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South Wales Evening Post column, January 26, 2024

Robert Lloyd PR, Media and Marketing Consultancy News, Newspaper columns South Wales Evening Post column, January 26, 2024

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South Wales Evening Post column, January 26, 2024

Posted By RobertLloyd58

JUST checking, but did I ever tell you the story of the B Hag?

No? Well, make yourself comfortable and grab a cup of tea because here goes . . .

What’s a B Hag? Well, don’t go down the road of imagining a Roald Dahl BFG or a creation by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

A ‘B Hag’, or (to be perfectly correct) BHAG, is an acronym dating back to the days when I was important enough to attend national senior management conferences.

It stands for Big Hairy Ambitious Goal.

When I was a company director, we were encouraged to reach for the stars. The theory being that, even if we didn’t quite get there, we would climb a few mountains along the way.

In the same vein as the David Hughes ‘Ambition is critical’ micro-poem on the forecourt of Swansea’s railway station, being ambitious was seen as a virtue rather than a sin.

Which all, rather neatly, leads me begin a rant against the keyboard warriors who are now having a pop at Llanelli’s ambitions to become a city.

The critics have piled in by labelling the city bid as ‘embarrassing’, ‘ridiculous’ and ‘an early April Fool’s Day joke’, with one even suggesting that Llanelli barely qualifies for village status.

My response to all those nay-sayers is: Where is your civic pride? Where is your ambition? Where is your passion for the place? Where is your desire to fulfil the Ymlaen Llanelli (Forward Llanelli) motto? Who is going to lead the charge to talk the place ‘up’, other than Llanelli folk themselves?

Yes, it is easy to criticise the place and get locked into that deadly death spiral of negative debate which bemoans the state of the town centre and the lack of a major accident and emergency unit at Prince Philip Hospital.

Yes, it is easy to parcel up Llanelli’s woes and park them at the door of Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire County Council.

But there’s a bit more to Llanelli folk than just moaning minnies and I’d like to suggest there is a silent majority who have it within themselves to pull the town up by its bootstraps.

It is worth going a bit Biblical in the debate and quoting from Luke 4:23 and the line, ‘Physician heal thyself’.

In other words, it’s time for Llanelli people to exert their own strength and take more responsibility for the town’s appearance and profile in the wider world.

Applying the Miracle Gro plant food to the first green shoots of recovery are the members of Llanelli Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

The Chamber has consulted key figures, including politicians and billionaire businessman Doug Perkins (Specsavers) – and they have been encouraged to formally apply for city status.

The bid will be officially launched on March 30 and Llanelli Town Council members have added their voice to the city call.

A successful bid would see Llanelli join an elite club of seven other cities in Wales – Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Bangor, St Asaph, St Davids and Wrexham (granted city status in 2022).

Traditionally, city status is associated with having a cathedral or a university, but those factors are not seen as a barrier to a Llanelli bid, which would rely on the advice of Government ministers to King Charles III.

The Chamber hopes the city move will raise Llanelli’s profile across the UK and lift ‘people’s low expectations of their quality of life in Llanelli’.

And Llanelli Town Mayor Nick Pearce is bullish at the prospect –

“It’s an exciting prospect and a wonderful opportunity to further develop the sense of pride that we should all share for Llanelli. Like many other places, Llanelli’s post-industrial transition has been long and painful – we have been seeing a slump in the town’s fortunes for quite a while.

“If successful, I think we will look back on getting city status as the turning point in those fortunes. It serves as a timely reminder that Llanelli, town and rural, is the most significant conurbation in west Wales.

“Never mind punching above our weight, let’s start punching our weight! I do hope everyone can get behind this bold and ambitious initiative.”

There are, of course, other green shoots coming to the surface in Llanelli – a £15.5 million regeneration project for Llanelli town centre and other projects where people are starting to re-engage with a sense of civic pride, such as Llanelli Rotary Club’s Litter Out Of Llanelli project.

There are also the things we forget because they are part of the daily fabric of life in Llanelli – the area is home to the biggest TV company outside of ‘The Beeb’ in London, home to a world famous rugby club, a world-class Millennium Coastal Park, a football team on the verge of Welsh Premier League status, the finest out-of-town shopping complex in the west . . . and major tourism attractions such as the wildfowl and wetlands centre.

Personally, I’d be quite happy to include other attractions in the bid as they all form part of the Llanelli town and rural area. For example, Pembrey Country Park and Ffos Las racecourse (possibly renamed Llanelli racecourse to add to our UK-wide profile).

Andre McPherson, the deputy leader of Llanelli Town Council, is also upbeat – “This decision has the potential to elevate Llanelli’s standing, attract investment, and stimulate growth, paving the way for a brighter future.

“The elevation to city status can serve as a catalyst for economic advancement, attracting businesses and boosting job opportunities. This status upgrade can also enhance Llanelli’s appeal as a tourist destination.”

So, in short, my message to the people of Llanelli is simple: Don’t be a gloom-monger or a Harry Potter dementor, draining the hope and joy out of every situation. Accept the challenge; take some civic pride. Take on the challenge of a Big Hairy Ambitious Goal and support the Llanelli city bid!

Finally, it is not often that I get the chance to quote the famous 16th century Florentine diplomat, author, philosopher and historian Niccolò Machiavelli, but his words fit with my theme –

“Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not to suffer.”

This column was also used in the Llanelli Star –

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Written by RobertLloyd58

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