Thursday, 31 March 2016

New village on Wrexham's outskirts prompts local concerns

Local residents have highlighted huge concerns about plans to build a new village between Bersham and Ruthin Road in Wrexham.

The new village proposed for Ruthin Road

About 40 people attended a public meeting organised by Plaid Cymru last night about the council's plan to allocate farmland for 1260 houses on the western outskirts of Wrexham.

Many local residents attended and raised concerns about the impact the development would have on drainage, sewerage, the roads, health services and schools.
Among the speakers were Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's Wrexham candidate, who said: "There's nothing local about this Local Development Plan. It's being driven by Welsh Government planning inspectors who are imposing an artificially high population projection on the local council. This, in turn, is forcing Wrexham Council to devise a plan that will see thousands of new houses built on greenfield sites and playing fields

"I'm all in favour of affordable housing to rent or buy but this will be a huge commuter estate lacking community facilities and any kind of identity."

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru's Clwyd South candidate and a campaigner with the North Wales Health Alliance, raised concerns about the impact the development would have on an already struggling NHS locally: "At a time when we see ambulances queuing outside the Maelor, can we really cope with the additional population being projected by this plan?"

Local concerns included the fact that the land had been found to be too waterlogged to be used as a cemetery site in recent years. Adjoining land, the meeting was told, was already prone to flooding and the development would only make matters worse.

People from Brymbo highlighted the promises made by developers about new housing developments that were later broken and there was concern that the council would not be willing to stand up to housing corporations.

Cllr Marc Jones, who chaired the meeting said: "The meeting was full of people concerned and angry about this LDP. We were united in wanting to oppose the Local Development Plan, which could see Wrexham effectively merge with neighbouring villages to create one urban sprawl. Anyone wishing to oppose the LDP has until 5pm on Friday to submit concerns to planning_policy@wrexham.gov.uk."
Plaid Cymru is organising another public meeting at St John's Church on Borras Road, Wrexham (next to the Spider Park) tonight at 7.30pm to provide information about the plans to develop a new 1500-house village on the Cefn Road on Ysgol Morgan Llwyd playing fields and the rugby club grounds. All welcome to attend.


The new village proposed for Cefn Road - on the rugby club grounds and Ysgol Morgan Llwyd playing fields



Monday, 28 March 2016

Public meetings to oppose thousands of homes on Wrexham's green fields

Public meetings to oppose plans to build thousands of extra homes on green fields and playing pitches across Wrexham are being held next week.

The two meetings - on Wednesday and Thursday - come before the deadline for the Local Development Plan public consultation on April 1st.

The information meetings are being organised by Plaid Cymru, which has consistently opposed plans to build on greenfield sites.

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's candidate for Wrexham, said: "The Welsh Government is insisting that Wrexham Council allocates land for 12,000 homes in the borough by 2028. It's the green light for developers to build on playing fields and green fields across the borough rather than ensuring that affordable houses are built on brownfield sites.

"The council's original plan was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate, which insisted on these extra houses. The two biggest sites will basically be commuter estates. The first is 1260 houses planned for Lower Berse Farm between Ruthin Road and Bersham Road just off the A483.


"The second would be for 1500 homes on Ysgol Morgan Llwyd's playing fields and fields surrounding the rugby club down Brynestyn Lane. 



"Our concerns are that these housing allocations are being made because the Welsh Government's population projections are for a 20% increase in the borough's population - far greater than any other part of Wales apart from Cardiff. There is no logic to this.

"The increase in housing would mean the loss of important green space and playing fields. It would also mean greater pressures on our schools, health and other public services at a time of cutbacks. Our hospital can't cope as things stand, imagine how things would be with an extra 30,000 people in the area.

"What this means specifically for Ysgol Morgan Llwyd is a loss of its existing playing fields - at a time when the school is expected to increase in numbers. Where exactly are those children expected to play if this house-building plan gets the go ahead?

"This would also pose huge challenges for our road and transport networks, which also struggles to cope at the moment. There is no infrastructure planning to meet this supposed demand and that's why we're calling for these huge housing schemes to be scrapped."


Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid's Clwyd South candidate, added: "The council's original plan consulted extensively with people and found an overwhelming majority in favour of maintaining our green fields and only building on former industrial or retail sites. The directive from the Welsh Government would see Wrexham's boundaries expand significantly to both the east and west and see green fields that separate the town from surrounding villages effectively disappear."

