Sunday, 19 October 2014

Plaid Wrecsam visits Borras anti-fracking camp

There has been huge community support for the new Borras and Holt Community Protection Camp set up in the field where the test borehole for Coal Bed Methane and Shale Gas is planned.
 Among the visitors on Saturday were a group from Plaid Wrecsam who were there to show solidarity and bring food to the first wave of camp protesters. 
 It's very welcoming and open for visitors - and now has some toilet facilities! This is going to be a long haul - please support.

Fracking - it's our future that's in danger
Joanna Parry is 13, her school assignment was to produce a piece of persuasive writing - hence the repetition, alliteration and rhetorical questions. A 13-year-old schoolgirl understands fracking and its consequences better than a planning inspector or London politicians.
"Good morning my fellow class mates, how would you feel if you turned on the news and were told that the last surviving polar bear in the world had just died? How would it make you feel knowing that it was our fault? It’s simple, our grandparents’ generation and our parents’ generation damaged the environment and we are the ones who will have to sort it out. It’s our future that’s in danger.
Where are the proposals to cut down on fossil fuels and increase our use of renewable energy? They have been over shadowed by the recent plans to introduce fracking into the U.K. Fracking is the process of drilling into the earth and pumping a mixture of high pressure chemicals and water into loose stones to release gas. There are proposed fracking sites very close to where we are sitting right now. This is not just the polar bears problem, it’s our problem. Fracking is dirty, dangerous and destructive. These dirty chemicals that it releases into our water supplies may cause cancer or other diseases. The dangerous fracking process has already caused two earth quakes in Blackpool and Cardiff could be next. Fracking produces a fossil fuel which is hugely destructive to the environment because of the large quantities of carbon it releases in the atmosphere. Carbon causes climate change. Climate change will destroy the world as we know it. It’s our future that’s in danger.
The Committee on Climate Change have announced that in the past 100 years the global average temperature has risen so much that sea levels are rising. Polar bears will be gone by 2050. That’s your 50th birthday. It is not just animals that will pay the price. Rising sea levels could cause a threat to lives, property, the livelihood of people living in coastal regions and low lying islands. People will be at increased risk of malnutrition. They will be more likely to get ill from intestinal diseases, heart and lung problems and infections. It’s our future that’s in danger.
You are not the first generation to be confronted with this dilemma. During the industrial revolution south Wales was one of the main providers of coal. The south Wales valleys were blighted and scarred by coal mining. However it was not the local population that benefited from the money it produced. A few very rich landowners became even richer whilst the working class and the residents of the valleys sacrificed their health and, in many cases, their lives. Once again it is our future that’s in danger.
 What have the giant fracking companies offered us this time? Just 1% of the profits for coming onto our land, taking our natural resources and putting our health at risk. This is outrageous! We have to stop the dirt. We have to stop the danger. We have to stop the destruction.
 We live in an age of highly advanced technology where pretty much anything is possible. Research into renewable energy such as solar power, wind power and wave power is already well advanced. If the government invested into further research into this technology instead of supporting fracking then our energy problems and our environmental problems would be solved.
It’s our future that’s in danger. Join me and fight fracking today!"

Friday, 17 October 2014

Breaking news: Anti-fracking camp set up to protect Borras

An anti-fracking camp has been set up on the proposed site for test drilling for Coal Bed Methane at Commonwood Farm, Borras, between Wrecsam and Holt tonight.

For the latest information go to Frack-Free Wrexham on Facebook.

Practical and moral support much appreciated!

More details will be available at the public meeting being held in The Cunliffe Arms on Thursday, 23 October at 7pm.

Governor at Europe’s largest prison: ‘Big prisons don’t work’

An urgent rethink of the size and type of prison planned for Wrecsam is needed, according to Plaid Cymru.

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam, said: “If this prison is built to current plans, it would be the second largest one in Europe.
 “So it’s interesting to hear that the governor of the largest one – just outside Paris – believes that small prisons are the way forward.
 “Fleury-Merogis prison near Paris was built in the 1960s and houses 3,800 inmates, divided into male, female and youth offenders. The 2,500 adult male section of the jail make it bigger than any single UK prison.
“The Governor Joaquim Pueyo said that, if UK Government officials were to ask him what the ideal size of a prison should be, he’s say 600.
“This is the size of new prisons the French are now building to cope with their own overcrowding issues. So why on earth are we repeating mistakes made by the French back in the 60s and ignoring the views of experts who say prisons of this size don’t work?”

