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”

: “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.

Bad news for MPs

It appears my MPs recent "parliamentary report" may be his last if this report is accurate. Ending this propaganda exercise would save £6 million at once.

Marked Private and Confidential, a letter has been sent out to MPs by the head of their operations in the Commons that ends another expenses scandal - the highly controversial £10,000 a year communications allowance.

The Tory Party in particular has complained that this allowance favours sitting MPs because it provides taxpayers' money to send out to voters newsletters, flyers, and other propaganda masquerading as petitions or surveys.

The Mole hears the Members Estimates Committee has decided radical pruning of the allowance is in order, and Labour MPs who have most to lose are likely to be furious. Some expenditure will still be allowed on minor items, such as surgery posters, but the deluge of junk mail the MPs normally send out is banned from the New Year.

A letter signed by Terry Bird, Director of Operations at the Commons, bluntly tells MPs that from January 1 they cannot use the communications allowance to produce and distribute newsletters, targeted letters, petitions, surveys and Parliamentary reports.

"In other words a ban on anything that can be put through the letterbox," says Bird. MPs are also banned from purchasing office and other equipment unless it is really essential and they will no longer be reimbursed for employing geeks to produce flashy websites.

Of course, the MPs' junk mail may go straight in the bin in most households. However, many MPs are convinced that it does play a vital role in boosting their name recognition when the voters reach the ballot booth and face a plethora of names to vote for.

Meanwhile the Tories are planning now on the assumption that Gordon Brown will opt for a general election in March to avoid the embarrassment of seeing the economy turn down again, which could blow a hole in his claims to be the one who rescued Britain from economic meltdown.

That will mean shelving the Spring Budget, but it would hardly matter if Brown can go to the country promising hope in continued recovery. He also intends to exploit the differences emerging between David Cameron and George Osborne, his inexperienced Shadow Chancellor, who is beginning to look more and more vulnerable.

During PMQs yesterday, in the middle of exchanges on the terrorist threat, Brown managed to get in a shrewd blow at Osborne's promise to cut inheritance tax as an example of how the Tories are led by a pair of toffs who want to help the bankers on Osborne’s Christmas list rather than the deserving poor. It may sound like an old record stuck in a groove, but Brown knows it works well on the doorsteps with wavering Labour voters.

That is all the more remarkable, given that Brown and his Chancellor, Alistair Darling, have emerged as the two most spendthrift friends the bankers ever had. Darling looked relaxed when he was making a statement on the cover-up over the £62bn loan the Bank of England secretly advanced to the RBS and HBOS because he knew that Cameron and Osborne supported it.

He was not ready for Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, however. Cable who asked whether there were any more loans that had been covered up and we didn't know about. Darling spluttered.: "Ridiculous question!" But Vince had scored a bullseye. Darling's refusal to answer convinced most who heard it that there are more cover-ups and more money has been loaned by the Bank without our knowledge.

No doubt Vince will be putting that in his message to his constituents, before the last letter is banned.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Griffin and Franco.

Nick Griffin shows his true colours again, by attending a meeting of a far right Spanish Political Party to commemorate the anniversary of Francisco Franco's death on the 20th November 1975. During the meeting at a central Madrid Hotel violence breaks out between supporters of the modern day Falange Fascists and the Patriotic Socialist Movement and 28 people were arrested. The Telegraph allege that Griffin may well have visited Franco's Mausoleum at the Valles de Los Caidos whilst in Spain but the BNP deny this and have made a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission about the Telegraph's reporting, describing it as 'outrageously false.'

I wonder if he gave the Fascist salute like his mates in the photograph?

His commemoration of the death of a murderous Fascist dictator is just further evidence of his unsavoury political ideology.

Shocked and Utterly Outraged.

Those were the words used by consumer organisations to describe today's Supreme Court ruling which found against the Office of Fair Trading in their court action against the banks over excessive bank charges. As an advisor with the Citizens Advice Bureau I share the outrage expressed. A third of retail banking income come from excessive charges on overdrafts and loan or mortgage arrears and if the OFT had won the case the banks would have owed their ripped off customers £2.6 billion. I have drafted numerous letters on behalf of clients challenging these charges...£35 a month for an unauthorised overdrafts, literally £'s of charges daily not to mention charges on credit cards when the minimum amount hasn't been paid.

