Friday, 20 April 2018

It's time to talk about period poverty

Wrexham councils Lifelong Learning scrutiny committee yesterday voted unanimously to establish a task and finish group to look at the issue of period poverty in Wrexham and the availability of free sanitary products in local primary and secondary schools. The request, submitted by Plaid Cymru Councillor Carrie Harper and supported by Cllrs Gwenfair Jones, Dana Davies and Adrienne Jeorrette, also hopes to explore how a recently announced pot of Welsh Government funding can be best spent to maximise provision.

Cllr Harper said: "As far as I'm aware, this issue has never been discussed by Councillors. With recent studies by Plan International UK showing that 1 in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary wear, we have to raise awareness about this. Being unable to afford sanitary products can impact on school attendance, as well as the general health and well being of our young women and girls. For low income families with several women to provide for, this can be a real challenge, it's about basic dignity and I welcome the opportunity for Councillors to look at potential solutions".

" I'm aware that community group Wings Wrexham are already running a trial to provide free products in one local secondary school and we're looking forward to working with them and getting their input. I'm also very grateful to fellow Plaid Cymru Councillors in Rhondda Cynnon Taff who have done a huge amount of work on this which we'll also be exploring in order to learn from their experience".


Kingdom condemned by Councillors

After several hours of debate, Wrexham Councillors have recommended a task and finish group scrutinise a series of concerns regarding Kingdom Security and their current contract with Wrexham County Council.

The controversial firm came under fire from many Councillors at the Homes and Environment scrutiny committee last week, who took the opportunity to highlight concerns about the effectiveness of the contract, whether it breached the councils own Environmental Enforcement Policy with its zero tolerance approach, as well specific concerns about individual cases.

Plaid Cymru Cllr Carrie Harper who sits on the committee said: " We had a detailed report, including comments from the Chair of the councils Audit Committee Mr Jerry O'Keefe, who expressed concern regarding how the Kingdom contract breached the councils own Environmental Enforcement policy. This policy clearly recommends a staged approach to fixed penalty notices (FPN's) for littering, including informal warnings before enforcement action is take. Clearly this is not happening with Kingdom and we're all hearing complaints from local residents."

"There was also a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of the contract, Kingdom were originally engaged in response to public concerns about dog fouling and generally in order to make Wrexham's streets cleaner. Looking through the monthly figures for the issuing of FPN's, it is clear that the vast majority of fines are issued for cigarette butts, with very few for dog fouling and other types of litter. This amounts to a bin bag per month and as was pointed out during the debate, the rubbish people are fined for remains on our streets as Kingdom refuse to allow residents to pick it up."

Cllr Ronnie Prince expressed his concern about the firm targeting one local woman at a supermarket. After accusing her of littering outside of the premises, he explained how the Kingdom officer had then followed and  harassed her as she attempted to do her shopping inside the store. The woman felt intimidated, to the extent that she left her shopping in the aisle and went home in order the escape the operative.

Other Councillors also expressed their concerns about fines being issued to under 18's, the targeting of vulnerable individuals and the amount of local residents being left with a criminal record over non payment of fines.

Whilst all agreed that littering offences need to be tackled, the general consensus was that a new, less aggressive strategy was needed, in line with the needs of the county borough. Councillors felt that many of the concerns raised warranted further investigation, including looking at whether or not the current contract can be re focused on the types of litter residents are concerned about, such as dog fouling. The committee recommended a task and finish group explore these issues further and report back with recommendations.

The officers present also confirmed that a review of the contract was due to take place. 

Friday, 13 April 2018

Bus services 'falling off a cliff'


