Thursday, 30 April 2009

Restructuring and Social Care.

There have been rumours for some time that the Health restructuring in Wales is only the start and that local government will be next.

Powys County Council has already commenced a consultation process with the Powys Local Health Board towards greater collaboration (or is that amalgamation?)of the two authorities. This is now a reality as the following briefing paper from the WLGA testifies:

Powys LHB and Powys council are conducting a twelve week option appraisal project with the support of WAG and the WLGA. At the end of July the two respective bodies will consider how far to integrate existing organisations, management and service delivery. Options from securing greater service alignment, shared management arrangements or the creation of one unified new body are being considered. A project board has met to authorise the process and a project group has been established to co ordinate the work. The desire to provide high quality services to the people of Powys, its uniqueness of the geography and demographics plus the NHS reforms ( Powys LHB is not being abolished in the NHS reforms) have underpinned the decision to take forward this project.


And on Radio Cymru recently who have the rejuvenated ex Welsh Tory leader, Rod Richards spouting at the need to reduce the 22 local authorities and to take social care away from councils altogether and give it to Health so that we don't have the constant bickering between health and councils over the difference between 'nursing' and 'care'

It is the belief of senior staff within Health that there is an agenda within WAG to bring things ever closer together...no smoke without fire! and that the Powys 'collaboration' is the tip of the iceberg.

If this happens in North Wales with one Local Health Board and 6 Local Authorities I'm not sure how it would work but we would most certainly lose what we now call 'localism' (Keeping Llandudno Hospital open for example)

I very much hope that Children's Social Care doesn't come under the Betsi Cadwalader Trust...Wrexham LHB cannot adequately fund continuing care for children with disabilities as it stands now, with the Council disproportionately carrying the burden.

Keep a close watch on developments in Powys, what happens there will happen in Wales in due course.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Gordy's Bad Day

Today was probably Gordon Brown’s worst day as PM, he got ripped apart at PMQ by Nick Clegg, the equivalent of being savaged by the proverbial dead sheep, he went to leave the Chamber only to have to return because he had a statement to make to the house and finally he lost the Ghurkha vote.
With his smear doctor sacked and backbenchers in open rebellion, the Labour ship is sinking fast. Can it get any worse? Yes it probably can. The most popular petition on the No 10 Downing Street Website is one calling for Gordy to go…at the last count more people wanted Gordy to go than actually voted for him in his constituency. Last I heard the link on the website was broken…so no more signatories. Is anyone surprised?

Mon Mess Cymru

Yesterday's Daily Post reported that North Wales Police had concluded its investigation into an allegation of bullying against a 'senior officer' of Ynys Mon district council and that there would be no further action taken against anyone.

This morning the Daily Post reports the 'forced resignation' of Councillor Phil Fowlie, Leader of Ynys Mon Council on 'health grounds' but he will continue as a Councillor and represent his ward.

The Nasty Party

Rarely am I truly shocked by what I read in the press but yesterday was an exception when I read David Williams's column in April's edition of Searchlight. The article refers to the sad and untimely death of Ivan Cameron, the six year old son of David and Samantha Cameron who suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

What is shocking about David Williams's article is the quotes he attributes to Jeff Marshall the BNP London organiser and candidate who states:
We live in a country today which is unhealthily dominated by an excess of sentimentality towards the weak and unproductive. No good will come of it.

Marshall goes on to say that it would be a kindness to kill children with disabilities;
There is actually not a great deal of point in keeping these sort of people alive

Marshall is not the first senior BNP official to support a Nazi style programme of racist eugenics; Tony Lecomber who was until recently Nick Griffin's right hand man has been quoted as advocating, the sterilisation of the poor, the sick and the disabled.

Sick and repellant are the only way to describe these abhorrent comments...and these are the people who may win a seat in the European elections...they must be stopped.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Hope not Hate in Wrecsam, Saturday May 2


Last year the Cambria Band (above) led a lively march against the BNP in Wrexham.

