Cardiff and Bristol economic region summit ‘snubbed’ by key figures

Alun Cairns. Picture by Cabinet Office (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A cross-border summit organised by the Westminster Government was “snubbed” by more than 70 major figures in the Welsh economy.

The event, organised by the Secretary of State for Wales, cost taxpayers £14,000 but 74 key players in the Welsh economy did not attend the meeting, Plaid Cymru claimed.

The plans for a ‘Western Powerhouse’ were laid out during a growth summit at Newport’s Celtic Manor Resort on 22 January.

Plaid Cymru obtained a list of Welsh invites which did not turn up to the meeting. They included:

  • Sally Balcombe – Visit Britain
  • Reece Emmit – Wales and West Utilities
  • Douglas Freidli – Wales Business Insider
  • Marvin Rees – Mayor of Bristol
  • Nicole Garnon – South Wales Argus
  • Tom Griffin – University of South Wales
  • Mark Hopwood – Great Western Railway
  • Huw Rossiter – ITV Wales
  • Matt Southall – WalesOnline
  • Rhodri Talfan Davies – Director BBC Wales
  • Any MP apart from Alun Cairns, from either Labour or Tories and England or Wales

‘Spin’

During the meeting, Alun Cairns said that there were more people commuting between Bristol and Cardiff/Newport than there were Liverpool and Manchester.

“This shows that this region has the huge potential to rival the Northern Powerhouse or Midlands Engine,” he said.

Plaid Cymru MP, Jonathan Edwards suggesed the Welsh Secretary be renamed the “Secretary of State for Bristol.”

“He has used £14,000 of taxpayers’ money in a desperate attempt to create positive spin for his office but the main economic players in Wales have seen right through the spin, leaving him with a Bristol-heavy audience,” he said.

“The way to boost the Welsh economy is to invest in our country – build our roads and railways, commit to harnessing our tidal energy and allowing our airports and business to compete with our neighbours, not hold them back.”

He said that Alun Cairns’ record as Secretary of State for Wales had been one of “failure”, pointing to:

  • The scrapping of plans for the electrification of the railway to Swansea
  • No decisions on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon
  • No devolution of airport taxes to protect the interests of Bristol Airport over Cardiff
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