So this is how the system works, the banks lend too much to those that can't afford to pay it back, then they get into worse debt by excessive charges, the banks use the profits to bet with and they lose it, the banks default, we the taxpayers bail them out; the country goes into £175 billion debt, taxes go up! So basically the banks we own continue to rip us off. And what does Gordon "No boom and bust" Brown have to say? Every which way we lose!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Hain's cunning plan backfires

Peter Hain must have been feeling pretty smug this morning. He and Rhodri Morgan had signed a declaration effectively pledging Welsh Labour to kick the long-promised referendum on more democracy for Wales into the long grass.
It was a calculated snub to coalition partners Plaid.
By the afternoon, Hain's cunning plan was in tatters as Rhodri backtracked. By all accounts, Plaid AMs were furious at Hain's efforts to undermine the coalition and one of its central promises. The referendum will not deliver the powers Wales needs to get itself out of this economic mess but will make decision making and law-making easier for all. But Hain couldn't even accept that and was willing to risk the coalition for the sake of some political point scoring.
Tomorrow Hain will address the Assembly, knowing Rhodri has very publicly dumped him and that his shallow manoeuvring have alienated both Plaid and Labour AMs. Even the Tories are promising not to block a referendum if the Assembly votes for one!
Taxi for Hain after his huge own goal today.

Dyfodol y Glymblaid

Amserol iawn oedd llythyr y Cynghorydd Dyfrig Jones o Gyngor Sir Gwynedd yn y Ddraig Goch yr wythnos diwethaf ma. Penawd uwchben y llythyr yw,'A yw'r gost o gefnogi Llafur yn rhy uchel?' Dyma gwestiwn ryda ni i gyd yn ei ofyn yn dilyn datganiad Rhodri Morgan a Peter Hain bore ma, yn codi cwestiwn ynglyn ag amseriad y refferendwm am fwy o bwerau.

Mae Dyfrig yn cychwyn ei lythyr yn son am y penderfyniad o symud lleoliad posib y carchar o un ochor y Fenai i'r llall gan fod hynny yn "fwy o ddefnydd i ymgyrch fregus Albert Owen" ac aeth ymlaen i ddeud:
Yr hyn sydd yn peri pryder i mi yw ein bod ni yn fodlon rhannu grym gyda'r blaid fydredig, fethedig hon. Yn ein cynhadledd flynyddol, fe glywsom araith wych Adam Price AS, a oedd yn pwysleisio amherthnasedd Llafur i fobol Cymru. Maent yn perthyn i orffennol gwleidyddol Cymru, a gwynt teg ar eu hol. Ond mae'n benblaeth i mi sut y gallwn dreulio cymaint o'n hamser a'n hegni yn gweithio i'w trechu, tra ein bod yn parhau i rannu grym a hwy ym Mae Caerdydd.

Mae rhai yn dadlau bod yn rhaid i ni anrhydeddu'r cytundeb a wnaed wrth ffurfio'r glymblaid. Fy nghwestiwn i yw pam y dylem ni wneud hynny, pan fo Llafur wedi ei dorri dro ar ol tro?...

Peidied neb a chredu fod Cytundeb Cymru'n Un wedi bod yn fethiant. Daeth llawer o bethau cadarnhaol o'i arwyddo a hynny yn bennaf oherwydd ymroddiad Gweinidogion ac Aelodau Cynulliad Plaid Cymru. Ond does dim gwadu'r ffaith fod ein cefnogaeth driw ni i'r Cynulliad yn cael ei danseilio yn gyson gan agwedd drahaus a hunnanol y Blaid Lafur.

Ddwy flynnedd wedi arwyddo Cytundeb Cymru'n Un, onid yw hi'n bryd i ni ddweud fod y gost o gefnogi'r Blaid Lafur yn fwy o lawer na'r manteision yr ydym ni'n eu hennill i bobl Cymru?

Fel arfer mae Dyfrig yn llygad ei le ac mi gawn ni weld fel eith hi fory pan fydd Peter Hain yn ymweld a'r Senedd. Beth sydd yn amlwg i mi i'w fod y 'berthynas arbennig' rhwn Llafur a'r Blaid yn fwy 'arbennig' i'r Blaid nac ydy o i Lafur!

Mental Health Services for Children in Wales

The Wales Audit Office have today published a report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Wales(CAMHS), which to those of us that work in the field of Children's Social Care do not find particularly surprising. Many of us as Lead Members in the field have long complained of inadequate funding from the NHS Trusts/LHB's in Wales towards children's continuing healthcare. Many children in Wales are having to be cared for away from home in expensive private placements because local authorities do not have the therapeutic services to deal with their complex needs in house or in county. The WAO Press Release is reproduced below:

Mental health services in Wales are still failing many children and young people, despite some improvement in recent years. That is the conclusion of a report published jointly today by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, the Wales Audit Office, Estyn, and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

The report acknowledges the recent improvements that have been made. These include new funding streams to develop parenting and family intervention services, expanding school based counselling and the introduction of primary mental health workers who support professionals, such as GPs and school nurses, working with children and young people.

