Wednesday, 20 September 2017

HMP Berwyn catering for English prisoners while Wrexham inmates go to Altcourse

HMP Berwyn, which opened in February, will be the largest prison in Europe when full. But Plaid Cymru’s regional AM is critical that the vast majority of prisoners from north Wales are still going to prisons across the border. Fewer than 10% of the inmates in Berwyn are currently from Wales.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said:

 “HMP Berwyn was sold as a prison for North Wales. The statistics show that this is not the case.
“The vast majority of prisoners in HMP Berwyn to date are from England, just 10% are from north Wales. This is despite the fact that in June there were 228 men from north Wales being sent to HMP Altcourse. At the same time there were fewer than 40 in HMP Berwyn.
“Even prisoners from Wrexham are far more likely to end up in Altcourse than in Berwyn by a factor of 10-1. In March there were 58 Wrexham men in Altcourse and under five in Berwyn.
“I accept that the prison is still not at capacity but are the ratios likely to remain the same? If so, then Berwyn has been built to cope with overcrowding in English prisons rather than meet local needs.
“In addition, the failure to provide for young offenders and women means that both these categories are still being sent over the border. There are 200 young offenders from Wales in Stoke Heath and there is still no women’s prison in Wales. This could and should have been a part of the plan for Berwyn but the UK Government ignored Welsh needs once again.
“Prison is not meant to be easy but punishing families with extra distances to travel and maintain contact isn’t fair. Rehabilitation and resettlement is meant to play a large part in ensuring prisoners do not re-offend. How does the Ministry of Justice explain that when prisoners from both England and Wales are being sent in different directions?”

Mr Gruffydd will be raising these concerns during a debate called today by Plaid Cymru on the proposal for another new prison in Wales, this time in the Port Talbot area. He added: 
“If this is allowed to happen it will mean that Wales will be importing prisoners and still have no facilities for women and youth offenders here in the North.”

His comments were echoed by prison reformers.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:
“These figures underline the fact that Berwyn was never built to cater for the needs of Wales in mind. A prison of this size – which will eventually hold around 2,000 prisoners – was built in response to the overcrowding crisis in English prisons.
“There is plentiful of evidence that the closer to home someone is jailed, the easier it is to maintain family contacts and return to the community safely at the end of a sentence. We would hope that wherever possible Welsh prisoners are imprisoned in Wales but the pressures of overcrowding in the system as a whole mean that prisoners are often placed where there is a space rather than in the prison that would suit them best.
“The government should take bold action to reduce prison numbers and ease pressure on the system rather than continue the failed policy of building more and more prisons, only to fill them as quickly as they are built.”

Saturday, 16 September 2017

New HMO planning application rejected

Wrexham planning committee voted 14-0 to refuse a planning application to turn a 3-bedroom terrace house at 8 Albert St, Hightown, into six bedsits. There was one abstention. The decision was welcomed by local residents in the gallery.
 This is the latest HMO to be rejected by the planning committee, where members expressed concern about the impact such housing is having on parts of Wrexham. They rejected the application on parking grounds, criticising the Welsh Government's planning guidance that treated the change from a three-bed home to six bedsits as "neutral" in terms of impact on the street.
  Plaid Cymru councillors welcomed the decision, stating that licences for HMOs needed to be reviewed and tightened due to concerns about tenants' welfare.
 They are also calling for new council houses to be built as a priority to help answer housing need in the borough, believing that too many people on low incomes are being forced into substandard or unsuitable private accommodation.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Council leader stifles debate on The Groves

21st CENTURY SCHOOLS PLAN 'A MIXED BAG'
Plans to develop and improve schools in Wrexham have been described as a "mixed bag" by Plaid Cymru councillors.

Plaid Cymru's group has welcomed Wrexham Council's bid for 21st Century funding from the Welsh Government to improve schools, including plans to open a new Welsh-medium school for Borras.

