Monday, 29 December 2008

Labour - "Morally Corrupt"

As a son of the manse it must have really rankled Gordon Brown to have his government described as "morally corrupt," by Bishops of the Church of England. In summary and as quoted in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph, they said, "...the Government now presided over a country suffering family breakdown, an unhealthy reliance on debt and a growing divide between rich and poor." This article is 'spot on' and it was very courageous of those Bishops to speak out as they did knowing full well that there will now be a massive call from within the Labour Parliamentary Group to disestablish the Church from the State for what will be seen as an act of betrayel by the Church against the Government of the day. I applaud what the Bishop's had to say and if it hurts Gordon Brown...so be it...the TRUTH often does hurt.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

"Real Wrexham" by Grahame Davies

"Real Wrexham" is an unexpected gem of a book by Coedpoeth writer Grahame Davies. I had the pleasure of working with Grahame's mother at the Evening Leader many years ago but I've never met Grahame himself. After this book, I feel I know him - and Wrexham - a lot better.
In under 200 pages he teases out the unique character and heritage that make up our town - "a place where landscapes, economies and cultures converge. A place of encounter and transition. A place where one and one makes three."
It's very much a personal history of Wrexham, the town and its environs, with enough quirky facts, myth busting and anecdotes to keep the pages turning.
As a village boy, he's particularly good on the localised identities - why Coedys are different to Jackos - but also outlines the underlying identities that shape us all.
Like every 40-something football fan, he was there when Rotherham got tonked 7-1 to take Wrexham FC up to the old Division Two in 1977-78. But he also wanders away from the parochial - the poet in him can sometimes take over. It's no bad thing because he ties Welsh poet R S Thomas and Congo martyr Winifred Davies to the area as well as making the bold claim that Minera helped bring down the Roman Empire.
"Real Wrexham" should be essential reading to those who want to brand Wrexham - a border town that knows on which side of the border it's on.

Real Wrexham - Grahame Davies, Seren Books, £9.99

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Nadolig Llawen/Seasons Greetings

Ar ran y pedwar ohonom, Cynghorwyr Sir Plaid Cymru ar Gyngor Sir Wrecsam ddymuno Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i'n holl ddarllenwyr, cyfrannwyr a chefnogwyr.

On behalf of the four Plaid Cymru Councillors on Wrexham County Borough Council I would like to wish our readers, contributors and supporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Cofion/Regards,

Arfon, Marc, Carrie & Barrie.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Nuclear cover-up exposed



Paul Flynn has an interesting account of the cover-up surrounding the sale of the UK's nuclear capability to the US.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Labour falls behind in opinion poll.

A poll by the Telegraph and YouGov show that the gap between Labour and Conservatives has widened again to 7% up from 4%, with the Conservatives now on 42%, Labour on 35% and the Lib Dems on 14%. This doesn't surprise me in the least, I was more surprised when the gap narrowed and Brown got credit for 'saving' the economy...some 'saving'!! Wasn't this the guy who presided over the economy for 10 years as Chanchellor and so he must take a lot of responsibility for this deregulated unfettered financial market where financiars could bet on share prices going up or down (longs and shorts) which was partly responsible for the collapse of HBOS and the near collapse of RBS. What Gordon Brown and his right wing pals around the world has created is a global financial market based on a Las Vegas casino culture. I'm just glad that people are beginning to realise that far from being the saviour of this country from financial ruin he is in fact a very big cause of the problem... Gordon Brown is part of the problem and NOT the solution.

UK team would destroy Welsh football

Gordon Brown's sad attempts to big up his Britishness now involve wanting an UK team at the 2012 Olympics. When asked what he wanted for Christmas he said: "That we have an Olympics team for the 2012 Olympics that is a football team from Britain."

Fans from all the individual countries have all made their opposition clear. Critics fear the move could undermine Wales's status as an independent team at international level, and the Scottish and Welsh FAs have said it is "resolute" in its opposition.

It's no secret that many international football officials want to end the anomaly of four independent teams from the UK. Brown's flag waving will help them.

So it's good to note that Lesley Griffiths AM recognises these concerns and has come out unambiguously against the proposal. We might have to wait a little longer for Ian "Union Jack" Lucas to express an opinion.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Abusers and Slave Drivers.

The European Union today voted to end the UK's ability to opt out of that part of the Working Times Regulations that prohibited working beyond the 48 hours per week. Brendan Barber of the TUC said it would, "strike a blow against abusers and slave drivers." So who are the abusers and slave drivers who make their workers work such long hours? The gangmasters who exploit migrant workers or the food factories with their appalling working conditions. No we don't need to look so far from home... we have our esteemed public services, the North Wales Police and North East Wales NHS Trust where their employees work long hours often in excess of 60 hours per week. This eminently sensible decision by the European Union should be welcomed and it should send out a strong message to rogue employers that we 'work to live' and not 'live to work'!!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Solicitors struck off for cashing in on sick miners

This is enough to turn your stomach...

A solicitor who became Britain's richest lawyer was yesterday struck off after being found guilty of creaming millions of pounds from compensation paid to sick miners. Jim Beresford, 58, and his partner Douglas Smith, 52, were also ordered to pay substantial costs for serious professional misconduct over the handling of personal injury claims made under a compensation scheme for miners suffering coal dust-related diseases and other injuries.

Over five years, Mr Beresford, who was named last year as Britain's highest-earning solicitor, profited by £30.2m in the government-run compensation that is expected to pay out a total of £7bn when it is finally settled.

His firm, Beresfords in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, expanded rapidly, acting in more than 83,000 cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more than 14,500 cases of vibration white finger (VWF), a painful condition caused by working with vibrating tools. The joint earnings of Mr Beresford and Mr Smith went from more than £182,000 in 2000 to £23,273,256 in 2006.

But yesterday the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, sitting in London, ruled the lawyers' actions amounted to a breach of the solicitors' rules and found them guilty of eight out of 11 of the allegations against them. The tribunal chairman, David Leverton, said: "If ever there was a group of persons who needed the full care and attention from solicitors, it was these miners. Mr Beresford described himself as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, his attitude allowed himself and Mr Smith to put commercial goals before his clients' best interests."

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Labour - Welfare Cheats.

The following is a letter sent to the Daily Post and Evening Leader today:

Dear Editor,

I find it hard to reconcile the UK Government's committment to eradicating child poverty by 2020, and reducing the gap between rich and poor with James Purnell's announcement of welfare reform. How does reducing someone's weekly income from £89 per week (Incapacity Benefit) to £60.50 (Jobseekers Allowance) alleviate poverty? The truth of the matter is that it doesn't because moving someone onto Jobseekers Allowance when they have no hope of getting a job in a stagnant economy is just a stunt to save money.

All these reforms do is to make hundreds of Welsh families more impoverished than they already are.

It should therefore be of no surprise that these families are turning to Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales as the only party with a social conscience who continue to fight for social justice for the weak, the sick and the disadvantaged.

Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Housing crisis

Young families forced to live in upstairs flats, children living with black mould growing on the walls, young lads sleeping on floors because they can't get a flat... the need for affordable housing has never been more pressing.
Many people in Whitegate ward - and throughout the borough - are living in poor housing conditions and many more will join them if they don't keep up mortgage repayments and rents. But the choice for those in need is getting worse and worse.
In the past 20 years the numbers of council houses in Wrexham has fallen from 20,000 to just over 10,000. Housing associations were meant to make up the gap but there are just 1,500 housing association homes in Wrexham - a drop in the ocean.
Pressures on the private sector with buy-to-let landlords favouring cramming homes with students or migrant workers for extra income mean that many people are being squeezed out of housing.
It's a huge issue - the most important in terms of my ward work - and the council is taking small steps in the right direction. New two-bedroom pensioners' bungalows in Caia will free up many larger homes for families and start to unblock the logjam that exists. But we need far more radical action and a sense of urgency at all levels - council, Assembly and Westminster.
We are told that we can't build council houses but building new homes of the right quality for local need is one simple way to create jobs, meet the housing need and get some income in from rents. The council could also - if it had the funds - take on the hundreds of empty apartments built by developers during the recent housing boom.
It's a shocking indictment of free-market capitalism that we have people sleeping rough in a town with hundreds of empty homes.
Despite this evident need, the UK government is still insisting that councils can't have a level playing field with housing associations, even though the reason for that - the public sector borrowing requirement - has been shot to pieces. Billions have been spent on keeping banks afloat while ordinary families are left to fend for themselves.
Brown would be better off bailing out those in housing need and jobless builders than the merchant bankers who got us into this mess in the first place.

Plaid selects Wrexham candidate for Westminster


Tackling child poverty will be a key priority for Plaid Cymru's newly selected candidate for Wrexham in the coming Westminster election.

Arfon Jones was chosen at a meeting of the town's constituency party this week. He is one of the new councillors elected in Plaid Cymru's dramatic breakthrough in Wrexham at May's council elections and represents Gwersyllt West.

Cllr Jones, who lives in Gwersyllt, said: "Through my work as a councillor and as a volunteer with the local Citizens' Advice Bureau, I know how tough things are for families and that this is having a huge impact on child poverty in particular.

"The UK Labour government's tinkering with benefits is simply making poverty worse and my message at the next election is that children will suffer because this government is taking money off the sick and disabled.

"Wrexham people need a stronger voice in Westminster to make sure they're heard and Plaid will be challenging the sitting MP all the way. The May elections proved that Plaid is a genuine alternative to a growing number of disillusioned Labour voters and we will continue to work hard to build that alternative."

Cllr Jones served as a police officer for 30 years locally until his retirement earlier this year. He is married to a district nurse and they have two grown-up daughters.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Bean Counting.

I was very pleased to see that the Daily Post has picked up on Inspector Steve Williams's article in the Police Federation's publication 'Focus' criticising North Wales Police's 'obsession with performance and that it is hampering our relationship with the public'...hear...hear. The problem is that the Police are concentrationg on counting crimes rather than providing a quality service. To give an example, compare someone who is arrested for urinating in the street and someone arrested for a stabbing...they are both ONE VIOLENT CRIME each and that is what North Wales Police count...what a nonsense. An officer who arrests 10 people for urinating in the street gets more credit than the officer who arrests 1 person for a stabbing...is it then any wonder why officers go for the easy jobs and give less attention to the ones that harder to detect...that is where quality suffers and the public get disillusioned by the Police.