The public meetings are open to all and will outline the proposals and how they can be opposed. The first is at 7.30pm at Parciau Community Centre in Bellevue Park, Wrexham, on Wednesday and the second is at St John's Church on Borras Road (next to the Spider Park) in Acton, Wrexham. For more information contact Carrie Harper on plaidwrecsam@gmail.com.

• The full list of candidate sites is at http://wrexhamldp.wrexham.gov.uk/ and you have until April 1 to object or make comments to planning_policy@wrexham.gov.uk.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Final stretch for ‘Save the Groves’ campaign?


Campaigners who have been fighting to save the former Grove Park school from demolition have received some good news today. In a late but welcome move, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates has announced that he is now “minded to list Grove Park school”, subject to an Independent Peer review.

This means that Wrexham council’s plans to demolish are on hold pending the listing decision, which is expected in April. If the listing goes ahead, Grove park school will be protected for future generations to enjoy.

Whilst there are still no guarantees, it seems that pressure from campaigners has made a huge difference in this case. It would appear that relentless lobbying and campaigning from the dedicated people running the Save Our Heritage group could well win the day.

This is potentially a huge victory for people power and hopefully the first of many occasions where Wrexham council doesn’t simply get to do what it wants regardless of what we think.



Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Stop Wrecking Wrexham - public meeting

A public meeting to unite everyone concerned for the future of Wrexham is being held on Wednesday evening, March 16.
The public meeting organised by Plaid Cymru in the Lager Club from 7pm on Wednesday will hear speakers outline how the local council and Welsh Government has helped "wreck" Wrexham.
Elaine Guntrip-Thomas from the Save our Heritage group campaigning to save the Groves from demoltion will be among the speakers and she will be joined by Pete Garrett from the Splash Magic campaign to keep Plas Madoc Leisure Centre open.
Local historian and writer Phil Phillips will also outline some of the heritage lost locally and Cllr Marc Jones will speak on the Local Development Plan and the council's intention to build two new villages on greenfield sites.
Concerns about the future of our local health services in terms of GP services, local community hospitals and pressures on Wrexham Maelor hospital will also be raised.
Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's candidate in May's election, said:
"There's a wide range of concerns about the way things are going in Wrexham at present.
"Important decisions are being made without consultation with the wider public, in fact against the wishes of the public. Our heritage, important buildings and our green fields are at risk because we have a council and government that are unwilling to listen to local people and seem to have an agenda of their own.
"This is intended to be a positive meeting because we've seen, for example with Plas Madoc, how a community can fight back and win against all the odds. So we take our inspiration from there and we're determined not to let the powers-that-be wreck Wrexham with their policies."
Doors open at 7pm and the meeting starts soon after.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Gobowen patients from North Wales made to wait longer

Are patients waiting due to Betsi financial problems?

Here is the funding crisis facing Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in its rawest form. 

A consultant from the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital at Gobowen states that his patient's urgent surgery has been put "on hold until the new financial year when her Health Authority in North Wales may be able to sanction the surgery."

She's not alone - Plaid Cymru has uncovered evidence that BCUHB is routinely delaying treatment at Gobowen so that patients from the North are waiting months longer than patients from England and other parts of Wales.

Concerns over these “unacceptable” delays for patients from north Wales waiting to attend the Gobowen orthopaedic hospital have prompted calls by Plaid Cymru for an urgent review into whether funding is being withheld because it’s the end of the financial year.

 Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said the maximum waiting time for patients from the Betsi Cadwaladr health board area was more than double that of patients from England and other parts of Wales.

He said notes from a meeting to discuss risk management last month revealed that BCUHB patients were having to wait 52 weeks for treatment due to the health board wanting to delay access to save funding in this financial year. 

Mr Gruffydd added
“BCUHB seems to be operating a policy of not treating patients according to need but according to the health board’s financial position.

“The Welsh Government also has some explaining to do. It’s put Betsi in special measures and therefore has direct oversight of this issue. The Government’s three-year rolling budgets was supposed to prevent end-of-year financial pressures but this is clearly not the case. What we’re seeing is financial considerations taking precedence over clinical need and that is clearly unacceptable.

“One doctor writes in sheer frustration about the added problems his patient has faced because of the delay – making that patient’s care more complex and costly. It’s a false economy and I’ve asked for an urgent meeting with the new chief executive of BCUHB for an explanation.

