28/02/2009

What Peter Collins doesn't tell the people of Wales

Peter Collins drummer boy for Metrix military academy PFI!


Let me raise just a few of the points Peter Collins didn’t make.

Peter Collins just forgot to mention that new labour Ministers have used a sneaky and secretive parliamentary device to quadruple to £40 million the level of taxpayers money to underwrite the privatising of military training in the biggest PFI ever instead of making a ministerial statement. I expect they hoped no one would notice!


So why are we privatising profits and nationalising risk to help huge multination companies like Raytheon arms dealers and Qinetiq who has already been condemned for fiddling the taxpayer? Is he accusing the financial times of being anti Wales?

Pater Collins didn’t report either the risks to the quality of training for our troops which the MoD top brass themselves are worried about! And that was before the French catering firm Sodexo took a 50% stake in the project.

Do the people of Wales want their soldiers to be trained by a French caterer and American arms dealers? Is the Daily Mail being anti- Wales reporting on concerns about sodexo being dragged through the US courts by thousands of its own African-American staff, who claimed they had been discriminated against on the basis of their race. Ir that in Britain, a 2004 Channel 4 documentary exposed the unhygienic preparation of food by Tillery Valley Foods, one of its subsidiaries. Sodexo is also accused of supplying catering at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Peter Collins didn’t mention the fact that the noise levels will be unacceptable to local residents? Nor did he mention the track vehicles ...tanks and such.

Peter Collins omitted to report that that MoD added to the planning permission for a golf course and a field exercise area!

If the people of Wales had the true facts they would NOT support privatising military training or this dodgy school for mercenaries coming to Wales.

Peter Collins Wales on line

THIS week, your Man On The Street has come in for severe criticism for his positive reporting of the multi-billion pound plan for the Defence Technical Academy at St Athan.

The attacks have come from the No To The Military Academy campaign whose members accuse me of, among other things, being dishonest and “chasing fool’s gold” by reporting the economic benefits the scheme could bring, not just to South Wales but to other parts of the Principality.

The campaign often quotes London-based newspapers which question the economic viability of the scheme. Everyone agrees it has had its problems. It would be surprising if it had not been affected by the economic downturn.

Most worryingly, the Financial Times has flagged up concerns about the project.

These doubts have been reflected in the pages of this newspaper, albeit not in the stark terms employed by some other newspapers across the border. The decision to bring the academy to Wales was never that popular in England and so it is not surprising that some there would like to see it fail.

Constant attacks on the project by people in Wales serve to give succour to those in England who lost out and still oppose it coming to Wales.

The other arm to the No To The Military Academy campaign is that it will be run by “arms dealers and war profiteers” and attract “all those trainees from the not-so-democratic Saudi Arabia”.

That is one way of looking at it. But not, I think, a view shared by the majority. The Echo, and thousands of its readers, supported the bid to bring the academy to South Wales.



