Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Time to bury fracking for good – Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM has welcomed news that licences to drill for unconventional gas in parts of Wrexham have run out of time, saying it’s time to look at alternatives to fracking.

Llyr Gruffydd, a consistent opponent of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on the grounds of safety, said: “Attempts by multinational companies such as iGas to start drilling for shale gas have been met with opposition on both sides of the England-Wales border. It’s now clear that the company has decided not to pursue its plan to test drill in the Borras area, which is very welcome news for local residents.

“However, there are still licences to drill in parts of Flintshire and Cheshire and we must remain vigilant. These companies may yet return to Wrexham and any activities in neighbouring areas could also impact on the water table. Fracking and unconventional drilling has been banned in many countries and has been linked with pollution of water sources, health problems and environmental pollution. Over the past two years I have pushed the Welsh Government into a position where it would call in any new planning proposal and I want to make sure that Wales is frack-free.”

Mr Gruffydd, who has visited the Borras camp set up to defend the community from fracking, said: “We have to move away from fossil fuels and develop alternative energy sources – something we’re lucky to have in abundance here in Wales. We have well-established hydro and offshore windpower, emerging solar energy and huge potential for tidal power that could provide green, clean energy for the next century. The stance taken against fracking should be seen in the context of global warming and climate change as well as the threat to local communities, people’s health and clean water.”
Daz Picken, a Borras resident and supporter of the community camp, added: “This is great news for Borras, which was the nearest community to the planned drill site. Many local people were involved in Frack-Free Wrexham and supported the camp. We can’t be complacent that iGas and other companies will just give up and we’ll continue to support campaigners in neighbouring counties but we’re determined to make sure Wrexham is kept frack free.”

Fly the flag in Wrexham - let's have a permanent legacy for the football

Plaid Cymru has today launched a petition calling on Wrexham Council to work with local businesses and public bodies to fly the flag for Wales. The call comes in the wake of the Welsh football team's success in the recent European championship.

The petition aims to provide a permanent legacy for the town, which was one of the few not to have a fanzone during the competition.

Carrie Harper, speaking for Plaid Cymru in Wrexham, said: "There was such a great feeling in Wrexham surrounding the footballing success that we wanted to build on it. Plaid Cymru had called for a fanzone back in February and, as this is Welsh football's spiritual home, we've also been pushing for a National Football Museum and an upgrade to the Racecourse stadium. 

 "Now we want to see Wrexham town centre offer a colourful and attractive display of our national flag as was seen in Cardiff during the team's parade in front of fans. I very much hope local people, local businesses and the local council can get behind this and help improve our town centre visually."

The petition, which can be signed here, states: 

“Wrexham, along with other parts of Wales, celebrated our national football team's success in the Euro 2016 Championships. This is Welsh football's spiritual home and we want to build on this feel-good factor by having a permanent legacy for our town and our country.
 We, the undersigned, call on Wrexham Council to work with local businesses and other institutions to erect Welsh flags in the town centre and other strategic sites to provide a visible, colourful and attractive display for visitors and local people alike."

Monday, 18 July 2016

13,000 houses based on the wrong population figures

Wrexham Council's Local Development Plan intends to permit 13,000 houses to be built in the borough in the next decade to cope with the anticipated 20% growth in population in coming years.

These population figures are projections - i.e. guesswork - by civil servants. Plaid Cymru's contention is that these projections are flawed because they do not take into consideration the unique circumstances that have affected Wrexham in the past decade. 

We now have proof that the anticipated population boom is not happening now and, given the economic uncertainty locally, is unlikely to happen in the coming decade.

The following net migration figures into Wrexham from the UK and from outside the UK are for the past 10 years:

                            Net int’l                            Net migration                                  Total net migration 
Year                    migration                       (from other parts of the UK)           into Wrexham
2003-4                   102                                         224                                            326
2004-5                   203                                         214                                            417
2005-6                   680                                         408                                          1088
2006-7                   571                                         386                                            957
2007-8                   663                                         308                                            971
2008-9                   866                                         -40                                             826
2009-10                595                                         -36                                              559
2010-11                431                                         259                                             690
2011-12                400                                         -44                                              356
2012-13                471                                         -362                                            109
2013-14                145                                         -114                                              31

In that decade, the borough’s population has risen from 129,000 to 136,000. Remember that this was a time of exceptional growth due to a housing boom, high employment, migration due to the EU accession states, the formation and expansion of Glyndwr University and Chester protecting its greenbelt.

What we can say with some certainty is that – based on evidence not population projections - Wrexham’s population is not now growing at anything like the rate it was 10 years ago. Back then it rose by almost 1,000 a year prior to the economic crash. In fact the last year of stats show a net growth of just 31.

