Thursday, 31 December 2009

Jack Straw and the Police Vote

Iain Dale reckons that Jack Straw has lost the Police vote for Labour by describing them as being 'workshy and lazy.' If you listen to the actual conversation on Radio 4's Today at 08.40 hrs this morning Jack Straw doesn't say that Police Officers are lazy or workshy only that some of them prefer to be in the warmth of the Police Station and that he is not convinced by the overwork argument. I personally think that Jack Straw's comments are a sweeping generalisation of a Police service most of whose members joined to 'catch baddies' as my ex colleague Steve Jones describes them. Most Police Officers I know are totally frustrated by the bureaucracy and the performance culture within the service which results in larger and larger numbers of officers being taken from the frontline to work behind desks. I wonder where Jack will be tonight? Will he be walking the streets of Blackburn with a small contingent of Police Officers? I doubt it!

Simon Reed the General Secretary of the Police Federation explains the situation succintly and accurately:
"It wasn't police officers who brought in 3,000 new laws, it wasn't police officers who brought in a 30-page prosecution file and it wasn't police officers who brought in multiple forms and authorities to use a pair of binoculars," he said. "This was all done by politicians. Police officers are not the architects of bureaucracy, they and the public are the victims of it."

But what of Iain Dale's question, has Jack lost the Police vote for Labour?
From my own experience of the Police I think the answer is no, even in 1997 at Labour's high water mark I don't recall Police Officers being particularly enthused by Labour and I only recall one retired Police Officer entering politics on the Labour side and he wasn't particularly successful!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

National Trust's desperate bid to save face

by Cllr Carrie Harper

Youtube is currently showing this video about the National Trust's Erddig development near Wrecsam. The Trust proposes to build 223 houses on green space opposite the village of Rhostyllen. Only 55 of these houses will be affordable for local people and the new village has already been advertised by the Trust's agents as being in Rhostyllen, Cheshire.

Looking at this video and various updates to their website, it seems the Trust is desperate to regain credibility after overwhelming opposition to this new estate.
A referendum in Rhostyllen saw local people vote against the development by 2:1, it also saw a vote of no confidence in the community council at the time, chaired by a Mr John Droog, who also bravely stars in this latest PR epic.
To add insult to injury, 14,000 of the National Trust's members voted against the plan at the last annual general meeting. They would have won the vote too, had the then chairman Sir William Proby not waded in with an 8,000-strong block vote to prevent the motion from going through. The block vote is an odd interpretation of what most of us know as the democratic process and is deployed every year by the Chairman to ensure members are kept in line.

Obviously the National Trust doesn't mention the referendum or the AGM in this pretentious production. Nor do they mention several other important points, such as the fact that Erddig is the only National Trust property in the UK not to receive a penny from the Trust's annual operating budget of £350 million, or that admission fees, events and rents etc actually cover the day-to-day running cost of the house and the estate.
Trust bosses also don't mention their intention to sell off other parts of the estate - which was given to them in the 1970s by Philip Yorke - in the future for further development. The money they want from the planned new village is apparently for repairs that may or may not be needed in the future, but when I met them they couldn't give details as to what this money would be for or when it would be needed. They also couldn't justify the fact that the Trust's board refuses to commit any of their own substantial operating budget to the property, an estate that has been self-financing for the past 30 years.

My experience of the National Trust has been a huge disappointment. I expected to meet an ethical, responsible organisation committed to the environment, sustainability and to local communities.
Instead what I encountered was a self-important snobbish developer, ignorant of its original aims and hypocritical in the extreme. Watching this video I wonder what the Trust's founder Octavia Hill would make of the current organisation's behaviour. The National Trust's motto is 'Forever, for everyone' but, as this video shows, it seems in the 21st century you have to read the small print as far as the Trust is concerned.
With the latest Trust chairman Simon Jenkins describing Wrexham as "a dejected and desolate town", it looks as though their attitude isn't set to improve anytime soon.
The Trust's reputation has no doubt taken a hit because of local people from the 'dejected and desolate' town. No amount of violins can disguise the fact that this development is not for local people, is not sustainable and is not needed by anyone other than the National Trust, or should I say 'The National Dis-Trust' as described by our very own Squire of Erddig Philip Yorke.

For more information about the campaign against the Erddig development please visit www.Rhostyllen.com.


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Action to defend community pubs

Good to see someone taking action to tackle the very visible decline in our community pubs. I wonder if this dispute could save some local pubs in Wrecsam being squeezed to death by the pubcos?


Thousands of "tied tenants" in pubs across Britain will vote in the new year on whether to take industrial action to try to reduce the amount of money they pay to pubcos for beer.

The GMB union said that it was campaigning to secure cuts of £12,000 in payments to the pubcos, which lease thousands of pubs to landlords.

Pubcos are a group of pubs owned by a single company, such as Wetherspoons, Walkabout, All Bar One and the Eerie Pub Company.

There are an estimated 25,000 tied tenants of seven large property companies and the union claimed they were being charged up to double the wholesale price of beer.

The union said that landlords had to buy beer at a premium rate, claiming many were being forced to give up their job or were going bust.

GMB national officer for tied tenants Paul Maloney said: "In furtherance of the trade dispute in tied pubs, GMB will organise a nationwide official ballot in the new year to seek a mandate for official industrial action by tied tenant members in the industry.

"If members vote for action, pubs will lower prices to customers during the dispute.

"The aim of the action by the tied tenants is to secure negotiation with pubcos to achieve very substantial cuts in wholesale prices and a resolution to a wide range of grievances experienced by the tied tenants at the hands of the pubcos, middle managers and their agents."

The GMB said that an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report estimated that running a tied pub costs £12,000 more than a free house and pubcos were making millions of pounds in profits so could afford to charge lower wholesale prices.

Mr Maloney added that tied tenants had been badly let down by the competition authorities.

"GMB assessed the recent OFT report concluded that the average tied lessee is being overcharged by pubcos by around £12,000 per annum. The OFT position is that this is a trade dispute not a consumer matter," he said.

"Tied tenants need to look to their own strength to force a solution which, for 25,000 tied pubs, would cost £300 million per annum.

"In 2008, the top five pubcos made profits before interest and tax of £1,456m, so they can well afford to lower wholesale prices to stop the overcharging."

Monday, 28 December 2009

Name and shame Scrooge bosses

Scrooge bosses who refuse to pay overtime while charging a Christmas premium to customers should be named and shamed, according to Plaid Cymru councillor Arfon Jones.

Plaid's prospective parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam said he was concerned that some hotels and restaurants in the area were charging customers £60 per head upwards for Christmas lunches and dinners while only paying their staff plain ordinary time.

The Plaid Cymru councillor for Gwersyllt West is collecting evidence from hotels and restaurants and is calling on catering staff in the Wrecsam area to contact him in complete confidence to tell their story.

Cllr Arfon Jones said:

“It is despicable and unethical if hoteliers and restarateurs are charging customers an exorbitant price for Christmas dinner and then only paying minimum wage at ordinary time to their hardworking staff.”

Cllr Jones added:

“Many people who eat on these occasions believe they are paying a premium price because of increased staff costs, not to line the pockets of owners. The public need to know which hotels and restaurants are the Scrooges and which ones pay their staff a reasonable rate.

"We all like to be with our families at Christmas and, if people have to work, they have to be properly compensated for it.”

Cllr Jones said:

“I hope the workers being paid ordinary time on Christmas Day are in the minority. But I want to hear from catering staff who feel they have been exploited this Christmas but also to hear about those responsible employers who have paid their staff enhanced wages over the holiday period.”