But they have also criticised the plans as "vague" and "confusing" after the council refused to consider developing the vacant Groves site. They also condemned the failure to assess need for future Welsh-medium education need, including a second secondary school in the county.

Cllr Marc Jones, leader of the group, said: 
"We're fully behind the bid for 21st Century funding from the Welsh Government to improve our schools here in Wrexham. The new Welsh-medium school in Borras is long overdue given the pressures we've seen on the other schools in this category.
"Having said that, we are concerned - like many parents are - that there's no evidence of long-term planning to meet the evident demand for Welsh-medium education that's feeding through primary level and will soon impact on Ysgol Morgan Llwyd. The school has had to create a new form in Year Seven to cope with the growing demand and this is only going to increase in future. We want the council to be planning in detail for that growth now so that it can find a suitable site for a second school."
Cllr Jones also criticised attempts by the council leader to stifle debate on The Groves site: 
"Today's Executive Board had a report before it discussing schools and education. It acknowledged the pressures facing town-centre schools and mentioned The Groves site.
"That site was withdrawn from sale to Coleg Cambria by the council in November 2015 on the grounds that it was needed to meet the county's educational needs. Yet the 21st Century Schools Plan - which takes us to 2024 - does not mention developing the site and describes the building as being 'surplus to educational requirement'. If that's the case why did the council keep hold of it?
"The leader's refusal to take questions on that matter from a number of councillors was a disgrace and undermines the whole point of having the opportunity to quiz lead members on important matters like this. We need a wider discussion on what should happen to that site and the thought of it lying idle for another seven years is scandalous."

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Public meeting to debate plans for 82 houses in Summerhill

Plaid Cymru's Gwersyllt West Councillor Gwenfair Jones has organised a public meeting to discuss plans to build 82 houses in the area.

She said: "You may be aware that developers have put in a planning application to build 82 houses on Chestnut Heights, Summerhill (Off Top Road).
 "I believe that this is an inappropriate site for housing because of the poor road infrastructure, not just on Top Road but also along the whole length of Summerhill Road with existing traffic calming exacerbating traffic problems. 
 "This land is also unstable with a large railway tunnel running underneath the site. 
 "Despite there not being a Local Development Plan in place, developers must show that there is an exceptional need to build on what is a green barrier site separating two settlements, that of Gwersyllt and Summerhill. 
 "Recent building and planning consent will, when completed, result in around 80 new units on Boozey Fields and the old Summerhill Hall site and it would therefore be difficult to justify anymore on the basis of local need.

In order to discuss the matter further I have arranged a

 PUBLIC MEETING

AT GWERSYLLT RESOURCE CENTRE,

SECOND AVENUE, GWERSYLLT,

AT 6.30pm on THURSDAY 24th AUGUST 2017.

Everyone is welcome to this meeting and if you are unable to attend, feel free to check out the application on Wrexham Council website and respond quoting reference number P/2017/0651 on planning@wrexham.gov.uk or in writing to The Planning Departement, Wrexham CBC, The Guildhall, Wrexham, LL11 1AY.

The planning officer is Matthew Phillips who is contactable on 01978 298994

To respond please get in touch with Gwenfair.Jones@wrexham.gov.uk on 07855724605.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Caia Park Motorbike Hell

Most residents in Caia Park are now familiar with the daily irritation of multiple motorbikes whizzing recklessly around the community, with the accompanying noise echoing across the estate like a swarm of 10,000 angry bees.

Although the bikes have been an issue for a number of years, the problem has escalated to an epidemic this year, with up to 6 or more motorbikes at a time terrorising residents on an almost daily basis. Throughout the day and often until the early hours, teenagers hiding in their hoodies are regularly zipping across local footpaths, fields and roads.

The bikes of course are often completely illegal, many are stolen and often the riders have no tax or insurance and commit a list of driving offences on each trip. The police can have up to several hundred calls a week from frustrated residents but a no pursuit policy has effectively curbed meaningful attempts to tackle the problem to date. The policy was implemented understandably following the death of a teenager in a city across the border following a police pursuit, but the lack of options in the armoury to get to grips with this issue is driving local residents to distraction.

