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South Wales Evening Post column, March 22, 2024

Robert Lloyd PR, Media and Marketing Consultancy News, Newspaper columns South Wales Evening Post column, March 22, 2024

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South Wales Evening Post column, March 22, 2024

Posted By RobertLloyd58

NOW, as regular readers will be well aware, I am not usually one to hold a grudge.

But bitter resentment ferments quite nicely over the course of 26-plus years and today is as good a day as any to pop the cork on a vintage moan.

The Senedd has been in the news this week with the appointment of Vaughan Gething as the new First Minister of Wales.

But other bits of Senedd news have been grabbing my attention. For example, there’s the continued progress of the legislation to expand the Senedd from 60 members to 96 at the next election for the Welsh Parliament in 2026.

Back in February, I had a lengthy whinge on this topic in this column. And, already, I can see the move will provide a rich seam for future columns – after all, where are the 36 new boys and girls going to sit in the shiny Senedd building? Is there enough room in the chamber?

Then, this week, I see news of further changes to the Senedd estate infrastructure in Cardiff Bay.

The Senedd Commission, the corporate body for the Senedd, has issued a prior investment notice (PIN) for a potential new location, although it has not ruled out continuing to operate out of the exiting site of Ty Hywel.

The 1990s red brick building, next to the Senedd debating chamber, is home to Senedd Commission staff, Senedd Members and the Welsh Government.

Among the options being considered is a move to an existing building close by or a dedicated new-build development.

Apparently, any location will need to be able to house 900 staff and accommodate an increase in the number of Senedd members and associated staff.

There will, of course, be a cost to all this, which will, I guess, fall to Mr and Mrs Taxpayer.

So, in an effort to help the Welsh Government in its bid to get best value for its money, I have a solution for any expansion problems – move the whole thing to Swansea!

Land prices here are cheaper than Cardiff Bay, the south-west Wales economy gets a boost and the Welsh Government provides clear evidence that it doesn’t regard Wales as a (one horse) one city country.

The philosophy that everything must be placed in Cardiff (as the capital city) is one that must be challenged at every available opportunity.

Already, I can hear you mutter, Swansea as a home to the Welsh Parliament? Haven’t I heard this before?

Well, yes, you have – 26 or so years ago, in fact – and there are some of us in this parish who find it hard to forget what happened back then.

In the run-up to the establishment of the then ‘Welsh Assembly’, the Secretary of State for Wales at the time, Ron Davies, launched a competition to provide a new home for the body.

The two main bids came from Cardiff (a place which, if memory serves me right, didn’t even vote in favour of devolution) and Swansea.

The competition ‘winner’, in the sense that it was the only entrant to meet the requirements of price and immediate availability, was Swansea’s pre-war Guildhall, a magnificent building designed by Percy Thomas.

Gamblers will know there is no ‘sure thing’ in a two-horse race, so Ron Davies opted to tear up the competition rule book and gift the new Assembly to Cardiff.

At the time, commentators suggested the Secretary of State’s justification for ripping up the competition rules was that a move to Swansea would have undermined Cardiff’s status as the capital city of Wales.

The Cardiff decision was later criticised by the Assembly’s own financial watchdog (the audit committee).

The leader of Swansea Council at the time was Mike Hedges, who now sits as a Senedd Member in Cardiff Bay.

Mr Hedges didn’t mince words back in 2001 – “We were treated unfairly . . . there was a major political conspiracy against us, we weren’t aware of at the time.”

So, back to today’s big debates – Senedd expansion plans? Stick to Cardiff Bay? Or, go for a fresh approach, and relocate to Swansea Bay?

Anyone care to join me in a little campaign?


THERE are times when it is easy to fall out of love with Shakespeare.

For example, someone threw a line from Romeo and Juliet at me this week.

I didn’t bother catching it. I took it on the chin!

Act 1, Scene 5, 26–33, of the tragedy contains the line, ‘For you and I are past our dancing days.’

Mrs L and I will, of course, beg to disagree with the Bard of Avon. In fact, we are only just starting our dancing days.

Working on the principle of ‘use it or lose it’, we are determined to keep our joints flexible. So, we have signed up for ‘beginners’ ballroom dancing classes.

It’s a decent alternative to monthly gym membership. It’s cheaper and (believe it or not) there’s less luminous Lycra on display.

Mrs L has some experience of these things, so my first tentative steps on the dance floor have (fortunately) not involved any treading on toes.

But, I have to admit, I have a long way to go before I make my debut at the Winter Gardens or the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

If dancing is the ‘poetry of the feet’, it is fair to say that I haven’t quite discovered the art of putting the rhyme in the correct place.

But, practice makes perfect, and I’m already ‘half tidy’ at the Waltz and the Foxtrot.

My Cha Cha is a work in progress as I get my left and right feet mixed up on the rock step.

Anton Du Beke’s position as a premier ballroom dancer is safe for now, but he shouldn’t rest on his laurels!

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