Anyone with information should contact Councillor Jones in confidence on 07800 545716 or arfon55@btinternet.com

Kneel Kinnock

Neil Kinnock is a politician who has neither the grace or humility to retire quietly. In the Observer magazine he pontificates about the Murdoch press supporting Cameron, forgetting the 12 years of support Labour enjoyed from The Sun:

One fundamental to remember – and this applies certainly to the events of this autumn – is that the Murdochs always follow the money. If they think they will make money they will accommodate just about any movement in politics. I've always said that the day after they decide there's money to be made in the single market they will start to favour the Euro. That's part of their DNA.

That seems to sum up the Kinnocks rather well too.

Kinnock's left-wing rhetoric was abandoned the higher up the greasy pole he went in London. The Valleys boy took nine months to find a miners' picket line in his own constituency - perhaps because he was living in the Thames Valley by then. His leadership of Labour in opposition was characterised by the "prawn cocktail offensive" to convince a sceptical City that Labour would allow the bosses and bankers a free rein just like the Tories (and look how well that turned out).

He was fiercely anti-EU until offered a job as EU Commissioner. He was equally against the House of Lords until he was offered a peerage.

The only position he still holds to from the 70s is as an anti-devolutionist. Kinnock was an anti-devolution rebel in 1979 and sticks to the belief that the Welsh people are incapable of running their own affairs.


Balance Your Bobbies

What is ‘Balance Your Bobbies’?
Balance Your Bobbies is a fresh and innovative way for you, the public, to let us know what is important to you. Your responses inform your local Neighbourhood Policing Teams of key issues specific to your community, and by Balancing your Bobbies you will be able to inform your District Inspector where you believe his/her neighbourhood policing resources should be spent.

Check this website out, its a good way for everyone to express their views on what our Neighbourhood Policing Priorities should be. Since the 1st November 2009, only 33 people in the Wrecsam North District have used the system with a similar number in the Town district (36) but considerably more in the Wrecsam South District(61).

Please use the system, it's one of the ways to get the Police to prioritise what we want them them to!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Coming up on the rails

I'm not normally a betting man but these odds suggest Ladbroke's haven't visited Wrecsam recently:

Labour 1/2
Con 7/2
Lib Dems 4/1
Plaid 50/1

(Funny odds for a two-horse race (c) Lib Dems)

So a tenner it is on Arfon to win!

The last time I won with odds like that was Mac's Chariot at 33-1 at Aintree. Last race on the Grand National card and it paid for the whole day out.





What's the betting?

I wonder what the odd's are on March 25 as the election date following this report in today's Mirror.co.uk
Gordon Brown allies (whoever they may be) are reported as saying:
But Mr Brown's key allies have disclosed a March election is "simply not going to happen". They insist the PM is focusing his intention on May 6, which is "very much the favoured polling date".

They go on to say,
"Everything is geared up towards an election in May. Most of the gossip about a March date was spread by David Cameron and the Tories in a failed attempt to destabilise us."


One indication of when the general election will be is whether Labour will move a motion in the House for a writ to hold a by-election in Leicester North West following the sad and untimely death of David Taylor MP. The normal time scale for a by-election is 3 months but some have been shorter i.e A writ had been moved for the Crewe by-election before Gwyneth Dunwoody was buried. On the other hand the writ for the Glasgow North East by-election was delayed until after the summer recess, so it was nearly 6 months from the resignation of the Speaker of the House Michael Martin to the by-election on November 12. There are however different rules for vacancies that have been declared during a Parliamentary recess when two members can move the motion.

Personally I would be very surprised if a by-election would be held for Leicester North West; would Gordon Brown really want to risk a bad performance before a general election? As for the date, well frankly, anything attributed to Gordon Brown's allies must be treated with a healthy degree of skepticism, and if it was true would Labour really leak it to the Mirror rather than a newspaper with credibility.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Health Care in the US.

As one who has experienced health care in the United States I have been following the debate of greater health care coverage with some interest. The vote in the Senate on Christmas Eve was in fact an historical event of considerable proportion. Barack Obama is to be congratulated on his success in getting the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass these health care bills. It is 44 years since a Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson passed his Medicare and Medicaid bills to extend coverage to the old and unemployed, but this left many millions of uninsured low paid Americans still without coverage. Obama and Johnson succeeded where Harry Truman, John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton failed. Clinton tried to pass a comprehensive health care bill in his first year as President in 1992 but failed to get it through a Democratic controlled Congress in 1993.

The bill passed by the House of Representative is more comprehensive than that passed by the Senate, the House bill costs of $1 trillion over 10 years and extends coverage to 96% of the population whilst the Senate bill costs $871 billion over 10 years and extends coverage to 94% of the population. The hard task now is to reconcile both bills but the final bill will look more like the Senate than the House bill.

The vote in the Senate was along party lines with 60 in favour and 39 against anything less than 60 votes would have resulted in the Democrats not having sufficient votes to stop a Republican filibuster (delaying tactics). The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had to compromise to the end especially on abortion to get two wavering senators, Independant and ex Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman and Nebraska's conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, on board.

It will be a historical day when Obama signs this bill into law and perhaps to mark the occasion he should sign it at the Johnson family ranch in Texas's Hill Country with Lady Bird Johnson, the widow of LBJ. Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare and Medicaid bills at the home of President Harry S Truman in Independence, Missouri in 1965, even though Johnson had voted against Truman's health care bills in 1948.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

Dymuna Arfon, Marc, Carrie a Barrie Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i'w holl ddarllenwyr a chefnogwyr.

Arfon, Marc, Carrie and Barrie, would like to wish all their blog followers and supporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Naadelik looan na looan bletheu noweth (Cernyweg/Cornish)

Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat (Llydaweg/Breton)

Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa (Manaweg/Manx)

Nollaig Shona Duit (Gaeleg Iwerddon/Irish Gaelic)

Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ur! (Gaeleg Alban/Scottish Gaelic)

Bon nadal i feli any nou (Catalaneg/Cataluyninan)

Zorioneak eta urte Berri on (Basgeg/Basque)

The Season of Goodwill

This morning I went to an event at the Gwersyllt Community Resource Centre, also present was our esteemed Member of Parliament Ian Lucas and his wife. He appeared most uncomfortable and he most certainly kept his distance from me and they left having wished almost everybody else season's greetings except me; and there was I looking forward to wishing him a 'Nadolig Llawen' knowing what a staunch fan he is of all things Welsh.

