Monday, 17 January 2011

The Aerospace Business Park a 'dog's breakfast

The Aerospace Business Park a 'dog's breakfast  ...14 Jan 2011 ... Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones told Mr Davies that the government remained committed to the business park, which was a phased development over the next ...
‘£43 million spent, but not one job created’... We keep saying this and so duid the auditor some years ago..but they never learn.. 
THE Welsh Assembly Government has spent £43 million developing the Aerospace Business Park at St Athan so far, but not a single job has been created there, an AM claims.

Calling the situation a “dog’s breakfast,” South Wales Central AM Andrew Davies this week questioned what the taxpayer has to show for his money.

In a series of questions to Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, Minister for transport and the economy, Mr Davies, who is a Conservative regional member, asked how much WAG had spent on land acquisition, professional fees and general development costs for the Aerospace Business Park, as distinct from money spent in preparation for the Defence Technical College scheme which is on hold.

“I was told that two sums had been spent – £19.2m and £24.7m, bringing the total to just under £44m,” he reported.

“It took the minister a month to actually answer the question and as I specifically asked a question about the Aerospace Park, with no mention of the Defence Technical College, I am assuming that the overall figure relates just to the park.

“But there seems to be a lot of uncertainty at the Assembly about this. Nobody seems to have a handle on it.

“It was a simple enough question – how much money have you spent? I was not asking how many shovels they had bought or how many envelopes had been used. This was their answer.”

He also asked how many jobs will have been created by 2015 and when the first business would move into the park.

The reply from Ieuan Wyn Jones, who is also the deputy first minister, said that they were highlighting the benefits of St Athan to potential investors, based on the facilities available and the strong skills base. A number of investment leads had been generated.

Pressed by Mr Davies about how many leads, he further replied on Monday that since 2008, there have been 10 expressions of interest of which eight are still live.

Mr Davies said it would appear that there was nothing to show as yet for the expenditure of £43m.

“This is a huge sum of public money spent on a project which has not delivered one single job to the economy either of the Vale or south Wales.

He continued: “It was six years ago that the Aerospace Business Park was first proposed by WAG, in response to the announcement by DARA that it was closing down its operation at St Athan with the loss of 3,000 jobs.

“The Aerospace Business Park was supposed to replace some of those jobs and give the highly-skilled workers at DARA alternative employment. But the last of the DARA jobs are going this month and there are no new jobs for people to move across to.

“My fear is that the skills base we had here in Llantwit and St Athan will disperse and it will not be possible to lure in aerospace companies by saying that there is a skilled workforce locally. Those people will have gone to jobs elsewhere in the country.”

Mr Davies stated that he had grave reservations about the way in which the ABP had been promoted by WAG, as there are no prospects of new jobs at the moment.

He said: “I want to know how committed they are to this project. The later decision to site the Defence Technical College at St Athan has clouded the issue. The truth is that ABP was a stand-alone project which was announced two years before the college.

“But we have nothing to show in this area after six years and the spending of more than £40m.”

It seemed “incredible” that not one civilian aerospace firm had been enticed to the site, despite the presence of suitable facilities, a highly skilled workforce, and the spending of a lot of public money.

Mr Davies pointed out that the area had lost the “critical mass” of skilled workers, and now potential investors must wonder if they will be able to recruit the engineers and others they need.

He added that what had happened was a betrayal of the aspirations and hopes that local people had in 2004.

“It’s a dog’s breakfast We have spent this money and there’s nothing to show for it.”

He has asked WAG if there’s a fall-back position for St Athan if the ABP comes to nothing, but Ieuan Wyn Jones gave no details of other economic regeneration plans for the area and said they would continue to promote the benefits of St Athan to potential investors.

“There is obviously no Plan B,” added Mr Davies. “The ABP was the Welsh Assembly Government’s response to the loss of the DARA jobs, but nothing else has been done if that fails.

“It would appear that we have lost the DARA jobs and there is nothing available to replace them – and nothing in the pipeline. There is no fall-back position either. It’s the worst of all worlds.”

Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones told Mr Davies that the government remained committed to the business park, which was a phased development over the next 20 years, subject to market demand.

He said that the scale and shape of the ABP may need to be reviewed once the Ministry of Defence plans for St Athan are revealed in the spring.

