Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Arriva bus services suspended




Call for temporary services to industrial estate and hospital 

In the wake of Arriva's cancellation of bus services in the Wrexham area due to a Covid-19 outbreak among drivers in its Wrexham depot, Plaid Cymru's Councillor Carrie Harper has made a plea for essential services to the industrial estate and hospital to be maintained. She said:
"Councillors were informed at 7pm tonight (Tuesday) that Arriva services were suspended on all but a few routes. That leaves key workers, including hospital staff, as well as those who have to attend hospital with very little alternative. 
"As this firebreak at Wrexham depot is likely to last at least 10 days, I'm calling on the Welsh Government and Wrexham Council to work together to provide an alternative temporary service with another bus company. 
"A shuttle service to the industrial estate and to the hospital from King Street is a bare minimum to ensure that workers and hospital staff can get to work safely. The timing of this announcement is very unfortunate, to say the least, but hopefully some services to these key destinations can be reinstated quickly."
HERE IS A FULL LIST OF ALL SERVICES AFFECTED:

Service 1 villages along the Chester Road corridor will have an hourly service 

Service 2/2A/2C Cefn Mawr & Oswestry buses will continue to operate, so this will serve Cefn Mawr, Plas Madoc, Ruabon, and B5605 via Johnstown, Rhostyllen. 

Service 3 & 4 Rhos, Ponciau & Penycae – No services 

Service 5 Llangollen, Villages on B5605 Rhostyllen, Johnstown main road, Ruabon, Acrefair & Trevor will have hourly service. Also T3 Traws Cymru continues to operate along this route. 

Service 7 & 8 Caia Park – No Service 

Service 11 Minera village – No Service in Minera. Service X51 will continue to operate along main A525 Bwlchgwyn, Coedpoeth, Southsea. 

Service 12/A & 14 Brymbo, Tanyfron, Brynteg. Lodge – No Service. Southsea & New Broughton can use Service X51 

Service 21 Summerhill no service. 

Service 27 Mold No Service - Alternative is M&H Coaches service 29 

Service 33 Llay, Bradley – No Service 

Service 35 Plas Golbourne – No Service 

Service 41A Industrial Estate & Queensway area – No Service 

Service X51 via Southsea, Coedpoeth, Bwlchgwyn will continue to operate 

Other communities who are served by buses from other operators (Lloyds Coaches, Tanat Valley, Pats Coaches, Wrexham Taxis, Valentine Travel, Stagecoach, M&H Coaches, Llew Jones) remain unaffected.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

'Wales can lead the way on greener, cleaner products'

Wales can lead in terms of recycling and innovative green products. That's the view of a new company that's developed and produces a recyclable paper cup at its Wrexham factory. Frugalpac, based on Wrexham Industrial Estate, was created three years ago and has pioneered a paper cup that can be recycled fully rather than face being landfilled. The company's managing director Malcolm Waugh met Plaid Cymru's North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd and local Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper to show them the products they are making. Mr Waugh said:
"Our innovative cups are low carbon, easily recycled and therefore avoid going to landfill like more conventional paper cups. We have also developed a 'paper' wine bottle that has 1/6th of the energy needed to create a conventional wine bottle and can also be recycled. "We’re motivated by a passion to protect our environment. Our already recycled, recyclable products will help to eliminate the insane levels of waste that exist in society today."
Frugalpac's wine bottles use 94% recycled paper and Mr Waugh commented that "Wales is good at recycling paper." Regarding the company's wine bottles, he added:
“It’s much lighter than glass, easier to transport and friendlier to the planet. Just as important, the wine still tastes as wonderful in a paper bottle as it does in glass."
The company wants to expand into making yoghurt and noodle pots as part of its growth plans. Mr Gruffydd said:
"Wales is doing well in terms of recycling and reducing our landfill but, as always, we can and must do better. "That's why it's heartening to hear positive comments from new and innovative companies such as Frugalpac, which we must nurture and support if we're serious about a zero-waste future. "As well as the environmental benefits this can also help us rebuild a different kind of post-Covid economic model. We should be aiming to build on this and create new industries and jobs that help create a greener, cleaner Wales. "Reducing landfill is something I'm particularly interested in as we have all seen the consequences of that with the Hafod landfill fire earlier this year."
Cllr Carrie Harper added:
"It's great to see innovation happening on our doorstep here in Wrexham. With the right political will, we have seen what can be done in terms of reducing landfill and Wrexham Council is showing the way in that respect. "Much more needs to be done and being able to recycle more products that we currently throw away after a single use has to be a good thing."

