Friday, 29 May 2009

Hope not Hate.

Couple of good quotes on the consequences of not voting next Thursday or worst still voting for intolerance, hate and fear

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannise will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.

AND
All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men/women to do nothing.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Dief the Chief.

Dief the Chief was the nickname of John G. Diefenbaker, Progressive Conservative Prime Minister of Canada 1957 - 1963 and the author of one of my favourite quotes,
"The Liberals are the flying saucers of politics. No one can make head nor tail of them and they never are seen twice in the same place."

So some things never change!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

George Monbiot and PFI.

HT's to George Monbiot for trying to get us to understand the intricacies of Private Finance Initiative. The PFI waste puts the MP's expenses scandal into perspective.

Although the Welsh Assembly Government is distinctly cooler towards PFI than their Westminster partners...Andrew Davies and Leighton Andrews are both for it but in another name, 'Public Private Partnerships.' Another word being 'bandied' about is 'collaboration'...is that collaboration with other Local Authorities or the 'private sector' like BT's Agile Working?. I just think Monbiot has hit the nail on its head when he says,
One day the repayments will destroy Britain’s public finances. This extravagance makes our MPs look like ascetics.


We in Local Government should learn some lessons and look hard if outsourcing or whatever other name it is called, actually benefits anyone apart from the shareholders of the company who gets the outsourced tender.

Children Eat Their Greens

PRESS RELEASE

Children Eat Their Greens

Parents are often criticized for not ensuring their children eat healthily and get plenty of exercise but as all parents know it is particularly difficult to get children to eat vegetables particularly ‘cabbages’ and the like. But not so at Ysgol Heulfan, Gwersyllt, where the children grow their own vegetables and because they’ve grown their own the children were very keen to sample their very own ‘home grown cabbages.’

Head Julia Thomas Haigh said,
“Very often when you put vegetables like cabbages in front of children they will turn their noses up at them but the children were all keen to eat their own cabbages and it just goes to show what motivates children. I believe schools can do a lot to encourage healthy eating by children from a young age.”

It is not just the children of Ysgol Heulfan who will benefit from eating the school’s produce but also members of Gwersyllt Luncheon Club who get their food from Ysgol Heulfan, Head Cook at the school, Mrs Dilys Jones,
“Our home grown vegetables will be on the menu for the Luncheon Club next Thursday”

The Gwersyllt Luncheon Club was established in March and has since grown from strength to strength with nearly 40 people attending the fortnightly lunch, and as the co coordinator of the Luncheon Club, Gwenfair Jones said,
“The club is becoming increasingly popular because of the high quality of the meals provided by Dilys and the school and we welcome the use of fresh home grown produce.”

The school does more than just supply the food to the Luncheon Club they also allow children and a teacher to attend the club and to assist, Mrs Jones said,
“We are very grateful to Julia for allowing the children to come and help us and the people who attend the club really appreciate having them here.”

Councillor Arfon Jones who represents the Gwersyllt West Ward and also helps out with the Luncheon Club said,
“This close relationship between the children and an older generation that attend the Luncheon Club has created a greater sense of community in the village, and we are also very pleased to play our part in meeting the Council’s priorities of Healthy Eating and Supporting People.”
It is not only children of primary school age that are involved in gardening and growing their own food but a Community Garden Project has been established at Third Avenue, Gwersyllt, between the local Housing Estate Office, Youth Services, Youth Justice Team and the Police, Christine Jones the Estate Office Manager said, “
This is a intergenerational project with older mentors teaching young people gardening skills and how to grow their own food and I’m sure we would be happy to provide Dilys and the school with fresh produce from our garden.”

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Deiseb/Petition

Dwi wedi rhoi deiseb ar wefan Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru yn gofyn am ddiwygio Adran 6 o Ddeddf Yr Iaith Gymraeg 1993, fel fod aelodau seneddol Cymreig yn gorff cyhoeddus ac yn dod o dan adain y ddeddf. Mae hyn yn dilyn methiant Ian Lucas AS i gynrychioli ei etholwyr drwy gynhyrchu ei adroddiad blynyddol yn ddwyiaethog.

Fe fuaswn yn ddiolchgar o'ch cefnogaeth.

I gofrestru i arwyddo'r ddeiseb ewch yma
___________________________________

There is a petition on the National Assembly for Wales's website, calling for an amendment to Section 6, Welsh Language Act 1993, to bring Welsh Member of Parliaments under the definition of a public body so that the provisions of the Act applies to publications made by these MP's are produced bilingually. This follows Ian Lucas MP's failure to represent ALL his constituents by producing his Annual Report bilingually.

I would be grateful for your support.

To register to sign this petition go here.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Caia allotments open


It's been a struggle, but the Pentre Gwyn allotments are now up and running. The hard work is yet to come but it's an election promise kept.

Censored - Nadine Dorries.

Love her or hate her Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP, has hardly been out of the news this year. First of all she was a victim in the Damien McBride email smear, then she upset David Cameron for saying that the Telegraph revelations is a 'whitch hunt' and that MP's are 'suicidal.' Now we have the Barclay Brothers owners of the Daily Telegraph successfully blocking and removing Nadine Dorries's blog because she had the audacity to claim in her blog that the Daily Telegraph 'witch hunt' against MP's and their expenses is to boost support for the BNP and UKIP before the European elections. For the Barclay brothers to take such unprecedented action rather than just issue a denial would suggest 'no smoke without fire.'

Now we know that these expenses were due to be published in July 2009 anyway, so why were the Telegraph so anxious to publish NOW was it just to maximise their scoop or was there an ulterior motive such as the influencing of the result of the European election...I think the lady's onto something.

