Thursday, 17 January 2019

Wrexham 'one of the worst places in the UK for GP recruitment'

Plaid Cymru has accused the Welsh Government of "sleepwalking to disaster" after health board officials described the ratio of GPs to patients in Wrexham as among the worst in the UK.

The admission came during a meeting on Wednesday of the Safeguarding, Communities and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, where Gareth Bowdler from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board explained that the average ratio of GP to population in North Wales was about 1800, which was higher than the UK average. He added that the ratio in Wrexham was even worse at more than 1:2000 and described the area as particularly difficult to recruit to.

Mr Bowdler, the area medical director, did not explain why that was the case.

Cllr Gwenfair Jones, a former nurse who sits on the scrutiny committee for Plaid Cymru, said: 
"I think we're all aware of the shortage of GPs in general and specifically in Wrexham. It's something Plaid Cymru raised the alarm over four years ago. Since then, the situation has got even worse. GPs know it, we know it and anyone who tries to access their GP knows it. Yet we see a health board and Welsh Government failing to act upon the available evidence. We need to train and recruit more doctors here in north Wales and specifically for Wrexham or we will face an even greater crisis in the coming years. 
"I asked for the latest information about the medical school planned for north Wales, something Plaid Cymru pushed hard for over the years and was finally conceded by Labour, but there were no clear answers. We need to see progress because people are not able to access GPs and we have even worse problems when it comes to out-of-hours cover."
Cllr Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru (Queensway) added: 
"Plaid Cymru's long-standing policy is to train and recruit 1,000 extra doctors as well as 5,000 extra nurses to bridge the shortfall we face in our community settings as well as district general hospitals. The Maelor alone has more than 100 nurse vacancies and the age profile of both our nurses and doctors means we need to start training now just to replace those retiring in the coming years.
"On top of that, Wrexham Council and the Welsh Government seem intent on making a bad situation worse. The Local Development Plan intends to allocate land for thousands of additional homes to accommodate thousands of extra people. The health board estimates that this will need an additional 10 GPs and yet here we have the health board admitting the recruitment crisis in Wrexham is already amongst the worst in the UK. When will we see some concrete action from the Welsh Government to address this crisis? We are sleepwalking towards a disaster here."

Labour votes against Autism Bill - it's a disgrace

The failure of Labour to back an autism Bill for Wales has been condemned by campaigners and Plaid Cymru.

Labour, the Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams and one independent AM opposed the Bill in the Senedd, meaning it failed to be passed by 28-24.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM, said:
"Plaid Cymru supported this bill, which was part of our manifesto commitment in 2016. Had we be in power, this would now be law and it's a disgrace that Labour saw fit to vote down this important piece of legislation. 
“People with autism and their families have been let down by the Labour party in Wales and their cynical voting against the Autism Bill. The Liberal Democrat member and the Independent AM were both elected on manifestos to introduce legislation on autism and their rejection of the Bill is equally disappointing. 
“The distressing evidence we received from people with autism and their families of the challenges they face to get some kind of diagnosis, of identifying support where support is needed, where it exists at all, of getting access to their support shows how desperately legislation is needed. There's a shocking lack of consistency nationally and, where services are good, they are too often dependent on skilled and caring individuals in certain professions. 
“Families are profoundly disappointed that the Welsh Government and the Labour party have not listened to and acted on their concerns. This is not the end of the matter as far as Plaid Cymru is concerned and we will be scrutinising the government rigorously to ensure that their promises are kept. 
“A Plaid Cymru government would introduce legislation that protects and promotes the rights of autistic people in Wales, their families and carers."

Among those voting against the bill were local Labour AMs Ken Skates and Lesley Griffiths.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Wrexham's population is falling - let's rethink our housing plans

Rejecting plans for 130 new homes on greenfield sites in Rossett should be the start of a re-think on our plans to develop Wrexham over the coming decade.

The decision taken by the planning committee on Monday was against officers' recommendation, which argued that the emerging Local Development Plan could be used to allow this scheme to go ahead. This is despite the fact that the Plan is still in draft form and has not been examined in public.