Monday, 21 December 2020

Rival candidate: "I'm backing Becca" for Maesydre

 

Becca Martin, Plaid Cymru

Aimi Waters



















A former Liberal Democrat candidate has backed Plaid Cymru’s Becca Martin in the forthcoming Maesydre by-election.

Aimi Waters stood for the Liberal Democrats in Maesydre in 2017 but has now declared her support for Becca in next year's by-election in the ward. The seat is vacant after the resignation of the previous councillor.

Aimi said: 
“Wrexham needs change. Wrexham needs people who have its best interests at heart and people who are not afraid to break down barriers and go against what’s always been considered the norm.  
“That’s why in this election, I’m showing my support for Becca Martin.
“Becca will be a strong voice for Maesydre; someone who I believe will stand up for the issues that matter in the area and will make sure she is heard.
“I urge you to lend Becca your vote and make change happen; Make Maesydre matter.”
In response Becca Martin said: 
“I’m very grateful for the support I’m getting from voters and Aimi’s backing is really appreciated. She was a strong candidate in 2017 and I will do my best to repay that support by being a strong voice for Maesydre.

“The sudden lockdown has prevented us from going out and leafleting as planned over the weekend, but anyone who wants a chat or to raise any issues can get in touch with me on 07845811929 or by clicking here to e-mail.”

Monday, 14 December 2020

Timing couldn't be better for a new football museum for Wrexham


Plans for a National Football Museum for Wales in Wrexham are a step closer after the Welsh Government agreed to fund the scheme in the town's museum.

The move has been welcomed by Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales MS, who launched the campaign for a Wrexham-based national museum five years ago.

Mr Gruffydd, who will contest Clwyd South for Plaid Cymru in next year's election, said: 
"This has been something we in Plaid Cymru have pushed for a long time and it's good to see it come to fruition as a result of our pressure on the Welsh Government. Our original call for a national football museum in Wrexham was met with some initial scepticism but the campaign won the doubters over.

"We're grateful for the initial support from Wrexham Supporters' Trust and its then chair Pete Jones, who was there at the launch in December 2015. Back then we had to convince people that we needed a football museum, that it should be in Wrexham and that it should be at a revamped Racecourse ground. Eventually, as part of a budget agreement with the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru was able to get the funding needed for this project to go ahead.

"We won the arguments with the first two elements but the new museum will be housed in Wrexham's county museum - perhaps in years to come it can be relocated to the Racecourse as the Kop End gets redeveloped. We'll see what happens when the new owners take over - perhaps it will be part of their plans."
Councillor Carrie Harper, who also attended the Racecourse launch five years ago, added:
"Wrexham is the spiritual home of Welsh football - this is where the Football Association of Wales was created and early internationals played. We've got a tremendous history to tell through the generations right up to the present day - everyone's looking forward to next year's Euros as Wales goes from strength to strength and more locally the town buzzing with news of new owners.

"Wrexham council owns one of the largest collections of Welsh football memorabilia and this is a great opportunity to showcase that. I can't think of a better time to open the new museum."

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Two thousand watch virtual public meeting on Wrexham's controversial housing plan

Two thousand people have viewed a public meeting held virtually to discuss Wrexham's Local Development Plan.

Plaid Cymru in Wrexham organised the virtual public meeting last night as a result of public concerns and interest in the LDP, which is currently being examined by the Welsh Government's Planning Inspectorate.

Councillor Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's candidate in the coming Senedd elections, said: 
"This was something of an experiment because the pandemic means that we cannot hold actual town hall meetings. So we tried a Facebook Live event where we explained the situation and tried to answer questions from the public.