The Police is not the only public service which suffers because of performance, the Council is no different and Children's Social Services must be the most heavily inspected and their performance monitored more than ay other council department. To give an example Wrexham's Children's Social Services have 130 performance measurements which is the same number as they have of children being looked after...how ridiculous is that?

The various inspection agencies in the Welsh Assembly Government have been running around 'like headless chickens' since details of the sad death of Baby P in Haringey was published sending letters out like confetti demanding this, that and the other. The problem is that the more demands the Welsh Assembly Government send out to Children's Social Services the more work it creates for front line staff and managers who then cannot deliver services to children in the County Borough.

What Inspectors in the Welsh Assembly Government are doing is 'closing the door after the horse has bolted' what is needed is more rational thinking and less 'knee jerk reactions'

Council leader 'ambushed'

It's not often that the leader of a council gets ambushed by campaigners, but that's what happened last night. The unlikely setting for this "ambush" was St Margaret's Church in Garden Village, where TCC* was holding its annual assembly.
More than 200 people heard about the ongoing campaigns TCC is involved with - the night shelter, for a Living Wage, Participatory Budgeting among others.
Cllr Aled Roberts, who leads Wrexham Council, was there to speak about the night shelter for rough sleepers but was called back on stage by the organisers after a call for a Wrexham Living Wage to be introduced for council staff. This "Wrexham Living Wage" could emulate that in Manchester, where the council has just introduced one £1.01 above the hourly UK minimum wage of £5.73.
This, more than any tinkering with VAT, is putting real money in the pockets of the lowest paid. It has the potential to lift 100,000 low-paid workers in Wales, including thousands in Wrexham.
To his credit, Aled promised to take up the matter. I'm sure TCC - and Plaid councillors - will be there too.
The National Assembly is also on the case - 31 AMs have signed up to a Living Wage commitment and work is underway (albeit at a snail's pace) to assess what a living wage would actually be for workers in Wales.
The TCC Assembly also heard about interesting developments regarding community participation in spending public money in Caia Park from Cllr Carrie Harper - more news about an intriguing pilot scheme in the New Year.

* TCC - Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru or Together Creating Communities has been campaigning on a variety of social justice issues for the past 15 years in Wrexham. Its record of success is second to none.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

'Make developer pay for Brymbo spine road' - Plaid

Anyone reading tonight's Evening Leader may have missed this story:

'Make developer pay for Brymbo spine road' - Plaid


Developers who want taxpayers' money to build a new road at Brymbo pocketed nearly £15m in dividends in just one year, research by Plaid Cymru reveals.

Brymbo Developments is asking the Welsh Assembly Government for public money to build the £2m spine road from Tanyfron to Brymbo as part of the redevelopment of the former Brymbo steelworks. But accounts filed for 2005-6 reveal that the company made £16.4m from land sales - and paid its shareholders a staggering £14.7m in dividends.

The company's failure to build the link road has been condemned by North Wales AM Janet Ryder.

Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM said: "I have every sympathy with residents in Brymbo who desperately want this road built. It is a disgrace that the developers have been allowed to get away without putting in the basic infrastructure in to support this development especially as they have profited so much themselves from this development.

"Residents bought their homes in good faith believing that the road would be built, only to see any profits that should have gone towards building the road be paid out as dividends to the developer's shareholders. Now those same developers have the nerve to say they can't afford to build the road and taxpayers should pay again.

"I've been asked by the local Tory councillor for Brymbo to join his campaign for more taxpayers' money to go to Brymbo Developments. I certainly want the road to be built but the company has had plenty of public money already to clean up the site. It has made millions from that site and should finance the road that links those houses to the rest of Brymbo through its own resources."

The company accounts for 2005-6 - the latest filed by the company - admits "the gross margin is substantial and can be attributed to the sale of land".

Janet Ryder said: "To take that much money out of the company in a dividend to shareholders is just plain greedy. A fraction of that dividend could have paid for the road."

The parent company Parkhill 2000 is owned by three men - 90% is owned by Colin Cornes of Shifnal, Shropshire, and the rest by two other Shropshire-based businessmen - Niall Crabb and P J Smyth.

Janet Ryder added: "I understand that Brymbo Developments managed to persuade Wrexham Council to allow it to build more housing on land adjacent to the Sports and Social Club, saying it needed this extra cash to build the road. This time the council had the good sense to insist on a section 106 agreement. This stated that no housing could be built before the spine road had been built but I gather that the company is even refusing to sign this deal.

"I'm surprised that the Tories have been taken in by the company's pleading without doing some basic research into the company's finances. We should not give taxpayers' money to companies who are paying out huge dividends to their shareholders.

"I hope the council sticks to its guns and makes sure the company builds the spine road to ensure the old steelworks site is developed to its full potential in terms of jobs as well as housing."

Monday, 1 December 2008

When does 160 = 223?

Apparently when it's the number of homes allowed on a piece of land by Wrexham Council.

Wrexham Council's own Unitary Development Plan, which still guides planning in this borough, states that "no more than 160" homes are allowed on the piece of National Trust land at Rhostyllen.

Tonight's planning committee debate on the matter, at which Cllr Carrie Harper and myself were not allowed to contribute or vote, heard planning officers argue that 160 was not a fixed number but could - in fact - mean 223. This, by coincidence, is the number of homes the National Trust now wants to build on the farmland. The willingness to accommodate developers was a symptom of the old regime at Wrexham Council and tonight was a reminder that that old regime still has some life in it.

And what of those rapacious developers?

The National Trust, whose very name now seems like a sick joke, has decided that it can only win the argument by misleading the public. At a recent meeting with campaigners they stated that no National Trust money could be used to subsidise Erddig because it was a special case. We reported this honestly to the press. The Trust then claimed that this was not the case because it had spent £1m from its central funds on Erddig in the past five years.

Tonight we received a clarification of this doublespeak - it appears the Trust has merely loaned the money to Erddig and, when the development takes place, it will have to repay that loan in full.

Don't trust the trust.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Intentionally Homeless

Saw a guy the other day who'd had his house repossessed and had presented at WCBC Homeless Office in Lampit St, only to be told that because he couldn't pay his mortgage council classed him as intentionally homeless, a bit rich really when the guy had his working hours cut because of the economic situation and that was why he fell behind with his mortgage. I then thought, well how much of a problem is this and asked for the relevant statistics, and you know how it is, they don't hold the data you really want, which was number of repossessions classified as intentionally homeless so I get what they wanted to give me.

Number of people presenting to the Homeless office (April to October 2008) - 410.

Numbers unintentionally homeless - 193

Numbers intentionally homeless - 41

Remainder not classed as homeless or in priority need.

Of the 193 where decisions were made 11 were repossessions for mortgage arrears which was up from 8 in the same period in 2007.

The big question is how many of the 41 classed as intentionally homeless were as a result of repossession of their homes? Sorry can't find that out...yet!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Bus firms quit Wrexham high street route

A dozen buses an hour once used Wrexham's high street to pick up and drop off passengers. Today it's down to two or three an hour. From next Monday, there will be fewer because GHA Coaches are re-routing their services from Pentre Maelor directly to the town's bus station rather than via the high street.
This will cause problems for the many people with mobility problems who need to access the bus at this end of town. They include people from Whitegate who use the 41 and 42 services either through Caia Park or the Kingsmills Road.
And the reason for this switch?
Because the high street was re-designed some years ago to make it more pedestrian friendly. Unfortunately the designers failed to provide wide enough parking bays on either side of the road, which means cars often end up blocking part of the highway. This means that buses are often stuck for 10 minutes or longer as they try to negotiate the 100-yard stretch of road. Many minor accidents have also happened as a result.
From speaking to bus drivers, GHA Coaches and the council's Transport and Asset Management department today, there is deep frustration all round at the situation. We all want better public transport to ease congestion, reduce car usage and enable people without cars to get about - but sitting on a bus that isn't moving isn't going to encourage anyone to leave the car at home.
Since the deregulation of the bus companies, the council has no say in their route unless the council subsidises them. I have a lot of sympathy with GHA Coaches because the delays and accidents reflect badly on their service and they can provide a quicker more efficient service by going direct. But I am also concerned at the loss of service to the many people who use the High Street bus stops.
The most obvious solution - to widen the parking bays on either side of the high street - would apparently cost a six-figure sum and has been dismissed as too costly. But if that's not done, then we have an ongoing problem that can only be solved by changing the direction of traffic, making it one-way or banning cars from parking along the high street. None, in my opinion, is a good solution, especially as disabled car users are among those using the high street parking bays and we need to ensure they can access the town centre.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Plaid launches Caia Park branch - press release

Plaid Cymru's dramatic success at the May council elections in Wrexham has seen party membership rise by almost a quarter in the town over the last six months.

Now the party has set up a Caia Park branch, which met for the first time this week to discuss how it can build on the two county councillors it already has in the area.

Whitegate councillor Marc Jones said: "In the six months since our election we've been busy in the community and had a very positive reaction to our campaigning for more affordable housing in particular. We've both been inundated with housing issues, in particular young families who are stuck in flats trying to get houses.

"With new members joining from Caia, it made sense to set up a branch for the area so that we can discuss more local issues that are relevant to people here. We're only a small branch at the moment but we're attracting new members and I hope we can continue to grow."

Councillor Carrie Harper, who represents the Queensway ward, said: "There are many issues that are specific to Caia Park that we have now put on the agenda. Over the coming months we'll be talking to people throughout the estate about what we can do for them - we want local people to know we're on their side in fighting for what's best for the area.

"That will link into campaigns throughout the borough, where we're working with other Plaid county councillors in Gwersyllt and Ruabon."

Plaid won two of the five seats in the Caia Park area in May, making it the largest party for the area - Labour has one and the other two are held by independents.