27/02/2009

John Smith attacks Park Pritchard over academy PFI


John SmithVale of Glamorgan, Labour | Hansard source | Video match this
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the annual Welsh affairs debate. We do not have many opportunities in the House nowadays to discuss Welsh issues exclusively, so the debate is welcome.
As previous speakers have said, our debate today takes place against the backdrop of a serious global economic crisis—possibly the worst international financial crisis in the past 100 years. I would therefore like to take the short time available to me to refer to three projects in my constituency, but not parochially, because they all have valuable strategic Welsh importance. I want to use today's opportunity to draw the House's attention to several issues surrounding the projects.
The Conservative spokesperson has already mentioned the first project. It will come as no surprise to hon. Members when I refer to the defence technical academy in St. Athan in my constituency. It is progressing well. It was recently announced that Sodexho is to be the equity partner, replacing Land Securities Trillium, which had to withdraw because—let us make no bones about it—of the financial crisis. However, in many respects, Sodexho is a better fit. Unlike its predecessors, its core activity is facilities management, and it has been involved in the scheme from day one. It was always involved, but it has just become a 50:50 equity partner.
The Minister for the Armed Forces made a statement in the House, saying that the negotiations were progressing well and were on track. A clear timetable is developing. A detailed planning application for the scheme will be submitted in May this year and construction will commence around August next year. That timetable is important, because we have lost time in the past two years, mainly because the project is so large and complex. It is the biggest single Ministry of Defence investment and its importance for Wales cannot b e overestimated.
The project will provide 5,000 direct jobs and train annually 25,000 service personnel from all three services. It will provide a defence training strategy in some of the most sought-after skills in the world—technical, engineering and information technology skills. I have always argued that the real value to Wales as a whole—not only to my constituency—is not the 5,000 jobs or the £12 billion private finance initiative investment over 25 to 30 years, or even the revenue, which runs to tens of millions of pounds, that will go directly to the local economy, but the transformation of Wales's reputation to that of a country that has a centre of technical and skills excellence. Our reputation for being dominated—still—by metal manufacture and mineral extraction can be transformed into a reputation for high value-added technology. That is the benefit: a change of reputation and an ability to attract inward investment.
I am delighted that a Command Paper was put before the House on Tuesday, offering a contingent liability of £40 million to prepare the plans for this year and the design to get on with the construction next year.
Photo of David JonesDavid Jones (Shadow Minister, Wales; Clwyd West, Conservative) | Hansard source | Video match this
As the hon. Gentleman will know, we on the Conservative Benches also strongly support the St. Athan project. Does he agree that one of the key benefits of St. Athan will be to improve the perception of the military as a career for young people, with the high-quality jobs that if offers, and in particular as a career for Welsh young people? Does he agree that, today more than ever, going into the military is a good, attractive career for young Welsh people?
Photo of John SmithJohn Smith (Vale of Glamorgan, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this
I agree with every word that the hon. Gentleman just said. Indeed, he should forgive me if I have not referred to that point, because the overriding benefit of the project will be to improve training in the military. Perhaps I should remind the House that, unlike now, every technical20qualification that will be achieved at the new academy will be a civilian-recognised qualification. We will be producing engineers for the future, including civilian engineers, so I accept the hon. Gentleman's remarks. We also had all-party support, which in my view is one of the reasons why we won the bid in the first place.

Photo of Lembit ÖpikLembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source | Video match this
I applaud the cross-party work that the hon. Gentleman has done to secure those jobs. Does he agree that one of the opportunities for Wales will be not to repeat the errors at Deepcut Army barracks—I understand that they are being shut down, with some of the work perhaps coming to Wales—where Cheryl James, the daughter of one my constituents, was, I believe, murdered?

Photo of John SmithJohn Smith (Vale of Glamorgan, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this
Of course I agree with that.
St. Athan has been a huge success story for Wales and for Welsh politics. We won the bid because we were united across the parties and because—let us be clear about this—ours was the best bid. However, I must sound a rather disconcerting note this afternoon. The Command Paper was presented to the House on Tuesday, but—I have given notice of this to the hon. Gentleman involved—it was blocked. An obscure procedural motion was used on Tuesday on a point of order to block the contingent liability of £40 million. The process cannot be stopped, but the effect of what was done on Tuesday could be to delay a recession-busting project that is vital for our country.
I am sure that every Welsh Member of this House will condemn Mark Pritchard. I understand why he objects to the scheme: because he lost the bid. His bid did not win. I understand his protesting, but what is reckless and unacceptable is his bid to block the progress of the scheme. It is important that we move ahead with the planning in May. I call on all hon. Members to condemn his action. I am afraid that I must say to Conservative Members in particular: for goodness' sake, bring some=2 0influence to bear on him, because he is delaying a vital project.
Photo of Stephen CrabbStephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire, Conservative) | Hansard source | Video match this
I understand the hon. Gentleman's passion and commitment to the St. Athan project. We would all recognise and applaud that. However, it is deeply unfair of him to talk in such terms about my hon. Friend Mark Pritchard, who is not here and who does not have an opportunity to defend himself.

Photo of John SmithJohn Smith (Vale of Glamorgan, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this
I gave notice—I have been in the House long enough to realise that I should do that. What I am doing today I do with a heavy heart. I have never done it before, but the project is too vital to play silly political games with it. The future of Wales is at risk.

