Wednesday, 23 March 2016

We used to call it Rhoose

I am not one of those economic liberals who believe that all publicly-owned organisations are bad and that the free market cures every ill. There is such a thing as municipal enterprise* and I can think of several advances which were made in computer technology as a result of government ventures. Therefore, I did not condemn out of hand the Welsh government's purchase of the ailing Cardiff International Airport, merely terming it "a brave decision", reserving judgment until we could evaluate its performance in public ownership.

Since then, investigation by Jac o' the North (his reports are here and here) suggests that the price paid for what was originally developed in the public sector was inflated by passing through several hands. I note that the original transfer from the old Glamorgan councils into private hands occurred before devolution under the unitary reorganisation pushed through by Conservative Welsh Secretary, John Redwood.

Now we have the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee's report (pdf here) on the acquisition of the airport, and its subsequent performance. A quick glance suggests that their verdict is "could do better". I trust that the government acts on all their recommendations, in particular the improvement in transport links.

* I recall in particular the developments in public health achieved by Birmingham Liberals in the late 19th century, its municipal savings bank in the early twentieth and in our own time Manchester City Council's innovations in housing provision.

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