21/04/2013 The Wales Report


Billions of pounds of your money is given to private companies to provide public services here in Wales - but are Welsh companies losing out?

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Tonight, a fortune are spent by public bodies in Wales buying goods


and services, but our Welsh companies getting their fair share


of the business? Local elections return to Anglesey


after one of the bigger scandals in local government, but are the


problems resort? His it is a national disgrace,


really, isn't it? And do as the Swansea measles


epidemic continues to spread, more questions about the role of the


Good evening. Welcome to the Wales Report, where the examine the


issues affecting the lives in Wales and question those making the all


important decisions. This would we are focusing on spending, because


every year more than �4 billion of Welsh taxpayers money is spent on


securing goods and services from private companies to provide public


services throughout Wales, but half the money import is committed to


companies outside Wales, not just England and but further afield.


Some large companies feel -- some Welsh companies feel they are not


getting their share. We ask whether a company's with contracts for


public bodies in Wales should be awarded to Welsh companies


generally? They buy school dinners, hospital


equipment, road building and construction projects. Every year,


public bodies like the Welsh Government, local councils and


health authorities spent some �4.3 billion of your money on goods and


services. Those lucrative contracts can have an enormous impact on


communities in Wales. Many authorities -- but nearly �2


billion of that money crosses the border, to England and beyond. It


is exasperating for business owners like Neil Phillips. His company


supplies play equipment for councils in England, but he has not


yet won contracts in Wales. When you are competing on quality and


price and both are the same, you question why the work was put out


to a non Welsh company when all of the benefits that you see from


using Welsh business and keeping Welsh many within the Welsh economy


are so great. You work hard as a business, you try and build a


business up and Wales, you employ a Welsh people to work on Welsh


projects. It does not happen. It is very, very, very frustrating.


Many of the large firms we spoke to found the process cumbersome and


complicated. -- many of the Welsh firms. Price, value for money,


quality, delivery and other factors have to be looked at. As part of


the decision-making process, the impact on jobs and the local


economy can be considered. Last year the Welsh Government issued a


set of principles to help guide all public bodies in the buying of


goods and services. This procurement apology is supposed to


make things fair -- this procurement policy. It is meant to


give smaller businesses a better chance of winning some of those


contracts. But does it have teeth? Opposition politicians say that


other countries, including Scotland, have given more contracts to their


own countries. They want the Welsh Government to legislate to help us


do the same. We've been talking for many years


about getting procurement right, it is still only at 50% compared to


other countries, not good enough. Legislation could increase targets,


make sure that community benefit courses are in the heart of the


contracts and insure that the money we spent from the public sector is


locked into local communities and creates jobs. We can't afford to


wait on it any longer. An independent review recommended


that the Welsh Government strongly considers introducing legislation


to make adopting the procurement policy a legal duty. Without a bed


does not seem to have been much progress. We have discovered that


although the national policy was introduced last year, out of 22


local authorities, just two, Swansea and another, have formally


adopted the policy. We went to see a representative of local councils


in Wales, to see if it was time for action. Legislation is not the


answer to everything, we have to deliver the business, part of that


is adopting best practice. messages do not seem to be getting


through. We can't be pushing work willy-nilly to local companies, it


has to be done on the basis of a procurement process. We have to


justify value-for-money to auditors, the public and, in terms of


accountability, to our own politicians. We tried to push as


much business as we can locally but it is not always possible to be in


100%. We want to be part of a wider UK market, it is vital for us.


Many Welsh businesses struggling to climb to the top are hoping that in


future, should during -- securing large contracts will not be such a


challenge. We seem to be overlooked. Why are those contracts going


outside of Wales? I don't understand, I think it needs to be


addressed. There is a question. Joining me now


is the finance minister for Wales. Thank you for coming in. That was a


very pointed question, a lack of comprehension. Do you sympathise?