Photo of Daniel KawczynskiDaniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury & Atcham, Conservative) | Hansard source | Video match this
As the neighbour of my hon. Friend Mark Pritchard, may I say that he is an assiduous constituency MP and works extremely hard? As Opposition MPs, it is the responsibility of us all to scrutinise Government decisions.
Photo of John SmithJohn Smith (Vale of Glamorgan, Labour) | Hansard source | Video match this
We have an overriding responsibility to behave responsibly. I will leave it at that, because I gain no personal benefit from making such comments, but it is important that I should make them today.
The second, related issue that I wish to raise is about an important piece of transport infrastructure: the M4 link road to Cardiff international airport—that is, to Wales's international airport. That has a bearing on the technical academy, because although we will not lose the academy if we do not get the timing for that road right, we might lose some of the benefits that could come to Wales. The onus is on us to maximise all the benefits from the investment, to ensure that Welsh people and Welsh businesses benefit first from the huge opportunity that is coming our way. We must get the transport links. Businesses in Pembrokeshire and west Wales will benefit, as will businesses in Monmouth and mid-Wales. We must get the transport infrastructure right and the M4 airport link road is a crucial factor in it, because it will serve the defence technical academy, and it will serve Barry—the second largest town in Wales—as well as providing a link to the airport.

A decision is imminent. We have had the public consultation and the Welsh Assembly Government's Deputy First Minister will take a decision shortly. The biggest decision to date has been about which route to choose. It is controversial—it will affect local people, so there is a lot of local concern about the impact on people's quality of life—but the decision on the route of the direct link to the airport is crucial. I call on the Minister to use all his influence with the Welsh Assembly Government to ensure that the decision is taken, and taken quickly.
I am deeply concerned that there may be prevarication and second thoughts about the strategic importance of this road; we should be in no doubt that this link road is crucial. We will never have a country seriously recognised throughout the world unless we have a serious international airport that provides comprehensive scheduled flights across the world. Air travel is still the cutting edge of business communication, even in comparison with broadband—I accept everything said about it earlier—and Wales must have a proper international airport. What we have now is a holiday charter airport; it is growing and doing well, but as the aviation White Paper said, it has a long way to go. This road is an absolutely necessary condition for the growth and expansion of Cardiff international airport. It may not be a sufficient factor, but as I say, it is absolutely necessary.

I flag up that issue because I hope that we will not make the mistakes of the past by thinking that some funding for a few extra routes or a few extra slots to European cities will provide us with the strategic advances that we need for the airport's future. The entire business community supports the road: the CBI in Wales, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Cardiff business club. Indeed, there is not a business in Wales that fails to recognise the importance of strategic access to the airport. It is supported by the planning authorities and it has been supported by every management of every company that has owned the airport over the past three decades.
It is a crucial issue—one of the most important road transport issues in Wales. We are really at the cusp, right on the edge, of making a decision on a matter that will drive the Wales international airport forward. The decision must be taken quickly and the right decision must be taken—that is, identifying what route to take, not having second20thoughts about whether we need such access to the airport.

25/02/2009

MP formally objects to increasing costs of defence training review

24 February 2009 : Parliamentary Debate
MP formally objects to increasing costs of defence training review
Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will know the rules concerning the reporting of contingency liabilities: no contingent is allowed to proceed without examination if a Member of this House formally objects. Given that the Ministry of Defence suggests in a departmental minute dated 17 February that it is looking to increase the initial contingent liability on the defence training review project from £9.5 million to a staggering £40 million, without any ministerial statement, may I ask that it be put on the record that I am formally objecting to this MOD minute and new contingent liability?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has put the matter on the record, and I shall leave it at that.

State underwrites UK defence’s PFI project
Financial Times - London,England,UK
Under the deal, taxpayers will underwrite a further £32m of risk in order to push through the Defence Training Review, the UK’s biggest private finance ...

State underwrites St Athan defence’s PFI project

Please see the attached which is a copy of document placed before the House of Commons with regards DTR. Mark Pritchard MP tabled an objection today and therefore there will have to be a further investigation prior to this going ahead. It would seem that the Department are getting ever more desperate to somehow give Metrix even more funding to enable them progress. Its looks like they were hoping to sneak this through..... This should be some serious debate asking if this programme should continue if we keep having to bail out Metrix and give them ever more time to try and balance the books to make it look palatable.