Councillor Marc Jones (Plaid, Grosvenor) argued that the application should be rejected on the grounds of safety, as there were inadequate pathways for walkers, as well as being contrary to the existing Unitary Development Plan.

He argued that the developers wanted the best of both worlds:
"While they are using the emerging LDP as a way to allow this greenfield site development to take place, they are not willing to accept the quota of affordable housing that same plan requires. Instead they are trying to get away with providing 25% in an area desperate for affordable housing."
Cllr Jones added:
"Development on greenfield sites should not be taking place unless there are exceptional circumstances. The LDP threatens a free-for-all from housing developers who are jumping the gun and it's important that councillors reject those pressures."
Cllr Jones said the Plaid Cymru group of councillors would be making representations to the Planning Inspectorate examining the LDP about the falling population in Wrexham and questioning the need for the rapid expansion in housing envisaged in the LDP.

He said:
"In 2013, Wrexham's population was 135,801. In 2017, the latest mid-year estimate that we have, it was down slightly to 135,571. There is no population boom happening in Wrexham and, if anything, EU nationals are departing and our population could continue to shrink or stabilise.  
"Of course new homes are needed as family units become smaller but the LDP was based on Welsh Government projections that the borough's population will rise significantly over the coming decades - initially it was 20% and subsequently downgraded to 10%. It's now clear that even that downgrading overstates the case."
Here is the Welsh Government's own mid-year estimates for population in the borough over the past five years:
2013 135,801
2014 135,953
2015 135,418
2016 135,408
2013 135,571
He concluded: "Our focus needs to be on providing affordable homes for the many people on our waiting lists. The council is, at long last, starting to build a small number of council houses to meet that need and we will be pushing for other pieces of council-owned land to be used productively like this."

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Private finance challenge for new Labour leader

Plaid AM calls for review of Wrexham waste contract

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM has challenged Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford to review the cost of a Private Finance Initiative waste scheme in Wrexham with a view to buying out the contract.

Llyr Gruffydd said: 
“The waste contract between Wrexham Council and a private firm called FCC isn’t due to expire until 2038. The council already pays more than £15 million a year for the contract and this is increasing year on year at a time when the council’s funds are under pressure.

 “Mark Drakeford, in his manifesto to become the Labour leader, pledged to ‘review existing PFI contracts across theWelsh public sector, to buy out those contracts where that provides a betteroutcome for the public purse’. 
“One of the key PFI contracts in Wales is the Wrexham waste scheme. It will cost at least £419 million over its lifetime, a sum that has risen significantly over the years. Wrexham’s 2017-8 statement of accounts revealed an additional £900,000 cost to the council because the market in recyclates had slumped. It’s clear that the company gets the benefit of a long-term contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds with none of the risk.

“With this in mind, I’m asking the First Minister to look at this contract with some urgency. The Welsh Government supported the initial contract with £40 million of funding. If it can reduce the council’s outgoings at a time when frontline services are being cut each year, then it would be a clear benefit to residents in Wrexham."
PFI schemes, where private companies provided public services, were widely promoted by both Labour and Tory governments in the 1980s and 1990s before being discredited due to the huge long-term costs for councils and the NHS.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Wrexham prison being used as a ‘dumping ground’ for UK’s criminals

Former Category A prisoners moved to ‘low-risk’ HMP Berwyn

Data obtained by Plaid Cymru shows that 16 prisoners that were previously categorised as the most dangerous to society were held at the ‘low-risk’ HMP Berwyn during 2017.

The Wrexham prison is officially a Category C prison, however, the data shows that at least 16 prisoners previously held in Category A prisons – the highest category – were detained in HMP Berwyn.

Plaid Cymru’s Justice Spokesperson and Westminster Parliamentary Leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, says it is further evidence that the north Wales ‘super prison’ is being used as a ‘dumping ground’ for criminals. North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, also commented that it risks exacerbating issues created by stretched resources and inexperienced staff, which is already putting strain on managing inmates and policing the facility.