Yet Wrexham’s Local Development Plan is planning to permit 13,000 extra houses for the borough based on these Welsh Government population projections. These projections have no basis in reality. Rather than building unwanted houses on greenfield sites, what we need to be doing now is ensuring that the 2,500 empty properties in the borough are brought back into use by encouraging landlords to sell/let them or ensuring the council gets its act together.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Weasel words over the Iraq war

Today of all days is not one for politicians such as Wrexham's Labour MP to try to weasel out of his responsibility for the Iraq war. Yet today's Leader carries his claim, unchallenged, that he opposed the war in 2003. He did not. That lie is nailed in this letter by Mabon ap Gwynfor that may - or may not - be published in the Leader:

Dear Editor 
I welcome Ian Lucas MP's admission of the Labour Government’s “massive mistake” in going to war in Iraq in 2003 (Leader, Friday 15 July). A war which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths both directly and indirectly. 
A war for which we will be paying the price for many decades to come. However, as a matter of accuracy it is worth correcting an impression Mr Lucas has created in the Press Release which the Leader published, namely that Mr Lucas voted against the Iraq war.  
According to Hansard, Mr Lucas did indeed vote against an amendment to the motion to go to war, which was to be welcomed. However when it came to a vote on the actual motion itself, the trigger for war on 18 March 2003, Hansard records show that Mr Lucas abstained from that vote. 
To clarify, when the opportunity came to vote against a motion to go to war, Mr Lucas abstained. Furthermore Mr Lucas says that he believes Tony Blair’s assertion that he acted in good faith, a lame excuse by the former Prime Minister to ease his troubled conscience. 
Blair took the country to war without due diligence or proper checks and balances; having withheld evidence from his Cabinet; and based on a claim which has not only transpired to be false, but was known to be false at the time because it was a figment of a spy’s excitable imagination that was inspired by Hollywood blockbuster films.  
Nothing good has come out of this atrocity. Mr Blair must be held jointly responsible for what has transpired and prosecuted. Ian Lucas and his Labour colleagues had a chance to stop him – and they failed.

Mabon ap Gwynfor
Plaid Cymru - The Party Of Wales, Clwyd South

Wrexham Leader 15/7/16

THE SUPPORT of Tony Blair for George Bush’s agenda in the Middle East in the run up to the Iraq war was “a massive mistake”, according to Wrexham MP Ian Lucas.

In a speech in the Commons following the publication of the Chilcot report, Mr Lucas described his reservations at the time – which led him to vote for an amendment opposing the Iraq war. He described a visit to the UN in New York and how the political climate in America led to war.

He told MPs: “The then US Government, acting in the long shadow of 9/11, included people with an agenda to intervene in the middle east. They used that context to justify the intervention.“In the immediate post-9/11 period, they made some really bad judgment calls. InIran, moderate forces had been holding sway before 2003. George Bush then made his dreadful “axis of evil” speech, which was part of the process that shattered any chance of a unified response to 9/11.

The alienation of Iran also had a massive negative impact on the post-war period in Iraq and undermined progress towards reconstruction. It was a massive mistake for the UK Government and Tony Blair to support the Bush and US agenda at that time.

“I am quite certain that Tony Blair acted in good faith. In March 2003, I think he believed, like Hans Blix, that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. I believe that it was through UK insistence that the US agreed to involve the UN as much as it did.

“However, when the UN weapons inspectors asked for more time in March 2003, the allies should have given it to them.

“As Sir John Chilcot concludes at paragraph 339 of the report ‘At the time of the parliamentary vote of 18 March, diplomatic options had not been exhausted. The point had not been reached where military action was the last resort.

Mr Lucas told the House he shared this view – and as a result, voted against the Labour Whip.

He also criticised the Conservatives for failing to scrutinise the then Government, telling MPs: “The official Opposition failed in their constitutional duty to ask the difficult questions and hold the Government to account. It was left to other parties in the House and the Labour Back Benchers to hold the Government to account.

“The failure of the official Opposition to challenge the Prime Minister and theGovernment effectively made his wrong decision easier. This is a big lesson for the official Opposition today.”

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Have you thought about standing for Wrexham council?

Plaid Cymru Wrexham are currently in the process of selecting candidates for the 2016 council elections. We've had more interest than ever before and although we've already selected some candidates, we're keen to make sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to get involved. 

Following a recent membership surge after the European referendum we anticipate putting forward a big team of candidates locally, so If you're interesting in being part of changing Wrexham council for the better, then now's the time to throw your hat in the ring!

