Monday, 29 December 2008
Saturday, 27 December 2008
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
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.
Arfon, Marc, Carrie & Barrie.
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Saturday, 20 December 2008
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
Friday, 12 December 2008
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
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.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
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.
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
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'
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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07747 792 441.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
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!!
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!!
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...!!
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
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
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 email@example.com.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
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
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
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
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.
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
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
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
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
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
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
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
Monday, 4 August 2008
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Monday, 28 July 2008
Sunday, 27 July 2008
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
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
Friday, 18 July 2008
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Monday, 7 July 2008
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.
10th July, 11am to 1pm.
16th July, 2pm to 4pm.
Resource Centre, Second Avenue, Gwersyllt.
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
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
Saturday, 28 June 2008
"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
Sunday, 15 June 2008
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Sunday, 1 June 2008
Thursday, 29 May 2008
Monday, 26 May 2008
- 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.
Friday, 23 May 2008
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
Monday, 19 May 2008
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
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
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.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Watch this space...Wrecsam County Borough Council should be making an announcement about their system of governance soon.............!
Monday, 12 May 2008
Friday, 9 May 2008
"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.
Thursday, 8 May 2008
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.........!!
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!