The GEM asked the Welsh Assembly Government for a comment on the position but at the time of going to press, nothing had been received.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Aerospace and St Athan dithering

The Record of Proceedings Dydd Mawrth, 11 Ionawr 2011 Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Andrew R.T. Davies: Thank you for that answer, First Minister. Do you share my concern at the lack of progress on the Welsh Assembly Government’s aerospace park at St Athan? In answer to a question, the Minister for the Economy and Transport confirmed that £44 million in Welsh Assembly Government money has been spent on the aerospace park—not the defence training academy—which was announced as a direct consequence of the closure of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency facility at St Athan. There has been no progress to date on job-creation in that aspect of the Welsh Assembly Government’s economic portfolio. When can the residents of St Athan and Llantwit Major expect to see progress on this important scheme?

The First Minister: I am now even more amazed. In order for the business park to prosper, there needs to be a decision on the rest of the site. The dithering of the UK Government and its failure to make a decision are frustrating our ability to offer long-term certianty to potential tenants. If you are a prospective tenant, you want to know what else is going to go there. Until we have a decision from the UK Government, and we until we have some clarity for the people of St Athan, Llantwit Major and the Vale of Glamorgan, it is going to be very difficult for us to attract tenants to the park. We have made our investment and we now need to see a commitment from the UK Government and the Ministry of Defence to deliver on what they said that they would deliver—a training facility at St Athan. Let us hear it. ..................

Andrew RT Davies AM
You will have heard my question to the First Minister about the aerospace park in St Athan. I am concerned about the issues that are being raised regarding the aerospace park and the link to the defence training academy, and also the various planning inspectors’ reports that relate to the northern access road. There is a whole host of issues surrounding this development, and a statement from the Deputy First Minister as to how the Welsh Assembly Government is progressing its side of the development in St Athan, given that it was an announcement in response to the loss of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency jobs, would be greatly appreciated by the local community in order to understand the way forward.

Jane Hutt: In relation to your important first point, there is a forthcoming statement from the Minister for Health and Social Services on the review of those who have been infected by contaminated blood. I completely concur with you on your second point—we need an update on the St Athan situation from the UK Government. I understand that a response is due from the UK Government in March. I have had correspondence, which I am happy to share with you, from the UK Government Minister. The Deputy First Minister will also issue a statement on St Athan in relation to Welsh Assembly Government responsibilities. On the third point, the regulations on the kennelling of dogs will be handled in the usual way, as regulations always are.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Drummer boy for Metrix John Smith told to resign

Labour MP told to resign over £57k expenses claim
WalesOnline - United Kingdom
VALE of Glamorgan Labour MP John Smith last night faced a call for his resignation after it was alleged he claimed nearly £58000 in second home expenses ...

Following a rule change in April 2008 that required receipts for expenditure over £25, he submitted London home claims for £231 from Ikea and £140 from homeware store The Range, both from branches in Cardiff.

The Ikea receipt reveals he claimed £11.98 on a Njuta bath robe, £7.99 for a Skanka pan, £90 for Lycksele Murbo mattress, two £7.99 Hultet beaded drapes and £4.99 on a rimless picture frame with clips.

His claim from The Range included £69.99 on a set of table and chairs, £3.49 on an "onion garland" and £15.49 on a print by artist Cory Silken called Rugosa.

Mr Smith also twice attempted to claim the cost of Christmas cards on his office expenses. He first tried to bill the £295 cost of seasonal cards in November 2004 but was rejected by House of Commons officials.

He tried again for £305 the following year and was again rejected.

However, he successfully claimed £352.50 in legal bills for a dispute over his constituency office rent, submitting an invoice from a firm of solicitors in Caerphilly.

John Smith

Job: Labour MP for Vale of Glamorgan

Salary: £64,766

Total second home claims

2004-05: £20,620

2005-06: £20,862

2006-07: £22,110

2007-08: £23,083

Total expenses

2007-08: £148,514

Rate of attendance at votes: 48 per cent

Vale MP John Smith defends himself over expenses allegations
Barry and District News - Wales,UK
By Elinor Cross » VALE MP John Smith has defended himself against allegations that he exploited the mps' expenses system, after details of his claims were ...

Vale MP fights for his reputation after expenses allegations

Glamorgan Gem - ‎5 hours ago‎
VALE MP John Smith is under attack after a newspaper story alleging that he had claimed almost £58000 over four years, without submitting receipts. ...

MPs' expenses: John Smith claimed £57,955 without submitting a single receipt

Telegraph...An MP claimed £57,955 in second home expenses in four years without submitting a single receipt.