This is an article taken from the Nation.Cymru website, focussing on the crisis facing bus services in Wrexham and Wales as a whole:
The bus industry in Wales is falling off a metaphorical cliff. In just a decade, journey miles have fallen by one fifth – as have passenger numbers.
This is not the case in other parts of the UK. London has actually seen a growth in passenger numbers during the same period.
There is, of course, a crucial difference. The buses of London are part of an integrated transport strategy under the public ownership and control of Transport for London.
Thanks to that long-term certainty it is perfectly possible to make long-term strategic plans, to invest in making public transport more attractive, reliable and efficient for passengers.
As a result, those passengers to see it as a viable alternative to the car for commuting and travelling on a daily basis.
Several parts of Wales have seen bus companies disappear in the past couple of years – Express Motors in Penygroes, GHA Coaches from Corwen and D Jones and Son from Wrexham are just some in my region alone.
When they do fold, for whatever reason, they are not being replaced because private bus operators only want to cherry pick the most commercial routes and councils do not have the funds coming from the Welsh Government to increase subsidised routes.
In fact, the Welsh Government’s funding for subsidised services (the Bus Support Subsidy Grant) has been frozen on £25 million annually for all councils since 2013. This equates to a 20% cut in real terms at a time when diesel and other costs are rising significantly.
To make matters worse, having an annual subsidy makes it all but impossible to plan any kind of long-term public transport strategy for the benefit of those who currently or wish to use buses.
De-regulation
Among the worst affected areas is Wrexham, which has seen several bus companies disappear in the past three years with a resulting 31% drop in departures from the town’s bus station between 2015-6 and 2016-7.
The collapse of smaller bus companies has led to the emergence of an effective private monopoly by Arriva Wales, which now owns 40 of the 42 buses operating bus routes in the borough.
A vicious circle emerges of fewer bus routes, fewer evening and weekend services, reduced passenger numbers, increasing fares, and reduced reliability leading to fewer bus routes. The situation, quite simply, is unsustainable.
Following the withdrawal of services by D Jones & Son late last year, there was no bus service from the town’s industrial estate to the town centre between 5-6pm in the evening.
Despite it being regularly full and commercially viable, Arriva chose not to operate the service leaving many workers stranded without notice.
Bus de-regulation, going back to 1986, has clearly failed spectacularly to deliver promised improvements as private bus companies have cherry picked the most profitable routes and left many communities – especially those in rural areas – without public transport options.
 
So what are the answers? 
Taking a cue from cities such as London, we must look at integrated and long-term solutions, where public transport is seen as an effective way to get around.
We must look again at municipal bus services that work for the benefit of commuters and other passengers – so that they get people from where they are to where they want to go, rather than where bus operators want to operate. Both Cardiff and Newport have municipal bus services.
Transport for Wales as a concept is a good one but is it more than a concept? Ensuring free bus transportation during the weekends via the Trawscambria network is all well and good, but it doesn’t assist people who are trying to travel to work on a daily basis.
Neither is capital spending on shiny new transport hubs to link bus and rail if the bus services have disappeared. A Plaid Cymru government for Wales would invest in a long-term strategy for public transport.
There are wider environmental and economic implications too – car ownership in London is falling due, no doubt, to the availability of a public transport network.
It’s a choice many people in Wales would love to be able to make as well.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Labour's bus service cuts hit Wales hard

This letter from the Confederation of Passenger Transport Wales exposes the Labour
Government's failure to properly fund bus transport in Wales. The impact this
real-time cut of more than a third over the past five years can be seen in the dramatic fall in passenger journeys across
Wales in the past few years - a drop of 20% in the past decade.
Wrexham's suffered more than most, not least because the local Labour Party cut a
further £495,000 from the bus budget in 2013 - a double whammy that has led to the
largest town in north Wales not managing to have a bus service from its industrial
estate to the town centre between the hours of 5-6pm.
Next time Labour tell you they're for the many not the few, remember they've left many,
many people stranded at bus stops across Wrexham.


Cydffederasiwn Cludwyr Teithwyr Cymru
Confederation of Passenger Transport Wales


To Welsh Local Authority LeadersTo Welsh Local Authority Transportation Managers (ATCO)3 April 2018

Dear Colleagues
You may have seen some limited press coverage recently suggesting that the Welsh Government has provided a ‘boost’ or extra funding of £25m to the bus industry in Wales for 2018-19.
This is very misleading and I am writing to you to correct and clarify this unhelpful impression. You may well want to share this with your Cabinet Member responsible for transport
The funding referred to has been provided by WG to the bus industry, through our LA partners, every year since the late 1960s. Initially it was known as Fuel Duty Rebate, then as Bus Services Operators’ Grant, and subsequently, in Wales since 2013, as Bus Services Support Grant; 2013 was when WG took over this aspect of bus support from the Department for Transport and funded and administered it completely themselves from Cardiff.
There is no new or extra money or special ‘boost’ in the funding this year, as implied in some parts of the media. It is no more than the normal annual support provided for the bus industry here. Indeed, in 2013, when WG took this over from DfT, it immediately cut the amount available from £34m as in 2012-13 to £25m for 2013-14, an overnight reduction of 26%. This has been compounded since then as this funding has remained at £25m, whereas inflation over that period has totalled around 8%, so the reduction is, in effect more than one third of the level of support in 2013.
We of course recognise that there have been challenging financial conditions in recent years, but the recent highly misleading release and headlines give the wrong impression to our LA partners and  our stakeholders, and I hope this clarifies the true position.
Please do get in touch if you want to discuss this or would like any further information.
Yours sincerely
John Pockett
JOHN POCKETTCyfarwyddwr : DirectorCPT Cymru