If you'd like to find out more, please get in touch with us at plaidwrecsam@gmail.com or call us for a chat on 07747 792 441 and we'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Labour MP wants to shut down Welsh farming

 Ian Lucas, Wrecsam's appalling Labour MP, stands up in the House of Commons and calls to effectively shut down farming in upland Wales. He asks whether it’s possible, post-Brexit, to look at subsidies for “farming in Wales” and spend it ‘elsewhere’. Note that he is not targetting wealthy absentee landlords and the barley barons of East Anglia who rake in hundreds of thousands of pounds of Common Agricultural Policy funding but specifically Wales.
It’s estimated that 80% of family farms in upland Wales would close without these payments and it’s clear that, post-Brexit, Lucas would be happy to see them go to the wall and Wales become a green desert. The impact of losing thousands of jobs in rural communities, the impact on the wider economy, on the Welsh language and culture as well as the environment and the need for sustainable food production is incalculable. It’s a disgrace that he represents a Welsh constituency.

GHA Coaches: Time to re-regulate our public transport

Image result for GHA coaches

The overnight collapse of Ruabon-based GHA Coaches with the loss of up to 400 jobs and disruption to thousands of passengers, including school children, raises questions about the way public transport is provided in Wales.

Bus services in the UK were de-regulated under Thatcher - with the significant exception of London, where they remain under government control. Transport for London provides an oversight and degree of central planning that is the envy of the rest of the UK. It is also democratically accountable.

The result was a race for the most profitable routes, with bus firms competing with each other to pick up passengers, while less popular journeys were abandoned.

Local councils and later the Welsh Government found themselves subsidising those less-popular routes until UK spending cuts led to drastic reductions in those subsidies.

This transport chaos is unique in the world. Nowhere else believes that the market can deliver public transport effectively and the seeing Deutsche Bahn (the German state-owned train company) running the privatised Wales and Borders train franchise only adds to the irony.

Complex integrated public transport demands an overview and degree of planning that is not possible with a myriad of private bus and rail companies all operating to maximise profit and return for their shareholders rather than providing a good service at a reasonable price.

This mess is nothing new. Back in 2014, the respected Local Transport Today magazine described the Labour Government's public transport policy as a mess".

It said the Welsh bus industry is "stumbling from one predicament to another as a bewildering array of reforms comes out of Cardiff ... Funding has been cut, rules have changed and further reforms are mooted... Then there is the cut to concessionary fares reimbursement, which could yet end up in the courts."

Nothing has changed.

Anyone who uses public transport in mainland Europe - as many thousands of Welsh fans did last month - will be making very unfavourable comparisons with the Welsh public transport network in terms of cost, comfort and speed.

At present we have no integrated ticketing in Wales - again unlike regulated London. Manchester is about to have a Transport for London-style franchise  with the UK Treasury pushing the Department of Transport to re-regulate. Why not Wales?

It's estimated that 40% of all bus journeys in Wales are concessionary, i.e. free or reduced fares paid for by the Welsh Government or local councils. That's almost half bus companies income being provided direct by the taxpayer without any input into where they operate and how much they charge.

With the collapse of one of the largest firms in Wales, surely now is the time to re-regulate our buses and make the case for public transport to be run in the public interest.

Until we do, Wales will continue to see a patchy public transport network totally at odds with the integrated public transport "vision" we are often presented with by this current Welsh Government.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Plans to cut Wrexham fire engine and 24 jobs branded 'short-sighted stupidity'

Plans to cut a fire engine and 24 firefighters’ jobs in Wrexham have been branded as ‘short-sighted stupidity’ by Plaid Cymru.
 Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham chair Marc Jones said: 
“The Fire Authority’s plan to save £1m by cutting 24 jobs and a fire appliance defies logic. They’ve just spent £15m on a brand new combined station in the town with the ambulance service so what was the strategic thinking behind losing a vital appliance. This makes even less when you consider that the Welsh Government is anticipating a 20% in the borough’s population over the coming years and there’s a huge new prison going to open on the industrial estate in 2017.
 "Both will inevitably mean more work for our fire service. This is short-sighted stupidity.“I’ve been approached by firefighters concerned that, if there’s an incident requiring two appliances at the prison, there will be no cover for the rest of the county. The fire service has a chief fire officer, a deputy and three assistants earning packages worth a combined £600,000 a year – I would rather see a scaling down of the top brass rather than losing valued frontline firefighters.”
Cllr Jones, who chairs Caia Park Community Council, said:
“Wrexham’s fire services are already dealing with 43% of all North Wales arson and a large proportion of the road traffic accidents across the North. As community councillors, we are very aware of the work being done in terms of fire prevention that needs enhancing to pro-actively stop fires, but there will always be a need for a comprehensive emergency service that has the firefighters and appliances available to deal with any incident.”
Cllr Jones called on the Fire Authority to think again before cutting services in the largest town in the North.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Plaid welcomes constructive talks to form stable government in Cardiff Bay