“I’ll also be asking whether the health board’s financial problems are leading to operations and treatments in other English hospitals being delayed into the new financial year. If that’s the case, it’s a scandal and the health minister has significant questions to answer.”

The report of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt (Gobowen) hospital task and finish group states: “Clearly Welsh patients are at a significant disadvantage – waiting much longer than English patients. However, this is due to commissioning intention rather than just RJAH rules.”

It goes on: “There is clear evidence that Welsh patients are not being treated chronologically even within themselves, never mind in comparison to English patients. Whilst it needs to be understood further, this is likely to be the impact of BCU insisting no patient be treated until they reach a 52-week wait in the month.” (p27, task and finish group minutes).

• If you've been waiting too long for treatment at Gobowen, please contact llyr.plaid@gmail.com
  
Patients from:
Internal Standard
England

Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
6 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
11 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
18 weeks
Betsi Cadwaladr Local Health Board
Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
20 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
34 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
52 weeks
Powys Local Health Board: Spinal Disorders, Upper Limb & Foot/Ankle
Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
20 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
34 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
40 weeks
Other Welsh Patients
Maximum wait from referral to first outpatient attendance
8 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to completion of diagnostics
16 weeks
Maximum wait from referral to treatment
26 weeks

Plaid Wrecsam meets doctors' leaders to discuss GP crisis

Plaid Cymru members from Wrecsam met with officials of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales at the Party of Wales's conference in Llanelli this weekend.

Councillor Arfon Jones, who also chairs Wrexham Community Health Council and who recently arranged the well-attended meeting about the resignation of GP's of the Penymaes Surgery, said:

"We were fortunate to have the Royal College at our conference and their manifesto contains some commonsense policies on how to alleviate the current crisis in primary care.
"For example we heard that it's much more expensive for health boards to run primary care than it is for GP practices, which shows that primary care is underfunded.
"They also call for more support early on for practices under threat of closure as Wales needs 400 GPs. This vacancy rate and lack of resilience justifies Plaid Cymru's calls for 1000 more doctors and 5000 more nurses to meet demand in both the community and our hospitals.
"I have also invited Dr Paul Myers, past chair of the Royal College and a retired Overton GP, to a meeting of the North Wales Community Health Council to share his knowledge and possible solutions to the problems faced by primary care providers in North Wales."

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Welsh Government allows developers "green light" over greenfield sites

This letter by Cllr Arfon Jones, Plaid Cymru's representative for Gwersyllt West, outlines the way in which Welsh Government minister Carl Sargeant has moved the goalposts over planning. It effectively gives developers the green light to target greenfield sites for housing.

Dear Editor,

The reply by the Welsh Government denying responsibility for forcing Wrexham Council to build houses on the greenbelt is both misleading and disingenuous. (Welsh Govt claim Wrexham fields building plan has nothing to do with them) Post February 20th.

The Joint Housing Land Availability Studies Group in Wrexham have in the past determined the amount of land that is available for house building for the next 5 years and how many houses will be built annually. This figure was based on the average house build over the previous 5 years. Due to the low number of completions since 2008, the Minister, Carl Sargeant decided arbitrarily to increase the period from 5 to 10 years to justify much higher level of build based on the boom years.

The effect of this change by the Minister was to increase the number of houses to be built and decreasing the number of years of land supply from just under 5 years to 3.6 years.

The Minister has now decided that if a council does not have a 5 years supply then they have none... zero.

The Welsh Government's Spatial Plan, Technical Advice Notes and a myriad of other guidance state that if a council does not have a 5-year land supply and no Local Development Plan then the law and guidance will allow for building on the greenbelt.

Make no mistake about it, the number of houses that Wrexham are required to build is forced upon them by the actions of the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant and his not-so-independent Planning Inspectorate to keep developers happy and to ignore the needs of local people.


Cllr Arfon Jones

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Crisis? What crisis?! - Labour in denial over GP problems in Wales

Seventeen years of Labour rule in Wales have seen a Government increasingly out of touch with reality. Nowhere is the more evident than in health and in particular in the North, where the NHS desperately needs political leadership, ambition and vision.

Instead we have had a First Minister in denial that there's any kind of crisis. Unfortunately for Carwyn Jones, his comments came on the same day as two leading doctors described the situation as a “ticking time bomb” and on a “knife edge”.

Dr Phil White, Secretary of North Wales Local Medical Committee, said immediate action needed to be taken to ensure patients did not suffer.

