For more Welsh jobs, only Labour will do
SIR - Alun Cairns, Conservative and Alun Ffred Jones, Plaid Cymru, have recently joined forces on your letters page to attack the achievements of Welsh companies in creating jobs. (Western Mail, Letters, February 2 and February 5).
The independent Office for National Statistics' Labour Force Survey is the definitive account of public and private sector employment. This survey shows that since 1999 the percentage increase in private sector employment in Wales is over twice that for the UK as a whole. Furthermore, Wales is the only part of the UK to have seen a bigger percentage increase in private sector employment than public sector employment since 1999.
This record is a tribute to the skill and talents of Welsh employees. Working in partnership, the Assembly Government and UK Government have created an environment where companies can invest in confidence. Wales provides world-class business support and good transport links in a low inflation, low interest rate environment.
The Tories want to take us back to the bad old days of the 1980s. Plaid Cymru want to shut Wales off from the world economy. Only Labour is standing up for Wales and delivering jobs and prosperity across the country.
Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks
An independent view
SIR - Why should Wales be tarnished by the London government's foreign policy? It was a step too far - and we must become independent.
I know Anne Clwyd and Tony Blair have thick skins, but wonder if they get sleepless nights. Both wanted this illegal war on Iraq which has no end in sight and is causing death and injuries on a scale of an Aberfan disaster taking place more than once a week year on year.
If Wales and Scotland were independent, this war would not have taken place.
Now is the time to become independent before the vast wealth of the oil and gas under the sea off our west coast goes straight to London.
Ridgeway, Aberteifi, Ceredigion
SIR - Devolving the police service to the Assembly is nothing short of madness.
The Assembly is already responsible for health and look at the mess they have made of that. We have an ambulance service in crisis, record levels of debt in our hospitals, newly qualified nurses unable to find jobs and many people stuck on lengthy waiting lists.
The incompetent bunch in the Assembly must not be given more powers unless they have a referendum which should also ask people if they want to abolish the Assembly.
In the meantime give health back to Westminster so it at least can be run properly.
CLLR DAVID FOUWEATHER
Newport West Conservative and Unionist Association
SIR - Having been part of the Partnership Government, the Welsh Liberal Democrats were well aware of the potential level of underspend in the Assembly budget at the end of the financial year. In this we differ from the other two opposition parties.
The £67.5m recently announced comes as no surprise to us. That is why we continued to oppose the budget while Plaid caved in and sold our teachers and students short. We were well aware Labour would be planning to use this money for pre-election gimmicks and were anxious that there should be a more considered and planned approach to the money. Indeed the original underspend was probably considerably more than £67.5 million, as some money will already have been allocated to pet Labour projects which we will see announced before the election.
I hope electors will bear in mind in May that the Welsh Liberal Democrats stood firm in opposing the budget, while Plaid were naive and gullible in believing Labour when they said they had no money tucked away for election handouts.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Cardiff Central
SIR - Most of Wales is Anglo-Welsh and wishes to remain so, but a minority can win if the majority is apathetic. Look what the minority have achieved since starting off wanting bilingual road signs in Welsh speaking areas.
Now they want independence and they will get it if the majority is apathetic.
Whittington Street, Tonna, Neath
Not in his back yard
SIR - I have never written to the newspapers before but the letter from the Director of the Spanish-based wind energy developers who want to build a windfarm in the Upper Afon Valley made me very angry, so this is a first for me.
I know Mr Partridge, the director, lives in Nailsworth in the Cotswolds and he thinks it is right to spoil our hillsides by building ugly wind turbines. Of course, Gamesa will make a lot of money from this horrible proposal. Would the residents of Nailsworth in the Cotswolds accept 600ft-high turbines half-a-mile from their homes?
I don't think so Mr Partridge, but that is what your firm is proposing to do where I live.
People write letters because they care about their area.
I shall do all I can to make sure this proposal will not happen. Listen to us, we live in Glyncorrwg.
MRS MARY EVANS
Gadlys Terrace, Glyncorrwg, Port Talbot
SIR - I read your article about the Mumbles mile, maybe now it might get back to the way it was when I was young.
I am in my eighties now, but it was a lovely place to be when I lived in Swansea all through the war. We used to go on the Mumbles train and get to the pier where we had a lovely night dancing to the "club town" band, when a band was a band (not a group of people singing together).
The last train was just before the dance ended so we tried to have a dance before the last train to Swansea - sometimes we missed it!
They were the good old days. Now the drunks and stag do's have nearly ruined the Mumbles mile.
MRS B PARKER
Wales' late train
SIR - I believe a rail link from Carmarthen to Bangor should be reinstated. This route would provide an essential internal rail link from North to South Wales.
In Scotland the borders line from Edinburgh to Galashiels is due to be reopened and the long closed west coast rail link in Ireland is to be reinstated.
Why does Wales lag behind similar rail developments?
A C PARKER
Wayfield Crescent, Northville, Cwmbran
Bye bye smokers
SIR - If male smokers were to take at all seriously the imminent ban on smoking in enclosed public areas we might see fewer young men resembling sinister and dissolute Chicago-style gangsters, fewer characters in their middle years looking like seedy and disreputable protagonists from kitchen sink dramas and fewer senior citizens having about them the ghastly and insubstantial appearance of scarcely living species of the walking dead.
Masculinity, maturity and strength of character are not epitomised by the slavish rituals of cigarette smoking and any qualities of virility, attraction and handsomeness are diminished and dissipated along with the drifting smoke and unpleasant stench of the tobacco fumes.
Looking less like a James Bond-style irresistible Lothario or some oversexed babe magnet from a Hollywood film-set but rather more like a reject from some last-chance saloon in an inner city dive, the chronic smoke-aholic has little idea of the stereotyped caricature of humanity he has become.
The charismatic man of action of the popular imagination could be more accurately described as a weak-willed and self-indulgent individual who needs all the help he can get to quit his destructive habit.
These sorry battalions of broken-down smoke stacks who pollute our air will soon be shunted onto the sidings of their own contamination, while shifting social perspectives might gradually bring about the demise of the tobacco industry altogether.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
Llwyn Carw, Morriston, Swansea
Doing it our way
SIR - I was astonished to read the letters from Messrs Mathias and Williams (Western Mail, Letters, February 2).
Although now retired from the Civil Service, I am a PCS member and was formerly active at local, group and national level in the union. On the morning of the strike on January 31 I took two Swansea based Labour AMs to a number of picket lines to express their support. They were warmly welcomed by all the PCS members present.
It is simply incorrect to say that Welsh Labour or the Welsh Assembly Government has a policy of reducing Civil Service numbers. There are no proposals to cut numbers of civil servants working for the Assembly and indeed staff numbers in the Assembly are considerably greater than in the old Welsh Office. Pay and conditions have also improved since the old Welsh Office days and substantial investment has taken place to ensure that some of the additional jobs can be located away from Cardiff in Merthyr Tydfil, Llandudno Junction and Aberystwyth.
All this has been done after full consultation with the unions and contrasts sharply with the approach of the Westminster Government.
Within the constraints of limited powers and finance, the WAG is working to a philosophy quite different from that of New Labour. Most Labour AMs simply do not share the free market zeal or disdain for working people which characterises Blairism.
Comments such as those by Mathias and Williams simply serve to undermine those in the Labour Party who are struggling to oppose the agenda of the Blairites which can hardly be helpful to civil servants or others fighting for jobs.
Cedar Close, Gowerton, Swansea