Thursday, 16 December 2010

One Wales? or Three Wales?

How we are linked by human connections
as mapped by analysing phone-calls
Source: The Economist
Wales is not one country, but three different ones when looked at through the prism of human relationships, according to a fascinating article in this weeks Economist magazine.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have analysed 12 billion of phone calls within the UK in 2005 to find which regional clusters communicate with each other most and to see how they corresponds to the official administrative borders. The study's hypothesis in a nutshell is that the more and longer people in two locations talk on the phone, the more likely there are human connections binding those those places together into a cluster.

The results show that Scotland is the most cohesive region in the UK, with more than 75% of all calls originating in Scotland calling other parts of Scotland.

It is the results for Wales which are most fascinating to me -- showing that there are three distinct regions within Wales with only limited human interaction between North, South and large portions of mid Wales. North Wales in particular is much more linked in terms of human interaction with Liverpool, Manchester and the North West of England, with between 65-75% of all phonecalls originating in this area being to other places in North Wales and the North West.

What does this tell us?
GVA per head variation between regions. Following
Wales the North West is the next poorest.
Click to enlarge

  • It shows that North Wales's economy is inextricably linked to that of Liverpool, Manchester and North West England. This fact is reinforced when you look at the relative GVA per head figures between regions. After Wales (with Anglesey at the bottom) the next poorest region is the North West (with nearby Wirral at the bottom). For North Wales to grow, it is essential for the North West to also grow, therefore there should be much more communication and collaboration between WAG and the North West in terms of economic development.
  • In terms of tourism, it shows that the natural market to attract visitors is from the cities of Liverpool, Manchester and the North West. As there are already plentiful human relationships between us, strategically promoting Anglesey as a destination to these regions should be like pushing against an open door.


the outsider said...

I think this research confirms what we know. There have been strong tourist and business links between Anglesey and the North West historically, and it is interesting to see that in a globalised world these links remain so strong.

The Red Flag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Red Flag said...

That litle lump of rock Snowdonia probably has a bearing on this. Note the little 'thrust' coming out of the midlands towards Aberystwyth/Barmouth/Southern Snowdonia - University-linked perhaps? People from the English Midlands retiring to the nearest bit of coast? Holiday homes?

It does highlight the lack of a decent road from North to South - that one fact alone is probably one of the biggest factors in this.

A couple of years ago everyone was 'Keynesian' mad as an answer to the economic crisis. At that stage it should have been mooted to run a dual carriageway from the Conwy area straight (as possible) south through Snowdonia and Llangurig to the M4 between Cardiff and Swansea and a further one running from Aberystwyth via Llangurig to the English Midlands. Coupled with a significant upgrade of the coast road from Bangor down the west coast to St David's then eastwards to the start of the motorway near Swansea. This would have opened Wales up completely. Cardiff to Holyhead by road would be less than three hours.

Unfortunately, the 'will' to do large-scale public works has now gone and the opportunity passed.

Never mind, we have IeaunAir - the answer to all our problems.

Photon said...

A fascinating post, Paul. It does rather highlight the futility of forcing Wales to be some pretence of a single, cohesive unit. the differences are mainly the product of geography, but also of history.

We may well have Ieuan Air, but that is only for a tiny minority, mostly public servants and the like. For the rest of us, north and south Wales remain firmly 4+ hours apart, and there's little prospect of that changing in the even the longer term.

It's sill to continue this pretence, but it's also problematic to implement Welsh policies if you don't somehow 'contain' Wales into an identifiable region. The problem for north and mid-Wales is that we are now unable to join our colleagues across the border for many purposes, as we once did. But at the same time, we're also long forgotten and seen as strategically unimportant to the people in the Bay.

Anonymous said...

The link with the North West is also seen in the proportion of people who Identify themselves as Welsh. Although in Merthyr and the Rhondda nearly 90% Identify as Welsh the A55 coast goes;
Gwynedd 64%
Conwy 47%
Dendighshire 52%
Flintshire 45%

Decades of inward migration result in this part of the Country strongly Identifying with the North West of England.

Anonymous said...