Anyway this short blog is just an indication of how the campaign will go in Wrecsam and how petty and small minded some politicians are, clearly Mr Lucas has no goodwill towards his legitimate opponents at any time of the year, despite the fact I am one of his constituents. Will I lose any sleep at yet another snub by my MP? No I don't think so, I feel quite honoured that both he and Lesley Griffiths are spending so much time on my ward... Do Wrecsam Labour really see me as the threat?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Cynghorydd Llanwnda

Ddim yn aml dwi'n cael gymaint o bleser o ddarllen y Daily Post a gefais i bore ma, rhaid deud fod yr erthygl yn egluro sut ddaru y Cynghorydd Aeron M Jones o Lais Gwynedd ddod i bleidleisio yn erbyn ei Blaid ei hun yng Nghyfarfod y Cyngor ar y 10ed o Ragfyr yn chwerthinllyd; ac mi fasa hi wedi bod yn llawer gwell os fuasa fo heb ymateb o gwbwl na ymateb yn y ffordd y gwnaeth. Pwy sydd yn defnyddio'r esgus ei fod ond yn gallu gneud un peth ar y tro gan mai dyn ydy o! Mae'r erthygl heddiw wedi codi cwestiwn tyngedfenol, ydy pobol dda Llanwnda yn haeddu gwell? Ethol Aeron i'w cynrychioli wnaethant ddim i gyfiethu!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Enwau Cymreig

Os mae na un peth sydd yn fy ngwylltio i a hyny ydy enwau llefydd Cymreig yn cael ei seisnigeiddio, neu yn waeth eu newid i'r fath raddau bod ei hystyr wedi ei newid yn gyfangwbwl. Be yn union ydy'r cysylltiad rhwng Mochras a Shell Island neu Cwm Maethlon ag Happy Valley? Er chwilio a chwilio dwi eto i ddod ar draws cyfiethiad or gair 'happy' sydd yn meddwl maethlon! Os oes ganddo ni y broblem yma yn un o gadarnleoedd yr iaith ym Meirionnydd meddyliwch be di'r sefyllfa yng ngweddill Cymru?

Mae'r broblem yma hefyd yn ymestyn i stadau tai a strydoedd lle mae datblygwyr yn cael enwi nhw yn rywbeth mae nhw isio o fewn rhestr o bosibiliadau sydd gan y cyngor lleol. Dydy hyn yn gneud dim i'r Gymraeg weledol ac mae angen fwy o reoleiddio dros y math o enwau sydd yn cael ei defnyddio. Mae'r un peth yn ymestyn i ffermydd, lle mae nifer o'r hen enwau Cymraeg wedi ei colli yn llwyr. Mae angen i'r Cynulliad gyhoeddi cyngor i awdurdodau ar enwi strydoedd cyn i ni fynd i'r sefyllfa fel yng Ngwersyllt lle mae stad o dai gyda'r enw Saxon Park a strydoedd ynddi ar enwau Jutland Avenue, Norse Close, Dane Close ayb...Cymreig iawn!!

Hwyrach y dylsai y Cynulliad ddilyn arweiniad Hugo Chavez, arlywydd Venezuela sydd wedi penderfynu ar ei liwt ei hyn fod angen newid yr enw eingl americanaidd Angel Falls yn ol i'r enw brodorol, "Kerepakupai Meru." Ystyr y gair brodorol ydy 'rhaedr y dyfnderoedd.

Fe enwyd Angel Falls ar ol y peilot Americanaidd, Jimmy Angel a 'ddarganfyddodd' y rhaeadr yn 1932. Fel deudodd Hugo:
"How could we accept this idea that the falls were discovered by a guy who came from the United States in a plane?...Nobody should speak of Angel Falls any more. That is ours and was a long time before Angel ever got there"

Yn union!!

Monday, 21 December 2009

More ex Police PPC's.

Three of Plaid Cymru's Prospective Parliamentary Candidates are retired Police Officers of North Wales Police, Dylan Rees in Ynys Mon, Phil Edwards in Aberconwy and myself in Wrecsam. The Liberal Democrats have now decided to jump on the band wagon and selected ex Deputy Chief Constable, Bill Brereton as their PPC for Delyn to challenge David Hanson. I wonder if Ian Gunning another ex NWP officer and now Conservative Councillor on Denbighshire Council will be looking to join this 'exclusive' club!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

More Colonisation of North East Wales!

In this month's Total Politics magazine the question of elected Mayor's is discussed and as part of the debate Peter Kilfoyle the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton provides us with his flawed thinking on the matter:
Peter Kilfoyle, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, is campaigning for a directly elected mayor whose remit would extend beyond the city local authority, across a Liverpool 'city-region' - potentially incorporating Warrington, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Chester, Wrexham and Flintshire. He argues that the economic, communicative and cultural bonds that link these areas are stronger than the "rather arbitrary administrative boundaries in local government", and that this should be acknowledged in the structure of governance. "People in that role are democratically responsible to their own local electorate but not to the wider electorate. The wider electorate doesn't have a say on a council leader in one area who might be mishandling an area of the city-region's governance, so there's a democratic deficit." Kilfoyle, rightly or wrongly, sees the mayoral model as the remedy to this deficit."

I really am stuck for words here, I find it hard to describe how I feel without making a personal attack on Peter Kilfoyle. Who does he think he is? Is he just crass and insensitive or does he know what he's saying and is he being arrogant and condescending? Kilfoyle really needs to understand that he doesn't have a say over our constitutional settlement and he can campaign as long as he wants in Liverpool and Cheshire but he won't be imposing a Regional Mayor on Wrecsam and Flintshire.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Council's children's social care underfunded - Plaid

PRESS RELEASE

Children's social services in Wrecsam is underfunded and putting an unacceptable burden on workers in the frontline, says a leading councillor.

Plaid Cymru Councillor and Lead Member for Children and Young People on wrecsam Council Arfon Jones has expressed his concern over the historical underfunding for Childrens social services and how increased awareness of child protection after the death of Baby P has led to a massively increased demand on the department. Cllr Jones said:
"This has led to social workers carrying a very heavy workload. The situation has been made worse by the requirement to make 3% efficiency savings on a 9.6 million budget, which equates to 300,000 at a time when there was nearly a 1 million overspend at the end of the last financial year.


Much of this budget overspend is as a result of placing the most needy or challenging looked-after children in expensive private sector placements outside the area. A great deal of work is currently ongoing to bring these children back within the authority but costs are still spiralling. One child in such a placement can cost up to 200,000 a year with 24-hour care.

Cllr Jones said:
Childrens social services in Wrecsam have historically been underfunded compared to other authorities in Wales. For example Carmarthenshire, which has a similar structure to wrecsam spent 415 per child last year compared to Wrecsams 322 per head. If Wrecsam spent 415 per child that would mean the Childrens social services budget should be 12.5 million, which is 3 million more than it is at present."


The largest part of a Childrens social services budget goes towards looking after children taken into care and there has been an increase of 120% of children taken into care in the second quarter of this year compared to the second quarter of last year. The number of children whose names have been included on the Child Protection Register has increased by 34% and the number of referrals by other agencies to Social Services has increased by 20%. Whilst Wrecsam had 426 child in need cases open last year this had increased to 605 by the same date this year.

Cllr Jones added:
Social workers in Wrecsam are doing excellent work under a difficult situation and this is acknowledged by the Inspectorate, but we cannot expect them to constantly meet the increasing demands without additional staff and resources. All social workers have a recommended workload and many of them carry a much higher workload and this is having an impact on the timeliness of intervention.


Wrecsam Council have approved a Recovery Board to look for savings. Cllr Jones, who sits on this Project Board, said:
It's proving very difficult to find savings in a budget that was nearly a million pounds overspent last year, the priority is to try not to impact on front line services and even then it's difficult with some senior councillors not buying in to the process.

"What is needed is an appropriate budget settlement. Failure to do this will send the wrong message out, a message that Wrecsam doesnt see the protection of our children as a priority.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Resist rail job cuts



Hundreds of early-morning travellers to and from Wrexham's main train station were greeted by a protest picket of railworkers concerned that job cuts will put people's lives at risk.

Trade unionists from the RMT rail union and the North Wales Shop Stewards Network distributed leaflets at Wrexham General Station this morning in protest at plans by Network Rail to cut up to a third of the track maintenance workforce locally.

The move is part of an overall scheme by Network Rail to cut 1500 jobs, including 100 in Wales. The reduced Wrexham workforce is also being moved from Wrexham to Chester.

