Posts Tagged ‘Welsh Government’

We were joined for the first Cardiff Breakfast Club of the season by Ron Jones, Founder and Executive Chairman of ‘super-indie’ television production company Tinopolis. Ron has been awarded the CBE for his contribution to the media industry and is an advisor on the creative industries to the Welsh Government. His talk focused on the economic benefits of supporting the creative industries – particularly television and film – in Wales.

Ron began by explaining that all government worldwide are now realising that the creative industries are important in driving economic growth, and that in countries such as Singapore governments are ‘throwing money’ at creative projects, creating a highly competitive environment in which Welsh companies have to compete.

However, Ron stressed the fact that the creative industries are an area in which Wales holds its own thanks to the talent and expertise within the industry. The sector now employs 75,000 people – an increase of 50% over the last ten years. With the average weekly earnings for employees in the industry between £710 and £720 a week, much higher than other priority sectors, the contribution of those working in the creative industries to the economy is substantial.

Ron expressed concern that few Welsh companies were heading ‘for the high seas’ to compete across the world in what has become a global industry and emphasised the need for Welsh television to compete across the world. Ron’s own company, Tinopolis, has offices across the UK, LA, Middle East and Singapore and will have a turnover of £250million this year. He used Tinopolis as an example to show that Wales is not at a competitive disadvantage and that technology means
that there is no reason why Wales shouldn’t be a ‘global player’.
Cardiff Breakfast ClubRon also stressed the need for help and funding for the Welsh creative industries from the government, pointing out that;“Much of the growth has come from small micro-businesses of which some have the potential to become significant players. We need to match government funds to the needs of these companies.”

Ron noted that there are many talented and supportive civil servants working within the Welsh Government and that a good relationship has been established between the creative sector and the government, but that there is still obstruction to finding and support that needs to be addressed to help Wales become a global player in the industry.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on 23rd October with guest speaker Tim Williams, Chief Executive of the Welsh Automotive Forum. For further information and booking details, please contact caroline@petersenspr.com or phone 02920 549597.

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Breakfast ClubThis month we were joined by Derek Jones who became Permanent Secretary for the Welsh Government in October 2012. At this morning’s Cardiff Breakfast Club he reflected on his role, the Welsh Government, and the ‘fantastically busy year’ since his appointment.

Derek began by describing to the club his career development, and experience of working both in and outside the civil service. Derek was born and educated in Cardiff, but moved away to work at the Treasury and Department of Trade and Industry, returning home to Wales to join the Welsh Office as Head of Industrial Policy. Following the creation of the National Assembly in 1999, as Senior Director, he was a central figure in the operation of devolved government in Wales. He then became Director of Business and Strategic Partnerships and an Honorary Professor at Cardiff University, until his appointment as Permanent Secretary, an opportunity he explained he ‘couldn’t resist.’

Although Derek no longer works at Cardiff University, he remains to have a ‘passion to develop Wales as a place where Higher Education and business intertwine’. He continues to believe in the importance of improving employability, and highlighted the need to secure investment in jobs as one of his fundamental priorities.

Derek Jones, Permanent Secretary

Derek Jones, Permanent Secretary

Derek shared his ideas on his inheritance of the Permanent Secretary role, discussing how historically it has tended to be an anonymous role. However, he explained that he believes this should not be the case, and so he takes every opportunity to interact with the business community. In the past there has been a tendency by his predecessors to be overly precautionary, ‘with risk management procedures not always properly aligned with the potential risks.’ He instead strongly believes in the need for ‘appropriate degrees of risk taking’.

Derek also highlighted some of the challenges which have faced Wales in the last year, citing flooding problems, and the measles outbreak in Swansea, praising that ‘we coped well with the events thrown at us.’

He finally concluded with a discussion on Wales’s position in the recently announced school league tables, and accepted that the Welsh Government has lots of work ahead of them to improve these results, although while they tell some of the story, ‘they don’t tell the whole story’. Focus shouldn’t be taken away from a culture of educational enjoyment and creativity, which will help nurture the business entrepreneurs of the future.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on January 29th 2014 with guest speaker Roger Lewis, Chief Executive of the WRU. For further information and booking details, please contact eira@petersenspr.com or phone 02920 549597.