If this is right and at the moment it is an allegation, then there could be unintended consequences of the Telegraph's actions, it may not be the BNP and UKIP that will benefit from the public 'anti politics' disillusionment in Wales and Scotland but rather Plaid Cymru and the SNP.

Whatever motivated the Barclay Brothers to censure Nadine Dorries's blog it most certainly raises issues around our rights of 'free speech' and 'freedom of expression'

I'm sure Nadine Dorries doesn't need me to encourage her to repeat the contents of her censured blog in the House using the protection of parliamentary privelege, I'm sure the Guardian and Independent would publish her comments in full.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Cyngor ar Bopeth Cymru ar Eisteddfod.

Dyma hysbyseb Cyngor ar Bopeth yn galw am staff a gwirfoddolwyr i weithio yn ei stondin yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Meirion yn y Bala:

Your Country Needs You




Ydy poster uniaeth Saesneg Kitchener yn galw am wirfoddolwyr i fynd i'r Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf yn addas ar gyfer yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol gwbwl Gymreig a lle mae heddychiaeth wedi bod yn rhan annatod o'i diwylliant ers blynyddoedd maith?

Cwbwl annerbyniol.

Lies, damn lies and election leaflets

I think I've had the wrong leaflet from the Lib Dems. It says that "only the Lib Dems can beat Labour here now". I hope they realise that this is the Euro-elections, where the Lib Dems have never won a Welsh seat.

I was, however, comforted to see a chart showing the Lib Dems and Labour neck and neck in the polls and a big arrow saying "Can't win here" over Plaid. But in the seats that Plaid, Lib Dems and Labour all contested in the Wrecsam constituency, Plaid won both, Labour came second and the Lib Dems came a very poor third. OK, it was only two seats but that's what you can do with statistics.

A final point: Plaid is criticised for delivering "a poor deal" while in government in the Assembly. Wrecsam Council received 3.7% in the last settlement, one of the highest in Wales. Still, it's nice to get a mention.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Plaid condemns MPs 'seven deadly sins'


Plaid MPs in Westminster have set in motion new plans to address the MPs’ expenses row.

As an interim measure, in advance of any recommendations by Sir Christopher Kelly, Plaid MPs have announced new internal guidelines while reform of the expenses system is kick-started.

Plaid will also call upon the Government to immediately abolish what the party views as the ‘Seven deadly parliamentary sins’:

• The practise of flipping
• Climbing the property ladder at the public expense
• Claiming a second home discount
• Giving the wrong address – ie. claiming that the constituency-based family home is the designated second home
• Long distance shopping – the practise of claiming for objects delivered to your second home but used at the first
• Tax evasion
• Claiming for luxury items.

Plaid Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd MP said: “Now that a new Speaker is to be elected, it’s important that Michael Martin does not become a scapegoat for the controversy - we must now have a new political culture.

“It is deeply regrettable that public confidence in the expenses system and in democratic politics has been eroded. Although the expenses claims made by Plaid Cymru MPs have been in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the parliamentary guidelines, the party has argued for some time that lessons need to be learned from the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament in terms of reforming the system to ensure transparency, fairness and openness.

“Notwithstanding any reforms to Parliamentary systems, Plaid Cymru has decided to review its rules in relation to the expenses claimed by its own elected representatives in the House of Commons.

“We will disclose all claims made by Plaid MPs as soon as possible. We will also ensure that we do not accept anything other than legitimate housing costs while the investigation is under way – which will not include food, furniture or home fittings. I hope the House will join us in fully accepting and implementing changes from Sir Christopher Kelly’s review.

“It should naturally be assumed that all MPs with constituencies outside of London are registered with the tax authorities as having a second home in London.

“Review of claims must be carried out independently and in a matter of weeks, so that we begin the urgent process of restoring public confidence. Plaid will also continue to urge Westminster to fully disclose all MPs’ claims as soon as possible and to abolish these shocking practises.”

Last Speaker to be sacked was a Wrecsam man

Hat tip to Miserable Old Fart for this bit of news about the last Speaker of the House of Commons to be sacked. Sir John Trevor, it appears, was an MP who used to represent the old Denbighshire borough seat, which I think would have included Wrecsam.

Michael Martin Is the first House of Commons speaker to be given the boot since the days of Sir John Trevor in the 17th century.

Which leaves the question on every body's lips: Who was Syr Siôn Trefor?

This is the answer from The Dictionary of Welsh Biography
Sir JOHN TREVOR (1638 - 1717), speaker and judge, was the second son of John Trevor (d. c. 1643). His father dying in his early boyhood, he was befriended by his uncle Arthur Trevor, who prepared him for entry to the Inner Temple (Nov. 1654), whence he was called to the Bar in May 1661.

Six years later he accompanied his kinsman and namesake, Sir J. Trevor ‘III’ of Trevalun, on an embassy to France, was knighted on 29 Jan. 1671, and in 1673 entered Parliament, sitting for English pocket boroughs till 1681, and failing to secure election for Montgomery in 1679.

He combined a fulsome support of the royal prerogative and single handed defence of his unpopular cousin and patron Jeffreys with an aggressive Protestantism, resulting in his chairmanship of committees like those on the growth of popery (29 April 1678) — inspired by John Arnold, and issuing in the martyrdom of David Lewis and other South Wales catholics — and on the impeachment of Powis and the other popish lords.

Living mainly in London, he acquired a country house at Pulford, lower down the Dee than the family seat, until the death of his elder brother made him heir to the latter, probably before the violent county election of March 1681, when he revived the old family feud by capturing Denbighshire from the Whiggish but territorially far more powerful Myddeltons, who challenged him to a duel for calling the Roundhead Sir Thomas a traitor.

