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Friday, February 25, 2011

Failing Wales

New figures show that Wales' economic performance is falling back despite the investment of millions of pounds of European money.

In 2008 Wales had a GDP of just 85% of the EU average, down from 86.9% in 2007. The performance in West Wales and the Valleys had slipped from 73.4% to just 71%, and East Wales had gone down from 110.3% to 108%. Wales was the only UK region to see an area fall below 75% of the average GDP. In contrast, the UK average stood at 116.7%, up from 115% in 2007.

Under Labour and latterly Plaid Cymru, Wales' economic performance has fallen back in comparison to the rest of the United Kingdom. We started off as one of the poorest parts of the UK and we are now firmly entrenched in that position. That is a woeful record. We are now on a par with areas like Yugozapaden in Bulgaria.

Labour and Plaid Cymru have spent millions of pounds of European money without making any impact on that situation. They have failed to invest in new industries and new skills that will attract high quality jobs to Wales. It is important that they put this right as soon as possible.

Welsh Liberal Democrats have suggested one solution, which is a innovation fund to kickstart research and help to transform it into new businesses. Such a model is already working successfully on a smaller scale with the University of Wales. If we do not start to grow the private sector then Wales will remain at the bottom of the league in terms of its economic performance.
When objective 1 funding was first granted to West Wales and the Valleys back in the later 1990s I was a recently retired international business exectutive making his retirement home in W,W.
I was horrified to see,( all be it from the sidelines )how WA and the local councils struggled to understand what to do and how to do it. There appeared to be no coherent plan with local councils and WA fighting over who should make the decisions. Local councilers asking nay pleading for people to come forward with project ideas. SMEs and micro businesses excluded from the process by the complex bidding procedure for funding.And so on.
Several years were wasted. A group of local tourist operator friends tried to obtain financial support to develop an internet based marketing project and gave up in frustration. I was amazed that the EU granted O1 status without a properly developed and costed economic development plan.
At the time I forcast a wasted opputunity sadly I think I was correct.
Plaid and Welsh Labour have refused to take anyone outside their circle seriously which would not be so bad if they were behind a vibrant Welsh economy.

As things stand, Plaid and Labour will spend hundreds of millions more of European funding and Wales will still be in reverse gear.

I don't think they really care so long as they are in power.
"New figures show that Wales' economic performance is falling back despite the investment of millions of pounds of European money."

From what I have read the figure is hundreds of millions of pounds, in fact over a billion pounds spent essentially by the Welsh Assembly Government (because they made it so hard for the private sector to secure such funding for developing the economy).

WAG really did a number on that money, spent it on administration and very little of those hundreds of millions created sustainable jobs in the Welsh valleys and other needy areas in Wales.
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