What new ?? I made a comment on your blog some weeks ago about this. We in North Wales are naturally linked with the North West. This is the area we attract our tourists mostly from, and were we are most likely to see investment coming from. We need to encourage more of the "sais" from the northwest and midlands and make them welcome !
Th other day I was conducting some business with Welsh Water in Cardiff and the person I was talking with did not know were Anglesey Was ? Answers it all !!!

Un o Fon

Anonymous said...

Again something we all know.
I am a PASSIONATE Welshman, and would love to do my ''business'' or shopping or 'passport office visits' in Cardiff or within Wales. But the realty is thanks to our Geography and horrendous public transport, Liverpool is down the road and can do everything there and get back home for tea. Cardiff may as well be Madrid.
So until transport links improve there is no point for us and WAG to have an ideology to have 'inter-Wales' trade.

And we (WAG) needs to actually work with these areas. I was wondering why isn't there an 'inter reg' (EU) scheme between N.Wales and N.W England? it'd be more beneficial than the N.W.Wales-Ireland interreg!?

So we must work with them, yet why some years ago did they want to scrap the North Wales & Chester Business of Trade (or whatever it's called) to get a 'one Welsh' one?!

So we need UK Gov and WAG to make these regions work together, yet I cant see ANY WAG from any party doing this. Shame.

Anonymous said...

Plaid are dead against this fraternisation with the NW of England. When Wrexham area tried to set up a cooperative understanding on development with Cheshire it was Plaid who parachuted in with the usual "Erosion of the Welsh Identity, Language and Culture" mantra to stir up the oposition.

There's a petition against it on the WAG web site. Interestingly there seem to be as many people from Gwynedd signing it as people from Wrexham or Flint.

David Williams said...

The most significant transport investment the WAG should be pursuing is in England - upgrading the A5 from Shrewsbury to where it meets the A483 south of Wrexham. Dual carriageway from the M54 to the A55 would significantly improve the attractiveness of North Wales to people and businesses in the West Midlands and beyond.

Groundhog Day said...

We should be grateful here in the North of Wales for having access to the North West of England if only for their excellent hospitals for our children and cancer patients. Our hospitals are geared up for moslty routine treatments and we depend heavily on Liverpool and Manchester for their centres of excellence in the treatment of cancer and particularly for Alder Hey children's hospital. Cardiff may as well be on the moon for all the good it is to us as a capital. If there were a referendum tomorrow to break away and join the North West with Liverpool as our capital I would be first in line to vote - and I say that as one who was born here and speak and use the Werlsh language.

kp said...

I would also support that!

Those hospitals are just magnificent!

Jac o' the North said...

These findings show that many people in north Wales came there from north west England. A good thing? Well, just remember that among these incomers will be those adding to the rich street life of Rhyl, Prestayn and similar places.

Also remember that this is based on telephone calls, and then remember how much of north Wales is 'served' from Chester and other places by all manner of utilities, government departments and other bodies. Similarly for Shrewsbury, and throw in hospitals and other services.

As devolution progresses all this will change. The flotsam and jetsam of north west England will no longer be dumped in Wales; we shall no longer be encouraging the halt, the lame and the elderly to move here; and the Chester-Shrewsbury syndrome will be tackled by making it clear that anyone hoping to make money in Wales will base themselves here and create jobs.

If this doesn't happen then devolution will have failed and independence will be the only option left.

the outsider said...

I am glad that there isn't a motorway through Snowdonia as per Red Flag's suggestion.

Anonymous said...

"the outsider said...I am glad that there isn't a motorway through Snowdonia as per Red Flag's suggestion."

Why? They've built them through the Lake District. the Scottish highlands and other scenic places and they are barely visible. You can hardly claim it's because it's scenic - there's a bloody cafe up Snowdon and a railway and you would only notice it for the most part of you were above it. Hell we even celebrate our castles and they were actually built by an invader to subjegate, tax and enslave us.

I think it's a grand idea. Unless Wales is opened up and connected North-South and East-West there is no reason at all for business of any sort to come here - there simply is no point. It will be left behind and dumped where it deserves to be - in the bin of history whilst the rest of the UK cracks on and rightfully ignores it.

