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Mr Blue Sky

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostWed Mar 27, 2019 3:25 pm

RandomComment wrote:
Peaky Plaider wrote: Having just read the reply from Random Comment I instantly get the impression that none of the poignant questions are answered.


First, I'm not sure Peaky's questions are poignant. I think they are rather simplistic and focuses on how things are classified - e.g. motorway versus dual carriageway. For example, A470 to Merthyr, much of the A55, parts of the A465, much of the A4232, the Eastern Avenue section of the A48 (and A48m) basically provide the same function to more or less the same standard.

Moreover, they don't really make realistic comparisons. Greater Manchester is a major conurbation - much larger than anything we have in Wales. It also sits on an East-West route between Liverpool and Hull, and just off a major North/South route (M6), to which it has spurs.

Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset have only 1 motorway - the M5. Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, only has a bit of the M25 (which is really a London motorway) and the M11 in the south west corner. The North East of England has some A1(m) and and a small inner ring-road in Newcastle that has confusingly been given M designation. Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have just the M1.

Wales doesn't have many motorways, but neither do many other parts of the country. Motorways are there to serve cross-country journeys between places with sizeable populations and significant demand (e.g. south west to Midlands, Midlands to North West, London to the Midlands and North, North West to North East) or areas with high population density. Its only really South Wales and to some extent the North Wales corridors that really satisfy that in Wales - and both have motorway or more-or-less motorway standard routes.

On the funding of rail:
- Glasgow Metro was initially built privately and opened in 1896 and was then taken over by local government
- Edinburgh tram was paid for by a combination of Scottish Govt funding and borrowing by Edinburgh council. Its extension is being funded by borrowing and a transfer from Lothian buses
- Tyne and Wear metro used old lines with the cost of the conversion being 70% funded by DfT and 30% by local sources including borrowing
- Manchester metrolink has been funded by a mix of government grant, council tax (via levies on district councils), borrowing, and contributions from private developers/organisations (e.g. Manchester Airport).

I could look at more, but I think it serves my point. Yes the UK government has often contributed, sometimes considerably. But local sources have also been important too.

And finally I don't think you addressed my pertinent point. That to think about whether Wales is "hard done by", you need to look at tax and spending in the round. Currently, Wales gets £12 billion more spent on it than it pays in taxes. In that respect, it shares much in common with other poorer parts of the UK - like N Ireland, North East England, etc. Wales accounts for about half the UK budget deficit, with 5% of the population (to be fair, most areas outside London and the South East contribute to that deficit).

A case can be made for Welsh independence - based on culture/nationalism; based on a belief that in the longer-term it could provide a catalyst for a more dynamic and prosperous Wales. But don't pretend that it wouldn't be an incredible financial wrench that would mean Wales would have to live within its means - rather than operating in a fiscal union that allows Wales to basically live beyond them at the moment.

Mr Blue Sky wrote:I’m a long time member of Plaid. I’ve been arguing with Random Comment about underinvestment in Wales for 15 years, on this board. He doesn’t see our point as he is a U.K. nationalist. It’s as simple as that.


I'm neither, actually. I happen to feel pretty strongly Welsh, British and to an extent European. But I dislike nationalism as it often involves a bit of a chip on the shoulder, which means one closes ones eyes to facts, figures, debate, etc.

And I actually do listen to the points you make - I just happen to disagree with them, and provide evidence as to why I disagree. Usually related to economics and tax/spending.


The point that you fail to understand is that there have been decades of underinvestment in Wales. The Cardiff and Valley lines network is roughly the same size as Merseyrail, West Yorks, and the Tyne and Wear Metro yet these were all electrified between 50 and 20 years ago. The intercity lines to Norwich and Bournemouth were electrified in the 1960s despite those urban/metro areas being much smaller than those in south Wales. Decades of underinvestment has impacted on the competitiveness of Wales.