The picket was organised by the RMT rail union and supported by local trade unionists. A spokesman for the North Wales Shop Stewards Network said: "Cutting track maintenance workers means compromising on safety. Network Rail have learned nothing from the terrible incidents at Hatfield and Potters Bar, where poor maintenance contributed to lethal crashes. Losing a third of the workforce localy will mean a return to those days.

"For the sake of passenger safety, we cannot allow that to happen and that's why we're fully behind the RMT's campaign to safeguard local jobs and maintain the track crews here in Wrexham.

"We're also concerned that the investment put in by the Assembly Government in Wrexham is being undermined by Network Rail, which is planning to move all the track maintenance crews to Chester. This will actually cost Network Rail more money."

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Rail cuts cost lives


The RMT rail union will be out in force at railway stations tomorrow (17 December) to launch the "Rail Cuts Cost Lives" campaign against 1500 threatened Network Rail maintenance job losses. Railworkers in Wrecsam will be among those protesting, not least because Network Rail wants to move the maintenance crews out of town to Chester and reduce their numbers.

It's estimated that 100 of the jobs under threat are in Wales.

RMT members will be leafleting outside the town's main station explaining that the threatened jobs cull on the tracks will compromise safety and take us back to exactly the kind of shambolic maintenance conditions that led to the horrific disasters at Paddington, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Grayrigg.

The Network Rail maintenance cuts are driven by money and a dash for billions of pounds of savings at a time when there is increasing demand for rail travel.

RMT members are already reporting cuts and backlogs in the frequency of track, signals, overhead lines and level crossing inspections and the union is compiling a dossier of evidence of the potentially lethal impact as the cuts programme begins to bite.

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said:

"Network Rail are taking a reckless and cash-driven gamble on rail safety just at the time when we need to be expanding services. When the public realise that important standards are being compromised in the dash for job cuts we know that they will sign up to the RMT's campaign and that's why we are taking our message out to the station forecourts. "The proposes axing of 1500 rail maintenance jobs will have a devastating impact and will be felt right across the UK. This cuts programme must be stopped before we have another disaster on the tracks."


John Tilley, RMT Regional Organiser North West & Eire Region:

"Network rail are playing Russian roulette with frontline rail safety, they seem to have learnt nothing from the reckless mistakes of their predecessor Railtrack. You cannot take out 1500 safety critical rail maintenance jobs, and expect for it to not have an impact on track safety. Independent reports into serious rail accidents at Potters Bar, Hatfield and Grayrigg have all pointed to systematic management failings and unrealistic workloads. It beggars belief that Network Rail can be even contemplating such proposals. RMT will be demanding that politicians in Wales bring this company to its senses and demand an immediate moratorium on these job losses."


Join RMT members and other trade unionists showing solidarity outside Wrecsam Station at 7am handing out postcards to rail users.

Cyngor Cymuned Gwersyllt

Penderfynodd Cyngor Cymuned Gwersyllt neithiwr i roi £15,000 tuag at y gronfa leol Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Wrecsam 2011. Hoffwn ddiolch i'm cyd Gynghorwyr am ei haelioni ac yn arbennig i'm cyd Gyngorwyr Sirol am ddangos arweiniad a chefnogaeth i'r Wyl. Gobeithio yn fawr fydd Cynghorau Cymuned eraill Sir Wrecsam mor hael ei cefnogaeth.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Martyn Jones MP really needs to visit his constituency more often.

It seems he's put a press release out calling for free prescriptions for his constituents in Clwyd South:

Mr Jones says "I'm concerned about the number of people with long-term conditions in my constituency who may be choosing to go without vital medicines as a result of the recession and the rising costs of fuel and other bills. Gordon Brown was right to promise free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions, but he must now follow through and implement this promise as soon as possible."

The only problem is that his constituents live in Wales and already get free prescriptions. No doubt the generic Labour HQ press release didn't point out to Labour MPs that it only applied to England.

Luckily Jones retires next year so will not need to worry about keeping up with the news.

Market forces


Wrexham has been known as a market town since the Middle Ages and its remaining markets remain important to the town's economic wellbeing.
That's why Plaid councillors Marc Jones and Carrie Harper have been delighted to try to help traders during these difficult economic times.
There are three markets in Wrexham. The Butchers' Market is a lovely covered Victorian building with a beautiful entrance from the High Street and, as the name suggests, an emphasis on quality local food. It also has an antiques shop and other hidden treasures.
The cosy and intimate General Market next door was, until the war, known as the Butter Market but rationing put paid to that speciality. It now houses a diverse mix of traders including the long-established Anwar's clothes stall. This too is in a beautiful red-brick Victorian building.
The largest market is the People's Market, which has been at its current site on Chester St for 20 years, sells a wide variety of goods and is home to the town's only Welsh-language specialist store, Siop y Siswrn.
The development of Eagles Meadow means that the markets are now only a stone's throw from the new shopping centre and provide a natural and covered link from the town's main shopping streets to Eagles Meadow. Traders have also benefitted from a parking agreement with the new shopping centre and are actively marketing themselves as being 45 seconds from Eagles Meadow on foot!
Wrexham without its markets is unthinkable and that's why Plaid councillors will continue to work with the traders and Wrexham Council's market team to improve the markets with better publicity, marketing and signage.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Catalonia - A Self Assured Nation.

Congratulations to those Catalonians that went out to vote in favour of greater autonomy and a voice in Europe yesterday, it was an emphatic Yes vote albeit on a low turnout and it's a shame the result won't be binding on the Spanish state.

What this shows is the self assuredness and self confidence of a people proud to be called Catalans. This is something I think we in Wales are missing and particularly so when I read the comments of those Welsh defeatists and apologists like Stonemason and Noah Sembly.
It is not just Catalan politicians that promote Catalan autonomy or independence it is also their civic leaders like Joan Laporto the Chairman of Barcelona Football Club who in supporting the Yes vote said:
"Catalonia is dying, they are killing it and we must react...No Catalan can accept the fiscal pillaging that we are suffering nor the attacks on the rights and freedoms of Catalonia."

With the exception of the Archbishop of Wales what other civic leader do we have who would come out and defend Wales in similar terms?

To win a referendum convincingly we need to get these civic leaders on board.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Berlusconi


I wonder what the elder statesman of Italian politics did to deserve this or shouldn't we ask! Send your sympathies to Mr Blair to convey to his best friend.

Odious Odey

Crispin Odey is a Hedge Fund Manager and runs Odey Asset Management. Crispin is to pay himself £30 million, "after his firm made a fortune betting on the near collapse of the UK banking system last year" Believe it or not Odey will escape the one off windfall tax on bonuses as it does not apply to Hedge fund managers...another Alistair Darling loophole I suppose !

Odey admits that he was seen as 'one of the bad boys' for short selling Bradford and Bingley shares. So here we have yet another example of individuals being allowed to use dubious financial instruments to undermine banks that we then have to bail out!

What really bugs me with this lot is that they just don't seem to get it, they don't realise that they are part of the problem and not the solution. Odey's Chief Executive exemplifies the attitude when he tries to argue the difference between hedge fund managers and bankers, "We are aligned to the interests of our clients a third of whom are UK Pension Funds"...well really is that so, how many ordinary punters can safely say they are happy with their pension pot?

The Chief Executive then goes on to warn us what will happen if we don't let him and his mates do what they want and continue to rip us off, "The UK should not deny success. Wealth generation is part of our economy and if we deny that we will become a communist state."! The only people who are in denial of reality are the Hedge Fund Managers themselves.