The transfer of former Category A prisoners to a Category C facility could pose a serious risk to staff, inmates and the wider public. Without the proper security facilities and training, Prison Officers at HMP Berwyn could struggle to detain former Category A prisoners safely.  

Category A detainees are described as those whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security. Offences committed by Category A inmates would include murder, wounding with intent and the illegal use of firearms.

HMP Berwyn opened in February 2017 for more than 2,200 inmates, making it the largest prison in Europe. Despite that, it is currently only half full due to staffing and security issues.

Commenting on the statistics Liz Saville Roberts MP said:

“Detaining criminals convicted of violent crimes in a Category C facility is not safe for staff, inmates or the wider public. Local people were told that only low-risk prisoners would be detained in HMP Berwyn when it was being built, these statistics show this is clearly not the case. We were also told that HMP Berwyn would hold suitable prisoners from north Wales, but evidence shows that they are still being sent to distant prisons, remote from the rehabilition benefits of being close to home, family and potential employers.  
“This is particularly concerning for a new prison, such as HMP Berwyn which has open less than two years. These are prisoners who have been held at the highest security level possible and will undoubtedly, due to their experience of the prison system, be adroit at manipulating inexperienced staff, which would in turn affect the stability of the prison.  
“We need a genuinely rehabilitative justice system, that does not simply transfer problem prisoners from facility to facility in disorder. “Neither HMP Berwyn nor Wales in general should be allowed to become a dumping ground of convenience for criminals from across the UK.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said:
“The high-demand on police officers at HMP Berwyn is not helped by the introduction of inmates coming from Category A prisons. Many of these offenders have committed violent offences and put other inmates and staff at risk.  
“There is already a high level of offending at HMP Berwyn, nothing should be done to make this worse.  
“Inexperienced staff and stretched resources are already creating huge strains on the facility itself and the policing of it. With extra policing required not funded by the UK Government and no more resources to cope with the increased risk, the situation is unlikely to get any better.  
“This prison was sold to the people of north Wales as a Category C, low-risk facility. The slide towards a higher category prison must be stopped.” 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Make regeneration of Wrexham gateway a priority - Plaid councillor

Regenerating Wrexham's key gateway is vital for the town as a whole to thrive, according to local Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones.

Wrexham Council and the Welsh Government has announced a feasibility study to assess what can be done to develop the Wrexham General station area along with Mold Road and Crispin Lane.

Cllr Jones (Grosvenor ward) said: 
"The study is potentially significant as it signals that this area is becoming the focus for improvement. This area is the main gateway to Wrexham in terms of road and rail and needs to be a priority for regeneration - specifically the wasteland behind the Kop and the now empty Nightingale House charity shop. 
"We've already heard some encouraging noises from the Welsh Government that the train station needs to become a proper transport hub. It clearly needs expanded parking and better links to the bus network. 
"Some joined-up thinking by those with the power to make a real difference to this important area would be very welcome."

Wrexham Glyndwr University is planning some major changes to its current Mold Road entrance as well as applying for planning permission for housing on its old student village. It recently purchased Wrexham Village, a newer student complex that backs onto the Racecourse ground, and is looking to expand that further with a new block.

Cllr Jones added: 
"Any redevelopment of this area should prioritise the neglected Kop end of the Racecourse. This has huge potential both to increase and improve capacity for Wrexham AFC's Racecourse but also to bring added value through other key developments on the site."

Monday, 3 December 2018

'Universal credit is the worst thing to ever happen to me and my family' says Wrexham Mum

Emma Holland and her son Freddie
On Saturday local Mum Emma Holland, joined Plaid Cymru volunteers in the town centre to collect petition signatures against Universal Credit. The system, which was introduced by the Tory Government, is a new payment designed to replace several working-age benefits, including housing benefit and tax credits. It's currently being rolled out across Wrexham and now affects 4587 local families according to a recent council report, 40% of whom are in employment.

