How PR turns a “nimby” public into “overwhelming” support

How PR turns a “nimby” public into “overwhelming” support
- the real story of the St Athan consultation

30 000 leaflets, newspaper notices and 1700 letters to St Athan residents inviting the public to the 4 Exhibition days resulted in the completion of just 40 ‘feedback’ forms (see ”Analysis” **). Moreover, the comments were very critical, including many from St Athan people opposed to closing the Eglwys Brewis Road. Those supervising the exhibitions complaied of ‘nimbyism’.

Wing Cmndr Richard Read put a brave face on it (Academy Logbook in the Glamorgan Gem of 7 August – billed as the “first of his exclusive progress reports”; turned out as his last report too). He wrote of “highly successful public exhibitions” from which he could “sense underlying support” from the demands for information and questions to be answered. Demands went in to see the results on the website, as promised, but nothing appeared till March 2009.

How did they rescue the situation? They decided to keep the Eglwys Brewis road open. Second, they decided to circulate further questions angling for an ‘overall… positive’ response from those who had left addresses. This resulted in 35 further returns. As 75 looks dismally small, they added 10 for forms filled in by couples, calls to the enquiry line, e-mails and comments made via the website to claim a total of “well over 100 comments” (Project brochure, March 2009). Comments and critical questioning of Brigadier Neild at the 14th July meeting were, on the other hand, ignored (curiously Camargue made no record of that meeting with Jane Hutt AM and other notables).

The Q&A prepared in response to feedback ignores criticism of the project as a whole and uncomfortable questions on eg. of Raytheon as an arms dealer and what non-UK forces to be given training. Rather than refer to the ‘Academy’ as it was called at the Exhibitions, the questions are now in Orwellian fashion written to cover the Defence Training College.

Only the 75 feedback forms have been consider for Camargue’s ”Analysis”. Then only the 35 relate to the concluding claim that the “overwhelming majority of respondents” said the plans “represent a positive opportunity for the community”. For the numbers show only 20 would say this of the military college (57%) and 22 of the aerospace park, out of the 35 returns.

On the basis of this exaggeration of a simple majority of a small selection, the First Minister claimed “public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour” of the planned College (breakfast speech of 20 March).

** Published in March 2009 by Camargue On behalf of Metrix and WAG

The objective of this consultation was to seek people’s views on the current proposals for the proposed development of the Defence Technical College and Aerospace Business Park at MOD St Athan and enable them to provide input. (note it was actually called “Defence Training Academy” at that time)

40 forms were returned then the visitors to the Exhibitions were circulated with additional questions, resulting in 35 extras (2 forms from 3 individuals, 10 from couples). The new questions:
# Overall, do you think the development of the Defence Technical College represents a positive opportunity for the local/regional community?
# Overall, do you think the development of the Aerospace Business Park represents a positive opportunity for the local/regional community?
# Are you in favour of the proposals to keep the Eglwys Brewis Road open and improve it in places?
Closing the EB road had generated a lot of opposition, so they decided to drop this in the interim!
The first two additional questions were angled to secure approval, but they still only got 22 and 24 approvals out of the 35.

Twenty comments of support were recorded under ‘general comments’ ranging from ‘support in principle’, e.g. as long as considerations such as traffic were taken onboard, to outright support for the scheme.
Comments included:
• ‘Fully support the development’
• ‘Broadly in favour of the redevelopment due to the economic benefits’
• ‘The concept is highly commendable’
• ‘Although I generally support the development, I have concerns concerning transport and access to the site’
• ‘I think the general concept is good. It will be nice to see the population of the camp back where it was 50 years ago’
• ‘It has been sad seeing RAF St Athan shut down over the years. It will be nice to see it fully operational again’
• ‘My wife and I are in agreement with the proposed Defence Academy’

The overwhelming majority of respondents said they think that both the Defence Technical College and Aerospace Business Park represent a positive opportunity for the community. In addition, a similar number of respondents were supportive of the proposals to keep Eglwys Brewis Road open – demonstrating that the changes made to the draft plan following feedback received at the initial public exhibitions had been welcomed.