Ms Harper said there was a logic to having a smaller scale prison to serve the needs of North Wales:

“There are lots of reasons to re-think this scheme before it’s too late. The council’s decision last week to defer planning permission gives us a window of opportunity.
  “A smaller prison built for the needs of North Wales would allow women and youth offenders as well as adult males to stay in the region rather than being moved away to prison, with all the resulting extra cost and problems for visiting family.
 “It would also reduce the impact 2,100 adult male  inmates would have on local services such as the NHS, police and housing.
“Plaid Cymru is totally opposed to any prison being privately run by a company such as G4S, which has been proved to falsify records in terms of tagging criminals.
“Our other concerns are that when the government talks of ‘local jobs’ and ‘local firms’ getting contracts, it actually refers to anyone within 50 miles of Wrecsam – that includes Liverpool and Manchester. I’m very concerned to ensure that Wrexham sees the full benefit of any work and contracts otherwise we’ll end up with all the problems and none of the benefits.”

·        Long-term critic of the super prison Robert Jones and Elfyn Llwyd MP, who has visited similar prisons in Texas, will be the guest speakers at a public meeting entitled “Wrexham Prison – pros and cons” to be held at Saith Seren, 18 Chester St, Wrexham, LL13 8BG on Thursday, November 20th. Entrance is free and everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Councillor calls for fracking ban

Plaid Cymru councillors have called on all 52 Wrexham fellow members to ask them to support a motion against fracking.
Cllr Arfon Jones, who leads the Plaid Cymru group on Wrexham Council, made the call in the wake of the Welsh Government's planning inspectorate deciding to back test drilling for Coal Bed Methane and Shale gas at Borras on the outskirts of the town. The controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has led to mass opposition in some areas due to the danger of contaminating water sources, the risk of mini-earthquakes and other environmental damage. 
He said: "Many councils in England have taken a stance on this important matter and passed motions against fracking, As Wrexham is one of many areas in Wales also facing fracking, we in Plaid Cymru feel we should make a stance and declare our opposition to the process.
 "Many European countries have a ban on fracking and the Australian company involved in this test drilling, GP Energy, would not be able to carry out this work in New South Wales. Why should it be able to here in old North Wales?
 "There is an active campaign locally against this, the council's own planning committee weighed up the pros and cons and came out against it and there's a clear feeling that the dangers outweigh any possible benefits. 
 "I have raised this in the Homes & Environment Scrutiny Committee some months ago and it was agreed to a workshop on fracking but we are still waiting whilst the people of this county are actively campaigning against. Without the right information, councillors cannot carry out their job properly.
 "Officers are concerned about the cost of appeal decisions but the cost in terms of public safety and the environment from mini-tremors, subsidence, gas leaks and polluted water could be much higher."
Cllr Jones, who represents Gwersyllt West, said licences to drill for unconventional gases had been granted by the UK Government to cover the whole of the Wrexham and Flintshire area. It was up to local councillors, he said, to represent local people and stand up to the multinationals seeking to drill under people's homes without permission.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Clwyd South and Karen Sinclair.

The following letter appeared in Wrexham's Leader on the 9th October 2014, having a go at Mabon Ap Gwynfor for working hard for the people of Clwyd South constituency:

The following is a letter I wrote in reply:

Dear Editor,

Whilst I'm quite used to 'shameless partisan politicking' by the Labour Party, Karen Sinclair (Leader Letters, Oct 9th)takes their hypocrisy to a whole new level. Lets take the recent goings on in Labour locally; ten Labour members leave the party stating 'negative influences' by unelected party members making their continued presence untenable.

Perhaps Karen Sinclair should spend more time shedding the 'negative influences' out her own dysfunctional Clwyd South Constituency Labour Party so that local politicians may seek to emulate Mabon ap Gwynfor's committment to put the people of Clwyd South before party politics.

Oh, and as a matter of interest Ken Skates AM was employed by Mark Tami MP before being elected the AM for Clwyd South.

'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones', Karen!