He became mayor of Holt next year, and in 1684 was put on a commission of enquiry into concealed crown lands in Denbighshire.

On James II's accession, Beaufort, as President of Wales , intervened, at the prompting of the king and Jeffreys, to heal the feud, with the result that Myddelton was returned unopposed for the county and Trevor for the borough, of which he was promptly made a burgess. Trevor had his revenge when a quarter of a century later he helped to ruin the Edisbury's clients of the Myddeltons, by foreclosing on their Erddig estate, of which he was a principal mortgagee.

In 1685 he was elected Speaker of the House (19 May), and appointed Master of the Rolls (20 Oct.), and added to the privy council , with two Dissenters to offset his stiff Anglicanism , on 6 July 1688; he was also given the joint constableship of Flint castle (1687) and the office of ‘ custos rotulorum ’ of Flintshire (Dec. 1688), remaining true to James even after his first flight. He therefore lost his offices at the Revolution , but was again returned to parliament for an English pocket borough and resumed his speakership (May 1690).

Winning the favour of William III by his success in ‘managing’ the Tories, he was restored to the privy council (1 Jan. 1691), made first commissioner of the Great Seal during the vacancy of 1690-93 , and re-appointed Master of the Rolls on 13 Jan. 1693, but in 1695 he was deposed from the speakership (12 Mar.) and expelled the House (16 Mar) for bribery, only a few weeks after he had been within sight of the woolsack.

His Welsh offices were restored in 1705 . He d. in London , 20 May 1717 , leaving a reputation for legal knowledge and judicial impartiality in sharp contrast with his political venality. He was a benefactor of many county charities , including Denbigh grammar school . His portrait is preserved at Brynkynallt. He m. Jane , daughter of Sir Roger Mostyn and widow of Roger Puleston of Emral . With the death, in 1762, of his eldest son, who unsuccessfully contested Denbigh boroughs in the Tory interest in 1741, the male line came to an end

Spats!!

I did swear that I wasn't going to blog on the question of MP's Allowances and although I'm not going to comment on the rights or wrongs of what's been going on...the voters have more than enough information to judge for themselves. What I am going to comment on is the speed with which John Marek launched a scathing attack on Ian Lucas MP following publication of his allowances, and the equal speed with which Caerwyn Jones AM comes to Ian Lucas's aid with this little spat:

News this week that John Marek, our former Deputy Presiding Officer in the Assembly has attacked Ian Lucas, Wrexham’s MP over his allowances caused some raising of eyebrows and choking on tea here in Cardiff Bay.

John presided over the extension of the allowances here to the point where a member can claim a second home in Cardiff even if they live less than 20 miles away.

This is the man who received not one but two payoffs when he left the Assembly and Parliament. He also would have had accommodation in both Cardiff and London which he claimed for. The Evening Leader might want to ask him how much money he made from these properties before having a go at Ian Lucas. They might also want to ask him whether he will pay back any money that he received from the sale of property that he claimed for between 1983 and 2007 when he was an elected representative.


Don't you just love these little spats between grown men one of whom is a potential First Minister of Wales.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Speaker...going, going, gone!!

So Michael Martin has finally put his ticket in... with effect from the 21st June...why so long I don't know!

Big question is who will be the next Speaker? The Tory blogosphere is saying its going to be Ann Widdecombe and that's ok with me, she at least has come out of this with her credibilty intact. Also amongst the betting is Labour's Frank Field another guy with lot's of integrity or Vince Cable from the Lib Dems. The guy I would like to see is Norman Baker, the Lib Dem MP the Freedom of Information champion in the Commons. He would be really good in bringing in some openess and transparency into Commons business.

Expenses row latest; MP ‘claimed for trough’

I think we have all gone through all the emotions of anger, depression, sadness and disillusionment following three weeks of drip, drip stories of Lords and MP's ripping off the taxpayers and coming up with the corniest of excuse.

Is it now time for some satire and laughter if so what do you think of this

Monday, 18 May 2009

Off the ball


Hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the thought of a black tie ball on the Racecourse to unveil the new away kit for next season. Cost per person? A mere £50.
Coming so soon on the back of the summary sacking of club shop stalwarts such as Wyn Griffiths and Little Dave, it's a sign that the new bosses at the club really don't have a clue what's going on.

In the name of God go!!

It was Oliver Cromwell who said to the rump Parliament in 1653,
“you have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, i say, and let us have done with you. In the name of god, go!.”

These are the the most apt words I could say to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin MP who has presided over the worst constitutional crisis since the abdication.

Martin is the man who has spent the last few years fighting against the release of MP's expenses following a Freedom of Information request and when the expenses row broke the Speaker was more concerned with who leaked the information to the Telegraph than addressing the problem. MP's patience finally wore out following his appaling treatment of Kate Hoey and Norman Baker both MP's with considerable ethical and moral standing within the House and respective parties and who dared to challenge the Speaker.

Today, we have MP's clamouring to debate a vote of no confidence in the Speaker over which the Speaker himself presided...now isn't there such a thing as Personal and Prejudicial Interest declarations in the House of Commons? Needless to say no vote took place but the speaker did address the House and apologised...sorry, but too little and far, far too late.

In the name of God go!

The hit parade

A blog that is local and talks about politics is never going to win a mass audience. However, we're doing alright after just a year of this blogging.
So far this month we've had 2000 hits and 700 unique visitors, a number that keeps on climbing. Thanks very much.
We should also say thanks to our biggest fans - leading the way in terms of hits are the House of Commons, so we assume our rivals are keeping a close eye on us. They're closely followed by the BBC, sniffing for a story, and Wrecsam Council, hoping for the opposite...