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Plaid councillors call to keep school open


Schools in the Ceiriog Valley should be kept open according to Plaid Cymru.

Plaid Cymru's group of councillors has come out against council plans to close Ysgol Pontfadog and continue dual-streaming in Ysgol Cynddelw.

Group leader Marc Jones said: 
"The three schools in the Ceiriog Valley federation serve differing needs. Ysgol Llanarmon DC is Wrexham's only naturally Welsh-speaking school serving the higher end of the valley. Ysgol Cynddelw has been a dual-stream school but, of late, the Welsh-medium stream has proved so popular that it is effectively becoming a Welsh-language school. Ysgol Pontfadog currently offers English-medium education for the valley.  
 "We recognise the reality of developments in Cynddelw and believe it should become a Welsh-medium school to serve the main population centre of the valley. We also believe Ysgol Pontfadog should continue to serve the community as an English-language school. 
 "This option safeguards provision in both languages and provide the best choice for parents. It is also supported by the federation's governing body."
The group has challenged the council to explain how their proposals to close Pontfadog would result in school improvements, given that there will be a need to invest in increasing provision at Cynddelw as well as providing transport for pupils from Pontfadog.

Cllr Jones added: 
"In many ways, this is a good news story for the Welsh language right on the border. Parents who don't speak Welsh currently have the choice of two streams and are increasingly opting for the Welsh-language stream. It makes no sense that this positive advance for the Welsh language should be undermined by closing Ysgol Pontfadog, which should continue to provide a dedicated English-language provision.
 "The federated school appears to be working well and the three sites offer pupils on the valley good options. Only 16 of the 253 respondents to the consultation favoured what the council is proposing, which in itself raises questions about the purpose and value of such consultations. 
 "Our other concern, if the council's proposal to close one school is taken, is that it could ultimately lead to the centralisation of all education in the valley on one site and that would be problematic for pupils living in the very uppermost reaches of the valley."

A decision on the three options facing Wrexham Council's Executive Board will be taken today

UPDATE: Wrexham Council's Executive Board unanimously voted to close Ysgol Pontfadog and maintain Ysgol Cynddelw as a dual-stream school.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Scrap Kingdom contract in Wrexham - Plaid Cymru councillors





Plaid Cymru councillors in Wrexham have called for the litter contract with Kingdom to be ended as soon as possible after news that a further 377 people were given Fixed Penalty Notices for littering by the security firm in March.

The call comes as councillors scrutinise the Kingdom contract at Wednesday's Housing and Environment Scrutiny committee.

Councillor Carrie Harper, who sits on the council's Housing and Environment Scrutiny committee, said: 
"Nobody condones littering but these fines are clearly not reducing litter in our communities. All they're doing is enriching a private company at the expense of Wrexham citizens. 
"Two councils in north Wales have now stopped using Kingdom and we should work with them and other councils to do the same. I want an effective strategy to reduce littering and dog mess in our communities rather than using Kingdom, which keeps going after the easy options."
Cllr Marc Jones represents the Grosvenor ward, which covers the town centre. This one ward made up more than a third of the 377 Fixed Penalty Notices issued by Kingdom in March: 
"I'm as sick of littering as anyone else but we're having to organise our own litter picking because the problem isn't going away. If anything it's getting worse more than two years after this council gave Kingdom the contract. 
 "Grosvenor ward is not a cleaner place because of Kingdom making money on the back of this contract. They are making thousands of pounds every month from this contract yet Wrexham residents are getting nothing back from it. 
 "Of the 141 fines issues in my ward, not one was for dog fouling. This is a far more serious problem yet Kingdom is clearly not interested in tackling that matter because it's easier to fine the young, the old and the vulnerable."
Cllr Jones, who leads the Plaid Cymru group on Wrexham Council, said discussions had taken place with his colleagues in other councils across north Wales to find a better alternative that actually delivered cleaner streets. Gwynedd and Ynys Môn councils, which are both Plaid Cymru run, have scrapped contracts with Kingdom in recent weeks


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

"The only thing I could buy unwrapped was a swede"


One woman's supermarket plastic challenge

Plaid Cymru community councillor Sarah Roberts, from Offa, has launched an experiment to tackle plastic in supermarkets.