He was backed up by Dr Sara Bodey, vice chair of North Wales local medical committees, who said the profession was at breaking point due to staffing pressures.
Last week saw 7,500 patients were left without access to a doctor after Treflan Surgery in Pwllheli was forced to turn away people due to a shortage of doctors.


This is on top of a series of other surgeries facing the same dilemma in Hightown (Wrexham), Rhuddlan, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Prestatyn.

Rebecca Payne, chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) in Wales, said there is a workforce crisis across the entire country due to growing difficulties in recruiting and retaining doctors. She said she was “baffled” by comments made by Jones, who claimed he was not aware of any patients suffering as a result of a lack of GPs in the north. 
The Royal College claims more than 400 full-time equivalent GPs are needed in Wales by 2020 to deal with the “perfect storm” of fewer doctors and an ageing population .

This weekend saw another join the list. The Penymaes practice in Summerhill, Wrexham, announce it will be unable to offer a service after September due to a shortage of doctors. 

Cllr Arfon Jones, who represents the area and is registered at the Penymaes practice, said: 

"This surgery is very busy with 8,000 registered, it is a worrying time for all the patients and I have already been contacted by many expressing their concerns. As chair of the local Community Health Council I will be raising my concerns with the Health Board and hoping that they will deal with this crisis much more effectively than they dealt with a similar crisis at Beechley Road surgery.  "It just shows how out of touch the Labour Government in Cardiff are when the First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed recently that there is no crisis in GP services in North Wales."

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's Assembly candidate for Wrexham, said: 
"This is the latest GP surgery closure announced and it highlights the fact that we need to train and recruit new doctors urgently. A Plaid Cymru government would do just that to make our NHS better here in Wrexham and across Wales. "it further reinforces the failure if the current Labour Government to deal with our current GP crisis, they're in denial."
Plaid Cymru has had a long-standing policy of training and recruiting 1,000 doctors and 5,000 nurses to meet demand and improve our NHS. We recognise, along with the health professionals, there is a crisis and we have an ambitious but credible plan to address that over 10 years. 

The choice is simple - continue with a government in denial or choose one with a plan to make the NHS better.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

11,000 new homes will mean urban sprawl on greenfield sites

Playing fields, sports pitches and agricultural land all face the axe under new LDP plan

Plans to build huge sprawling housing estates on greenfield sites on the outskirts of Wrexham should be opposed by anyone who cares about their local community.

Wrexham Council's proposed Local Development Plan features plans to build 1,000 homes a year for the next 12 years, including two huge sites on the Ruthin Road and the rugby club fields. This is the second LDP that the council is putting forward after the first one, which avoided allocating greenfield sites for housing, was rejected by the Welsh Government's Planning Inspectorate.

This level of development isn't based on any natural population movement or natural growth, it's all artificial in terms of planned population transfer, one-off influxes or market driven in terms of developers who've seen opportunities to make a quick buck and bugger the consequences.

We should also remember that there has been an active strategy by certain politicians to attract inward migration to Wrexham as well, via the Mersey-Dee Alliance and the West Cheshire Plan.

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's Assembly candidate for Wrexham, said:

“I was on Wrexham Council’s Planning Policy Panel that put forward the original LDP in 2012. That plan allocated brownfield sites for about 7,700 new homes over a 16-year period to meet demand and made provision for affordable housing. However this was rejected by the Welsh Government’s Planning Inspectorate, who insisted on thousands more homes based on the Government’s population projections, which we believe are totally flawed and based on past unsustainable growth.

“Wrexham saw very rapid growth in the early 2000s due to a unique set of circumstances – firstly, there was an influx of students due to creating Glyndwr University, secondly, migrant workers from the East European states gained the right to come to work in the UK from 2002 and thirdly the council in Cheshire had very tight restrictions on housing developments around Chester’s greenbelt. This unique combination saw house prices soar in Wrexham due to demand and developers built as many as 1,000 homes in two of those boom years.

“That has since dropped to a trickle due to the recession but this plan anticipates building 11,715 new homes -  an annual building programme of 1,000 homes a year for more than a decade from now until 2028. It’s madness because it does not take into account the existing pressures on our schools, health services and other infrastructure such as roads and public transport. GP surgeries and A&E are already overloaded, our schools are full to bursting and the A483 is regularly gridlocked.