The Q&A prepared in response to feedback (none critical of the project) say

Why can’t the main access to the site be from the south on the B4265?
The main access to the Defence Technical Academy will be via a new access road and junction built from the B4265 to ensure that traffic to and from the site is provided with direct and separate access onto the main road. If the main access to the site was from the south, it would be necessary for all traffic to cross both the railway line and runway making it an unviable option.
However, there are proposals to create an access to the southern area of the Aerospace Business Park, located to the south of the runway, from the B4265.
[many have said the West Camp access should be used, already bridging the railway line; proposing another bridge just for part of the aerospace park cannot be economic. The runway (side spur used for access to workshops) can be done via a light-controlled crossing].

Is there a possibility of a train station at St Athan?
The possibility of reinstating St Athan train station has been considered. However… it is felt that Llantwit Major is the best placed local station to serve the site. In addition, it would be unlikely that an additional station would be supported by Network Rail or the Train Operating Companies without the closure of an existing station on the line.
[shows quite scanty consideration; other excuses are ‘significant signalling works (at Cogan junction!), 1-hour service is not attractive, no trains after 9pm, they would run buses to Llantwit station, and ‘vast’ investment. In fact, a new halt at West Camp/Boverton would be attractive].

How much will the construction of the Defence Technical Academy cost?
The cost of construction of the estate at St Athan will be approximately £700m.
[the ‘College’ and East camp shops, offices, messes and single accommodation is £450m, another £75m would cover 500 service family homes @ £150k, leaving a generous £175m for the swimming pool, athletics track, sports centre, outdoor pitches, small arms range, workshops and storage (west of Picketston) – don’t forget the greenwash ‘new habitat creation’ at West Orchard, that may be taken from the farm but not justified by the downsized Aerospace park.]

And nothing about improving training here just bailing out Red Faces !!



Stop the school for mercenaries - Barry protest 3rd April

RAYTHEON, Sodexo, Qinetiq are coming to St Athan Wales to set up a school for mercenaries, and whoever else they like - lets put a stop to it now!

Protest Friday 3rd April – go to the at sham consultation and tell people and metrix - what Metrix won’t tell – the truth
15.30-19.30 Memorial Hall and Theatre

(in the Bedwas Hall), Barry


St Athan is part of a political project of privatising the British armed forces, and turns over responsibility for military training to a private, for-profit consortium. At a time when US Congress is investigating abuses perpetrated by private military companies such as Blackwater in Iraq, Britain is rushing headlong down the same path of military privatisation that the USA has gone down before.

This privatisation, moreover, makes the British government a direct partner of one of the world's largest and most controversial arms dealers, Raytheon, which is a core member of the St Athan Metrix C

A now KEY partner is Sodexo, is a foot soldier for the prison industrial complex and racist immigration policies. SODEXO accused of supplying catering at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Sodexo has also come under fire in Britain for its management of the Harmondsworth Detention Centre, the largest deportation center in the U.K.

From that facility, asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, Iraq, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and many other impoverished, war-torn nations have endured the "worst" conditions ever reported by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons. They are deported in military jumpsuits on military planes back to airports to areas of their countries they are not familiar with. Often, they are not adequately checked for signs of torture and testimonials indicate many have disappeared or been killed after extrication. - The process is called "fast track deportation" by U.K. bureaucrats.

At least seven detainee suicides have taken place at Harmondsworth and in 2006, the Inspectorate found that the Sodexo guards had only two noose-cutters in the 500 bed facility.

St Athan represents a major leap forward in Britain's participation in the global arms trade. The Metrix business model for maximising profits at St Athan is to maximise the amount of training it provides, through serving not just the British military but militaries from around the world. Between 2002 and 2005, the Ministry of Defence provided military training to more than 12,000 personnel from 137 countries, many with poor human rights records. With St Athan, this trade promises only to increase.

Third, St Athan represents another step up in the ongoing militarisation of British education.
The Open University – is a key partner. Schools around the Vale of Glamorgan are making plans to train local youth for jobs at the St Athan Academy, while colleges and universities across South Wales, which have already been extensively militarised over the past decade, are exploring new Academy College contract tie-ins.

