Wednesday, 29 January 2014


When the war is over...
The interests of ex-service men and women and reservists need to be championed by a dedicated Minister for Veterans' Affairs – a model that has worked in the USA. Such a post could work to ensure that veterans with service-related conditions are entitled to priority treatment, with those who have lost limbs being ensured access to state-of-the-art prosthetics and after care. Plaid Cymru MP's in Westminster were the first to actively raise and discuss the needs of ex-veterans back in 2010. Plaid Cymru previously asked for a Minister in the Cabinet Office to take responsibility for ex-veterans, a Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Such a Minister could also have responsibility for helping former service personnel to adjust to civilian life and ensure that they have access the assistance they need with health, housing and employment. The Scottish government has worked hard to improve the support that veterans receive from devolved public services such as the NHS and other agencies and recently created a commissioner for veterans. Veterans and reservists in our country may be better served by a dedicated Minister of Veterans Affairs to similarly work to ensure that our veterans get a fair deal after finishing their military service.  A veterans Minster could also help to ensure that reservists, who are now being expected to play a much wider role in the future, after the current restructure of the armed forces, don’t lose out and are not discriminated against by employers as a result of fulfilling their duties.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Personally I tend to do my research and actually to read something to try to gain an understanding before I express an opinion, hence the pretty much instant an vociferous attack launched by the usual suspects on Plaid proposals for recruiting doctors tended to suggest that the proposals had more than a little merit. Having read it, I think that the proposal to pay off the debt of student doctors as part of a package of measures to overcome the recruitment crisis threatening the future of the Welsh NHS was one of the sharper pieces of political thinking so far this year.  

The policy would be in return for a number of guaranteed years’ service, help to tackle the recruitment crisis in the Welsh NHS, by attracting 1,000 doctors.  The ongoing failure to attract doctors to Wales has been used as one of the main excuses behind the Labour in Wales Government’s centralisation agenda of the Welsh Government and health boards.

The Labour in Wales Government’s policy of centralization; which is something that is particularly ill-suited to a country such as ours, has now placed under threat the services at numerous local hospitals. It is has also estimated that there is a GP ‘time bomb‘ which will severely effect certain parts of Wales with many GP’s being on the verge of retirement which combined with a real lack of new recruits ready to replace them – means that we have a problem that needs to be solved.   

At Plaid Cymru’s autumn conference, party leader Leanne Wood made a pledge to recruit an extra 1,000 doctors to Wales over two terms of a Welsh Government led by her.  Such a recruitment drive would help offset the fact that Wales has one of the lowest levels of doctors per head of the population in the EU with only Romania and Poland worse off.  The consultation is also seeking to improve access to GPs in the community, tackle the lengthening waiting lists for operations and increase the capacity of the NHS to deal with an ageing population.

Plaid’s consultation document outlines in greater detail how the 1,000 doctors will be enlisted to shore up Wales’s creaking NHS.  The exercise will seek to lay solid foundations for the NHS in Wales to not just to survive, but to thrive.  The policies contained in the consultation document are grouped into four main themes; financial incentives, creating an innovative NHS, revamping and reinvesting in training and finally, international recruitment. A number of the policies are a combination of long-term and short term measures which the Welsh Government could, and should be, encouraging as a matter of urgency.

Some of the policies will require extra funding; some measures are designed to save money such as the creation of a paperless NHS to cut down on bureaucracy and mainstreaming clinical research in order to bring in extra research income. The consultation document includes proposals to:
  • Pay off student debt for doctors in return for them spending a portion of their training and early employment in an under-served area.
  • Develop an innovative NHS and a heavy emphasis on research to make Wales a more attractive place for doctors to develop their careers.        
  • Revamp training for postgraduate doctors to improve the skills that currently exists. 
  • Recruit doctors from foreign countries as a short term solution to specific staffing shortages.
Naturally Plaid’s radical proposals were roundly condemned by Labour Party in Wales elected representatives. I personally will lose no sleep over this, as by way of comparison to previous condemnations of Plaid proposals, this means that within about six months Labour in Wales will be discussing it. And a few months after that the barely edited Plaid’s proposals will be orthodox Labour in Wales policy, and in their manifesto by 2016. This will retrospectively tell us two things, firstly that Plaid’s proposal is realistic and secondly that Labour in Wales is entirely bereft of any worthwhile ideas.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Tax evasion and tax avoidance, at least outside of the UK, is rarely out of the headlines with  many heavily indebted governments keen to hunt down every tax dollar / euro / pound that is owed by tax evaders avoiding (unlike the rest of us) paying their fair dues to society. The Westminster elite privately at least regardless of whatever they say publically, appear to pay scant respect to the idea of fair taxation and fair representation, we may be pretty close to being governed by the sons of bankers and the sons of the City.