Ministry of Defence spends another £40m on ailing contract Daily Mail
The Defence Training Review (DTR) is the government's largest private finance deal. It aims to consolidate the MoD's training bases from 30 to about ten,...

Details that the taxpayer has underwritten almost £50million in investment in the project to outsource soldier training even before a brick has been laid has angered the Tories.

Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin and secretary of the Conservative defence committee, has written to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms MP, asking him to explain the rising costs.

He said: 'There are serious underlying funding problems in the DTR project and it is incumbent on ministers, given the increased level of taxpayer money involved, to make an early statement on the reasons and justification for these new funds.'

...State underwrites UK defence’s PFI project
Financial Times - London,England,UK
Under the deal, taxpayers will underwrite a further £32m of risk in order to push through the Defence Training Review, the UK’s biggest private finance ...

State underwrites UK defence’s PFI project

By Alex Barker, Political Correspondent Published: February 25 2009 02:19 |

Ministers have quietly offered contractors bigger state guarantees as a means of rescuing the £12bn ($17bn) private finance project to centralise the military’s training, the Financial Times has learnt.

Under the deal, taxpayers will underwrite a further £32m of risk in order to push through the Defence Training Review, the UK’s biggest private finance initiative.

The offer was made as the government prepares to intervene to save a clutch of big private finance deals facing funding difficulties, in areas from school building to road construction.

Qinetiq, the defence group, is the lead contractor for DTR, a giant project designed to centralise all non-military technical training for army, navy and air force personnel in one academy in Wales.

The 25-year deal, which has seen significant cost increases, suffered a big setback late last year after an outsourcing arm of Land Securitieswithdrew from the process.

The doubts over its future were partly allayed when Sodexo, the French contract caterer, stepped in to replace Trillium in the Metrix consortium, which was awarded the contract to build and run the academy.

Fresh offers to underwrite parts of the deal, specifically on the design and planning of the new centre, appear to have removed the remaining sticking points.

In an “unnumbered command paper” slipped out to the Commons, the Ministry of Defence said fresh guarantees could be exercised only if it delayed the project. It said the Treasury had approved the plan in principle. The MoD said: “Underwriting the costs of this project is a sensible and prudent business practice.”

DEPARTMENTAL MINUTE DATED 17 FEBRUARY 2009 CONCERNING THE REPORTING OF A CONTINGENT LIABILITY FOR THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEFENCE TRAINING REVIEW

It is normal practice, when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £250,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present to Parliament a Minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from incurring the liability until fourteen Parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the Minute, except in cases of special urgency.

The Defence Training Review Package 1 Project is a large and complex Private Finance Initiative project, with the Metrix Consortium as Preferred Bidder. It seeks to transform the way the Ministry of Defence (MoD) delivers specialist engineering and communications and information systems training on a Defence wide basis to support better the future needs of the Armed Forces.

In January 2008, a Minute was laid before Parliament outlining an initial contingent liability for the underwriting of an element of Pre-Contract activity with Metrix. This existing Pre-Contract Agreement Letter (PCAL1), which the Department committed to in March 2008, underwrites risk reduction activity up to a maximum value of £9.5M. At the time this was considered sufficient to carry the project to the main investment decision point, however, whilst PCAL1 achieved its strategic objectives in generating the momentum necessary to establish an affordable and acceptable programme, further risk reduction activity is necessary to mature the deal and maintain the mobilisation of Metrix resources to ensure the most effective programme to the point at which the Contract is let.

In order to maintain this momentum a second package of risk reduction activity valued at £40.40M is proposed. This work, of which £32.67M will be underwritten by the MoD, is predominantly focused around the design and planning of the estate solution at St Athan, and further development of the training solution. By undertaking these activities ahead of the main investment point, it will be possible for Metrix to make a planning submission in May 2009 (which is essential if construction at St Athan is to start on time in August 2010). Further development of the training solution will build customer confidence in the training solution, allowing quicker and more efficient drawdown of military manpower after Financial Close.

