council to stop dithering and pull its finger out does not equate to pro-privatisation, just as telling David Moyes to get his act together does not make you a Liverpool supporter. DavidMclean
  • Score: -3

2:45pm Thu 6 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

DavidMclean wrote:
'but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation'? Really? Where?

It sounds like your just pulled a phrase out of the air as a stepping stone to help you towards your somewhat unrelated - although perfectly valid in its own context - gripe.
There is a realisation and an understanding that Newport's future cannot depend on the public sector. It does not create jobs or wealth - but it can provide opportunities and a helping hand to those who can.
[quote][p][bold]DavidMclean[/bold] wrote: 'but this piece reaches new heights of sickening pro-privatisation'? Really? Where? It sounds like your just pulled a phrase out of the air as a stepping stone to help you towards your somewhat unrelated - although perfectly valid in its own context - gripe.[/p][/quote]There is a realisation and an understanding that Newport's future cannot depend on the public sector. It does not create jobs or wealth - but it can provide opportunities and a helping hand to those who can. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 0

3:17pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

GVM
My words and your interpretation of them are worlds apart. But that's the beauty of opinions.
GVM My words and your interpretation of them are worlds apart. But that's the beauty of opinions. Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: 0

3:56pm Thu 6 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Kevin Ward - Editor wrote:
GVM
My words and your interpretation of them are worlds apart. But that's the beauty of opinions.
Fair enough, you didn't write it as I read it - that happens - but let's put that on the back burner for now. I'm more interested in talking about the NATO thing anyway.

Why is it that every mention of the NATO summit I've read in the Argus have a positive spin on it? Are you under orders to do that, or is it a personal choice as editor to ignore the reasons behind why a lot of people aren't at all happy about NATO coming to town? You acknowledge the protestors will be here but never a column inch about why. Your coverage is extremely biased.

Even the piece the other day about the emergency services conducting chemical attack drills - I'd bet a year's wages that it's in preparation for the summit, yet there was no mention of it in the article. You don't think the reason why they're doing that warrants a mention at all?
[quote][p][bold]Kevin Ward - Editor[/bold] wrote: GVM My words and your interpretation of them are worlds apart. But that's the beauty of opinions.[/p][/quote]Fair enough, you didn't write it as I read it - that happens - but let's put that on the back burner for now. I'm more interested in talking about the NATO thing anyway. Why is it that every mention of the NATO summit I've read in the Argus have a positive spin on it? Are you under orders to do that, or is it a personal choice as editor to ignore the reasons behind why a lot of people aren't at all happy about NATO coming to town? You acknowledge the protestors will be here but never a column inch about why. Your coverage is extremely biased. Even the piece the other day about the emergency services conducting chemical attack drills - I'd bet a year's wages that it's in preparation for the summit, yet there was no mention of it in the article. You don't think the reason why they're doing that warrants a mention at all? GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: -2

5:13pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

GVM
Under orders? Not sure from whom these would come, but no is the answer.
Positive spin? Again that's your opinion of our coverage, which I respect but don't agree with.
Closer to the time, we will look at all aspects of the Nato summit and the preparations for it, including protests that might surround it.
During the summit we will undoubtedly cover any protests that happen and the reasons for them.
I'll look at the drills story and get back to you. To be honest, it doesn't instantly spring to mind but I'll look back at what we reported.
GVM Under orders? Not sure from whom these would come, but no is the answer. Positive spin? Again that's your opinion of our coverage, which I respect but don't agree with. Closer to the time, we will look at all aspects of the Nato summit and the preparations for it, including protests that might surround it. During the summit we will undoubtedly cover any protests that happen and the reasons for them. I'll look at the drills story and get back to you. To be honest, it doesn't instantly spring to mind but I'll look back at what we reported. Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: -1

6:22pm Thu 6 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Kevin Ward - Editor wrote:
GVM
Under orders? Not sure from whom these would come, but no is the answer.
Positive spin? Again that's your opinion of our coverage, which I respect but don't agree with.
Closer to the time, we will look at all aspects of the Nato summit and the preparations for it, including protests that might surround it.
During the summit we will undoubtedly cover any protests that happen and the reasons for them.
I'll look at the drills story and get back to you. To be honest, it doesn't instantly spring to mind but I'll look back at what we reported.
Under orders from your bosses at Newsquest, who, in turn, are owned by an American company are they not? Fair enough if you say you're not under orders but considering NATO are the military expansion arm of the USA, and your paper is owned by an American multinational media empire, who also happen to be the largest newspaper publisher in the US - it's really not that much of a stretch to consider the possibility that positive spin on NATO is company policy. There's really no need to act so surprised about it.

As for the positive spin - I'm really shocked that you deny it. You, yourself have never pushed any other viewpoint than it's a good thing for Newport. Your paper has run numerous articles and features from people who all have the same attitude - there have been articles from AM's, MP's, the council, local business leaders, the police and weapons manufacturers - and yet not even a single line from CND, Food not Bombs, Stop the War Coalition - or any of the other organisations that are organising to oppose the summit - the trade unions, IWW, student organisations, the quakers and many others.

There's not been a single word printed against the summit so far in the Argus - it's ALL been pro-NATO.

