IT'S easy to feel punch drunk from all the job losses this area has suffered over the past five years.

We reported recently that in 2011 and 2012, Newport suffered the most net private sector job losses of any city in the UK in percentage terms, with 3,400 positions lost.

Over that period, Newport lost 6.5 per cent of its private sector jobs.

The statistics came in a report from think tank Centre for Cities, analysing the most recent government data about the 64 largest UK cities.

It also outlined how Newport had the eighth highest percentage of the population receiving Jobseekers’ Allowance in November 2013.

In March 2011, Yell closed its Newport call centre at the cost of 40 jobs, followed by defence firm Cassidian shedding 157 jobs in July 2011. Carpetrite closed its Newport store that year and TJ Hughes went into administration, resulting in the closure of its Newport branch.

In 2012, Duffryn-based Panasonic outsourced 164 jobs to Vietnam.

That, of course, doesn't include the thousands of public sector job losses in Gwent over the past five years because of spending cuts.

Now, the threat to up to 650 jobs at the Avana Bakeries site in Rogerstone - and the possible closure of the factory, is a huge body blow to the local economy.

Many are painting Marks & Spencer as the villain here - it withdrew its contract for cakes and desserts and switched production to a firm in Oldham.

And there is a growing social media campaign calling on M&S to re-think its decision.

I hope against hope that it does. But experience has taught me that once hard business decisions have been taken - such as the cutting off of a relationship between the two firms which has lasted 75 years - they are seldom rescinded.

Now, the company running Avana, 2 Sisters, is trying to replace the work for its Rogerstone workforce.

But here's the thing which staggers me: the M&S contract made up 85 per cent of this plant's work.

That is a huge mountain to climb.

Other local businesses in the area which might well feel the force of the local economy contracting if the jobs are lost, along with South Wales East Assembly Member Jocelyn Davies, are quite rightly asking how this situation can have been allowed to develop.

Anyone who runs a business would know how vulnerable such a situation makes any site and any workforce.

And I have to ask myself, how many other businesses are in the same situation? How many are relying upon age-old contracts for the bulk of their businesses? How many more loyal and productive workers might lose their jobs because of it?

There has to be a better way. Common sense tells me that any business should always be seeking alternative sources of work in these dark days. And that workforces need to be pushing for that to happen to secure their futures.

It is simply no good firms complacently believing that the status quo will always prevail.

Workers, their families, and the shops and other businesses in the area which depend on their spending, deserve so much better.

AMAZING how quickly it all comes back. The early slinking out of Wembley Stadium in 1998 when the French put 51 points on a dire Welsh side unable to score a point, French fans joyously waving live cockerels at us as we left.

The early 1990s Irish drubbing of Wales which left their fans so full of the spirit of winning that they lay along a closed St Mary Street in a green herringbone pattern, some singing The Wild Rover, others giggling as we red-wearing fans stepped gingerly over them.

My English colleague looks at me with baleful gaze when I mention this and says, in an exasperated fashion: "It's only one game!"

Only one defeat.

Yes, yes, but it's the MANNER.

The manner brings back some kind of Post FIve Nations Stress Disorder to those of us old enough to have endured Wales' nadir as a rugby nation.

There are grandfathers taking their small grandchildren upon their knee across Wales right now and telling them: "See, young 'un, that's why Grancha has grey hair."

Occasionally, we meet another survivor. We always know - the age, the haunted look in the eye, the twitching when someone mentions the names Ibanez or Lamaison.

We never speak of it.

I have one message to Gatland and his side. I am going to the French match. Don't make an old woman very unhappy.