Monday, 18 June 2018

Wrexham fire engine looks safe - for now

Today's meeting of the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority has voted to consult on two options to maintain services:

1) Asking all six local councils to pay more
2) Ask all six local council to pay some more and also make 'internal cuts'.

This means that an earlier proposal to consult on cutting one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines and crew has been taken off the table. At least for the time being.

Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones, who spearheaded last year's campaign to save the engine, said:
"This is good news for Wrexham and the entire region. The second fire engine crews regularly cover for more rural stations as well as Wrexham and I think that's been recognised.
"It's important now that the Fire Authority is put on a more sustainable and secure financial footing. It's no good having this hand-to-mouth existence each year and that's why I'd favour moving to a separate precept as the police do. By doing that, taxpayers could clearly see what they were paying for rather than the Fire Authority having to go cap in hand to the councils each year.
"The Fire Authority's members have clearly understood the message that came from last year's campaign - Wrexham needs its fire crews and engines and the local population are behind our firefighters 100% in ensuring our town and surrounding areas are kept safe."

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Citizens' Advice service given reprieve - Tories try to claim the credit

Strange to see the Tories trying to claim the credit for a u-turn on funding for Citizens' Advice services in Wrexham. They also try to blame Plaid Cymru for not including it in an Alternative budget put forward by Labour that we supported.

The simple fact is that Plaid voted against the Tory-Independent budget and opposed the cuts in it.
The Tories voted for it and are now desperately wriggling around trying to blame others for not opposing it strongly enough!

Here's my response to the Tory letter in today's Leader:

Dear Editor
Don Sturgeon's attempts to muddy the waters on the Citizens' Advice funding are unsurprising, given that he's a Tory.
The reality is that all Tory councillors - along with the two independent groupings - voted for a budget earlier this year that cut key services including Citizens' Advice. Plaid Cymru, Labour and non-aligned councillors voted against that budget.
The subsequent change of heart and partial u-turn after only a few months owes much to the pressure put on the ruling alliance over such a vital service.
Plaid Cymru's group of councillors are glad that partial funding for the Citizens' Advice service has been agreed but it's only temporary. The ongoing and underlying problem is that Tory cuts continue to make it difficult, if not impossible, for councils and other public bodies to maintain services. Those gaping potholes and uncut grass verges, those overcrowded schools and closed community centres - the blame lies squarely with a Tory party that prioritises bailing out bankers to maintaining public services.
It's also a Tory party that is willing to spend billions on a pointless high-speed rail link from Birmingham to London and billions more on a Trident nuclear missile system while the level of poverty among children in Wales rises to a third.

Cllr Marc Jones
Plaid Cymru Wrexham

Tory councillor Andrew Atkinson also claims the £25,000 funding is enough to fund the service. This is at odds with what the manager of Wrexham's Citizens' Advice told the Executive Board - it needed £50,000 to continue as it was.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ty Grosvenor: When is locked not secure?

The new mental health hospital called Ty Grosvenor on Grosvenor Road intends to open towards the end of this month.

The privately run unit will - according to a letter sent to the council - provide care for 34 men and women.

This is the letter sent by their architects to Wrexham Council's planning department to justify NOT applying for planning permission as a secure rehabilitation unit:

Q+A Planning Ltd act on behalf of Elysium Healthcare, the intended operator of the recently constructed development at 16-18 Grosvenor Road, Wrexham, LL11 1BU.
As you will be aware, planning application reference P/2015/0900 permitted the ‘erection of a 34-bed care home (Class C2) with provision of 14 car parking spaces’ on the 7th March 2016.
Elysium wish to respond to recent incorrect speculation that it is their intention to occupy and operate this site as a secure residential institution, for which the use would fall within Use Class C2a.
The facility will be known as Ty Grosvenor and has been designed specifically as a rehabilitation centre for both male and female adults who present with a range of complex conditions that require specialist recuperation and care prior to moving onto a more community integrated setting.
Elysium’s experienced multidisciplinary team will use a recovery-based approach which is designed to empower individuals by providing opportunity and hope through active rehabilitation programmes. Within the service that Ty Grosvenor is to provide, the overall aim will be for many of the individuals to return to their home area and family environment.
However, it is equally recognised that for some achieving greater independence within a care setting is a more realistic prospect. Care will be provided by a range of experienced healthcare professionals, whereby each individual’s needs are routinely assessed and adapted to suit.
Programmes of Care are to be individually devised with the individual’s input which focuses on their short and long-term goals whilst allowing them to build up interests such as exercise and community-based activities.
The care pathway will also allow individual’s time to participate in self-directed leisure and work experience within the community which will encourage greater independence and time for relaxation.
It is therefore clear that the Ty Grosvenor facility will continue to fall in line with its permitted residential institution C2 Use Class as defined by the Town and Country Planning (Wales) Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.
Elysium wish to take this opportunity to categorically confirm that there have never been any intentions to operate this building as a secure hospital (Class C2a), for which it is acknowledged that a change of use planning application would be required. As a matter of relevant planning case law, I wish to draw your attention to the case of Tendring District Council, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Communicates and Local Government [2008] EWHC 2122 (Admin) whereby Mr Justice Sullivan adopted a broad approach to the classification of uses within the Use Classes Order 1987, expressing the view that there were no clear lines to be drawn between hospitals, nursing homes and residential care homes.
I trust this provides useful background information of my client’s intentions regarding Ty Grosvenor, and the necessary assurance that the building will be operating within the scope defined under the operative planning consent. 
On its website, however, Elysium continues to advertise for nursing staff to operate in Ty Grosvenor, which is described as a "male locked rehabilitation service".

This description chimes with what I was verbally told by the site manager when I visited the unit in March 2018. He said the site will be for men aged 18-65 who are leaving secure units to begin their rehabilitation. These would be men with They will be kept in the unit until assessed to be able to leave the premises under supervision and, ultimately, with supervision.

It was emphasised during the visit that such an unit would enable people from north Wales to avoid having to go out of area for such a service.

However, Betsi Cadwaladr's June 7th health board meeting heard that no mental health patients from north Wales currently go out of area for their care:
"Since the peak in May 2017, the number of patients being treated out of area was 27, this has reduced to zero as of April 2018. This has been achieved through actions to improve the patient flow, including the introduction of daily Acute Care Meetings on each site involving all the multi-disciplinary team."
This begs the question - who will be commissioning the service from Elysium Healthcare if not Betsi Cadwaladr?

I remain concerned that the vulnerable men (and, it now appears, women) who will be placed in this new unit could fall prey to unscrupulous drug dealers in the immediate area. These are already active on Grosvenor Road and are quite happy to target people with mental health problems.

Local residents and local businesses as well as the local councillor have been kept out of the loop throughout the process. Some local businesses have been invited to a pre-launch curry night on June 28th.

There are many more questions to be answered about this unit and it doesn't bode well that the company running the unit is unwilling to be more open.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Use chief executive 'windfall' to fund Citizens' Advice - Plaid

Plaid Cymru councillors have made a case to keep Wrexham's Citizens' Advice centre open - by using funds saved from not having a permanent chief executive in post over the past nine months.

Plaid group leader Marc Jones said the Citizens' Advice centre on Grosvenor Road was a huge asset to the borough and had dealt with more than 5,000 cases last year alone.

He said:

"At a time when more and more people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, access services and get independent advice, it's vital we have the expertise and experience of Citizens' Advice available locally.

"The centre is an asset to the people but also to the council - with trustees saying it has saved the authority £200,000 last year.
"It was disappointing that the full council wasn't able to vote on this matter last month and I hope the Executive Board tomorrow will see sense and continue to fund the centre in the future. The options on the table are very modest - just £25,000 a year would make a huge difference to the service.
"This is a council that has saved around £100,000 from not employing a permanent chief executive over the past nine months, with one of our executive directors stepping up to carry out the role. This unexpected windfall could be used to benefit a valuable service."
Cllr Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward where the service is situated, said losing the funding could see the advice centre close and put additional pressure on council officers and services.

• UPDATE: The Executive Board agreed to put £25,000 towards the service. Thanks to everyone who put pressure on the council's ruling clique to change their mind.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Call for quality housing for our town centre

Tonight's planning committee was split down the middle on a contentious plan to turn office space into a block of flats in one of the town centre's most historic streets.