Source - Sunday Times (Business)

No Economies of Scale!

On the 1st October 2009, the six North Wales Local Health Boards were amalgamated with the other three NHS Trusts to create one pan North Wales NHS Trust the Betsi Cadwalader University NHS Trust. Now one would have thought that there would have been considerable cost savings following these amalgamations especially voluntary redundancies, early retirements etc. It would appear however that this is not the case and HT to Miss Wagstaff Presents for bringing this matter to our notice.
Must go and pen a letter to Michael Williams, Chair of the BCU Trust or perhaps a letter to the Daily Post will have more impact!

Tiger Woods takes advantage of our libel laws.

I have written previously here and here on libel laws in the UK and the need for reform of these antiquated repressive laws. Tiger Woods is the latest foreign resident to get an injunction out in UK courts to prevent UK media outlets further reporting on Woods's personal life. Lawyers describe this latest controversy as 'unbelievable.' Gavin Millar a QC commenting in the Guardian says,
"Woods would not have got an injunction like this in America. Privacy law is weaker in America than it is her."

Given that there is an injunction against UK based media outlets I wonder if Guido Fawkes is aware of something the rest of us are not or is he just sticking two fingers up at the injunction for the sake of free speech?. He is either being very silly or very courageous, but whichever way it is I hope he has the resources behind him to defend any action!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Tory jitters

Iain Dale may be a Tory but he's not a blind loyalist. And he's honest enough to point a truth that is inescapable to any by-election watcher: The Tories are doing incredibly badly in local elections at the moment.

Jonathan Isaby has posted last night's local election results on ConservativeHome and described them as "disappointing". Indeed. Ok, you might think, what do a the results of a few council by-elections matter? And in some ways you'd be right. But these results are not isolated. There have been many similar results over the last few weeks. Invariably, Conservative vote shares are down and the party seems to be losing more seats in by-elections than it gains. Clearly, there can be peculiar local circumstances at play, but in seats like Wyre Forest, Tavistock and Weymouth & Portland (all parliamentary marginals), the Conservative should be gaining seats not losing them.

Anyone got any light to shed?


At a time when Brown's government is universally disliked and ridiculed, the Tories are unable to benefit either in the real polls or the opinion polls.

There's no doubt the Tories are getting jittery because the deal isn't sealed. This is clearly the case in England. In Wales and Scotland, they're coming from such a low base that some advance is almost inevitable. But here too, there is no appetite either for the Old Etonians who dominate the Tory front benches nor for the agenda of faster, deeper cuts they advocate.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Oscar and the law!

I don't really want to go back and talk about Oscar but I don't think we should ever forget the way he treated his staff, and still does! Being a bit of an employment law 'anorak' I have given this matter some considerable thought.

First of all, Oscar's staff have probably been employed by him since some time in 2007 when Oscar was first elected; this means that they have been employed for over 2 years which gives them full employment protection. The second question is, what is their employment status now? As far as I can see they are still employed by Oscar, they haven't been consulted about redundancy and they haven't received a letter dismissing them... so keep turning up for work, and if he stops paying you, you probably have a claim to Employment Tribunal for 'Unlawful deduction from earnings.'

Thirdly, we have the prospect of redundancy which is a form of dismissal which is lawful but only if certain conditions apply i.e. their job ceases to exist. Now you could argue that that is the case here; but has it?, Oscar is still an AM and he still needs staff so the job still exists! When making some one redundant the employer needs to consult with employees and needs to follow the ACAS Code of Practice. Failure to follow and comply with ACAS guidelines allows a Tribunal to increase an award for compensation by 25%. Therefore the chances are that any attempt at making the staff redundant could amount to unfair dismissal. Oscar may be in breach of the code of practice.

Fourthly, what would staff be entitled to? As a minimum those employed since 2007 would get 1 week's pay for each year of service (more if over 42 yrs), 1 week's notice for every year of service or pay in lieu of notice, holiday pay and of course pay for sitting round waiting for Oscar to decide which is the least expensive option for him! All this will be increased by Employment Tribunal but don't expect too much, compensation awards will depend on 'loss' to the individual rather than compensation as such.

Next steps should be to speak to ACAS and then seek detailed advice from their Union's legal team or Citizens Advice Bureau, who will probably advise staff to submit a joint grievance letter against their treatment by Oscar. Sooner or later staff will probably have to accept they have been dismissed and at that point should submit a joint letter to Oscar appealing against the dismissal. Staff should not delay submitting a form ET1 (Claim to Employment Tribunal), they have 3 months from the relevant date which I suggest is 3 months from the date that Oscar defected.

People like Oscar shouldn't be allowed to treat their employees in such a manner, so go for it!

WARNING - This is not definiative legal advice these are just my thoughts on a situation of which I am not fully aware of the facts or any individual's personal circumstances.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Underfunding or Overspending...decide for yourself

I have been Lead Member for Children and Young People in Wrecsam County Borough Council for just over 18 months and most of my time is spent attending meetings to try and get the Safeguarding and Support budget in line. This budget has historically been overspent or in my view underfunded, but how do I prove its an underfunding and not overspending? Perhaps the best way is to compare budgets with similar authorities but there is a big problem; most Local Authorities have one Social Services Department covering both Adult and Children Social Care and to try and disaggregate the budgets is not an exact science. In Wrecsam we have an Integrated Children's Services and a separate Adult Social Care Department, so its nigh impossible to reliably compare, say Flintshire's spend on Children's Social Care and Wrecsam's. One of the few authorities in Wales who have an Integrated Children's Services like Wrecsam is Sir Gar (Carmarthenshire). A comparison of funding between Wrecsam and Sir Gar on Children's Social Care revealed some surprises:

Sir Gar's Children's Social Care Budget 2008/09 £15,685,697
Wrecsam CBC Children's Social Care Budget 2008/09 £ 9,675,845.

Population 0-18 yrs Sir Gar 37,772
Population 0-18 yrs Wrecsam 29,984

Overspend Sir Gar, 2008/09 £424,747
Overspend Wrecsam 2008/09 £930,000

Budget per head of population 0-18 Sir Gar £415.
Budget per head of population 0-18 Wrecsam £322.

Clearly this is not the whole story what I haven't done is compare Sir Gar and Wrecsam's total budget for 2008/09 and calculate it per head but I doubt if its this wide; which points towards a historical underfunding of Children's Social Care in Wrecsam.

Leader opinion poll - 55% want greater devolution

It's not often a Wrexham Leader headline makes the heart skip a beat but today's did. It features a bold proclamation: "Make us a real nation" and an exclusive poll showing 55% support greater law-making powers for Wales.
The poll by NWN Media centred on North-east Wales, where support for devolution in 1999 was relatively low. Despite low numbers, the straw poll makes for interesting reading with even Flintshire coming out 38-32% in favour with the rest undecided.
Figures for Montgomery were 70-30 in favour of greater powers (good news for Heledd Fychan!) but Rhyl voters were equally enthusiastic.
The Leader readers polled had interesting anecdotes to relate. One had benefitted from WAG's ReAct package after being made redundancy: "I have since retrained and got another job so devolution has worked for me".
The coming referendum on Assembly powers will disappoint many because it does not go far enough. Many of those questioned for the Leader wanted Scottish-style powers and that will not be the case this time round.
Carwyn Jones and other AMs have got the endorsement of the most devo-sceptic part of Wales to go much further than Hain's mealy--mouthed Government of Wales Act 2006. Let's go for it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

'Outrage' as new quango takes control over Welsh energy and water schemes

A new unelected public body has been slammed for the undemocratic way it dictates key areas of Welsh life such as new nuclear power stations, windfarms and reservoirs. The new Infrastructure Planning Commission set up by the UK Government is "a body blow for democracy in Wales" according to Plaid Cymru councillors. From 2010 the IPC will dictate “nationally significant infrastructure projects” across Wales and England. The commission has no jurisdiction in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The new commission will be able to completely bypass the local planning process and locate developments where it sees fit. Despite the fact that half the projects currently under consideration are located in Wales, there is no Welsh representation on the commission and the Assembly has no say in its decisions.