The costs of these risk reduction activities are to be recovered through the tendered contract and are already captured within the Metrix price. Provided that the Programme reaches Financial Close, the costs will be paid from within the planned budget at no additional charge to MoD. The MoD will only become liable to reimburse the underwritten value of these costs if there is a failure to achieve Financial Close for a reason not attributable to Metrix. This commitment will be subject to a clear Limit of Liability, in total and by specific activity area, with any reimbursement of costs subject to full cost analysis supported by open book provisions. Should this liability be called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal Supply procedure.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen Parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this Minute was laid before Parliament, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or by otherwise raising the matter in Parliament, final approval to proceed with incurring the liability will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

DTR costs could rise by a further £1bn
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The cost of the Defence Training Review (DTR) may rise by a further £1bn Defence Management has learned. In a report that first appeared in the South Wales Echo, the cost of the project was listed as £13bn, an increase of £1bn since the last officials figures on the DTR were released late last year.


Sodexo Takes Equity Share in £12bn DTR
PPP Focus.com, UK - 11 Feb 2009
The 30-year £12 billion project is the UK ’s largest PFI and the academy will be the largest vocational training facility Europe when it opens in 2014. ...
New partner found for largest-ever PFI New Civil Engineer
New Partner for UK Outsourcing Training Consortium DefenseNews.com (subscription)
Metrix: a first look into the future WalesOnline

24/02/2009

DTR costs could rise by a further £1bn

From Defence management

DTR costs could rise by a further £1bn

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The cost of the Defence Training Review (DTR) may rise by a further £1bn Defence Management has learned.

In a report that first appeared in the South Wales Echo, the cost of the project was listed as £13bn, an increase of £1bn since the last officials figures on the DTR were released late last year.

The initial contract projected the DTR's costs to be £11bn. But the finances for the consortium ran into trouble when their main source of income: the selling of vacant MoD land, was affected by the recent slump in property prices.

The Metrix consortium which is running the programme has resubmitted a business plan which defence ministers have said is close to being approved. The proposal estimated costs to be art £12bn.

The latest cost projection of £13bn could factor in contingency funding or other unforeseen added costs. With the economy now officially in recession the financial markets have proven become more and more volatile with lenders timid to lend money, even to public service related projects. An attempt to raise revenue for the DTR through a bond initiative was scrapped a few months ago due to poor returns.20

The newspaper did not explain the rise of £1bn.

MP John Smith who's contingency includes St Athan where the DTR is to be built compared the region to the Gold Rush in the US.

"There will be a long queue of companies and organisations rushing to Barry and the Vale because this area will be at the heart of a world-leading centre of excellence in technical skills training.

"Where else but here in Wales will thousands of trainees from our Army, Navy and Royal Air Force receive training in highly-prized and transferable technical skills under one roof? The opportunities created by this project for people and businesses in Barry and the Vale are huge," Smith told the South Wales Echo.

Officials from PCS, the union representing the vast majority of civilian trainees who will either have to move to St Athan or lose their jobs, continue to fight the proposal. The have argued that St Athan does not have the infrastructure in place to be a suitable training academy and that forcing employees to move from all over the country to rural Wales is unacceptable.

Paul Bemrose PCS National Official said, "Should this project go ahead it will be an economic disaster for the local economy."

Sodexo under fire over defence deal

Daily Mail - CITY FOCUS: Sodexo under fire over defence deal

By Karl West Last updated at 10:28 PM on 23rd February 2009

Rarely has the future training of Britain's armed forces been so important. Fighting on two fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, is this really the right time to outsource to a profit-making consortium?

This vexed question is all the more contentious when one of the main partners in this group - Metrix - is the controversial French catering group Sodexo.

The company took its place as one of the two equity partners earlier this month alongside QinetiQ (down 4¼p at 137p), the equally controversial defence research company.

Sodexo replaced property giant Land Securities, which quit the consortium in December citing the soaring cost of the £12billion contract, known as the Defence Training Review.

Sodexo is not widely known in the UK, but serious questions remain about its suitability to help run such a strategically important contract.

Only a few years ago it was dragged through the US courts by thousands of its own African-American staff, who claimed they had been discriminated against on the basis of their race.

More...