Universal Credit has been widely condemned because of the uneccesary hardship it causes to families due to delayed payments and a variety of other flaws in the system. Many families have reported falling behind with rent payments or having to rely on food banks to feed themselves.

Local Mum Emma Holland who helped organise the stall on Saturday due to her own experience with the system said: "I was put onto Universal Credit last December when I changed jobs. Immediately I was put into debt as I couldn’t wait 6 weeks for a payment and had to borrow £650 which I am still paying off."

"Since my changeover two major errors have been made on my claim, both resulting in financial hardship for me and my two sons. My income has also reduced overall. My biggest problem occurred in November when two separate months wages were put together to give me an artificially inflated salary. This meant that I only received £240 universal credit for the month instead of the £850 I was due to receive. Despite the fact I have appealed, Universal Credit have refused to give me the amount was entitled to, blaming my work and even me for not ringing in my earnings when I did notify them by phone. As a result myself and my children have had to rely on donated food this month."

"Universal Credit is the worst thing to ever happen to me and my family".

Plaid Cymru Cllr Carrie Harper said: "Emma's experience is one we're unfortunately hearing more of since the roll-out expanded in Wrexham last October. It's horrific that local people are having to rely on food donations because of the draconion and cold way this system has being implemented. The Tories just don't seem to care about the way the flaws in the system are impacting on people's lives. Thanks to Emma's initiative we collected hundreds of signatures from concerned residents calling for the system to be halted on Saturday and gave out hundreds more leaflets to raise awareness about what's happening."

"The way this has system been implemented is completely incompetent, with even the National Audtit Office saying the programme suffered from 'weak management, ineffective control and poor governance'. The roll out of Universal Credit should be halted immediately so familes like Emma's don't have to suffer this bodged attempt at welfare reform".

A new Facebook group has been set up for residents to share their concerns and discuss their experiences at 'Wrexham against Universal Credit'. The petition can be signed by clicking here.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Labour 'passing the buck' over Welsh rail contract

Labour politicians in Wales have been accused of ‘passing the buck’ over the problems facing the new rail franchise. The current problems have seen about 1/3 of rolling stock taken off the rails and trains cancelled from Wrexham-Bidston among many other lines. 

The Welsh Transport secretary has launched an astounding attack on the former UK Labour government, who back in 2003 agreed a “dreadful contract” with Arriva Trains Wales, in response to criticisms of the current state of the rail service in Wales.

Speaking in the Senedd yesterday, Ken Skates AM explained away the new franchise holder’s problems by saying:
“We were ready for the transfer as much as we could be ready. But I must press again the point that the contract that’s been operating for the last 15 years was a dreadful contract, with a very low base and a very low bar for them to get over. We have improved the contract considerably this time around. 
“Monitoring did take place, and Arriva Trains Wales, based on the performance matrix, was reaching an acceptable standard, but that standard, in our view, was too low. I’m on record time and time again saying that that contract dating back to 2003 was not fit for purpose. And now we are seeing the consequences of it. But, equally—equally—through the plans that are put in place, Transport for Wales, the operator and development partner, are addressing them at incredible speed, working 24/7 to make sure that as many trains get back on the rails as possible.” 
Responsibility for the rail franchise was passed on to the Welsh Government under the Railways Act 2005 and Transport (Wales) Act 2006.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said: 
“Whatever the shortcomings of the previous franchise, which was awarded by the UK Labour Government let’s not forget, there should have been oversight and monitoring by the Welsh Government over the past decade. It strikes me that this is passing the buck on an epic scale to say ‘nothing to do with me’.  
“Detailed work on the new franchise should have revealed any rolling stock issues that mean that so many trains are off the rails at the moment. It does not inspire confidence to see the man responsible for our transport network trying to blame someone else.”