The first item on the agenda was a plan to turn upstairs  space on King Street into a block of five flats while retaining a retail space on the ground floor. The Coleg Cambria end of King Street is within the Conservation Area.

Councillor Marc Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward which includes King Street, said he was supportive of town centre living generally but stressed that it had to be done in the right way and to ensure quality housing:
"If we get this wrong we will be storing up problems for the future."
He explained that the property would be extended, losing one of two parking spaces, and the five flats could accommodate 10 people.

Cllr Jones added:
"The tenants will not have any parking facilities as the single parking space will be alloted to the retail unit. So if the landlord calls, if tradespeople need to carry out work there will not be anywhere for them to park. The only options will be to park on neighbouring office spaces or the adjoining streets of Rhosddu, which are already full to bursting.
"We're told this is a sustainable location in the heart of town but the truth is that anyone needing to get to work cannot rely on the bus services. We've seen a 20% drop in bus services in the past couple of years and our public transport system isn't working as it should."
Cllr Jones also explained that the tenants would have no amenity space - with just about enough room for five bins (one per flat) and an alleyway in which they'd be expected to dry their clothes and store any bicycles.

The officer recommendation was to allow but Cllr Jones moved to refuse on the grounds of lack of amenity. The planning committee was split down the middle - voting 5-5. The chair therefore used his casting vote in favour of the application.

Friday, 1 June 2018

'Too little, too late' - Welsh Government accused over housing developments

The Welsh countryside has been left wide open to speculative developers due to a failure to act by the Welsh Government.

That's the view of Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd, who said the Labour minister in charge of planning had done 'too little, too late' to stop developers building hundreds of houses on greenfield sites.

Of the 25 local planning authorities in Wales (22 councils and three national parks) only six have a sufficient supply.

This is what the consultation states: 
The monitoring of housing land supply has highlighted a shortfall in deliverable land. As at 1 April 2017 nineteen out of the twenty-five local planning authorities were unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, including where LDPs have only recently been adopted. This situation has resulted in an increase in the number of speculative planning applications for housing. 

Suspending this particular paragraph in the Technical Advice Note 1 would make it more difficult for large-scale developments to take place in the open countryside. As things stand, the emphasis placed on having a five-year land supply often means developers can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and Welsh Government to get planning permission, despite the views of local planning committees.

Llyr Gruffydd AM said: 
"Councils across Wales have seen speculative housing developments in the open countryside for some years now. The Welsh Government has been made aware of these problems by many communities but chose to support appeals by developers in the face of local democratic decisions and opposition. The minister even opposed one such development in her own constituency, where 365 homes were allowed on appeal in Llay.

"The Government is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. Thousands of unnecessary houses have been granted permission while ministers dawdled and delayed.  

"So, while I welcome the proposed suspension because it will provide greater safeguards for communities, it is too little, too late for many developments."

He added: 

"If the Labour government had been quicker in recognising the problem, which was apparent to all, then it would have been possible to resist many of these large-scale housing developments. As it is, large swathes of our countryside have been left defenceless." 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Democracy denied

Citizens' Advice services under threat 

A motion to last night's full council by the Labour Group calling for £50,000 to be given to Citizens' Advice to keep it open was effectively blocked last night.
 The motion, which had the support of Plaid Cymru, was an attempt to provide funding for a vital independent advice service that is more needed than ever at a time of cuts and benefit changes. Wrexham is the only council in Wales that does not fund Citizens' Advice and there are real concerns that the service will have to close without this funding.
 The legal advice given to the chair stated that the motion involved a financial commitment and would therefore have to go before the Executive Board - the very body that decided to stop the funding in the first place.
 So we have a ridiculous situation where the 52 councillors on the full council do not even have an indicative vote on a matter that is clearly important. Their views are irrelevant while the views of 10 councillors representing barely half of all the councillors are paramount.
The only people cheering this denial of democracy will be the rogue landlords, dodgy salesmen and bad bosses - these are the people held to account by independent advice services such as Citizens' Advice when tenants, workers and customers get a bad deal.
 Had Plaid Cymru councillors been able to speak, we would have recommended the council pay the money from the tens of thousands we've saved over the past seven months by not having a chief executive officer.

Rhosddu Council calls for end to Kingdom litter contract

Councillors in Rhosddu have unanimously backed calls to end Kingdom Security's contract with Wrexham Council.

