Monday, 31 August 2009

Fears over poor access for disabled at Eagles Meadow car park



Article from the Evening Leader, 31/8/09.

EAGLES Meadow bosses have vowed to act after councillors highlighted concerns about disabled access to the car park of the popular shopping development.

The car park at the centre has a height restriction of two metres which is not high enough for some mini-buses carrying disabled people, according to Cllr Arfon Jones and Cllr Keith Gregory.

Cllr Gregory, who represents the Smithfield ward, said: “I was approached by a carer who complained that mini-buses couldn’t get into the Eagles Meadow car park because of the height restrictions.

The bus stop on Smithfield Road isn’t suitable because there is no waiting and it takes time to use the hoist and tail lift to help wheelchair users out of the vehicle.

“I have spoken to the town centre team, the manager of Eagles Meadow and the car park and they all acknowledge there is a problem but no one seems to be sure how to resolve the problem.

“But while we are waiting we are losing people from Wrexham to Chester because there are better facilities for the disabled in Chester.”

Cllr Arfon Jones, the council’s lead member for children and young people, which includes children with disabilities, said: “I have spoken to (the disability charity) Dynamic who confirm that access to Eagles Meadow is problematic and they have to have more staff when they go there because of problems with parking the bus.”

Cllr Jones added: “This is not only a disability issue but also a safety issue. For example, how do the fire service and ambulance service enter the car park in the event of an emergency?”

A spokesman for Eagles Meadow said: “We take our responsibilities very seriously and we are grateful that this matter has been brought to our attention.

“As a result, we have arranged to meet everybody concerned to see what we can do to assist to address the situation as a matter of urgency.

“In the meantime, we have already come up with a solution to the problems encountered by the Chariots community transport scheme and we are in the process of ensuring they will be able to access the car park without any difficulties.

“The car park has 61 disabled spaces and spacious lifts to the main shopping centre.

"In addition, Eagles Meadow also has its own Shopmobility centre which has a fleet of electrically powered wheelchairs and scooters for people with disabilities.

“The facilities for the disabled at Eagles Meadow are second to none and the centre has state of the art toilet facilities with a hoist. When they were built, they were one of only three such toilets in the whole of Wales.

“I would like to stress there is no absolutely no problem in relation to providing access to the emergency services.”

___________________________________________________

My comments:
1.There was no need for anyone to bring it to the attention of the Eagles Meadow management team...they knew about it already, they just didn't have a solution.
2. Was it a design 'cock up' why didn't Building Control pick up this omission when they signed the job off?
3. Believe it not Shopmobility in Eagles Meadow doesn't open at all on a Saturday!!
4. Can't believe they say there is no problem with access to the Emergency Services, this covers a massive floor space, what happens whe a car is on fire some distance from the Entrances/Exits, likewise someone being taken ill in the underground car parks.
5. The Eagles Meadow response leaves more questions unanswered than answered.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

News International

I find it very difficult to take someone like James Murdoch seriously when he attacks the BBC, Ofgem and anyone else who gets in the way of News International making a few more bucks. Murdoch attacks the BBC for its dominance, but what do we want? a dominant media outlet like the BBC which on the whole is relatively impartial and accurate, or a media dominated, as in the US by the 'fair and balanced' Fox News, wholly owned by News International?

Fox is nothing more than a totally biased news channel promoting a Republican right wing agenda, just listen to the TV shock jocks,Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto or Bill O'Reilly on Fox, who seem to be competing with each other to be the most outrageous. They are very good entertainment value but that's all they are, they are definitely not a news source you rely on for accuracy or impartiality.

It's not the BBC domination that worries me but rather BSkyB's domination over digital especially where there is no cable so I'm particularly pleased that Ofgem are investigating BSkyB's domination.

The BBC may not be perfect, but its our BBC and we trust it, so leave well alone Mr Murdoch.

Another Welsh Labour Own Goal

Marc Scaife is a Labour Councillor on Carmarthanshire County Council who rang a 19 year old and berrated and abused him by leaving a voicemail message on his phone. The tone of the message and the abuse is frankly threatening. What is worse is that this guy is on the shortlist as Labour PPC for the Carmarthen and Dinefwr Westminster seat, but not for much longer I think. The Labour Party in Carmarthenshire should also require him to stand down as a Councillor otherwise they will never regain what little credibility they had left. This is what Che had to say

Local Democray...Wrecsam style.

