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


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

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.