Edwina Hart, Minister for Business

Edwina Hart, Minister for Business

At last there appears to be real movement from Welsh Government to create an organisation capable of helping to create the Cardiff City Region.

I have written previously, as others have, of the necessity for closer cooperation by public and private sectors in all areas surrounding Cardiff, so that a City Region can be created with sufficient population and scale in order to compete with other regions seeking economic growth and vital inward investment.

Business Minister Edwina Hart today sets out her vision for the Region but has already announced setting up a new Board for Cardiff Capital Region with local authority, private sector and university representatives, who will advise Ms Hart on strategic planning, economic growth and transport priorities across South East Wales.

As Ms Hart states, it will take years to accomplish but it’s an absolute necessity if Cardiff and its Region is to be a real player on the world stage.

Well done Edwina Hart for taking this vital initiative.

Cardiff City Stadium

Cardiff City Stadium

As we eagerly await our Cardiff Bluebirds’ first season in the Premier Division, how very wise of Edwina Hart and her team at the Welsh Government to sponsor the club next season through advertising boards at the stadium with Visit Wales branding.

 

The worldwide audience for Premier football matches is huge, and any opportunity for Wales to be promoted is to be welcomed and applauded.

We all wish Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham and newly promoted Newport Football Club great success in their various divisions and championships over the next season.

I finish with the sad note that one of my heroines, Marilyn Monroe, passed away on 5th August 1962.  A true icon of the cinema screen and a personality who can never be replaced.

Some real positive proposals from Councillor Russell Goodway, Cabinet Member of Cardiff City Council.

Councillor Russell Goodway

Councillor Russell Goodway

I was delighted to read in today’s South Wales Echo that Russell Goodway has put further meat on the bone of his excellent ideas to potentially save millions of pounds of tax payers’ money, in various local authorities in Wales, by using single centralised departments to conduct backroom activities.

For a population the size of Wales’, not much bigger than Birmingham, we have 22 local authorities.  In 2013, with huge improvements in technology, connectivity and transport since the last local government reorganisation, this is just too big a bureaucracy and needs to be reorganised.

While Welsh Government has ruled out any reorganisation until after the next elections in 2016, do Council’s not have to make savings on budgets now?  Let’s hope Councillor Russell Goodway and his supporters can at least get other Welsh Councils to see what services can be shared in 2013/2014.

First Minister Carwyn Jones calls to ‘rebrand and refresh’ Cardiff Airport

Having returned from a week’s relaxing holiday in one of Europe’s most beautiful countries Spain, whose citizens are really finding their economic situation dire, I was really pleased to read in today’s Western Mail of our First Minister’s statement yesterday.

He acknowledged the need to attract foreign investment and grow trade if Wales is to succeed on the world stage.  As a long-term supporter of our local airport, I was particularly pleased to hear of the plan to ‘rebrand and refresh’ Cardiff Airport in a bid to attract more passengers.   Perhaps this initiative may excite the Airport’s Spanish owner to come up with some additional funds to support any Public Sector initiative by our Welsh Government.

I am afraid I used Bristol Airport last week even though I had to get up at 2:30am to catch the early flight to Malaga.  So I would welcome a direct flight from Cardiff to Malaga for a few extra hours in bed before my next trip to refresh my body and soul at my favourite yoga retreat.

I was delighted to read Iestyn Davies, head of external affairs of Federation of Small Business in Wales, writing in today’s Western Mail on the much-needed city region approach for Cardiff, which could do so much to boost the Welsh economy. 

This is such an important issue and extremely topical, as Keith Jones, Chairman of Julian Hodge Bank emphasised in his closing speech at last night’s excellent Julian Hodge Institute of Applied Macroeconomics annual lecture. The speaker, Professor Nicholas Crafts of Warwick University, gave a thought-provoking lecture on the lessons learnt from our two previous recessions in the 1930’s and 1980’s.

So much is out of the control of our politicians and leaders, such as the Eurozone crisis or events in the USA. However it does appear to me that if there is a genuine willingness in our community from all interested – politicians of all parties, the media, civil servants, business, the general public – to embrace this obvious way forward for Cardiff and South East Wales, then we can make it happen.