The company fought the legal action, which claimed it systematically denied promotions to 3,400 black mid-level managers, but in 2005 agreed to settle for $80million.

Sodexo has also made headlines over the quality and preparation of its food. The 2004 film Super Size Me slammed its policies on child nutrition in US schools, where it supplies catering services.

In Britain, a 2004 Channel 4 documentary exposed the unhygienic preparation of food by Tillery Valley Foods, one of its subsidiaries.

Sodexo has also come under fire in Britain for its management of the Harmondsworth Detention Centre, which is home to many asylum seekers.

graphic

In 2006, Anne Owers, HM Inspector of Prisons, criticised the company for allowing Harmondsworth to 'slip into a culture and approach which was wholly at odds with its stated purpose'.

She said this was 'essentially a problem of management'. The report followed two deaths at the centre in 2004.

A spokesman said: 'The allegations regarding TVF and Harmondsworth are over three years old and do not reflect how these establishments are run.'

The company was also accused of supplying catering at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Although Sodexo is the preferred catering contractor of the US Marines, the companydenies having ever worked at either facility.

'We have never been involved with these contracts. We manage US marine bases only on US territory,' a spokesman insisted.

Aside from these concerns, there are also serious misgivings in the defence industry about whether Sodexo has the capability to plug the gap left by Land Securities.

Sodexo said it was 'confident' it has the relevant expertise for the project, pointing out it is involved in 17 private finance projects and manages a range of services.

This includes taking responsibility for over 130 buildings at Colchester Garrison in Essex.

The key to Metrix's DTR plan is to slash the number of MoD training bases from 30 sites to about ten, with a main campus at RAF St Athan in South Wales, former home of the Vulcan bomber.

It had planned to keep the cost of the project in check by offloading the unwanted MoD sites to commercial property developers.

But since being appointed preferred bidder in January 2007, the value of land has plummeted and debt costs have soared.

As a result, the cost of delivering Metrix's plans have risen by £1billion to £12billion, making the government's biggest ever private finance deal look increasingly unviable.

As previously reported in the Daily Mail, the spiralling cost of the scheme has also attracted the attention of the National Audit Office, which has indicated it might probe the deal.

One industry source noted Sodexo's core competency, as a provider of 'soft' facilities management and catering, is completely different to the expertise in property development and estate management that Land Securities brought.

The source added: 'It suggests therefore that the MoD is going to take the risk on the land values dropping. It's all down to the taxpayer taking the risk.'

The MoD said the sale of surplus land is a 'long term process' and would not be affected by shortterm fluctuations in value. It added: 'The DTR... project is not dependent on funds raised through these (surplus land) disposals.'

While the bill for bailing out Britain's banks spirals ever higher, taxpayers can ill afford the additional financial burden.

And with the quality of soldier training on the line, the question of who runs this high profile contract might literally be one of life and death.

21/02/2009

Peter Collins Fools Gold for Barry!

"IT COULD become South Wales’ 21st century version of a US Gold Rush."?

The proposed multi-billion-pound military academy PFI to be run by arms dealers, war profiteers and caterers could pull in hundreds of thousands of protesters. Yes, a rush of US crooks and mercenaries. And all those trainees from the not so democratic Saudi Arabia?

St Athan Academy to bring jobs ‘gold rush’ to Barry, says MP goes the story Feb in echo by Peter Collins always there to do the john smith mp propaganda column.

MEMBER COMMENT

“In the time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

John Smith says it is vital the Welsh Assembly Government made a quick decision on a new access road to Cardiff International Airport. He said: “Both the airport and the academy are jewels in the Welsh economy and they need an improved road transport system.”

Just what we need if we are to have sustainable development - a airport and more roads? And what about those 100 foot towers with radar on, won't that interfere with the air traffic control systems?

No Ely Valley airport Road

Chris Franks’ AM views on the whole issue of improved access to Cardiff International Airport have been publicly stated. He is opposed to all options that are currently being consulted upon. He favour instead a new road from the A4232 close to the International Sports Village, to the Merrie Harrier junction (near Llandough Hospital) and then a bypass of Dinas Powys eventually joining the southern end of the Port Road at Barry.