Probation Service 'can't cope' with dangerous offenders

Datganiad i'r Wasg/Press Release.

Probation Service 'can't cope' with dangerous offenders
Concerns about the ability of the Probation Service to supervise dangerous offenders have been raised by Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam Arfon Jones, who reveals a 70% increase in workloads over the past seven years.

Cllr Jones raised concerns over the robustness and the capacity of the North Wales Probation Service after the disturbing case of sex offender Patrick Brendan Smith, who recently pleaded guilty to grooming two 12-year-old girls whilst he was living at Plas y Wern bail hostel near Ruabon, Wrexham.

In the wake of this case, Plaid Cymru obtained information from North Wales Probation showing that average caseloads for probation officers in the area have increased by 70% over the last seven years and this despite a substantial increase in the budget and the number of Probation Officers employed. Probation officers' union NAPO and the Chief Inspector of the Service Andrew Bridges have expressed concerns about future budget cuts for the Probation Service and whether probation officers will have sufficient capacity to properly supervise dangerous and sex offenders in the community once they are released from prison.

Cllr Arfon Jones said:
The Probation Service state that their actions in the case of Patrick Brendan Smith has been reviewed by a senior probation officer from another area who has identified a number of issues including gaps on Smith’s previous offending.

"Plaid Cymru would call on the North Wales Probation Service to publish an executive summary of that report together with any lessons that have been learnt as this is absolutely necessary to reassure the public in North Wales and, in particular, the parents of children living close to Plas y Wern that they are up to their responsibilities of managing sexual and dangerous offenders.

"I shall also be writing to David Hanson MP, the relevant Home Office minister, to seek reassurances that North Wales Probation Service’s budget will not be cut."

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Martyn Jones voted to hide expenses claims

In May 2007, 98 MPs voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, with the apparent aim of stopping the public from finding out the details of their Parliamentary expense claims.

The measure was ultimately defeated, and after a long legal battle, the courts last year ordered the publication of the expense claims made by MPs. The government, however, continued to drag its feet until the information was finally leaked to the Telegraph newspaper, amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Parliamentary authorities.

Amid the uproar that the last week of revelations has caused among the wider public, attention has understandably focussed on the worst excesses of the worst offenders – the claims for non-existent mortgages, exorbitant gardening bills, and the famous “moat-cleaning” expense.

But alongside this, it now seems worth taking a closer look at the people who helped create the environment in which this behaviour was able to flourish – and who fought so hard to stop the truth from being exposed.

Interestingly, several of the MPs – such as Elliot Morley – who have now been identified as serial abusers of the Parliamentary expenses system were also among the 98 MPs who, in May 2007, voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act. But there are also many others who, to date, seem to have largely escaped public scrutiny.

78 of those who supported the move are Labour MPs and the remainder are Tories. Among them are Martyn Jones.

THERE IS GOING TO BE BLOOD’

"There is going to be blood," strong and emotive words spoken by nearly retired Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom at a Rotary function in Rhyl over the weekend and reported by Wales Online.
The contempt being shown to the public by MPs beggars belief and I am thinking of asking the editor of The Daily Telegraph if he has any evidence of law-breaking involving any MPs in North Wales.

There has been talk of funding private prosecutions and bloody well right, too.

There is going to be blood. This is an issue of such magnitude and public importance that the police should be taking a positive interest in what is emerging.

Yes Brunstrom is as annoyed as the rest of us over the MP's expenses saga but to use the words "There is going to be blood," is a bit over the top and far too emotive it conveyes the wrong message, the use of the word 'blood' could be linked to violence and the last thing we want is a Chief Constable saying such things; after all Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech still resonates today. Calm and common sense is what is required not inflammatory speeches from so called responsible people who should know better.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Euro-election candidate Eurig Wyn will be in Wrecsam on Monday for a day's canvassing with local councillors and activists in Gwersyllt, the town centre, Hope and Ruabon.
Voters are hammering Labour and Tories for their excessive Westminster expense claims and there's a real chance that that will result in Plaid gaining a second European seat.
To get involved with the campaign locally contact plaidwrecsam@gmail.com

Wrecsam, England!!

Yes, that's where I live according to Facebook, along with the other 300,000 Facebook members who live in Wales. Wrecsam always used to be Wrecsam, UK but its now changed to Wrecsam, England. Unfortunately we've never been able to have our location as Wrecsam, Wales. Peter Black AM describes it as outrageous and accuses Facebook of being 'geographically challenged,' which a great many Americans are. How often do we hear the Yanks refer to England when they mean GB or the UK, they just cannot differentiate between the two. There are now numerous Facebook cause groups campaigning to change this...all it needs is a drop down menu with a list of countries. But the big question is how to communicate this demand for change to Facebook? Look as much as you like you will not find the contact details or addresses for Facebook HQ in Palo Alto, California, or their international offices in Dublin and London anywhere.

How about it anyone fancy a little trip and a good old fashioned protest outside Facebook HQ in Palo Alto.