"Although it was a leap in the dark, we were delighted that 2,000 have watched the event in the first 20 hours - many hundreds saw it live last night and a total of 2,000 have now viewed it. It's the equivalent of almost filling the William Aston Hall twice over, so I'd consider that a success. The 30-minute debate is still available to view on Facebook if you missed it - you can click here."

Plaid Cymru has opposed Wrexham's LDP because it is based on flawed population projections of a 10% increase that would mean allocating land for almost 8,000 new homes - most of which would be on greenfield sites surrounding the town and nearby villages. More recent projections show that the borough's population is, in fact, likely to fall by 1.5%.

Cllr Harper added: 
"The draft LDP as it stands would allocate land for two new huge housing estates on either side of the town - one on Holt Rd/Cefn Rd and the other on Ruthin Rd. They are effectively new villages and would put huge strains on already over-stretched services such as GPs, schools and roads. We want to see the borough's empty properties brought back into use - there are hundreds of empty homes that need sorting - plus an emphasis on redeveloping brownfield sites rather than destroying valuable agricultural land for commuter estates that we don't need."

The party locally has launched a petition opposing this proposed urban sprawl

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

PLAID CHOOSE A REAL GEM FOR COUNCIL BY-ELECTION 



Plaid Cymru in Wrexham has chosen gemstone expert Becca Martin as their candidate for the forthcoming Maes-y-dre county council by-election.

Becca, 33, has lived in the area all her life and attended St David's School.

The by-election is expected to take place in 2021 after the resignation of Councillor Paul Jones.

Becca works as a gemstone specialist in a well-known town centre jewellery shop, where she's worked since leaving school, and is the devoted mother to three-year-old Charlie.



She said: 
"I'm delighted to have been selected to stand in this by-election. It's important that the people of Maes-y-dre have a voice on the council going forward, especially as there are some contentious issues to be discussed locally. I think that being a mother with a young child brings a different perspective to the council and I'll aim to do my best to represent everyone in the ward."

Before the pandemic, Becca had been involved in a new venture called Parents Helping Parents, which was focussed on helping families with new children. She said: "It's had to be put on hold due to the pandemic and lockdown, but I'm hoping it can develop in the coming year. Providing support for parents to raise their children successfully is very dear to my heart and it's important for so many people."

Councillor Marc Jones, who leads the Plaid Cymru group on Wrexham council and represents the neighbouring Grosvenor ward, said: "On a personal level, I worked well with Paul Jones on local issues as part of a wider cross-party group of town-centre councillors.

"But I'm delighted that we've been able to persuade Becca to stand for Plaid Cymru in the coming by-election. If she's elected, I will look forward to working with her in the interests of our residents on issues such as the plans for the Nine-Acre Field. She'll make an excellent councillor and has a real commitment to the area and reviving the town centre. She also brings a different perspective as a young mum and that's something the council as a whole should welcome.

"Plaid Cymru succeeded in winning the last council by-election in Gwersyllt North and electing Cllr Phil Rees earlier this year and I'm sure our team will be raring to go in Maes-y-dre. Wrexham needs change for the better and this is a very clear opportunity for the people of Maes-y-dre to have their say."



Friday, 4 December 2020

Plaid holds virtual public meeting on controversial Wrexham housing plan

Plaid Cymru councillors have revealed plans for a virtual public meeting on a controversial housing plan for Wrexham.

The Facebook Live meeting from 7pm on Tuesday, December 8th, will allow local residents to discuss and ask questions about the Local Development Plan.

The latest version of the LDP allocates land for housing, leisure and industry, and has caused huge controversy by having land for nearly 8,000 homes - many of which are on greenfield sites surrounding the town.

Councillor Carrie Harper said:
"We're holding this virtual public meeting because we want people to have their say about the LDP and also to help make sense of it. If it goes ahead - and we sincerely hope it doesn't - then it will mean huge new estates being built on either side of Wrexham along with growing urban sprawl on good agricultural land.