Going back to the airport it must be clear, even to you, that anyone living west of Bridgend has an incredibly long and expensive journey to get to an airport other than Cardiff. The flip side of this is that any companies wishing to invest in the Swansea City Region will take a look at its connectivity and be put off by the fact that it’s at least two hours from the nearest decent airport. Can you think of a metro area in EU that is the size of Swansea that doesn’t have an airport, or one offering a decent range of destinations nearby?
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RandomComment

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostWed Mar 27, 2019 7:50 pm

I'm just not sure there has been 'decades of under-investment'. Govt spending per person has been around 10% or more higher than the UK average if you look back decades. And while capital (investment) spending is now lower than the UK average that hasn't always been the case - traditionally investment in many areas (notably economy development, with things like the WDA) has been higher. To some extent it reflects less borrowing by Welsh councils than English equivalents. And given Welsh population is going up rather a lot less, and one of the reasons to invest is to expand provision to cope with population growth, its sort of understandable that investment spending is lower than Wales.

The lament of "decades of under-investment" or "years of under-investment" is made by all and sundry. The Scots make it despite investment spending 30% above UK average (partly funded by local borrowing); the Northern Irish make it, despite higher public spending than anywhere else in the UK, even if you strip out security spending; hell, people in London make it, in relation to schools and hospitals in particular, despite having huge infrastructure investments. People in England look over in envy at free prescriptions in the other nations, and toward Scotland with free tuition fees. The grass is always greener.

Thats why I resort to looking at the figures and they just don't show Wales being particularly hard done by. And they definitely show it being a big net recipient of funding from the rest of the UK.
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Mr Blue Sky

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostWed Mar 27, 2019 10:11 pm

RandomComment wrote:I'm just not sure there has been 'decades of under-investment'. Govt spending per person has been around 10% or more higher than the UK average if you look back decades. And while capital (investment) spending is now lower than the UK average that hasn't always been the case - traditionally investment in many areas (notably economy development, with things like the WDA) has been higher. To some extent it reflects less borrowing by Welsh councils than English equivalents. And given Welsh population is going up rather a lot less, and one of the reasons to invest is to expand provision to cope with population growth, its sort of understandable that investment spending is lower than Wales.

The lament of "decades of under-investment" or "years of under-investment" is made by all and sundry. The Scots make it despite investment spending 30% above UK average (partly funded by local borrowing); the Northern Irish make it, despite higher public spending than anywhere else in the UK, even if you strip out security spending; hell, people in London make it, in relation to schools and hospitals in particular, despite having huge infrastructure investments. People in England look over in envy at free prescriptions in the other nations, and toward Scotland with free tuition fees. The grass is always greener.

Thats why I resort to looking at the figures and they just don't show Wales being particularly hard done by. And they definitely show it being a big net recipient of funding from the rest of the UK.


What you are calling “investment” in Wales seems to be either inducements paid by the WDA to attract foreign investment, or Wales’ population being “invested” in due to having higher percentages of both pensioners and long-term sick people than England has. The former due to many English retirees moving to Wales and the latter because of the heavy physical toll of heavy industries.

It is a fact that less money has been invested in transport infrastructure in south Wales than in any comparable urban or metropolitan area in England. There is not one mode of transport that has seen investment at the level invested in the average English area. This lack of investment is mostly the fault of Whitehall. God help Wales if you, a Welshman, are speaking for us. Don’t you want Cardiff airport to thrive, and the lives of your fellow countryman to improve, and for Wales to prosper?
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RandomComment

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostThu Mar 28, 2019 6:10 pm

Mr Blue Sky wrote:
RandomComment wrote:I'm just not sure there has been 'decades of under-investment'. Govt spending per person has been around 10% or more higher than the UK average if you look back decades. And while capital (investment) spending is now lower than the UK average that hasn't always been the case - traditionally investment in many areas (notably economy development, with things like the WDA) has been higher. To some extent it reflects less borrowing by Welsh councils than English equivalents. And given Welsh population is going up rather a lot less, and one of the reasons to invest is to expand provision to cope with population growth, its sort of understandable that investment spending is lower than Wales.

The lament of "decades of under-investment" or "years of under-investment" is made by all and sundry. The Scots make it despite investment spending 30% above UK average (partly funded by local borrowing); the Northern Irish make it, despite higher public spending than anywhere else in the UK, even if you strip out security spending; hell, people in London make it, in relation to schools and hospitals in particular, despite having huge infrastructure investments. People in England look over in envy at free prescriptions in the other nations, and toward Scotland with free tuition fees. The grass is always greener.