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has welcomed talks today between Plaid Cymru and Labour in Cardiff Bay that should result in ‘stable government’.
He said: “Our door has always been open for discussions and it’s regrettable that Labour didn’t engage with us before the vote for the First Minister, in which Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones were tied 29-29. Labour has to realise that it does not have a majority and therefore must engage with the other parties to be able to form a government and get legislation passed.
Yesterday Wrexham’s two recently elected local Assembly Members went on the attack saying the First Minister contest was due to ‘ego’ and hammered the party with various comments.
AM Llyr Gruffydd went on to comment: “I’m frankly amazed that Labour’s reaction to the vote was to try to smear Plaid Cymru when their own senior members had been talking to UKIP about a possible deal to form a government. There has been a certain arrogance about their attitude that demonstrates why they lost so many votes in the recent election.
“They must remember that they are a party supported by only a third of voters, although they managed to scrape almost half the seats. Even with the support of the lone Liberal Democrat, they do not have a majority and the sooner they realise that they have to sit down and discuss areas where we can agree on policy commitments, the better.
“Just to clarify, there have been no deals between Plaid, UKIP and the Tories and we would not go into coalition with them. Labour has admitted that it has had negotiations with UKIP’s Nathan Gill.
“In the meantime we’ve seen AMs rushing to the press desperately trying to blame Plaid for everything from the steel crisis to ‘betraying vulnerable people’. Plaid Cymru has been consistent in urging Welsh Government intervention in the steel crisis from January onwards – when Carwyn Jones was sitting on his hands saying ‘we can’t do anything’.
“Carwyn Jones is currently still the First Minister and this delay is not preventing him from intervening in the steel industry. It’s time some of our local Labour representatives grew up rather than assuming they have a divine right to rule, no matter what the electorate decide.”
Talks are due to be ongoing this afternoon between Plaid Cymru and Labour, for the first time described as ‘formal’. The BBC are reporting Carwyn Jones ‘has discussed appointing Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams as a cabinet minister’ as the horse trading goes on to find a solution to the deadlock.
If the problem persists Wales could see ballot boxes reappearing once again for the Assembly.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Groves - a missed opportunity to protect our heritage

Tomorrow night, campaigners to preserve our heritage will meet in St Margaret's Church, Rhosddu, at 7.30pm to hear what we can do to save important buildings and stop our town being wrecked.The focus will naturally be on the Groves School building, which the council decided to demolish on January 12 without consultation or notice.

Without the passionate and intelligent campaigning of the Save our Heritage group, the Groves School building would be rubble by now. SoH has forced the council to await a decision on listing by CADW, something which is imminent.

But it's also worth reminding ourselves of a missed opportunity in the Assembly just a month after the demolition announcement.

The Historic Environment Bill was passed on February 9th to allow protection for listed buildings. But opposition parties, including Plaid Cymru, argued that the Bill didn't go far enough in protecting buildings that weren't listed but were of local importance. The bill had guidelines for buildings not listed but these aren't statutory, as we wanted and the Committee scrutinising the Bill recommended “We recommend that the Bill is amended to require local authorities to prepare and maintain lists of historic assets of special local interest and that the Deputy Minister brings forward an amendment at Stage 2 to give effect to this.” 

All the opposition parties supported making the local lists statutory but Labour voted against and, as such, it was rejected.

The minister in charge of the environment and piloting the bill through the Assembly was Clwyd South AM Ken Skates. He said this during the debate:

“The amendments specify that the register would be a material consideration in planning determinations. Such an explicit statement would sit awkwardly in planning legislation, let alone in a Bill that is concerned with the historic environment. Contrary to the aims of the recent Planning (Wales) Act 2015, these amendments would certainly increase complexity in the planning system. They would also place additional demands on the capacity and resources of local authorities. The amendments would permit the public to nominate grounds for inclusion on the local register, which could easily be used to frustrate legitimate development. I also fear that systems that are already in place to manage grounds of local importance—for example, town and village green and disposal of playing fields regulations—could be undermined by these amendments.”

So there we have it. The opposition parties wanted to strengthen the protection for our historic heritage and the minister refused to allow local communities to nominate buildings for inclusion on a local heritage register. Here's what Plaid Cymru's heritage spokesperson Bethan Jenkins AM said: 

I think it is a missed opportunity for a radical change in the sector. If you want to put a press release out saying ‘We’ve completed all our laws this term’; well, I’d rather have effective and well-developed laws as opposed to just having a piece of paper. I will tell you that we will be back here - even if it’s not me, there will be Assembly Members back here looking at this issue again because it was not prioritised within Welsh Government as it should have been, and you should have fought for that, Minister.”

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

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