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


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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  1. What is it with these Tories and their childish boorish sloganising? “Northern Powerhouse; Midlands Engine; Global Britain; Strong and Stable et al” … in the case of Cairns maybe he should use “Westminster Wastral”?

  2. Liberals Cymru

    What we need are solutions which compete with this idea and out-perform it from a captialistic perspective, rather than complaints.

    We have such an idea:
    Poor urban and industrial areas promote an angry proletarian mind-set and hostility between economic groups which increases poverty. People flock to cities for opportunity which reinforces centralising socialist ideas in a destructive economic cycle. This allows Alun Cairns’ idea to make sense. So we have to remove that incentive.

    We can remove it by placing a string of large private co-operatives in towns which are heavily controlled by unions, which will gradually whittle away at Labour’s demographic base.

    Then with that tax revenue, we can create a market-town web (Castell Newydd Emlyn, y Drenewydd, Llandeilo, Corwen Llanrwst, Yr Wyddgrug, Machynlleth) with investment in small-scale firms which will draw Welsh people out of the Valleys (and out of the Labour Party and anti-capitalistic hostility), whilst keeping more young Welsh people in our countryside.

    Then we can build a rail network between these ‘market-towns’. Alun Cairns’ ideas will then no longer make economic sense. But we must address the root problem first: what Labour economics have done to this country incredulously make Alun Cairns’ ideas a better option than the current status quo.

    Let’s change that:

  3. Robert Williams

    If accurate, this is good news. Jonathan Edwards’s characterisation of Alun Cairns seems to me entirely accurate. Either Mr Cairns can’t see that what he’s proposing advances the splitting of Wales into three regions, dominated respectively bt Liverpool/Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol, in which case he’s implausibly stupid, or he doesn’t care, in which case …

  4. Robert Williams

    Jonathan Edwards’s renaming proposal seems eminently reasonable. Good to know, if this report is accurate, that so many invitees treated Mr Cairns’s jamboree with the contempt it deserves. Does Mr Cairns not understand that his ‘Western powerhouse’ would merely advance the division of Wales into three sections, each dominated by an English city? Or does he in fact welcome this?

  5. Tame Frontiersman

    Dismiss the Celtic Manor Severn Growth Summit as a non-event if you like, but there was an impressive list of headline speakers. Checkout the Secretary of State for Wales’ Cross-Border Growth Blog and its difficult to escape the conclusion that the Rt. Hon Alun Cairns is a man with an agenda and influential support.

    • Oh, he’s got an agenda, alright. It’s called EnglandandWales. It’s an agenda that will turn Glamorgan and Gwent into commuter villages for workers from Bristol, just as the ‘agenda’ for North East Wales is to turn it into an outpost of Cheshire and Merseyside. For Newport, see Bristol.

      Cairns is either incredibly stupid, or in the pocket of those whose machinations are designed to maintain this country’s colonial status as a target for demographic change and ethnic restructuring. Those from Wales who didn’t turn up were either indifferent or hostile to the ‘Greater Bristol’ scheme. If the latter, then that is greatly to their credit.

      • Robert Williams

        Wrexhamian, you sum it up perfectly. Opposition to this English imperialist scheme needs to be really noisy and unignorable.

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