Salt in an open wound

Speech to Rail Cymru 23 Conference at Holland House Hotel Cardiff, 20th April 2023 Thanks for the chance to make a contribution, it’s a good opportunity to share some honest reflections on all that is going on in rail and some of the stark challenges ahead.  I hope you are not expecting a bland speech peppered with platitudes.  What I hope to do is give an unvarnished view of where I think we are in the hope and expectation that being clear about what we need to do will help us all to make improvements. I hope you take it in the spirit it is intended, a collective challenge rather than a pointed criticism.  Despite what you may have read I am a regular rail user, and have been all my working life. In fact last year I swapped my second car for a folding electric bike, and I’m now a regular on the train to Llanelli. I experience first hand the frustrations that rail passengers have become all too familiar with. I must confess, it’s a little awkward bringing up with my fellow passengers t

The Welsh Roads Review

Speech to the Senedd, 14th February 2023 Today we are publishing the final report of the independent roads review panel. This is a landmark report of international significance. I’d like to thank Dr Lynn Sloman and her fellow panellists. Their report is detailed, authoritative and compelling, and the Welsh Government accepts its core principles and the new approach it sets out. When we published the Wales Transport Strategy two years ago, we committed to start upon a llwybyr newydd - a new path. The publication of this Roads Review, along with the National Transport Delivery Plan, and our new Roads Policy Statement, represents a major step forward on that journey. Let me be very clear at the outset, we will still invest in roads. In fact, we are building new roads as I speak - but we are raising the bar for where new roads are the right response to transport problems. We are also investing in real alternatives. Today’s National Transport Delivery Plan sets out a five-year programme o

We have to re-wire the systems

Speech to Local Transport Summit 2022.  Future Inn, Cardiff Bay, 8th December 2022 15 years ago I was working across the road as a Political Correspondent for ITV when I took a punt and left to join what was a then little known engineering charity called Sustrans. I didn’t own a bike, and my move perplexed by mother! “Does it come with a pay rise?” she innocently asked. “No”; “How about a company car?” When I said I was getting a hand-me down fold-up bike she thought I’d lost hold of my senses.  Being new to the world of sustainable transport, and having the perspective of an outsider, it quickly struck me that the challenge is a structural one. Like lots of practical third-sector organisations, the charity was focused on doing good works, and not on re-wring the system. ‘Why should we have to pay to maintain the National Cycle Network when it is a public good’ was the question often posed by John Grimshaw.   Why indeed? At the same time the National Assembly for Wales was about

Free pass rescinded - Transport and Climate Change

  Speech to the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee, 19th May 2022 Thanks for the chance to make a contribution. In the Welsh Government transport now sits in the broader Climate Change portfolio. Our First Minister has crafted one large Ministry that is bringing together the principal drivers of carbon emissions to give us the best chance of delivering on our legal commitment to reach NetZero by 2050. Under the leadership of two Ministers for Climate Change Transport sits alongside planning, housing, energy, the environment, and regeneration to help us to align our policies. It’s a big portfolio; meeting NetZero is an even bigger challenge. Transport has until now been given a free pass when it comes to emissions reductions on the grounds that it is a key economic driver. The UN Panel on Climate Change is pretty unequivocal in its analysis that if we don’t get emissions under control our economy faces catastrophic damage. Al Gore called it an ‘inconvenient truth’,

Renewing from within

The Tudor Watkins Memorial Lecture, delivered to the Brecon Labour Party 1st October 2021 Thank you for the honour of giving the Tudor Watkins Memorial Lecture. Tudor not only remains in the memory of our movement as one of the generation of Labour MPs who made possible the creation of a welfare state and National Health Service after the Second World War, the ‘revolution without tears’, but he was also a significant figure in the history of devolution.  When he was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire in 1945 the dominant view in the Labour Party was that the problems faced by working people were best addressed by one strong central Government, a Labour Government. The workers of the world should unite, right? And anyway, as Nye Bevan famously asked in the first St Davids Day debate in the House of Commons in 1944, ‘what is the difference between a Welsh sheep and an English sheep?’ Having just lived through a terrible war based on the idea that there