Marc has identified in his previous post the problem that Wrecsam Council have in finding land for social and affordable housing. Councillors have over the last few months have had to push officers into drawing up lists of land that the council owns. That in itself has been a somewhat revealing experience in that they don't know what land they've got or at least there is no central registry of land. The most recent development has been to send out a list of what they think they own to Councillors for us to add or delete...a highly technical and legally sound way of doing business I hear you say. I have just returned my list of public open spaces to the Planning Department with two additions...now the Council cut the grass on these two public open spaces but they don't know they own them...doh!

Anyway to get back to the main thrust of this blog...petitions to full council.
The Pendine Estate in Gwersyllt was built about 35 years ago and as today, estates were built with open spaces. One of the Public Open Spaces on this estate was off Chatsworth Drive and is shown on the original maps as an Amenity area because there were a number of mature oaks on this land. A few months ago I received a list of potential sites for affordable housing which included this POS, I immediately objected in the strongest possible terms but it was put through at the local Planning Policy Panel for inclusion in the Local Development Plan. Needless to say I was furious and even more so when I found out that the more vociferous Councillors at that meeting succeeded in getting their affordable housing sites removed whilst sites on the wards of Councillors who weren't there were passed. Now the future of the Planning Policy Panel will be the subject of another blog but rest assured it will be 'reformed'

Local residents were not happy when they heard about the plans and organised a petition to present to Full Council on the 23rd September. I then gave notice to the Chief Legal beagle, but surprisingly he came back and said he was not inclined to allow the petition to go forward as it is in fact an objection to the LDP and should be dealt with at the same time as other LDP consultations. I disgreed with him pointing out that the constitution allowed petitions but did not specify that we could only petition on certain subjects. He said he needed further advice...off whom I don't know,he's the top man legally...clearly another delaying tactic.

Not being one to give up I then applied for a Tree Preservation Orders on the mature oaks on this POS because in Wrecsam trees on public land very rarely have preservation orders because we can imply that the Council as a RESPONSIBLE authority will protect these trees, our Public Open Spaces and the environment but as in this instance IT IS NOT THE CASE.

All in all not a good experience of local democracy in action...aren't councillors and officers supposed to work together to benefit their communities?

New council housing for Wrecsam?

Reading the Morning Leader and Daily Post, it seems Wrecsam is looking to build council houses to answer the shortfall in affordable housing in the area - a novel idea that Plaid's group of councillors first raised in May 2009 when they were first elected. At the time we were told it wasn't possible but it seems times change and so do policies.
It's the biggest issue I have in my ward with many young families forced to live in unsuitable flats when they need houses with gardens.
The main problem with wanting to build more affordable homes now is that most of the suitable land has either been grabbed by speculative developers or is still in council hands and is unsuitable - e.g. playing fields and open spaces.
The Daily Post claims that these would be the first council houses in 40 years - in fact as recently as 1982 Wrexham Maelor Borough Council was building hundreds of council houses each year. The stock has reduced from 20,000 then to just 12,000 today and they have not been replaced - which has partly led to a greater reliance on expensive private rented accommodation and the huge housing inflation Wrecsam has witnessed.
The political will is there locally and, I'm sure, nationally to find answers to our housing crisis.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Richard Brunstrom

Controversial to the end that was Richard Brunstrom, we should have expected this, a final farewell email guaranteed to wind up many ex Police Officers but not I hasten to add...yours sincerely. I agreed with many of the things he's said in his email especially about bilingualism. Phil Edwards's comments on yesterday's Taro'r Post prompted me to contribute. Now Phil was claiming that North Wales Police was becoming more bilingual before Brunstrom arrived and yes they were but 'at a snail's pace. In the 1980's the force was led by David Owen and Eric Evans two Welsh speakers, one from Betws y Coed and the other from Caernarfon, who from my recollections did absolutely nothing to promote the language, in fact David Owen resisted the use of Heddlu on the cars. I worked for 5 Chief Constables over 30 years and Richard Brunstrom did more to promote Welsh within the Police than all the others put together.

Ex Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Jones is another ex officer who is clearly unhappy writing in today's Daily Post about RB's demeaning comments about past performance and he makes some very valid points about the number of undetected murders in North Wales at the time RB became Chief and the numbers when he left...not good!

Final word to Rob Davies (It's the way I see it) in today's Daily Post:
While his departure has saddened former colleagues, the prospect of him taking to the high seas has dismayed many pirates.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Henry McLeish

Henry McLeish was Scotland's First Minister after the death of Donald Dewar. He defeated Jack McConnell to become Labour leader in the Scottish Executive. It is interesting to see that Jack McConnell MSP is one of the more outspoken critics of Kenny MacAskill's decision to release Al Megrahi on compassionate grounds. Henry McLeish on the other hand fully supports MacAskill's decision. I wonder whether this will take the wind out of Scottish Labour's sails for this afternoon's Holyrood debate on MacAskill's decision?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Dr Jim Swire.

