Sunday, 2 December 2007

Merthyr Tydfil Office: First Anniversary Propaganda

The Welsh Assembly Government’s plan to disperse civil service jobs across Wales has been hailed a success as the first anniversary of the opening of the Merthyr office was celebrated last week.

The building contains staff from Social Justice & Local Government; Corporate Procurement Services; Economy & Transport; HR Strategy & Change; and Records Service of the Welsh Assembly Government. It will eventually cost £22 million when ownership is returned to the Welsh Government in another 14 years.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan said he was delighted with the way the move had gone:
The office provides an excellent working environment and staff are using
Merthyr’s urban facilities, thereby helping to contribute to the local economy.
After discussion with a member of staff the bulletin should read something like this:
The office provides an excellent working environment, except when managers are regularly having to travel to Cardiff in order to attend meetings. Staff are using Merthyr's urban facilities such as purchasing sandwiches for lunch and food shopping for the family, and petrol for vehicles when we travel home.
The Merthyr office at Rhydycar accommodates 450 staff. More than 390 posts were moved out of Cardiff and other offices last year, and a further 60 were created to support the office many of which were filled by people from the immediate community (READ: cleaners and low paid workers).

The new office has also created an opening for school leavers who had taken up places on the Foundation Modern Apprenticeship Scheme (READ: six apprentices - source).

Apart from the economic benefit to the town, many staff have carried out voluntary activities in Merthyr and the surrounding area. These include:
  • Supporting the Pant and Dowlais Girls and Boys Club and the Engine House, Dowlais by planting 17,000 daffodil bulbs to help brighten the local area;
  • Helping to refurbish the reception area of a local community centre;
  • Painting a mural in a car park at a mental health resource centre;
  • Working on a ball court at a family centre run by the Aberfan Youth and Community project;
  • Participating in the Keep Wales Tidy Heads of the Valleys clean-up programme;
  • Providing much needed support to women's refuge centres;
  • Supporting the work of the Prince’s Trust;
  • Participating in a leaflet drop for the Merthyr Tydfil Communities First team.

The office has also achieved an ‘Excellent’ score for sustainable development under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.

This seems like a costly experiment to bring the Welsh Government closer to the people of Wales. Apart from the earlier negative aspect to this experiment, congratulations on the encouragement of volunteer work which is much needed in any community.
Since writing this post I remembered what Valleys Mam said to me the other day, "The move to Merthyr was the same [as Llandudno]... created bloody traffic jams and not a lot else."


Anonymous 2 December 2007 at 11:03  

Well it brings jobs to Merthyr doesn't it ... and as the old Cardiff crowd get pensioned off .. so the % of locally recruited staff will increase.

The wailing of the Cardiff hot house plants makes me sick ... half the middle rank managers just get in the way of service delivery anyway with their anti-Welsh mentality, continual chopping and changing, pointless meetings and dead-end projects, transfer the bloody lot out into the sticks as soon as possible.

Anonymous 2 December 2007 at 15:01  

good post Miss Wagstaff, I would very much like to know what benefits this has brought to Merthyr, apart from large traffic jams at the Abercynon roundabout, more low paid part time jobs that will not help raise living standards or wage levels in the area. Also where are the training schemes in the local colleges and schools to educate our young people to the opportunities that have supposedly been created.

I wonder how many people in the UK Government would see it as a good idea to move Civil Servants from London hundreds of miles away from Westminster to do their job, its another stupid idea from WAG gone wrong, is it was down to me i'd build the Civil Servants large enough Headquarters in Cardiff, near the Senedd and be done with it.

Anonymous 2 December 2007 at 16:36  

For God sake tens of thousands of civil servants have been moved out of London ... of course the handful of civil servants engaged in policy making need to be at the centre ... those who deliver services don't ... move 'em out of Cardiff.

Tiger Tales 3 December 2007 at 10:52  

I overheard two members of staff in the Bay discuss the Merthyr office recently. One recommended that the other try the first-rate food served in Merthyr's canteen because it was a lot better than the "@*!#" they serve down here.

Miss Wagstaff 3 December 2007 at 12:47  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Wagstaff 3 December 2007 at 12:48  

Thanks Daniel. I thought the staff ended up with the leftovers once Assembly Members have eaten :)

I'm looking forward to my invite to the Merthyr office.

Anonymous 3 December 2007 at 17:51  

Most staff are generally happy with the place of work, just not the travelling involved. Food is nice, but I don't go to work in order to eat there.

Anonymous 3 December 2007 at 20:32  

So the staff get to the office stay there all day, eat in the place.
How many people go out and shop in Merthyr, spend cash in the town- um-local wealth and all that. The traffic at Abercynon is a nightmare.
Building is nice - however the staff having a fag outside of the perimeter fence look like a picket line.
Why pretend that it’s a job creation scheme – I didn’t think that was the reason behind it.

Anonymous 3 December 2007 at 22:53  

vm - try and think just a little bit longer term. These sniffle servants will be retiring, moving on and kicking the bucket and then the locals will step into their shoes.

That's what happened when functions and staff were transferred to Caerdydd from London in the bad old Welsh Offices days. Stop moaning.

Miss Wagstaff 3 December 2007 at 23:53  

Anon 22:53 - That's a little off course. Many local people wouldn't have the relevant experience and most managerial/policy positions would end up in the lap of experienced staff. That is no reflection on the people of Merthyr and surrounding areas, but of publc sector practices.

"That's what happened when functions and staff were transferred to Caerdydd from London in the bad old Welsh Offices days."

A number of bloggers have posted on this blog relating to this and a significant number of senior civil servants/public sector workers are of non Welsh origin.

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