The UK Government is in up to its neck when it comes to tax evasion, it’s heavily involved in aiding and abetting tax evasion worldwide. British Overseas territories, including the Cayman Islands, help to hide around trillions from pounds from the different nation’s tax authorities. In the belly of the beast lies the City, which may explain Cameron’s reluctance to do anything about the problem as some of the city banks are hand in glove with drug dealers, dictators, rogue states and terrorists when it comes to money laundering and may perhaps also offer comfy lucrative seats on the board to former Westminster politicians further down the line.

Back in April 2013  the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ] based in Washington DC, began in collaboration with international media, publishing  results into their research into tax evasion and off-shore tax havens. The journalists sifted through an electronic mountain of information - literally  millions of records leaked from Britain's offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world.

The leak of some 2 million emails and other documents, mostly from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), exposed the scale of the offshore tax evasion trade and the identities of tax evaders. It has been estimated that wealthy individuals involved in tax evasion and tax avoidance could potentially have as much as $ 32 trillion dollars (£ 21 trillion pounds) stashed in overseas and off-shore tax havens. The scale of this problem is staggering, if the pot were to be equally divided up then it could be parceled out as around $3000 dollars for every living person on our planet.

No while there is nothing wrong with a company being based in a tax haven does not necessarily mean that a company is avoiding tax or taking advantage of the hitherto pretty impenetrable secrecy that tends to surround tax havens, even if the tax jurisdictions are closely associated with tax evasion. That said, tax havens tend to be masked by secrecy and low taxes, and there have been few attempts to identify them. UK Revenue and Customs does not provide a list of tax havens.

The Con Dem Westminster coalition government at best can be said to have demonstrated a half-heartedly highlighted reluctance to clamp down on tax avoidance. The PM might have publically slagged off a few celebrities, for using a tax avoidance scheme in Jersey but he still appears to be acutely reluctant to deal the tax havens that happen to be UK Crown Dependent territories.  

Most reasonable people accept that there is a real need to deal on a global basis with the problem of off-shore companies and those individuals who are actively engaged in tax avoidance, tax evasion and / or money laundering. The focus on tax havens and tax avoidance is a bit embarrassing as the UK sits at the heart of the problem having consciously chosen not to regulate its own financially useful crown dependent  dependencies and territories.

The scale of the off-shore problem may take your breath away. The Cayman Islands; currently home to some 12,000 corporations has a population of 50,000, yet is home to 70% of the planets hedge funds (as of June 2012). The British Virgin Islands (population 22,000) is home to 823,502 registered companies. General Electric paid no tax in 2010, made a $14.2 billion dollar profit. Barclay's (as of June 2012) had 181 subsidiaries registered in the Cayman Islands and paid little UK tax on its worldwide profits.

The Dirty Digger's News Corp oddly enough managed to base 152 subsidiaries in tax havens across the planet (and that’s according to the US Government) and yet managed to pay no UK corporation tax between 1998 and 1999. US President Obama was 100% right to suggest that the governments of the world should jointly tackle the issue of tax evasion and tax havens. By tackling the tax havens, the tax avoidance and the questionable dealings of the derivative traders, hedge funds and the off balance sheet trading then we might go so way towards dealing with the consequences of the worldwide financial crash. Yet Mr Cameron and the other 18 millionaires in the cabinet have been stalling when it comes to closing  the tax loopholes.

The BVI has incorporated more than a million such offshore entities since it began marketing itself worldwide in the 1980s. Company owners' true identities are never revealed. Even the island's official financial regulators normally have no idea who is behind them. The British Foreign Office depends on the BVI's company licensing revenue to subsidise this residual outpost of empire, while lawyers and accountants in the City of London benefit from a lucrative trade as intermediaries, claiming that the tax-free offshore companies provide legitimate privacy.