Thats why I resort to looking at the figures and they just don't show Wales being particularly hard done by. And they definitely show it being a big net recipient of funding from the rest of the UK.


What you are calling “investment” in Wales seems to be either inducements paid by the WDA to attract foreign investment, or Wales’ population being “invested” in due to having higher percentages of both pensioners and long-term sick people than England has. The former due to many English retirees moving to Wales and the latter because of the heavy physical toll of heavy industries.

It is a fact that less money has been invested in transport infrastructure in south Wales than in any comparable urban or metropolitan area in England. There is not one mode of transport that has seen investment at the level invested in the average English area. This lack of investment is mostly the fault of Whitehall. God help Wales if you, a Welshman, are speaking for us. Don’t you want Cardiff airport to thrive, and the lives of your fellow countryman to improve, and for Wales to prosper?


Yes, I want Wales to prosper. But I am very dubious that independence would help that (because of the huge downward adjustment in public spending or upwards adjustment in tax that would be needed on independence). And I wouldn't favour it prospering by taking money from other parts of the UK that also need it. As someone living in London, do I support Crossrail 2, Crossrail 3, etc? No, not unless paid for locally - because the money would be better spent elsewhere in the UK (partly because spending it elsewhere could reduce geographical inequalities, partly because these grandiose schemes like HS2 just have terrible cost-benefit ratios).

You are right that higher spending in Wales to a large extent reflects the poorer, sicker, older population. However the fact that the current allocations of funding recognise this (despite the flawed Barnett formula) is surely something worth recognising by those who want to "go their own way". Indeed, the most recent assessment (by research commissioned by the Welsh Govt) was that the socio-economics of Wales mean that it should get about 15% more to spend per person on devolved services than is spent on comparable services in England. At the time it was about 13% more - so the Welsh Govt pushed for more money. The vaguaries of the Barnett formula mean its actually crept up to about 19% more now (austerity has meant bigger cuts in England than Wales and especially Scotland). So it looks like Wales now actually gets a bit too much relative to England, according to the evaluation commissioned by the Welsh Government (to help it lobby for more money).

And I've just done some calculations on transport investment. Since 1999, after adjusting for inflation, investment in transport infrastructure has averaged £174 per person per year in Wales; and £203 per person per year in England. Now that is about 15% lower. But if you exclude London and look at the rest of England, it has averaged £163 per person per year. Thats about 6% LESS than Wales.

So you're actually just wrong about transport infrastructure. Capital expenditure for transport, as compiled by the busy bees in Newport, shows more being spent in Wales than the average for England excluding London. Wales has had new mainline rail - e.g. the Ebbw Vale line - and significant investment in the A465, the A55, new schemes like Rhondda relief road, Port Talbot relief road, a number of bypasses, etc, quite a costly resignalling scheme on the railways. It might not seem like much. But apparently its a bit more than parts of England outside London have got.

The last few years has seen transport investment spending in England outside London higher than in Wales. Part of that will reflect investment in rail. A lot of it will reflect that the UK government has used more of the increase to capital budgets in the last 4-5 years to boost road spending, whereas the Welsh government has allocated more to schools and hospitals. Devolution in action.

This is why I do what I do. It involves looking at the data. Not making sweeping judgements driven by my prior political beliefs - however genuine and passionate they are.
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Rhodri

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostThu Mar 28, 2019 6:32 pm

When comparing Wales and England you cannot take London out of the equation. That slews any data presented as stated above.
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RandomComment

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostThu Mar 28, 2019 7:38 pm

Rhodri wrote:When comparing Wales and England you cannot take London out of the equation. That slews any data presented as stated above.


No it doesn't. Because MrBlueSky didn't make a claim that spending on transport investment was low in Wales relative to England. Effectively he claimed it was low relative to every part of England. I'm saying, no, thats not the case. Its higher than the average for England outside of London - so there must be very large areas of England where the spending is lower than Wales.

And even if he had made a general claim about England, it would still be legitimate to exclude London. Different areas will require different levels of spending. When deciding whether Wales is "under" or "over-funded" it wouldn't make sense to do a comparison with all of England, for instance. Because large parts of England are richer, younger, healthier. You'd want to control for that. One way to do that is to find areas of England that look more like Wales - like the North East.