​As a local councillor and Caia Park resident, I have been getting several messages a day for some months now from local people desperate for a solution​, and I feel their pain. There is the irritation of children being woken up and people generally being disturbed by the noise but this is secondary to the physical danger posed by these reckless riders. Already, there have been at least two extremely serious incidents as a result of these bikes crashing into people and vehicles, one case involving a bike hitting a child. There have been countless other close calls reported to me and to the police, many involving near misses with young children. 

People are getting hurt and more people will be hurt unless this issue is tackled, as a local representative it's my job to make clear the danger posed to our community, the bottom line is that this situation simply cannot carry on. 

So what's been done up to now? Well this is ultimately a police issue, although there is some cross over in terms of the council where council properties are involved.  The council are cracking down on tenancies where there is evidence of anti social behaviour involving these bikes. The police are also doing what they can within the limitations they have but as we all know, the problem continues. Part of the challenge for both the police and the council is still a lack of information in terms of those responsible and identifying problem properties, therefore anyone with information is urged to send it in to the Police in the first instance but also to the Caia Park Estate Office if there are potential tenancy issues.

It's clear to me though that we need to develop a new approach as what's been done up to now simply isn't working, we need a community action plan in place to map out a way forward. Although there is no easy fix, it is ultimately only a combined and sustained effort from local organisations and the local community that can tackle this problem. In that spirit, all 5 local councillors in Caia Park will be requesting a meeting with the police in order to make clear residents concerns and to discuss the next steps and options available. In the meantime, I hope residents will continue to feed in as much information as they can to the Police and Estate Office, remember you can also pass on information anonymously if you prefer. 

This is our community, if we work together we can find a solution and end this motorbike hell.

North Wales Police  - 101
North Wales Police webchat  - Click here 
Caia Park Estate office - 01978 317 040

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Chief Executive and the Living Wage

Plaid Cymru councillors have issued a statement about the departure of Wrexham's chief executive to start a new job in Walsall:
"We wish Dr Paterson well in her new post in Walsall.
"The departure of Wrexham Council's chief executive is an opportunity to re-think our pay structures. Plaid Cymru wants Wrexham Council to work towards the real Living Wage, currently £8.45 an hour, for all workers. There are currently around 2400 staff being paid below that level, about 40% of all council workers. Many are part-time and are overwhelmingly women.
"As a start, Plaid Cymru's group of councillors is proposing that the two strategic directors currently below the chief executive become joint chief executives rather than replacing Dr Paterson when she leaves. This arrangement worked when the previous chief executive left and could be made permanent, saving £100,000 a year. This could be used as a first step to ensure all council workers are paid the real Living Wage."

It has benefits in terms of reducing absentee levels, retention of staff and the costs of recruitment.

Other councils such as Gwynedd, Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Tâf and Caerffili are working towards this goal. Wrexham should do the same.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Government passing the buck over investment in The Racecourse

The need to invest in developing The Racecourse as a venue for international sport and live music events has been raised in the Assembly chamber.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said the Welsh Government was actively calling for and investing in major events arenas in Cardiff and Newport. He asked cabinet secretary Ken Skates why his government wasn’t as pro-active in promoting and investing in Wrexham's Racecourse stadium.

Ken Skates, in response, stated: 
“All of us would like to see The Racecourse receive investment to become a more active and vibrant hub in the community. My officials recently met with Wrexham Football Trust* – they discussed the vision for The Racecourse. The key significance will be the role local council plays in devising a master plan for the town to ensure that any development aligns with any other development in the area. “The Racecourse deserves to have the investment – that will only come as a result of a sound business case and a very clear vision.”
Mr Gruffydd commented: 
“I’m incredibly disappointed with this response. In recent weeks Mr Skates has been vocal in arguing for new investment in major events arenas for Newport and Cardiff. There the Government has seen fit to take a lead, which is completely in order. 
“But when it comes to advocating and arguing for a similar major event arena here in the North we see him pass the buck to the local council. 
 “It seems this Labour Government is failing to show the same commitment to economic development, sports facilities and entertainment hubs here in the North as it is in the South.”
Mr Gruffydd has also sought assurances that Wrexham will be the location for a new national football museum.