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

‘Let’s get on with it’

Plaid calls for action on football museum report

The man who spearheaded the campaign for a National Football Museum in Wrexham has urged the Welsh Government to build on the work of a feasibility study that backed the proposal.
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd launched the campaign three years ago with local politicians and the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust at The Racecourse ground. He said the findings of the feasibilty study were important in two respects:
“Firstly it establishes the need for a national football museum and, secondly, that it should be based in Wrexham. Both are important conclusions because there was some scepticism about our campaign at the outset.  
“The report's findings are also a vindication of the campaign launched three years ago, when I and Plaid Cymru colleagues first went public alongside Wrexham Supporters’ Trust directors at The Racecourse. 
“Back then, we argued that a national football museum should be based in Wrexham, the spiritual home of the game. This is where football started in Wales and it’s still home to the oldest existing international stadium in the world as well as the third oldest football club in the world. It's also where the FA of Wales has chosen to invest in the future with a National Football Development Centre at Collier's Park.  
“Plaid Cymru made the case for a National Football Museum in its 2016 manifesto and ensured the feasibility study was funded in the 2017-8 budget by the Welsh Government.”
But Mr Gruffydd said he was expecting more from the report and would be asking more of the Welsh Government: “We need to see a timetable to make this happen as soon as possible - let's get on with it. 
“We also need to ensure it's a proper National Museum, a part of the family of National Museum Wales rather than the local museum that is advocated in this report. 
“And I have to say I'm disappointed that proposal to have it located at The Racecourse is dismissed in a single paragraph. Why? “Plaid Cymru is keen to see this development happen and will continue to press for this museum to be a catalyst for the redevelopment of The Racecourse Ground.”
Mr Gruffydd said the failure, to date, to establish a National Museum in the North-east was an historic failing that needed to be put right. He said this was a unique opportunity to right that wrong and urged the Welsh Government not to miss that chance.

He added: “Here’s a real opportunity to build on the findings of the study and make sure it happens. Let’s get on with it for the benefit of Wrexham, football and the local economy.”

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Plaid Cymru stands up for Wrexham on Local Development Plan

An unholy Labour-Tory-independent alliance has voted to back a Local Development Plan that would permit thousands of extra homes on greenfield sites. 
The 30-17 vote was only pushed through with the support of the Labour group, who were whipped to back this flawed plan. It appears they were more interested in defending the Labour Welsh Government than Wrexham communities.
 The reason is clear: This is a Local development plan in name only as it’s based on population projections from the Welsh Government.
 This is how councillors voted [click to enlarge]

Plaid Cymru was the only group to vote in a clear and united way to protect our communities.

