Monday 19 December 2011

Don't follow London

That the UK Government spends more on transport infrastructure for London than it does on the rest of the UK wasn’t really a surprise, although the extent of the skew was higher than many might have expected.  It gives a rather different context to the oft-repeated claim that Wales benefits from the government’s largesse at the expense of the South East – here is an example of the opposite; the South East benefitting from government largesse at the expense of Wales.
I was far from convinced about some of the reasons being advanced for the mismatch, but there’s nothing wrong, in principle, with the fact that a mismatch exists.  Any attempt to share out spending on the basis of need will always lead to a differential pattern of spending in different areas; the question is not whether differentials are wrong, but whether they’re based on a fair assessment of need.  We should never expect the spend per head to be anywhere near identical across different areas and regions.
There is also a lesson here for Wales.  Before we shout too much about all the goodies going to London at the expense of the rest of the UK, we should examine the way in which infrastructure is being handled more locally.  There has been a marked tendency of late for people to call for high levels of spend in the South East of Wales – on things like the suggested metro network and the M4 relief road.
I’m not opposed to the first of those schemes, although the second is much more questionable to say the least.  But there is a danger that in promoting such grand schemes we reproduce in Wales exactly that about which we complain at a UK level, and other parts of Wales get left behind.  Just as we urge the UK Government to take a less London-centric viewpoint, so we also need to ensure that the Welsh Government doesn’t simply take a Cardiff-centric viewpoint.

1 comment:

Boncath said...


We should be reversing the Beeching of our rail network by giving organisations such as the Gwilli Railway the opportunity to reopen the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line and also that from Carmarthen to Llandeilo -- they already have locomotives and carriages available
In this there is a peacetime use for the Welsh Territorial Army and for the Welsh regiments to play a major role and we should use these bodies as in Luxembourg as a vehicle for employing the unemployed and providing a guaranteed route into employment for the project and beyond
There are substantial gains to be made by this
It is all about thinking outside the box