As I said - Biased.
[quote][p][bold]Kevin Ward - Editor[/bold] wrote: GVM Under orders? Not sure from whom these would come, but no is the answer. Positive spin? Again that's your opinion of our coverage, which I respect but don't agree with. Closer to the time, we will look at all aspects of the Nato summit and the preparations for it, including protests that might surround it. During the summit we will undoubtedly cover any protests that happen and the reasons for them. I'll look at the drills story and get back to you. To be honest, it doesn't instantly spring to mind but I'll look back at what we reported.[/p][/quote]Under orders from your bosses at Newsquest, who, in turn, are owned by an American company are they not? Fair enough if you say you're not under orders but considering NATO are the military expansion arm of the USA, and your paper is owned by an American multinational media empire, who also happen to be the largest newspaper publisher in the US - it's really not that much of a stretch to consider the possibility that positive spin on NATO is company policy. There's really no need to act so surprised about it. As for the positive spin - I'm really shocked that you deny it. You, yourself have never pushed any other viewpoint than it's a good thing for Newport. Your paper has run numerous articles and features from people who all have the same attitude - there have been articles from AM's, MP's, the council, local business leaders, the police and weapons manufacturers - and yet not even a single line from CND, Food not Bombs, Stop the War Coalition - or any of the other organisations that are organising to oppose the summit - the trade unions, IWW, student organisations, the quakers and many others. There's not been a single word printed against the summit so far in the Argus - it's ALL been pro-NATO. As I said - Biased. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 1

7:28pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

GVM
I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man, but I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you on this one.
Argus editorial policy is decided by me alone. If I was 'under orders' to report subjects in a particular way, then I wouldn't do the job.
We're a local newspaper and it will be the local impact of the summit that will form the basis of our coverage - positive and negative. The national and international repercussions will, I am sure, be dealt with by those organisations that report national and international news.
As I say, your opinion of our coverage is different to mine. I very much respect your opinion but I disagree with it.
GVM I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man, but I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you on this one. Argus editorial policy is decided by me alone. If I was 'under orders' to report subjects in a particular way, then I wouldn't do the job. We're a local newspaper and it will be the local impact of the summit that will form the basis of our coverage - positive and negative. The national and international repercussions will, I am sure, be dealt with by those organisations that report national and international news. As I say, your opinion of our coverage is different to mine. I very much respect your opinion but I disagree with it. Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: -2

7:32pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

GVM
Almost forgot - with regard to us not printing a single word from those opposed to the summit, here's a link to a story we ran in November:
http://bit.ly/1b5VyI
Q
GVM Almost forgot - with regard to us not printing a single word from those opposed to the summit, here's a link to a story we ran in November: http://bit.ly/1b5VyI Q Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: -3

8:36pm Thu 6 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Kevin Ward - Editor wrote:
GVM
I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man, but I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you on this one.
Argus editorial policy is decided by me alone. If I was 'under orders' to report subjects in a particular way, then I wouldn't do the job.
We're a local newspaper and it will be the local impact of the summit that will form the basis of our coverage - positive and negative. The national and international repercussions will, I am sure, be dealt with by those organisations that report national and international news.
As I say, your opinion of our coverage is different to mine. I very much respect your opinion but I disagree with it.
Conspiracy theory? No, not at all. I just asked a question, that you seemed surprised at. I was just explaining why it might not be such a surprising question for me to ask. I took your answer at face value.

And respect my opinion but disagree with it? I never understood that... sure you could respect a person who has opinions you disagree with maybe... but respect an opinion you disagree with? I'm not so sure that's possible... I think it's just a polite way of telling people to bugger off.
[quote][p][bold]Kevin Ward - Editor[/bold] wrote: GVM I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man, but I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you on this one. Argus editorial policy is decided by me alone. If I was 'under orders' to report subjects in a particular way, then I wouldn't do the job. We're a local newspaper and it will be the local impact of the summit that will form the basis of our coverage - positive and negative. The national and international repercussions will, I am sure, be dealt with by those organisations that report national and international news. As I say, your opinion of our coverage is different to mine. I very much respect your opinion but I disagree with it.[/p][/quote]Conspiracy theory? No, not at all. I just asked a question, that you seemed surprised at. I was just explaining why it might not be such a surprising question for me to ask. I took your answer at face value. And respect my opinion but disagree with it? I never understood that... sure you could respect a person who has opinions you disagree with maybe... but respect an opinion you disagree with? I'm not so sure that's possible... I think it's just a polite way of telling people to bugger off. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 3

8:37pm Thu 6 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Kevin Ward - Editor wrote:
GVM
Almost forgot - with regard to us not printing a single word from those opposed to the summit, here's a link to a story we ran in November:
http://bit.ly/1b5VyI

Q
Well, I guess I owe you (at least a small) apology. I obviously missed that one. I stand corrected.
[quote][p][bold]Kevin Ward - Editor[/bold] wrote: GVM Almost forgot - with regard to us not printing a single word from those opposed to the summit, here's a link to a story we ran in November: http://bit.ly/1b5VyI Q[/p][/quote]Well, I guess I owe you (at least a small) apology. I obviously missed that one. I stand corrected. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 0

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