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Where does our future lie?

 
Created on 07/06/2019 @ 14:24
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

The chairman of a new advisory board that could have significant input to the Wales of the future has explained his work to Powys Service Board.

John Lloyd Jones is the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales which has been established as a non-statutory, advisory body to provide advice and recommendations to the Welsh Government on the economic and environmental infrastructure needs of Wales over the next five to 30 years.

Mr Jones is a former Chairman of the Countryside Council of Wales (CCW) which has been absorbed into Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for Wales and NFU Wales.

Although based in Cardiff, Mr Jones said the commission wanted to get around Wales as much as possible to meet various bodies.

Mr Jones said: “Powys is very much based on pastoral productive agricultural.

“With the changes in the emphasis of agricultural policy and trade, what effect will that have?

“Will your traditional agriculture be severely compromised in order to fulfil carbon targets? I don’t know.

“But what I do is that one of the cardinal rules is that any society is only five meals missed from total anarchy. And sometimes policy makers forget that.”

Mr Jones added that the commission was very aware of cross border issues in areas of Wales. He pointed to a recent meeting that had been held between Powys and the UK Government to discuss issues for roads coming into Powys from Shropshire.

Namely, the A483 at Pant and the A458 main road between Shrewsbury and Welshpool.

He questioned: “Would Powys be better working with Oswestry, Shrewsbury and the West Midlands or with Wrexham?

“Although we have these political boundaries, the environment, economy or social trends don’t recognise them. In North and South Wales the transport links are very much West to East. You come to Powys, that does not work.”

He also questioned whether Wales was a rural or urban society and pointed to Bethesda and Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd, as examples of post-industrial societies in rural areas with completely different issues.

Mr Jones added: “If you look at what’s shaped our society now, it’s very much our mining past.

“And there is a coherent argument that 40% of our housing stock is in the wrong place.

“We’ve had a complete change of economy in the last 100 years. We are not only dealing with known unknowns, but also unknown, unknowns.”

Mr Jones listed three topics that were central in any discussion on infrastructure.

·      Energy

·      Information – how is it spread

·      Distribution of people and products

He finished: “It’s a wide subject and an inclusive discussion. How do we shape the future story of Wales? What should that story be?”

PSB chair, and leader of Powys County Council, Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Independent – Llangynidr), said: “There’s a lot in there to think about. I’m particularly passionate about keeping rural communities as they are and it’s why I became a councillor.

“Somehow we have to find a way of keeping rural communities dynamic and infrastructure of all kinds is going to play a huge part that.”

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