However, it highlights the barriers that are currently preventing further improvement – such as the way services are planned and provided, and issues around workforce development, staff training and performance management. The report makes 16 recommendations to the Assembly Government, health boards and local authorities in Wales.

The report highlights that there is too much variation across Wales in the availability and quality services. For example:

1. Unlike other parts of the UK there are no specialist mental health services in the community for children under five;
2. In parts of Wales some groups of young people do not have access to the specialist mental health services that are in place ;
3. Specialist community services, including services for young people with eating disorders are too variable;
4. Transition arrangements for the transfer of young people to adult services when they get older are not good enough;
5. Services are often not child friendly and many children and young people are not involved enough in planning their care;
6. The access to care and support for young people varies substantially across localities in Wales;
7. A number of practices are putting children at risk including placing significant numbers of children inappropriately, on paediatric or adult mental health wards.

The report also states that it is unclear how policy should be implemented, with only limited support and guidance provided by the Assembly Government to organisations arranging and providing services locally. The overall approach to planning and providing services is one of assessing whether a child or young person’s needs meet a service’s criteria, rather than building services around the specific needs of the individual. And joint working between the health, local authority and voluntary sectors is very variable, resulting in some children and young people receiving services that are poorly co-ordinated.

The report’s recommendations call for:

a. The Assembly Government to develop an action plan within six months of the report being published to address the issues identified around the availability and quality of services.
b. Health Boards and Local authorities to develop local multi agency plans for implementing the priorities and targets in the national action plan.
c. The Assembly Government to commission the development of information for children, young people and their parents on their rights relating to child and adolescent mental health services and what they should expect from these services.
d. The Assembly Government and other public bodies to introduce effective arrangements for managing and scrutinising performance, ensuring results are widely available

I just wonder whether the WAG Action Plan when produced will follow the usual route of passing the buck onto Local Authorities to implement without the resources to go with the costs of implementation.

Ministerial Statement by Edwina Hart
This report makes some important points and, during the time period it covers, identified a number of areas where improvement was necessary. In comparison with many reports, however, a lengthy period has now elapsed since the field work was conducted and the final text produced. As a result, the key recommendations contained within it have already formed the basis of government policy in this area for some time. This written statement therefore concentrates on the actions already taken, and the changed position which has resulted, since the position outlined in the report.

The mapping of Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) by Durham University in late 2008 and 2009 shows that, waiting times for specialist CAMHS have fallen by 9% since November 2007. Of new cases seen, 90% were seen within the 16 week target for treatment. Total staffing rose by 10% and the number of specialist CAMHS nurses has increased by 15% and clinical psychology has increased by 56%.
The number of doctors has increased by 8%. Total numbers of Primary Mental Health Workers rose from 27.3 whole time equivalents to 40.08 whole time equivalents, an increase of 47%. Training courses have been provided for front line services by Primary Mental Health Workers in Wales.

This year, I launched our National Action Plan to Reduce Suicide and Self Harm in Wales called Talk to Me. The National Action Plan outlines the challenges and priorities and how organisations, working together, will deal

Monday, 23 November 2009

European Convention on Human Rights.

Sorry to harp back to the EDL in Wrecsam on Saturday but I believe there are important points on which we the public were misled by the Police and the Council. The Chief Officer for Emergency Planning Lawrence Isted sent out a briefing note to all elected members explaining the rationale behind the Council's decision to remain neutral:
The Council remains neutral and neither endorses nor condemns the proposed demonstration or the community event, based on advice from the Police...The Council does not support and is not involved in planning or organising either the event or demonstration/counter demonstration. The Council does not have the authority to ban a demonstration from taking place. Only the Police can do this. Under articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights Act there is an obligation placed on the Police to facilitate peaceful protest and North Wales Police will therefore facilitate the demonstration/festival and the collective rights of the participants.

So the EDL have the right to free speech and the right to assemble under Articles 10 and 11 of European Convention on Human Rights. But rights under these 2 articles are not 'absolute rights' they can be restricted in certain circumstances and those are:

* in the interest of national security or public security;
* or to prevent crime or disorder;
* or to protect health or morals;
* or when to protect the rights or freedoms of others;

GLJohn's Blog gives a very useful summary of how the law in the UK has been influenced by the ECHR:
There are a few notable restrictions that have been applied to the right to expression in the UK in respect to racial and religious crime.

In Norwood the defendant was prosecuted under s.5 of the Public Order Act 1986, for ‘causing alarm or distress’ by displaying a poster from his window with the slogan ‘ISLAM OUT OF BRITAIN’. It was held that Article 10 could be curtailed in order to protect the rights and freedoms of others. The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 has amended the Public Order Act so that under Part 3A, incitement to Religious Hatred has become a criminal offence in its own right. However, s.29(j) seeks to protect freedom of expression by excluding from the scope of Part 3A: mere discussion, criticism, dislike or ridicule of a particular religion or belief.