YET The Welsh Assembly Government has endorsed this investment as a major opportunity for Wales and the South East Wales regional economy!

Protest at this sham consultation in Barry


Carwyn Jones: The Government supports the defence training academy. That project will bring many jobs to the Vale of Glamorgan and surrounding areas. It is the Government’s hope that that project continues to move forward.


METRIX 'consultation'



At Athan PFI on dragons eye and get your MP to sign EDM 872

Military training PFI discussed on dragons Eye
BBC Dragons Eye programme with feature on DTR and interviews with CEO Metrix Charles Barrington and PCS National Officer Paul Bemrose can be viewed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00j8ym0

Ask your MP to sign!

Early Day Motion

EDM 872

Mackinlay, Andrew

That this House does not approve the Government's proposed authorisation of a contingent liability in excess of £250,000 associated with the Defence Training Review set out in the Departmental Minute laid before Parliament on 17 February 2009, for which there is no specific authority; notes that only two copies of the Minute have been provided to the House; further notes that the Minute and the reference to it in the Votes and Proceedings for 23 February 2009 provide no information on which the House can come to a considered view on the proposed liability; and requests the Government to refrain from incurring the liability until approval has been given by a resolution of the House consequent on a thorough examination by the Committee of Public Accounts and the relevant departmental select committee.


Private Eye St Athan PFI crazy economics

Private Eye mocks John Smith MP - and support for the academy or rather college as it is now!

And our new labour metrix friends EDS and Raytheon sponsering IPPR defence papers!
Sir David Omand ..Blairs intelligence and security advisor!

MoD Apprentices questions HOC

MoD Apprentices
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the package of delivery designed by Metrix for the Defence Training Review project will offer apprenticeships to the (a) standards and (b) accreditation delivered by the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering; and what provision will be made in the package for apprenticeship training to an accredited standard. [262635]
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As part of the requirement for the Defence Training Review (DTR) Package 1, Metrix will transform and modernise existing training, which will involve the re-accreditation of any transformed modules. This re-accreditation will be led by Nord Anglia, the Open university and City and Guilds, who are all respected and leading accreditation specialists. For the Defence college of Aeronautical Engineering, and all the technical training under Package 1, any existing accreditation will remain in place until a re-designed package is approved by the Ministry of Defence, which includes any proposals for changes to apprenticeship training.
All Defence training (including accreditation implications) must adhere to a robust and established change process under the Defence systems approach to training to approve any change, and meet stringent defence and Government policy guidelines. The Department is recognised as an example of good practice with respect to apprenticeships and remains committed to maintaining this reputation.

Armed Forces: Training
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the Defence Training Review package he expects to be delivered outside the future Defence Academy at RAF St Athan. [262500]
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All of the training in the scope of the Defence Training Review Package 1 will, by 2020, be delivered at St. Athan, with the exception of Royal Naval Communications training at HMS Collingwood which amounts to 2 per cent. of the total training requirement. In addition, about 30 per cent. of phase 3 (professional) training will be delivered away from St. Athan at remote learning centres around the UK to enable personnel to stay near home bases and families.

Government called to make urgent statement on Military PFI

Government called to make urgent statement on £12bn defence training academy for St Athan
Mar 12 2009 By Sion Barry, Walesonline

Leanne Wood on the St Athan PFI

WAG - Oral Assembly Questions

Q4 Leanne Wood: What recent discussions has the First Minister had regarding Welsh PFI projects? OAQ(3)1787(FM)

Leanne Wood: We are all acutely aware of the current economic conditions and that the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The Westminster Government has committed billions of pounds of public money to bailing out the banks, and that money will have to come from somewhere. It seems likely that the bailouts will be paid for, in the long term, by cuts to front-line public services.