UPDATE - Facebook Inc, 1601 S.California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94304-1111
Telephone 650-543-4800

Plonkers

Yes, that's how Richard Eccles, Secretary of the North Wales Police Federation says his officers feel by being ordered out on litter patrols to boost the numbers of fixed penalties issued (Daily Post 16th May). Police Officers are concerned that when they catch someone littering they have to wait for a Community Support Officer to arrive to issue the ticket because Police Officers don't have the powers to issue Council penalty notices. But of course Police Officers can issues Police Fixed Penalty tickets but of course the monies from them don't accrue to the local Council, a point made in this blog previously. Since our original blog and article in the Daily Post myself and Carrie Harper have had reassurances from all directions telling us that littering is not a priority for North Wales Police, but the Police Federation seems to agree with us and that it takes priority over far more serious crimes. If its not a priority why would North Wales Police see the need to allocate the crime car and 2 plain clothes officers to sit outside McDonald's in Wrecsam with orders to get penalty notices for littering. More worrying still is the fact that 2 Police Officers have been paid, 'double time' to go on littering patrols in the Eastern Division.

I don't think this was the way we expected our £200 Council Tax precept to the Police Authority to be spent was it?

Part Three of this saga will be published as soon as North Wales Police provide me with information I have requested under the Freedom of Information Act which is subject to delay after delay...I wonder why?

UPDATE - This story appeared in the Daily Express over the weekend

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Isn't she Lumley?


Nice to see so many Welsh Labour MPs backing Brown vs La Lumley on the Gurkhas and ending up to the right of the BNP.
Bad call, boys!

How They Voted

NO to allowing Gurkhas the right to settle

1. Nick Ainger (Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire) Labour
2. Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) Labour
3. Chris Bryant (Rhondda) Labour
4. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) Labour
5. Wayne David (Caerphilly) Labour
6. Hywel Francis (Aberavon) Labour
7. Nia Griffith (Llanelli) Labour
8. Peter Hain (Neath) Labour
9. David Hanson (Delyn) Labour
10. Dai Havard (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney) Labour
11. Kim Howells (Pontypridd) Labour
12. Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) Labour
13. Ian Lucas (Wrexham) Labour
14. Alun Michael (Cardiff South & Penarth) Labour
15. Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) Labour
16. Jessica Morden (Newport East) Labour
17. Paul Murphy (Torfaen) Labour
18. Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) Labour
19. Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd) Labour
20. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan) Labour
21. Mark Tami (Alyn & Deeside) Labour
22. Don Touhig (Islwyn) labour
23. Alan Williams (Swansea West) Labour

ABSENT

1. Martin Caton (Gower) Labour
2. Paul Flynn (Newport West) Labour
3. Siân James (Swansea East) Labour
4. Martyn Jones (Clwyd South) Labour
5. Betty Williams (Conwy) Labour
6. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) Liberal Democrats
7. Roger Williams (Brecon & Radnorshire) Liberal Democrats

AYE

1. Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire) Conservative
2. Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent) Independent
3. David Davies (Monmouth) Conservative
4. David Jones (Clwyd West) Conservative
5. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) Plaid Cymru
6. Julie Morgan (Cardiff North) Labour
7. Adam Price (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr) Plaid Cymru
8. Hywel Williams (Caernarfon) Plaid Cymru
9. Mark Williams (Ceredigion) Liberal Democrat
10. Jennifer Willott (Cardiff Central) Liberal Democrat

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Tories under attack by Tory bloggers!!

The sleaze revelations must be bad for Guido Fawkes to describe one of his own as a 'complete shit'; and for Iain Dale to describe a Tory MP as, "James Gray is a class one copper bottomed shit."

Harsh but deserving words for an MP who charged the cost of a Rememberance Parade wreath to his expenses and then had the audacity to complain when the claim was refused.

I wonder if John Bell would like to comment on the ethical standards within his party, he's normally quick enough to comment about everyone else.

Tory own goal at Wrexham FC



Dear Editor

I was very interested to read in the Evening Leader on Friday 8 May about what was reported as a visit to Wrexham FC by a Tory politician, an English MP described as the ‘shadow sports minster’.

The Conservatives would have us believe that they have somehow changed and that they are fully engaged with Welsh politics. Yet here we have the suggestion that a Tory MP is shadow sports minister!

I’m sorry to disappoint this new found – and no doubt very temporary – Wrexham fan, but unless he find himself elected to the National Assembly, he will NOT be shadowing the minister who has those responsibilities in Wales – Plaid Cymru’s Alun Ffred Jones AM.

Let's hope the misguided man from Westminster enjoyed his visit to this great north Wales club, but you do wonder why he is spending his time visiting a Welsh club. Is it possible that he and his entourage just didn't realise that powers had been devolved to Wales?


Yours faithfully


Eurig Wyn
Plaid Cymru European election candidate

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Action on rogue landlords wins support

Tougher action against rogue private landlords has been welcomed by Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam Arfon Jones.

The Gwersyllt councillor has backed plans to be outlined in a Green Paper on the licensing of private housing sector landlords. The purpose of the Green Paper is to outline plans to license landlords of privately rented housing to ensure that housing standards are improved and to prevent rogue landlords from exploiting tenants.

The new system will be monitored by an independent body who will decide on complaints. If complaints are upheld the landlord could lose their letting licence. Matters covered under standards could be disrepair to houses, no fire regulations and no servicing of gas appliances. The Government estimates that half of homes in the privately rented sector do not meet the UK Government’s ‘decent homes’ standards.

Cllr Jones said: "In Wales the numbers are likely to much higher as the housing standard in Wales is the Wales Quality Housing Standard (WQHS), which is a much stricter standard than the ‘decent homes’ standards."

He added: “I welcome the decision to issue this Green paper on licensing private sector landlords; I have dealt with many cases of people who live in poor housing that are in states of disrepair. Some are frankly dangerous with gas appliances not having been serviced and many are overcrowded.”
Although tenants can make complaints to the council’s Housing Standards Department many don’t because of fear of being intimidated and evicted. Wrecsam Council have recently approved a strategy for dealing with enforcement of housing standards in the private sector.