This weekend, anti-fascists and local trade unionists will be leafletting against the BNP's message of hate in Wrexham town centre on Saturday, May 2.

Meet in Queen's Square at mid-day and enjoy the Brymbo Male Voice choir while you're there!

All anti-fascists welcome.

Latest Polls

These are the latest polls from UK Polling Report (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk)

ComRes’s monthly poll for the Independent is out, and shows topline figures of CON 45%(+5), LAB 26%(-2), LDEM 17%(-1). Changes are from the last ComRes poll, carried out at the end of March.

The figures are almost the same as yesterday’s YouGov poll in the Sunday People. We haven’t had any post-budget figures from ICM, Populus or MORI yet, but so far it is looking as if, between the rows over MPs expenses, “smeargate” and the budget, we have seen a further shift against Labour and we are back into Tory landslide territory. Obviously there is a long way to go until a 2010 election, but the June local and European elections aren’t looking pretty for Labour.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Guardian exclusive...more like naivety!

I cannot really see what the big deal is with yesterday's Guardian front page story,
"Police: We have network of informers among protestors." Can't say that a practise that has been going on for 30 plus years is really an exclusive...and yes the Police have always been reliant on informers or Chis's as they're now called (Covert Human Intelligence Sources). As a Police Officer you were always expected to obtain information from those that were in custody so Matilda Gifford who was one of those from the environmental action group Plane Stupid arrested at Aberdeen Airport who Police tried to recruit as an informant is not unique. How does the Guardian think the Police managed to catch the Animal Liberation terrorists who were recently jailed?...it wasn't luck and good judgement that's for sure.

Either the Guardian were extremely naive to utilise so many words on this story or they had no real stories to fill the pages so they came up with a rubbish story like this.

Whichever reason it was, the once esteemed Guardian has gone down in my estimation and I won't be in a hurry to buy another one.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

MP's Annual Report/Adroddiad Blynyddol Aelodau Seneddol

It's time to campaign to ensure that Welsh MP's Annual Report which are funded by the tax payer through their Communications Allowance is produced bilingually and in accordance with the provisions of the Welsh Language Act. Below is a letter which I have today sent to the Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP - Leader of the House of Commons. So let's make a start 'bombard' your MP with letters if their Annual Report is not bilingual and copy them to the Leader of the House and the Welsh Language Board.

Mae hi'n amser cychwyn ymgyrch i ddwyn perswad ar yr aelodau seneddol Cymreig yny sydd ddim yn defnyddio arian cyhoeddus trwy eu lwfans gyfathrebu i gynhyrchu eu hadroddiadau blynyddol yn ddwy iaethog. Drwy fethu defnyddio arian cyhoeddus i'r perwyl yma dydy nhw ddim yn gweithredu yn ol gofynion Deddf yr Iaith Gymraeg. Felly ysgrifennwch lythyr i'ch aelod seneddol a gofyn iddo (neu hi) i gynhyrchu ei adroddiad yn ddwy iaethog o hyn ymlaen. Cofiwch gopio y llythyr i Harriet Harman AS, Arweinydd y Ty Cyffredin ac i Fwrdd yr Iaith.

The Right Hon Harriet Harman, QC MP,
Office of the Leader of the House of Commons,
26 Whitehall,
London.
SW1A 2WH


25th April 2009.


Dear Ms Harman,

I write to you with regard to Member’s Communication Allowance as I have recently received Ian Lucas MP’s Annual Report. This report whilst informative was not bilingual despite the fact that Mr Lucas represents a Welsh constituency. In view of the fact that this annual report has been wholly funded from public funds and that the UK Parliament is a public body therefore any publication that are publicly available in Wales should be in a bilingual format.

I have written to Mr Lucas on the 8th April 2009, but to date I have not received a reply. I will also be bringing this matter to the attention of the Welsh Language Board.

I would therefore request that you advise Welsh Members of Parliament that they should issue any publication which is funded from public funds bilingually so as to comply with the provisions of the Welsh Language Act.