Here's Sarah's story:
Today I did an experiment in our two local supermarkets, Aldi and Morrisons. My aim was to buy as much of my usual shopping without single use plastic. I have to admit that the husband normally does the shopping as he is retired and I am not... yet!

First Aldi: Fruit and veg galore, however the only thing I could buy unwrapped was a swede! The manager at checkout was lovely when I questioned this, saying her partner's work is environmental and she had no idea why there were not boxes of loose fruit and veg. I asked her to pass on the request for paper bags and pick your own boxes to more senior management 
Then to Morrisons. I had my paper bags with me. First stop were apples. Plenty of choice packaged and loose. I looked at the weight and cost of the packaged ones and also the loose... guess what? The loose were 50p a kilo dearer than the packaged. A lady at the broccoli shelf could see what I was doing and said she wished she could afford to buy the loose.

The girls on the cheese counter put my cheese in my paper bags on the grounds that I agreed that if it went discoloured and hard it was not their responsibility. When I asked them for onion bhajis they said they had paper bags for them. 
There were no loose potatoes so I collared the manager, 'sorry I had to take them off as they were not up to standard'. Probably still edible I replied. He went 'in the back' to look for some which were up to standard and arrived back with a tray full. 
Our conversation continued as to why there is so much packaging and why loose veg is more expensive than packaged. Suppliers and demand was the answer. His trump card was that customers complained when there weren't any plastic bags for their loose fruit and veg. 'Do you think they would complain if there were paper bags instead' I asked. 'Ah but paper is dearer than plastic' was the answer. I suspect that if every supermarket ordered paper bags the cost would be hammered down to match or even be below plastic prices. 
On to the hot-cross buns, all packaged but I spotted a tray behind the counter yet to meet the plastic wrapping machine. The young lady gave me 4 loose and I put them in, yes, a paper bag!! 
Next up was the fish counter... I couldn't get my head round fish in a paper bag...but the young man put it in a cook in the bag bag, saying that at least it could be cooked in it... not in my kitchen thank you!! 
So the worst-offending supermarket in this mini-survey is Aldi. I say that sadly as I have great respect for their pricing but they are definitely the winners of the award for overuse of single-use plastic on fruit and veg.

Our campaign to make Wrexham plastic free is just getting started. Let us know of your experiences and ideas at plaidwrecsam@gmail.com or comment below.

First Minister challenged over NHS privatisation


Wrexham's Renal and Dialysis Unit could be run by private company


The First Minister has been challenged to prevent further privatisation of key NHS services in Wales.
The challenge by Plaid Cymru comes days before a key meeting of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to decide on whether to keep Wrexham hospital’s renal and dialysis unit within the NHS or put it out to private contract.
A letter from First Minister Carwyn Jones to Plaid Cymru’s shadow health secretary Rhun ap Iorwerth has not allayed concerns.
It states: “It should be noted that privatisation is not the intention of the tendering process and, in contrast to the situation in England, privatising the NHS is not one of the ideological aims of the Welsh Government”.
Rhun ap Iorwerth responded by saying:
"This is a very strange response given that privatisation of renal and dialysis services has taken place over recent years under this Labour Government. Services in Ysbyty Gwynedd and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd are already run by private companies and the fear amongst staff in Wrexham is that the same is about to happen to them. 
“The First Minister suggests he’s not pursuing a privatisation agenda, but seems happy to let it happen ‘by accident’ somehow. I’m not sure if that’s any better. It’s certainly far from reassuring. 
“There is no excuse – Betsi Cadwaladr has been under the direct control of the Labour Government for the past three years, with health in Wales run by Labour for the past 19 years. If privatisation is not the intention, it has increasingly been the outcome. It raises questions about whether the Government actually realises what’s going on in our NHS and, if so, why it hasn’t done more to ensure key services remain within the NHS.”