And London is just so different to the rest of the UK - it often makes sense to exclude it from analysis. On transport, I have a lot of sympathy for the view that too much transport investment does go to London. But I'd still expect transport investment to be quite a bit higher than the average. Why? Because major urban areas have lots of in-commuters so the investment in London actually isn't all about benefitting Londoners - its helping people commuting in from surrounding regions. Because big cities mean inevitably reliance on public transport, and especially underground rail - which is much more expensive than roads that can be used in more spacious areas. And because land prices mean the cost of buying up land for things costs a lot more.

This is getting a bit desperate. You can think Wales would do better as an independent country in the long run. You can think that the UK doesn't tax and spend enough and doesn't weight reductions of regional inequality enough in deciding where to spend and invest. But there is just no evidence that Wales is particularly hard done by. It's treated much like it would be (probably a bit better) if it were a typical English region.

If anything, the typical English region gets unfairly treated on public spending relative to London, and especially compared to Scotland and NI.
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Mr Blue Sky

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostFri Mar 29, 2019 3:02 pm

But I’m not talking about since 1999. Merseyrail, Sheffield Trams, Tyne and Wear Metro, West Yorkshire Metro, West Midlands Metro, Nottingham Trams, Manchester Trams, the electrification of the main lines to Bournemouth and to Norwich were all funded before 1999. So why don’t you do a new calculation and come back to us with the results?
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RandomComment

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostFri Mar 29, 2019 7:38 pm

Mr Blue Sky wrote:But I’m not talking about since 1999. Merseyrail, Sheffield Trams, Tyne and Wear Metro, West Yorkshire Metro, West Midlands Metro, Nottingham Trams, Manchester Trams, the electrification of the main lines to Bournemouth and to Norwich were all funded before 1999. So why don’t you do a new calculation and come back to us with the results?


It'd be nice to do that, but consistent figures on spending are only available to download back to 1999. I consider post-1999 figures very relevant for the discussion though, because they speak to any recent biases for or against Wales. If there was a bias against Wales in the 1970s that has disappeared, that is surely much less relevant for thinking about constitutional questions going forwards?

What I do know, from other figures, is that government spending in Wales was traditionally even higher relative to England than now. It was 21% higher in the late 70s, at a time when Wales was relatively less poor and relatively less old compared to England (the reason for such higher spending was because Wales got quite a boost to spending in the 1930s when it was hard hit by the Depression, and that boost was basically maintained by savvy Welsh Secretaries). Not sure how that breaks down into spending on services versus infrastructure though.

Finally, on the schemes.One of them is just a brand - West Yorkshire Metro. And the more I dig, each time I find evidence that these schemes were co-funded with local and European money. For example for the West Midlands Metro: "The estimated construction cost in 1995 was £145 million (approximately £236 million in 2012 prices).Of this, loans and grants from central government accounted for £80m, the European Regional Development Fund contributed £31m, while the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority provided £17.1m and Altram contributed £11.4m."

Look I think you can fairly say London gets too much of the UK pot of infrastructure funding (although it probably should get more than a population share). Its also fair to argue we spend too little on infrastructure. You can even say Wales should make the case for a bigger share of what is spent.

But it smacks to me of "a chip on the shoulder" to keep making the case that Wales receives an unduly low share of government spending or investment. Its not backed up.

And just the difference in size between England and Wales, it wouldn't be suprising at all to see 10 schemes (e.g. trams, metros) in England and none in Wales. If it were 100 and none.. well that would be a bit of a different matter, although I'd still want to check whether that reflects general under-spending or just differnet prioritisation of spending by Welsh government and councils and UK government and English councils.
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Bluegazza

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostSat Mar 30, 2019 8:46 am

Article In relation to Cardiff Central Station;

“And it all hinges of the UK Government stumping up a modest £50m, against a backdrop of woefully under investment in the rail network in Wales going back decades. Despite having around 11% of the rail network in the Wales, since 2011 it has received only just over 1% of UK rail enhancement investments.”
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Mr Blue Sky

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Re: Cardiff airport

PostSat Mar 30, 2019 11:06 am

RandomComment wrote:
Mr Blue Sky wrote:But I’m not talking about since 1999. Merseyrail, Sheffield Trams, Tyne and Wear Metro, West Yorkshire Metro, West Midlands Metro, Nottingham Trams, Manchester Trams, the electrification of the main lines to Bournemouth and to Norwich were all funded before 1999. So why don’t you do a new calculation and come back to us with the results?