“Issues such as affordability have been ignored and the real danger is that we create a series of commuter estates with quick access to the by-pass that just adds to traffic congestion.“Perhaps the biggest concerns I have are for the two new housing sprawls being planned for Lower Berse Farm on the Ruthin Road and the rugby club/Morgan Llwyd playing fields. When people realise the scale of what is being planned – 1500 homes on one and 1260 on the other - I believe they will be outraged. The idea of Tarmacing over sporting and school playing fields at a time when we’re struggling to accommodate existing pupil numbers is particularly alarming.

“I hope we will see a united front to oppose these enormous new estates and challenge the Welsh Government to re-think its population projections, which are the basis for these sprawling housing developments. I want to see a positive alternative to this that sees communities grow more organically and ensures we have the services in those communities that can cope with any increase in population.”

Labour politicians such as Ken Skates and Susan Elan Jones have enthusiastically backed these housing proposals. Lesley Griffiths AM has tried to have her cake and eat it... she's a minister in a government that is forcing these additional houses on Wrexham but she's also come out publicly against plans for a 300+ housing development in Llay. 

Today, we're launching a petition to oppose building huge estates on greenfield sites. Please sign, share and speak out against this terrible plan: 

The petition will be fed into the ongoing consultation about the LDP, which lasts until April 1st. Have your say on any of the proposed sites by contacting planning@wrexham.gov.uk

Monday, 8 February 2016

Community challenges anti-social behaviour in public meeting on arson

A victim of arson and anti-social behaviour stood up and challenged his community to "stand up against evil".

Peter, who has lived in Pentre Gwyn on the outskirts of Wrexham for the past 10 years, had his car set on fire in November and his house attacked twice in quick succession.

He came to tonight's public meeting to address community concerns about anti-social behaviour and arson in the area. He and others present made clear that they blamed a small number of individual youths, some of whom were present at the meeting, for the anti-social behaviour. Yes, there was a lot of finger pointing as tensions spilled over at times.

Apart from Peter's dignified challenge - in which he outlined the "hell" his family had suffered over the past few months and the fear among his elderly neighbours - the meeting offered much heat and little light.

Acting Inspector Steve Owens of Wrexham Police said there had been 55 arsons in Caia Park last year with 17 of those in Whitegate ward (which included Pentre Gwyn). Many had taken place in the last six months. He admitted the police had failed to win the trust of the community, who saw little point in phoning 101 when there had been a slow or no response to previous calls. There had been just 51 calls last year from the estate regarding anti-social behaviour.

As a result of this breakdown, there was no police intelligence to deal with the problem although everyone attending the meeting was aware who was behind the problems being caused on the estate.

There was a real missed opportunity tonight to regain the trust of people who feel the council, police and other services were failing them. Even reports of street lights being out had been ignored.

The tiny proportion of anti-social youths causing the problem are finally being dealt with - pressure from the police on their private landlord means they are being evicted. That's a relief for the immediate community that was being terrorised but the problem is just being displaced and the real challenge for the multitude of professional agencies that exist in places like Caia Park is how to (a) prevent this kind of behaviour happening by addressing the frustrations of many teenage kids and (b) how to catch the criminals once they go beyond bad behaviour into criminality.

It won't be achieved by relying on official agencies - there were at least six different services and groups in attendance tonight who have all failed in different ways to deal with the problem.
 It will have to come from the community itself. From people like Peter and others who stood up and were counted tonight.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Build a multi-storey car park for Wrexham Maelor hospital



A new multi-storey car park should be built to cope with future demand at the Wrexham Maelor hospital, a Plaid Cymru candidate has said.

Councillor Carrie Harper, who is Plaid Cymru's Assembly candidate for Wrexham, welcomed news that the health board was conducting a review of parking due to pressures for staff, outpatients and visitors caused by a lack of parking places at the hospital.

She said:
"The parking at the hospital seems to be getting worse and, if outpatients are late for appointments, then that's a cost for the health board. So too is any delay for doctors or nurses and other health workers unable to find a parking place.
"Public transport directly to the hospital isn't great and it serves a wide area stretching all the way down to Barmouth, so it's inevitable that many visitors will be in cars.
"In addition, the fast growth in population locally has put an enormous strain on our health service and future population growth is being forecast at more than 3,000 a year for the borough. This is going to stretch hospital services even further, including parking.
"It therefore makes sense to start planning now and that's why I think the health board should consider developing a multi-storey car park similar to the one recently opened at Leicester Hospital. It's not an ideal situation by any means but the sooner the problem is addressed the quicker the solution can be found.
"The new overflow parking area seems like an ideal spot for such a multi-storey car park and I hope we see action soon."