Councillor Marc Jones, who leads the Plaid Cymru group on Wrexham council, explained why the group was voting against the Local Development Plan at a special meeting:
There are two choices before us today - to approve this plan going out for Examination by Planning Inspectors or to refuse to approve it. If we refuse, the Welsh Government will put it out to examination. 
So however we vote, this plan will have its detail examined over the coming year.
This will be our last chance as democratic representatives to have our say. So how we vote matters. Regardless of concerns you might have about individual sites, I would urge you to look at the bigger picture.
This LDP has been developed on the basis that Wrexham’s population will grow substantially in the next 20 years - five times as much as neighbouring Flintshire for example. That is not a proposal based in fact or based on the emerging evidence from latest mid-year stats. It is a population projection by the WG that is based on previous unique circumstances.
So we have to be clear this is not a 'Local' Development Plan is the sense that it's based on what we want. Allocating land to build two huge new housing estates and many other smaller ones along the A483 will suit developers. But it will reduce the quality of life for Wrexham residents. 
Our already stretched public services - GPs, schools, hospitals, roads and other key infrastructure - are already at breaking point in some aspects. How will those services manage with that extra demand?  
And to be clear, extra houses will not mean extra income - it just means the way Wrexham Council is funded under the Standard Spending Assessment from the Welsh Government is rejigged. 
As a group, Plaid Cymru councillors are not opposed to allocating land to building homes to meet need. But we are opposed to building houses that are not needed. 
Our contention is that the allocation of land for housing is flawed. This plan is, to use a Biblical analogy, a house built on sand. If we want to build better communities that are not a faceless urban sprawl extending into our countryside, then we need sturdier foundations. That's why we have to stand up and say no, we are not going to approve this plan. The Welsh Government should re-think its attempt to impose this plan on the people of Wrexham.
Councillor Carrie Harper, a long-time campaigner against speculative development in Wrexham also made an impassioned contribution that earned shouts of support from the public gallery:
8,500 houses, a population increase of 20,000 people, and tens of thousands more cars on our roads. 
The impact is huge so let’s just consider what it means. How is the Maelor hospital going to cope with an additional 20,000 people? Have you been to A and E lately? Where are the extra GP surgeries and extra doctors coming from? We can't recruit enough doctors as it is. 
How are council services going to cope with a 20% population increase? We’ll be dealing with the next council budget in this chamber in just a few weeks time and we’ll be talking about the impact of austerity and the reduced settlement from Welsh Government which makes up 3 quarters of this councils funding. We’ll be talking  about how this council has to cut millions more from its budget and how that means services have reached tipping point, how pressure is continuing to increase on services such as children and adult social care. How is increasing the population by 20% going to help that situation? Can anyone explain that to me? 
There will also be increased pressure on schools and on a myriad of other services too. Then there’s the road network, an extra 20,000 cars potentially, it’s bad enough trying to around the town now but if this goes ahead we’ll be spending half our lives in traffic jams. 
I could go on about the loss of green fields, the increase in pollution, in the production waste but you get the gist, you already know these things. The damage this plan will do is obvious but I’m yet to hear anyone outline even one benefit that even remotely offsets these detrimental impacts. 
So now we have to ask why this is even in front of us? The latest statistics tell us the local population is static so why are we even entertaining such high levels of overdevelopment? It’s here because the Labour Welsh Government are insisting on it, they want these houses built. But these houses don’t meet any local need, they’re not going to provide affordable starter homes for young families, or the bungalows for our elderly population to downsize to. This plan isn’t about providing the right type of houses in the right place to meet our local needs. These houses are for commuters, this plan is about speculative development, it’s about developers making money and it’s about turning Wrexham into a dormitory commuter town and we should fight tooth and nail against it. 
I’ve heard councillors here say that the market will dictate whether or not these houses are built. Our planning system is not there to facilitate the market or the wants of developers! We’re not here to bolster their profit margins. The planning system is supposed to be a filter, to ensure development levels are sustainable, it’s supposed to protect our local communities from unsustainable development not enable it! This plan is an abuse of our planning system. 
We’ve already had 20 years of overdevelopment in this town. Local people have told us time after time, they don’t wants this level of development to continue, they don’t want villages to merge, they don’t want us to lose our identity, they don’t want see their quality of life reduce because of increasing pressure on services and infrastructure. 
So if the Welsh Government want this plan then let them enforce it and let them be accountable for it but don’t endorse it. The planning Minister is Wrexham’s AM Lesley Griffiths, let her argue the case for concreting over our town and explain her rationale to local people. This plan is the their obsession not ours.
This council has a disconnect with local people and so many people tell me the root of that mistrust lies in so many of the bad planning decisions that have been made over the years. Decisions that have meant people feel Wrexham has been developed in spite of them, not for them. 
So how about just for once, this council makes a planning decision that local people can be proud of. That we represent what they want and turn down this disaster of a plan which has so many negative consequences and no benefits.
Don’t give the Welsh Government and developers the green light turn this town into Cheshire on the cheap, we deserve better than that, vote against this plan.

Labour bow down to Westminster and scrap law designed to protect Welsh powers during Brexit

On Tuesday this week, the Labour run Welsh Government joined with the Conservatives and UKIP to pass a motion to repeal a law put in place to protect Welsh powers in devolved areas as they are returned from Brussels after Brexit.

The Continuity Act, put forward by Plaid Cymru AM Steffan Lewis, was originally passed by Assembly Members in March. The Act was designed to ensure that standards affecting environmental protections, food standards and other rights continue to apply in Wales after Brexit. 