He questioned Ken Skates on plans for a major feasibility study into the matter: 
“I welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to commission a feasibility study into a National Football museum for Wales, as agreed in the budget agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Government last year. It’s long overdue and I’m confident that such a museum will be able to reflect past and future successes in the Beautiful Game. With that in mind, can the minister explain how a commitment to look into a football museum located in the North has become a feasibility study into a sports museum somewhere in Wales? I’m not the only person to sense a change in direction and alarm bells are ringing.” 
Mr Skates confirmed that the study would consider a sports museum and also look at options in all parts of Wales, but also stated that the preferred option was to locate it in Wrexham or elsewhere in the North.

Mr Gruffydd said later: 
“Like many people who believe a new national football museum for Wales should be based in Wrexham, I’m concerned that the brief has been altered. Moving the goalposts like this will only raise doubts about the Labour Government’s commitment to this important strategic project. Wrexham is where the FA of Wales was established, the home of early internationals and it’s home to the third oldest club in the world. It's the spiritual home of Welsh football and a national museum would provide a substantial economic boost to the area. 
Wrexham Council already has an extensive collection of Welsh football memorabilia that's been on show recently at the town's museum and I'd like to see that collection on permanent display for fans to be able to see.  
England has a national football museum in Manchester, Scotland has one in Glasgow and it makes perfect sense to locate our national museum in Wrexham. As well as recognising the historic importance of the area in developing football in Wales, it would also re-balance the economic benefits towards the North."


* We assume Mr Skates means the Wrexham Supporters' Trust.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Fire service chiefs want council's money - but fail to attend key meeting

Plaid Cymru campaigners at the forefront of last year's march to save our fire engine
A key Wrexham Council meeting to discuss proposed cuts to local fire services went ahead today WITHOUT the presence of anyone from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service. 
This is despite the NWFRS expecting Wrexham Council, along with the five other councils in the North, to fund its service for the coming three years. It also wants the council to back cuts in service that will leave the borough with just one whole-time fire engine and lose 24 full-time firefighters' jobs.
 The all-member workshop had hoped to question senior officers from the Fire Service about the proposal to cut one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire appliances.
 There was a strong objection to the way the consultation was framed, with councillors expressing frustration that the same cuts were rejected clearly in last year's consultation and that this wasn't offering anything new. 
 Serious questions will now be posed for the NWFRS including:
• Why have they employed more senior officers while cutting frontline firefighters?
• Are the four senior fire officers - which cost £500,000 - needed when similar sized fire services make do on less?
• Has the NWFRS examined its vehicle purchasing policy?
• The failure to budget properly in the medium term has led to a shortfall that could have been avoided.
• Why was £600,000 moved from revenue accounts to the capital account, thus making the shortfall in the budget to run the service greater?
• Wrexham has 25% of all call-outs but not 25% of all appliances in the North. Can cuts be justified here?
• If these cuts go ahead, are there sufficient firefighters to operate specialist equipment such as the Aerial Ladder Platform based in Wrexham?

The point was also forcefully made that the new Ambulance and Fire centre in Wrexham has cost £15m, with £6m coming from the NWFRS. It has eight bays for fire appliances but, if the NWFRS has its way, could only have two fire engines to fill them!

NWFRS has done itself no favours today and there is growing resistance to any plan to cut the service in Wrexham.




