IN 2010 it was estimated that the Ryder Cup boosted the Welsh economy by more than £82m. The 2012 NATO Conference at Chicago saw £133m spent in the local economy, together with the generation of over 2,000 jobs.
It is extremely rare for a city, anywhere in the world, to attract two such high profile events in such a short space of time.
When Barack Obama arrives in Newport next month, I would like to see him setting foot in a city keen to acknowledge his landmark visit and eager to forge ties that will remain for many decades to come.
Newport has always been rightly selective in who receives its freedom and past recipients have all contributed immensely to public life; putting others ahead of themselves and changing lives in the process.
The city council and the Welsh Government must clearly demonstrate that they have learnt from the Ryder Cup experience and that they are able to ensure we realise the maximum opportunities for investment and growth arising from the NATO Conference. There is tremendous potential for quality of life in Newport to improve because of these projects.
Thousands of activists are expected to descend on Newport during the summit. Though I agree with legitimate protest, the previous NATO conferences have not always been peaceful.
I understand the concerns of local residents about the playing fields which are widely used by the community to be used as a “peace camp”. The council and its partner agencies must take steps to mitigate any potential negative impact.
There have been raised fears that anti-Nato protests in South Wales could be a target for violence after disorder marred a recent march against Israel’s action in Gaza in Cardiff which saw chairs and tables thrown at peace protesters by people drinking outside bars on Mill Lane in the city centre.
When events like this are due to take place, the police have a duty to communicate with organisers to prevent lives being placed at risk. What happened in Cardiff could easily have been prevented with better planning and a greater police presence. Lessons need to be learnt swiftly to prevent anything like this from happening at future Nato rallies next month.
This summit is a unique opportunity to showcase Newport to the world and I look forward to the huge benefits it will bring to our city – and the region.