The other man's grass

THIS week I visited an exciting European Capital City with my Parliamentary Select Committee.

The MPs were all impressed by the vibrant atmosphere and beauty of the city, with its new developments, and friendly people.

The city was, of course Cardiff.
The Public Administration Committee came to see the changes following devolution, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to show off our capital to them.

They were very impressed by our civic centre, which must rank as one of the best anywhere. Their appreciation was enhanced by the Council's "Winter Wonderland" in front of the City Hall.

They visited Cardiff Bay, and admired the new Millennium Centre now rising to dominate the skyline.

They took a boat trip across the bay to visit St Cyres Comprehensive School in Penarth which is piloting the new Welsh Baccalaureate.
All were impressed by the students and the new broader course.

They met civil servants, and politicians, including Rhodri Morgan, and discussed how devolution is working.

As Robbie Burns wrote

"O would some power the gift give us To see ourselves as others see us…"

There is often heavy criticism of Cardiff City Council and the Welsh Assembly, but visitors to Cardiff and Wales see us as a forward-looking country and capital city.

That is not to say we should ignore real problems.
The City Centre and Bay are great shop windows for Cardiff, but more needs to be done in our communities to improve services and cut anti-social behaviour.

The Assembly has brought in popular policies, envied by my English colleagues, like free bus passes and student grants.
But hospital waiting times are still too long.

Perhaps "the other man's grass is always greener" but my colleagues were universal in their admiration of our country and its capital.