We heard in the news today that the Westminster Government intends to provide further billions of pounds to bail out failed and failing private finance initiative schemes. Is it not ironic that public funds are now needed to save private finance initiative schemes? The Welsh Assembly Government is to be commended on its cautious approach to PFI. As times get more difficult, the wisdom of the decision not to embrace the idea of the private sector running public services will become more apparent. However, this Government’s past prudence could work against us in terms of the PFI bailout unless we get our share of any money that becomes available. Will we get our Barnett share of this bailout so that we, too, can build new schools and hospitals?

We also need to be aware that all of this will have an impact on what was meant to be the biggest PFI scheme in the whole of Europe, namely the proposed military training academy at St Athan. The estimated cost of that scheme has already crept up from £11 billion to £12 billion. The project has already lost its lead partner and has since acquired a new partner in the form of a French catering company

The Presiding Officer: Order. This is not a debate about defence or anything else. This is about the business statement. I would like a question.

Leanne Wood: Thank you, Presiding Officer. Do you agree that PFI is fiscally dangerous, that the Government is under contract to pay for services under PFI—

The Presiding Officer: Order. This is not a debate about PFI. However, if you would like to ask the Leader of the House whether he will organise a debate in which you can raise these issues, that would be quite in order.

Leanne Wood: I am coming to that, Presiding Officer.

The Presiding Officer: Well, it is taking some time. [Laughter.]

Leanne Wood: I would be grateful, Leader of the House, if you could find time for this Assembly to discuss the implications of this latest Westminster bailout. We need to know whether there will be a Barnett consequential for Wales and whether the precarious nature of PFI projects in this economic climate raises questions about the planned development at St Athan.

Carwyn Jones: The Government supports the defence training academy. That project will bring many jobs to the Vale of Glamorgan and surrounding areas. It is the Government’s hope that that project continues to move forward.

The banks are a matter for the UK Government and, indeed, Governments around the world. Despite the imprudence and incompetence of so many banks, it nevertheless remains the case that the banking system must be kept afloat. The hope is that all the shares in the banks that the Government has bought over the past year or so will eventually be sold at little or no cost to the taxpayer. However, I suspect that that time is not at hand, if I may put it in that way.

On the need to debate these issues, the First Minister is able to answer Assembly questions as they come. I know that he will have made his points clearly this week in the meeting of the various First Ministers of the UK’s devolved institutions and the Prime Minster that we wish to ensure that the Welsh budget is protected. (10 march 2009)


Why is this massive PFI to be imposed on Wales?

formal response.doc
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Attachment Annex FOI Request 3132.doc
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Attachment Sodexo annnouncement: DTR programme.txt
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Attachment Sodexo backgrounder.txt
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Annex FOI Request 3132 - Metrix PFI project

1. Why is this massive PFI to be imposed on Wales?

The PFI in question is a Ministry of Defence project. The Welsh Assembly Government has endorsed this investment as a major opportunity for Wales and the South East Wales regional economy. It will complement our plans for the development of an Aerospace Business Park on the St Athan site. Accordingly, the Assembly Government actively promoted the site to potential bidders and we welcome this significant investment in jobs and engineering skills training in Wales.

2. When is there going to be a debate in the Assembly about the St

Athan Metrix PFI?

The First Minister made an oral statement in the Senedd on 17 January 2007. Since then, Assembly Members have on several occasions raised with Ministers the development proposals for St Athan during oral questions in the Senedd. It should be noted that public input on the development proposals for St Athan has been actively sought from the beginning, firstly through the St Athan Development Brief which was published in July 2006 following public consultation; and the current round of public consultation events which commenced last summer and is continuing through to Spring of this year. Further information about the public consultation is available at www.st-athanconsultation.co.uk.

3. Is the DTR PFI on the brink of collapse and have AMs and WAG

questioned the viability of the project?

Questions about the financial viability of the Defence Training Review Package 1 programme are a matter for the Ministry of Defence as sponsors of the project. Plans for the St Athan Development Scheme, which include the Defence Technical College and an Aerospace Business Park, are being actively pursued. Public consultation events on the draft plans are currently on-going to help inform the planning applications which are expected to be submitted in early May 2009.

Request for information about the activities of Assembly Members should be addressed to the National Assembly for Wales Commission, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA.