It's not what Wales thinks that's important - in fact it's barely relevant. It's what we are trying to attract here that's important. Don't give them what they want - bloody decent modern and capable infrastructure - then they will look elsewhere and they would be idiots not to. We have to offer better infrastructure than everywhere else, not what we currently offer - lower than average wages.

Try driving from Holyhead to Cardiff - it's a bloody joke.

Anonymous said...

Lots of anti-English ravings belies the fact they provide a substantial proportion of our public money and support the tourism industry. A reality check please before this devolution nonsense grows and we continue to be a third world nation.

kp said...

Independence for Wales would be a terrific idea.

Not only would the English no longer have to support us, we'd be forced to compete against the English, Scots, and Irish for every single pound of inward investment.

Guess what, we'd have to become to more English than the English! And then we really would be on the road to building our own nation! Just like the Irish did!

Bring it on!

Anonymous said...

KP, except the Irish "road building" was 85% EU funded but the road building in the economic sense was that of the Irish pussycat and not a Celtic Tiger.

kp said...

The point I am trying to make is that no-one is going to invest in North Wales if we continue to make it difficult for them.

We should try to become the 'country of choice' for inward investment from the US, China and India.

Work on this!

the outsider said...

and I don't think the EU has any more money for roads just now either in Wales or Ireland. And our Government can't even afford to keep a coastguard station open, apparently. And who exactly is going to lend money to an independent Welsh nation?
The investors have got what they want today - a fixed market for electricity. Who said the Tories believed in the unadulterated workings of the free market? But at least Anglesey stands a better chance of getting it's new nuke power station now.

kp said...

As you rightly say, no-one will lend money to a non-repentant independent nation called Wales.

We must duly repent and re-build the nation to be more agreeable to others. Only then can we move forward.

Otherwise we deserve to die, just as we are dying at this very moment.

Anonymous said...

This post has been removed for arbitrary and unjustifiable reasons.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Lots of anti-English ravings belies the fact they provide a substantial proportion of our public money and support the tourism industry. A reality check please before this devolution nonsense grows and we continue to be a third world nation.

16 December 2010 21:34

Wales a third world nation? In global population terms, we are in fact EXTREMELY lucky to live in a place like Wales. Even if the Welsh people one day did support independence (they don't at present) it is literally impossible that third world conditions would emerge in Wales, short of a world war taking place (in which case I think national boundaries would be the least of our problems). Many conservatives have quite clearly argued there is no reason Wales could not survive as an independent country- they (Welsh politicians) do have the abilities, they are just not likely to follow the correct policies to make it happen.
I find the ignorance of some comments here astounding.

Groundhog Day said...

"they (Welsh politicians) do have the abilities, they are just not likely to follow the correct policies to make it happen."

Ok name me one Welsh politician worth his salt. Albert? IWJ? Any of those who sit in the gin palace in Cardiff Bay? If they were any good we would be well on the way to a better infrastructure now and a health service that does not frighten the crap out the Welsh population....... get real the worse thing that the Werlsh turkeys ever did was to vote for devolution and allow these so-called politicians tho have their heads. And soon the same Welsh turkeys will no doubt be voting to give these fools even more powers to ruin the nation.

Richard Sletzer said...

GROUNDHOG DAY: I 100% agree with you. The last thing Wales needs is yet more politicians.

Anonymous said...

"Ok name me one Welsh politician worth his salt. Albert? IWJ? Any of those who sit in the gin palace in Cardiff Bay? "

Worth his, or her, salt- Elin Jones, Leighton Andrews, David Melding, Jonathan Morgan, Jocelyn Davies, Andrew Davies, Brynle Williams...people from both left and right, unionist and nationalist, there is plenty of talent there and even our own Paul Williams clearly has interesting things to say and ideas.

The performance of our health service isn't linked to individual politicians- it's the resources, decisions taken, abilities of thousands of staff, civil servants, the type of illnesses and dietary problems we have in Wales.

But forgive me for trying to elevate the debate above the level of whingeing about devolution.

Groundhog Day said...