In November 2012 a National Audit Office report revealed that of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is struggling to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes is costing the UK billions of pounds in lost tax. Much to the embarrassment of the Con Dems, tax evasion and tax evaders and the hunt for their concealed cash remains a big issue in the USA, in the UK the impression given is that the Conservative dominated Con Dem Westminster coalition government simply hopes that if we don’t talk about the problem then perhaps the problem will go away.

Across the other side of the pond, the US government’s pursuit of tax evaders led indirectly to the closure of Switzerland's oldest bank, after pleading guilty in a New York court to helping US citizens evade paying their taxes. This was the first foreign bank to plead guilty to tax evasion charges in the USA. Rather rapidly other Swiss banks have taken steps to prevent US citizens from opening offshore accounts to avoid paying tax.

Here in the UK, as part of the public sector budget cuts, the Con Dem Government has reduced the number of staff in Revenue and Customs from around 100,000 to 65,000 and intends to further reduce the numbers to around 50,000 by 2015. So much for taking tax evasion and tax avoidance seriously and ensuring that we pay our fairshare of tax. The problem lies with the so called Westminster elite and their cronies in the City rather than with the ordinary people, few of whom were directly responsible for causing the financial crash in the first place, perhaps we are not all in it together after all.  

Monday, 20 January 2014


When someone you have convinced yourself is your best friend (and you believe has your best interests at heart) says something truthful but hurtful about you that can be upsetting. However, when they say it publically for all to hear then it’s twice as hurtful and if you had any sense you might be well advised to question the value of your so called friendship. The former US defence secretary, Robert Gates has said that cuts to the UK's armed forces will limit the country's ability to be a major player on the world stage. And that the spending cuts would mean the UK could no longer be a full [useful] military partner of the US.

Under the current Con Dem Coalition government’s plans, by 2020 the Army will have lost some 20,000 personnel, with the Royal Navy losing 6,000 and the RAF some 5,000. Despite the cuts the MOD was quick to point out that the UK still has the fourth largest defence budget in the world. However, when interviewed by BBC Radio 4's Today programme (16.01.2014) Robert Gates noted that - for the first time since World War One - Britain did not have an operational aircraft carrier.

Mr Gates, who served under presidents Obama and Bush, singled out cuts to the navy as particularly damaging. He said; "With the fairly substantial reductions in defence spending in Great Britain, what we're finding is that it won't have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past." Incidentally, last month the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, warned that the UK could be left with the "spectre" of a hollowed-out force. While this latest American  intervention probably won’t reverse Cameron’s defence cuts it will wound the UK's pride and may shatter a few still held illusions or possibly delusions.

The not so big secret to the UK’s so called ‘special relationship’ with the USA dates back to the dark days of the Second World War is that the relationship is not that special. The UK was dependent on aid from the USA well before Pearl Harbour brought the Americans into the war. Our history (or more like our spun history) tells us that ‘lend lease’ saved us, what’s not said is that ‘lend lease’ was more like ‘cash and carry’ i.e. they take our cash and we do the carrying across the broad U Boat filled Atlantic even after America came into the war.

By the war’s end Britain was pretty much broke (or at least financially challenged) and stretched pretty thin militarily (in terms of manpower UK and Commonwealth forces peaked out in the autumn of 1944|). The Empire and with it ‘imperial responsibility’ unravelled surprisingly rapidly in the post war years. Britain walked from Palestine and Greece, and India, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka gained their independence, despite this the delusionary myth of Imperial greatness and the ‘special relationship with the USA remained.

The reality was that the USA since the early part of the twentieth century had been one way or another pretty much determined to break up the British Empire. Any delusions that the ‘Brits’ had about their position in the world, should have evaporated during and after the Suez crisis when an irate President Eisenhower, told Britain’s Prime Minister Anthony Eden bluntly to halt the military invasion of Egypt or face up to the economic and political consequences. Britain and France found themselves up against it in the face of US economic and political power and interests in 1956 and both lost.

The French decided to maintain an independent foreign policy, which if it coincided with US interests was all well and good, but if not then no matter. The Brits made a different choice, they decided never to oppose US interests again, at least not publically, from 1956 onwards US interests would be British interests requardless. Under continual pressure from the US the remainder of the Empire vanished far more rapidly than it was acquired, being mostly gone by 1964.

