04/06/2014 The Wales Report


Is developing city regions the answer to improving economic life outside Cardiff and is enough being done to encourage Welsh students to take up places at Oxford and Cambridge?

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Will the creation of city regions help spread wealth around Wales?


With four months to go until the Scottish referendum on


independence, could today's Queen's Speech have been the last ever to


And why are so few Welsh students applying to


Good evening and welcome to the Wales Report.


The latest figures show the Welsh economy is lagging


behind the rest of the UK, so what can be done to reverse the decline?


The Welsh Government thinks that the creation of city regions is key.


Such a scheme, they say, will make sure that the benefits


of economic growth, usually centered around a city,


can be spread out across a wider area, boosting several communities.


So far two city regions have been created, the Swansea Bay Region


and the Cardiff Capital Region, which is headed by Welsh Rugby


We'll be speaking to him in a moment.


But first, our economic correspondent Sarah Dickins takes


With Wales getting steadily lurk in period to the UK average city


regions have been hailed as a way of kick-starting the economy. --


getting steadily Puller compares to the UK average.


There is a strong argument that as the world changes and emerging


markets manufacture what we used to make, wheels need to seek more


knowledge intensive jobs. -- Wales needs to seek more knowledge


intensive jobs. The former head of CB I Wales was


asked to find out if a city region policy would work. None of our


cities punch their weight, let alone above their weight.


The Cardiff Capital Region spread out from Newport to Bridgend and up


to the heads of the valleys. It is proposed that our transport network


be built to connect people with new jobs and opportunities. This easier


has high and employment. For more than 20 years initiatives have tried


to create jobs. Communities were based on coal, which is long gone.


If they feel to get communities like this to drop local rivalries the


project will be weakened. How do you get a capital city to thrive without


people living here feeling left behind? There are some people with


real expertise behind this. There is the danger that we rely on the


trickle-down effect. That does not work. If we are to adopt the city


region approach it must be on a different model. For city regions to


work strong leadership is vital. Different councils and to political


parties have two pooled together. But is there a figurehead? We need a


person who will help to deliver it. We do not have a Boris or a cane as


they do in Manchester or London. -- in Ken.


It is a different arguments to persuade people who live outside the


city region that their lives will be better if more money is spent miles


and miles away in Cardiff. Joining me now is Roger Lewis, the


chair of the Cardiff Capital Region. What difference should the people


feel of the city region is a success? They need to feel that


there is a future for them, that there is an equality of opportunity.


At the heart of what we are trying to achieve with the Cardiff Capital


Region is something that is transformational, that will give a


real economic benefits to everyone. But when it comes to jobs and money


surely those will be concentrated in the capital. That will not trickle


down. We are trying to achieve collectivity. We need to link up the


ten authorities throughout the region. At the heart of that


proposition is the Metro project which was referred to within the


film. That Metro project is transformational. It'll make a


fundamental difference to the region. The latest estimate is that


it will cost ?5 billion. Where is the money going to come from? The


total cost is an eye watering sum of money. But we have to start


somewhere. Considerable work has been undertaken by the Welsh


Government and by some local authorities. We are presenting that


work to the minister later in the year. There is a sense of journey


and destination as to how we can source the money. I am confident it


will happen because it has to happen. The money would come from


central Government and also the local authorities. But money is


tight. The key thing is unity of purpose. We are working with


Government. I was with their Minister of Finance today. Working


with the Welsh Government, also with Europe, also with London.


Many people see the needs to be a minister dedicated to this if it is


to work. Our strength is that we are small. It is also a weakness. We


have a unity of purpose. There is a unity of purpose in Government. It


is important to emphasise the nature of the project is that it must


survive the political cycles. That means we have two had ties to remove


it from the political arena. What is the model? Vancouver has been


suggested. Edinburgh, Manchester. What is the model? How do you break


down tribalism? There are lots of great models. Stuttgart as the


exemplar. That has huge support from European funding. In the UK the best


model is Manchester. To address the tribalism point, around the table we


have four of the leaders of ten of the authorities and we are regularly


talking to the other authorities. If you live in Cardiff live in


Cardiff, if you live in the valleys you live in the valleys. What


difference will we see data di? There will be an overarching --


there will be an overarching strategic approach. The ten


authorities will come together to align their strategies. We have two.


We need to figure out where people work and where people live and where


people play. We need to plan that on a regional basis. We need to make


sure that people are truly connected. Economic growth is never


equally distributed, so we need to give people the equality of


opportunity to connect with that growth. It has been said that we


need charismatic leaders. Are you that charismatic leader? No. I am


the cheer of the board. We are not doing this for political ambition.


We are doing less because we want to make a difference. When we feel we


have got the governance right, when are metal project is right, we as a


board needs to ask if we are the right people to take this forward.


