St Athan unspun

IssueDecember 2007 - January 2008
News by James Maiden

Thanks to concerted efforts on a number of fronts, promoters of the St Athan Defence Training Academy have been on the back foot in recent weeks. At the end of October, the MoD announced it had decided not to hand over half of the proposed military training to the Metrix Con sortium - the group of arms and construction companies hoping to secure lucrative contracts as military training is centralised and privatised. This means that thousands of the proclaimed jobs will not now be moving to St Athan in South Wales, forcing Peter Hain MP and WAG [Welsh Assembly Government] First Minister Rhodri Morgan to rush to reassure the public that the Academy would still go ahead. Cluster bomb-maker Campaigners challenged the involvement in the St Athan project of the US aerospace company Raytheon, drawing attention to their production of the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon, used to deliver cluster bombs in Iraq. Rhodri Morgan, showing a distinct lack of moral fibre, reassured the people of Wales that he welcomed Raytheon's involvement. In contrast, Jill Evans MEP is the first politician to publicly express concern over St Athan. For highlighting the involvement of arms companies and challenging the promoters' claims about the number and quality of new jobs that will be created for local people, Evans has been accused of being “naïve”, “dangerous” and a “nutter”. Recently, BBC news refused to give Jill Evans coverage after a Plaid Cymru debate on St Athan, reporting only that her paper had “been noted”. Jill Evans told PN: “I don't think people are aware that Plaid did pass a resolution.” On 17 January, a year since the proposed St Athan Defence Training Academy was announced, there will be a “non-celebration” outside the Senedd [National Assembly, Cardiff].

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