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM, first raised concerns about the tendering process for the renal and dialysis service in January. He said:

"Concerned staff have told me that they do not want to see the service go outside the NHS. We're seeing the same process here as is happening in England, where health services are being privatised step by step. 

"The only difference is that the Tories are doing it openly while Labour in Wales is trying to pretend that it isn't happening. But we know it is and this Government must take responsibility. I would urge the First Minister to intervene to ensure this important and much-respected service in Wrexham remains within the NHS."


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Have your say on the Local Development Plan

Wrexham Council's Local Development Plan will have profound implications on how our borough looks by 2028.

It allocates land over the next decade and more for housing, employment and other uses.

Councillors tonight agreed that it should go out to public consultation - the second time the council has tried to get an LDP adopted.

Plaid Cymru's council group leader Marc Jones, who has sat on the Planning Policy Panel debating the new plan, outlined the background to this draft plan:
"Council officers have been placed in impossible situation after the Welsh Government's Planning inspectorate rejected the first LDP back in 2012. That plan rightly focussed on developing brownfield sites rather than greenfield sites and allocating land for 7,700 houses up to 2028. By contrast, the Labour Welsh Government said it wanted to see a growth of 20% in Wrexham's population - greater than any other county bar Cardiff - and produced population projections that saw a target of 13,000 homes being suggested by the minister. That was later revised down to 11715, which led to proposals for two huge new commuter estates on either sides of Wrexham town.  
"The Population Projections were a nonsense and exposed as such by the 2011 census, which showed a very modest population rise in reality. As a result, the Welsh Government revised the figure downward and we’re now back to 8,500 homes. 
"In the meantime, we’ve had five wasted years of no defence against greenfield developers, five wasted years of seeing population projections proven wrong time after time and five wasted years of having to spend time and money on LDP2 - that's £203,000 wasted when we're having to cut essential services.
"The Welsh Government should hang its head in shame for this delay and for forcing us to take this route. We are not the only council affected by such decisions but by far the worst affected. 
 "And we're not back to where we were in 2012 because this draft LDP will still see two huge commuter estates being developed on the Cefn Rd and Ruthin Rd. 
"The failure of the Welsh Government in the LDP process to understand local needs threatens to blight Wrexham with urban sprawl and stretch already struggling schools, healthcare and roads beyond breaking point. 
"To make matters worse the same planning inspectors have used our lack of an LDP as an excuse to allow developers to win on appeal the right to build 365 houses in Llay. The irony of having our local AM campaigning against something her own Labour goverrnment was forcing on us has not been forgotten. 
"We are having developer-led communities rather than community-led developments imposed on us. 
"So what next? The Plaid Cymru group can't support the LDP as it currently stands but it's important that it goes out to public consultation. We hope everybody will respond and make clear their views that this is not the local development plan that Wrexham needs. 
"We will submit our alternatives to the proposals during the consultation and hope the four-yearly review allows us to change it to something that is closer to local people’s views."

Welsh Government fiddling while NHS burns


The Labour Welsh Government has been accused of failing to turn round a struggling health board after three years in control. 

Next week sees Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board meet to agree savings of £45 million to try to balance the books. 

A spokesperson for BCUHB said:
“The plan that will be presented to the Health Board identifies a requirement to deliver £45m of savings for the coming financial year. If approved by the Board, we will then work with colleagues and partners on the details of how these savings will be achieved.  
“Looking further ahead, we will need to make a similar level of savings over the following three years to bring the Health Board to a break-even position. Examples of the measures we are already taking include a reduction in the use of agency and locum staff and the introduction of an intensive recruitment drive. If we recruited to all of our vacant posts, it would lead to a saving of over £1m per month.”
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM, said: 
“The staggering cost of locum and agency staff is something I raised more than two years ago “Back then, Betsi Cadwaladr health board was spending £3 million a month on locum and agency staff because there were serious problems with training, recruitment and retention. 
"That’s why Plaid Cymru has been consistently calling for a 1,000 extra doctors and 5,000 extra nurses to be trained and recruited nationally, something that has to be tackled by the Welsh Government. Instead, we’ve seen GPs and other health professionals retire or quit in increasing numbers due to the stress of working in an overstretched NHS.  
“So, while I’m glad that the health board now recognises the urgent need to train and recruit, I’m not seeing any clear direction from the Government. We should remember that BCUHB has been in special measures and under the direct control of the health secretary in Cardiff for almost three years now. Where is the progress? Where is the turnaround? Why has it taken so long for them to act on what we exposed as a major hole in the finances all that time ago?  
“Instead we have seen a failure to act – Plaid Cymru has called for a medical school in the North, we’ve backed plans by Glyndwr University in Wrexham to expand nurse training and we understand the need to recruit and retain staff in all parts of the NHS locally. We desperately need a Government that will take action to remedy the situation.  
“While I welcome any effort to save money, I think we have to recognise that BCUHB has exceptional issues in terms of demand. It has an ageing population, including some who have fewer support networks in the community, and previous decisions to close community hospitals continue to impact on our A&E services in district general hospitals. 
"Saving lives not saving pounds should remain the priority.”