For details of Plaid meetings in Caia Park contact plaidwrecsam@gmail.com or phone 07747 792 441.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

US Elections

You may think I'm a sad raincoat staying up till 0300 hrs for the US Elections, I just think that Obama will win it with the BBC/ABC calling Ohio and Pensylvania for Obama...I hope we don't have a repeat of 2000 when the News Channels called it all wrong. At the moment its McCain 124, Obama 200, with California, Washington State, Oregon, Virginia, Florida and N. Carolina to be called again.

Let's keep our fingers crossed for an Obama Presidency...greater peace in the world...a better economy and of course better democratic government.

Will update later...you all have a nice day now!!

STOP PRESS.
Its now 3.30am and Libby Dole, Republican Senator for North Carolina has lost her seat to a Democrat, she is the ex wife of Republican Presidential Candidate Bob Dole. This leaves Democrats with a clear majority in the US Senate of somewhere between 4 and 6 seats depending who you believe...deep joy!! Its now Obama 207 to Mc Cain 138...63 votes to go and Obama wins...hip, hip............

Might get back to you...but feeling a bit tired now!!

STOP PRESS
Still here at 4.05 am, Virginia has gone for Barack Obama....I think that's clinched it.
CNN project Obama next President... what can I say... its a great day...going to bed...in a minute perhaps...!!

STOP PRESS.
He's done it yes!! Just listened to McCain's speech...very magnanimous, sincere and honorable I must say

Anyway I'm signing off at at 4:50am... You all take care now!!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

There's democracy and there's National Trust democracy

Campaigners against the 223-house development on Erddig near Rhostyllen took their battle to the National Trust's annual meeting in Liverpool on Saturday.

The Observer has a piece about it but unfortunately the story was written before the actual result was known. That was an even better story:

14308 voted for scrapping the Erddig housing development
14139 against

For a second we thought we'd won and then the chairman weighed in with 8019 discretionary proxy votes in favour of the official position to save the day for the Trust. These are members who allow their votes to be used at the discretion of the chairman.

This block proxy vote has been the subject of controversy before and it's not surprising when it's used to shore up unpopular policies and debatable decisions. The chairman, Sir William Proby, was asked as he left whether he felt it was in order to use the discretionary vote to win the vote, especially as he has publicly spoken out against development on green fields in the past.

It seems the chance to make a quick buck is far more important to the Trust than any principles. Worryingly for Proby's cronies, a full 40% of the vote for our second motion - effectively a no confidence vote in the Trust's leaders on the Erddig matter - was in favour.

The Trust is completely split on this matter and is in danger of tearing itself apart if it presses on with the Erddig development.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Genesis 2 Project in Wrecsam

This is a press release relating to the launch of the Genesis 2 Project in Wrecsam:

On Friday 24th October the second phase of the Genesis Cymru Wales (Wrexham) project was launched by Lesley Griffiths, Assembly Member for Wrexham, with the help of children from Bellevue Playgroup in Bellevue Park and several other VIPs.

The Genesis project has been in existence since 2005 and has already supported more than 500 parents in the Wrexham area. New ESF Competitiveness funding has been secured for the second phase of the project and over the next 6 years Genesis Cymru Wales 2 will help another 700 unemployed parents in Wrexham overcome barriers that prevent them from working or accessing training.

Unemployed parents, especially lone parents, face many hurdles when wanting to learn new skills or return to work and Genesis provides advice, one-to-one mentoring, assistance to attend training and help with childcare costs. The aim of Genesis is to help parents build an independent and prosperous future for themselves and their families.

The Genesis project in Wrexham also aims to increase the number of childcare workers in Wrexham through organising free ‘Making Choices’ courses for anyone interested in working with children.

Information workers, health visitors, social workers and other professionals can refer parents to Genesis and parents can also refer themselves. The Genesis team is based in the AVOW building in Egerton Street but a Parents Advisor is available to meet parents in or nearer their own home if required.

Speaking at the launch Councillor Arfon Jones, Lead Member for Children and Young People, said, ”I welcome the excellent news that the Welsh Assembly Government has secured European funding to continue the Genesis project in Wrexham which will build on the success of Genesis 1. The project will make a valuable contribution to the Council’s priorities of increasing skills for employment and also go a long way to alleviating child poverty in the County Borough”.


The Children’s Information Bureau (CIB) will continue to manage the Genesis project but will be changing its name to Wrexham Family Information Service (WFIS) this month.
To find out more information about Genesis Cymru Wales 2 in Wrexham and how to access the project please contact Wrexham Family Information Service (formerly Children’s Information Bureau) on 01978 292094

Friday, 24 October 2008

Fascism.

Having just returned from a week in Spain I was surprised that even 38 years after the death of the fascist dictator Franco and nearly 70 years after the end of the Spanish Civil War and the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Spain, that reminders of that era still exist and cause division.

We spent three days in the beatiful classical Spanish city of Segovia and a few miles down the road is Valles de los Caidos where Franco utilised thousands of Republican prisoners of war to build him and his fascist mentor Jose Antonio Rivera a massive mausoleum built deep into the rock and above it a massive Christian cross. The mausoleum itself was eerie and depressing with various granite statues reminiscent of statues in the communist USSR...ironic when one considers Franco's hatred of communism. The mausoleum itself is now being marketed as a memorial of all the dead of the Civil War (500,000) and 114,000 missing presumed murdered. This is not the case it is a memorial to a megalomaniac fascist dictator and his falangist supporters, the only connection with the republican dead is that they died building it under conditions of slavery.

We then visited the religious city of Avila closely connected with Santa Teresa (1515-82) one of Spain's patron saint and a pillar of Spanish Catholicism. So what is the connection with Franco...Santa Teresa's mummified hand was kept at Franco's bedside for the 36 years of his regime, it was only reinterred at the cathedral in Avila after his death. I find it hard to understand how a deeply religious man such as Franco can reconcile his abhorrent and cruel regime with a religion which supposedly practises love and tolerance.

Finally, whilst in Salamanca a fine Spanish city with the most beatiful of squares (Plaza Mayor), I happened to read a copy of the Spanish daily El Pais (to check my understanding of Spanish!!), my 'pigeon' Spanish was enough for me to understand that a Spanish Judge had odered and enquiry to 'murders' that were committed during the Franco regime (114,000) and they are currently opening mass graves in various localities in Spain. This enquiry has resulted in ongoing opposition from the 'Conservatives' in Spain.

This just goes to show the dangers arising from fascism and those that advocate hate are still present and I would ask readers to support Wrecsam Council's Allsorts campaign to combat race hate. For more information go to
www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/council/news/anti_race_hate.htm

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Caia allotments plan a step closer

Plans for allotments in the Caia area are a step closer with the formation of the CAIA COMMUNITY GARDENS ASSOCIATION in October. The association plans to establish individual and communal plots for the local community to use on the lower half of the field next to Pentre Gwyn Community Centre.

The allotments will be run by the plotholders themselves and funding is already going well - about half the cost of the fencing and water supply has already been met. Now fundraising events are planned to make up the rest. Once we're up and running, the annual rent from the plots will pay for upkeep, insurance and water rates.

There are more than 100 people on the Wrexham Council waiting list for allotments and a further 35 have put their names down for the Caia allotments.

If you want to put your name down for a plot - which measures 8m x 5m - and get involved in this new group of gardening enthusiasts (all amateurs but willing to learn!) please get in touch with Caia Community Gardens Association chairman Marc Jones on 01978 366 735, 07747 792 441 or e-mail marcvjones@gmail.com.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

New flats plan for Hightown criticised

This is a press release on yesterday's decision to permit even more flats in the Rivulet Road area of Hightown.

A developer's plans to build 40 flats on land next to a flood-risk zone have come under fire from a Wrexham councillor.

Councillors visited the Rivulet Road site in Wrexham on Friday (17 October) to see for themselves where the flats would be built.

Cllr Marc Jones, the Plaid Cymru councillor for the Whitegate ward, said: "I'm opposed to this scheme for a number of reasons and so are the residents of the area. Approving these 40 flats would mean that 112 new homes had been built or had planning consent to be built on Rivulet Road. Coupled with existing homes and businesses, this makes for an extremely short and congested stretch of road and will increase the congestion coming onto Derby Road. I believe that, despite improvements, this junction is a dangerous one for motorists and pedestrians."

He said residents of nearby St John's Road in Hightown had also raised concerns that the three- and four-storey apartment blocks would overlook their gardens and he also raised their concerns about subsidence as the plans meant digging into the steep bank linking St John's Road to Rivulet Road.

Cllr Jones added: "My main concern is that the planned site is next to a flood-risk zone. The flats already built opposite were actually built on the flood risk zone and had to be built on a raised bank. Even if these new flats have the same treatment, it only moves the flood risk further down the river Gwenfro.

"I am very concerned that there doesn't appear to have been a Flood Consequence Assessment carried out as required by the Environment Agency and, for that reason alone, I felt the plan should have been rejected. Rivulet Road has had flooding problems in the past and we shouldn't as a council risk making matters worse by approving schemes that haven't carried out the necessary surveys."

Opposition to the scheme also came from Smithfield councillor Keith Gregory, whose ward includes part of Rivulet Road.

Wrexham Council's planning committee was split 5-5 over the scheme, but the chairman's casting vote means it will go ahead subject to the Environment Agency being happy with the flood assessment.