Thursday, 13 July 2017

Community council rejects "skewed" consultation on fire engine cuts

Last night's meeting of Rhosddu Community Council agreed to support Councillor Marc Jones's motion rejecting the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority plan to cut one of Wrexham's two fire engines and shed 24 firefighter jobs.
 
The decision came after councillors discussed the Fire Authority's consultation document, which they rejected as "skewed" and intending to lead consultees in a specific direction.

Cllr Marc Jones, of Plaid Cymru, said: 
"There was a clear feeling that the consultation was designed with only one option on the table. Wrexham has a 1,000 call-outs a year - a quarter of all those in the North - and this would stretch our crews beyond the limit. 
"Rhosddu CC agreed that any shortfall in funding should be made up by cutting the Fire Authority's senior fire officers and ensuring increased contributions by the six county councils. 
"We all value our firefighters, who risk life and limb to save other people."

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

North Wales has lost 132 police officers since 2010

Plaid Cymru attacks Tory cuts to policing

Devolution of policing would deliver £25 million boost to Welsh police forces

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, has criticised the UK Government for imposing sustained cuts to the police forces since 2010.

There are 750 fewer police officers in Wales now than there were in 2010, equivalent to a 10% drop since the Tories took office. North Wales Police has 132 fewer officers – an 8% fall in numbers in just seven years.

Now Plaid Cymru is calling for the devolution of policing to ensure more police officers on the beat.

Figures provided by Dyfed Powys Police show that if policing in Wales was funded on the basis of population, they would be better off by £25 million per year. Devolving policing to Wales, bringing Wales into line with Scotland and northern Ireland, would ensure that policing would be funded through the Barnett Formula, which is based on population, rather than the UK Government’s police funding formula.

The UK Government also intends on reforming its police funding formula which, if implemented, would deliver a further £32 million cut to the Welsh police forces.

Devolving policing could therefore protect the Welsh police forces from Westminster’s £32 million cut and instead deliver a £25 million boost to their finances.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said:

“The fall in police numbers is being felt acutely in certain communities here in the North, where anti-social behaviour is on the rise and there’s a feeling that police can’t cope. Losing one in every 12 police officers in the last seven years would stretch any organization and it’s clear that frontline policing has suffered as a result of Tory cuts and UK central government policies.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Plaid Cymru’s leader in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts asked the Prime Minister:

“Police officer numbers in Wales have dropped by 10 per cent since her party came to power.

“If policing were devolved – as it is in northern Ireland and Scotland – Welsh forces would have extra funding worth £25 million at their disposal. This would more than replace those lost officers.

“What justification is there for refusing to devolve policing?”

The Prime Minister responded:

“We’ve been round this discussion before but can I just address the central issue of what the honourable lady is talking about which is about police budgets and is about the number of police officers.

“We are currently protecting police budgets, we’ve been doing that since 2015.

“That, I believe is acknowledged across the House and we’ve not just protected those police budgets – we are ensuring that the Police have the capabilities they need to deal with new types of crime - creating the National Cybercrime unit, creating the National Crime Agency – these are all important steps to ensure the Police can do their job of cutting crime and crime is at a record low.”

Elms expansion gets approval - local concerns ignored



Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board submitted a new plan to expand The Elms on the Rhosddu Road roundabout back in February. The centre provides drug and alcohol services. That extension was refused by Wrexham Council's planning committee.

On Monday, the health board came back with an amended plan - which didn't involve an extension at the back but a reconfiguration of offices inside and new windows on the upper floors. This new scheme has been approved.

Local Grosvenor councillor Marc Jones said:
"I spoke out at a planning committee as a local resident back in February against plans to extend The Elms. That extension was rejected but, as a result, I was advised that I couldn't take part in the debate on this latest application, which is deeply frustrating as a new councillor.

"My views are unchanged. The health board is willing to spend £2 million on expanding services in The Elms but is unwilling to engage with local people and elected representatives.

"I want them to understand that concentrating so many services in a small residential area is having a huge impact on the well-being of the wider population but also on jobs and small businesses in the immediate area.