Two-thirds of our major construction contracts last year


went to Welsh based companies. We have to make it easier for Welsh


based companies to get those contracts. We are talking about, as


has been said, poor -- �4.3 billion worth of public money for housing,


roads and hospitals. We are simplifying the process and we are


saying the Community must benefit, meaning jobs, apprenticeships,


local supply chains for local business. Those principles that we


have talked about, there is no option about this, I expect them to


be implemented by local authorities, the NHS and all those in the public


sector. Going back to the gentleman we just saw with that successful


business, I know you won't be able to judge an individual cases, but


on the face of it, things like that should be matters for local


business. He could expect to pick up local authorities a business in


Wales, surely? I would think so, but it is important he is also


picking up business in England, we must make sure that Welsh


businesses are effectively competing in England. But it is


crucial that local authorities... And we are supporting local


authorities at getting better in involving local businesses. We are


saying that you have to ensure that you get local businesses, all


across the EU regulations, and make sure that the community benefits,


support local businesses like Neil's business. How disappointed


or frustrated argue that you only have two authorities who have


signed up to this more streamlined new process, set of criteria, if


you like? It is onesie and one other, what are the rest doing? --


it is Swansea and one above. have a national procurement service


strategy, which is very important, all local authorities are working


with us, the Welsh Government and the health service, part of a


national service. Also recognising, as I said, they have a


responsibility to deliver up on community benefits. Some are better


than others, no question. Some of them have to come online. That is


why, as I said, in the future, we will consider legislation. That was


very clear in my December statement. If they don't adopt our procurement


policies... What would it take for you to legislate? If it is a matter


of local authorities simply not playing the game, you would


consider legislation? I think we are on the right track. How many


are implementing it? It is easy to talk, how many are actually doing


it and really implementing what you want them to do? Not many?


believe we are on the right track, I have to save. We have said that


you have got to implement over �2 million, any contractor over �2


million. We are working with construction companies. In North


Wales, we are meeting with some contractors there from North Wales,


they have won of the contract, they have apprentices on site, they are


adopting. Of course, you don't want legislation for legislation's sake,


it is always powers for Purpose. We have to ensure they are delivering


on his policy statement. I made that in December. It is key in


terms of the economy in Wales. Where they are not implementing it


down doing as you would like them to do, what reasons do you


encounter? What are the reasons for the very low rate, 51 off 52%?


is improving all the time. If you look at the recent contract to a


developing four schools in North Wales, 21st century schools, a big


building programme, we are putting money into the infrastructure. The


Welsh Government is investing so there is a real opportunity. All


the North Wales authorities have come together. We have said to them


we don't just want one contract, it will be good value for money having


one contract for the whole of North Wales, but we will break it down so


that you can have a lower value contracts, meaning more contractors


being able to come in at different levels. This is the way forward.


Contractors and North Wales are anxious to make sure that they can.


As I speak, things are changing in terms of the way we are developing


our contract. It is also about learning the lessons, we have


learned the lessons, we are talking an award for our community benefits.


Because of -- across the whole of the UK, we are looked at as a


government working in the public sector, but with local authorities


they have to improve their game, that is a strong message from the


as Minister. Very strong and clear. There is another big advantage you


might have, which is that if you weren't having to deal with as many


local authorities, if they were far fewer in number across Wales, as


many think they should be, this procurement process would be simple


and should be streamlined. Is that an outcome you want? In North Wales,


all the local authorities have to work together. They have got one


framework now for the 21st century schools programme. That is over


�160 million, jobs in the construction industry.


Collaboration is the name of the game here in Wales, that is what we


expect as a Welsh Government. They are due very much.


In 11 days' time, voters will go to the polls in the only local


authority election taking place in Wales on May 2nd, the first local


election Anglesey since 2008. It has been a very turbulent time, and


after a decade of political infighting, the Welsh Government


took the extreme step of appointing commissioners to run the county


council backing 2010. Last year's local government elections were


suspended, and David Williams, who lives on the island, has reported


extensively on the island's troubles. He now considers what


Anglesey, the mother of Wales. Once she was the bread basket of


Welsh princes. More recently, she has become something of a basket


case. In local authority terms, a political pauper.