At last night's meeting they backed Cllr Marc Jones's request to write to the council calling for an end to the contract.

The meeting heard that a third of all the litter tickets issued by Kingdom throughout the borough were in just one ward - Grosvenor - in Rhosddu. Councillors told of their experience of seeing people getting off the bus in King Street being targetted and followed by Kingdom staff.

Cllr Steve Gittins said the amount of waste being prosecuted each month amounted to a bin bag of waste throughout the borough.

Cllr Marc Jones, who is county councillor for Grosvenor ward, said:
"Everyone was agreed that the community wasn't benefitting from this aggressive approach to littering. We want cleaner communities and specifically action to be taken on dog fouling and fly tipping, which are major problems in the county. Instead, Kingdom are targetting vulnerable people who can be pressurised into paying fines rather than going after the real culprits. 
"Other authorities in north Wales have scrapped their contracts with Kingdom and we want to see Wrexham Council do the same so that we can have community-friendly enforcement that works for everyone rather than a Merseyside-based private company."
Rhosddu joins Caia Community Council in opposing the Kingdom contract and Wrexham Council has agreed to carry out a review of the contract.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Nurses hit out over dialysis privatisation plans

Nurses working in a Welsh dialysis unit have challenged First Minister Carwyn Jones to comment about plans to privatise their jobs.

The nurses based in Wrexham, Bangor, Alltwen (Porthmadog) and Welshpool face being transferred from the NHS to a private company under a tendering process by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which runs health care in north Wales.

The health board is under the direct control of the Labour-run Welsh Government and has been in these special measures for the past three years due to a series of failings.
Plaid Cymru first became aware of this privatisation plan in January and Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru’s shadow health secretary, challenged First Minister Carwyn Jones on the matter on January 30th during FMQs.

His response - that he was ideologically opposed to privatisation in the NHS - was undermined by a letter from the health board confirming that the tendering process had the full backing of Welsh Govt ministers.

Nurses at the Welshpool unit, which under both options going before the health board faces privatisation, have now written to the First Minister to challenge his claims.
Dear Mr Jones As you may be aware the North Wales Renal Services across Wrexham, Bangor, Alltwen and Welshpool are being put out to tender. The satellite unit in Welshpool has been informed that no matter what happens to the units in Wrexham, Bangor and Alltwen, the Welshpool unit and staff will be outsourced.  
We have attached a letter which we have sent to the chief executive, Mr Gary Doherty, of Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board highlighting issues which are of real concern to the staff of the Welshpool unit.  
We feel this process has not been handled in accordance with policy, which has left staff feeling let down and disappointed by the management. While we appreciate the financial situation of the Health Board, the staff in Welshpool feel thay are being sacrificed in an effort to cut the Health Board's deficit.  
All staff and Unison are completely opposed to the privatisation of the Welshpool Renal Satellite Unit and we would be the first staff within renal services to be outsourced in Wales.  
As you have previously stated in the Welsh Assembly you are opposed to privatisation of any kind of the Welsh NHS, we would appreciate any help and advice you can provide to us at this extremely distressing and worrying time.  
Yours sincerely  
All staff of Welshpool Renal Dialysis Satellite Unit
Labour in Wales has been branded "hypocritical" by Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd:
"The hypocrisy of Labour attacking the Tories for privatising the NHS in England while doing precisely the same in Wales is breathtaking. Plaid Cymru will continue to stand alongside the nurses and their unions to ensure that this back-door privatisation does not take place."

The final decision on the tender will be decided over the summer.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Plaid Cymru highlights UK Government inaction over deaths in Gaza

Jonathan Edwards MP recommends diplomatic efforts to the Foreign Office

Plaid Cymru has highlighted the UK Government’s failure to act in condemnation of the killing of 55 Palestinians by the Israeli armed forces on Monday 14th May.

The opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem  following the decision taken by President Trump saw the most violent day in Gaza for four years, with over 2,000 protesters being injured, including over 1,000 protesters injured by live ammunition.

Plaid Cymru’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP highlighted the actions of the South African and Irish Governments in response to the conflict, with South Africa recalling their ambassador to Israel and Ireland summoning the Israeli ambassador. Responding in the urgent debate, Jonathan Edwards MP asked: “Is the British Government considering either diplomatic route?”