"It's irresponsible to refuse to face up to the situation that's developed in recent years and simply maintaining the problem rather than looking for a solution is not what the NHS should be about. It's a very complex picture and the people needing help and treatment all have different needs, but that's precisely why the health board should be engaging with local people rather than trying to get its way by tinkering with planning guidelines.

"The speed with which they've managed to put in an appeal and submit a completely new planning application is in marked contrast to their speed in dealing with the problems Rhosddu residents face day to day.

"Wrexham's planning committee was right to reject the first planning application and found it had no narrow planning grounds to reject this new amended plan. The wider issue of increased anti-social behaviour and a failure to deal with the problem has not been addressed by the health board."

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

'Bring football home to Wrexham'

Ex-miner turned "Welsh wizard" Billy Meredith

Any new national football museum for Wales should be based in Wrexham, according to campaigners who believe the north-east is the sport's "spiritual home".

The call comes as the Welsh Government announces plans for a feasibility study in to the scheme.

The study was part of a comprehensive deal struck last year with Plaid Cymru, which has long campaigned for a national football museum to be based in Wrexham.

Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper was among those who started the campaign for the museum in Wrexham two years ago. She said: 
"It's taken far too long to get to this stage but at least now we're going to see some progress. My concern with the tender is that the Welsh Government has not specified that we need it here in the north east - the only part of Wales that does not have a national museum.

"Wrexham is where the FA of Wales was established, the home of early internationals and the third oldest club in the world. It's the spiritual home of Welsh football and a national museum would provide a huge boost to the area."
Councillor Marc Jones, whose Grosvenor ward includes the Racecourse ground, added: 
"Wrexham Council already has an extensive collection of Welsh football memorabilia that's been on show recently at the town's museum and I'd like to see that collection on permanent display for fans to be able to see. 
"England has a national football museum in Manchester, Scotland has one in Glasgow and it makes perfect sense to locate our national museum in Wrexham. As well as recognising the historic importance of the area in developing football in Wales, it would also re-balance the economic benefits towards the North."
Funding for the football museum in Manchester was provided through the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as the local council and it attracted a million visitors in its first three years.

Cllr Jones added: 
"When you visit the museum in Manchester you can't help being struck by the amount of coverage footballing pioneers such as Billy Meredith, originally from Chirk, are given. 
"Not only did he play for Wales, Manchester United and Manchester City, he was also instrumental in forming the first Players' Union and only retired from playing at the grand old age of 47. 
Something of the Ian Rush about our Billy?
"We need a national museum to showcase the achievements of people like Billy Meredith as well as those of Gareth Bale as they continue to make history."

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Spend £500,000 NOW on safer, cleaner streets


'We need to restore confidence in our town'


Plaid Cymru councillors have called on Wrexham Council to invest a £583,000 underspend from last year on making Wrexham's streets safer and cleaner.

Plaid Cymru group leader Marc Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward that covers part of the town centre, said: 


"Plaid Cymru's group are all new councillors elected in May. We understand the financial pressures facing the council but we also understand the greater pressures facing our town centre businesses due to anti-social behaviour and the drugs problem.

"Shoppers are now keeping away from parts of the town due to ongoing problems that have been widely publicised.

"We need to restore confidence in our town centre and I know there's a lot of good work being done behind the scenes. Hopefully that will come good in the coming weeks and months.

"However, making our streets safer is something that needs to happen now.
"Traders are at their wits' end, businesses are losing money due to this and we need to restore the balance. We know the police have faced drastic cuts in recent years and that is something we need to reverse but in the here and now what we as councillors can do it make the case for council funding to be spent where it's most needed
 
"The £583,000 underspend on council services should therefore be invested in an immediate physical presence in the town centre areas most affected by anti-social behaviour. That's the Lord Street, Queen Square and King Street area of town. 
"The council already has security at the bus station and one lone worker in the rest of the town. For his safety and for greater reassurance, we want to expand that security so that people can see a visible presence but also deter anti-social behaviour. 
"Plaid Cymru's group of councillors also wants to see a pilot to attract more shoppers to town by varying parking charges. Unless we try something different by lowering parking costs and making it free at certain times to ensure our car parks are full rather than half empty, the town will continue to struggle. Town centre traders need every bit of help they can get at the moment and this is another part of that jigsaw.