Jim Swire was the father of Flora Swire who was killed on the fateful PanAm floght over Lockerbie and has led and been spokeperson on behalf of the Lockerbie families. He is highly respected for the dignified and rational manner in which he has conducted himself in the face of this tragedy.

There is obviously a lot of emotion over what has been said and the rights and wrongs of the release of al Megrahi but I really do believe that we should take on board the words of Dr Jim Swire a man who has suffered more than most who was quoted in Saturday's Telegraph in the following terms:
I am a Christian, so I would hope, that even if I was convinced that Megrahi was guilty, my Christian compassion and forgiveness would extend to wanting to see him die with his family around him in Libya...But I am convinced Megrahi is innocent...Its not a head on a platter I want but the truth

Perhaps those devout Christians, the Americans can learn something about Christian values from Dr Swire's words.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Paul Flynn's Total Bollocks

This is what Paul Flynn has to say about the Total Politics Top Blog competition:
Total What?
Two weeks ago I named my favourite blogs.
One of them is BBC's Vaughan Roderick's blog. He is in the top ten of media blogs in the UK's Total Politics poll. That's astonishing. Perhaps I should defend the ratings because this blog is among the top ten political blogs.
While Vaughan deserves the rating, it's impossible that his position is a fair reflection of a large vote across the UK. The blog is written entirely in Welsh. The result follows a campaign promoting Plaid Cymru blogs. Other parts of the country do not have blogs that have been begging for votes for weeks.
Not so much Total Politics. More Total B*llocks.

I don't disagree with what he says about Vaughan Roderick's blog and I voted for Vaughan, HRF, MRF,Valleys Mam,and Cynical Dragon all non aligned blogs despite being a Plaid Cymru blogger myself, so no in my case the assertion that we voted for each other is wrong. The reason why Paul Flynn is not popular is because he is so bloody patronising and pedantic, always critical of everyone else and so self important and self sacrificing...he needs to get a life and start writing some interesting blogs.

Non Aligned Blogs

Congratulation to Misreable Old Fart for making fifth place in the Top 50 Non Aligned blogs and to Vaughan Roderick and Hen Rech Flin for making the Top 20. It is particularly pleasing to see the latter as they are blogs written in Welsh and it just goes to show the numbers of Welsh speakers that read these blogs and the fact that they are so popular in an UK context. Keep on blogging in Welsh.

Friday, 21 August 2009

SNP Tactical Voting.

Congratulations to SNP Tactical Voting on second place in the Scottish Top 50 Political Blogs (anyone any idea why its Top 60 in Wales and Top 50 in Scotland?)
This is the only blog in Scotland that I follow and which is on our blog roll. I find it well written and thought out. The blog's support for the release of Al Megrahi is balanced and compassionate unlike the numerous critics of Kenny McAskill's decision amongst Scottish Unionists and...Iain Dale !
Keep up the good work of informing us of the inside track of Scottish politics.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Welsh Tories Rattled

The success of Plaid Cymru bloggers has got the Tories rattled with Dylan Jones Evans critical of his party's mediocre showing in the top 30 of the Welsh Political blogospere and imploring their elected members to get involved. Equally as interesting are the two rather pathetic postings in response to his blog; the first one a case of 'sour grapes'
Dont take the Dale Oscars seriously
Plaid really make an issue of getting supportters to vote for them.
Its the ones who are non aligned that I look at as real "winners" and the Conservatives who ahve little on line support havent done so bad.
Plaid love awards.

I can't quite make out whether the second one is a spoof or not because its so funny:
A surprising omission from the top 60 is the brilliant Welsh Labour blog "Aneurin Glyndwr", which is certainly living up to its promises.
"ANEURIN Glyndwr is a brand new political website launched by Peter Hain MP, Eluned Morgan MEP and Alun Davies AM.
"Its logo depicts Welsh Labour hero Aneurin Bevan and Welsh warrior Owain Glyndwr, together representing the authentic voice of Wales.
"With regular updates, AneurinGlyndwr.com promises to be a daily must-check website for anyone who wants to know what’s really going on in Wales."
"This brand new political website is definitely one to watch!"
- Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister for Wales
"I welcome this important new initiative. We must not surrender the internet to our opponents."
- Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Wales and Minister for Digital Inclusion.