Yours sincerely,

Cyn Gynghorwr Barus Gwynedd

Siomedig oedd darllen yn y Daily Post heddiw, am dan y cyn Gynghorydd Annibynnol o Aberdyfi, Morgan L. Vaughan yn cwyno ei fyd pam na ddylsa Cynghorwyr sydd wedi cael eu talu ormod o gostau teithio eu talu'n ol; hyn ar ol camgymeriad gan swyddogion ariannol Cyngor Gwynedd.

Wedi'r cwbwl £381 mae rhaid i'r hen Forgan ei dalu yn ei ol...dropyn mewn bwced o ddwr i wr mor gefnog hefoi barc carafannau, tai, chalets a thir amaethyddol ar gyrion Tywyn.

Ond y darn gwaethaf ydy ei fod yn rhoi enw drwg i'r gweddill ohonom fel aelodau etholedig, yn bersonol does gen i ddim amser i'r barusrwydd yma ymysg fy gyd aelodau. Os ydy y Cyngor yn talu gormod i'w gweithwyr mae'n rhaid ei dalu'n ol, os ydy Adran Trethi Incwm yn rhoi gormod o ad daliad mae rhaid ei dalu'n ol; os ydy'r banciau yn gneud camgymeriad mae rhaid ei dalu fo nol...dyna ydy'r gyfraith, felly pam ddylsa blydi Morgan Vaughan gael ei drin yn wahanol i'r gweddill ohonom?.

Gobeithio yn fawr fod dim o gyn Gynghorwyr Plaid Cymru ar Gyngor Sir Gwynedd yn cefnogi MLV a gwrthod talu yr arian yma'n ol, neu mi fydd yna lai fyth ohony nhw ar y Cyngor Sir tro nesa.

Cyfarfod Blynyddol Menter Iaith Maelor

Fe gynhalwyd Cyfarfod Blynyddol Menter Iaith Maelor nos Iau diwethaf yng Nghapel Ebeneser ar wraig wadd oedd Janet Ryder AC. Rhaid i fi ddeud fy mod wedi fy mhlesio yn fawr gan be oedd gan Janet i ddeud yn ei hanerchiad ynglyn a Chymreictod ag addysg. Cychwynodd gan roi chydig o'i chefndir yn symud i Rhuthun yn 1991 ac addysgu ei phlant yn ysgol Pen Baras a hithau yn dysgu Cymraeg ochor yn ochor a nhw. Aeth ymlaen i son am sut i hybu y Gymraeg gyda syniadau eitha dadleuol fel gwersi Cymraeg i oedolion yn rhad ag am ddim; pob ysgol yng Nghymru i fod yn ysgolion Cymraeg a Coleg Ffederal Cymraeg fel fod addysg i gyd yn Gymraeg. Clodwiw iawn...os allwn ni ddarganfod digon o athrawon i ddysgu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

£416 million less next year!

Yes, the anticipated cut to the Welsh Assembly Government's budget next year will be £416 million which is about 9% of the £15 billion annual budget. The big question is where will the cuts fall, will it be the 22 Local Authorities who have already made millions of pounds of efficiency savings over the last 4 or 5 years. In Wrexham's case its £20 million and any more savings will be difficult to find and may well result in one of the following:
1. Job losses.
2. Cuts in front line services.
3. Big increases in Council tax.

But why should Local Authorities take the cuts? Why doesn't the Welsh Assembly Government publish what their own efficiency savings are...its probably because they haven't made any. Take for example what happened when ELWA got binned...none of the staff were made redundant they were all kept on as Area Improvement Teams for DCELLS (Education and Lifelong Learning at WAG), there are in fact 25 of them sitting around at St Asaph trying to work out what to do to keep themselves occupied. Did WAG make any efficiency savings when they bought on board what were efficient agengies such as the WDA and the Welsh Tourist Board?...not that I've heard!!

Then we have CSSIW (Care and Social Services Inspectorate) who seem underutilised bearing in mind they feel the need to inspect Wrexham Children Services once every 2 months.