"The pressure to build all these new houses isn't based on any attempt to meet local demand - the vast majority of the houses being built won't be affordable for many Wrexham people. We believe a local development plan should put communities first rather than favouring developers.

"The virtual meeting is open to everyone who wants to attend and we're encouraging people to submit questions in advance. It's a new departure for us and we're having to adapt to the realities of the pandemic so we hope to involve as many people as possible. We'll also be out over the weekend delivering leaflets in the areas most affected by large sprawling housing developments.

"If we don't get a grip of planning, we're going to see Wrexham town and surrounding villages increasingly merge and lose very precious green spaces. This plan as it currently stands is not in the best interests of Wrexham and its people."
Anyone wishing to submit a question to the Facebook Live meeting, which will be on https://www.facebook.com/CarrieWrecsam, can email plaidwrecsam@gmail.com or text 07747 792441.

Councillors gagged over controversial housing plan

Councillors have been prevented from debating a crucial plan by Wrexham Council's chief legal officer.

Councillor Carrie Harper explains the background:

Wrexham Council's Local Development Plan has had a long and chequered history. The plan is meant to run from 2013-28 but has still not been accepted by Planning Inspectors. The first one was rejected back in 2012 and the council made to start again on LDP2. This went forward to examination in 2018 and is still with the Planning Inspectors, who have serious concerns about the process.

Plaid Cymru has opposed the LDP in its current form because it is allocating land for development based on flawed population projections. Because the Welsh Government insisted that Wrexham's population was going to increase by 20% - around 25,000 people - in the next 20 years, they also insisted that land for 13,000 houses were allocated initially.

This soon adjusted down as it became evident that the reality was very different. The LDP2 went forward with a housing allocation of 7,700 - including huge housing estates of 1600 homes planned for both the Holt Road and Ruthin Road. The council was split 30-17 in backing that plan but it went forward for inspection.

In the meantime, three issues emerged.

Firstly, Wrexham's population was not growing - it was static and in recent years has started to fall. The boom years of the 2000s have not been replicated, as Plaid Cymru predicted. The truth is that we do not need to trash our countryside to built commuter estates on this scale. A far more modest number of houses is needed

Secondly, the LDP2 planned for 1300 affordable homes in its allocations. This was slashed in half AFTER the vote in 2018 after developers said they couldn't build that many affordable homes. This was agreed by a small group of senior councillors and officers so that we now have only 600 affordable homes likely to emerge from the plan.

The ongoing problems with selecting a suitable location for a gipsy and traveller site has also caused problems with the Planning Inspectors, who have challenged the way the selection was made.

Because of this, Plaid Cymru's group on the Council decided to submit a motion for councillors to debate on December 16th. The full text is below but in essence it's calling for a withdrawal of political support for the LDP before it's too late.

This had been accepted by the council's senior legal officer, Sioned Wyn Davies, back in September but last night she informed Plaid Cymru that she was withdrawing the motion on the back of legal advice. We were not given sight of that advice and were given no notice that she had a problem with our motion.

The withdrawal was also done with just 8 days' notice - meaning it's too late to submit a new motion.

We await sight of the legal advice before we take further action.

For clarity, here is the exchange between the Chief Legal Officer and Plaid Cymru's group.


Dear Sioned


This is unprecedented. On September 25th you accepted our motion to council without reservation.

You have given no indication that there is a problem with the motion pre-determining any further decision nor raised concerns with us regarding the legality of the motion.

You have not shared the independent legal advice you have received. Please do that so that we can consider our next move. I would also be grateful for the paper trail regarding that decision to ask for independent legal advice.

We submitted a motion, as is our democratic right, on a matter that is of great concern to many people in the borough. That includes the council's own leader and his group of independents. He has recently indicated - you might say pre-determined - his position in advance by stating that he would not support the LDP in its present form.

What conversations have you had with the Leader regarding the LDP and this particular motion?

The Plaid Cymru group along with the rest of the council is being prevented from discussing a matter of the utmost importance to our borough's future. This smacks of censorship and you have failed to provide the basis for your decision.