I understand the developer is now selling the land (with planning permission) to a local Wrexham businessman.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Local Democracy Week

As part of Local Democracy Week a 'speed debating' session was held with Wrecsam's Youth Forum and Councillors at Gwersyllt Resource Centre. It was a good turnout from young people across the County Borough who posed questions to the 5 Councillors - The Leader, Cllr Aled Roberts, Cllr Joan Lowe, Cllr Jim Kelly, Cllr Barrie Price and myself. I found the experience stimulating and interesting and I very much hope the young people also gained from the experience and will subsequently get involved in politics. There is still much to do to engage young people in the political process and one of my responsibilities is for the Youth Parliament in Wrecsam. There is a parliament at present but it is very cumbersome and bureaucratic with about 120 members and is in need of reforming to make it more user friendly.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Caia Community Gardens

A good turnout at the Pentre Gwyn Community Centre to move the allotments project forward. All present agreed that we'd call ourselves the Caia Community Gardens Association and will have our inaugural AGM on Tuesday, 21 October. Everyone who wants to commit to working an allotment plot is welcome to attend.
The meeting heard from Cllr Marc Jones, of Whitegate, and Wrexham Council landscape officer Nicola Ellis about the project and how the allotments scheme would work in practice.
Cllr Jones said: "It was great to see a wide cross-section of the local community interested in the venture, especially as quite a few had opted to support Dean Saunders's first home game.
"We have to set up our own association to run the allotments and, once that's up and running, we can apply for grants from a wide variety of organisations. I'm confident that the people who've come forward to help can bring a wide range of expertise and enthusiasm to the project.
"In particular I want to thank everyone from the Pentre Gwyn and Tanycoed Tenants' Association for their generous support with this venture."
The project, which is designed to meet the demand for allotments in this part of Wrexham, also has the support of Wrexham Council.
A meeting will be held at the Pentre Gwyn Community Centre on Tuesday, 21 October at 7pm to elect a steering committee to push the scheme forward.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Child poverty shocker

The terrible news that a Wrexham ward has the highest child poverty figures in Wales should prompt a re-think about everything that's been done in our communities.
Queensway (87%) and Wynnstay (84%) in Caia were the worst figures, while Plas Madoc also registered 77%.

Carrie Harper, Plaid's councillor for Queensway, said: "A lot of money has gone into the area, over the last year especially. The key is how that's spent because we're not seeing the difference we should be seeing on the ground.

"Yale are bringing a new skills centre to the old Queens Park youth club, so there are some great opportunities coming up.

"As long as local people are given the opportunities to access them, it could be very positive, and hopefully those type of developments will mean that next time we won't be in this position."


The council has a responsibility to make sure that's the case - not with more money but with better targetting of resources to make sure it's reaching the right places.

How others see us

This report in the Guardian doesn't sound like the Wrecsam I know.
Would anyone with an inkling about Brynteg, Coedpoeth and Broughton describe them as "cute commuter villages"? Not communities, just places for Guardian readers to buy up a cottage.

The whole article was poorly researched and slap dash - a few random school reports included, a couple of villages namechecked and a few house prices mentioned. Lazy, metropolitan journalism that does nothing to show readers the real Wrecsam

One comment, allegedly from a Wrecsam resident, said: "The best thing about Wrexham is its vicinity to Chester. If you want smiling faces, quality shopping, good restaurants, historic buildings, interesting lectures, free parks and street theatre, you'll find yourself heading for Wrexham's illustrious neighbour on a regular basis."

Presumably these Chester wannabees are only putting up with us because of "house prices and council tax are low" (now there's something I don't hear very often but is true if you're coming at this from an English perspective).

The council is currently engaging in a branding strategy - perhaps it could start by educating journalists about the real Wrecsam.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Tory Hypocrisy

George Osborne the shadow Tory chanchellor of the exchequer calls for greater regulation of the financial services sector prevent the crisis that has occurred recently in the financial markets ...now this in itself is unusual a Tory calling for greater government intervention...whatever next?

It's a shame that David Cameron hadn't spoken to Osborne first before inviting wealthy donors to join his exclusive dining club and accepting over a million pounds into Conservative Party coffers from Hedge Fund Managers...yes those exact same people Osborne wants to regulate. These same Hedge Fund Managers are the ones that 'bet' on the price of HBOS and Bradford and Bingley falling and then raking in the millions when the banks fail. Talk about acting in our best economic interests!!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Spotlight on Gwersyllt.

Spotlight on Gwersyllt is a Labour Party Newsletter aimed at the residents of Gwersyllt, it comes out with some astounding statements like claiming the credit for the Gwersyllt Resource Centre, no mention of the European Urban II funding...oh, and incidentally, two Labour County Councillors for Gwersyllt failed to attend the official opening of the Centre...some support!!

Another item talks about Ian Lucas working so.....so hard for affordable housing, shame his 11 Labour colleagues on the County Council were that disinterested in affordable housing that they ALL failed to attend a member workshop on the subject last Tuesday, yet again Plaid Cymru had a 100% attendance. Affordable housing is likely to be one of the 3 Council Priorities and the only reason its there is because its been pushed by the 'coalition' with a big influence from Plaid Cymru...Labour nowhere to be seen.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Towards a more open council

Wrexham Council has agreed to another small step towards a more open and accountable system of government.
 At tonight's full council meeting, a Plaid Cymru initiative to allow citizens to present petitions to the council on matters of concern was accepted unanimously.
 This change in the constitution was proposed by Plaid's Executive Board member Cllr Arfon Jones and was taken up by the council's legal services department.
 This will allow people more direct access to the council rather than having to rely on councillors to raise issues on their behalf.
 
 Plaid also successfully challenged a move to keep part of tonight's agenda from the press and public when Cllr Marc Jones pointed out to the same department that there was nothing on the agenda that was private or confidential. The agenda item in question was duly heard without excluding the public.
 Plaid will continue to push for more public scrutiny of council decisions.
 

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Our Assembly

A recent survey of 2500 people in Wales indicate that 70% of the those polled favoured the Welsh Assembly and devolution, 39% wanted more powers and 31% wanted the powers to remain the same

At the same time, Gordon Brown addresses the North of Ireland Assembly promising full devolution with tax raising powers and control over Policing, what's good for Northern Ireland should apply to Wales, but will it? Not if our Unionist Labour MP's have anything to do with it.

The Assembly may not be perfect but what system of governance is? To make it better we must have more powers.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Caia allotments

A public meeting has been organised for everyone interested in new allotments in Caia Park. The meeting will take place at the Pentre Gwyn Community Centre on Abenbury Rd at 7pm on Tuesday, 7 October.

 Everyone's welcome to hear about the latest developments in our attempts to secure allotments for people in Caia.  Councillor Marc Jones and Wrexham Council's allotments officer Nicola Ellis will be there.

 Tea and coffee will be provided.

 PS This has taken longer than expected and there are still issues with funding. So just one question - how did Cllr Arfon Jones get his community gardens sorted so quickly?! 

Plaid Cymru leading the way on Social Justice

PRESS RELEASE - Bailiffs and Council Tax Collection.

Plaid Cymru Councillor express concerns over malpractice by bailiffs used by Wrexham Council to collect council tax arrears. Wrexham Council issued nearly 8,500 summonses in the last financial year for arrears, which is an increase of nearly 2,000 summonses from 2005/06. The Council released over 2,600 court orders to external bailiffs last year and some anecdotal evidence suggests that in a number of cases, bailiffs may have used dubious practises to obtain payments from local people, many of whom are vulnerable!
Councillor Arfon Jones, who is also a volunteer advisor with Wrexham & District Citizens Advice Bureau said,

"It is essential that council's do collect council tax to maintain service, but they do need to monitor, more closely, how bailiffs operate, through robust service level agreements to prevent malpractice and abuse.and I am not sure that this is happening at present."

Councillor Jones has carried out research locally on the extent of the problem, for example: (permission to quote this example has been approved by the Bureau).

"The numbers of clients coming in to Wrexham & District Citizens Advice Bureau for advice on council tax arrears has increased by approximately a third from last year, and from some of the cases, we have evidence of bailiffs bills on file, showing very high charges. Clients are claiming that bailiffs are trying to force entry and also appear to be subcontracting to other bailiffs."

Citizens Advice published a report in 2006, called 'Putting Bailiffs On the Spot" which called on the Government to legislate to regulate bailiffs because of evidence collected nationally of malpractice. This report said that two thirds of cases of bailiff harassment, reported to Bureau's nationally, concerned the collection of council tax. Councillor Jones will call on the Council's Finance and Scrutiny Committee to carry out a review of Council Tax collection, he goes on to say,

"It is important to the Council's credibility and reputation that they contract out this type of work to bailiffs who treat debtors with dignity, and respect. I believe that Councils should employ their own in house bailiffs like Denbighshire Council who also have the second highest rate of council tax collection in Wales whereas Wrexham is in 10th place"

Monday, 15 September 2008

Half a century of service

Plaid's annual conference in Aberystwyth has paid tribute to a Wrecsam man who has served the party for 50 years.

Dafydd Franklin Jones, of Borras, has done every job imaginable in the party and was described in the presentation as Plaid Cymru's "cornerstone" in Wrecsam. He has been the branch's secretary, chairman and fundraiser. He's been a candidate and agent at election time and is still among the first to volunteer for leafletting, canvassing or street activities.

Without his work during the lean times Plaid has faced, we would not have enjoyed such a breakthrough in May 2008.

After receiving his award from North Wales AM Janet Ryder, he thanked his wife Rene for her help and modestly said that it was the young people that he could see in the audience that were important not oldies like him.

Plaid Cymru members from Wrecsam were out in force on the day to make sure Dafydd realised how much he's respected by his fellow Pleidwyr. Llongyfarchiadau mawr i ti a diolch i ti am dy gyfraniad arbennig dros hanner canrif!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Plaid condemns outsourcing of council jobs

Tonight's Evening Leader carries a story about the outsourcing of council jobs. The council's official response fails to recognise that Cllr Carrie Harper was, in fact, a member of the scrutiny committee that considered the report by officers and made her feelings clear at that meeting.

The service that is now being derided as inadequate has actually been praised both in the council's own magazine ("Keep up the good work!") and by service users, who gave it a 99% satisfaction rate.

 Outsourcing is a pretty word for privatisation, made worse by outsourcing across the border in Chester. 

