An off-centre look at life in Newport...


It has kind of been swept under a very large carpet, but there is so much of it to sweep away that you can see the bulge. And now the closure of radiator manufacturer Quinn has again shone an intense light on that under-carpet bulge.

I’m talking about LG. 

Well, more specifically, what’s left of the South Koren ‘adventure’. 

Remember when the South Korean electronics giant was going to be the answer to all our prayers? South east Wales was saved. 

The former scenic, parkland and lakes setting of Imperial Park, opposite Celtic Springs, at Junction 28 of the M4, in an instance was flattened, swept away.

In its place LG Electronics and sister plant LG Semi Con were to emerge.

Squillions of pounds were involved in delivering the £1.7bn scheme. 

We were promised 6,100 jobs. 

The LG semi conductor scheme foundered, jobless. 

The 4,000 jobs promised for the electronics part created 2,000 at its height before its collapse. 

Memorably the then Welsh Secretary William Hague, along with South Korean and Welsh Development Agency dignitaries, turned the first sod at the site as the world looked in.

The biggest single investment ever made in Europe, Hague described the scheme as the ‘biggest vote of confidence the Welsh economy has ever had’.

The huge nondescript metallic blocks shot out of the site in double quick time. 

Those towering metal boxes were left as a stark testament to a failed dream and a stalled future.

But wait there is a light. Next Generation Data have a huge data centre in one of the LG buildings and IQE are currently rolling out a compound semi-conductor foundry in another. Neither employ anywhere near the huge amounts promised by LG.

But Ireland-based Quinn Radiators, which took a portion of the space, employed hundreds and investment was pumped into their scheme to produce hi-tech radiators on part of the site. 

Now though, just a few short years later, the Quinn dream too is in tatters and close to 300 workers have been tossed on the scrapheap.

Politicians wring their hands and say things like: “Everything will be done, no stone left unturned, to ensure the workers made redundant will be found alternative employment.”

One way that politicians may have been able to help these and many others looking for secure well paid futures, including those at Ford’s Bridgend plant by the way, could have been with the construction of the M4 Relief Road or an alternative ‘green’  metro scheme.

There is nothing which says a city, a region, a country even, is open for business more than an efficient and well-oiled transport infrastructure.

Less space for parking vehicles in Newport city centre isn’t going to help anyone get a job, but getting to grips with the parking anarchy which pervades may help make the city seem a better, more ordered place in which to invest.

Yellow lines have been repainted and now parking is under the jurisdiction of the city council. And it could go a number of ways. The happy scenario is people parking lawfully.

The Welsh Government has offered Newport loads of money as a softener to its much-criticised decision to abandon the M4 Relief Road. 

Could some of this money be used to create parking areas or park and ride schemes for those displaced motorists in Newport?

The city has reaped almost unheard of levels of global recognition, thanks to the exploits of Newport County AFC.

The team thrilled, not just its own fans, but other football and sports followers across the world through its adventures in the FA Cup in this and last season, its trips to Wembley, and its never say die attitude to the game.

Just how great would it be if a magnificent sports stadium could rise from the former Quinn site recognising this success and setting down a marker for the brilliant future for our great city instead of the constant reminder of its past failures?