“Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it"

Roald Dahl fans will instantly recognize the Llandaff-born author’s insight into the world of politics on this, the 100th anniversary of his birth. Wise words indeed, although choosing to “do it” is just the start - getting it done is another matter, particularly in the case of major infrastructure projects.

 

The six week closure of the Severn Tunnel to allow for the electrification of the Great Western mainline is of course a major inconvenience for commuters in the short term. However the alternative to Network Rail’s programme would have seen intermittent closures of the tunnel for a year a more.

 

I’m keeping a close eye on the replacement services and pressing for the work to be carried out as swiftly as possible so that commuters may benefit from all the advantages that electrification will bring including cleaner, state of the art trains and shorter journey times.

 

From major, modern engineering projects to the other end of the spectrum now and I was pleased to visit the Mathern Mill open day to see the results of years of restoration work. Mills like this were once familiar features of the Monmouthshire countryside and their water - and later steam driven - machinery was cutting edge in its day.

 

The fate of buildings like Mathern Mill usually lies totally in the hands of their owners. I’m calling on the Welsh Government to provide more tailored support for smaller buildings of historic interest that too often fall through the funding net.

 

Speaking of finance, the start of the new Assembly term has seen the introduction of the Land Transaction Tax Bill, paving the way for the first new Welsh tax in 800 years when the UK Government “switches off” the current Stamp Duty in Wales.

 

This is clearly an anxious time of transition and let us be under no illusions - it’s going to be a key test for the Assembly. It’s vital that we get Welsh taxes right and that the public have confidence in the Assembly’s ability to handle them.  I believe the Welsh Government must aim to do something that is not just adequate but better than the current tax regime.

 

In the words of Road Dahl, “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog.”