We reserve the right to challenge your decision once we have had sight of the legal opinion.


From: Sioned Wyn Davies <Sioned.WynDavies@wrexham.gov.uk>
Date: Thursday, 03 Dec 2020, 4:05 pm
To: All Cllrs <AllCllrs@wrexham.gov.uk>
Subject: Postponement of Motion to Council

Dear Councillor,

 

I write to inform you that I am in receipt a motion to Council as follows:

 

“In recent weeks significant new evidence and information has emerged that undermines the basis of Wrexham's Local Development Plan relating to:

- population projections that formed the basis of housing allocations

- drastic reductions in affordable housing

- the process of assessing highways impacts

- the process of allocating gypsy and traveller sites

 As a result, this Council resolves to:

- Withdraw its support for the deposit Local Development Plan (as passed on 22 November 2018 by Wrexham CBC) as it no longer meet the needs of Wrexham's communities in light of recent available data for the County Borough.

- Call on the appropriate Welsh Government minister to recognise that the Plan process and its content are fundamentally flawed and unsound and halt the examination by the local Plan inspector

- Call on the Welsh Government to ensure protection for greenfield sites by strengthening Technical Advice Note 1 to prevent speculative development.”

 

I have informed the members putting forward and supporting the motion that it cannot be included in the agenda for the Council meeting on 16 December. The proper time for consideration of the motion is when the independent examination of the LDP by Welsh Government inspectors is complete and the inspectors’ report and associated recommendations are reported to Council.

 

The reason for this is that if the motion were to be supported this could have the effect of committing the Council to acting unlawfully in the future by breaching its obligation to adopt the local development plan once the inspectors carrying out the examination have issued their recommendations and reasons. If the Council were to resolve now that it does not support the local development plan, there would be a risk that the Council might be regarded as having predetermined a future decision about adopting the plan.

 

As Monitoring Officer I have a responsibility to ensure that the Council acts lawfully and it would not be appropriate for me to allow the Council to take a decision on the motion at this time.

 

Whilst I previously indicated that the motion would be able to be included in the agenda at the December Council meeting, at that time there was a reasonable expectation that the inspectors’ report may be available in December. That is not now the position and in the circumstances it has been necessary to consider the motion put forward in the current context.

 

Please note that independent legal advice has been obtained on this matter.

 

Sioned

 

Sioned Wyn Davies

Prif Swyddog Llywodraethu a Chwsmeriaid / Chief Officer Governance & Customer

 

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Debenhams closure 'devastating' for town and workforce

The news that Debenhams are set to close all their 124 UK stores including the store on Eagles Meadow has been described as "devastating news for Wrexham" by Plaid Cymru.

Cllr Carrie Harper, of Plaid Cymru, said the store was the anchor store for the shopping complex, which has already seen many retail outlets close over the past couple of years.

She said: 
"This news is a terrible blow for workers at the store so close to Christmas. It also highlights the dangers facing our high streets, as many businesses struggle to survive through the Covid-19 crisis and the public health measures which limit capacity and demand.

"The prospect of losing an anchor store like Debenhams is a major blow to any town and particularly devastating for the staff, who must be supported by Debenhams at a time when our local economy can ill-afford further economic uncertainty.

"The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the closure of retail stores for prolonged periods has undoubtedly contributed to this announcement. Now more than ever, our towns need urgent and targeted government support to help them recover post-Covid.

"Plaid Cymru has proposed a series of measures to address the difficulties faced by our high streets and help rejuvenate town centres.

"These include a radical overhaul of business rates, providing high street firms with a more level playing than they currently face.

"Without practical solutions and an acknowledgment from government of the severity of the situation, then the outlook for our high streets will remain very bleak."






Friday, 20 November 2020

Council leader should apologise for Local Development Plan mess


Plaid councillors welcome surprise u-turn

Plaid Cymru has called for an apology from Wrexham's council leader after a surprise u-turn by his Independent group of councillors in Wrexham over the Local Development Plan.