Observations please!

Sickness in the NHS.

NHS workers have on average 10.7 days per employee per year on the sick, the total number of days lost was 10.3 million costing £1.7 billion. The average number of days sickness in the public sector is 9.7 days per employee and in the private sector it is 6.4 days. These are stark and disturbing figures at a time of budget pressures on all public services. Much has been done over the years to reduce sickness absence and if I recall it used to be about 15 days per employee per year. The introduction of strict absence management policies, management interventions and referral to occupational health have all helped to reduce the figure.

It may well be that the NHS may have policies in place with management interventions but my experience suggests that many managers do not intervene when staff are off sick, I know of two people who were on the sick for 3 to 4 months and had NO contact from their line managers and returned to work of their own accord.

Perhaps the NHS need to ensure that they employ managers to manage and then perhaps the days lost through sickness might just fall.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Top Ten Welsh Political Blogs

Very pleased and surprised to come in at number 10 of the 60 Top Welsh Political Blogs. Thank you to all who supported us and congratulations to Guerilla Welsh Fare for topping the list.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Unemployment.

I have previously argued that ONS data on unemployment don't add up. This has now been confirmed by research carried out by the Policy Exchange think tank:
Six million are out of work and claiming benefits, according to research which lays bare the true scale of joblessness under Labour.

The figure dwarfs the official rate of unemployment, which this month hit 2.4million, and is four times the number claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.

It is expected to soar to 6.4million by the end of the year and 6.8million by the end of 2010, prompting fears that Labour has created a generation of benefit addicts.

About one in six of the 37-million-strong working age population is out of work, according to the Policy Exchange think-tank.

This includes 1.6million on Jobseeker's Allowance and 2.6million on incapacity benefit and its replacement Employment and Support Allowance - more than a million of whom the Government believes are perfectly capable of working...
In 1997, when Labour came to power, £93billion was spent on social security benefits, but by next year it will be £ 193billion, more than doubling in 13 years

So there we have it...another Labour spin!

Blogiau Aelodau Seneddol

Llongyfarchiadau i Adam Price AS ddod yn seithfed yn rhestr blogiau gorau Total Politics yn y categori Aelodau Seneddol. Y cyntaf oedd Tom Harris ar ail oedd John Redwood. Yn y tri deg uchaf roedd 13 Llafur, 9 Ceidwadwr, 7 Rhyddfrydwr Democrataidd ag 1 Plaid Cymru. Dim ond tri blog allan o'r tri deg oedd gan wraig gyda Nadine Dorries yn bedwerydd.

Has he got the balls?

I read with interest the article in the Daily Post about David Bowles the new Chief Executive of Ynys Mon. Apparently Mr Bowles had been suspended as Chairman of the United Lincolnshire NHS Trust for refusing to give assurances on performance indicators on waiting lists, Mr Bowles has himself made complaints over the extreme pressure to achieve targets. Good on him I say, its long overdue for a senior officer within the public service buraucracy to speak out against the performance culture; enough is enough of targets lets get back to delivering a QUALITY service rather than a QUANTATATIVE one. The presence of a person of David Bowles's calibre and principles on SOLACE Wales(Society of Local Authorities Chief Executives)should boost that organisation's influence with the Welsh Assembly Government a boost that is desperately needed in the face of massive council budget shortfall. Only time will tell if he succeeds in turning Ynys Mon around.

Proposed Police Reorganisation will affect quality of service.

PRESS RELEASE.

Plaid Cymru Councillor Arfon Jones who represents Gwersyllt West ward has written to Chief Superintendent Ruth Purdie to express his concern having discovered that there is a proposal to amalgamate two of the three Policing districts in the County Borough. At present Wrexham North district based in Coedpoeth and Wrexham South district based in Rhosllanerchrugog are separate entities. The proposal is to amalgamate the two areas and to base the response officers at Rhos. Councillor Jones is concerned that if the amalgamation goes ahead the new area will be too large to Police effectively, Cllr Jones said
The proposal suggests that all the response officers are based in Rhos, but that is a long way from places like Llay and Rossett which are currently policed from Coedpoeth. The Police are supposed to respond to emergencies in less than 20 minutes, I just don’t see how this proposal will improve the response times. The people that we represent in Gwersyllt, Llay and Rossett will lose out if this proposal goes ahead.