Anon @ 0204 !!!! Were you awake and sober when posting?

Here are a few more politicians for you to comment on other than the two fools on Anglesey. Carl Sargent? Edwina Hart? Jane Hutt? I could go on and on and on, as for our Elin Jones, only the fools in the Bay could appoint a vegetarian as min of ag!! We are being governed(??) by a shower of ineffective fools. I rest my case!

Anonymous said...

How about revisiting the admittedly controversial idea of the Eisteddfod in Liverpool then? Or at least making sure the area is represented (see below)?

"People from the English Midlands retiring to the nearest bit of coast?"

Mid wales coast is not nearest in practical terms though, due to the lack of a decent through route. E.g. The route from Elan Valley to Aberystwyth is known for its beauty not its practicality. Not sure where the common connection is, to be honest.

"Dual carriageway from the M54 to the A55 would significantly improve the attractiveness of North Wales to people and businesses in the West Midlands and beyond."

That gets my vote; the M6/M56 and its equally congested alternatives are a disaster area.

At the Birmingham Gardeners' Show last year, the first thing I spotted was a couple of hired Stermat vans, being used by a couple of North Wales growers. The show's food stands included Welsh bakeries selling their wares too. Where were/are the Tourist Board stands?

"Try driving from Holyhead to Cardiff - it's a bloody joke."

Tried it, not many years ago (well, Pembroke to Anglesey, same idea). Very scenic, but not much else to recommend it; Cardiff to Anglesey has even less in its favour.

Photon said...

"Lots of anti-English ravings..."

Erm, devoluton has nothing to do with anti-English ravings. And where is all this anti-English raving? In my experience, the only ones still going on about anti-Englishism are those who feel threatened by Welsh because they won't learn the language. I think that makes it anti-Welsh raving, doesn't it?

Do you go into shops and think people speaking Welsh are, in fact, insulting you, by any chance?

kp said...

I don't speak Welsh and I have no plans to learn Welsh. As for shops where Welsh is much spoken, no, I try not to visit them. I prefer to stick to my own kind.

But I do not begrudge them for existing, nor the fact that my taxes go towards ensuring they can continue to exist.

Indeed, I wish we had more Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern shops and places of worship too. And my taxes also going towards happily funding such enterprises.

It's time we woke up to the modern world, England will not fund us forever!

Robert Godfrey said...

Statistics can be confusing
The telephone code for where I live, Hawarden and Deeside is 01244, the STD code for Chester. It follows that all calls from other parts of NE Wales to our area would have been analysed as calls to the North West of England!

Anonymous said...

Why are the Welsh so proud of their emigrants yet dismissive of immigrants. Many people left Anglesey to live and work in Liverpool in the C19th. Is it stupidity or hypocrisy?

kp said...

Neither .......... just a result of extremely poor education.

Until the education system improves here nothing will improve!

Anonymous said...

Ignorance then!

The Red Flag said...

I am the only member of my family that cannot speak Welsh. My mother couldn't speak a word of English until she was 8. I can recognise probably a couple of dozen words. When I hit the big 65 in a decade or so I fully intend to learn it properly and use it as much as possible as my 'first language'. My brother - who lives in Folkestone - when back in Wales will always use Welsh first in pubs and shops and English second if he gets a blank look. My younger sister (Llandudno) will use English but if she susses that the people she is talking to know Welsh will switch to it straight away. All the rest of me kith and kin are similar one way or another - except me who knows more German and Italian than is own native language.

It is good that there is a sustained resurgence in the language along with it's common usage and it is right that people in public services should be expected to speak it. It is equally right that in the naming of towns, streets etc that it takes precedent.

True story. UNPROFOR Bosnia. When on UN missions you have to use 'open' transmissions - no codes etc , so tha the loacla warring factions can happily listen in. 1RWF used Welsh speakers as the signallers and it really screwed the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks up big time. They complained but because it's legally recognised internationally, and 1RWF were an 'ethnically' Welsh regiment they got two fingers and the use of Welsh continued.

PromoW said...

Red Flag: Just like the Navaho 'code-talkers' in WW2.