Cllr Jones added: “I have in the past provided the Housing Standards with information on privately rented housing issues and I have been pleased with the speed and urgency to which they respond to breaches of the law.”
Cllr Jones would also like the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, which is supposed to protect tenants deposits, to be strengthened.

Cllr Jones said: “The tenancy deposit protection scheme does not appear to work well because there is no enforcement for breaches of it. I believe that local councils should be able to take landlords who fail to comply with the scheme to court. At present the tenants themselves must do it. I will be writing to Plaid's housing minister in Cardiff Jocelyn Davies and Margaret Beckett, her London counterpart, to ask for the new law to include powers in relation to the deposit protection.”

Caia councillors praise 'outstanding' nursery

Caia Park councillors have praised a recent Estyn report for the Caia Park Nursery school as "a centre of excellence". The official inspection report describes many aspects of the nursery’s work as "outstanding" and the school itself as "highly successful".

The nursery school on Prince Charles Road, Caia Park, caters for children between the ages of three and four from across the Wrecsam area and is seen as a centre for educational excellence for the whole area.

Smithfield Councillor Keith Gregory said: “We are very lucky to have such a valuable service in Caia Park, it’s one of a kind. The nursery has a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere which I’m sure is a key aspect of its success, well done to everyone involved.”

These comments were echoed by Councillor Ronnie Prince of Cartrefle ward: “The Caia nursery is a great facility, we’re all very proud of their success”.

Whitegate Councillor Marc Jones added: “The Caia nursery really is an integral part of the community with all parents full of praise for the service it provides. The early intervention provided by the dedicated team of staff is an essential stepping stone to full-time education for many of the children who attend. I congratulate all the staff, governors and parents for what can only be described as superb report."

The nursery is currently facing proposals to make it part of Hafod y Wern school, a move that parents, staff and governors fear could jeopardise the good work featured in the Estyn report.

Councillor Carrie Harper, of Queensway ward, said: “The report speaks for itself with the head teacher particularly receiving a glowing review. As councillors we were concerned to hear of an upcoming consultation about the future of the nursery. It would seem ridiculous to make any changes to what is obviously such a successful formula - as the saying goes, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

"The nursery and staff have our full support and we’re sure many children in the area will continue to benefit from the expertise and commitment on offer. Well done Caia Park nursery.”


• Both Carrie and myself enjoyed chatting to staff, parents and governors at the celebration there on Thursday.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Ian Lucas - Empathy with the Welsh Language?

Readers of this blog will recall previous blog entries here and here regarding Ian Lucas's failure to produce his Annual Report bilingually. Despite sending my letter in Welsh which would indicate my preference to receive correspondence in Welsh, he replies in English. Click on image to maximise.



I leave it to you to interpret his reply and whether has any empathy at all with the language and its speakers. I think this attitude clearly shows why we need a new Welsh Language Act, not only for the private sector but for MP's and others in the publice sector that the 1993 Act excludes.

How can we depend on Mr Lucas to deal with the Welsh Language LCO impartialy when this is the type of letter he sends to a constituent regarding the language?

Violation of Human Rights.

As a Police Officer I have long had concerns about our ability to take DNA from people who had been arrested but not charged and convicted. I thought this is wrong and how did such a law pass through 3 readings in the Commons and Lords...didn't any of the multitude of solicitors and barristers we have as MP's and Lords of the Realms scrutinise this law?; it appears not, not even the Law Lords. Or they may well have, but decided that our right to privacy...a fundamental right was outweighed by the demands of detecting crime.

But is it really proportionate (which is what the Human Rights Act demands), to retain 850,000 DNA samples of 'innocent people' out of a total database of 5.2 million people? No its not according the European Court in a recent judgement which CONDEMNED the UK Government stating that they had been "...struck by the blanket and indiscriminate nature" of the government's powers to take and retain the DNA; a sad indictement on a country that prides itself on its liberal traditions of freedom and liberty, including that fundamental freedom not to have their privacy infringed.

You would now expect the Government to back down and start destroying these illegal samples but no they've come up with a convoluted way to avoid the Court's judgement. It basically says that it won't comply with the Court's decision as it would affect the Police's ability to detect crime and they suggest they keep the DNA profiles of innocents for between 6 to 12 years.

The other side of the story is the 41,717 crimes detected by DNA in 2006/07, which included 452 murders. But these are headline figures and what they don't say is how many of the 42,000 detections were of people convicted and how many from 'innocents'. Those are the figures that we are really interested in' and anecdotal figures suggest that the latter figure is low perhaps less than 100 and it is hard to justify keeping 850,000 profiles for 100 detections.

But there again if a loved one was one of the 100 and a murder victim, and the offender was an 'innocent' detected through the DNA database then I can well appreciate the arguments for retaining the 'innocent' samples on the database. And there have been murder cases in Wales where the offender's DNA was held on the database even though the offender wasn't convicted.

Its a hard call to make.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Venture: The Facts (Part 2)

The Venture's accounts for 2007/08 on the Charity Commission's website shows their income as £598,000 and expenditure of £505,000, leaving £94,000 to carry over for this year.

Martyn Jones retires


Or more accurately "rat leaves sinking ship"... as it becomes obvious that Labour are going to get hammered in the next General Election, we will see many more MPs opting for the fat pension and comfortable retirement rather than fight on in 2010.
It says a lot that, after 22 years, Martyn will be best remembered for his distinctive bow ties.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Wisdom of Caia Park almanac

I've been given these costs for the "Wisdom of Caia Park" almanac by Caia Park Communities First. As you can see, there is no council funding for this project and I'm happy to make that clear.