Commenting after the debate, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards said:

“Our thoughts are with all of those Palestinians whose family and friends have been killed and injured.

“Palestinian people have a fundamental right to demonstrate without being shot at with live ammunition. As the occupying power, it is the Israeli Government’s duty to respect the human rights of civilians.

“With the United States abdicating all responsibility for leading peace efforts, the rest of the international community must quickly determine how to fill the void otherwise violence could quickly spiral into a more prolonged and open conflict.

“The UK Government cannot continue to simply remain silent on the systematic abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories. Bold diplomatic action is required urgently.

“The British Government has a range of options at its disposal. Along with recalling the UK Ambassador to Israel and summoning the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, this government must push for a UN resolution calling for a full, independent investigation into the conflict. This is the very least the UK Government can do.

“Most importantly, this government must suspend the sale of arms to Israel with immediate effect. It is no use issuing statements condemning violence whilst simultaneously supplying the weapons to facilitate this.

“Whilst the UK-based arms companies continue to ammunition to Israel, the British Government shamelessly profits from the mass murder of Palestinians.”

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Fire service cuts unacceptable

In response to proposals to cut frontline fire services, Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said:
“Yesterday’s meeting of the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority’s executive panel considered cuts of £1.9m to balance the books in 2019-20. One option still on the table is to reduce services. In practical terms this could involve cutting one whole-time fire engine and crew from Wrexham and reducing services in other stations across the North.  
“Firefighters now deal with much more than just fires. They will deal with road accidents, rescues and the all-important role of fire prevention.  
“The threat to one of Wrexham’s two whole-time fire engines was seen off last year after mass protests. I’m sure that will be the case again if this proposal is put to the public. It’s clear that that engine is all-important in providing the necessary back-up in any fire incident as well as providing cover for retained stations that cover a large part of the region. The Welsh Government projects a steep increase in the local population yet funding for emergency services isn’t matching that. We need more joined-up thinking from this government.  
“I accept the Fire Authority faces a difficult decision – 10 years of cuts by central government are now really starting to bite and we have to re-double our efforts to scrap austerity for the good of all our public services such as health, education, the police and fire service.  
“However, the cuts being proposed by NWFRA are unacceptable and will put lives at risk. I can’t support that and the funding has to be found to maintain existing services. “Funding for the fire services, unlike the police, comes directly from councils who are also under huge financial pressures. 
"There is a case to be made for funding to come directly to the fire service through a local precept and this would enable the Fire Authority to make decisions with responsibility for revenue raising. 
"Whatever the method, it is vital that these jobs and services are not lost. And we must remind those who continue to advocate austerity that cuts cost lives.”

Friday, 11 May 2018

Wrexham's fire engine faces new threat

Proposals to cut one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines are back on the table - just 18 months after a successful campaign to resist similar plans by the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority.

Cllr Marc Jones, who coordinated the campaign to save Wrexham's fire engine in 2016, said:
"The proposal to cut Wrexham's second whole-time fire engine is still unacceptable and will put lives at risk. The crews at Wrexham regularly support other stations across North Wales and only last week were in Betws-y-Coed to ensure there was cover in the Conwy Valley.  "Losing 24 firefighters would increase the risk facing people in the largest town in north Wales and I would urge members of the Fire Authority to resist attempts to cut this service. "The Fire Authority has already had more funding from the six councils across the North but it's unlikely they will get more. Public services have faced cuts for a decade now and this is the result - we have to reject austerity because ultimately cuts cost lives."
The Fire Authority meets on Monday to discuss options to save £1.8 million that could see up to 52 staff lose their jobs.

The end of childhood: How Hillsborough politicised me

Justice for the 96

This is a guest post by our footballing correspondent Ap Dafydd.

