By Claire West

The multi-millionaire Paul Ragan slammed the Welsh Assembly’s plans for ‘Big Ideas Wales’ as ‘irrelevant in leading the Welsh national recovery’.

“The Assembly’s ‘Big Ideas Wales’ are really little more than a website,” said Mr Ragan, a star of Channel 4 TV’s Secret Millionaire.

“It’s face to face practical support and mentoring that young entrepreneurs need not a website. A sort of ‘Dragons’ Den’ with a social conscience,” he said.

Deputy First Minister and Economy Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones described this week how the Welsh Assembly planned to back new business start-ups and encourage entrepreneurship among young people.

“Entrepreneurs are the drivers of the economy. Those who take the step to create and build businesses ensure jobs and prosperity for the country,” said Mr Wyn Jones.

“It’s all very well to recognise a need but the Assembly has to take some positive action,” said Mr Ragan. “’Big Ideas Wales’ just doesn’t deliver. I met with I Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones not so long ago and tried to get this point across.”

“We have to do something radical and this isn’t radical it is the same as before. I think if there is ever a time to change it is when you are at the bottom of the league table and Wales has been at the bottom of most league tables for a long time now.”

Wales has a poor record when it comes to creating new businesses. Only 9,290 businesses were created in 2008 — fewer than any other region except Northern Ireland. Judging on past records, less than half of these will last five years.

“I’m calling on Welsh entrepreneurs globally to help me mentor young entrepreneurs in Wales. This is where the growth will have to come from if we are to lead the national recovery,” said Mr Ragan. “The efforts of the private sector are now vital for economic growth.”