Bridgend Borough has enjoyed a surprisingly prominent place on the pantheon of Welsh innovation – as we discovered when we spoke with Huw David, Leader of Bridgend Borough Council, Chair of the CCR Regional Transport Authority, CCR Cabinet member and a passionate advocate of a ‘green and clean’ economic recovery that could see the CCR lead the UK in the championing of ultra-low emission vehicles …
“If we engage with everyone we’ll get the best out of people”
“Like every other part of the UK and the world, Bridgend is still dealing with the shock of the pandemic and what feels like 10 years of change crammed into 12 months. None of us really know what the long-term effects of the past year will be on us as individuals, on our workplaces or on the high street – but I do know that people are and always will be our greatest asset, so the future is all about putting everyone’s wellbeing at the centre of things. If we do that, we’ll engage everyone and get the best out of them – and that’s where we must focus and invest our energy as we come out of survival mode to build back better.
“We’ve stood out for having a motivated workforce and the ability to reinvent ourselves”
“We’ve had many challenges to overcome in the past year, but we’re fortunate in many ways that Bridgend has traditionally been an area that’s stood out for having a well-motivated and high performing workforce. When Sony became one of the largest inward investors in Europe by setting up in our area, back in the late ‘70’s, they knew from their research that they could rely on committed employees who would always go the extra mile – and to this day they view their plant here as one of the most innovative and productive in the world. I worked on the Sony production line in Pencoed – and many of the workers who were then are still there now – and down the years that global brand has transformed its Bridgend operation to become a centre of excellence for niche products such as high-value cameras and optics, leading the world through its pioneering thinking and team working.
“CCR can lead the green and clean recovery”
“Sony is a great example of reinvention, even using their space to create a hub for micro-businesses, which has already become a hotbed for gaming software start-ups. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re embracing this spirit of innovation as CCR looks to lead the zero carbon revolution by rolling out 122 charging points for ultra-low emission cars. The vision is to keep extending this network to every community in every town, city, village and valley across the Cardiff Capital Region – putting South East Wales ahead of the world in a clean and green economic and social recovery.
“Leading a brand new industry called ULEV”
“That can’t come quickly enough as the climate emergency is growing greater by the day and we all have our part to play in overcoming it. The days of the petrol car are numbered and we have to accelerate the switch to ultra-low emissions. So we have a choice: we can watch this switch from afar and play catch up, or we can be at the forefront of this revolution, creating a critical mass for it here in the Cardiff Capital Region and leading this brand new industry called ULEV.
We are making things happen every day, working closely with the government to implement a game-changing Energy Vision & Strategy. It really is a massive agenda, stretching from decarbonisation to renewables, and one thing I know: we are not going back to the way it was before. The climate is changing right now and we must change with it. We simply don’t have a choice in the matter and we just need to get on with it. That means adopting renewables and reducing carbon emissions at a rapid pace. This region can and is leading the way. We have the wind, the water, the will and the technology. I know we can do it – and we must do it.
“We have the wind, the water, the will and the way. I know we can do it – and we must do it.”
“Our Regional Transport Authority is completely committed to making sure we achieve an inclusive investment right across the region – and our work goes well beyond ULEV, Metro Plus and the South Wales Metro that will connect communities like never before. Our new, soon to be published, Passenger Rail Vision and the priorities set out therein, will help us level-up the region because that starts with our transport infrastructure. This is where the greatest inequalities between us and the rest of the UK lies. We’ve been starved of investment in rail here in Wales, so we lack a modern infrastructure and that needs to change. We’re working with the UK Government, Welsh Government and Network Rail to narrow that divide.
“Our Passenger Rail Vision is set to help us achieve an equitable levelling- up”
“We’re not being parochial – I welcome HS2 but the investment needs to be equitable across the United Kingdom. And it’s not just about getting people out of their cars and onto the railway, important though that is. It’s at the heart of economic competitiveness and making us attractive to inward investment. That’s our vision. We know it’s the vision of Welsh Government and we believe it’s shared by Westminster – which is why we’re setting it out as one of our key enabling propositions in a new regional Investment prospectus – Prosperity for our Place- that will be presented to the UK and Welsh governments later this month.
“Making sure no one in our region has to choose between eating and heating”
“This pandemic has been a watershed, giving us the impetus we need for fundamental change. We want a recovery from Covid and we don’t want an economic depression – so let’s invest in our green energy and that will give an impetus to jobs as well as bringing energy efficiency. Let’s move the dial on fuel poverty so that no one in our region has to make the choice between eating and heating. Building back better means getting ready for the future, whatever the future looks like. I see this as an opportunity to build new industries, create new jobs and narrow the economic divide.