The behaviour of the EDL outside Wetherspoons in Wrecsam on Saturday constituted of both inciting religious and racial hatred and as such their Article 10 and 11 rights could have been restricted had the Police had the will to do so.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Some more on Libel and Defamation.

I have previously written about Simon Singh in my blog
Gagged by libel laws and the ease with which journalists(and bloggers) can be sued for libel in British courts. This threat has now arrived in the Welsh Blogosphere following Cambria Politico having to withdraw the blog posting for calling Huw Lewis AM, Screwloose (this blog has now been republished). The blog was withdrawn following a letter of complaint from Matt Greenhough, a member of Huw Lewis's staff, threatening all sorts, including legal action. The Syniadau blog has not taken too kindly to the tone of Matt Greenhough's letter and has 'gone off on one' with a lengthy critique of the letter.

It is therefore welcome news that the Justice Minister Jack Straw has finally been convinced of the need for wholesale reform of libel laws in England and Wales. The Sunday Times reported that,
"...the large legal fees involved in defamation cases in English Courts are jeopardising freedom of speech."
A report by lobbying groups and charities have made several recommendations to the Justice Secretary:
1. Capping libel damages at £10,000.
2. Making an apology the chief remedy.
3. Placing the burden of proof onto claimants to show damage.
4. Preventing cases being heard in London unless at least 10% of the offending publication's circulation is in the UK.

A long overdue change and the sooner the libel legislation is passed the better.

Appeasement all over again!

This is a comment by a professional who was at yesterday's fiasco in Wrecsam:
" saddened to have witnessed shaven headed thugs giving nazi salutes whilst 'protesting' in Wrexham today ..what the hell is going on in this country.."

I'm sure that someone in the Weimar Republic in Germany posed the same question with the rise of Hitler in the 1920's, not to mention Churchill's warnings to Stanley Baldwin throughout the 1930's and culminating with Chamberlain's appeasement with his worthless piece of paper. To those that argue that public authorities should remain neutral in the face of fascist criminals parading and inciting racial hatred I would just remind them of the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller:
"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists,and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me."

If Thames Valley Police can stop the EDL parading in Luton why can't North Wales Police stop them parading in Wrecsam? This comment seems to sum up the position well:
"...just cant understand why on earth ..other than cowardice or political correctness gone mad that this was allowed to go ahead. There is plenty of legislation available to have prevented it from happening. I felt sorry for the families and children, trying to do christmas shopping but who were faced with the mob ...not to mention hundreds of police their town today. I feel very angry by the whole thing."

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Not in our town

Today's Wrecsam Communities Festival went off without incident - even though the weather was terrible. By contrast the English Defence League's invasion of Wrecsam consisted of 30 Bolton Wanderers thugs commandeering Wetherspoons and chanting "We want our country back" and then singing "God save the queen" while waving the flag of St George.
That went down like a cup of cold sick with local shoppers, who told them plainly to go back to their own country and that these are our streets.
There's a lot more to say about the way that 30 thugs were able to disrupt an entire town. The people of Wrecsam can be incredibly proud of how they stood up to the racist provocation of the EDL and showed them up as the pathetic boneheads they are.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Deputy Housing Minister visits Wrecsam

Jocelyn Davies AM, the deputy minister for housing in the One Wales Government, will be in Wrecsam tomorrow visiting the Bridge St site at Penybryn in the morning and then addressing the "Delivering Affordable Housing" conference in the afternoon.

Interest in the conference has been huge with 70 people pre-registering, mainly housing officers, councillors and others working in the field as well as tenants and local residents.

The conference starts at 12.30am at the Nick Whitehead Theatr, Glyndwr University, and Jocelyn Davies will be speaking at 1pm. Parking is a nightmare at the university at the moment so please allow plenty of time!

Wrecsam Communities Festival this Saturday

If you've got a spare couple of hours between 11am-4pm on Saturday, November 20, come to Queen Square in Wrecsam town centre to take part in the Wrecsam Communities Festival.

It's been called at short notice to show Wrecsam's positive side in the face of a provocation by the English Defence League, which claims to want to come to our town to protest. In fact, it just wants to target Muslims with its message of hatred.

The key message from the festival, which is free and features some top bands and local entertainment, is that Wrecsam's united against racists like the English Defence League and their bonehead supporters.

See you at the festival!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Ian Lucas goes bilingual!