Councillor Arfon Jones.
Plaid Cymru 
Etholaeth Wrecsam Constituency.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Council uses Manchester auction house to sell local youth clubs

There are small signs that the local economy may be turning a corner and emerging from the recession. Small signs that need encouraging.

What won't encourage local businesses is seeing Wrecsam Council failing to use local companies to carry out its work.

The derelict Pentre Broughton and Gresford youth clubs are being put up for sale at an auction... in Manchester.

There are local auctioneers who could carry out this kind of work.
There's this thing called the internet that apparently lets people know what's for sale without actually being in one place.
Putting the auction in Manchester is going to make it less likely that someone local purchases the sites to redevelop them.

Just one third of Wrecsam Council's tenders are given to companies in the county or in neighbouring Welsh counties. Two thirds to to England.

A huge £75m a year (on 2011 figures) is being spent outside the county borough on services that could be tendered locally.

Community response to illiterate racists

There's only one thing worse than a racist and that's an illiterate racist. Unfortunately, Hightown's resident illiterate racist chose to display his ignorance by spraying it all over the wall of the local underpass.

The boldly named Hightown Riot Squad Youth sprayed the graffiti under the Whitegate Road bridge late last week. This morning the community responded with a self-organised clean-up.

Plaid Cymru's Whitegate councillor Marc Jones, who chairs Caia Park Community Council, said he was delighted with the numbers who had turned out at very short notice:
"I'm very grateful to all those who turned out, in particular young people who were as disgusted with the racist and offensive graffiti as we were.
"The irony is that, while the graffiti artist was vandalising his own community, there are Polish people who are organising a youth football team in the field next to the bridge and making a real contribution to the area. They are a credit to Whitegate.
 "This was an immediate and temporary response. Our next step will be to create something more positive and permanent on the walls that can bring everyone together."

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pledge to improve education at heart of new scrutiny chair’s vision for Wrexham

Plaid Cymru's Gwersyllt West Councillor, Arfon Jones, has been elected as Chair of the Council's Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee.

Cllr Jones was chosen by fellow councillors at the full council meeting tonight. He had previously been Lead Member for Children's Services from 2008 and 2012 and has been a member of the Scrutiny Committee, which scrutinises education services in Wrecsam, since 2012. He replaces Labour Councillor Ann Evans.

Cllr Jones said: 
"I am very honoured to be appointed chair of this important and influential scrutiny committee. My priorities will be to support Ysgol Clywedog and Ysgol Rhosnesni in their efforts to come out of special measures by improving standards. I will also be looking to help improve standards across all our schools.

“I would also like to see elected members have a better understanding of school data and to use it positively to improve educational standards rather than use it to 'beat schools up with.' 
As regards Welsh-medium education, Cllr Jones said:
 "We in Plaid Cymru have always been at the forefront of promoting Welsh education and I want to ensure that Welsh-medium education has a 'level-playing field' and does not suffer disproportionately from the effects of the cuts the council is making. This applies across the board - from nursery provision to post-16 education."

Bebb de-selection call

Guto Bebb's future as Aberconwy MP appears to be under threat after calls for him to be de-selected.

The calls were made by local solicitor Dylan Moore, who Bebb wrongly accused in Parliament of being the co-author of a local blog called The Thoughts of Oscar. The entire blog has since been removed by the author Nigel Hughes, who maintains he was the only person responsible for it.

We reported here how Bebb had made very serious allegations against Dylan Moore, allegations he has now withdrawn and apologised for - presumably to avoid legal action. It's incredible that any MP would make such a wild accusation without testing the evidence and supports the view of many that his prime aim was to connect neighbouring Tory MP David Jones with the blog.

Moore's deselection call is significant because he is a business partner of Clwyd West MP David Jones, who has a long-standing rivalry with Bebb. It will be interesting to see if and when Tories in Aberconwy respond to the call, especially given Bebb's fragile relationship with some of them.

Prison will put local emergency services under huge pressure

Wrexham’s planned new prison will put local emergency services under additional pressure, says Plaid Cymru's parliamentary candidate Carrie Harper.

Plaid Cymru added that Wales’s First Minister is misleading local people over the planned new prison when he says it wouldn’t cause any extra pressures on health, police and fire services.

In a recent newspaper article, First Minister Carwyn Jones was asked if he shared local people’s concerns about the impact of the proposed jail in Wrexham on existing emergency services.

