Sunday, 17 April 2011

Time to work together

A couple of blows for Welsh economic prospects in the last week.

First came the news that BMI baby are pulling out of Wales.  Then we heard that unemployment had risen in Wales whilst falling everywhere else in the UK.

The decision of BMI did not surprise me but it did concern me.  I have long felt that Cardiff airport is not fit for purpose.  Unfortunately its location means that unless you live in the South of Cardiff or the Vale of Glamorgan it is difficult to get to.  This in turn leads to  fewer passengers (as most people head to Bristol or even London) and fewer services.  The airport also suffers from poor transport links in particular to Swansea and West Wales.

It is not therefore a surprise to see operators pulling out.

If we are truly ambitious for the Welsh economy  a new airport should be at the top of our list of priorities.  I recently flew from Gatwick and the amount of economic benefit for miles in every direction is plain to see.  If we built an airport close the the M4 and with high quality train links the benefits to the Welsh economy would be huge.

My main concern with the second news story regarding unemployment was the reaction of the political parties.  All  seemed immediately to blame someone else.  The truth is the Welsh economy is now to some degree the responsibility of each Party.  Labour and Plaid have control of economic development in Cardiff whilst the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats hold the major fiscal levers in London.

All parties have come up with some useful suggestions for the Welsh economy but now is the time for delivery.  It is too important an issue to be used as a political football.

Who ever ends up running Wales from next month, they need to make the economy their first priority.  Given the joint responsibility of the parties it would be good to see them working together on the economy rather that constantly passing the buck.

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