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wales still hasn't scrapped the cap on NHS pay

Labour’s gutless policy of waiting for the Tories in England shows where their priorities lie on public services

Plaid Cymru has called for the NHS pay cap to be lifted by the Labour Welsh Government, following today’s announcement of a pay rise for health workers in England.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Secretary for health, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, said the Labour Government in Wales is now the last government in the UK that remains committed to an NHS pay cap.

Ministers and unions in England have agreed a deal today to lift the pay cap affecting nurses and other English NHS staff. The Scottish Government has already taken unilateral action earlier this year, but no announcement in Wales has yet been made.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“There are no more excuses for the Labour Government not to lift this abhorrent pay cap. Plaid Cymru is urging the Welsh Government to act as soon as possible, so that nurses will get the pay rise they deserve. Without nurses, our NHS would grind to a halt, and decision-makers have squeezed their pay for years in an act of sheer unfairness.
“For months, the Labour Welsh administration has resisted Plaid Cymru’s call to scrap its public sector pay cap. Despite including a promise to do so in its manifesto, the Labour Welsh Government said it must wait for Westminster. That excuse has now been taken from them.

“Labour’s gutless policy of waiting for the Tories in England, shows their fundamental lack of ambition and desire to use devolution to take Wales down a better, fairer path.
“Plaid Cymru’s vision is for a Welsh NHS where staff are given proper pay rewards for their efforts, and a Plaid Cymru Government will prioritise staff morale, helping public servants develop their skills and careers as they help build the Welsh nation.”

UPDATE: A year after the SNP made a clear stand, the Welsh cabinet secretary for health meekly follows his English equivalent and lifts the cap. 

Plastic-free Wrexham - love where you live


Up to now, the focus on plastic pollution has been on our oceans and the damage they're causing wildlife. Blue Planet, David Attenborough's legacy series, put the spotlight firmly on this problem and has spurred many on to take action.

Closer to home, we have the same problems with microplastics contaminating our rivers and seas.
If we don't tackle plastic pollution at source it will get worse - these micro-particles are working their way into the food chain to pollute our water supply, poison animals and, ultimately, people.

Plastic pollution also contributes massively to the rubbish that accumulates on roadsides and hedgerows.

How do we do our bit here in Wrexham?
Plaid Cymru wants to commit the council to playing its part in this. Through its own actions, in not using single-use plastics for example, the council can provide a lead. It can educate. It can also ensure that its procurement of contracts and tenders includes specifications about plastic pollution.

We also want to work with those committed to reducing plastics in the community and support supermarkets and manufacturers in eliminating plastics wherever possible.

Local firm Iceland is showing the way with its commitment to eliminate plastics within five years. Let's put pressure on other plastic manufacturers and users to follow suit.

More than anything we need to build a coalition locally to put pressure on those with the power to make the change. We also have to have a sea change in attitudes to plastics before it's too late.

If you're interested in building that coalition, please contact us on plaidwrecsam@gmail.com or phone 07747 792441 to make the difference locally.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Women’s International Day at the Stiwt, Rhosllanerchrugog.

This was my opening address at the Women’s International Day held at the Stiwt, Rhosllanerchrugog, on the 8th March 2018:

Pnawn da a chroeso i chi gyd yma i’r Stiwt i ddathlu Diwrnod Rhyngwladol y Menywod, yn union gan mlynedd ar ol pasio deddfwriaeth roddodd y bleidlais i bob dyn ac ambell i ferch dros 30. Proses a dim digwyddiad tuag at gyfartaledd oedd y ddeddfwriaeth hanesyddol yny, a da ni’n dal ar y siwrna hir.