Plaid Cymru Councillor Carrie Harper said: "Wales already suffers from a democratic deficit. Our Assembly has far weaker powers than Scotland, Northern Ireland and even the Isle of Man. The Infrastructure Planning Commission is yet another example of how to stamp all over the democratic process and exclude local input, it's an outrage. I wonder how many local people in North Wales have heard about this new outfit and been told about the implications it will have for the local area?

"Yet again we're kept out of the loop but will no doubt be expected to put up with the consequences of these developments. Given previous experiences of forced resource grabs, I think this is something we should all be seriously concerned about. I'm disgusted at the way in which our communities are excluded from various decision-making processes at all levels."

Councillor Arfon Jones, Plaid's candidate for Wrexham in the coming General Election, added:
"It seems devolution is something that happens to other countries. This is another disturbing example of how Wales, unlike Scotland or Northern Ireland, is unable to make decisions on key issues such as energy and other major planning issues. Clearly we in Wales cannot be trusted to make decisions around our own natural resources. This is just another expensive Quango which excuses ministers from making difficult and unpopular decisions.”

Five of the first 10 projects that the IPC is considering are in Wales - four windfarms and the proposal to build a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey.


Cllr Jones added:
“This unelected quango could also be the body that will make the decisions whether a 1500-capacity prison comes to Wrexham and they will make their decision irrespective of the views of councillors or members of the public.”



Monday, 7 December 2009

Shenanigins!!

A lot has been written recently about a referendum for greater powers for Wales and a referendum on independence for Scotland but what happens after a succesful referendum? Will the Westminster government roll over and accept it or will that be the time the 'shenanigins' really start; just like the Serbs are doing to the Kosovars (Euractiv)
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has today (1 December) started to examine the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence, which is contested by Serbia. The judgment could tip Kosovo's future towards full international recognition or push it back under the auspices of the Serbian state.

Will the 'shenanigins' be more intense depending whether its the Tories or Labour that are in power in London, I suppose it will also depend a lot where our beloved David TC Davies MP is by then!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Devolution? What devolution?

It seems devolution is something that happens to other countries. This critical report provides another disturbing example of how Wales, unlike Scotland or the North of Ireland, is unable to make decisions on key issues such as energy and other major planning issues. Instead a body of unelected "great and good" called the INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING COMMISSION will decide on our behalf.

Yet, despite four of its first nine planning applications dealing directly with Wales, it appears that there are no members of this commission from Wales.

Here is the Wales Times take on things:

INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING COMMISSION
Few of you will have heard of this new organisation so I strongly suggest you read on, not least because you’ll be hearing a lot more of this outfit in future, and it doesn’t look good for Wales.

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) has been set up by the London Government to ease through “nationally significant infrastructure projects”; in other words, projects deemed so important that opposition can not be tolerated. For once approved by the IPC it's done and dusted. The new body serves two masters. On the one hand, politicians are relieved of any responsibilities for unpopular projects, while private companies and other developers can – with IPC approval – push those projects through without having to worry about planning applications, public enquiries and all the rest of that democratic nonsense.

The IPC has just published a list of the first nine projects seeking approval in Wales and England. (The IPC has no powers in Scotland or Northern Ireland.) Four of them are in Wales. All are wind farms in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. Now you may be ambivalent about wind turbines, even supportive, but think on . . . Among the projects covered by the IPC’s remit is reservoirs. So in a few years time we could be facing another Tryweryn because the IPC decides that a new reservoir in Wales to serve an English conurbation is a “nationally significant infrastructure” project.

If almost half of its projects are to be in Wales then you might assume that there will be a strong Welsh presence on the IPC. Well, you’d be wrong. There will be 20 – 30 Commissioners but at the time of writing none will be Welsh. Yet in December 2007 the London government promised that 2 – 3 of the Commissioners would be appointed by the Welsh Assembly. Now the London government has admitted that all the Commissioners will be appointed before the Assembly is even consulted! Worse, it appears that the Welsh Assembly Government has agreed to this!

The ‘consolation prize’ according to Ceredigion Liberal MP, Mark Williams – after meeting with IPC chair, Sir Michael Pitt – is that WAG will get to pick the ‘most Welsh’ from those appointed. (Whatever the hell that means.) Given past experiences we can expect to be ‘represented’ by someone whose granny once spent a weekend in Aberystwyth; another who was taught in school by Mr. Evans; and a third who owns a corgi. This is 21st century colonialism. And those useless bastards down in our Notional Assembly have agreed to it!

But look on the bright side. The IPC website offers a Welsh language service. England may still be riding roughshod over us, still treating our homeland as a colony, but at least you can read about it in Welsh! Hurrah! another victory for devolution! Yet more ‘respect’ for the language and those who speak it!

Come back Franz Kafka, for only you could do justice to the asylum that is Wales and the cowards and lunatics that claim to be running it.

The Government of Wales Act 2006 also made clear that water was an issue that would not be devolved to the Assembly. So direct rule applies for sensitive issues such as energy and water, despite their obvious importance for us in Wales. Does anyone else see a pattern emerging here?

Police Fiddling Figures.

Now its always been very easy to make accusations that senior Police Officers have been fiddling crime figures and I've always known myself that it went on but proving it has always been very difficult especially as the 'goal posts' would always be moved every few years therefore making comparisons very difficult. I was therefore very pleased to see this article in today's Sunday Telegraph which proves what we've always suspected, that police statistics have and are being manipulated. This is what Denis O'Connor HMI Constabulary said in his official report,
"published an official report into the way police record violent crime and admitted the figures may be skewed by "perverse incentives" around government performance targets"

This is a terrible indictement on a government who has held up Performance Management and bonuses as a way of improving public services when in fact it encourages unethical behaviour, and is a corrupting influence on public services.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Benefit Claimant Data

Following this report in the Daily Post I decided to have a look at the benefit claimant data for Wrecsam County over the last 18 months or so.

In May 2008 there were 1,730 JobSeeker Allowance claimants in Wrecsam and by October 2009 that figure had nearly doubled to 3,446 but the increase has slowed down since May 2009 when it was 3,260. Many reports on these headline figures will naturally blame these increases on recession and lost jobs but this is not the whole picture. Take for example the Incapacity and Employment Support Allowance claimant figures for Wrecsam; in May 2008 there were 7,270 claimants and in May 2009, there were 7,030 IB/ESA claimants, the figures for October/November haven't been published as yet but I would predict that they will continue downward. Any reduction in IB/ESA claimants normally suggest that that reduction means that those claimants have been decreed fit and available for work following their 'personal capability assessment' and if there is no work available they will go on Jobseekers Allowance thus accounting for some of the increase in those figures (approx 15%).

The total benefit claimant count for Wrecsam between May 2008 and May 2009 has increased by 11% from 13,240 to 14,660. Economic activity figures for Wrecsam for similar periods (April to March 08 and 09) show similar trends. In 2008/09 there was an increase of 1,200 in the economically active population whilst there was a decrease of 1,000 in the economically inactive population, this again indicates a movement from sickness benefits to availability for work and Job Seekers Allowance.