Then what about these pet projects around Wales like Communities First and their idealistic vision seem to promise a lot more than they seem to deliver (you will recall my previous blog on this)

And what about the Welsh Arts Council giving Caia Park Communities First £16,000 to publish a glossy book called the Wisdom of Caia Park to be delivered to all households in the area?

Those of us who are concerned over government waste need to demand that the Welsh Audit Office to get under the skin of the Welsh Assembly Government bureaucracy and start making some serious efficiency savings.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Oddballs and Liars.

Take a guess which political party describes its members as:

"Oddballs"..."Walter Mitty characters"..."Compulsive liars" and "born troublemakers"

They also..."can't write proper English" and "get carried away with conspiracy theories"

Yes...all of this was in an internal party guide to senior members of the BNP.

Can't really follow that with a comment can I...it just says it all.

Congratulations to Searchlight and the Guardian for breaking this story.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Liberal Democrat Conference

I'm grateful to Politics Cymru blog for the following assessment of the Lib Dem Conference:

...Big ideas and sweeping statements were the order of the day at the Welsh Lib Dem conference...So it wasn't slick. It wasn't modern. It wasn't particularly fresh. What we got was much of what we had expected. Many of the same ideas the Lib Dems have been banging around for years on Europe, taxation and more 'democratic accountability'. Much of it was met with a shrug from the media, a sort of 'so what'? Where's the news angle?


Let's hope it stays this way up to the European elections...it can only be good for Plaid Cymru.

Communities First and Caia Park.

Communities First have been established in Caia Park, Wrexham, now for a number of years and quite rightly so. Of the 5 wards within the community, two of them are amongst the most deprived in Wales as measured by the index of multiple deprivation, Queensway and Wynnstay. In the last 3 financial years the Welsh Assembly Government have given Caia Park Communities First £2.7 million or thereabouts. Given the high priority that both national, devolved and local government give to alleviate child poverty one would have expected some of the Communities First to have been used in projects to ensure better outcomes for children, and it may well have; but it's difficult to identify those outcomes especially by analysing child protection data from Caia Park.

The following will illustrate the argument; as at 31/12/08, there were 120 children being looked after within Wrexham County Borough, 41% were from Caia Park which has about 10% of the County Borough's population but a whopping 23% of the children in care are from the Queensway ward. What is most damning though is that the situation with children is WORSENING. In 2004, only 14% of the children on the Child Protection Register were from Caia Park by 2008, the figure was 43%.
In 2004, 18% of children in need were from Caia Park by 2008, 26% of children in need were from Caia Park. Even the proportion of those in care has increased from 35%to 41%...all the data show upward trends which is worrying

This begs the question where has this money gone and to what purpose? Some of it no doubt has gone on producing the nicely bound glossy book called The Wisdom of Caia Park...but I can't for the life of me see how distributing this book free of charge to all the houses and Caia Park has helped to provide a better outcome for a single child; and that at a conservative £40,000 cost.

What we really need is an independent review or audit of all Communities First programmes in Wales to ensure they provide value for money and better outcomes for those children and families that are most in need.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Welsh Lib Dem Conference

I never did intend to blog about the Lib Dem Conference, I always thought I would have something better to do. There again when your party leader is booed by conference delegates then its something worth talking about. Yes poor old Nick Clegg was booed by delegates for saying something elitist about the Lib Dems being 'broadsheet readers,' not a good start to a conference or to a year when there will be two elections.

What get's me about the Lib Dems is what the hell are they about, "We'll stand up for our beliefs" is the article headline in the Daily Post and the article goes on to say, '...said the main Lib Dem challenge was to be clear about what they stood for.' Exactly...and does he go on to say what they stand for...No!! When Nick Clegg does find out what he and the Lib Dems stand for, perhaps he can tell the Coalition in Wrecsam.

Nick Clegg accuses Plaid Cymru of turning its back on its principles over top up tuition fees but fails to mention the fact the Lib Dems did excatly the same when they were in coalition with Labour in Scotland.