His answer was an emphatic No:

“No I don’t. I can speak from experience on this because I have a prison in my own constituency and all these fears were expressed about HMP Parc when it was built in the mid-90s. There has been no indication at all in the last 20 years of that prison being open of any extra pressure being brought on the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend as a result of it.”
Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate for Wrexham, said:

“The First Minister is incredibly complacent or ignorant about the impact of prisons on local services. According to official statistics for 2013 HMP Parc in his own Bridgend constituency saw the emergency services going to the prison no less than 238 times in 2013. That’s more than four times a week.

· South Wales Police recorded 129 incidents (not all may have been responded to).

· Welsh Ambulance Service attended 105 AS1 incidents

· South Wales Fire Service attended 4 incidents recorded as 'Fire'

“It should be remembered that the proposed new prison in Wrexham would be 50% bigger than the one in Parc. These figures challenge the notion that a large prison is 'impact free' for the local community and emergency services, which are already hard pressed. The last thing we need at the moment is additional pressures on already hard-pressed ambulance, police and fire services.

“We need an honest debate about the cost of this prison on the NHS, police and fire service.

 "Furthermore one of the key arguments for placing the prison in North Wales was to assist prisoners or prison leavers from the region to take advantage of the support services available to them either by local authorities or the Welsh Government (e.g. Transitional Support Service and Prison Link Cymru). By building a prison in north Wales it is anticipated that the estimated 500 prisoners from north Wales who will be held there would take advantage of the services made available to Welsh prisoners by local support services and agencies.

“Who will pay for these additional support services once the prison is built? What impact will the prison have on local housing service, local drug and alcohol abuse facilities and the like? The First Minister is living in cloud-cuckoo land if he believes there is no cost to the Welsh taxpayer from this huge new facility.”
She added: “Westminster still has control over prisons and policing in Wales, something Plaid Cymru wants to see devolved. If elected in May 2015, I will be pressing the Ministry of Justice of answers on the above matters and raising the concerns of Wrexham people in London.”

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Unique lecture on Scottish referendum by Welsh historian

Wales's most prominent historian is to give a landmark lecture on Scotland's independence referendum at Saith Seren in Chester Street, Wrecsam.

Dr John Davies, of Cardiff, delivered the lecture in Glasgow recently to an appreciative audience.

The lecture, entitled "A historical perspective on Welsh and Scottish politics and why Scotland should vote Yes", is on Youtube but many people in Wales were keen to hear it first hand. Now they'll get the chance with the event starting at 7pm on Tuesday, September 16, just two days before the actual referendum.

Admission to the lecture, which will be in English, is free but people are recommended to reserve seats beforehand by contacting or 07747 792441.

The event is being organised by Wrecsam says Yes, which supports the independence referendum campaign. A spokesman said:
"John Davies is an entertaining and insightful public speaker and this lecture will be a unique opportunity for fans of Welsh history as well as those interested in the Scottish referendum to hear his historical take on what promises to be a momentous occasion."

 Dr Davies is author of The History of Wales and taught history at University College Wales, Aberystwyth for many years. In 2005 Davies received the Glyndŵr Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales during the Machynlleth Festival. He won the 2010 Wales Book of the Year for Cymru: Y 100 lle i'w gweld cyn marw (100 places to see in Wales before you die).

Plaid councillors call for Living Wage and funding for Plas Madoc

Plaid Cymru councillors have set up their own group on Wrexham Council in the wake of the turmoil created by the Labour split. Councillors Arfon Jones (Gwersyllt West) and Keith Gregory (Smithfield) had previously been part of the Wrexham Independent Group.

A statement by the group said: 
"Plaid Cymru councillors on Wrexham Council will not be joining the Tory/Independent coalition as it is fundamentally the same administration that got itself in a right mess over Plas Madoc. The same administration has maintained the mayor and senior salaries while closing frontline services such as libraries, buses, community centres and grass cutting.
 "After informal meetings with the current Leader and Deputy Leader, we do not feel anything will change. 
 "Plaid Cymru wanted a commitment from them to pay the lowest-paid staff a Living Wage. We have 1,300 low-paid, mainly part-time women employees who are having to do two or three jobs to make ends meet. The lukewarm response that our request received confirmed our decision not to support the new administration. 
 "We have worked with campaigners to keep Plas Madoc open and believe the council should support the community effort to re-open Plas Madoc. Plaid Cymru wants the best for Wrexham and we will continue to hold the council to account and scrutinise its decisions."