Readers of this blog will recall my campaign to extend Section 6 of the Welsh Language Act to Members of Parliament, so that they would have to produce material for public consumption bilingually. This followed publication by Ian Lucas MP of his annual report which was all in English despite 14% of the population of his constituency speaking Welsh. Not having had much success in corresponding with Mr Lucas direct and with the Welsh Language Board being unable to help; I then presented a petition to the Assembly Petitions Committee which following legal advice decided that the Culture Minister had the necessary powers to amend the Act to include MP's within its provisions. This was reported in detail by BBC Wales
When asked to respond by the BBC at the time he declined but the BBC report said:
Mr Lucas declined to be interviewed, but said that his "minuscule" allowance did not cover costs of translating reports.

Today I received a Parliamentary Update from Mr Lucas with the Welsh translation, "Diweddariad Seneddol" below the title.

Also included on the leaflet was the following note:
"If you would like a copy of this Update in Welsh, please contact me and I will be pleased to supply it"

Os hoffech gopi o'r diweddariad hwn yn Gymraeg cysylltwch a mi os gwelwch yn dda a byddaf yn falch o anfon un."

This leaflet was paid for from Mr Lucas's 'miniscule' Communications Allowance.

Now as all my friends know I am not one to gloat or to challenge someone's motivation for changing their mind but it does make one think whether Alun Ffred has quietely had a word with the Welsh MP's and told them to get their act in gear and to start providing an equal service to Welsh speakers. Or perhaps it could be that Mr Lucas is reaching out to those Welsh speakers who can make the world of difference at the next election, a swing of 15% away from Labour in Wrecsam is all it needs, and it happened in Norwich North!

Whatever the reason I am grateful that he has seen the light.

As near as dammit!

These are the words used by Westminster Civil Servants to describe what will be in the Queens Speech for extensive new powers for Scotland tomorrow:
The Times has learnt that in the speech drafted by ministers there will be a key reference to “taking forward legislation” on the Calman Commission’s proposals to give the Scottish Parliament more tax-raising and other powers.

This will be followed within the next two to three weeks by a White Paper that will outline exactly which parts of the Calman report Gordon Brown’s Government has decided to implement. A senior Whitehall source said yesterday: “While it might not be every dot and comma of Calman, it will be as near as dammit.”

Also being published tomorrow is Sir Emyr's report, and whilst we all expect some surprises, I wonder if Hain and the government will be as keen to implement his recommendations as Westminster are to implement Sir Kenneth Calman's recommendations?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Professional Fees!

My wife is a nurse and in order to practise she has to register with the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) and also complete several days of professional development every year. The annual cost of registration is £70, which she pays herself. Imagine my surprise today to see a report requesting authority to Wrecsam Council to pay the professional fees of Educational Psychologists employed by the Council. Further investigation suggests that a number of other 'professionals' have their registration fees paid by the Council, such as Social Workers, Care Workers and Occupational Therapists. Apparently this 'perk' is provided so as to retain difficult to recruit staff like Educational Psychologists. It seems somewhat unfair that staff working for one Public Authority i.e the NHS Trusts have to pay their own professional fees whilst Local Authorities pay their employees registration fees.

Anyone want to take a guess at the total cost of this to taxpayers in Wales?

Must go, I can feel the need to make lots of requests under the Freedom of Information Act!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

David Hockney.

"We're all being choked to death by the State fumes Hockney" was the headline to an article about the artist and an exhibition of his early work in yesterday's Times. In the article Hockney goes to town on the government slamming politicians for intruding into his life, he says:
I don't want to live my life dictated to by doctors, we're being treated like children...There are 3000 new laws, 3000 new criminal offences, 3000 new punishments and 3000 new criminals. They should stop making these laws and listen to people.

I for one am in agreement with Hockney, as a nation we are rapidly becoming totally dependant on the state, there is an expectation that the state will look after you, as someone says from the cradle to the grave. The following story from today's Sunday Times illustrates even more interference in our lives:

Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.

New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”.

Council staff will then be tasked with overseeing the installation of safety devices in homes, including smoke alarms, stair gates, hot water temperature restrictors, oven guards and window and door locks.

The draft guidance by a committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised as intrusive and further evidence of the “creeping nanny state”.

Until now, councils have made only a limited number of home inspections to check on building work and in extreme cases where the state of a house is thought to pose a serious risk to public health.

Nice also recommends the creation of a new government database to allow GPs, midwives and other officials who visit homes to log health and safety concerns they spot.

The guidance aims to “encourage all practitioners who visit families and carers with children and young people aged under 15 to provide home safety advice and, where necessary, conduct a home risk assessment”. It continues: “If possible, they should supply and install home safety equipment.”

The proposals have been put out to consultation and, if approved, will be implemented next year.

Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is a huge intervention into family life which will be counter-productive.

“Good parents will feel the intrusion of the state in their homes and bad parents will now have someone else to blame if they don’t bring up their children in a sensible, safe environment.”

About 100,000 children are admitted to hospital each year for home injuries at a cost of £146m.

What will be next? Victim tatooed on our foreheads, or perhaps a number burnt onto our arms!

Thursday, 12 November 2009


Edrych fel canlyniad gwael i'r SNP yng Ngogledd Ddwyrain Glasgow, Llafur yn mynd i gael dros hanner y pleidleisiau. Tybed pwy fydd yn y trydedd lle? y BNP neu y Ceidwadwyr. Edrych yn debyg fel fydd y Rhyddfrydwyr Democrataidd yn ei safle arferol yng Nghymru ar Alban sef pumed. Gweld hefyd fod Tommy Sheridan yn ei ol gyda phlaid newydd er ei fod yn aros i fynd o flaen ei well. I gael y newyddion diweddaraf doswch yma.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The lack of an affordable home is more than inconvenience or a crisis for just one family. It is a symptom of market failure

Tackling the lack of affordable housing in North Wales will be the aim of an innovative conference in Glyndwr University, Wrexham, later this month.

The conference on Friday afternoon, 20 November, will feature a keynote speech by Welsh Housing Minister Jocelyn Davies AM as well as contributions from housing associations, community land trust campaigners and affordable housing manufacturers.

One of the conference organisers Marc Jones, a Wrexham Councillor, said:
"Affordable housing is a priority with our council and many others across the north. Delivering on that priority has been more difficult and the aim of the conference is to explore alternatives to the market option to see if they can deliver affordable housing more effectively.

"There are many families across the borough who deserve to have decent affordable homes but are stuck in unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation because they can't get afford to buy or there's not enough housing for rent in the social housing sector. It's not right that families with young children are living in flats with barely a garden or playing space and they're the people who are losing out.

"By getting the Housing Minister Jocelyn Davies along to this conference, as well as people with practical experience of delivering affordable housing, we hope to move things forward and break the logjam."

Jonathan Brown, of the Land for People community land trust, said:

"The lack of an affordable home is more than inconvenience or a crisis for just one family. It is a symptom of market failure for our society as a whole, one that undermines the cohesion and sustainability of communities, distorts population profiles, reduces opportunity and impacts on the local economy.

"Across the UK, more and more places are using the Community Land (CLT) trust model to hold assets of land and buildings in trust for the long-term benefit of their community, and to build affordable housing. Land for People will be at the conference to describe some of these developments, talk about its CLT projects and suggest a way forward for Wrexham Council to do more on this key issue".

Alan Anderson of Welshpool-based Eco-Mods, an affordable housing manufacturer, will be arguing that affordable quality housing can be built at a budget that is not out of reach of local people. He said:

"Responding to the need for environmentally friendly yet affordable homes, Eco-Mods have developed the ‘house-pod’.

"As the house pod is manufactured entirely off site and comes as a watertight unit fully plumbed, wired and decorated with fitted kitchen and bathroom, there are no hidden costs and there is no down time. The pods can be delivered on a ‘Just in Time’ basis and assembled in most weather conditions.

"As the house-pod is manufactured in a quality controlled environment, fewer deliveries of materials to site are required, minimising pollution and reducing the carbon footprint of the house. The quality and performance of all house-pods are assured to ISO 9001 standards. Following delivery to site and requiring only external finishing and a roof, the affordable home can be made ready for occupation within hours."

Other speakers will concentrate on delivering affordable houses in rural communities and there will be contributions from Alwyn Llwyd of the Tai Clwyd housing association as well as Aran Jones, a community housing activist from Cymuned.

Cllr Marc Jones added:

"The response from councillors and experts in the housing field across North Wales so far has been very positive. Flintshire's council leader and deputy council leader are coming along as well as tenants and campaigners.

"There's no magic bullet to deliver affordable housing and it'll take a variety of methods, some more suitable to certain areas than others. But it's clear from the response that people want to find ways of answering this huge issue and I hope this conference can help that process."

To register for a free place at the conference, which takes place between 12.30-5pm on Friday afternoon, November 20, please contact 01978 366 735 or e-mail marcvjones [at] Registration beforehand ensures a free place, those registering on the day will pay £5 on the door.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Lib Dems Policy Wonks!

I've always wondered how the Lib Dems make policy but hadn't quite realised it was quite as random as this and this
Hasn't winning elections got something to do with credibility, credibility and more credibility?
HT to Guido.

Tories at War in Aberconwy!