As a young lad growing up on the Welsh border I was always Wrexham daft. Joey Jones was my hero along with Dixie McNeil, Bobby Shinton, Les Cartwright and pretty much most of those great players to wear the red shirt in the late 70s and early 80s...but Joey was special.
As a result of this, Joey acted as a sort of gateway to Liverpool FC and due to the fact that we didn't live near Wrexham when I was growing up and Liverpool were on telly from time to time (there wasn't much football on the TV in the 80s) so I therefore developed a real affection for Liverpool FC.
Kenny Dalglish was an incredible player and the team that he built when he took over with Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge were absolute poetry, more artistic and easy on the eye than the previous Liverpool sides but still imbued with a genuine toughness at its core with the likes of McMahon dismantling teams week in week out very much in the Souness mould.
By 1989 the Wrexham side I adored and knew inside out had long broken up and we were fighting for our lives to stay in the Football League, for a 14-year-old kid the sheer drudgery of watching some of the cloggers at Cae Ras in this era was utterly soul destroying, so Liverpool was like a torrid affair with an exotic woman. We both knew it could never last.
On the day of Hillsborough the old man was in work (we watched all games together on telly, it was always a bit of an event) so the fact that I was on my own trying to take it in made it even more traumatic. I watched it unfold in front of me, disbelieving the scenes of abject horror and the spiralling figures being announced. I believe I was in shock for a long time afterwards and in hindsight I see it as the end of my childhood.
What happened afterwards was cruel beyond words and helped to politicise me from a very young age. I’m from a mining family, so a distrust of the State was in me from a young age and a strong distrust of Tories (perfectly natural for a working-class lad) was certainly a part of my DNA.
After a period of disillusionment with the game I drifted back to Cae Ras with my friends a few years later and enjoyed the brief renaissance under Brian Flynn, beating Arsenal and winning the league. Great days indeed. Home and away my cards were dealt and, just like certain diseases are hereditary and get handed down through the males in a family, so does following CPD Wrecsam.
Of course, I always kept a look out for how Liverpool were getting on and will always be happy to put anyone right who thinks they can espouse the line that the S*n put out along with other right-wing rags intimating the same slander. We know that that your average punter doesn't do his own thinking, so the majority of them always thought to themselves that ‘the Scousers were to blame’.
If you know your history, you know that the Thatcher era brought about the biggest changes to working-class life and culture in over a 100 years. We were reeling. Communities were decimated, our institutions were under attack, the systematic dismantling and deconstruction of working class life was well under way.
 Orgreave brought it to the nation, but make no mistake the Toxteth riots were not just racial, they were class riots too. Into this toxic atmosphere Liverpool as a city was despised by the establishment because of its left-wing Militant-led council and the press took every opportunity to portray scousers as thieves or idiots.
 The media/state/establishment was doing a number on the proletariat on Merseyside make no mistake and by the time Hillsborough happened it was almost a perfect storm. Don't forget that football fans were deemed ‘the enemy within’ along with the miners and Irish Republicans.
The irony of that period is that although Liverpool suffered terrible poverty and deprivation throughout the 80s, the football team swept the board year after year, dominating the domestic scene and filling the cabinet with silverware earned by hard graft across the continent.
The attempted stitch-up by Duckenfield and South Yorkshire Police was a disgrace. Subsequent enquiries immediately exonerated fans, the Taylor report immediately refuted any wrongdoing on the part of fans but, due to the nasty smear campaign of the media and Margaret Thatcher and her cronies, the legacy of Hillsborough was that the image whole swathes of Football supporters and the general population have of Liverpool supporters is that they were in some way culpable and that Scousers aren't trustworthy and are ‘never to blame’. If I had a pound for every time I heard that one I’d have Murdoch's money. If you said these kinds of things about other communities it would be a hate crime these days.
Last week thanks to the lovely people at Total Eclipse of the Sun I had an opportunity to try and put some of my own ghosts to rest and try to help educate and enlighten my fellow fans. We had got some ‘CPD Wrecsam fans against the S*n’ stickers done and decided to raise funds for an Anti Sun banner, really to show solidarity with the victims of Hillsborough and to let the world know where we stand. It meant a lot to me to do that and thankfully a lot of my comrades feel the same.
I belong to a group of fans called Partisans CPD Wrecsam, we are left Republicans and want to promote our club as progressive inclusive and as much as we possibly can push a socialist agenda and help to raise awareness amongst our fellow supporters.
The huge bonus after Partisans raised the money was Total Eclipse offering to do banners for us if we donated a certain amount. To say I was delighted would be the understatement of the year and the way things moved so quickly and effectively is a credit to the organisation and the folk involved. I worked with Ian Grimes, a man I now consider a brother, he kept me in the loop and sorted out flyers and stickers for us to distribute while showcasing our banners outside Cae Ras.
By this stage I had decided that flags were not enough. I wanted to try and engage people gently, to give them a leaflet or to have conversations. The beauty of this was that, on the day, I spoke to people who had been at Hillsborough and they were moved to tears to see that their fellow CPD Wrecsam fans had gone to such effort to promote a cause so dear to them.
Peterloo, Tonypandy, Toxteth, Orgreave, Hillsborough and Grenfell - all part of the struggle.
The day went brilliantly, we were received with warmth and positivity from our fellow fans, it was truly humbling and that night I dreamt I was with King Kenny, we were walking through Liverpool City Centre, I could see the Liver Birds but there was no one around, it was quiet. Me and King Kenny walking round in the early hours collecting our thoughts.
Love and Solidarity
Ryan ap Dafydd of Partisans CPD Wrecsam
JFT 96