Guardian MoD Training project delay

Politicians at war over St Athan defence training academy South Wales Echo
See also Officers mess From Private Eye no 1230 20 Feb 2009
So desperate is the government to cling to its £12bn PFI scheme to privatise defence training, involving the construction of a huge new "defence academy" in South Wales, it has happily replaced the building company with ...a caterer!
http://www.antimetrix.org/2009/02/officers-mess.html

19/02/2009

Politicians at war over St Athan defence training academy

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT INFORMATION FOR

Politicians at war over St Athan defence training academy

Feb 19 2009 by Peter Collins, South Wales Echo

FEARS over “Olympics-style” spiralling costs at the £13bn Defence Technical
Academy have been raised by politicians in a furious row over the St Athan-based development.

Tensions between Labour and Plaid Cymru over the academy scheme have been simmering for several months.

But they have boiled over with the recent announcement that the planning application for the development will be submitted to the county council this spring.

Labour councillors have taken exception to a series of statement made by
Plaid politicians, including councillor Nic Hodges, a Vale councillor and leader of the Plaid group on Barry Town Council.

Labour Councillor and former RAF St Athan worker, Rob Curtis, said: “I’m sick and tired of hearing numerous Plaid Cymru politicians criticising and running down the golden opportunity of having the multi-billion-pound Defence Training Academy located in Wales.

“Numerous negative anti-academy comments were made by their president and former vice -president, Dafydd Iwan and Jill Evans MEP.

The latest attack has come from Barry Plaid Cymru Councillor Steffan Wiliam,
who appeared on a recent BBC report saying that well-paid positions would go to people from outside the Vale, with local people left to do ‘menial jobs’.

Mr Curtis reserved particular criticism for Coun Hodges.

He said: “Coun Hodges has already been quoted as saying the academy would be an ‘isolated gated village’ and also added that ‘nearby towns would see an
increase in squaddie rowdiness and drop-outs from the academy’.

“These are irresponsible and naive comments. The training academy will
provide vital jobs for the South Wales region for generations to come.”

The new armed forces tri-service centre is expected to create about 5,000 jobs when operational.

Mr Hodges responded: “Labour’s cheap histrionics do not wash with me.”

He added: “What I have said is that I am concerned by the lack of detailed
information coming out on this scheme.

“The £12bn scheme costs are already starting to overrun and I am concerned it could spiral, just like the London Olympics.”

“I am also staggered to hear the continuing claims that sports facilities
will be open to local residents.

“This will be a hugely restricted security area and public access will be
largely unwelcome.

“Let’s have a proper debate based on detail and facts.”

peter.collins@mediawales.co.uk


Nb The South Wales Echo (Peter Collins in particular) is promoting the idea
of the Academy



18/02/2009

Officers mess

From Private Eye no 1230 20 Feb 2009

So desperate is the government to cling to its £12bn PFI scheme to privatise defence training, involving the construction of a huge new "defence academy" in South Wales, it has happily replaced the building company with ...a caterer!

The deal was originally lined up with Metrix, a consortium owned 50/50 by technology company Qinetiq and property developer Land Securities. On this dream ticket " Metrix achieved the highest technical score" and was named "preferred bidder".

When Land Securities withdrew in December because of delays and cost overruns, the Ministry of Defence scrambled around desperately for a replacement. As the deal requires the owners to stump up hundreds of millions in hard to come by capital, only one firm came forward: French caterer Sodexo. The MoD bit its hand off without apparently considering whether this affected the "highest technical" qualities it was once so keen on.

The defence training project was intended in the words of former defence minister Derek Twigg , to "focus on how best to improve our accommodation and training facilities, and meet our commitments following the review by Nicholas Blake QC [into the deaths of five trainees at Deepcut] to improve support, welfare and well being of our trainees". Which makes Sodexo an odd choice. In 2006 Harmondsworth immigration centre, run by Sodexo subsidiary Kalyx was condemned by prisons inspector Anne Owers for "failing to provide a safe and stable environment"

11/02/2009

WAG funded phoney consultation

To AMS and Cllrs

Please note this story and I would be pleased if you would answer the questions below.