John Smith, a Labour backbencher, took advantage of generous allowances to claim an average of £14,488 a year – more than the average salary of a minimum wage worker– without providing evidence of any spending.

When he eventually made a claim backed up by a receipt, it was for home furnishings including a vase, a frying pan, a bath robe, beaded drapes and poster art.

Enemies of the People2009 New Labour M.P. John SmithPARASITE
2009 New Labour M.P. John SmithPARASITE. An MP claimed £57955 in second home expenses in four years without submitting a single receipt ...
MPs expenses John Smith claimed £57955 without submitting a single ...
MPs expenses John Smith claimed £57955 without submitting a single receipt. An MP claimed £57955 in second home expenses in four years without submitting a ...

MP John Smith defends himself over expenses allegations

7:40am Thursday 4th June 2009

VALE MP John Smith has defended himself against allegations that he exploited the MPs’ expenses system, after details of his claims were published in a national newspaper.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Mr Smith claimed £86,675 in additional costs expenses over four years – nearly £60,000 of them without the submission of receipts.

The Vale MP did submit receipts for poster art, a bath robe and beaded drapes, according to the article, and claimed £57,955 in running costs without receipts for a London flat over four years. The allegations came two weeks after Mr Smith announced he was standing down at the next election for health reasons.

The Telegraph reported that the MP took advantage of an allowance scheme which, until April last year, entitled ministers to claim the following per month without a receipt: £400 for groceries, £250 for utility bills, £250 for telephone bills, £250 for cleaning, £250 for service and maintenance, and £250 for repairs and insurance.

It was alleged that a House of Commons official wrote to Mr Smith in 2007 to ask if he would submit more specific claims rather than nominal sums. He said: “Ideally we would expect members to claim for actual amounts and not nominal sums.”

According to the Telegraph, Mr Smith continued to claim this way for nine more months – however, Mr Smith denies this.

The MP was also criticised for his attendance at parliament, showing up to only 48 per cent of votes and speaking in only 10 debates in 2007/8 despite claiming £148,514 in overall expenses for that year.

A spokesperson for Mr Smith denied any wrongdoing.

He said: “Mr Smith is devastated and repudiates allegations that he has exploited the parliamentary expenses system following an article in the Sunday Telegraph, which has appeared since he announced his retirement on health grounds two weeks ago.

“Historically, Mr Smith has been one of the lowest claimants of parliamentary expenses.

“He does not own a second home, he has never claimed for any luxury goods and all the money he has claimed over the years has gone towards meeting the cost of living and working in London, and not for personal gain.

“Mr Smith is committed to transparency and will publish his expenses in full, as soon as is practicable. “A number of allegations were made in the Sunday Telegraph which he did not have an opportunity to respond to,” added the spokesman.

“Mr Smith was accused of claiming Additional Cost Allowance between 2004 and 2008 without submitting receipts.

“Under the rules at the time, no receipts were required and all Mr Smith’s claims were cleared by the Commons Authority and were within the existing rules.

“Contrary to what was alleged in the newspaper article, in July 2007, when the Commons Authority wrote to Mr Smith informing him that he could no longer continue to claim in this way, he immediately changed his claims to meet the new requirements.”

He continued: “In April 2008 Mr Smith moved to an unfurnished bedsit in Pimlico and purchased some modestly priced items of furniture, including a table and two chairs and a sofa bed, and submitted receipts as required under further rule changes.

“Not all the items on the receipts referred to in the newspaper article were claimed for.

“Contrary to what was said in the Telegraph, it is untrue that Mr Smith submitted a bill for legal costs over a dispute with the landlord over his constituency office – in actual fact this was a standard commercial charge for drawing up a lease.”

In response to calls by Plaid Cymru parliamentary candidate for the Vale, Dr Ian Johnson, for Mr Smith to stand down immediately, the spokesman added: “It seems that political opponents in the Vale of Glamorgan are trying to damage Mr Smith’s reputation by linking the timing of his retirement announcement with the expenses furore.

“Nothing could be further from the truth – Mr Smith has been advised by his doctor not to stand for re-election, and he is following that advice.”