The Local Development Plan allocates land for various uses, including employment and housing, over a 15-year period and it's the latter that has proved to be most contentious with the original LDP being thrown out. Welsh Government subsequently insisted on more land being allocated for a greater number of houses over the plan period of 2013-28 and that became the basis for this second LDP.

Plaid Cymru has consistently opposed the premise of the plan for over a decade due to the housing numbers being largely driven by demand from the north-west of England rather than from Wrexham itself. 

Now, in an unexpected twist, the council's Leader Mark Pritchard has told the media that his group is withdrawing its support from the LDP. It's a move that's been welcomed by the Plaid Cymru group on the council. Councillors Carrie Harper, Marc Jones, Gwenfair Jones and Phil Rees had submitted a motion to December's full council meeting calling for the withdrawal of Wrexham Council's support for the LDP due to a number of issues.

Cllr Harper said: 
"Our motion called for the withdrawal of support for what we consider to be a flawed Local Development Plan that's been forced on local communities. We don't believe it meets the needs of Wrexham people. It's based on flawed population projections that don't reflect the reality and it's also halved the number of affordable housing. The LDP allocated huge swathes of greenfield sites for development of large commuter estates and we thought that was unacceptable for so many reasons.

"From the outset we as a group have argued that we should be building and planning for people's needs rather than what developers want. We have been consistent in opposing it. The same can't be said for the ruling coalition, which two years ago put a lot of pressure on councillors to allow this plan to go forward for inspection. Back in October 2018 we argued that councillors giving the plan the thumbs up was a mistake. 

"Where were these councillors two years ago when it was clearly the case that Wrexham's population wasn't growing to the same extent as envisaged? Where were they in opposing the destruction of our environment and concerned about the additional pressures on over-stretched services? Where were they fighting for more - not less - affordable homes?"
She said Wrexham now faced the prospect of planning being taken out of its hands completely by the Planning Inspectorate: 
"It's embarrassing, frankly, that Wrexham is the only council in Wales to have its LDP refused once and now faces having it refused again. The buck has to stop with someone and that should be the council leader, who has been a strong advocate of this plan from the outset.

"He should now apologise to the people of Wrexham for allowing this LDP to go as far as it has done. Wrexham deserves better than this - we need a change of council leadership and the sooner that happens, the better."
===========================================================================

Motion submitted to full council on 25 September to be debated on 16 December 2020.

Dear Councillor

Please note that the following Motion, submitted by the undersigned, will be considered at the next Ordinary Meeting of Council, to be held on 16 December 2020.

“This Council resolves to: 

- Withdraw its support for the deposit Local Development Plan (as passed on 22 November 2018 by Wrexham CBC) as it no longer meet the needs of Wrexham's communities in light of recent available data for the County Borough.

- Call on the appropriate Welsh Government minister to recognise that the Plan process and its content are fundamentally flawed and unsound and halt the examination by the local Plan inspector

- Call on the Welsh Government to ensure protection for greenfield sites by strengthening Technical Advice Note 1 to prevent speculative development”

Mover - Cllr Carrie Harper

Seconded - Cllr Marc Jones

Supported by

Cllr Gwenfair Jones

Cllr Phil Rees

Thursday, 12 November 2020

PLAID CYMRU UNVEILS PLAN FOR YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH ‘ONE STOP SHOPS’


A Plaid Cymru Government would establish Wales-wide hubs to provide mental health support for young people, Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has said.

The hubs would offer early intervention for young people who are not ill enough to require advanced psychiatric treatment, yet require support for their mental health. They would offer pre-arranged counselling and could deal with emergencies and other walk-ins.

Mr ap Iorwerth said that the “one stop shop” Hubs would “revolutionise” the way young people access support for their mental health, and, in being linked to other health services, would help join up an “increasingly fragmented service”.

The fully costed scheme mirrors a similar concept that has been launched in New Zealand, with the town-centre locations offering services by physicians, nurses, counsellors, social workers and youth staff.

A new study by Swansea and Cardiff Universities shows that Wales faces a wave of mental health problems in the wake of Covid-19, with younger adults, women and people from deprived areas suffering the most.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:
“With young people being increasingly affected by Covid restrictions and self-isolation requirements, and waiting times for non-Covid services ever lengthening, we don’t really know how many young people might currently be in need of mental health support.

