NATO summit hosts tone down Welsh government criticisms

 

The witnesses were confident, even passionate; their message seemed clear. Wales risked missing out on the benefits of hosting this September's NATO summit.

So why have Celtic Manor Resort spin doctors spent the last 48 hours trying to play down what they told a committee of MPs on Tuesday?

Just to recap, this is what Ian Edwards, chief operating officer said: "I think the first minister has got to say to the prime minister, 'Look, we are 100 days to go; we've got nothing nailed down in terms of outreach programmes. How are we going to benefit from this?

"If we don't do it now and we don't line everything up we will miss that opportunity." He said Wales had done well out of the Ryder Cup at the resort, but could have done better. "We've got to learn the lesson from the Ryder Cup and make sure we don't make the same mistakes with NATO."

And this is what he said about air transport links: "At the moment it's more viable for us to have an alliance with Bristol Airport to put on an international campaign because they have more routes coming into Bristol than into Cardiff. How shameful is that."

Strong words. Committee member Tory MP Guto Bebb even tweeted during the meeting: Celtic Manor pretty clear that Visit Wales is not selling Wales internationally. Evidence from Celtic Manor management is a real critique of Welsh government."

So imagine the surprise when a statement from Celtic Manor resort dropped into the inbox on Tuesday evening. Mr Edwards said: "We are disappointed by the BBC's reporting of today's Welsh affairs committee which is very selective in its content.

"While we understand the nature of news reporting, the BBC has chosen to focus solely on our comments which were critical of the Welsh government. The committee in its entirety was actually an overwhelmingly positive discussion which MPs present described as 'inspirational'.

"In the interests of balanced reporting, we would expect the BBC to feature this more positive content which included our high expectations of the new leadership within Visit Wales."

Balanced reporting? Here's the Western Mail take on it. Call me old-fashioned, but I do tend to put the more newsworthy elements of the evidence nearer the top of my copy. Having re-watched the evidence in its entirety, I am confident it is an accurate reflection of what was said. Our reporting reflected the "overwhelmingly positive" approach of two dynamic witnesses fizzing with ideas on how to make Wales more competitive.

Some of it may have been less than positive - but don't shoot the messenger. Celtic Manor Resort director Simon Gibson told how Wales missed out on a share of £13bn from a sovereign wealth fund that, he reminded the MPs, could have paid to upgrade the M4. He compared Wales's preparedness unfavourably with Manchester.

Mr Edwards, you may remember, thought it "ridiculous" that Wales had a smaller stand at a travel convention than Yorkshire.

But back to the airport. Last night, an unsolicited joint statement was issued by Cardiff Airport and the Celtic Manor Resort. It too quoted Mr Edwards, who had used the word "shameful" when discussing the airport the previous day. Last night, he appeared to have changed his tone: "We have been encouraged by the progress made in turning around the fortunes of Cardiff Airport since its acquisition by the Welsh government. The Celtic Manor is working with the airport to support its development and we are united in our efforts to grow the Welsh economy and maximise the benefits brought by these major events when they take place in our country.

"Currently, Cardiff Airport and the Celtic Manor Resort are drawing up a joint partnering agreement to define and expand our relationship for mutual benefit, in line with our shared intention to contribute to a prosperous Welsh business landscape."

Airport chief executive Jon Horne was quoted as saying: "Cardiff Airport is working hard alongside all the agencies concerned to ensure that the airport is used to maximum effect for the logistical and economic success of the 2014 NATO Summit. The team at Cardiff Airport is delighted to be working closely with the Celtic Manor Resort in relation to this and on wider projects, having also enjoyed a great relationship in planning for the Ryder Cup that was held at the Resort in 2010."

There was no response to Mr Edwards's use of the word "shameful" even though the airport's spin doctor made clear the statement was in response to the BBC story featuring that quote. Today, she told me: "I haven't read the whole transcript".

The entire hearing is still online. You can judge for yourself whether we got it right or not. You may also wonder why Celtic Manor appears to be so keen to bury its criticisms of a government that will have a big say in its development plans and owns the main Welsh airport.

The Celtic Manor Resort executives are hugely successful in business. But in politics other rules apply - such as the one offered by Labour's Denis Healey. "First law on holes - when you're in one, stop digging."

 
David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 38.

    To keep this in perspective, if China had just organized a coup in Ireland putting an illegal government in place right next-door to the UK, you can see that Cameron wouldn't allow that, so now you can see why Putin isn't at all pleased about what US/EU have done to Ukraine. It's only right that Putin should defend the interests of Russia and the Ukraine people against the illegal dictators.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 37.