Geoff Hoon of privatise the army fame amongst many of his sins

Geoff Hoon resigns as pressure mounts on Gordon Brown - Telegraph

5 Jun 2009 ... Geoff Hoon has become the fifth Cabinet minister to resign in a week as Gordon Brown battles to maintain his authority.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Shame on OU and Nord Anglia

Shame on OU accrediting arms dealers courses courses

MoD Apprentices questions HOC

MoD Apprentices
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the package of delivery designed by Metrix for the Defence Training Review project will offer apprenticeships to the (a) standards and (b) accreditation delivered by the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering; and what provision will be made in the package for apprenticeship training to an accredited standard. [262635]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As part of the requirement for the Defence Training Review (DTR) Package 1, Metrix will transform and modernise existing training, which will involve the re-accreditation of any transformed modules. This re-accreditation will be led by Nord Anglia, the Open university and City and Guilds, who are all respected and leading accreditation specialists. For the Defence college of Aeronautical Engineering, and all the technical training under Package 1, any existing accreditation will remain in place until a re-designed package is approved by the Ministry of Defence, which includes any proposals for changes to apprenticeship training.

All Defence training (including accreditation implications) must adhere to a robust and established change process under the Defence systems approach to training to approve any change, and meet stringent defence and Government policy guidelines. The Department is recognised as an example of good practice with respect to apprenticeships and remains committed to maintaining this reputation.

Armed Forces: Training
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the Defence Training Review package he expects to be delivered outside the future Defence Academy at RAF St Athan. [262500]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All of the training in the scope of the Defence Training Review Package 1 will, by 2020, be delivered at St. Athan, with the exception of Royal Naval Communications training at HMS Collingwood which amounts to 2 per cent. of the total training requirement. In addition, about 30 per cent. of phase 3 (professional) training will be delivered away from St. Athan at remote learning centres around the UK to enable personnel to stay near home bases and families.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

John Smith Pork Barrelling

John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this

Will my right hon. Friend assure me that any discussions that he has about central funding and the mechanism used do not undervalue the role of defence expenditure in projects such as the defence technical academy in my constituency at St. Athan? Will he join me in welcoming the news that the joint director for technical training in the military is going to move to St. Athan in April, in anticipation of the construction of the new college?

(On the 1st April I presume?)

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office; Torfaen, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this

Of course I will, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on his tenacity in dealing with this issue. Billions of pounds of public spending will come to his constituency and the surrounding constituencies, and I know that he has played a very significant role in ensuring that that is the case.

Monday, 23 February 2009

tory leader on st athan pfi

Tory leader Cameron addresses Barry public
Barry and District News, UK - 21 Feb 2009

When asked about the suitability of American contractors bidding for St Athan, he replied: "We have a close relationship with America. The government has made a complete mess of the contract - they have struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

"But the last thing we need to do is launch a wave of nationalism."

more recent news

Politicians at war over St Athan defence training academy
WalesOnline, United Kingdom - 19 Feb 2009
FEARS over “Olympics-style” spiralling costs at the £13bn Defence Technical Academy have been raised by politicians in a furious row over the St Athan-based ...

Armed forces' £12bn PFI training plan 'jeopardised by economic crisis', United Kingdom - 8 Feb 2009
A £12 billion plan to contract out armed forces training, in the Government's biggest ever private finance initiative, has been jeopardised by the economic ...
Credit crisis puts £12bn MoD training project in jeopardy, UK - 8 Feb 2009
The government's biggest private finance initiative, a multibillion-pound plan to hive-off training for the armed forces, is in trouble, subject to delays, ...

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Misleading DTR coverage

Last week the BBC published an article about the Defence Training Review (DTR). It was entitled '£12bn military academy 'on track'. The article was quite biased and lacking in research. Chris Ames sums it up very well here. Chris Ames (also runs the Iraq dossier website.)

Back to the article which doesn’t mention that the project is already delayed and over budget nor the fact that Qinetiq, the equal equity partner along with Sodexho, are themselves experiencing difficulties. See the following articles:
The Cost of Privatisation
Qinetiq Prepares to Tighten Finances

I won’t go into whether or not the 5000 jobs figure is accurate, but that number of ‘new’ jobs won’t be created at the base. The jobs are already held by Civil Servants around the country who will be expected to relocate to Wales or lose their jobs.

Many of the trainers will be unable to relocate to Wales and the loss of these skilled trainers will put Defence Training and front line troops at risk.

In addition to the above there is the question of putting the Defence of the United Kingdom in the hands of private companies that are ultimately out to make a profit for their shareholders. A further risk is that the companies involved may get taken over by a non-British organisation which could generate a conflict of interest between corporate aims and loyalties and national security.

You may also be interested in this article entitled ‘The Ministry and the Media'