EDITOR'S CHAIR: Heads should roll if Newport and Wales miss out on NATO benefits
I HAVE been critical in this column before about the slow pace of the public sector in Wales.
Some, particularly in local government, have criticised me for my views and some have even suggested few people share them.
That's fine - but I wonder if they will be quite so dismissive of Ian Edwards and Simon Gibson, two key players in the South Wales economy due to their senior roles at the Celtic Manor Resort and with the Re:Newport project.
This week Mr Edwards and Mr Gibson gave evidence to MPs on the Welsh affairs committee, primarily about the preparations for the Nato summit at the resort in September.
And they were not exactly complimentary about the way in which the Welsh Government, in particular, was going about marketing the area in advance of the summit.
Mr Edwards, the Celtic Manor's chief operating officer, said nothing had been nailed down in terms of an outreach programme around the summit.
He was critical of the Welsh Government-owned Cardiff Airport, saying: "At the moment it's more viable for us to have an alliance with Bristol Airport to put on an international campaign because they have more routes coming into Bristol than into Cardiff. How shameful is that?"
He said there was no-one in the Welsh Government promoting the conference market.
Mr Edwards said Wales had not benefitted as much as it could have done from the Ryder Cup in 2010.
"We've got to learn the lesson from the Ryder Cup and make sure we don't make the same mistakes with Nato," he said.
Let us not forget the summit is five times the size of the Ryder Cup.
Mr Gibson, a director of the Celtic Manor and the man heading the Welsh Government-backed Re:Newport project aimed at revitalising the city centre, was particularly critical of Wales being at the "back of the queue" when it came to funding from UKTI, the government department whose job it is to help British businesses.
Make no mistake, the Nato summit it is an absolutely massive opportunity for Wales and Newport.
The eyes of the world will be on this area for the best part of a week. The president of the most powerful nation on earth will be here. There will be thousands of support staff and journalists. There will also be many protesters.
The summit is a feather in the cap of Wales and Newport. But if it comes and goes without those in control at the Senedd and the civic centre having done everything in their power to make the most of every possible benefit and opportunity offered by the summit, then what is the point of staging it here at all.
I do not doubt the will is there to make these things happen.
But all too often we see lots of talking and nowhere near enough action. How many consultations do we see local and central government undertaking on what are often the simplest of subjects?
From time to time - and I am not making this up - consultations are set up to review the outcome of consultations.
Just consider the M4 relief road. There have been at least 20 years of consultations on that one project and we are no nearer to seeing anything actually happening.
It is an orgy of navel-gazing that we simply cannot afford in the increasingly short time span between now and the start of the Nato summit.
September's event has the potential to provide real and lasting benefits for this area.
If that potential is not fulfilled then our political leaders and their mandarins should not just hang their heads in shame. Some of their heads should roll.
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