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Dafydd Iwan

Ail etholwyd Dafydd Iwan yn Llywydd Plaid Cymru heddiw ma, curodd Dafydd arweinnydd y blaid seneddol yn San Steffan sef Elfyn Llwyd AS Meirionnydd. Llongyfarchiadau i Dafydd oddiwrthym ni Gynghorwyr Plaid Cymru Wrecsam. Edrychwn ymlaen i ddatblygu y Blaid ar lawr gwlad ac yn arbennig cael mwy o aelodau.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Georgia on my mind

Neither Russia nor Georgia seem to have their hands clean over the war over South Ossetia. The Georgian army invaded the area, breaking an uneasy ceasefire with local rebels who have been covertly supported by Russia.

 Russia has responded with a massive show of military might and could go so far as to overthrow the Georgian president, who is seen as pro-US and therefore a threat on Russia's southern border.

 The US has responded to this by accusing Moscow of "resisting peace and wanting regime change."

 Ponder those words by a George Bush-led administration.

 This bitter little war is one of the unforeseen consequences of the Iraqi invasion back in 2003, which became an explicit "regime change" war after the lie over Weapons of Mass Destruction was exposed. Powerful states around the world now see they have the explicit right to invade and "regime change" any neighbour without the threat or sanction of international retaliation.

 

Monday, 4 August 2008

Is your boss a minimum wage cheat?

Nearly 800 firms in Wales have failed to pay workers the minimum wage - yet not one has been prosecuted for breaking the law.

 These shocking figures were unearthed by a Plaid Cymru AM's Freedom of Information request, which also revealed that none of the eight minimum wage inspectors covering Wales are based in the North.

 It's more than likely that this figure represents the tip of an iceberg, especially in areas like Wrecsam.

 So is your boss or ex-boss a minimum wage cheat? Are they failing to pay workers the minimum legal rate and therefore breaking the law?

 If so, Plaid Cymru in Wrecsam wants to hear from you. Contact us in complete confidence with details of the companies breaking this law.

 Anyone paying less than these rates is breaking the law:

16-17 yr olds: £3.40 (rising to £3.53 in October)
18-21 yr olds: £4.60 (£4.77)
22 and over: £5.52 (£5.73)

Contact plaidwrecsam [at] gmail.com or text 07747 792441 with your information.





 

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Turning water into wine?

Alun Ffred Jones was in an Italian supermarket when he got the call to become the new Heritage Minister. He said: "I was in the supermarket in Sorrento when Rhodri Morgan phoned me. I was busy buying wine and water."

 You suspect he's going to have to turn the water into wine to win over some sceptics on Welsh language issues. Pob lwc Ffred!

Rhodri Morgan.

Dwi ddim yn meddwl fod Rhodri M yn dda iawn...fe glywais i o yn siarad yn gyfarfod blynyddol AVOW (Mudiadau Gwirfoddol Wrecsam). Cychwynodd Rhodri ei araith drwy gymharu natur gwirfoddolwyr yn Wrecsam hefo Swydd Gaer...pobol Wrecsam yn ddosbarth gweithiol a phobol Caer yn broffesiynol ac o ddosbarthiadau canol ag uwch. Cymhariaeth anffafriol o Gymru i gymharu a Lloegr ond fy ngair i fasa 'nawddoglyd' i ddisgrifio' r araith. Disgwyl gwell gan arweinydd ein gwlad na cael ein disgrifio yn wlad eilradd i Lloegr. Fel bod hyna ddim yn ddigon mae Rhodri'n cael ei ddyfynnu yn y Daily Post heddiw yn disgrifio problemau Gordon Brown a cymharu yr amser hefo problemau Thatcher ai phoblogrwydd wedi rhyfel y Malvinas. Gofynnodd y newyddiadur iddo os oedd yn argymell mynd i ryfel in neud Gordon Brown yn fwy poblogaidd ond gwadu hyny nath Rhodri!! Dwi'n meddwl bod hi'n amser i'r hen Rhodri ymddeol cyn iddo neud mwy o ddrwg i Gymru...Allwn ni ddim aros!!

You couldn't make it up

From Newsnight Scotland, July 29

Lord George Foulkes (Labour): "The SNP are on a very dangerous tack at the moment. What they are doing is trying to build up a situation in Scotland where the services are manifestly better than south of the border in a number of areas."

Presenter: "Is that a bad thing?"

Lord George Foulkes: "No, but they are doing it deliberately."

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Reform of Planning Policy in Wales

Please see below a copy of a letter I have sent for publication to the Daily Post:

Dear Editor

The announcement that the Welsh Assembly will provide Planning Authorities in Wales (Extra cash to help local planning, Post July 26) with £250,000 is to be welcomed. It is however a shame that Mrs Davidson and her advisors are not announcing a 'root and branch' review of Planning Policy in Wales to ensure that planning decisions are made to meet local needs and demands and not to meet the demands of large developers whose only interest is to maximise their profits by converting large swathes of Wrexham County Borough Council into a 'concrete jungle, just because its easier to get planning consent inWrexham than in Chester. The massive increase in the building of unaffordable homes in Wrexham over the last 4 years has contributed to the 60% increase in house prices.

We in local authorities know what needs to be done but we cannot do it knowing that the Planning Inspectorate in Wales will probably allow any appeal against our decisions...the law needs changing now.

Friday, 25 July 2008

The SNP

Late night last night watching the result come in from Glasgow East, Labour's third safest seat in Scotland and they lose it to the SNP's John Mason by 365 votes or a massive 22% swing from Labour to the SNP. The Plaid Cymru group congratulate the SNP on this historic win which will take both our nations closer to greater self government. What happens now to Labour...do they panic and dump Gordon Brown, I don't think so because they haven't anyone to replace him. At this rate of demise I would even predict that Ian Lucas's would lose his seat...the only one likely to retain his seat in North Wales against such swings would be Mark Tami in Deeside.
Out with Lucas would be Betty Williams, Chris Ruane and Albert Owen, North Wales would be nearly a Labour free zone and Plaid Cymru would very likely pick up two of those four seats.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Lord George Brown

Some of you who are as or older than me will remember a certain minister in the Wilson government called George Brown who was well known to the demon drink and regularly 'put his foot in it' as a consequence of the drink. It would appear that some in the coalition in Cardiff may not have learnt the lesson that politics/ministerial responsibilities and drink just don't mix. I refer of course to our own, ex Heritage Minister, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, who 'resigned' from the Welsh Assembly Government...did he jump or was he pushed...we shall never know!! Poor old Rhodri has had a pretty torrid 12 months...spending lots of money keeping the Millenium Centre and the Botanical Gardens open, failing to support Y Byd, the first daily newspaper in Welsh, not doing much about establishing a Welsh Federal College etc, etc. The end must have been in sight a few weeks ago when Rhodri screwed up in spectacular style (Oh, I still cringe) with the book awards where he gave the runner up the first prize and then realised his mistake. Last day before the summer recess in the Assembly sounds like a day out on the pop with journalists in the Eli Jenkins pub in the Bay, where Rhodri seems to hit rock bottom, when he was asked to leave because he was smoking a cigar in the pub!! Now I smoke and I know just how conscious one is of being a smoker, you just do not light up in any building that is now ingrained into me. I just wonder why it wasn't ingrained into Rhodri or was he not capable of making rational decisions. Anyway that must have been the last straw for the RM and IWJ and Rhodri was off and us Gogs hope that his replacement will be non other than the highly regarded AM for Caernarfon, Alun Ffred Jones. If he is the new Heritage Minister...one word of caution, avoid getting drunk in the presence of Vaughan Roderick unless he wants to get hung out to dry on his blog like Rhodri Glyn Thomas was.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Glyndwr University - a new era for Wrecsam

The launch of Glyndwr University marks a new era for Wrecsam. This is not just a name change but a sea change, as the institution will now be able to award degrees and develop fully its research potential.
 Praise must go to vice principal Mike Scott and staff for the slog in getting University status for Wrecsam. He also deserves praise for his vision in naming the university after one of Wales's most dynamic figures - a rebel, a warrior, a man of letters and a polyglot who saw the need for universities in both north and south Wales 600 years ago.
 As First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "Sometimes it takes a while for manifesto promises to be realised".
 Criticism of the name change has been predictable. Some said nobody had heard of Glyndwr, which begged the question of who the hell had heard of NEWI? The University of Wrexham was the preferred choice of some but, as was made clear today, this is a university that will also have campuses at Northop and possibly in Denbighshire too. This is going to be a University of the North-east and will be a centre of excellence that will serve to strengthen our Welsh identity rather than opt for bland conformity.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Caia Park Environmental Open Day success

Caia Park Environmental Open Day braved the weather and was rewarded with a great day's entertainment at Gwenfro School. Congratulations must go to Dorothy and all the volunteers from the Caia Park Environmental Group who helped to make it such a success. 

It shows what can be done with a determined community effort. 

 The Bring and Take stall, where people can bring unwanted goods and take anything that they find useful, attracted many interested visitors - the kids in particular were delighted to get free toys. This is a scheme that's ahead of its time and I hope that Wrexham Council, among others, will take it more seriously than they have so far. 

 The only downside was that, at the end of the day, none of the rubbish could be recycled! Hopefully next year, as well as seeing Recycle with Michael we can actually do it in practice.
 

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Plaid "Runs Rings Round Labour"

Who said that? No it wasn't a Plaid Cymru politician it was none other than Don Touhig, Labour MP for Islwyn and former Welsh Office Minister. He is well known for his attacks on Plaid Cymru, one of the most anti of all Labour MP's. He opposed the One Wales Coalition and on its anniversary describes Plaid Cymru as running rings round Labour!! He goes on to describe his party as too dull...is there any future for Labour when its senior members describe it in such terms?

Monday, 7 July 2008

Gwersyllt News.

Yesterday we attended the Gwersyllt Community Council Civic Service at the Holy Trinity Church at Gwersyllt which was exceptionally well attended where the lessons were read by the Chair of the Community Council, Councillor June White and the Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths. Also present was Ian Lucas and his wife as well as the Mayor David Griffiths and his wife. Following the service light refreshments were provided at the Gwersyllt Workingmens Club. My thanks go to the Clerk of the Community Council, Keith Bryant for organising the event.