The Brits pretty much never stepped out of line again, unlike the French, who retained control of their own foreign policy. Now all this may be slightly delayed fallout from the so called Westminster elite’s failure to secure a majority in the House of Commons for military action over Syria. With the ‘Brits’ making the awkward transition from useful ally and friend  to potential liability people may well be forgiven for wondering where does that leave the so called ‘special relationship’?  

Thursday, 16 January 2014


Perhaps rather than Field Marshal Kitchener a better choice for a commemorative coin would have been the nurse Edith Cavell, who was working as a nurse working in Brussels when the city was occupied by the forces of Imperial Germany in 1914. She remained in Brussels treating the wounded and helping the sick and worked with others to help more than 200 allied soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium.

Edith Cavell
She was arrested and sentenced by an Imperial German military court to death (with 33 others) and shot by a firing squad on October 15th 1915. This act, despite international appeals for clemency (including from neutral powers), along with other brutal atrocities committed by Imperial German forces in Belgium did much to sway world opinion to the Allied side.

While a very recognisable public figure, Kitchener, had in the eyes of some, blotted his copy book after the battle of Omdurman by looting the tomb of the Mahdi (Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah) and removing his skull for a desk ornament (until persuaded by others to return it). Not exactly astute behaviour for a powerful figure in an Empire had a significant number of Muslim subjects living within it. 

He gets the blame in some circles for inventing concentration camps which were used to detain much of the Afrikaner and Black civilian population in the brutal guerrilla war stages of the second Boer war. Neglect, incompetence, indifference, mismanagement and poor sanitation rather than any planned catastrophe resulted in significant numbers of deaths amongst the interned white and black population. While often accused of inventing concentration camps, the reality is that while Kitchener made use of then, their inventors may have been the Dutch (in the then Dutch East indies) and the Americans In the Philippines) in their respective brutal colonial wars. 

An iconic image?
By 1914, Kitchener, depending on which sources you look at was in the eyes of the Westminster elite, on his way out. When war broke out, he was on leave and was drafted into the cabinet, as Secretary of War (he drew no parliamentary salary) by Asquith. He was out of his depth and ever loyal to Asquith he became easy prey for the politically astute and ambitious Lloyd George.

Kitchener clashed with Lloyd George over the raising of a Welsh division and over the initial refusal of the army to provide non conformist chaplains (to minster to Welsh soldiers spiritual needs) – he eventually lost on both counts. After Gallipoli, his days in office were increasingly difficult (and probably numbered) until he was drowned on his way to Russia when HMS Hampshire was sunk in June 1916.

Edith Cavell’s, last words were: "I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone".  She did not want to be remembered as a martyr or a heroine but simply as "a nurse who tried to do her duty". In the year in which we start to commemorate the First World War, the likes of Edith Cavell should perhaps be honoured by a commemorative coin, rather than Kitchener.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


The town of Abertillery in Blaenau Gwent (has a population of about 18,000) and high unemployment. As a former mining town, since the 80's,has suffered a significant increase in benefit receipt, a significant decline in amenities and relatively low economic and employment opportunities. In Scotland simular former mining towns have benefited economically and socially from having old railway lines to Glasgow opened. The re-opening of the Ebbw Vale line to Cardiff (and hopefully eventually to Newport) has brought opportunities to the Ebbw Valley.

Sign the petition to open a train station at Abertillery.

A direct rail link and a railway station in Abertillery would give people access to job opportunities in Cardiff and on the coastal belt. The restored rail link would also bring tourism to a beautiful and historic part of our country. At present the floored devolution settlement means that the Department for Transport makes the final decision on re-opening old railways and building new stations, even if the National Assembly wants it done.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


As has been noted elsewhere there can be no blank cheque for flood defences; we need to make rational and cost effective sustainable choices when it comes to coastal defence. We need to decide how we are going to deal with the weather related effects of a warming world with expanding and rising oceans. Now I am not suggesting for a moment the wholesale abandoning of large tracts of our country to the ravages of the ocean. Rather we need to make rational long term sustainable choices about flood defence and the development of a comprehensive planning system for our country. 

