In his latest blog for Caerphilly Observer, Caerphilly AM Hefin David discusses the options in ensuring the Northern Valleys are not left behind.
“I co–sponsored a debate on the Foundational Economy in the Senedd on Wednesday March 8. I’d like to explain to readers why we need to change our thinking when it comes to generating economic prosperity across the Northern Valleys.
“We should recognise that the topography of the South Wales Valleys often means we think in terms of our connections with the city rather than looking to our Eastern and Western valley neighbours. We should consider the Northern Valleys as connected and interdependent valley communities, rather than spokes linking to a vibrant city centre, we will gain a better understanding of how we can best generate economic prosperity and tackle infrastructural challenges. We will also see how the Northern Valleys can best profit from ideas such as the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.
“On February 9, Professor Karel Williams addressed the Cross Party Group on SMEs. Welsh-born Professor Williams said that, “if you look at the Welsh Economy it’s dominated by foundational sectors producing mundane, basic goods. As such, we need to focus on sectors that have social resonance”.
“Other academics, such as Professor Dave Adamson and Dr Mark Lang, have examined areas of our Northern Valleys in depth, painting a rich picture of communities with huge potential but very specific local needs.
“The Welsh Government should reflect upon the geographical constraints of the Northern Valleys, which has meant that infrastructure problems have often proved to be a significant barrier to success. Strong and strategic infrastructure is key to ensuring a prosperous future and, crucially, should encompass economic enhancements like state-of-the-art broadband provision alongside social infrastructural improvements such as childcare and affordable housing.
“The development of the Cardiff City Deal offers one potential solution to both problems. Its £1.2 billion investment in the region’s infrastructure includes £200 million that has been allocated for the delivery of the South Wales Metro.
“A successful and living community is one where our town centres are vibrant and where good quality employment opportunities are available close to home. This can only be fully achieved by a mixture of different approaches.”