I really do hope that the Welsh Government’s City Region Task and Finish group, chaired by Dr Elizabeth Haywood, examines this issue quickly and concludes its report so that the recommended actions can be adopted without further delay.


First Minister Carwyn Jones came under fire yesterday for "talking down" Wales' only international airport

How very sad and strange to read in today’s Western Mail that our First Minister made comments in the Senedd yesterday about not wishing to bring visitors to Wales through Cardiff Airport, due to the bad impression it would give.

As AM Eluned Parrott stated last night, it’s “bizarre” that he should make such a statement only a couple of weeks after talking about subsidising flights between Cardiff and China, something I totally applaud.

While I do understand the problem of the Welsh Government (WG) being able to directly help underwrite some of the costs of supporting the airport in its negotiations with Delta Airlines, to create a direct link with New York, ways must be found for the WG to invest in the airport if its Spanish owners will not.

The recent talk of City Region status and bringing back the WDA brand becomes academic in my eyes, as someone who has been involved in marketing for many years. Without an effective international airport; the key ingredient of a sales proposition for selling Cardiff and Wales to the world, everyone’s efforts will be wasted.

Jonathan Ford, CEO of the Football Association of Wales (FAW) inferred as much in his very impressive talk to the Cardiff Breakfast Club this morning. He discussed the need to do more to ensure we attract global football to Wales and his desire to hold major international tournaments here, but stated that we do have infrastructure problems – i.e. the airport, through which visiting football teams and fans would travel.

From sport to education, tourism, business and entertainment, if we had more direct flights to influential destinations we all know what could happen to our economy. Let’s hope the First Minister’s remarks were part of a well thought out strategy to raise debate on this crucial subject; an issue that it is vital we resolve if we are to truly compete on a global stage.

Cardiff Airport: a vital first impression for visitors to Wales

 

A strong turn out of figures from across the Cardiff business community battled the elements for the Cardiff Breakfast Club  meeting this morning, rewarded with an engaging and aspirational speech from Dame Gillian Morgan, the Permanent Secretary for the Welsh Government.

Dame Gillian focused on ‘delivering more for less’, discussing both the importance the Welsh Government has placed on this approach, and its means for implementing it.

With forecasters predicting a move into recession, the pressure is on for the public sector to get the most out of its resources, making its money work as hard as it can. To this end Dame Gillian discussed the Welsh Government’s reduction in both staff numbers and in buildings, reduced from 93 to just 40 across the country. Time, effort and energy have been invested in ascertaining just how they can ‘do things differently’.

This change in attitude, practice and culture is very necessary, as Dame Gillian stressed. She outlined three big challenges: firstly, a cultural complacency. There is ‘some wonderful stuff’ happening here, and we need to be proud about it – to compare and compete with the best. Dame Gillian also discussed the necessity of effectively marketing Cardiff and the South Wales region, to remove the perception of it as ‘distant’ or ‘decrepit’. She recounted correcting someone who was under the impression that it took 8 hours to get to Cardiff! To get others to see the region differently, we must first begin to really champion ourselves.

The second challenge Dame Gillian noted was complexity, and indeed the Welsh Government have taken great steps to ‘declutter their environment’ in order to do more for and with less. Some initiatives can be done in a much more coordinated way, ‘blurring the autonomy’ and encouraging local communities to come together. In appropriate situations we must, Dame Gillian emphasised, encourage the ‘common sense’ approach!

The last, and biggest, challenge was that of capacity and capability. While Wales has the talent to match other regions, it does not necessarily have the depth. Dame Gillian used the department of transport policy as an example: while the Scottish Government has 74 employees in this area, Wales has 3. This challenge is being tackled through schemes that ‘train our own’, such as the recruitment of Welsh graduates into the Government’s intensive 2-year procurement course, and other apprenticeship schemes. Effective and charismatic leadership is also integral to resolving this, and the Welsh Government must lead by example.

As Dame Gillian heartily emphasised, steps are already being taken to get the absolute best from the resources in place here. There is ‘wonderful stuff’ happening in Wales – from business growth to Doctor Who – and with careful thought and implementation, it can flourish even further in the future.