    If the putsch in Crimea featuring Russian Spetznatz forces, in flagrant breach of both international law and recent treaties signed by the government of Russia, don't convince you that a defensive pact against neo-Soviet aggression is necessary, very little will.
    Re your assertion that no-one wants the Summit in their country..I am a citizen and I do.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 35.

    Propaganda is obvious BBC, nobody wants the NAZI NATO summit in their country, you try to convince the Welsh it's like having the Ryder Cup, they are not so dumb, they don't want the war chiefs plotting murder and conquest in their peaceful valleys. Your propaganda will be water off a duck's back to them.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 34.

    #33 I am quoted as saying that CJ is an entryist for PC. Apparently
    "No political analyst would consider this as anything but paranoid nonsense."

    However. CJ is quoted as saying that the future of the language is his top priority. I recall it well since I asked my AM when this became Lab policy. PC stands for Labour, a Unionist party. Yet his priority is a local PC policy. Hence, entryist

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 33.

    #30

    "Lets remember another statement from no 28 on the 14th January this year..."

    Keeping a file? Any resemblence to the thought police is purely accidental! Care to tell us if you're on anybody's payroll to dredge up any dirt you can find on the opposition or if you just do it for fun?

    The fascism of the hard left and WL fundamentalism is every bit as bad as the fascism of the hard right...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 32.

    Re M30, "far right" ? Can you tell me the BNP policy on a federal Britain and learning and talking in welsh, no, thought not.
    "Crude insults" look at how many posts have been removed from here for such "crude insults" nearly all from the nat posters with the strange welsh names.
    Educate yourself.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 31.

    @30 No crude insults from the culture and language nationalists then Llyn?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 30.

    28 - the vast majority of the far-right, British nationalist/UKIP keyboard warriors on this board are extremely paranoid. Lets remember another statement from no 28 on the 14th January this year that Carwyn Jones is an “entryist for PC”. No political analyst would consider this as anything but paranoid nonsense. "Mad Mari" since the 30s the far-right have used crude insults in their attacks.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 29.

    24 Boxer - you are right - I had forgotten about the implications of merging our police forces. I don't think that you are paranoid. I give ten years!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 28.

    #24 " We only need one police force."
    Yes, but then our Y Fro brethren will tell us that their 0.0001% minority who want to live their lives in Welsh have the right to be addressed in the language of their choice. Mad Mari will agree, and all police officers in Wales will have to be Bi-L. Then further Devo of Legal. All judges and magistrates will have to be Bi-L.
    Me paranoid? Come back in 20y

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 27.

    Re M20 Well cut down on the amount of politicians for a start, from councillors to MEP's we have far too many of all of them.
    Drop the obsession with Barry Airport, if it can't compete, let it shut. Wales is perfectly well served by Bristol,Birmingham and Manchester Airports.
    Impoved East West transport links, they bring prosperity.
    Drop the welsh language obsession, it creates division.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 26.

    No 6 - "Corruption and illegal practices are RIFE in Welsh public bodies and Welsh media" - still no evidence. No 25 - it will not be libellous if the evidence that you provide is factual you will be doing a public good. So if you have coincidence in your assertions you should have no concerns about posting your evidence.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 25.

    RE M15, You're rather silly if you think EVIDENCE could be posted on here with out being removed as libellous.
    There are some rather interesting local authorities in Wales,
    Anglesey
    Carmarthenshire
    Caerphilly
    Bleanu Gwent

    Just sayin' like....

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 24.

    22 and 23 y dyfodol Education a full review - there has been too much tinkering at the edges. Business support is a shambles and is driven by dogma and not by business needs
    We only need one police force. I could go on and on. There are plenty of ideas but there is no political will to reform

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 23.

    20 y dyfodol NHS I would have a full reform of the system. That would include admitting that we cannot have specialist hospitals in every town. I do not mean privatisation just an end to dogma. LA's most agree that we have too many. Have a proper independent review and implement the proposals. Put an end to nepotism in the public sector, recruit on merit alone. Let me know what you think

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 22.

    My real concern for Wales is that history teaches us that if a small proportion of a country, who are readily identifiable by each other and outsiders, come to dominate a territory, resentment builds up. If the minority use their position to block democratic expression, violence is likely. See Francophone Belgians, Alamites in Syria, Tutsi in Rwanda, 'aristos' in C19 France etc, etc.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 21.

    Yes Protic, I read how you wrote to a school in the Creuddyn peninsula, odd though that you have no personal interest in that school unless you have a family that you send on a 50 mile round trip from your own home, disingenuous don't you think. Unless of course you had an axe to grind.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 20.

    Decent john. You stated that you have a real concern for the future of Wales. So how about clearly and openly stating how if you had your choice you would meet those concerns. And whilst you consider, how about dizposest, boxer, protic etc also stating their thoughts how they would address their 'real concerns for Wales' too.

 

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