It's always a pleasure to read about the Tories falling out with each other especially in a marginal like Aberconwy. Conwy Tory County Councillor Hazel Meredith has been suspended for allegedly voting against a Tory candidate for a seat on Colwyn Bay Town Council and publicly saying the same. The Tory candidate was the daughter in law of Cllr Margaret Lyon another Tory Councillor on Conwy Council. Councillor Meredith is very close friends with David Jones MP and was agent for Darren Millar AM in the last Assembly elections. The Tory big guns appear to be lined up against Cllr Meredith as outlined in the Tory insider blog The Thoughts of Oscar

Not everyone agrees with Oscar though and the following reader comment (Ben King)on a previous blog by Oscar gives us his thoughts about the Lyon family:

More Anti Social behaviour by the Lyon and her son , both Chairman of local Tory Associations is hot news for local Torys . Ma Lyon is Chairman of Aberconwy , and son BaBa Chris Chairman of Clwyd West . How they got where they are is hard to fanthom , but they are a load of trouble.

Their latest victim is deuty mayor of colwyn , her crime to want to stand again in a safe Tory Council seat ,wanted for son BaBa Lyons wife(imagine three of them)

But the nasty Lyons have managed to get her out of party .

Now Ma Lyon has been given a hard time on this blog by Oscar , but the thing is the more you get to Know the Lyons the more you see it is deserved . Ma Lyon in the Council and for the Torys acts like a teenager on a ASBO , shouting and telling people to shut up .

The serious point is they are making the Local Torys a laughing stock with their anti Social antics in what is supposed to be a serious political party

No need to say more is there!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Hightown Flats

Hightown Flats are blocks of flats in Wrecsam built in 1970 which have become structurally not fit for purpose. Both the residents and Council officers and members were agreed that the flats be demolished and this was passed at the Executive Board on the 3rd November. The remaining tenants of the 186 properties to be demolished will be 'decanted' to properties in other parts of the County Borough. They will be given management points which will give the residents of these flats priority over those on the existing housing waiting list. Many of the people who will be moved have expressed a desire to be rehoused in Hightown but there are very few other council properties available in the area with only 6 or 7 voids in the Whitegate ward every year.

In view of the fact that there is already a very high demand for social housing and decanting residents will only exacberate that situation; I made a suggestion that the Council should utilise properties in the private sector. The Chief Officer would not contemplate the use of empty homes in the private sector. Now if I knew why perhaps I could accept the decision but I have never been given a valid reason.

The private sector would in fact be ideal as next door to Hightown Flats is Corunna Court a private developments which are empty which would suit the people who wish to stay in Hightown and would also reduce pressure on the housing waiting list in Wrecsam.

These partnerships between the public and private sector can work as the partnership between Plus Dane Housing Association and Grosvenor Estates in Liverpool One testifies

If we are ever going to address the problem of housing shortage in Wales we need to collaborate more to facilitate partnerships between our Housing Associations and the private sector. Perhaps someone will tell us where the blockage is, Assembly or Local Government.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Yr Archdderwydd Newydd.

Llongyfarchiadau i T. James Jones neu Jim Parc Nest ar gael ei ddewis yn Archdderwydd yn dilyn marwolaeth Dic Jones. Fe fydd Jim yn cael ei urddo yn Archdderwydd yng nghyhoeddiad Steddfod Wrecsam ar y 3ydd o Orffennaf 2010. Dewiswyd Jim yn dilyn penderfyniad Mererid Hopwood i dynnu ei henw yn ol. Mae'n rhaid i fi gyfaddef ryw chydig o siom na ddewiswyd Mererid fel y ddynes gyntaf i fod yn Archdderwyddes ag i fod yn y swydd pan fydd y Steddfod yn dathlu cant a hanner o flynyddoedd o fodolaeth yn Wrecsam yn 2011. Gobeithio'n fawr mae Mererid fydd nesa yn y swydd gan fod ganddi gymaint i'w gynnig i'r Gymru Gymraeg gyfoes.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Tom Rippeth Playing to the Gallery!

Tom Rippeth the Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam had a letter published in the Leader on Monday 2nd November 2009. The tone of the letter was as one would expect an attack on the One Wales Government regarding local government funding settlement and that Wrecsam had one of the lowest per capita funding (£1222 compared to Blaenau Gwent's £1586). He goes on to argue that North East Wales needed a change as Plaid/Labour were apparently ineffective in representing the people (Not sure what this says about his own Eleanor Burnham). Anyway Tom goes on with the usual Lib Dem spin of perpetuating the perception of a North South divide.