There are many initiatives ongoing in Gwersyllt presently: The Early Intervention Team (part of the Youth Offending Service) are working in conjunction with the Youth Services to introduce initiatives to divert young people away from crime and anti social behaviour. Part of this initiative is to work with the Housing Office and the Police to identify land that can be used as an allotment/community garden. Secondly, we are awaiting approval of our plans for environmental improvements, one of these is to improve the area around Derek's Minimarket on Wheatsheaf Lane. Personally I am looking to substantial improvements to Moss Road especially the area near the Livery Stables where the wall collapsed especially as there are children who walk along that road to school.

In addition to my ward work I am also lead member for Children and Young Persons (Additional Learning, Safeguarding and Support)...so that's where I'm off to now, a meeting with the Chief Officers.

Surgery Dates:
10th July, 11am to 1pm.
16th July, 2pm to 4pm.
Resource Centre, Second Avenue, Gwersyllt.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The BBC and Wales

However hard we try we just can't seem to get away from the Greater British State in the form of the BBC making fun of us. When was the last time the BBC National News actually reported sensibly or coherently about anything that went on in the Assembly or WAG? The answer is rarely. Last night Rhodri Glyn Thomas made the BBC national news for all the wrong reasons... announcing the wrong winner of the Book Prize in a ceremony. The poor runner up who was named the winner had got to the podium by the time Rhodri had realised his mistake...it made me cringe watching it on TV. It begs the question what idiot places the winner and the runner's up name on the same piece of paper in the same envelope. But the real point is the BBC nationally looking down their noses at us.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Y Cynghorydd Seimon Glyn.

Ar ol fy ngwyliau dwi'n dal i fyny hefo'r newyddion ag ar hyn o bryd yn darllen Golwg 5ed o Fehefin. A be sy'n cymeryd fy niddordeb i ydy y penawd, "Llais Gwynedd - angen i swyddogion dderbyn cyfrifoldeb." Dim ond Cynghorwr bach dibrofiad dwi ond er hyny dwi'n dal i sylweddoli mae swyddogaeth Cynghorwyr ydy craffu ar waith swyddogion, dyna pam fod gan Cyngor Sir Gwynedd pwyllgorau craffu. Felly dydy o ddim digon da i Seimon drio beio swyddogion am y ffiasgo ysgolion, mae swyddogion isio ag i fod i dderbyn arweiniad gwleidyddol ac os nad ydy'n nhw'n i gael o pwy ellith ei beio nhw am neud ei gorau hebddo fo. Mae'n amser i Gynghorwyr fel Seimon Glyn edrych ar ei diffyg arweiniad yn lle pasio'r bai ar swyddogion.

Getting things sorted

One common complaint about the council is that people get passed from pillar to post in trying to get things sorted. Councillors sometimes feel the same way!
If you've been frustrated in this way, give a new phone hotline called Streetscene a go. If you have a concern about your street or area, phone 01978 298989 and report it. I've used it and found that work is done the next day if the issue is pressing.
Constituents should also get in touch with their councillors of course and, if a service is working badly or well, let us know.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Llafur.

Mwy o newyddion drwg i Lafur, colli yn frawychus o ddrwg yn Henley sef hen sedd Boris J. Llafur yn dod yn bumed a thu ol i'r Blaid Werdd ar BNP. Pethau hefyd yn mynd o ddrwg i waeth yn y gogledd gyda Wendy Alexander yn ymddiswyddo o arweinyddiaeth Llafur yn llywodraeth yr Alban...newyddion da iawn i Alex Salmond dwi'n siwr a gwagle mawr yn rhengoedd Llafur gyda neb amlwg i gymeryd yr awennau. Hefyd mae aelod Llafur Dwyrain Glasgow yn mynd i roi'r gorau iddi oherwydd gwaeledd, felly is etholiad. Daeargryn fasa'r unig ddisgrifiad os fasa Llafur yn colli sedd mewn ardal mor ddosbarth gweithio a Dwyrain Glasgow. Hefyd mae'r bobol sydd wedi bod yn ariannu Llafur dros y blynyddoedd yn dechrau tynnu'n nol a sydd hefo'i dyled anferth yn gneud hi'n llawer anoddach iddy'n nhw ymgyrchu yn effeithiol...bechod de!!

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Some New Facts on Housing in Wrexham

Amongst items for discussion at the Executive Board on Tuesday is a report which contains the following (quote):

"It is 8 years since refuse rounds were last reviewed by WCBC. In the intervening years more than 4,000 properties have been built in the Wrexham area, including a number of housing estates with more than 100 new homes in each...

In the next 3 years it is expected that 2,700 residential properties will be constructed. Land availability actually allows for a total of 3,680 with 2,985 on large sites of more than 10 homes and 696 on small sites, but completions will depend on market conditions..."

And the last few words are the hub of the matter, why should young people who pay exorbitant rents in the private sector have to depend on 'market conditions' and more importantly why should actual homeless and threatened homeless people remain in that state whilst we depend on the 'free market.'

Undoubtedly my colleague Cllr Carrie Harper will raise these figures at the next Planning Policy Panel if they don't tally with the current Unitary Development Plan which runs until 2011...watch this space!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Affordable housing "the key to future council plans"

Affordable housing should be at the heart of any future council development plans in Wrecsam.
That's the view of Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper, who today challenged the council's draft Local Development Plan.
She said: "Our last Development Plan overshot its target for housing by 40% and house prices have trebled in the borough over the past 10 years. Wrecsam became a free-for-all for housing developers looking to make a quick buck and local people lost out as a result.
 "We need safeguards to ensure the housing targets are not overshot again."
The Queensway councillor added: "The next Local Development Plan is based on future migrations trends from the north-west of England into the area rather than local need for more affordable housing. So in fact the plan contains nothing 'local' at all."
Carrie Harper said she was disappointed that there seemed to be no alternatives being offered other than to simply continue the same failed policy of allowing more non-local development at the same rate as we've seen over recent years.
She added: "Other areas are using imaginative housing policies such as Community Land Trusts to develop alternative affordable housing. We don't think there's one simple answer to the problem but an imaginative range of policies, such as those adopted in Yorkshire and Powys, can go a long way to our over-reliance on simply building more and more houses."
Plaid councillors on the council are arguing that the Local Development Plan, which will plot the council's strategy until 2021, needs to avoid some of the errors made in the last plan.
 

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Repairs in Goodwood Close

One of the issues raised by voters when I was out canvassing were the holes in the roads and pavements on the Mytton estate off Abenbury Road. 
 
 After getting elected, I discovered that the roads were unadopted as the estate was so new and therefore not the responsibility of the council. However, the developer did have a bond to make good any repairs and in the past week has responded to my request for those repairs to be carried out.

 On the back of this, the council has also identified a problem with cracks in the road on another new estate in Whitegate - possibly due to subsidence. I'll be letting residents know of this potential problem and how they can make sure the developers of their estate have to make good any outstanding snagging or repairs under the council's bond agreement.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Environmental audit in Whitegate

On Wednesday, I joined the Streetscene coordinator Peter Dines, CMB Dave Sprowson and local residents on an environmental audit of the Pentregwyn area.

 Among the most pressing cases we identified was a dangerously crumbling wall behind Coed y Bryn, which the housing department are now aware of. It beggars belief that this has been allowed to deteriorate to such a state that it could easily fall on a child's head.

 There was also concern about a large pothole on the Queensway pavement caused by water forcing up through the pavement in heavy rain due to blocked drains. Thanks to Peter, the pothole was repaired (as it has been before) but this time the council has also unblocked the drains and is dealing with roots that are causing the underlying problem. All this was done within 24 hours, which shows that council officers can respond at speed when it's required.
  
 I'll be talking to the Housing manager for the area on Monday about the pressing need for more off-street parking on the estate and how far we can stretch the budget to improve things in the area.
 

Plaid councillors from Wrecsam, Denbighshire and Flintshire met with Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones in Rhuthun to discuss concerns over housing, transport and economic policies in North-east Wales.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

United front to save post offices

Councillors have called for a united front to save Wrecsam post offices from closing after the shock revelation that up to one in five could close.

Councillor Marc Jones, who represents Whitegate ward, said:"There are 43 post offices in the borough and Post Office management admits that they have a target of around 18%. In some consultation areas up to 22% gave gone - which means that up to nine could be axed in Wrecsam.

 "In many communities, post offices are the last village shop and losing them would be a terrible blow. Rather than politicians passing the buck on this, we need a united front of communities, trade unions and local politicians to fight the closure programme. We must ensure that as much business from both central government and local councils is permitted through the post office network."

He said the uncertainty was making life difficult for the people running the post offices. Cllr Jones said: "I was speaking to my local sub-post mistress last week and there is obviously a cloud hanging over these vital community assets. They cannot plan for the future and both they and their customers need that security.

"From July we'll know exactly which ones are threatened and that's when this united front will kick into action."

Wrecsam - a Labour town?

Wrecsam has been a Labour town since Robert Richards won the seat in 1922. Admittedly he promptly lost it in 1929 to the Liberals but won it back in 1935. Fans of political coincidence will enjoy the fact that the Liberal candidate was called Aled Roberts!
  On the surface then, we've had three-quarters of a century as a Labour Parliamentary stronghold, coupled with Labour's grip on the local council until 2005. 

 But a closer look reveals Labour's grasp has been slipping dramatically in recent times. Some of this has been internal Labour dissent and factionalism - Tom Ellis defecting to the SDP in 1981, the deselection of many old Labour councillors in the mid 80s, John Marek's deselection in 2003.
 
 Most notable however is the relentless downward trend of Labour council seats over the past 15 years:

1996 - 32 (out of 52)
2000 - 26
2004 - 19
2008 - 11

Labour emerged from the May elections as a marginalised, shell-shocked force on the council. The party's MP Ian Lucas faces a contest to keep his seat in the next Westminster election with resurgent Plaid taking seats in the Labour heartland.

Most interesting of all, Labour AM Lesley Griffiths faces an uphill struggle to keep her seat in 2011. She was elected last year with just 28.8% of the vote - the lowest percentage of all AMs. Given our unexpected (by everyone but us!) breakthrough in the local elections and the thousands of floating John Marek votes to play for, what price on Wrecsam turning to Plaid in three years?