It is only a short distance across the Menai Bridge from the mainland


to Anglesey, but sometimes when you step on this island you feel as


though you are stepping into another world. The gap becomes a


chasm, a gulf between Anglesey and the rest of mainland Wales. For the


last 20 years, perhaps more, Anglesey as a local authority has


festered and said that. It has turned itself the label, septic


isle. Why? Because of the appalling behaviour of some local councillors


who had the temerity to suggest that what they were doing was in


the interests of those who live here. Myself included.


Storm clouds have been gathering over the island of Anglesey again.


The trouble had local-authority is in crisis again.


All those reports cited over the years to try to highlight the


malaise on Anglesey had very little effect because, here I am again,


saying much the same thing and wondering why it is, that, like


others on Anglesey, we have for the last two years been denied our


democratic right to vote in local elections? There was the perception


that this was a very fractious Council, politically, with


disparate political groups, very often at war with each other. But


also it has to be said that there were problems on the administration


side. There was very match these island mentality. -- very much a


silent mentality. Because of what was seen as chronic political


infighting and misbehaviour, the Welsh Government finally lost


patience with Anglesey and cent in five commissioners to try to sort


Enough is enough, I have been more than patient allowing the council


to sort things out. It is the politics of the playground. Work


will be put on or hold as the Commission attempts to put


Anglesey's house in order. One of the commissioners who stood down


last year has spoken to us about the need for intervention.


external solution had to come from outside to these internal problems.


I understand there is an economic argument but once the argument was


out of the we then for the term you need to get on with the job of


helping these people in Anglesey. Certainly, in this the indeed, at


this time of austerity, areas no place for it schoolboy politics as


was referred to at the time. It is still a difficult to comprehend the


corrosive and damaging effect of the petty political intrigue that


has gone on in this local authority. The people who live and work here


have deep-rooted perceptions of Anglesey as they look at their


right to vote in next month's elections. I do not passed them.


They make promises they never keep. -- do not trust. The put a new


structure in place, are you aware of that? Yes, but I will believe it


when I see it. Did the disappoint you in the past? You s, in every


way, housing, jobs, everything. is a national disgrace really.


People we have spoken to say they are hopeful but they are not quite


sure things will change, how do you think it will go? Every election


they have had people have been hopeful. I feel sorry for the


voters but nothing seems to have changed. There are many examples of


the seemingly senseless behaviour which has characterised this place.


There is for me one case that exemplify is this the rotten


borough. It resolves around this place, now at a beacon of hope and


what can be achieved when councillors finally put their minds


to it. It involved the knocking together of several heads. For


almost 10 years it was the case of acute data without a gallery. Local


councillors at the time could not agree among themselves where to


house this priceless collection bought for the people of Anglesey


with millions of pounds given in a bequest. The drawings said to be


among the best that there is, languished in a vault in the dim


local authority headquarters until that brave curator it gave me and a


film crew access in the hope that the publicity which followed would


shake the councillors out of their lethargy. It worked. The result is


to be seen here. The Tunnicliffe collection and much more or. It is


now on show to the public instead of being hidden away gathering dust.


It is difficult to believe it could have been otherwise but for me,


this is a reminder of how bad things were, are under siege, the


philistines almost won. We are told that is a thing of the past. The


man charged with the task of ushering in a new era is optimistic


that Anglesey can finally shed its shameful image. We are way past the


last chance saloon. I think every citizen realises that. I sincerely


think we have turned the council around. The atmosphere is different


here, it is a different place, it is different to come in to work. We


have learned from bitter Experience that is never to be repeated again.


Those who want to put Anglesey back on track are also hopeful that they


have finally succeeded in pointing the local authority in the right


direction. But the optimism is accompanied by a cautionary note.


It is vital that they hold control over local Government. You do not


want people from outside coming in to take absolute control and tell


you what to do. I think that would be a problem. It is not something


that week in Wales would wish to see. The future of Anglesey does


depend on those we choose to represent us next month. At best


the commissioners are likely to be put back in to run the authority.