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

‘Bring football home’ with new museum for Wrexham

Plaid Cymru calls to celebrate the beautiful game in this historic year for Welsh football


A short debate today in the Senedd has heard Llyr Gruffydd AM talk of an ambitious campaign to “bring football home” to its spiritual birthplace in Wrexham.

Plaid Cymru - The Party Of Wales is proposing that a Welsh National Football Museum be developed in Wrexham, the home of Welsh football.

Mr Gruffydd said: 
“There’s a clear logic to this if you look at the facts. Wrexham is where the first international match was played in Wales, where the oldest surviving international ground in the world – the Racecourse - is located and where the Football Association of Wales was formed 140 years ago this week in the Wynnstay Hotel. It is also home to Wrexham AFC, one of the world’s oldest football clubs along with nearby Cefn Druids and Chirk.”

Mr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, added: 
“I think it’s important to stress that Wales has a number of National Museums and Galleries but none of them are in the north-east. Creating a national football museum, similar to those in Manchester and Glasgow, would help redress that balance and emphasise the key role that the north-east and Wrexham specifically has had in the development of the game and in Wales more generally.
“We already have a basis for the museum because the local council has a very comprehensive footballing archive stored in the town’s museum and that would be an important element to moving the project forward.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring together various elements of our footballing past together at a time when the future of Welsh football has never been brighter. It’s clear from the positive response so far that it would also be a welcome boost for the town, attracting new visitors, creating work and providing an educational facility for youngsters.”

The campaign has already won the support of politicians of all colours, the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust and the aim of this broad campaign is to bring together all interested parties such as the Football Association of Wales, Wrexham AFC, Wrexham Council, the Welsh Government and, most importantly, football fans.

Mr Gruffydd added: 
“With Wales qualifying for the European Championships in 2016, there’s never been a better time to celebrate our part in developing the Beautiful Game. We hope that football fans from across Wales and beyond will also support the campaign by joining our Facebook page or following us on Twitter.”

The next step is to set up a steering committee to build on that broad support, to develop a business plan that can be put in place to secure funding to build and maintain the museum – as happened with the English national football museum in Manchester.

UPDATE: The minister for culture has confirmed the National Museum will investigate the idea. Mr Gruffydd said: “I’m delighted that we’ve had cross-party support in the Senedd for my statement of opinion calling for the football museum to be located in Wrexham. I also welcome the response to my short debate from the minister, who has made it clear that he supports the idea.”

You can follow the campaign on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/190192674655215/ or on Twitter #bringfootballhome.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Police should not be privatised says Plaid's Commissioner candidate - Plaid Cymru Press Release - Datganiad i'r Wasg.




Police should not be privatised says Plaid's Commissioner candidate

Plaid Cymru’s candidate has vowed that, if elected, he would not sell off any part of North Wales Police to the private sector.

Councillor Arfon Jones was speaking after campaigning against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) today:

 “This treaty is a secretive and insidious deal which, if its agreed, is likely to lead to more privatisations within the public sector from global American firms who have scant regard for our ethos of public service or employment regulations, which ensure that we have the best staff.”
Cllr Jones added: 

“As the Police Commissioner, I would be committed to ensuring that North Wales Police remains firmly a part of the public sector in Wales and is not flogged off to G4S or Serco, which is what’s happened in some Police Forces. Once these services are sold off the TTIP agreement would allow these private sector companies to sue national governments to prevent them from being taken back to public ownership, regardless of performance. That is nothing less than usurping what is left of our democracy.”

“If we allow TTIP, we will undoubtedly see the privatisation of core policing functions as well as handing over community policing to private security firms. I don’t think anyone wants to see that.

“We should do everything within our power to prevent corporate interests taking over the public interest.”


Thursday, 28 January 2016

Shining a spotlight on our council

The rushed decision by Wrexham Council to demolish the old Groves school building without any public consultation is symptomatic of a council unable and unwilling to trust the people.
 Instead they rely on well-paid officers and outside consultants, who invariably come up with the wrong solutions to the wrong problems.
 The catalogue of mistakes is growing:
• Closing Plas Madoc Leisure Centre in the teeth of huge opposition, compounding the problem by refusing to provide even basic funding for the new community-run Splash Magic; this is despite a bid to loan £1m from the Welsh Government by the council to fund improvements to Waterworld before its transferred to a private trust. Yes, you read that right - the council would rather subsidise a private trust than give a penny to the volunteers running a community cooperative in Splash.