Sunday, 1 June 2008

No Where Else To Dump The Clay...


This picture was taken earlier last week by one of the Hafod protesters as he walked around the Hafod landfill site. Imagine his surprise seeing MWH dumping even more earth on top of the bund on the Johnstown side of the landfill. Seeing the intrepid protester taking photographs, dumping suddenly stopped, and the following day the earth was removed off the bund, probably after a request from the Environment Agency. The landfill site is operated by adhering to conditions, one of which states how high the bund can be built up to. Thanks must go to protesters that survey the site daily to make sure all the site conditions are kept to. If the site was not checked on such a regular basis, then who knows what state the surrounding environment would be in.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

A lot more allotments!

There are 50 people on the waiting list for allotments in Wrecsam - and yet there are no allotments in the whole of Caia Park. At a time of soaring food prices, growing concerns over food miles and demand for organic produce, the healthy option of growing your own has never been more popular
 With this in mind, councillors Carrie Harper (Queensway) and Marc Jones (Whitegate) are launching a consultation to find out how many people in the area would like an allotment to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
 We're also keen to involve the local schools and Caia Park food cooperative to make sure a whole new generation grows up eating more healthy and organic food. And it's good exercise!
 If you want to know more about getting an allotment, get in touch on plaidwrecsam @ gmail.com.

UPDATE: After a piece in the Wxm Mail and Leader, we've had a great response so far from Caia and, interestingly, further afield. About a dozen new people have signed up for an allotment and a visit to the Caia Park Food Cooperative got an excellent response.
 If you want cheap fresh food, pop down to Kingsley Circle Community Centre every Tuesday morning 10-12am where you can buy a bag of veg or fruit for just £2.50.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Flexsys closure - new opportunities

North Wales Plaid AM Janet Ryder meets Dave Robinson, Gwilym Jones and Trevor Williams of the Unite union at Flexsys, Cefn Mawr, to discuss the future of the 160 workers there.
 These are well-paid skilled jobs that are once again being lost and we need a regeneration package for the local community as well as the workforce to ensure the site is cleaned up by the owners - it is a case of "polluter pays" and Cefn Mawr has had its share of that over the years.
 One interesting possibility is using the power plant on site - a Combined Heat and Power plant - to power new industries and the local community. This provides work for some of the workers and could be expanded with the use of a local power grid. The workers also had other ideas and initiatives that could be fed into a regeneration package.

Genny Bove

I can well understand Genny Bove's frustrations at being arrested on suspicion of theft of plastic garden chairs from the Local Authority's Recycling Site in Lodge, Brymbo. What better way to recycle!! far better than putting plastics with all their associated toxins in a landfill site. Genny also believes the Police were petty andthe investigation was a waste of time and resources...any rational individual would feel the same, but we are not talking of rational individuals we are talking of an irrational organisation like North Wales Police driven by individuals obsessed by statistics. Take Genny Bove's statistical return for North Wales Police:
  • 1 crime of theft recorded.
  • 1 crime of theft detected.
  • 1 arrest.
  • 1DNA taken.
  • 1 set of Fingerprints taken
  • 1 Drug test carried out.

...........all for plastic chairs whose ownership had been abandoned.

We should first of all ask ourselves whether this was a case in which Genny Bove should have been arrested...of course not, the Serious and Organised Crime Act only allows for arrest if certain criteria are met and those criteria are difficult to meet with minor offences. Secondly freedom from arrest is a fundamental freedom under the Human Rights Act and to exercise the right to arrest the Police should determine that arrest is both reasonable, necessary and proportionate, before exercising the power. I am however reluctant to criticise individual officers knowing full well that they are under an immense amount of pressure to improve crime detection figures. It is the North Wales Police and the Home Office that should be brought to book over this sad episode.

Y Cynghorydd Carrie Harper

I ddarllen portread o Carrie Harper prynwch Golwg (22ain o Fai)

Friday, 23 May 2008

Wrexham County Borough Council

On Wednesday the full Council reconvened after the Mayor Making Ceremony on Tuesday when Cllr David Griffiths was made Mayor for the coming year...we wish David and Denise well.

On Wednesday the Council re elected Cllrs Aled Roberts and Bob Dutton Leader and Deputy Leader respectively. On Thursday the Leader announced the 10 members of the Executive Board, 8 of whom have lead member responsibility (the remaining 2 are the Labour members of the politically balanced board but who no special responsibility). The Plaid Cymru group were given a seat on the Board and I'm grateful to my 3 colleagues for nominating me for that seat and I now lead with Cllr Aled Roberts on the Children and Young Persons portfolio. Joint responsibility for 40% of the Authority's budget is in indeed a daunting responsibility. I also serve on the Environmental Licensing Committee. Cllr Barrie Price is Co Chair of the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee as well as being a member of the Corporate Governance & Policy Scrutiny Committee and Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee.
Cllr Carrie Harper is a member of the Planning Committee and Social Affairs, Health and Housing Scrutiny Committee. Cllr Marc Jones is a member of the Planning Committee and the Children and Young Persons Scrutiny Committee. We are also members of other committees...too long to list. Suffice to say that the Plaid Cymru Group have ample opportunity to influence policy within the County Borough over the next 4 years.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Hen Fagi a'i chriw.

Dydy'r Gymru sydd ohoni yn le rhyfedd iawn deudwch... Delwedd tun o'r hen Fagi yn cael ei arddangos ochor yn ochor i Aneurin Bevan yn y Cynulliad...be nesa!! Nifer o aelodau'r Cynulliad yn gwrthwynebu ond mae'r "sosialydd cenedlaethol" Dafydd El yn cefnogi'r arddangosfa!! Yn bersonol dwi'n meddwl y dylsa ni fel Cymru edrych ymlaen a ddim yn ol i ddyddiau drwg 'rhen Fagi a'i chriw. Mae hyn run fatha a rhoi delwedd o Saddam yn ol i fyny yn Baghdad neu Stalin yn Moscow...anhygoel.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Police v The Home Secretary

The Police Federation Conference starts in Bournemouth tomorrow and Wednesday morning will see the keynote speeches by the Federation's chair Jan Berry and the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and this after Jacqui Smith renages on the decision of the Police Arbitration Tribunal decision to pay officers 2.5% backdated to 1st September 2007. It will be interesting to see how Conference reacts, will they give Smith the silent treatment or will they heckle her or even walk out... I doubt if they will jostle her as they did Roy Jenkins when he was Home Secretary in the late 1970's. You can be sure though that she won't receive a warm welcome not after the demonstration by 25,000 Police officers through London. We also await the result of the ballot for the right to strike and the result of the Judicial Review against Smith's decision in the High Court.

Closer to home the six Local Authorities in North Wales will need to make a decision as to who the 9 members of the North Wales Police Authority will be, the 9 need to be politically balanced and as a result of Labour losses across the region we could well see some long standing Labour Councillors fail to be returned to the authority. Could one casualty be Cllr Malcom King, Ex Chair of the Authority?

From a personal perspective and having served as a Police Officer in North Wales for over 30 years I have little time for the Police Authority, I just see them as weak and ineffectual and constantly failing to exercise control over the Chief Constable. To make the Police Authority more accountable we need to have them elected and not appointed.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Housing...How bad the situation really is!!

Here are some statistics which give you an indication of how bad the housing situation in Wales really is:

1. In 1981 there were 300,000 Council houses in Wales.

2. Now there are only 235,000 'social housing' units in Wales.

3. Since 1996 authorities have built 17,500 social housing units in Wales

4. Since 1996 authorities in Wales have SOLD 34,000 social housing units under the Right to buy/Right to Aquire schemes.

5. The Social Housing Grant for Wales in 2005 was £80 million and built 1113 housing units.

6. In 1992 the SHG was £174 million and built 5,200 homes.

The Assembly Government needs to get devolved authority to suspend the right to buy and also to double the Social Housing Grant. The situation needs drastic action.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Council overshoots housing target by 40%


The current slump in the local housing market highlights how we can't rely on the market to provide solutions to our housing needs. Just because developers are waiting to maximise their profits doesn't mean people should be forced to live in inadequate housing or worse.
 
 Plaid's own research in Wrecsam reveals that the council's own 1996-2011 Unitary Development Plan - its blueprint for development - estimated that 5775 dwellings would be provided between 1996 and 2011.

 But by April 2007 5887 homes - 112 more than the target - had already been built in the borough. In addition, a further 3824 have been granted planning permission to be built in the next five years. That's a staggering 40% more than the original plan.

 Was it worth the paper it was printed on?

 Developers have cashed in on Wrecsam over the past 10 years, leaving us with house prices that have trebled in 10 years and many people unable to afford to buy or rent. The next development plan for Wrecsam should reflect the needs of local people not the greed of housing developers.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Housing renewal grant house to be demolished

A house that received substantial housing grants from the council is to be demolished by its owner to make way for more flats.
 The St John's Road/Rutland area of Whitegate - a total of 200 homes - missed out on the Hightown Housing Renewal Area some years ago. Local residents were angry that similar streets had received the home improvements - and even angrier that one house on Kingsmills Road that had received grants is to be demolished by the owner!

 Councillor Marc Jones, of Plaid Cymru, took this matter up with the council on behalf of local residents during his election campaign. Officials confirmed the house had received grants more than five years ago and was now up for demolition. Officials said there was nothing they could do to recoup the grant due to the time lapse.

 Cllr Jones said: "Money is tight in most households as well as the council coffers. That's why we shouldn't be wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on improvements to houses that then get demolished. That money should have been paid back so that other homes could have benefited.

 "I will be urging the council to look again at its criteria for grants to ensure that we get value for money and a fair deal for everybody."
 

Hafod Quarry landfill site

This is the daily reality of the Hafod Quarry landfill site. For many residents of Ruabon, the stench is becoming unbearable and Plaid councillor Barrie Price will be taking forward the campaign against the continued tipping once in post.