Plaid Cymru Councillor Carrie Harper said: "Whether you voted Leave or Remain, this law would have meant devolved powers currently operated at EU level would come to Wales not Westminster after Brexit. These are powers we've democratically voted for at two referendums. To repeal this Act is to leave Wales open to a power grab and at the mercy of UK Tories, it is a complete deriliction of duty on the part of the Labour party." 

"Whilst the Scottish Government stands firm and their Continuity Act awaits judgement in the Supreme Court, Labour, with the backing of Welsh Tories and UKIP have sold us down the river. The Labour party are clearly completely incapable of defending our interests and at a time we can least afford their incompetance."

"On the contrary to taking back control, Wales will be losing powers to London as a result of Brexit. This is a perfect example of why you do not put London based parties in charge of your country, it's unforgiveable." 

Friday, 16 November 2018

Tory donor behind plans for 600 houses in Wrexham

The housing developer behind plans for 600 new houses on the outskirts of Wrexham donated more than half a million pounds to the Tory Party in 2017.

John Bloor is one of the wealthiest men in the UK, with an estimated wealth of £1 billion. His company JS Bloor (Services) Ltd gave £120,000 to the Tories in March 2017 and topped that up with a further £400,000 just before the May 2017 election.

A subsidiary, Bloor Homes North West (sic), is involved in plans to build 600 new homes on green fields off Holt Road, Wrexham. The scheme has yet to go before Wrexham's planning committee and is currently out to consultation.

Bloor Homes may be familiar to Wrexham residents as well as the company built many of the new homes on the old Brymbo Steelworks site over the past decade.

Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper, who represents the nearby Queensway ward, said:
"Council officers in recent days have talked of 'predatory housing developers' taking advantage of planning loopholes to build huge new developments. They may have been thinking of companies like Bloor Homes, who are using the planned new Local Development Plan to jump the gun without offering the level of affordable housing the LDP demands. 
"I'm not surprised this housing developer has been funding the Tories with profits made from these housing developments. The next time these developers cry about 'viability' and how they're only making 20% profits on their housing schemes, perhaps house buyers might like to consider whether they want to contribute to Tory Party coffers."
She also questioned whether local Tory councillors should be allowed to vote on the Local Development Plan if they have benefitted from central Tory HQ funding.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Plaid and Brexit: Wales needs a New Deal, not a bad deal

Plaid Cymru will not support the Tory Government’s Withdrawal Agreement

In a statement on the steps of the National Assembly for Wales, Plaid Cymru’s leader Adam Price AM and Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP that the party will not support the Westminster Government’s Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration as it stands.

Mr Price outlined five reasons to not support the proposals:
  1. It takes Wales on a trajectory out of the Single Market and Customs Union.
  2. Without the detail of our future relationship agreed in legal text, this is a Blind Brexit with the devil of said detail to be discovered over the next two years.
  3. Wales has been sidelined throughout the negotiations.
  4. It does not grant Wales the same privilege as the north of Ireland within the Single Market and Customs Union.
  5. The agreement does not contain provisions for a People’s Vote.
Adam Price said: 
Plaid Cymru has consistently called for the least damaging Brexit possible, where Wales is in the Single Market and Customs Union – this proposal takes us on a trajectory that would make that impossible.  
“Whilst throughout this process the European Union has acted like a genuine multinational organisation where the interests of all members are prioritised, especially those concerns of the Republic of Ireland, the British State has wilfully side-lined Wales. Far from a partnership of equals, Wales has been treated like a vassal country and this agreement has not been negotiated with Welsh interests at its heart.  
“This announcement only confirms that the Westminster Government is happy to bring about an economic act of harm on the country to appease its own backbenches. And it’s not even succeeding to do that. We are now facing a choice between a bad deal, no deal and a New Deal. 
 “Plaid Cymru says Wales needs a New Deal, put to the people, with the option to remain.”