In concluding I would suggest a word of caution in accepting JobSeeker Allowance figures on face value whilst much of the increase is undoubtedly down to the recession and job losses some of it is also down to manipulation of benefit claimants and the infamous Purnell reforms of Incapacity Benefit in late 2007.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Nant Silyn and council cutbacks

On Wednesday, Wrecsam Council's Social Affairs, Health and Housing scrutiny committee will be discussing plans to cut the day care and respite care at Nant Silyn, a council-run home in Caia Park. As well as these two services, primarily for elderly people with dementia, Nant Silyn also has residential care.
Once I heard about the proposal to cut day care services in Nant Silyn, I and Cllr Keith Gregory visited the centre to find out the implications for ourselves. What is obvious is that cutting day care services would make the whole centre unviable and more than likely lead to closure of the entire site.
The centre provides the best care possible and the issue seems based solely on cost cutting.
We also visited Deva House and Caia Park Day Centre, which also care for the elderly, as these had been cited as being able to make up the difference if day care facilities were axed.
It became apparent from talking to staff and residents that Nant Silyn provides a completely different service. Proposals to move patients to Plas yn Rhos in Rhosllannerchrugog would mean a significantly longer journey for many patients and take the service out of the town.
It also flies in the face of evidence that the elderly population is growing dramatically and that there will be an increased demand for such facilities. So much so that there are a number of plans on the table for private homes to care for the elderly in the borough. Coincidence?
Both Cllr Mike Morris and myself argued against this proposed cut in a recent council budget meeting and succeeded in getting it postponed subject to a scrutiny meeting. That meeting will determine the viability of Nant Silyn before it goes for final approval before the Executive Board. The cut, if made, would save £100,000 a year.
This is all part of the council's need to find £5m in savings in the coming financial year, but I do not accept that cutting a frontline service like this is the best way to make those savings. I will continue to oppose any cut in service at Nant Silyn because of the quality of service provided.
Officers looking to make up the difference will ask 'what do you propose to cut in place of this?' and it's a fair question that all councillors have to take on board. Given that £5m is about 2.5% of the council's annual budget, perhaps it makes more sense to decide what we want to maintain as services and work back from that.
The people who know where real savings can be made are council workers working in frontline services. I wonder to what extent they have been consulted in reality when some of them are approaching us to say proposals for cuts that wouldn't see a diminution in service are ignored by their superiors.
Councillors are not being given those options - we're told "cut this or find something else to cut".

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Deficit in Local Democracy.

Wrexham Council has an Executive Board of 10 members who make most decisions other than those that the Constitution states must be made by Full Council i.e the budget. The Executive Board is as expected well attended. Most reports that come to the Executive Board for a decision have also, supposedly been scrutinised and challenged by one of the five Scrutiny Committees who then make recommendations to the Executive Board and/or Full Council. Members of the Executive Board cannot also be members of any Scrutiny Committee but they can attend as observers and contribute to any debate.

My concerns around the democratic deficit arises from a Joint Meeting of Social Affairs, Health and Housing SC and Children and Young People's SC held on Monday 30th November 2009, to discuss matters of Adult and Children's Social Care and the Annual Reporting Framework, a matter of some considerable importance where there was a need for challenge. Unfortunately out of the 26 members of both committees only 7 members were present and although those 7 together with 3 Lead Members did challenge officers it does show that there is the potential with poor attendance for important matters to get through the democratic process without proper scrutiny or challenge.

I am not using this as a political point scoring exercise as ALL parties can improve their attendance, some more than others; and I don't doubt that the timing of the meeting at 10.30am on Monday morning did nothing to improve attendance especially for those members who work. There were also some on holidays.

To improve attendance at Scrutiny Committees I would be looking at changing the times of the meetings, but there again times to suit those working will not suit those with child care issues. Secondly I would look to publish Attendance records which would give voters an opportunity to see how well they were being served. Thirdly I would advocate a sanction of reducing a member's allowance if they failed to attend meetings without good reason.

Would really appreciate views from other Welsh Local Authorities.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Stat Porn


Dyma ni ein hystadegau am y chwe mis cyntaf o ddefnyddio Google Analytics. Dros 20,000 o dudalennau wedi ei darllen, dros 13,000 o ymwelwyr a dros 6,000 or ymwelwyr yny yn rai newydd.

Mae gweld cynifer o ymwelwyr yn darllen be sydd ganddo ni i'w ddweud yn codi'n hyder ac yn ein hysgogi i gario'n mlaen. Diolch yn fawr...a na ddim cystadleuaeth rhyngddo ni a Blog Menai ydy hyn. Ryda ni ddim yn gallu sgwennu nagos mor ddadleuol a mae Blog Menai yn ei neud!!

Plas Madoc Communities First... The Latest.

Readers will recall an earlier blog on this subject following BBC Radio Wales's EYE ON WALES which highlighted concerns about the management of Plas Madoc Communities First. The Daily Post reported yesterday that a joint WAG/Welsh Audit Office investigation had decided to suspend the Chief Executive and the Finance Officer whilst their investigation continued. Despite being in receipt of the same information for a number of days I had decided against publishing it as I believed that if the investigation went to a criminal investigation then the publishing of names etc would be subject of subjudice laws and may be prejudicial to a subsequent fair trial. Clearly lawyers for the Daily Post don't consider this to be the case.

This development however does put Wrecsam County Borough Council in somewhat of a predicament in the requirement that any funding bids for Communities Next monies will probably need the support of the council. With the investigation ongoing how will bid assessors in Merthyr consider these bids especially as some of them will be by Plas Madoc Communities First. This ongoing investigation may well hamper Caia, Hightown and Broughton's ability to get Communities Next funding.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Not a good week for the SNP

On the day that Alex Salmond and the SNP publish their white paper on a referendum a poll in the Sunday Times shows that only 20% of Scots want independendence. The SNP are unlikely to get cross party support now following the unmasking of a blogger who allegedly spread false allegations against opposition parties in Scotland. Mark McLachlan was aide to SNP Constitutional Minister Michael Russell and was forced to resign following his unmasking and is no longer a member of the SNP. Opposition leaders are calling for Alex Salmond to apologise to Parliament for Mr McLachlan's internet campaign. Mr McLachlan blogged anonymously as the Universality of Cheese and the pseudonym of Montague Burton. For the full story go to the Times Online and SNP Tactical Voting.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Michael Barnier.

Never heard of him! Neither had I till yesterday. Well he's the new Commisssioner for the Internal Market at the European Commission and he's a former French Foreign Minister. Now Mr Barnier has some wide ranging powers to 'regulate financial markets'and this has really upset senior City of London sources, one of whom was quoted as saying,
"This is a disaster. They have appointed an incredibly prescriptive French politician who is hardline protectionist. He doesn't care about Britain. This is a job which is critical to Britain, for the city and it goes to the French."

Mr Barnier has been quoted as saying in the past that the global food crisis was caused by "too much free market liberalism."
Can't see much that Mr Barnier says up to now that I disagree with. Was it not after all a lack of regulation that allowed Hedge Fund Manager to bet on bank shares falling which was partly responsible for the banking crisis and which led to us having to bail out our banks?.

Personally speaking, if Mr Barnier wants to place more regulations on Banks and financial institutions in this country than that is fine with me and long overdue. These senior sources within the City of London are responsible for the banking crisis with their greed and irresponsible behaviour. They cannot be trusted not to get us into the same mess again; the only way to stop it is greater regulation of the financial markets.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Fine Line between UKIP and the BNP!