4. What amount and from which sources is taxpayer's money involved?

How much of this is coming from Wales?

Funding for the Defence Technical College is a matter for the Ministry of Defence to whom questions about this public private partnership programme should be addressed. The Welsh Assembly Government is facilitating the St Athan development, including our plans for an Aerospace Business Park, through land assembly and the provision of infrastructure. As there will be shared use of infrastructure, arrangements are currently being negotiated with the Ministry of Defence for the proportionate repayment of costs. At this stage therefore the funding attributable to Wales has yet to be agreed. I will write to you with the funding implications for Wales as soon as agreement has been reached.

5. Have the Welsh Assembly Government been briefed on the latest

funding situation since the withdrawal of LST?

The funding of the Package 1 DTR programme is a matter for the Ministry of Defence and Metrix. The Assembly Government has noted the announcement by Metrix of a new equity partner to replace LST.

6. Will Metrix make up cash shortfall by training private armies,

regardless of their human rights record, and is there anything the

WAG or AMs can do to stop them doing that?

The question concerns the operational arrangements for the new Defence Technical College and as such should be addressed to the Ministry of Defence and the Metrix consortium.

7. Why has the St Athan consultation website not been updated and

why is still no feed back from the consultations that have already

taken place as long ago as July 2008.(http://www.st-athanconsultation.co.uk/)

The website has now been updated and contains detailed information about the consultation programme to date, including the analysis from the summer/autumn 2008 events. I am sorry it has taken longer than we expected. I should explain that it wasn't until November/December that the analyses, involving fairly detailed comments in some cases, could begin as the feedback period for the public to submit comments did not close until end October. It remains our intention to post on the web site as quickly as possible a report of the workshops and interest group meetings held this year. I would encourage you to contact the consultation helpline - 0845 6160016 or e-mail xxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xx.xx - if you have any specific questions about any aspect of the proposed development.

8. How much is the WAG contributing toward this consultation?

The public consultation concerns the St Athan Development Scheme, which broadly comprises the Defence Technical College and plans to create a new Aerospace Business Park. The latter is being developed by the Welsh Assembly Government and we have therefore agreed to contribute approximately £85,600 towards the overall costs of the public consultation.

9. Visitors to the DTA exhibition complained of a “lack of detailed

information”. Have the issues raised there been addressed? Will the academy be an “isolated, gated village“? Would nearby towns see an increase in “squaddie rowdiness and drop outs from the academy”?

It was made clear from the outset and explained to those attending the exhibitions that the master plans was still evolving and therefore many of the details had still to be agreed. The public consultation events provide scope for local residents and the public to influence the emerging site plans. Follow up workshops and interest group meetings have been held to discuss the sort of issues you have raised, for example the Community Welfare Interest Group held on 4 March addressed, amongst other things, how military and civilian populations will integrate and issues around site security and access for civilians. A report on this event will be published on the consultation website in due course.

10. In related news `Wales on Line' reports - £100m plus plan that

is being considered, to build a new road to Cardiff International

Airport: It has been suggested that the road would be to serve the

St Athan training academy. is this true? Would it not be an outrage to spend such huge amounts of Welsh public money on feather-bedding the training academy project?

The airport link road study is a completely separate exercise and does not form part of the plans for the St Athan development. Clearly however, improvements to the road network to the airport from the M4 could also benefit the St Athan development given its close proximity to the airport. When developing proposals, the airport link road study team has to take cognisance of the planning status of various developments which could impact on the study. The teams working on these two sets of proposals are therefore liaising closely to ensure that the relevant improvements to road links in the Vale are considered in a joined up way.

11. Why should Welsh taxpayers subsidise private organisations?

The Defence Technical College is a Ministry of Defence Public Private Partnership project. The Welsh Assembly Government is investing in new infrastructure at St Athan as part of our plans to develop an Aerospace Business Park.

12. How many meetings have AMs had with Metrix officials?

The Welsh Assembly Government does not hold information on meetings held by Assembly Members. Request for information about the activities of Assembly Members should be addressed to the National Assembly for Wales Commission, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA.