After the flooding...
We need to build in flood prevention / flood avoidance as part of the planning system and make efforts to avoid building in those areas that are vulnerable to flooding or at least build to take into account the possibilities of flooding. If we are going to build on flood plains or other areas that are vulnerable to flooding then we must use flood resistant or at least flood hardened modern intelligent design techniques to limit potential future damage, loss and inconvenience as is done elsewhere. 

Our country has around 5,000 miles of coastline, not all of which is inhabited or at prime risk, but even so, going Dutch with wholesale widespread sea defences would be an expensive option for Wales, let alone the UK. Now those coastal roads and railways that have been damaged by the recent combination of bad weather and high tides will be repaired in the short term.

We in Wales do need to take a longer view and seriously consider the possibilities of relaying railway lines and building roads away from those more vulnerable coastal areas. Additionally we need to harden our power network and our communities to the effect of severe weather events. That said we are in a much better position to make more rational coastal defence choices than some countries in the developing world and to seriously consider just exactly where we put key infrastructure.

The quick fix (and short term gain) may be one of our biggest problems here in Wales along with the lack of sensible detailed all Wales development planning. Across the border, Westminster’s institutionalised short term view led to the cutting of £500 million pounds from the Environment Agency budget (between 2010 and 2013, and anticipated another ‘saving £ 300 million pounds by 2015 and the cutting of some 1,500 jobs. I suspect that in the wake of the last few weeks the Con Dems may revisit this...

The Pacific island nations and Bangladesh will face the potentially catastrophic social, economic and political consequences of rising and expanding oceans before we will.  Even the Dutch have after over 500 years of experience trying come to the conclusion that in some cases it is better to build in flood room, setting aside some coastal wetlands and other land as places that will be allowed to flood to take the pressure of other areas. 

A close call near Caerleon, near Newport in the lower Usk Valley
Some parts of our country got hit hard by the recent coastal flooding and bad weather, other areas literally dodged the bullet , we may not be so lucky next time. Westminster budget cuts mean (unless they are reversed) that in England there will be less money, less resources and less people to work to prevent future floods. We in Wales cannot afford that short of dull short term thinking... we need to start the process of better flood prevention now before the next time.

Monday, 6 January 2014


Once again the Labour Party has failed to stand up to protect our country’s natural resources from exploitation by Westminster. Labour Party MP’s put party interest before our national interests by abstaining on a key vote to devolve full control over Welsh water to the National Assembly – even though their own Government in Cardiff wants this to happen. The vote on Plaid Cymru's amendment followed a Commons debate on the final stages of the Water Bill - every single Labour MP from Wales was absent. Ironically the Labour in Wales Government in evidence to the Silk Commission noted that it wants to see the National Assembly gain full control over all matters relating to Welsh water. So much for joined up thinking and so much for standing up for Wales! 

Hywel Williams MP speaking after the debate said:

"This is an embarrassing episode for the First Minister and his Labour Welsh Government who, once again, have been let down by Labour MPs from Wales.

"Just as in the case of devolving energy projects up to 100 MW and devolving Air Passenger Duty to Wales, the First Minister says one thing in Cardiff while his London colleagues seem intent on undermining his every word.

"Water has been an emotive, emblematic and defining political matter in Wales. It is just one aspect of our nation's wealth of natural resources but our people are unable to benefit from its use due to the UK Government holding the power of veto over all matters relating to Welsh water.

"Had Plaid Cymru's amendment been carried, we would have seen control over Welsh water transferred from Westminster to the National Assembly, ensuring that any wealth generated from its extraction and export would benefit our nation.

"It is disappointing to see the Labour party in Wales yet again conform to the cosy Westminster consensus rather than put the interests of the Welsh economy and people first."