ALMANAC PROJECT
SOURCE OF FUNDING
£
ARTS COUNCIL FOR WALES 16,500 00
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY 07/08 4,500 00
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY 08/09 4,648 00
UNRISTRICTED FUNDING 1,000 00

TOTAL 26,648 00

EXPENSES
ARTIST'S FEES 8,099 98
ARTIST'S EXPENSES 400 00
PURCHASE OF ALMANACS 9,840 00
DESIGN AND PROOF SERVICE 4,000 00
IMAGE SCANNING SERVICE 3400 00
SHIPPING 323 40
TOTAL 26,063 38

I had a very interesting meeting with some of the people responsible for the book yesterday and we'll see what emerges from this project.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Venture: The Facts

This briefing note from Wrexham Council has been prepared so that all those with an interest in supporting children, young people and their families in Caia Park and at The Venture can have an accurate picture of the current situation. We wish to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of The Council’s position. The good work carried out at The Venture is recognised and with guaranteed commitments from the Council and other providers, The Venture has at least £292,300 at its disposal each year, therefore, its future should not be in doubt.

Is the Council trying to close The Venture?
No – quite the reverse. The Council has been working with staff from The Venture since October 2008 to help them plan for a possible reduction in funding due to a contract coming to its natural end.


Why is there now less Council money available for The Venture to use?
The Council has purchased services from The Venture in the past and the contract for these has come to an end. Messages received during the fact-finding meetings which have taken place and the evidence on what works show that the community needs a wider range of services than are available at present. The Council has had to think long and hard about how best to use the money which was buying services from The Venture. It has decided to spend most of this money on other things in Caia Park, with the remaining money going to The Venture.


What has the Council decided to spend the money on instead?
The Council is going to use some of the money to pay for Parent Support Advisers to be based in the Caia Park primary schools. These people will support parents and carers with any issues or problems they have – not just to do with their children but anything at all which parents need help and support with like housing or benefit issues.

Some of the money will pay for more Health Visitors/Family Support Workers to help parents and carers in their own homes across the whole estate. Families who do not get support from Flying Start at the moment will be able to get it from the Parent Support Advisers and the extra Health Visitors/Family Support Workers.


Does this mean that the Venture has no money to stay open with, or that the Council is not supporting The Venture?
No, not at all. Some of the money - £40,000 a year – has been set aside by the Council to go to The Venture to support the playground for the next three years while other sources of funding can be found. In addition to this £40k further money has been guaranteed. £106,000 – Communities First funding which comes from the Welsh Assembly Government has been guaranteed to The Venture because it has been ‘matched’ with the following other funding:

£33,600 Flying Start funding (via the Council)
£26,000 Youth Inclusion and Splash funding (via the Council)
£40,163 Alternative Education Project funded by Cymorth (via the Children and Young People’s Framework Partnership which is led by the Council)
£31,037 secured by the Venture from the Waterloo Foundation
£15,500 secured by the Venture from BBC Children in Need

This adds up to £292,300 guaranteed funding. We understand that The Venture has additional sources of funding. Why would an organisation with so much guaranteed funding need to close? The Venture WILL need to cut back and streamline because the Council has decided to spend the money on Parent Support Advisers, Health Visitors/Family Support Workers to improve the lives of more children, young people and their families across all of Caia Park, but it does NOT need to close. The Council has been working with The Venture since before Christmas to identify ways in which it can cut back on costs without affecting its main provision and still wants to work together with them on this.

In addition, the Council is going out to tender for the provision of an integrated Youth Service on the Caia Park estate. There is approximately £60,000 which can be tendered for to provide this service on behalf of the Council; The Venture is able to tender for this funding though, of course, there is no way of knowing now which other organisations might also tender for this contract and might eventually make the successful bid.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Brunstrom going...but with no job to go to!!

When I saw that Brunstrom was finally retiring on the 31st July 2009, I was wondering whether he'd got the job in the Cayman Islands; well apparently not...that job seems to have gone to David Baines, Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire and two ranks below Brunstrom which I'm sure hasn't gone down well.(Source - Chris posting on http://www.thoughtsofoscar.blogspot.com/)
The big question now is who get's the Chief's job? As far as I can see there are only 3 with the relevant experience AND the ability to speak Welsh and they are Clive Wolfendale, the current Deputy Chief Constable, Howard Roberts, Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire and Meredydd Hughes, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire (famous for speeding in Chirk and getting banned from driving)
Despite Brunstrom's committment to providing a truly bilingual force (for which I congratulate him), he has not developed or promoted officers who can speak Welsh to senior positions. Of the top team of about 15 Superintendents and Chief Superintentents there are only two, Gareth Pritchard and Geraint Anwyl who are fluent Welsh speakers.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Arweinydd newydd Ynys Mon.

Llongyfarchiadau i'r Cynghorydd Clive Mcgregor ar gael ei enwebu gan y glymblaid Annibynnol Wreiddiol a Phlaid Cymru i fod yn Arweinydd Cyngor Sir Fon gan ddilyn y Cyngh Phil Fowlie a ymddiswyddodd wythnos diwethaf. Mae disgwyl i Gyngor llawn Mon gefnogi yr enwebiad dydd Mawrth. Etholwyd Clive yn gyntaf ym Mai 2008, fel Cynghorydd Annibynnol a fe oedd yr aelod cabinet dros Drafnidiaeth. Mae Clive yn gyn Uwch Arolygwr gyda Heddlu Gogledd Cymru. Mi rydw i wedi nabod Clive ers nifer o flynyddoedd ac mae gen i barch mawr tuag ato, ond gan ddeud hyny, mae o fel fi yn eitha dibrofiad o waith llywodraeth leol. Beth bynnag hoffwn ddymuno'r gorau i Clive yn y dasg annodd o roi Cyngor Sir Fon yn ol ar ei thraed

Friday, 1 May 2009

Risky Strategy for Tory AM's.