• Closing Nant Silyn care home at a time when private providers are opening up similar provision in the town. The council says these kinds of facilities aren't needed. Really?

• An Arts Hub being located in the People's Market at an estimated cost of £4.5m, despite little evidence that either the market or the arts hub would thrive in this hotch-potch scheme in what is still essentially a car park.

• The demolition of the Groves school building with just seven days' notice, without consulation, after an abrupt change of heart by the council. Council leaders now talk of building one or two new schools on the site but have not made a case for not retaining the original girls' school building, which has many iconic features and could be a part of any educational or artistic development on the site.

• Changes facing the Bodhyfryd site - currently housing the police HQ, Waterworld, the courts and Crown Buildings on Chester Street - present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalise the town centre and bring people into that part of town.
 The town desperately needs this as footfall has fallen 28% in the past five years - that's 40% more than the UK average. This site should see a flagship development and not more identikit housing.

Luckily there are a growing number of people who are getting organised to prevent the Council from Wrecking Wrexham.

Carrie Harper joins campaigners to oppose demolishing the Groves school building.

The latest twist in the Groves story is that councillors have challenged the Executive Board decision and it will now be scrutinised by a committee. Unfortunately the council's legal officer has vetoed televising the proceedings on the council's website - as Executive Board meetings are. The reasons given are pitiful:

 I understand that a request has been made through yourself to consider webcasting the Call In Meeting for the Groves next Wednesday.
I have spoken with my Committee Team and as you know there has been 10 hours committed to webcasting Scrutiny Meetings for the whole of the next year.  As yet we understand that the criteria for selection of meetings to be webcast has to be finalised and no layout or programming of the Web cameras and software has been undertaken and so it would be very difficult to operate a session on the hoof as it were.  Secondly, the public notice of this meeting has now been posted and because we did not know of this request in advance, it does not include the required warnings that the meeting will be webcast as we always do to warn the public before Council, Exec Board and Planning Committee.  Finally,  there is a Licensing meeting scheduled for immediately before the Call In meeting and it would not be feasible to undertake all the set up work between the time that Licensing Committee finishes and scrutiny begins even if there was an approved layout which as I said earlier there is not.Accordingly and regretfully, I do not think I can accede to this ad hoc request to webcast this meeting.  

The people of Wrexham deserve better than a council determined to operate behind closed doors. It needs a spotlight shining on its decisions.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Our NHS needs more doctors

Oh no they don't, say Labour

When a respected consultant at Wrexham Maelor Hospital says A&E departments across Wales are "on the edge" you tend to sit up and listen.

It chimes with Plaid Cymru's call for 1,000 extra doctors and 5,000 extra nurses to deal with shortages and demand we're all experiencing in hospitals and the community. This long-term plan to train and recruit extra NHS staff, which could involve re-starting nurse training at Glyndwr University, is pretty uncontroversial you'd imagine.

But not according to Labour's health minister Vaughan Gething, who is in denial. He denies there's a crisis, he says A&Es are doing better than last year and claims Plaid is "pulling the wool over people's eyes".

Of course, it's not surprising that the minister will want to rubbish his political opponents, especially when they have consistently highlighted his party's failings on the NHS. But it's a bit more difficult to dispute a consultant's expert view on A&E. But that's what he does.

His take on A&Es will be at odds with most people's direct experiences. Here in Wrexham many non-urgent cases, including children, are told it will take 10 hours or more to be seen. Improving?

However, it's his dismissal of a decent long-term plan to improve our NHS by raising doctor:patient ratios to that of England's that is most disappointing. Yes, it takes seven years to train a doctor and three years to train a nurse but Plaid Cymru has been arguing for more doctors for the past three years. We'd be half-way there by now if Labour had got out of first gear.

Labour has been in charge of the NHS in Wales for 17 years. It has presided over community hospital closures (e.g Llangollen), GP surgeries going into meltdown (e.g. Hightown), key specialist services such as Special Care Baby Unit and maternity services being undermined and downgraded with constant threats of closure and a culture of appointing Labour croneys to key positions on bureaucratic and unaccountable health boards. In short, it has done as much damage to our wonderful NHS as the rotten Tories are doing in England with their privatisation plans.

In 100 days we can end that 17-year misrule once and for all by voting for a party that puts the Welsh NHS at the top of the political agenda.