Saturday, 4 January 2014


The Donations Award
The questionable relationship between big donations (and donors) to political parties might in some circumstances be considered to be par for the course (to use a golfing term). Significant donors to the larger Westminster village based (and focused) political parties often tend to get rewarded with gongs, baubles and trinkets. Between 2006 to 2012 those donors giving £50,000 or more to Westminster based political parties were around 6,000 times more likely to receive a peerage than the ordinary person on the street. It has been 80 years since Maundy Gregory became the first (and only) individual to be prosecuted for selling honours and the relationship between cash (and kind) donations and honours remains as strong as ever. The House of Lords Appointments Commission which (nominally) oversees the award of honours is in truth pretty powerless and mostly accepts party leaders’ choices in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. Selling honours is illegal yet more than a few years ago a parliamentary committee came to the conclusion that any successful prosecution would be unlikely unless the culprits were caught in the act so to speak, so the law remains unchanged, so basically the Westminster based political parties have a free-for-all. The honours system as long as it remains under the control of Westminster will remain flawed and abused with little prospect of any meaningful reform. What this on-going abuse of the honors system by the Westminster based political parties means in practice is that the award of honors to hardworking individuals who have worked tirelessly for our communities, to society and to the lives of others over the years is continually tarnished and the value of honours is diminished.  

Thursday, 2 January 2014


Samuel Johnson said amongst other things that the prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully… perhaps the prospect of being hung out to dry (financially) by the big six energy companies, the supermarkets, and Severn Crossings PLC no longer registers as anything more than simple irritation. Perhaps we can become so accustomed to being fleeced that the grimly anticipated rise in Severn Bridge tolls (which kicked in on January 1st 2014) no longer registers. The cost of crossing into Wales by car has increased to £6.40 - a rise of 20p - while small goods vehicles must now pay £12.80 (a 40p increase) and HGVs £19.20 (a 60p increase). The Severn Bridge operators roll out the same old tired excuses for their greed saying that the tolls were agreed by a parliamentary order and in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI).

Not quite a subsidised toll bridge near us...
Yet when it comes to the Severn Bridge tolls, the often ignored literal elephant in the room is the subsidy that is applied to the Humber Bridge. When last in office at Westminster, Labour chose to quietly and regularly subsidise the Humber Bridge tolls, yet, it made no move what so ever towards doing anything about dealing with the tax on jobs, businesses and commuters which are passed off as the Severn bridge tolls. This may explain to some degree what our local Labour MP’s do little beyond trotting out the same old tired press releases bemoaning the failure of the Government to do anything. Interestingly enough the Humber Bridge subsidy has been continued by the Con Dem Coalition Government, a government that has driven the post Thatcherite ‘free market’ ideology into wholly new areas, yet has shown no inclination to curb the Humber Bridge state subsidy or offer to help Welsh commuters and businesses out with a simular subsidy.

At some point in 2018 ownership of the two Severn Bridges will revert back to the Westminster Government ‘s Department for Transport, but only takings from the tolls reach £ 996 million pounds (at 1989 prices). The Labour in Wales Welsh government has said that it would like to take control of the tolls in future when the Severn Crossings return to public ownership and that it would look to reduce them although it believes abolishing them would leave too great a hole in the budget. A recent consultants' report revealed that the abolition of bridge tolls could boost the economic output in Wales by £ 107 Million pounds. By the time the two Severn Bridges come back into public ownership in 2018, it has been estimated that this cash cow may have been milked to the tune of about £ 1.029 billion pounds.

Oddly enough to add regular insult to regular injury the old (M48) Severn Bridge continues to be periodical closed at weekends for routine maintenance, which are funded by the Department for Transport, from the public purse. Plaid has called for the transfer of powers (to Wales) so that the tolls on the bridges can be reduced, something that could have a considerable impact on businesses and the economy. With control over the bridges devolved, Plaid would cut the tolls to £2 to cover maintenance costs. The costs for upkeep are £15 million per year, but motorists and vehicles using the crossings currently generate £72 million pounds per year. While the tolls would form a useful revenue stream for Welsh Governments, the priority of Plaid is to cut the tolls.

Back in October 2010, Professor Peter Midmore's independent economic study of the Severn Bridge tolls recommended that the revenues from the tolls should stay in Wales, once the crossings revert to public hands. The study of 122 businesses commissioned by the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that the tolls had a negative impact on 30% of firms in South Wales, this compared with 18% in the Greater Bristol area. It noted that the economic impact was not substantial for most, the 2010 study found that transport; construction and tourism-related companies reliant on regular crossings suffered increased costs and reduced competitiveness. The 2010 study found that Welsh businesses were unfairly penalised by the tolls and concluded that the money should be shared with the Assembly Government and used to improve Wales’ roads and public transport.