This is what Politics Cymru had to say about Alun Davies AM's decision to stand against Trish Law in Blaenau Gwent in 2011...career suicide. He is not the only one from what I hear who intend taking the same path...Both Mark Isherwood and Brynley Williams have their eyes on Delyn and Dyffryn Clwyd respectively. Despite being a risky strategy to defeat two Labour incumbents its not beyond the realms of possibity that they could succeed. The big question then would be, who would top the Tory list for North Wales Regional AM's?

Ian Lucas a'r iaith Gymraeg/Ian Lucas and the Welsh language.

Dyma ymateb Bwrdd yr Iaith i fy nghwyn yn erbyn Ian Lucas AS/ This is the Welsh Language Board's response to my complaint regarding Ian Lucas MP (scroll down for the English version)

Annwyl Mr Lucas

Deallaf bod etholwr i chi, Mr Arfon Jones, wedi ysgrifennu atoch ar yr 8fed o Ebrill i gwyno nad yw eich taflen gyfathrebu ‘Parliamentary News’ yn ddwyieithog. Mae Mr Jones wedi cysylltu â ni yn honni nad yw wedi derbyn ymateb gennych ac yn cyfeirio’i gŵyn atom ni.

Mae Deddf yr Iaith Gymraeg 1993 yn rhoi dyletswydd ar gyrff cyhoeddus i baratoi cynllun Iaith Gymraeg sy’n egluro sut y byddant yn trin y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg yn gyfartal wrth gynnal busnes cyhoeddus yng Nghymru. Mae Adran 18 y Ddeddf yn rhoi’r hawl i aelodau’r cyhoedd gwyno wrth Fwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg am fethiant gan gorff cyhoeddus i weithredu’n unol â’i gynllun iaith. Gall y Bwrdd ddefnyddio’i bwerau dan Adran 17 y Deddf i ymchwilio i gwynion o’r fath.

Diffinnir ‘corff cyhoeddus’ o fewn Adran 6 y Ddeddf ac nid yw aelodau seneddol na phleidiau gwleidyddol wedi eu cynnwys o fewn y diffiniad hwnnw. Ni all y Bwrdd ymchwilio i gwynion yn erbyn aelodau seneddol na’u pleidiau.

Serch hynny credwn bod cais Mr Jones i dderbyn gohebiaeth gan ei aelod seneddol lleol yn ddwyieithog yn un rhesymol. Rwy’n siŵr eich bod yn cytuno bod cyfathrebu effeithiol rhwng aelodau seneddol a’u hetholwyr yn bwysig. Yng Nghymru mae cyflwyno gwybodaeth i aelodau’r cyhoedd yn eu dewis iaith yn rhan annatod o gyfathrebu’n effeithiol â hwy.

Efallai y bydd o ddiddordeb i chi gael gwybod bod ‘Green Book’ Tŷ’r Cyffredin yn caniatáu i aelodau seneddol hawlio costau cyfieithu fel ‘lwfans achlysurol’. Mae lwfansau aelodau seneddol wedi eu hariannu gan arian cyhoeddus ac mae’n ymddangos yn rhesymol felly i ddefnyddio rhan o’r lwfansau hynny i dalu am gyfieithu gwybodaeth i’w gyflwyno i’r cyhoedd.

O ystyried yr uchod, a fyddech yn fodlon dosbarthu’r daflen wybodaeth yn ddwyieithog yn y dyfodol, gan ddefnyddio rhan o’r lwfans sydd ar gael er mwyn gwneud hynny?

Edrychaf ymlaen at dderbyn eich ymateb. Byddwn yn ddiolchgar pe byddech yn gyrru copi o’ch ymateb at Mr Jones hefyd.

Croeso i chi gysylltu â ni os hoffech gyngor neu wybodaeth gan y Bwrdd.

________________________________________

Dear Mr Lucas

I understand that a constituent, Mr Arfon Jones, has written to you on the 8th April to complain that your information leaflet ‘Parliamentary News’ is not bilingual. Mr Jones has contacted us claiming that he has not received a response and referring his complaint to the Board.

The Welsh Language Act 1993 places a duty on public bodies to prepare Welsh language schemes which explain how they will treat the Welsh and English languages on the basis of equality when conducting public business in Wales. Section 18 of the Act gives members of the public the right to complain to the Board about failure on behalf of a public body to act in accordance with it’s scheme. The Board may use powers assumed under Section 17 of the Act to investigate such complaints.

‘Public bodies’ are defnied within Section 6 of the Act and Members of Parliament and political parties are not included. The Board cannot therefore investigate complaints against MPs or their parties.

At the same time we feel that Mr Jones’ request to receive bilingual information from his local MP is reasonable. I’m sure you agree that effective communication between MPs and their constituents is important. In Wales providing information to the public in their language of choice is integral to effective communication.

It may be of interest for you to know that the House of Commons ‘Green Book’ allows MPs to claim translation costs as ‘Incidental Expense’. MPs allowances are funded by the public and as such it seems reasonable for some of this to be used for the purpose of translating information to be sent to the public.

In light of the above, would you be willing to produce the information leaflet bilingually in future, using part of the allowance available to do so?

I look forward to receiving your response. Please would you send a copy of your response to Mr Jones?

Please contact us should you require advice or information from the Board.