Pot...Kettle...Black...comes to mind!

NB - The Lib Dems are also very good at reminding other political parties of their past but they also have a past of which they are not too proud of. To see Youtube video go here
...and that was after Churchill's warnings!!

Friday, 17 April 2009

New green left magazine for Wales - Celyn



Celyn* is a new magazine for Wales - green, red and spiky. The first edition appears on May 1 and it features some excellent articles on the state of Wales after 10 years of devolution, climate change, green living and workers in struggle. It also features columns by Leanne Wood AM and Paul Flynn MP, reflecting a non-sectarian and anti-tribal approach to left politics in Wales.

Join the Facebook group and then subscribe! Further details on www.celynwales.org but you'll have to buy the mag to read the articles!

* Celyn is the Welsh word for Holly, which is green, red and spiky.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Whistleblowing

I must say that my sympathy goes out to Margaret Haywood, the nurse that secretly filmed filthy conditions in a hospital and neglect for elderly patients for Panorama and who was today struck off the register by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

I think the Director of Patient Concern sums up my thoughts on the matter,
This just demonstrates the priorities of the regulators - rules come before patients every time. The message that goes out to nurses is: however badly you see patients treated, keep your face shut.

This makes total nonsense of all the talk about openness and transparency in the NHS. Cover-up is the order of the game


The NMC News this month contains a handy little reference book titled, 'Guidance for the care of older people' but it doesn't tell you what do if you want to 'whistleblow' or if management ignores nurses concerns about conditions and treatment of the elderly.

The biggest shame is its that the front line nursing staff that have to suffer and are penalised and not the pen pushing bureaucratic hospital management that are ultimately responsible for these atrocious conditions in many hospitals.

For the backgound to this blog go here

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Jacqui Smith - Blue Plaque,

This is funny

Blue Plaque for Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary, best remembered for:




Photo Credit: http://www.dontpaniconline.com/ and Guido Fawkes

Monday, 13 April 2009

Labour's Self Destruction!!

A matter of weeks ago we had the infamous Welsh Labour's Aneurin Glyndwr and Peter Hain and Eluned Morgan's Delilah video...a juvenile attempt at smearing Labour's opponents in Wales' which well and truly blew up in their faces when Rhodri Morgan publicly disassociated himself from this European Campaign video.

Did Labour learn a lesson...no of course they didn't!! as we found out over the weekend with the resignation of Gordon Brown's special advisor Damian McBride for sending out emails to Derek Draper an ex Labour spin doctor. These emails discussed setting up a blog called Red Rag to smear opposition Conservative politicians with "unfounded gossip." Unfortunately for McBride the emails found their way to Guido Fawkes's famous political blog and McBride was sacked by 10 Downing Street. As you can imagine the Tories are up in arms about this and demanding a personal apology from the Prime Minister.

To see how Guido Fawkes broke the story and what the emails actually said go here

To see grassroots Labour reaction go to Derek Draper's Apologies and Regret blog go here

Brunstrom...going...going!!

This blog is definitely a lesson learnt for me as far as my blogging career is concerned...I need to trust my sources! I was told by an ex colleague on the 2nd April 2009, that our esteemed Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom was out in the Caribbean being interviewed for the vacant Chief Constable's post at the Cayman Islands. I must be honest I found the story hard to believe... hadn't the authorities in the Cayman 'googled' him and found all the silly things he'd done over the years? Anyway I always like to get my rumours confirmed by 2 sources and I couldn't on this occasion, and even the BBC in Bangor couldn't confirm the story so I thought it was a windup.
Imagine my surprise and... annoyance when this story broke in the Telegraph on the 12th April.
But there we are if you are a conscientious and careful blogger you come up with the truth, unlike Labour's recent attempt at 'smearing political opponents' by setting up the Red Rag blog and getting caught by none other than the top blogger Guido Fawkes himself...more of this later!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Adroddiad Blynyddol Ian Lucas