It'd be nice to do that, but consistent figures on spending are only available to download back to 1999. I consider post-1999 figures very relevant for the discussion though, because they speak to any recent biases for or against Wales. If there was a bias against Wales in the 1970s that has disappeared, that is surely much less relevant for thinking about constitutional questions going forwards?

What I do know, from other figures, is that government spending in Wales was traditionally even higher relative to England than now. It was 21% higher in the late 70s, at a time when Wales was relatively less poor and relatively less old compared to England (the reason for such higher spending was because Wales got quite a boost to spending in the 1930s when it was hard hit by the Depression, and that boost was basically maintained by savvy Welsh Secretaries). Not sure how that breaks down into spending on services versus infrastructure though.

Finally, on the schemes.One of them is just a brand - West Yorkshire Metro. And the more I dig, each time I find evidence that these schemes were co-funded with local and European money. For example for the West Midlands Metro: "The estimated construction cost in 1995 was £145 million (approximately £236 million in 2012 prices).Of this, loans and grants from central government accounted for £80m, the European Regional Development Fund contributed £31m, while the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority provided £17.1m and Altram contributed £11.4m."

Look I think you can fairly say London gets too much of the UK pot of infrastructure funding (although it probably should get more than a population share). Its also fair to argue we spend too little on infrastructure. You can even say Wales should make the case for a bigger share of what is spent.

But it smacks to me of "a chip on the shoulder" to keep making the case that Wales receives an unduly low share of government spending or investment. Its not backed up.

And just the difference in size between England and Wales, it wouldn't be suprising at all to see 10 schemes (e.g. trams, metros) in England and none in Wales. If it were 100 and none.. well that would be a bit of a different matter, although I'd still want to check whether that reflects general under-spending or just differnet prioritisation of spending by Welsh government and councils and UK government and English councils.


Investment in public transport in Wales has been woefully inadequate for decades. That was my point. Since 1999 it may have been on par or very slightly above that of English regions - if London is excluded - but, then again, why don’t we exclude Cardiff from the Welsh figures?

The West Yorkshire Metro was not just a rebranding - I lived there when it occurred. The Airedale and Wharfedale rail lines were electrified, there was a massive investment in Leeds station (and also in Bradford Forster Square and Shipley stations).

If you are going to exclude English schemes part-funded by European money then you must also exclude the Ebbw Vale rail line, the Port Talbot Expressway and all of the bypasses on the A470/A483.

Despite having a ready-made rail network that was ripe for modernisation/electrification Cardiff did not have the investment that similar sized cities such as Nottingham and Sheffield received. And going back to the lack of connectiveness of Swansea, if you compare it to other U.K. cities it is clear that it is the least-well connected city in the U.K.

For example, Stoke is close to Mcr Airport and has an electrified rail link to London that will reach Euston in 1 hour 20 minutes on the fastest trains. Hull has its own airport, as does Middlesbrough. Blackpool has an airport and a tram system. Leicester is very close to East Midlands airport.

The worst-connected cities in the U.K. are Dundee, Plymouth and Swansea. But Dundee is the same distance from Edinburgh airport as Swansea is from Cardiff Airport - the difference being that Edinburgh is a major international airport, so Dundonians need travel no further. Unlike the poor Jacks who must endure an 85 mile trip to get to the nearest decent airport, Bristol. As for Plymouth, its residents can choose between Exeter and Newquay airports which both offer similar flight destinations to those of Cardiff and are both only very slightly further away from Plymouth than Swansea is from Cardiff.

So there you have it. Cardiff/Newport/east and central Valleys is the only major metropolitan region in the U.K. with no modern metro, no electrified inter city train lines and no decent airport. On top of that Swansea is the worst-connected city in the U.K.

If it looks like underinvestment, smells like underinvestment and walks like underinvestment it probably is underinvestment. But I guess that you will probably - nay certainly - disagree.
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