We of the left have always known that there is a very fine line between UKIP and BNP, which is the reason why we describe UKIP as 'BNP lite.' It is therefore pleasing to see the new leader of UKIP, the expelled ex Tory peer, Lord Pearson, confirm that fine line distinction between the two parties in an interview with the Politics Show last Sunday:
Pearson: “Immigration is probably the biggest issue outside the south east of England, and the people have been treated incredibly badly by their political class.”

Interviewer: “So is there a danger that you could be confused – UKIP and the BNP?”

Pearson: “We’ve got to be very careful, erm, especially in this area of immigration, erm, that we cannot be confused with the.. the BNP – I… I accept that. There’s a fine line to be drawn here, erm… But I would also want to bring up…”

Interviewer: “I’m sorry, but are you saying that there’s a fine line between UKIP and the BNP?”

Pearson: “Well, I don’t actually know, erm, the intimate detail of… of the BNP policy. What we would be aiming for is zero net increase, erm, in immigration. So obviously we’re… we welcom asylum seekers, we welcome people of all colours and everything, and in that we’re completely different, erm… t-to the BNP. But we think the prospect of the population moving towards 70 million, erm… you know, within 20 years or so is very worrying. Sharia Law, erm… Islamic law is running in this country in fact, erm, in many areas, which is completely unacceptable if it becomes superior to British law.”

The Lord Pearson is not exactly well known for his tolerance and understanding of other cultures, he was after all responsible for inviting the ultra right wing anti Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders into the UK to show his racist film in the House Lords. It was so controversial that even the Uk Government refused to allow Wilders entry into the country.

It very much looks like Lord Pearson's election is likely to split UKIP as these comments from Councillor Alan Wood, a leadership challenger testify:
Interviewer: “Do you respect Lord Pearson?”

Wood: “No I don’t. I think he’s totally off the wall with his remarks about Muslims and Sharia Law, and for that I can’t respect him”

Inteviewer
: “Are you saying that if he’s elected people will think that you’re too close to the BNP?”

Wood: “Yes, yes. People already think we are the BNP. Erm… It’s tragic. It’s tragic that we’ve been painted into this corner.”

Interviewer: “And so if he’s elected, you’re leaving, you’re off?”

Wood: “I cannot stay with Lord Pearson, with those views, and I don’t think he’s the right man.”

Source and Acknowledgement: Nosemonkey's Eutopia

Any bets on the future of UKIP?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Letter to the Daily Post - Peter Hain.

Letter sent to the Daily Post and the Leader today.

Dear Editor,

What is Peter Hain for? He’s not for Wales that’s for sure. In a week where he has attempted to undermine the One Wales Coalition Government by going back on Labour’s word to hold a referendum which came close to destroying the coalition between Plaid Cymru and Labour.
Secondly Hain chooses to ignore the main platform of Gerald Holtham’s recommendation on the Barnett formula which everyone accepts has served Wales poorly over the last 30 years. Hain is quite happy to go with a funding structure that sees every man, woman and child in Wales lose out on £2900 over the next decade. The only time Hain will intervene is if Wales is disproportionately disadvantaged…well by all social indicators Wales is disproportionately disadvantaged and that is what Gerald Holtham’s report is trying to rectify.

His performance in this last week shows that our Colonial Secretary is totally out of touch not only with the people of Wales but also with Welsh politicians and he is now well past his sell buy date. Gordon Brown should appoint a Secretary of State who has empathy with Wales and its problems and not someone who spends his time disrupting good governance in Wales.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jonathan Edwards

Llongyfarchiadau i Jonathan Edwards ar gael ei ddewis i ymladd sedd Dwyrain Caerfyddin a Dinefwr yn dilyn penderfyniad Adam Price i sefyll i lawr. Colled fawr ar ei ol yn Cyngor ar Bopeth.

The Northop By Election.

Results of the Northop Byelection:

Paul Ashley, (Welsh Conservatives) 280

Marion Bateman, (Independent.) 343

Robert Mackey, (Welsh Liberal Democrats.) 187

Ken Molyneux, (Independent.) 227

Linda Pierce, (Labour) 197.

The result in Northop in May 2008 was:

Mel Higham (Independent) 910 (69%)

Linda Pierce (Labour) 403 (31%)

Turnout was 54.3%

Difficult to draw any conclusions from this by election except that Labour's proportion of the vote halved from 31% to 16%, which is not good news for the local MP, David Hanson.

Amser i'r Toffees rhannu cae efo Lerpwl

Un o'r digwyddiadau mwya' cyffrous i mi gofio yn fachgen saith oed oedd pan aeth dad a fi i Goodison Park i weld Everton am y tro cynta'. Roedd Goodison Park dan ei sang, y swn yn fyddarol a'r hen stand pren ar y Bullens Road yn gwegian. Pob tro wnaeth EFC sgorio nath pawb sefyll - mi sgoriodd Joe Royle hattrick ac mi gurodd Everton Southampton o 6-2. Weles i fawr ddim ond ro'n i'n ffan.
Mi ges i'r un wefr wrth fynd a'r mab hyna' yna pan oedd o'n saith oed - curo Newcastle 2-0. Cenhedlaeth newydd yn hooked ar y Toffeemen.
Mae Goodison Park yn le sbeshal - yng nghanol tai teras y ddinas. Doeddwn i ddim o blaid symud y clwb allan o Lerpwl a rhaid dweud mod i'n falch i'r cais fethu.
Un peth amdani rwan, os ydan ni am gystadlu efo'r pedwar mawr (a Man City), ydi mynd ati i rannu stadiwm efo Lerpwl yn Stanley Park.
Mae'n gneud synwyr economaidd ac mae'n cadw'r clwb yn agos at ei gwreiddiau. Gall y ddau set o gefnogwyr fwynhau stadiwm werth chweil fel sy'n gyffredin i glybiau mawr eraill yn Ewrop. Heb hyn, clwb canol y tabl fydd Everton byth bythoedd.
Ond mi fydd na le yn y stadiwm newydd ar gyfer atgofion am hat-trick Joe Royle, gol derby Graeme Sharp ac athrylith di-siap Neville Southall.

Lib Dem Propaganda



Whatever the Lib Dems publish contains this little graph which is in effect an outright deception, whilst the figures themselves are right the context is totally wrong. Yes these were the total votes cast for the parties in Wrecsam County Borough Council wards that fall within Wrecsam Westminster Constituency in the 2008 council elections. But what these figures don't tell the reader is that there were 27 contests in the constituency in 2008, Labour fought 26 contests and won 6 seats, the Lib Dems fought 20 of the contests and won 10 seats, Conservatives fought 5 contests and won 2 seats and Plaid Cymru fought 4 contests and won 3 seats. The proportion of votes cast for each party in the SEATS WHICH THEY CONTESTED was as follows:

Labour 35%
Lib Dems 45%
Conservatives 49%
Plaid Cymru 43%

Another misleading statement on this little graph is the claim that that was the result last time. Now the 2008 Council Election wasn't the last time an election was held but rather it was the 2009 European Elections but the Lib Dems won't want to remind us of that one will they! But I will:

Conservatives 3199 22.4%
Labour 2712 19%
Lib Dems 2078 14.6%
UKIP 2037 14.2%
Plaid Cymru 1972 13.8%
Others 16%

Do I need say more about this blatant propganda? The only people the Lib Dems are fooling are themselves.