At worst the authority could disappear altogether which might


happen anyway. All of us in Anglesey know that we are beyond


drinking at the last chance saloon. That was David Williams reporting.


You can see a full list of candidates standing in the election


on the BBC News website. Last week we were discussing the ongoing


measles epidemic in the Swansea area. The number of reported cases


has passed the 800 mark. 77 people needing hospital treatment. The


vaccination programme has been extended. Despite the appeal, the


response rate for teenagers especially continues to be low.


Somehow the message is not getting through to one of the most


vulnerable groups. Is the media playing its part in a responsible


way? Joining as his and cheap p and a journalist. -- a general


practitioner and a journalist. Bring us up to date on your


understanding of where this epidemic is. It is one of the most


serious epidemics we have had for a number of years, especially in


Wales. We have had one gentleman who looks like measles has been


implicated in his death, somebody in their twenties. I am sitting


here in north-east Wales talking to you and be have not been hit yet


unlike other parts. I see yet at the moment because one of the


worries that we all have is that this epidemic will spread from


Swansea outward to other parts of Wales and possibly to England. I


was talking to some colleagues the other day. We were really very


anxious that we were going to be a hit by this sort of measles tsunami.


With those concerns in mind, what practical steps are you taking in


your region? We are all getting switched on to try to identify


young people, because it tends to be children in their teens, who are


most at risk. They are the ones who have missed the boat. We are trying


to identify those and approach the parents and young people themselves


to alert them to the fact they have deficiencies in their protection.


The other thing which I am fortunate to be able to do is, I


have a column in the local paper, I am using that as well to tell


people. I will come back to that in a second but I will ask you because


of your Media Experience, today, what is the role of the media in


trying to sort this out? I think the media has been playing a


constructive role. It is a big story and the focus is about making


sure people become safe and get immunised. All the past questions


and debate about the MMR vaccine I think have been put to one side.


What is important here is how to prevent people getting measles. The


focus on the story is that it is prominent and the focus is on


getting people to be safe. The media is playing an important role.


The best way it can serve general practitioners and others by getting


people to go and get the vaccine is by keeping it important. What has


been the difference in the take-up rate in your region since this


story started? Our people knocking on your door saying we have kids


who were not vaccinated for whatever reason and we want it


done? Not very much. People see it as a problem in Swansea but it is a


problem for the whole of Wales. Ins one see there were marginally lower


uptakes than other places so there was less community protection in


Swansea than there has been in other parts of Wales. That is not


to say that protection in other parts of Wales is fantastic, it is


not. We are all at risk. Why, for example, in your region, is this


problem still persisting? Are people still concerned about the


safety of the MMR? I think less so now. I think that comes back to the


media have been done a good job to get across that the MMR is safe and


effective. The message that was getting out 10 years ago was not


right. If the media are doing a good job now is that meeting up for


the fact that they made a hash of it in the first place? I think that


is probably true. Good journalists are trained to offer a balanced


view. The problem was that when the original story broke there was at


clearly dominant view that MMR was safe and an abhorrent view of Dr


Andrew Wakefield that made a speculative view that it was not


safe. The two of these were treated as though they were almost of equal


weight. We saw lots of parents coming on expressing concern. Often


the parents look like more sympathetic figures than doctors


making bland assurances. This created a climate of worry. We


tracked public opinion during a big spike in coverage in 2002, in the


beginning of the coverage people were much more likely to believe


the vaccine was safe but towards the end of the coverage a majority


said they felt there was equal evidence on both sides of the


debate. Finally, you hinted earlier you were concerned about the uptake


rate in your region, can you be a little bit more specific, how


concerned are you? I think I am very concerned because we have got


a group of children in which the take up rate was so low it is like


Swiss cheese, there are holes in the cheese where the virus can get


in. If it is a solid wall of protection, most of the community


being protected, the virus cannot get a foothold but we have this


Swiss cheese protection all through Wales. An epidemic could happen


anywhere in Wales as well as Swansea. Thank you for joining us


both of you. If you want to hear more about the measles epidemic you


can watch our programme on Wednesday night at 10: 35 on BBC


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