These places are not scary

"These places are not scary," so said Dr Chris Jones, the chair of Cwm Taf University Health Board, at a public meeting of the Welsh Government's new valleys taskforce in Merthyr Tydfil this week.

His point is that medical students from far afield are being persuaded of that as they attend the Keir Hardie health park in the town.

His other point is that if it can happen in Merthyr, it can happen elsewhere.

It is an acknowledgement that while many people from the valleys have either moved out (including me) or work outside, there is still a negative perception making it tough to attract others.

Incidentally, it is worth remembering we are still talking about densely populated communities, where roughly a third of Welsh people continue to call home.

Dizzying

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Tests for the Circuit of Wales

A striking feature of the Circuit of Wales story so far has been the mismatch between the rhetoric from those behind the project and the eventual decisions made by the Welsh Government.

Both previous attempts to get ministers to commit public money to underwrite the cost ended up being rejected despite the build-up dominated by bullish comments from directors.

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Circuit of Wales and Sport Wales

  • 7 February 2017
  • From the section Wales

The clock is ticking on two deadlines relating to the Circuit of Wales and Sport Wales.

A fortnight ago, the Economy Secretary Ken Skates gave the circuit backers a deadline to provide more information on financial support from the private sector. They have to report back this week.

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Perfect storm or opportunity

Any Welsh rugby fan will tell you all you need to know about fearing New Zealand, and it would appear to be a fear shared by Welsh farmers as well.

The Farmers' Union of Wales has warned about a perfect storm of cheaper New Zealand lamb after a possible free-trade deal and fewer EU imports if new tariffs are imposed.

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The art of the possible

If there was any lingering doubt, not any more.

The publication of the Welsh Government's latest plan to re-organise councils confirms once and for all that the local authority lobby saw off its enemies and won the battle.

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Battle lines post-Brexit

I am sure they are out there but I am yet to meet anyone who supports Brexit who does not also think we should leave the single market.

And that was reflected in the response to Theresa May's big speech.

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Wales Bill: real or synthetic concerns

It may come as a surprise for many to learn that Labour and Plaid Cymru AMs would consider rejecting new powers from Westminster when they spend so much time calling for them to be devolved.

Likewise, it seems unlikely that Carwyn Jones, who has spent so much of his time as First Minister talking about the constitution, will stand in front of Labour AMs on Monday night and tell them to turn down what's on offer in the Wales Bill on Tuesday.

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Keep your noses out

Image copyright Getty Images

There has been nothing but indignation from union officials about politicians weighing in with their opinions on the current offer being made to steelworkers from Tata.

After so much uncertainty in 2016, Tata decided to hold on to the Welsh steel industry with extra investment as well as making a commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible.

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Dafydd Elis-Thomas end-game?

I appreciate it may not be the talk of every Christmas drinks party across Wales, but the Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas end-game is the subject of much gossip in and around Cardiff Bay.

He says he went public on his intention to support the Labour Welsh Government for the rest of this assembly term so that everyone knows where he stands before we head into the new year.

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Groundhog day no longer?

There have been groundhog day arguments for years about the perceived lack of adequate funding for the assembly from Westminster.

For some it has been a genuine grievance while for others it has created an "excuses culture" at Cardiff Bay.

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