Mae adroddiad blynyddol Ian Lucas newydd gyraedd ar peth cynta dwi'n neud ydy chwilio am air o Gymraeg...ddim syndod fod yna ddim gair o Gymraeg ynddo fo er fod yna filoedd o Gymru Cymraeg yn byw yn yr etholaeth. Esiampl arall i ddangos fod gan y Blaid Lafur Gymreig ddim mymryn o ddiddordeb mewn rhoi cydraddoldeb i'r iaith Gymraeg. Mae'n amser cael hymgyrch i orfodi Aelodau Seneddol Cymreig i gyhoeddi ei adroddiadau blynyddol yn ddwy iaethog...ac hefyd popeth arall mae nhw'n ei gyhoeddi drwy'r pwrs cyhoeddus.

Nodyn - O! a be am y cynnwys? Dim o sylwedd a dim byd i'ch cynhyrfu!

North Wales Police Authority - Members Allowances

This is how much money members of the North Wales Police Authority get to be 'our Police watchdog'...it is debatable as to how good a 'watchdog' they are...Richard Brunstrom seems to be more of a 'watchdog' of the Police Authority than the other way round. Brunstrom was critical of the attendance record of Authority members in a recent Daily Post report:

NORTH WALES POLICE AUTHORITY
MEMBERS DETAILS FOR ALLOWANCES

Cllr Chris Bithell
6,744.00

Cllr Peter Pemberton
6,744.00

Cllr Ian Gunning
6,135.00

Cllr Graham Rees
6,135.00

Cllr Gerry Craddock
7,359.00

Cllr Ian Roberts
23,925.00
Chair of Authority

Mr Douglas Wynne
9,201.00
Primary Chair (Professional Standards Committee)

Mrs Enid Rowlands
9,201.00
Primary Chair (Performance Review Committee)

Ms Morag Webb
6,744.00

Cllr Charles W Jones
6,744.00

Mr Chris Drew
9,201.00
Primary Chair (Audit Committee)

E Alun Lewis
13,251.00
Vice Chair of Authority

Cllr Peter Rogers
6,744.00

Cllr Selwyn Griffiths
11,037.00
Primary Chair (Human Resources Committee)

Mr Roger Hebden
6,135.00

Mr Richard P Hughes
7,359.00

Next Freedom of Information request is to check on their attendance and see if we are getting value for money!

Wisdom of Caia Park

This is a book, or they describe it as an almanac. It is a nicely produced book approx 70 pages in length and professionally bound in hardback...it is an interesting read and is produced by Caia Park Communities First in conjunction with Wrecsam Council, the Arts Council and the Welsh Assembly Government.The book is about,and I quote,
" This book comprises of a year's-worth of local wisdom expressed by people of all ages and life experiences with connections to Caia Park, one of the largest districts in Wrexham, North Wales."

It is delivered free to every household in Caia Park...The publication of this book/almanac and its free distribution to thousands of households didn't come cheap and in area of multiple deprivation like Caia Park we must question whether this is the best use of Communities First money. Does the publication and distribution of this almanac meet any of the aims and objectives of Communities First?. We should therefore be able to ask how much this almanac cost and who funded it and to what extent...we look forward to the answers.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Welsh Ramblings.

My thanks to our blogging colleagues at Welsh Ramblings for 'finding' this BBC produced (allegedly) YouTube video which may or may not be the last word about the infamous Delilah video from the Labour Aneurin Glyndwr website! To see it go here

This is what BBC Wales reported Rhodri Morgan as saying when questioned in a press briefing about Aneurin Glyndwr website,I gather he was very angry at any questions directed at that subject. Do I get the felling that the Welsh Labour hierarchy want us to forget about this incompetent saga very quickly...couldn't possibly agree to that.

UPDATE - It's not only Rhodri that's angry but so is the Labour Deputy Minister Leighton Andrews who is spitting feathers...going by what he's written here

SECOND UPDATE - Welsh Ramblings have been paricularly creative with "The Sound of Stupidity."