13. As a new partner Sodexo is involved in a much greater capacity, what information have the WAG got or asked for about this company?

The consortium structure is a matter for Metrix. The Metrix consortium informed us on 10 February 2009 about the announcement that it had secured a new partner - copies of the relevant e-mails are attached.

Sodexo - key strengths

1. Member of the consortium from the beginning:

* Know the project well so we don't need to start from scratch - can transition easily
* We know each other well which is good from a relationship perspective

2. Bring extensive experience in the PFI and PPP projects including the UK:

* No of significant PFI contracts in the UK: 17 and aggressively looking to grow portfolio across healthcare, defence, education, prisons
* Total value of PFI contracts in the UK in last financial year (August 2008): £221m pounds in annual service turnover, which equates to 20 per cent of UK turnover
* Significant long-term contracts - approx average length of contract: 30 years
* Provide a wide range of services, including design, construction, management and funding.

PFI examples:

* Queens Hospital, Romford - £18m pa in turnover. Fully integrated facilities management to one of the largest acute hospital trusts in England [serving a population of around 750,000]
* HMP Addiewell, Scotland - projected annual turnover of £17.5m when fully operational. Kalyx, the correctional arm of Sodexo, awarded contract to design, construct, manage and fund Scotland's first new prison for almost ten years housing 750 prisoners

3. They know the MOD very well

* understand MOD ethos and military culture
* eg Colchester Garrison - turnover £18m pa. £2bn contract to provide working and living accommodation for more than 4,200 military and civilian staff, including the construction of over 130 buildings.

4. Property experience but service provision more important anyway

* eg 3 prisons and over 130 buildings at Colchester
* Property relatively straightforward - we wanted their expertise in service delivery

5. Financially sound multinational company:

* UK and Ireland - 43,000 employees providing food and facilities management service at over 2,300 locations
* part of the Sodexo Group, the number one global provider of food and facilities management services, with more than 355,000 employees at more than 30,000 sites in 80 countries.
* strong balance sheet / cash

Christopher Moseley

Metrix UK

Second Floor

10 Great George Street

London SW1P 3AE

Tel. +44 7941 126064

Email: xxxxxxxxxxx.xxxxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx


Laing O'Rourke. bought data on blacklist workers

'Building firms bought data on blacklist workers'

Data Protection

A list of major companies alleged to have broken data protection laws by paying for information on their employees is published today.

The 40-plus firms face legal action after the revelation by the Information Commissioner, The Guardian said.

The firms include Balfour Beatty, Taylor Woodrow and Laing O'Rourke.

It follows an investigation by the commissioner’s office amid fears that thousands of workers in the construction industry have been treated unfairly.

The commissioner claims that the building firms covertly bought details of trade union activities and their conduct at work “over many years” from a private investigator. The information was then allegedly used to “blacklist” workers and stop them from getting work.

David Smith, the deputy information commissioner, told The Guardian: “This is a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. Not only was personal information held on individuals without their knowledge or consent, but the very existence of the database was repeatedly denied.

“Trading people’s personal details in this way is unlawful and we are determined to stamp out this type of activity.”

Construction workers have repeatedly claimed that they have been stopped from getting work after being blacklisted for suspected union activities. The industry has always denied the claims.


Private Eye on Metrix subsidy

Soon after one half of private consortium Metrix dropped out of the beleaguered PFI Deal to privatise military training because of escalating costs (before the contract is even signed), defence secretary John Hutton has quietly sanctioned a further £40 million in “risk reduction activity”.

This is shorthand for a subsidy to Metrix, led by the privatised defence technology firm Qinetiq which has admitted it will be in deep doo-doo without the contract. The company has already been given £9m but now needs more to “mature the deal and maintain the mobilisation of Metrix resources.”

The MoD had been hoping to keep the sweetener quiet, paying lip service to parliamentary niceties through an “unnumbered command paper” with out any announcement. But Tory MP Mark Pritchard, arch-opponent of the deal, spotted it and has filed an objection. So much for slipping the deal through on the quiet.