“The changes needed in terms of services that are available, and access to them, should be nothing short of revolutionary. Plaid’s one-stop shop hubs will be a key part of that transformation of services for young people.

“The focus will be on mental health and wellbeing. These hubs would offer counselling both by appointment but also – crucially – on a walk-in basis. We already have walk-in services for physical problems in our A&E departments, so it’s only right that there should be walk-in services for those experiencing mental health problems.

“No young person should be left feeling like they have no support, especially following one of the biggest periods of upheaval in living memory. Left unchecked, poor mental health in childhood and adolescence is linked to mental health problems in adulthood, and so it’s really important to make early interventions easy accessible to any young person that needs them.”

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

PLAID COUNCILLORS WELCOME NEW FREE PARKING SCHEME



Plaid Cymru councillors in Wrexham have welcomed news that parking in council car parks will be free from 11am to help the borough's businesses.

The current free-parking arrangements were due to come to an end in a week's time and Plaid Cymru had called for a 'free after 10am' parking scheme to continue to encourage visitors and shoppers into the town centre.

Cllr Carrie Harper, speaking on behalf of the group, said: 
"Town-centre traders need every possible boost they can get in these very difficult circumstances. The free parking scheme has undoubtedly helped and to lose that just as Covid-19 restrictions are re-introduced would have been damaging to the local economy.


"We wanted parking to be free after 10am to boost trading and made our representations to the council. We're glad that they've listened and gone with a 'free after 11am' compromise.

"We also need to see better public transport links into the town and from surrounding communities but that's not something currently in Wrexham Council's gift. The parking situation is something we can directly impact and I hope it'll provide some help to businesses in the town."


Thursday, 3 September 2020

Extend free parking until the New Year

Free festive parking incentives in council owned car parks starts from 3pm  today! - Wrexham.com

Plaid Cymru councillors are calling for free parking in council car parks to be extended until the New Year.

They say this will help boost trade and enable people to access the town centre as bus services are not expected to return to normal until after Christmas at the earliest.

The council is currently consulting about ending free parking in its car park on 30 September. It is proposing to permit free parking after 2pm.

Cllr Carrie Harper said: "Free car parking in council-run car parks has played a major part in encouraging people to come into Wrexham town centre as the lockdown eased. This was particularly important as public transport was being discouraged and is still very patchy. We understand that Arriva buses will not be running a normal service until December at the earliest. The town-centre economy is still very fragile and the council needs to continue to provide support where possible.

"It's important that the council maintains this free service for a longer period. It would make sense to make it free after 10am to encourage shoppers and visitors to the town while also discouraging people who would park there all day. It's part of a package of measures we feel are needed to make the town centre a more vibrant place.

"Free parking in country parks should also continue because of the health benefits - both physically and mentally - for people to access the countryside and get exercise."

The council has been compensated by the Welsh Government for loss of earnings from car parks and this was likely to continue in the coming months. A council consultation is recommending the re-introduction of car parking charges from the start of October.

Cllr Harper added: "Wrexham Council has provided free parking in the run up to Christmas in the past and will no doubt do so again this year. It doesn't make sense to re-introduce parking charges for October and November and then scrap them for another month only to reintroduce them in January, the quietest month for trading.

"The people of Wrexham can also have their say - the council consultation on this matter is coming to a close on September 13th. I would encourage all Wrexham residents to contact parking@wrexham.gov.uk to express their views."

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Female led countries' COVID-19 outcomes “systematically and significantly better”

Female national leaders locked down earlier and suffered half as many COVID deaths on average as male leaders, according to analysis across 194 countries by the University of Liverpool.

With New Zealand now the first country to record zero cases over consecutive days and Germany the first to resume competitive top level sports, their respective female leaders have received plenty of praise, but researchers found that even when outliers like New Zealand and Germany – and the USA for male leaders - were removed from the statistics, the case for the relative success of female leaders was only strengthened.