Guto Bebb, David Jones and North Wales Police

Yesterday in Parliament, Guto Bebb (Tory MP for Aberconwy) made very serious allegations about North Wales Police and a colleague of fellow Tory MP David Jones. These allegations were made during a debate he secured about an anonymous local blog called The Thoughts of Oscar are outlined in Hansard.

Bebb did so using parliamentary privilege. We do not have the same protected privilege to comment on those allegations but draw your own conclusions.

Bebb's previous libel threats against The Thoughts of Oscar have prompted the blog to close - these related to an article that can be viewed here. Curiously, we're not aware that Bebb has taken steps to remove this article, which suggests his concern was primarily with The Thoughts of Oscar.

The most serious allegation regarding North Wales Police is of "collusion" with the blog:
"I have many constituents who are now adamant that the reason why the police in north Wales did nothing was that this site was being afforded a degree of protection."
Politically the most incendiary information is that he names a Colwyn Bay solicitor who works with David Jones MP as a contributor to the aforementioned blog:
"The private investigation company, Lewis Legal, is a north Wales-based civil and criminal evidence-gathering service that numbers among its clients local authorities in North Wales and which has worked with and for some police forces. I met Mr Michael Naughton from the company to discuss the names mentioned in his report and the nature of the evidence gathered. On a scale of one to 10, with one being “no confidence” and 10 being “absolute confidence”, I asked him how certain he was that a Mr Nigel Roberts, a local business man, and Mr Dylan Moore, a solicitor at David Jones and Company, were involved. In both cases, he stated that he would rate both names as a 10 and would be confident in his evidence in any court of law. Indeed, this morning, I received an e-mail from Mr Nigel Roberts confirming his involvement with the blog site in question. The third name mentioned was classed as being rated at eight on a scale of one to 10 and despite parliamentary privilege, I do not intend to name this individual."

Last of the Empire Wine

Cammo, Cleggy and Millie head off on a great adventure Oop North in a bath-tub in a desperate last-ditch bid to woo Nora McBatty. It all ends in tears as they get lost on Ribblesdale Moor and Nora elopes with the handsome Alex.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Coroner Blast for Medical Services.

John Gittins the Coroner for North Wales has criticised the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and the Welsh Ambulance Service whilst bringing back a 'narrative verdict' at the inquest into the death of Clive Turner whose treatment had been delayed due to Ambulance waiting time outside the Maelor and discharge following a misdiagnosis:
"For the second time this year John Gittins, the coroner for North Wales and Central, is to submit a report calling on the Welsh Ambulance Service and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to resolve the problem of ambulances queueing outside hospitals. 
He is also planning meet senior officials of both bodies to discuss the crisis. 
At the end of an inquest in Wrexham he also said he planned to raise concerns about other matters raised by the case."
Whilst I welcome the intervention of the Coroner in an attempt to prevent unavoidable deaths of hospital patients in the future, I don't agree the emphasis should be on the Ambulance Service and delays in transfer. The following letter was sent to the Daily Post in response:

Dear Editor,

It was sad to read about the avoidable and untimely death of Mr Clive Turner from your report from the inquest, "Coroner Blast for Medical Services" (Post, Sept 5th), and I welcome John Gittins's decision to seek a meeting with BCUHB and the Ambulance.

As a member of the North Wales Community Health Council as well as being an user of services at the Emergency Department at the Maelor perhaps you will allow me to make a few observations.

Whilst there are undoubtedly shortcomings in the management and staffing levels of the Welsh Ambulance Services, that is not the whole story by any means.

The fact that Majors, the Minor Injury Unit and GP Out of Hours are all co-located at the Emergency Department, does not help patients to 'Choose Well', or for staff to deliver the service; in fact it reminds me of the Police Precinct in the film, "Fort Apache - The Bronx."

Secondly, any investigation needs to concentrate on 'bed management' within the Maelor. I firmly believe that most delays are caused by 'bed blocking' in A&E caused by insufficient beds in the Surgical and Medical Assessment Units and the re-admission of patients discharged too soon due to the non-availability of recuperative beds in the community.

Councillor Arfon Jones.