Reminder of Qinetiq history

The privatisation of the UK's QinetiQ was undermined by "profiteering" on the part of its management, the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has concluded.http://www.janes.com/news/defence/business/jdi/jdi080610_1_n.shtml

Sir John Chisholm, chairman of QinetiQ - and also chairman of the Medical Research Council - and Graham Love, the chief executive, turned investments of £129,000 and £108,000 into assets worth £22m and £18m respectively when the firm was floated in 2006.

At the same time Carlyle, the private equity group, which bought a stake in QinetiQ for £42m in 2003, was able to sell at a £300m profit three years later.

Who is WAG welcoming to wales?
Since his resignation as DOD’s Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Cambone has been vice president for strategy of a company known as QinetiQ (pronounced “kinetic”) North America, a major British-owned defense and intelligence contractor based in McLean, Virginia.


Angharad Mair slams Academy plans

WalesOnline - News - Columnists - Fight St Athan military academy

1 Mar 2009 ... Fight St Athan military academy. Mar 1 2009 by Angharad Mair, Wales On Sunday. THIS is sadly my last column for Wales on Sunday and I would ...

From Angharad Mair - Wales on Sunday

THIS is sadly my last column for Wales on Sunday and I would like to thank everyone who has bothered to respond to my weekly look at the world through the letters section of this newspaper, via e-mails to me personally and even in the forums section online.

Having said that, I can't understand the mentality of people who feel they have to hide behind pseudonyms. If you have something that's worth saying - then surely it's worth putting your name to it?

Anyway, since this is my final column I did think of having a rant against the wind farms proposed for Wales. Not so much the offshore ones, but any plan to build those huge, ugly, soul-destroying monsters on Welsh soil should be dumped immediately.

It's no good leading the way with green energy if we're to live in what has been transformed from a beautiful country into a mess of hideous white steel. Wales is too small a country for onshore wind farms and our politicians should listen to the people of Wales who oppose them - the people whose lives would be blighted in their horrific shadow.

But there is one proposed expansion in Wales which is far more dangerous and risky than wind farms, so I'll concentrate on that one - the proposed multi-billion-pound military academy at St Athan near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan.

One article in the South Wales Echo last week quoted the local MP as saying that Barry could become South Wales' 21st century version of the Californian Gold Rush, and a recession-busting boom town. And yes, it would be easy - especially in the dire economic times we are currently experiencing - to get excited at the thought of 5,000 new jobs and economic benefits across South Wales.

This proposed military academy will indeed be a huge development and will bring all the three forces together - the RAF, Army and Navy.

Do you still think this sounds like good news? Then think again. Is this the kind of development we really need or want here in Wales?

Thankfully, since the beginning of the horrific, illegal war in Iraq we have been quite sheltered here in Wales from having to live with the fear of a terrorist attack.

Businesses in London now have to pay huge insurance premiums as protection against terrorism, and that's scary, because if such an attack were to happen the insurance for the building and content might be nothing compared to the loss of lives. Any who knew victims of the tube and bus bombings will know the horrors of living in the shadow of terrorism.

It's unkind and unfair to the local people to use descriptions such as a "new gold rush" and "recession-busting" and "new boom-town" and "world-leading centre of excellence" without also explaining that this will be the military centre for the whole of the UK and that could bring dire
consequences to Wales as well as turning a beautiful and peaceful part of our country into what would have to be a security-obsessed nightmare.

There would be new jobs - yes. But a high proportion of these "new" jobs would be relocated work from existing training establishments around the UK.

In Wales we have a long and proud tradition of peace and pacifism, and that should be enough reason to condemn this horrific development.

But even if you are a supporter of the military, Wales will be put at the forefront of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan with this expansion.

Don't be fooled or blinded by the prospects of jobs, and economic growth.

Look at the wider picture, and especially if you live in the area, start campaigning now against what could turn out to be the biggest mistake in the history of modern Wales, and could turn out to be a disaster for local homeowners.

Anne says
Remember there isn't 5,000 jobs NEW jobs ...this is job relocation not job creation!