We may well step back and make sure there is a leader, statutorily


authority, that can drive us forward. This is not paid. You are


doing it in your spear time. -- in your free time. I have no particular


mission. We need to do the right thing for Wales. If we do not step


forward heaven help us all. We all debts two wheels. This is time to


pay it back. Thank you for joining us.


Earlier today the Queen delivered her annual speech to Parliament,


setting out its legislative agenda for the coming year.


Headlines were made by policy announcements on pension


reform, tax-free childcare and performance reviews for MPs.


But today could be the last time the Queen's Speech lists legislation


With the Scottish referendum on independence now only 16 weeks away,


And how will the result, whether a yes or no to independence,


Joining us now are two Welsh leaders on either side of the debate.


From Westminster is the Shadow Secretary of State


for Wales, Labour's Owen Smith and here in the studio I'm joined by


the Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. Whatever the result in the


referendum, the status quo will have to change, won't it? Yes because all


parties have committed themselves to change it. Other parties in Scotland


want further change other than the Scottish Nationalist party. You


other party offering released devolution because the curve --


conservatives have overtaken you, haven't they? If you take a narrow


perspective on tax, and even then, it is very unlikely that rates will


shift by more than 15p. There would be a -5% starting rate if Labour


come to power so there is not that much between us. There is a clear


recognition there is dire for -- desire for greater autonomy in


Scotland and Wales and England and we are committed to that.


Whatever the result there will be an impact, won't they? It is a matter


for us in Wales to decide how much we can be involved. It is essential


that we make sure we are part of that debate. Aren't we pretty much


ignored in Scotland? We not as involved as we should be and there


is an opportunity for a rebalancing of power throughout the United


Kingdom, economically, socially and politically. It is an opportunity


for Wales to take powers we need to transform our economy. We have a


government in Cardiff Bay who are turning down opportunities to have


control over the levers that can affect our economy.


Owen Smith, when you talk to people involved in the negotiations in


Scotland they say our voices not heard. There is talk of a veto on


the pound in Scotland but that is cuckoo land as we are not stuck in,


are we? It is properly Owen Jones's fault, isn't it?


I don't think that is true. The debate in Scotland as to whether it


wants to be independent is essentially a question for Scotland


so there is no prospect of Wales having an equal voice in that


debate, nor England. But the impact on the rest of the UK is potentially


massive. What would it look like? Of course it is but it is massive for


England and English people but English people do not have a say. It


is a slightly false premise. I have been to Scotland on two or three


occasions and have spoken on a platform with Gordon Brown and we


held a Labour Party shadow cabinet a few weeks ago. The notion that Wales


is not being listened to is not true. They are keen to hear Welsh


voices in Scotland, but they don't want to hear an unreal view from


Wales as Plaid Cymru suggest. We are not in favour of an independent


Wales. It is looking like a "no" vote. What


would that do to nationalism in Scotland and here in Wales?


If you are right, it is likely it will be a narrow margin and I should


imagine there will be an appetite on the part of people in Scotland to


take more autonomy and Maude decisions. Independence won't


necessarily be off the agenda. If it is close, people might still want to


make sure it remains on the agenda. But if the SNP can't get it through,


surely it is pie in the sky here? Of course they are going all out for


a win and there is a long time before the vote takes place and


momentum is on their side. They are running a positive campaign compared


to the "no" campaign. What I would say to people like Owain Smith is,


what other benefits for Scotland for being part of the union? That been


spelt out, nor for Wales. You want to Scotland to go but where


would that leave Wales? Just part of England?


That is the question people here will need to seriously consider and


we have to make sure we have a strong voice in the negotiations.


Couldn't Wales be subsumed? Or you could take the view that the


power could be dispersed across Britain and there is the opportunity


to rebalance. The sacking of everything towards London will be


relocated to Edinburgh and that opens up opportunities for Wales, I


think. The latest phase with John Smith and


Tony Blair and the whole idea was to stem support for the SNP but that


has backfired. That is a miserably ten -- misrepresentation of the


history. The whole point of devolution was about decentralising


power and amplifying the voice of Wales at Westminster whilst giving


us more local accountability and autonomy and control over power and


the levers of power in Wales, which is what it has done. Health,


education and local government, all these things that are determined in


Wales. Now we talk about going further so that Wales is more on the


same sort of fitting as Scotland in respect -- in respect of powers and


the model of powers and that has been consistent through Labour 's


policy on devolution. What other benefits for Wales? Being part of a


shared market, a shared society, shared history and a shared future.


There practical benefits. Let me bring this to a close. With one


quick question to each of you. When will the people of Wales get to vote


on independence, if at all? It is different -- difficult as we


are on a different stage of the journey but I would like to see is


get to the point where there is a temp one macro that can build


institutions -- Plaid Cymru government. Why should we have a


vote on it when nine or 10% were in favour. Plaid Cymru are the fourth


most popular party in Wales and support is declining. They are not


the answer and nobody in Wales once independence.