Hafod Environmental Group are still hopeful that no further progress in the landfilling at Hafod will extend beyond the present limit of Phases A and B. The group believes there have been several breaches of EU legislation at the site, which if upheld by the Committee of Petitions in the European Parliament, could result in a substantial fine.
 The present modification order, which is with the Assembly's Planning Inspectorate, should also be restricted to Phases A and B.
 If the landfill is stopped at Phase B, then the remaining Phases C, D and E could in time be turned into a country park or something similar for use by the wider community.

Plaid in power in capital alliance

Plaid has today signed up to a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats in Cardiff. Unlike the coalition in Wrecsam, it's based on a signed agreement with the following highlights:

• A presumption against privatisation
• No PFI
• Developing Welsh-medium education
• Developing modern languages in primary schools
• Upgrading sports pitches
• A day's holiday for council staff on St David's Day

Plaid is also sharing power on Gwynedd, Caerffili, Swansea, Conwy, Denbigh and Ynys Môn councils - more than a third of Welsh councils.

Plaid Cymru yn y Glymblaid yn Wrecsam.

Mae'n falch ganddom gyhoeddi fod Grwp Plaid Cymru yn rhan o'r glymblaid sydd yn llywodraethu yng Nghyngor Wrecsam. Mae hyn yn golygu fydd un ohonom yn aelod o'r Bwrdd Gweithredol ac un arall yn gyd Gadeirydd un o'r Pwyllgorau. Fe fydd ganddom hefyd sedd ar y 5 Pwyllgor Scrwtineiddio a'r Pwyllogor Cynllunio a Thrwyddedu Amgylcheddol.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Democracy...Flintshire Style!!

I see from today's Daily Post that Flintshire have announced the team to run the council...its a coalition of Independent Alliance, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who share all the seats on the Executive Board. The Labour opposition with 22 Councillors get no Executive Board seats and there is no mention of where the solitary Plaid Cymru Councillor in Flintshire is? Seems that Flintshire, like Carmarthenshire have a serious democratic deficit in their system of governance where parties with large numbers of councillors do not get any seats on Executive Boards i.e Plaid Cymru with 30 councillors in Carmarthenshire get NO seats on the Executive whilst Labour with 11 Councillors get 3 seats...now where is the sense in that. The Assembly Government need to legislate so that Council's governing bodies are "POLITICALLY BALANCED"

Watch this space...Wrecsam County Borough Council should be making an announcement about their system of governance soon.............!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Democratiaeth yn Sir Gar.

Diddorol iawn oedd darllen Angharad Mair yn y "Wales on Sunday" ddoe am y glymblaid yn Sir Gaerfyrddin lle mae eu cyfansoddiad mor annemocrataidd lle mae clymblaid o 32 Annibynnol ag 11 Llafur yn cymeryd y 10 sedd ar Bwrdd Gweithredol (cabinet) o'r 10 sedd mae Llafur yn cymeryd 3 sedd yn y cabinet. Dydy 30 aelod o Blaid Cymru yn cael DIM seddi yn y Cabinet..mae hyn yn ddiffyg yn ein sustem o ddemocratiaeth a mae angen newid pethau fel fod pob grwp yn yr Awdurdod Lleol yn cael cynrychiolaeth ar y Bwrdd Gweithredol sef cydbwysedd gwleidyddol...ffordd llawer tecach sydd yn cael ei ddefnyddion can Gynghorau fel Wrecsam & Gwynedd.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Martyn Jones on the BNP.

Martyn Jones was recently quoted in the Evening Leader as follows:

"He said: "I am deeply concerned at the results for the BNP displayed in Wrexham last week. The fact that four of the five BNP candidates were able to stroll to victory unopposed is a stain on all political parties for failing to be awake to the reality of the situation, and for failing to put forward enough candidates accordingly."

We should all be concerned at this development but on the other hand if the Constituency Labour Party spent as much time preventing the BNP walking in unopposed on Coedpoeth Community Councils as they did to prevent me gaining a seat on Gwersyllt Community Council then perhaps the BNP would have endured more embarrassing defeats.

There are 17 seats on Gwersyllt Community Council and Labour slated 17 candidates, 15 of whom were standing as Labour and another 2 non aligned (but Labour)...in addition to myself Emlyn Phennah stood as an independent...we were both succesful with two long standing Labour Councillors being defeated...yet another kick in the teeth, I hear you say...will they never learn.

As a matter of interest three BNP Councillors on Colwyn Bay Town Council mysteriously resigned yesterday...anyone know what that's all about.

Not a good advert for democracy

Tonight's meeting of Caia Park Community Council was not a good advert for democracy. The council, which has an annual budget of a quarter of a million pounds and its own purpose-built offices, is currently split 7-7 between Labour and independents with one vacancy.
 Attempts to co-opt a Plaid Cymru member onto the council to fill that vacancy were rejected on the chair's casting vote, after Labour voted en bloc for a Labour community councillor who had just lost in the May 1 elections. Funny old world where you lose an election but still get back on the council!
 There was more squabbling over grant allocations that seem to be going disproportionately to one or two favoured projects. This is something I'll be looking at more closely so that all groups that need funding, especially voluntary groups in my ward, get their share. 
 It was only halfway through the ill-tempered meeting that councillors realised the Evening Leader had sent along a reporter - it'll be interesting to read her take on events.
 On a positive note, both myself and Councillor Carrie Harper had a warm welcome from the majority of the councillors present.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Evening Leader.

I must apologise for casting doubts on the impartiality of the Evening Leader...they published my letter today!!

Blog Cymraeg Cyntaf y Blaid yn Wrecsam!!

Rhaid i fi ddeud mae o'n deimlad rhyfedd ond braf i fod yn un o Gynghorwyr cyntaf Plaid Cymru yn Wrecsam ers 1991 a hyny ar yr hen Gyngor. Mae rhaid cymeradwyo staff Cyngor Sir Wrecsam am ein helpu a bod mor annwyl a ffeind wrthym a mae ambell i Gynghorwr wedi bod reit ffeind hefyd (na chwara teg mae y rhan fwyaf wedi bod yn gyfeillgar iawn) nawch chi byth gesio prun Blaid sydd wedi bod yn anifyr hefo ni...na dydy nhw ddim yn dysgu gwers. (Pwy arall ond Llafur!!)

Diwrnod yr etholiad paranoid braidd 'ron i'n teimlo er fy mod reit hyderus ynglyn ar canlyniad, ar rheswm dros fy paranoia roedd presenenoldeb 'big guns' Llafur yn Gorllewin Gwersyllt...mi ges i Ian Lucas yn canfasio dros fy ngwrthwynebydd ar beth bynnag dri diwrnod, ar olaf am tua 8 noson yr etholiad. Hefyd mi ges i Lesley Griffiths ar dyn sur (Swyddog y Wasg) yn hongian o gwmpas y gorsaf bleidleisio drwy dydd...na wnes i ddim cwyn ei bod yn canfasio tu allan i orsaf bleidleisio (mi 'nath Llafur gwyno fod gen i 2 teller...petty neu be?). Beth bynnag; fasa chi hefyd yn teimlo' n paranoid os fasa chi'n yn y sefyllfa fi...pam fi? mae na 51 o Gynghorwyr eraill yn Wrecsam...pam fy mod i yn derbyn y driniaeth? Hwyrach mi ddylswn ni deimlo'n fod ei presenoldeb yn arwydd o barch neu anrhydedd!

Erbyn rwan be di o bwys mi ennillais i o 412 i 271...cic arall i Lafur, fel mae nhw yn deud yn saesneg, "Labour are history"...hip, hip, hwre.........!!

Press Impartiality

Good Morning...and it is still a very good morning in Wrecsam!!
Dealing with the press is somewhat of an art. I sent a letter to the Evening Leader last Monday morning thanking the electorate of Gwersyllt West for their support and even going so far as thanking my opponent for a clean fight (something a lot of Councillors and Candidates didn't enjoy) and of course I thanked my predecessor Councillor Keith Hett who as a Labour member is something of an anomaly in the Wrecsam Constituency Labour Party...he's one of the 'very, very' few socialists in the party.

Anyway back to the Evening Leader and its impartiality, you can imagine what I thought when Alison Halford's letter had jumped the queue, now no problem with Alison but you would have thought that the electorate of Gwersyllt West were as deserving of being thanked as those of Ewloe...I'm still waiting for my letter to be published! I suppose I'll have to go round with the tannoy tonight.

If you've got any views on the impartiality of the media...feel free to 'have a go' we will try not to censor on this site!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

What the papers said

"Wrexham Labour group took a hammering at the elections losing nearly half their seats. For the first time since the unity authority was formed, Plaid Cymru has councillors - four in total who ousted four Labour candidates."
- Daily Post, 3.5.08

THE STRATEGIC BREAKTHROUGH IN WREXHAM SEATS WAS REMARKABLE
"Winning four seats in Wrexham - previously a Plaid-free zone - was seen as particularly important. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Plaid party leader) described it as "a remarkable achievement... the first strategic breakthrough in North-east Wales."
- Western Mail, 3.5.08

STEADY COURSE FOR PLAID
"Winning four seats in Wrexham is a considerable achievement in a town which tends to look north and east to Liverpool and Manchester rather than to the rest of Wales."
- Wales on Sunday, 4.5.08

PLAID BREAKTHROUGH AS LABOUR ENDURE ELECTION NIGHT DISASTER
"It was a historic day for Plaid Cymru at Wrexham's Memorial Hall as Labour suffered disastrous losses in the local council elections.
 "Gains in Ruabon, Gwersyllt West, Queensway and Whitegate mean Plaid is hoping it is now in a position to push through some of its own objectives.
 Marc Jones, the Plaid candidate for Whitegate, was the first winner to be announced. Speaking to the Evening Leader he said issues over affordable housing had contributed to the party's success and would be the key message they were taking into the council.
 "He said: 'It is a tremendous result as far as we're concerned... we have offered a radical alternative to the Lib Dems, Labour and Conservatives... people have to take us seriously now."
- Evening Leader, 5.5.08