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Caia Council call for WCBC to axe Kingdom

Caia Park Community council tonight voted unanimously to ask Wrexham County Council not renew its contract with Kingdom Security, who currently issue Fixed Penalty notices for littering across the Borough.

Plaid Cymru Councillor Carrie Harper who proposed the move said: “We’re all hearing some very concerning stories about the way Kingdom are operating across Wrexham, particularly in the way vulnerable people are being targeted. Several Councillors tonight shared worrying stories about complaints they’ve had from residents about the way the firm is operating, with one complaining about a resident with learning difficulties being repeatedly targeted by a Kingdom officer.”

“Councillors were also concerned about the over reliance on fining people for cigarette litter, whilst dog fouling and fly tipping complaints continue to grow. The bottom line is that this contract is not delivering against the county councils original objectives, which were about making our streets cleaner. The unintended consequences and ineffectiveness of this contract now make it unsustainable in my view. It’s now time to review the County Councils strategy in terms of littering, with Plaid Cymru run Ynys Mon and Gwynedd councils recently scrapping Kingdom, it’s time Wrexham did the same. If that can’t be done immediately we should certainly not be looking to renew their contract when it expires next year. I’m very encouraged to see this proposal get unanimous support from Caia Park Community council and thank fellow local Councillors for their support and input tonight”.

New guidance to limit HMOs passed by Wrexham Council

Wrexham's Executive Board has approved new planning guidance relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation. HMOs have become a hugely contentious issue in many parts of Wrexham town centre and that prompted six town-centre councillors to come together with the aim of strengthening planning guidance.

The new planning guidance will limit HMOs to 10% in any single locality, which will enable the planning committee to consider community needs in assessing planning permissions. Some streets and neighbourhoods already have densities far higher than this.
Councillor Marc Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward and spoke on behalf of the cross-party group at the meeting, said: 
"We want to ensure a mix of housing - owner occupier, private rented, council housing and HMOs. The situation in some neighbourhoods and streets is that HMOs are dominating and that can add to problems in terms of transient populations, overcrowding, parking issues, litter, poor amenity space and, in a minority of situations, anti-social behaviour.
"As councillors representing those areas most affected by HMOs, we have pushed officers to strengthen guidelines. We haven't achieved what we hoped for with this guidance but it is a step in the right direction. We will review and monitor the effectiveness of the new guidance to see whether it does have the intended effect."
The group of six councillors recently met Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths to stress the importance of Welsh Government support for new guidance and for the Planning Inspectorate, nominally under Welsh Government control, to allow local councils to make decisions affecting local communities. 

Cllr Jones added: 
"What we've seen in too many cases is that the local planning committee makes a decision, the landlord appeals to the Planning Inspectorate appeals and that is upheld. That's not local democracy at work and it undermines the whole point of having a planning committee. We need to make sure the message will get through to Cardiff that our communities are a very fragile balance and the wrong decisions can have a huge impact on streets and neighbourhoods.
 "HMOs have increased in recent years because many people don't have any other housing options and that's an indictment of how affordable homes aren't being built. Councils such as Wrexham haven't built a home for rent for a generation, although that will change later this year as the council starts to build again. These will start to replace the 10,000 council houses sold off since 1980 in Wrexham alone. Affordable homes shouldn't mean inferior accommodation."