That is quite possibly the first time that that has been said of a top ranking Government Minister in 90 years since Lloyd George came to Ceredigion in 1921. Certainly, there has been no visit from a Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister in the last 30 years. There was an occasion I'm told when a senior Labour Party leader was heckled whilst driving down Cardigan's High St - was it Harold Wilson or Michael Foot I'm not sure.
But anyway, the point is that the heart of the UK's decision-making process came to Ceredigion today and that's a bloody good thing.
Ceredigion Business Forum
To be precise, Nick Clegg came late this afternoon to Aberaeron on the final leg of his whirlwind tour of Wales. As Elizabeth Evans our Welsh Assembly candidate is an Aberaeron girl, she made it clear that she wanted to bring the Deputy Prime Minister to her home town when the idea of a visited was mentioned a few weeks ago!
He arrived slightly earlier than planned at 4pm by helicopter and we were relieved when we heard that he'd landed as there was a sea mist hanging over the town making the landing that bit more challenging! On touch down, he was welcomed by our local Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams and our Welsh Assembly candidate Elizabeth Evans. He had come to speak to local business people about the local economy - to listen to their concerns and to to take back to the heart of Government, the hopes and fears of rural Wales.
We had only had 48 hours to organise the event having finally been given clearance by special branch on Wednesday so I was delighted that even in such a short time-frame we managed to get business people from across Ceredigion to the event. Traders from Cardigan, Lampeter, New Quay, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth all came along to meet the Deputy Prime Minister and to put their case to him and to Elizabeth, our prospective Assembly Member for Ceredigion.
Issues raised ranged from the banking crisis, to business rates, to unecessary red tape, to the housing market. Nick answered the questions alongside Elizabeth in what was an informal set-up and there was enough time for traders from New Quay, Lampeter, Cardigan, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth to get their questions in.
|The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg with |
Elizabeth Evans and Mark Williams MP
ITV Wales and BBC Wales were also present with their cameras so the visit was screened tonight on the Welsh news as seen briefly here - the ITV Wales coverage of it can be see here http://www.itv.com/wales/cleggs-wales-visit87171/.
After some final photos and an ice cream (and a call in French with an African President!), Nick was gone and the stress of helping to organise a high-level Government visit with the security that went with it, had quite literally, flown away!
Putting Ceredigion on the Map
We've had high profile visits before over recent years. Ashdown and Kennedy all came here as Liberal Democrat leaders and I was personally proud as punch to lead Menzies Campbell around Cardigan when he visited as party leader back in 2007
But there's nothing like welcoming a Liberal Democrat Government Minister to our county. Because under previous Conservative and Labour governments, Ceredigion has been ignored. The Liberal Democrats however put that right and I'm proud that Nick, as the Deputy Prime Minister, came to speak to local business people on their turf and on their terms.