"We also need to see a greater focus on cleaning up our streets. Weeds growing out of pavements and litter left uncollected adds to the sense of neglect. We want to work with the council to restore pride in our streets but that means investing in services.

"Let's use that £583,000 to kickstart a real change that brings confidence and pride back to Wrexham."

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Planning Inspectorate allows 365 new homes in Llay

The Planning Inspectorate has today announced it will allow plans for 365 new homes to go ahead on the Gresford Road in Llay.
 The decision, which goes against Wrexham Council's planning committee decision to refuse the application in October 2015, was made after Labour Government ministers called in the matter.
 Llay is a large village that has seen rapid growth in housing over the past decade or so. Services have not kept pace and this new permitted development will mean even greater pressure being put on our GP practices, roads, education and social services.
 Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones said:
"The decision by the Planning Inspectorate undermines the democratic decision of the planning committee locally. The plan for the 365 sits outside the agreed settlement limit. The Planning Inspectorate chose to ignore this on the basis that there is insufficient land supply in the council's old development plan. 
 "This ignores the fact that the Welsh Government rejected a perfectly sound Local Development Plan  (LDP) back in 2012 that would have ensured sufficient land for housing development. Instead ministers chose to insist on a new plan that would have increased housing in Wrexham by at least 5,000 homes in the coming decade. 
 "The Government has since revised that figure down to something very similar to the original LDP. So we're back at square one at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the local council. But far worse than this is the fact that local communities such as Llay have been left defenceless against speculative developers who have seen an opportunity to take advantage of the lack of a development plan, which protects green spaces such as this. 
 "The people affected by this decision in Llay have every right to be furious with the Welsh Government for allowing this to happen in the first place."

"The people affected by this decision in Llay have every right to be furious with the Welsh Government for allowing this to happen"

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wrexham council re-affirms opposition to cutting fire engine

Wrexham Council has re-affirmed its "vehement" opposition to proposals by North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to cut one of the town's two whole-time fire engines and 24 firefighters' jobs.

Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones asked two questions of the new council executive board in advance of the fire authority reconvening to discuss this proposal.
1. Can the council exec board re-affirm its opposition to proposals to axe 24 full-time firefighters' jobs and one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines, noting that the consultation incorrectly describes the town as having three when one is currently off the road due to insufficient part-time staffing?

2. What steps is the council taking to work with the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to ensure it has sufficient funding to continue the level of service in the Wrexham area - will it insist that the NWFRA re-examines its own senior staffing arrangements and spending commitments prior to any cuts to frontline services?
The response from Cllr Hugh Jones on behalf of the executive board re-affirmed the council's opposition to the planned cut and also confirmed that the council would be holding a workshop on the matter for all councillors next month.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Marc Jones said he was glad the council had expressed its opposition so clearly and unequivocally: 
"It's clear that this would be a dangerous and retrograde step, especially in light of the Grenfell disaster in London and the need to ensure we have an emergency service that has the capacity to cope with the worst possible scenarios. 
"As the Fire Authority is financed by the six local councils across the region, I felt it was important that our council challenges the Fire Authority to explain why it is cutting this vital frontline service when it is top-heavy in terms of senior officers and has transferred funds from its revenue account to its capital account in the last budget. This is money that could be spent on retaining the current level of service.  
"However, I would also point out that years of Tory cuts and austerity have created a situation where our emergency services are struggling to deliver what is needed. Any opposition to this immediate threat to our fire service has to be seen in that context and we need to broaden the campaign to challenge the ideology that's destroying important public services."