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.