This is what Plaid Cymru Councillior and Co Chair of Wrecsam's Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee, Barrie Price had to say in a letter of response:

Dear Editor,

Dr Tom Rippeth’s letter (Elect local politicians to fight divide - The Leader, November 2nd), paints a very simplified and superficial picture of the complexities of Local Government finance settlements, to serve his own political ends. The figures quoted by Dr Rippeth are not based on any North-South divide, but rather on the needs of the population of all the authorities in Wales. Authorities with greater level of indicators of deprivation, like child poverty, ill health, and benefit claimants, WILL receive a greater amount of money per head of population, which is exactly why authorities like, Rhondda, Neath, Merthyr, Caerffili and Blaenau Gwent receive more per head than Wrexham does. Is Dr Rippeth suggesting an adjustment to that formula, which indicates perhaps the Lib Dems are considering a policy change, or is he merely playing to the gallery?

It also appears convenient that Dr Rippeth fails to mention that Wrexham received the joint highest local government settlement increase of all Welsh authorities for 2010/11 (provisional) of 3.1% compared to 1.5% for Blaenau Gwent. In real terms this means that Wrexham will receive £5 million more in 2010/11 than they did in the previous year, in Blaenau Gwent the real increase is £1.5 million.

It is irresponsible of Dr Rippeth to use statistical data to mislead the electorate, and thereby create greater divisions within our communities here in Wales.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Planning committee fires warning shot on Mold Road over-development

Last night's planning committee came close to rejecting plans by Glyndwr University for a new building. On the chair's casting vote, the application was approved but only after a heated debate about parking and congestion problems in the area surrounding the University site.
This highlights growing concerns that the Mold Road "gateway to Wrecsam" is over-developed and over-congested. The rapid growth of the University has compounded the problem, but planning permission has already been granted for hundreds of flats along the Mold Road corridor quite apart from the 700 planned for the Crispin Lane area. Very few, if any, will be affordable to people on an average Wrecsam wage. Most, like the Caxton Place tower blocks, will be £150,000 apartments available for rent at £550-600 a month.
This, coupled with growing unease about the rising tide of Houses in Multiple Occupation in certain concentrated parts of town, will need to be addressed head on by both the council and wider community if we want to ensure that Wrecsam's main gateway does not become a gridlocked high-rise hell.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Wrecsam Communities Against Racism

A new campaign to challenge the English Defence League (EDL) has been set up after it called for a demonstration in Wrexham on November 21st.

The EDL is a racist organisation intent on creating friction between communities. It claims to be a non-racist group opposed to political Islam, yet at every public outing the EDL shows its true racist and fascist colours.

Wrecsam Communities Against Racism is modelled on the successful Newport group who mobilised to oppose an EDL protest there two weeks ago. More than 500 people came out on the streets to show that fascists will not be tolerated - the EDL was nowhere to be seen.

As WCAR says:

We cannot allow this group of extremists and racists to divide our communities. I call on the trade unions, the football supporters' groups, community groups, religious or secular, and last but not least the people of Wrexham to come out on mass on November 21st and show our opposition to the EDL. We must stand shoulder to shoulder in opposition to racism and thuggery. This campaign aims to bring together all groups, organisations and individuals who care about Wrexham and who stand opposed to racism and to the EDL.

An organising meeting to put on a festival to celebrate our town on the 21st is being held at the Lager Club, Union St, Wrecsam, at 7.30pm this Wednesday. All anti-racists and anti-fascists welcome to attend.

Policing Pledge Inspection

North Wales Police along with all the other Police forces in England and Wales were inspected by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in July 2009. The purpose of the inspection was to grade the performance of the force as to the implementation of the Policing Pledge which was introduced in December 2008. The Policing Pledge sets out ten minimum standards and commitments in relation to accessibility, availability and responsiveness of the Police. To gather the evidence the Inspectors undertook the role of ‘mystery shoppers’ by attending meetings, calling at Police Stations, telephoning and emailing officers.

The overall picture was disappointing with no forces being graded excellent, 8 being graded good, 33 being rated fair and two being rated poor.
The four Police Forces in Wales were all graded overall as Fair, which means,
…is awarded where performance is variable and falls short of the required standard. Remedial action is needed.

Even though the 4 Welsh forces were graded Fair there was variability amongst the Welsh forces with North Wales Police coming third out of four, for example Gwent were judged to be ‘good’ in 6 out of 13 areas inspected, whilst North Wales Police only had 3 out of 13 areas judged to be good.

The HMIC's Report was published on the 6th October 2009, but it would appear that very few Police Forces have publicised their respective reports. Had the forces received Excellent grades that fact would have been splashed across the pages of the national and local papers. Is this therefore an attempt to hide bad news from the public; and where are the Police Authorities who are supposed to ensure an efficient and effective Policing Service and hold Police Forces accountable?