University of Liverpool Management School Developmental Economist, Professor Supriya Garikipati and her colleague at the University of Reading, Professor Uma Kambhampati, analysed differing policy responses and subsequent total COVID cases and deaths across 194 countries for the first quarter of the pandemic, up to May 19.

Professor Supriya Garikipati said: “Our results clearly indicate that women leaders reacted more quickly and decisively in the face of potential fatalities.

“In almost all cases, they locked down earlier than male leaders in similar circumstances.

“While this may have longer-term economic implications, it has certainly helped these countries to save lives, as evidenced by the significantly lower number of deaths in these countries.”

To reach this conclusion, the academics introduced a number of variables to help analyse the raw data and draw reliable country comparisons.

They considered GDP, total population, urban population density and the proportion of elderly residents; they also looked at annual health expenditure per capita, openness to international travel and general level of societal gender equality.

And with only 19 of the 194 countries being led by women, they created ‘nearest neighbour’ countries across the above demographics to balance out the small sample size, leading to comparisons such as Serbia (female-led) and Israel (male-led); New Zealand (female) and Ireland (male); Germany (female) and the UK (male) and Bangladesh (female) and Pakistan (male).

Professor Garikipati said: “Nearest neighbour analysis clearly confirms that when women-led countries are compared to countries similar to them along a range of characteristics, they have performed better, experiencing fewer cases as well as fewer deaths.”

On average, the researchers found that female led countries locked down “earlier” – at significantly fewer deaths - than male led countries.

While this may play into gender stereotypes around risk aversion, Professor Garikipati counters that “while women leaders were risk averse with regard to lives, they were prepared to take significant risks with their economies by locking down early” suggesting “risk aversion may manifest differently in different domains, with women leaders being significantly more risk averse in the domain of human life, but more risk taking in the domain of the economy”.

Interestingly, when researchers applied the ‘openness to travel’ control, they found that female-led countries did not experience significantly lower COVID cases but did report lower deaths, suggesting “better policies and compliance in these countries”.

And to further check the robustness of their findings, Professor Garikipati and her team dropped the countries most often referred to – Germany, New Zealand and the USA – from the data to check for undue influence, but found this only “strengthened the results”.

They were also unable to include the female-led Taiwan (500 cases, seven deaths in the research period) as the World Bank no longer provides data for it separately from China.

Professor Garkipati said: “Our findings show that COVID outcomes are systematically and significantly better in countries led by women and, to some extent, this may be explained by the proactive policy responses they adopted.

“Even accounting for institutional context and other controls, being female-led has provided countries with an advantage in the current crisis.”

Leading the fight against the pandemic: Does gender ‘really’ matter? was published in CEPR and WEF Press. To read the full report, please visit https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3617953

 

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Friday, 14 August 2020

42% of Welsh students unfairly downgraded

Almost 42% of Welsh students’ A Level grades have been unfairly downgraded.

Meanwhile, the hypocrisy from UK Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in their vocal outcry of UK Government’s “botched grading system” and of “robbing” these students of their future while their Welsh Government counterparts commit the same gross error is staggering.

Wales’ young people deserve so much better from their government. That’s why Adam Price has today written to the First Minister demanding action.

We’re calling on him to guarantee that every young person who’s seen their grade reduced is instead awarded their centre-assessed grade – and we’re asking you to add your name to our letter.

Support Wales’ young people today - sign this petition

Responding to the A-level fiasco Adam Price said:

“The hypocrisy from UK Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in their vocal outcry of UK Government’s “botched grading system” and of “robbing” these students of their future while their Welsh Government counterparts commit the same gross error is staggering. 

“Mistrust in the system couldn’t have been communicated louder by students, teachers and even Welsh Labour’s own back-benchers. Pupils who were awarded lesser grades than the teacher assessments in A-level and AS exams should be upgraded to the teacher assessment grades. If this approach is being advocated by the UK Labour leader in England, why is the Labour First Minister in Wales so stubbornly against?” 

“Further, this should be used as the mechanism for awarding GSCE results and this should be communicated to learners today for peace of mind.”