Thank you. We have to leave it. The number of Welsh students who


apply to study at Oxford and Cambridge Universities


is in decline. Figures show that four of the ten


areas in the UK with the lowest application rates are here in Wales.


Why? Well, a year ago, the Labour MP and


former welsh secretary, Paul Murphy, was asked to look into the fall


in numbers and his report is due to But, what are the benefits of an


Oxbridge education and should we be Yes, says 20-year-old Shelby Holmes


from Towyn in North Wales, who is in her second year studying


English Literature at Oxford. I do fairgrounds with my parents for


some of the year. We used to do a fair in Oxford and it is a really


nice place. I liked the vibe of the city. When I thought of applying I


thought, I like Oxford. At the bottom of the Trinity lawns there


are gates and we walked past. I looked in and they said, you won't


get in there, love. For me to get in, it was... My mother was barely


literate so to go from that to going to Oxford doing English literature,


it was so weird for them. There was a precedent in other schools. Oxford


and Cambridge, we always send one or two. But for us, there was no one I


knew personally from the school or anyone I had ever met who had been.


I didn't know what I was expecting. Misconceptions pull people back. You


come to this very impressive building that has stood here for


hundreds of years and you kind of thing, what am I doing here? I think


that most of the people who come here feel like they are not good


enough or they are just good enough. It is a long time before you finally


realise that, no, I worked really hard for this and put the effort in


and I really wanted and I got it. They wouldn't let me in if I


couldn't do the work. There is a reputation about Oxford being


quintessentially English but it is really open for everyone. More Welsh


people should come and study because it seems like there are not many of


us here. We have Russian people, Chinese and Indian people, why not


Welsh people? What I would say to a seven year is -- 17-year-old who is


not really sure but thinking about it, it is just a normal University


for normal people who really like their subject and who really want to


learn more about the subject. If you feel passionate about it and you


want to do more with your subject, then apply. You haven't lost


anything by applying. You can't let the misconceptions put you off. We


are just a group of normal kids at university.


Joining me is the Oxbridge ambassador for Wales. Why are there


so few applications from Wales? They are not always as inspirational


as Shelby and a lot of people haven't got the confidence to go.


They have misconceptions about what Oxford and Cambridge are about. That


they are full of people from public schools punting on the rivers. In


the interview, it was pretty clear that it is very different from that.


Part of my job has been to try to persuade young people in Wales that


the old-fashioned images of Oxford and Cambridge are very much


old-fashioned and that it is an up-to-date University, both of them,


and two of the best universities on the planet.


It seems that there are two issues - confidence and attainment. What does


it say about our education system? A lot of it boils down to the fact


that the two universities require very special techniques for


interview and in Oxford's case, a separate aptitude test. In many


ways, youngsters have to be made aware of the different entrance


processes. It is not the very fact that there are people who haven't


got high A-level qualifications, sometimes we have found schools


where they have high A-level qualifications but they still are


not getting in. Part of my role is to find out why not.


We know that children from about this high are primed for Oxbridge


and they stay behind after school. Do you want to see that happening


here? There is a case for looking


specially at our most able and talented children. Most schools and


tertiary colleges in Wales have a system where they give special


attention to the most able students by giving them extra lessons and


various talks from visiting professors and dons from the


universities and by stressing, as far as they can... The reality is we


do have very, very clever young people in Wales, but very often they


are not stretching themselves as far as they could do. Often, it is the


question of giving them the information and knowledge of how to


apply to these universities. The other issue is brain drain. Why


should they go? Some would argue, let us keep them in Swansea or


Cardiff Aberystwyth. Encouraging them to go is a bad thing. What


would you say to that? Firstly, there is nothing wrong with


Welsh universities. The reality is only 50% of the intake of Welsh


universities come from Welsh people. About 50% of Welsh students go


outsize -- outside Wales and that will not change. My view is that


there are two outstanding universities, two of the best on


earth, so we shouldn't deny the opportunity to our brightest


children to go to them. That isn't to say bright students don't go to


Welsh universities. Of course they do. How can the Minister get more


students into Oxbridge? I will present my report in a few


weeks time. I have spoken to the education minister about these


issues and I will have positive representations to make as part of


the overall policy to make sure we raise standards in Wales. Is anyone


getting it right at the moment in Wales?


Yes, Gower College near Swansea and the school near Newport. Lots of


others. They are doing excellent work and I hope the best practice


from those places will spread to other places as well.


As a former student there, what would be your one word of


encouragement to anyone thinking about it?


It stretches you enormously and if you have a passion for your subject


you can go to one of those two universities.


That is it for tonight. Thanks for watching.


Bethan Rhys Roberts asks the questions that matter to you about your job, your health, your future. Calling to account the decision-makers here in Wales and beyond our borders too, each week the team bring you in-depth reports on pressing issues that matter to the lives of everyone living in Wales.

Is developing city regions the answer to improving economic prosperity outside Cardiff and is enough being done to encourage Welsh students to take up places at Oxford and Cambridge?

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