QinetiQ says Q3 trading in line with expectations - update
RTT News - Williamsville,NY,USA QinetiQ also said that its DTR programme is progressing well. The Metrix consortium is undertaking a number of key activities with the support of the MOD including public consultation in Wales and the maturing of the Defence Technical Academy construction proposal in order to meet planning application requirements. At the beginning of February, the company has selected Sodexo as its new 50/50 equity partner in the Metrix consortium, following Land Securities Trillium's withdrawal


Given there is an entirely new company involved, Sodexo, as a 50/50 partner with Qinetiq, and the consultation process limited and restricted and no feedback has yet appeared or been prepared or minutes taken at the consultation meetings will AMs and councillors ask these questions (as they are part funding this process) with the emphasis on questioning the validity and scope of the consultation and if it is fit for purpose and will it in fact be appropriate for planning purposes?

Some of the questions I sent to AMs in early January to which we are awaiting a reply- I haven’t had a single reply.

1. 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/)

  1. 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”?

3. The fox in the hen house – one of the many topics that hasn’t been consulted on - Will Metrix make up cash shortfall by training private armies, regardless of their human rights record, and is there anything to stop them doing that?

From the 'consultation' website...

http://www.st-athanconsultation.co.uk/english/q_and_a/index.htm

'This programme of consultation began in 2006 when the Vale of Glamorgan Council (VoGC) in partnership with Metrix, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) consulted widely on the draft St Athan Development Brief. The consultation included a public exhibition and helped shape the current draft plans for St Athan’s redevelopment.

…Between now and the proposed submission of a planning application in early 2009, there will be an ongoing programme of consultation including the distribution of newsletters, a regularly updated web-site, workshops and a series of public exhibitions. A dedicated consultation phone line and e-mail address will also make it as easy as possible for comments to be made and questions asked.'

Who is Sodexo?

French Sodexo – they are part of the Metrix consortium, the military training PFI at St Athan and may soon have a much bigger role as they are tipped to replace Trillium on the MoD’s £12bn Defence Training Programme PFI deal.

Sodexo formerly Sodexho ronce mainly involved in catering their business has expanded to supply armed forces, oil rigs, run privatised prisons and security services and is involved with supplying the US forces in Iraq and listed as one of the companies profiteering from Guantanamo Bay.

Sodexo Alliance "builds, finances, and manages" 127 prisons in 7 countries around the world, profiteering high crime rates, working class, and racial socio-economic oppression. – In the U.K. they have an exclusive decades-long contract for Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) near Heathrow Airport, the largest deportation center in the U.K.

Sodexo also provides catering for the US army at Abu Ghraib prison (where standards infamously slipped after the end of Saddam’s regime) and runs brutal immigration detention centres in Britain

One of Sodexo’s key suppliers’ Tillery Valley Foods is Cwmtillery Ind Estate Abertillery Gwent

Politics

Sodexho was the family business of JP Bellon of Marseille, who is still its main shareholder. After Belon's financial support of Sarkozi's election campaign, Sarkozi made Bellon president of the French commission on selective immigration policies (managed migration). The most remarkable suggestion Bellon has so far made is that the average duration of immigration detention in Europe should be expanded to 18 months.

New Labour cronies
Paul Corrigan is Director of Strategy and Commissioning, NHS London working as a lobbyist for dozens of firms which have won lucrative NHS contracts. He is married to Hilary Armstrong, Labour's Chief Whip

16 May 2007 Hilary Armstrong, Minister for the Cabinet Office, today announced Full Commission membership as of 15 May 2007 to Philip Jansen – Sodexho, to the Better Regulation Commission an advisory body set up in 2006.‘To advise the Government on action to reduce unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens and ensure that regulation and its enforcement are proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and targeted’

Lords money for passes - Lord Howie, it is alleged that he provides a pass to Doug Smith, chairman of Westminster Advisers, whose clients include French multinationals Sodexho and Accor.

More here on sodexo

Sodexo becomes equity partner in £12b defence project
CatererSearch - Sutton,England,UK
Sodexo, along with defence technology company QinetiQ, it has become a 50/50 ... PFI and the academy will be the largest vocational training facility in the .


I have made a FOI request with questions above included
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/metrix_pfi_questions