Good afternoon and welcome to the Stiwt, an unbeatable location with a radical and progressive past for us to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year we are celebrating the success of the Suffragette movement, in their partial victory in getting some women and ALL men the vote, a 100 years ago and to borrow Ron Davies’s description of devolution, gender equality is a process not an event; and trust me, we have some way to go until we achieve 50/50 participation, respect and equal sharing of power.

We all remember the names that will be screened later, Emily Pankhurst and the tragic Emily Davidson, but there are others whose names have been forgotten. One in particular, Kitty Marion who had links with Wrexham. One of Kitty’s many arrests was at the 1912 National Eisteddfod in Wrexham, when she had the audacity to heckle Wales’s hero, the Chanchellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, whilst he was in full flow. Less than 6 months later, the Suggragettes had bombed Lloyd George’s partially built summer home in Surrey. It is quite ironic that the first Welsh female MP was in fact his daughter, Megan Lloyd George in 1928.

Kitty Marion was undeterred by her numerous arrests and the fact that she was forcibly fed on more than 200 occasions whilst in prison.

After the war, Kitty Marion emigrated to the US, where she was arrested a further 9 occasions for encouraging women to use birth control and she was instrumental in establishing the first birth control clinic in the US.

She was a lady worthy of being remembered.

Fel gwleidydd lleol dwi a diddordeb mewn cynyddu y nifer o fenywod mewn byways cyhoeddus yng Nghymru. Allan o’r 22 Cyngor yng Nghymru dim on 28% o Gynghorwyr sydd yn fenywod a phedair Arweinydd a chwech dirprwy arweinyddion. Dydy y sefyllfa yma ddim yn normal; mae angen cynrychiolaeth mewn bywyd cyhoeddus sydd yn gyfartal ar ganran yn y boblogaeth, sef 50/50.

Mae y gyngres yn yr Ariannin sydd a deddfwriaeth fel fod dynion a menywod a chyfartaledd ar un cyfleuoedd o gael ei hethol

As a local politician I am very interested in increasing women’s participation in public life and to
address the woefully low numbers of females in public life in Wales where representation is best described as ‘male, stale and pale’ and that includes Wrexham Council who has one female cabinet member out of 10. Only 20% of Councillors in Wrexham are female even though we make up 50% of the population. The picture across Wales is slightly better but only 4 Council’s out of 22 have female leaders.

Every year we celebrate International Women’s Day with a different theme and this year it is to Press For Progress and we all need to undertake to do something to bring about gender equality, or as we say on St David’s Day “Gwnewch y pethau bychain”or do the little things which when brought together brings about social change.

For myself I intend to campaign for gender equality in public life by questioning the lack of women’s participation, nominate women for public positions, aim for a goal of 50/50 gender balance and and finally to create a more inclusive opportunities especially changes in legislation to ensure gender balance in election lists. If they can have gender parity in Argentina there is no reason why we can’t
do it in Wales.

I am going to finish off with a quote from Sian Gwenllian who is an inspiration herself having been widowed in her early thirties with four young children. She became involved in local politics and was a County Councillor and Deputy Leader before being elected an Assembly member for Arfon.

“This International Women’s Day we should commit to create a a Wales where sexual harrassment and domestic abuse is outlawed and where workplace and pay inequalities are not tolerated and where women and men can follow their ambitions and dreams, free from the constraints of the gender straightjackets imposed on us for far too long.





Thursday, 8 March 2018

Boosting community enterprises in Wrexham

Wrexham is the co-operative capital of Wales.

That bold claim was made at an Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee meeting yesterday by Cllr Marc Jones, of Plaid Cymru.

Wrexham AFC, Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, Caia Park Partnership, Saith Seren, Glan Wylfa in Chirk and Brymbo Heritage were all cited as community-run enterprises contributing hugely to the local economy.

The committee agreed to investigate ways to better support start-up businesses and, in particular, community enterprises and co-ops that increasingly fill the gaps being left by both the public and private sector in our communities.

Tonight there's a meeting in Wrexham to discuss a new community project inspired by this scheme in Edinburgh. Hopefully that can also flourish as the town earns its reputation as co-operative capital of Wales.
The Remakery in Edinburgh, where old goods are re-used and put to good use again
 with craftspeople passing on their skills to a new generation.