Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pawb a'i Farn

Pawb a'i Farn is a Welsh Language version of 'Question Time'. It goes out at 8.30 0n Thursday evenings. I rate it higher than the English Language version, mainly because of the subtle skills of Dewi Llwyd, its long standing programme presenter. None of the preening and 'please notice me' posturing which has become so fashionable in recent years - just a relaxed way of coaxing opinions from panelists and audience. If I could choose just one programme on which to be a guest, it would be Pawb a'i Farn, and my wish was granted for this week's edition, broadcast live from my old school at Llanfair Caereinion.

First question up concerned the Assembly Government's intention to spend £42 million on refurbishing the Assembly Government offices at Cathays Park. I said that my advice to the Assembly Government is postponement. Fully accept that money needs to be spent on the buildings, and accept that where safety and maintenance of the fabric is concerned its sensible to get on with it. But a decision to go ahead with a major refurbishment costing £42 million at present would be received by the people of Wales with both astonishment and outrage.

Thousands of jobs are being lost. Real wage levels are falling. Incomes from savings are falling. Incomes from pensions are falling. Local Councils are adjusting to a very low Revenue Support Grant, and reduced capacity of Council Taxpayers to fill the gap. Teachers jobs are under threat. There is a desperate demand for social housing as supply of new private sector housing dries up. And the Assembly Government is contemplating spending £42 million on Cathay's Park.

It was a surprise to me that anyone in the audience should speak in support of this spending - but there were at least two that I can recall. I didn't go too strong on this, preferring to advise 'postponement' rather than cancellation of the proposal. Civic buildings do need refurbishment from time to time, and there has been no opportunity to consider the background to this.


Anonymous said...

ever been to cathays park is a disater of a building, and very un user friendly. Most of this is due to its design and construction and limitations of its build, when it as builtpretty much as a defendablecold war, anti IRA bunker.
it needs work and the case of making 5 milion avings a year makes sense, but as an employee I can't see what they willspend 42 million on. Especially when you see that cardiffs new super duper library was a new buildcosting 15 million.
I'd move us all out to a new build in the bay near the senedd and give cathays park to the university. Save another 200K a year on the bus link too!!

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Been there many times. I've always thought it an ugly building - but interesting, and worthy of looking after. That's why I was not as condemnatory of the idea of spending money on it as some. But its so much the wrong time to undertake a full refurbishment. It will antagonise almost the entire population.

Sarah said...

I've not watched "Pawb a'i Farn" before, but now I know your a regular guest I'll make a point of watching it! Am I right in thinking Aled has appeared on it before as well? Maybe Suzy has been on it?

I think your right there's a time and place for the refurbishment of civic and government buildings and now is most definetly not it.

Glyn Davies said...

Sarah - I'm not a regular guest. I have appeared before, but struggled to keep up last time. My Welsh enables me to be a bit more confident now. Don't think aled has appeared, but he was in the audience, sizing things up perhaps!

Sarah said...

He was in the audience, ahh I see. I was sure I overheard him mention Pawb a'i Farn in convesration somewhere. Possibly Suzy may of mentioned it at some point also.

I'm definetly going to make a point of watching Pawn a'i Farn from now on.

I am learning Welsh now although one of my colleagues despite how impressed he is for my trying, says I need the practice. Charming honestly!

Surfing in 'DC' said...

I don't watch either version mainly because neither are on my TV, but I liked the "American Special" that was broadcast live from Washington, DC a couple of days or so before the November elections.

David Dimbleby called on me to speak to speak at the beginning and near the end of the show. Inter alia, I warned about Obama's plans and warned in the strongest terms I could that jobs*jobs*jobs*jobs*jobs*jobs* would be the biggest issue in the first months of the next US administration.

Kind of funny as I was in downtown DC a couple of days ago, this time listening to a forget-me-please speech delivered by the First Minister in the British Embassy compound. The speech was sort of OK until the First Minister switched to Obama-worship mode whereupon he dropped one spanner after another. He probably antagonized around 40% of the Americans present.

Tip Rhodri: when promoting Wales in the USA stick to content neutral speech, don't take sides and don't espouse back-handed compliments. My American business man guest was a bit put out when you implied Europe will work with America now that you (Americans) have voted for Obama.

Jeff Jones said...

Most people in the property business will tell you that the public sector makes the mistake of owning too many buildings. The sensible approach is to lease your office space.WAG now has an opportunity using new technology to think in an innovative fashion how to maximise the economic benefits of 3000 civil servants and a £42 million spend. There is a desperate need in Wales for an international business park. This money could be used to pump prime this project and create thousands of jobs in the construction phase in cooperation with the private sector. Just the sort of project needed in a recession particulrly when Cardiff city Council are also interested in getting out of Atlantic Wharf. The only problem of course is such a project would not be in the centre of Cardiff and this would spoil the ritual of the lunch hour shooping trip for the civil servants of Cathys Park!

Anonymous said...

"Pawb a'i Farn is a Welsh Language version of 'Question Time'"...

that almost nobody watches.

Glyn Davies said...

Sarah - I started learning about 8 years ago. The only way to become comfortable in its use is through using it whenever possible. Best of luck with it.

DC - Reporting in Britain does seem to suggest that Obama won 90% of he vote, and that the Republicans have imploded. Never let the truth get in the way of 'the story'.

Jeff - Ah, but leasing would involve the private sector, and that would never do.

Anon - You must know the viewing figures to make such an observation. Be interesting for us to know.

Christopher B said...

Not even in the top 20 for S4C.
that puts it in the low thousands.
Better off staying at home Glyn.

You must have had a better welsh teacher than I Glyn, I struggle to keep up with the at times fast moving conversational welsh.
Not sure why I bothered in the first place to be honest.

"DC" correspondent said...

Glyn> some of the First Minister's comments were good, especially his reference to the airliner which ditched on the Hudson River near NYC. Rhodri told us that the wings that the passengers stepped out on were "Made in Wales". That was brilliant and you could feel the audience warm up and relate to Wales.

It was an incredible shame then that he blew it when he harped on about Obama - who advised the First Minister to do that? What idiot thought that would go down well with all Americans?

The First Minister also lectured Americans on what it was like in the southern states when he visited them in his youth. I wondered if there were any Americans present from the Deep South - and how much they would 'appreciate' a history lesson on their states from a European politician.

"Bring it On" First Minister if you want to antagonize 40% of Americans while trying to promote Wales.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Jeff would have had these thoughts when he was at the heart of the Russell Goodway inner circle on the Councils Associaition for Wales?

If he had then i am sure he would have fallen from grace sooner.

I must however agree with his comments on a business park - an excellent idea which i look forward to reading about as a new Lib Dem idea in their almost daily newsletters that come round to our homes in Cardiff.