In response to Councillor Jones’s concerns Chief Superintendent Purdie admitted the work was at an early stage and that no decisions had been reached as yet.
Councillor Jones said,
The Police should consult with the community they serve regarding these types of changes as they will affect the service the Police provide. We have already lost the Traffic Department from North Wales’s largest town to Deeside and this with no consultation with the public at large or elected members. These proposals should have been discussed at the Community Safety Forum and the relevant Scrutiny Committee and they weren’t and the Council know nothing about them despite being partners.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Letter

Letter sent to Evening Leader, Wrexham Leader and Wrexham Chronicle.

Dear Editor,

We always comment that the summer is the silly season as far as the press is concerned, they have no real news stories to print so they can’t wait to print press releases by MP’s and AM’s claiming credit for success’s that they have played no part in. It is disingenuous for Ian Lucas to associate himself with the Warm Wales project when he knows full well that the credit for the success of Warm Wales over the last few years goes to Wrexham County Borough Council.

Equally disingenuous is Lesley Griffith’s association with the £4 million grant to Llay School or the £163,000 grant to repair the roof of Llay Miners, when she knows full well that the credit should go to the local Councillors, Malcolm Williams and Peter Davies who have worked closely with the Authority’s officers and Lead Members on the school project and have supported the Miners Institute Project.

Clearly Mr Lucas and Ms Griffiths wish to reassure the electorate that they are actually working during their 90 days holidays and the best way of doing that is to issue press releases on any subject they can associate themselves with. I don’t believe the voters of Wrexham are that easily fooled.

Cystadleuaeth Total Politics

Fel gwyr yr rhan fwyaf ohonom mae Total Politics yn cyhoeddi ei Bloggers Guide yn flynyddol ac yn cael ei gynnwys yn y llyfryn yma mae y blogwyr gorau mewn gwahanol gategoriau. Mae TP newydd gyhoeddi ei 30 uchaf yn y categori Cynghorwyr ac yn y wythfed lle i fyny o naw ar hugain mae y Cynghorydd Gwilym Euros Roberts o Lais Gwynedd; er mae PC sydd ar ol ei enw! Dwi'n siwr fydd Gwilym ddim yn hir yn cywiro y gwall yna. Yr unig flog arall o Gymru sydd yna ydy Blog Dogfael sydd hefyd yn cael ei gynnwys fel blog Plaid Cymru.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Ghettos.

Are Local Authorities in Wales implementing Welsh Assembly Government legislation by creating ghettos? It is most certainly my perception and that of Cllr Carrie Harper and a number of people who live in areas of our wards where there is high crime and disorder. The problem it would appear is WAG's legislation, the Homeless Persons (Priority Needs) (Wales) Order 2001, who places an obligation on Local Authorities to treat prisoners who are released after serving their sentences as a priority on the housing waiting list as long as they have a tenuous local connection. Wrexham CBC's answer to this problem is to place these prisoners in the hard to let areas which are inevitably areas of multiple deprivation thus increasing deprivation and additionally creating ghettos of crime and disorder. A recent Freedom of Information Request to Wrexham CBC Housing Dept poses the question of how many prisoners have been released since this legislation was introduced in 2002 and housed as a priority AND secondly in which wards have they been housed. Once we have the evidence we shall most certainly challenge this covert social engineering policy. Personally I believe the legislation as far as released prisoners is concerned is poorly thought out, it rewards bad behaviour and discriminates against honest hard working individuals and families who have been on the housing waiting lists for years. I wonder how released prisoners cope in England and Scotland where they don't have this prioritisation? This is yet another example of WAG making us more dependant on the state instead of encouraging us to take responsibility for our actions.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Rhagfarn gwrth Gymreig.

I feddwl ei bod hi'n llai na wsnos ers y Steddfod mae na nifer o esiamplau o ragfarn yn erbyn yr iaith Gymraeg wedi dod i'n sylw yn ddiweddar sef blog Rosemary Ralphs dysgwraig o Wrecsam a oedd allan noson blaen yn y Plas Coch mewn Sesiwn Siarad hefo dysgwyr eraill. Wedyn roedd Liz De Rosa, athrawes Gymraeg yn Wrecsam, mewn tafarn pan gwynodd dwy wraig am ei bod yn siarad Cymraeg; dyma roedd ganddi i ddeud ar Facebook:
Liz DeRosa is astonished that two old women had a problem with us speaking Welsh in a pub in Wales!!
Liz DeRosa is still in disbelief about the attitude of these two women in the pub - who complained that we were speaking Welsh in our own country!!

Mae hynna ar ben Cynghorydd o Wrecsam yn cwyno wrth fy ngwraig yn y Steddfod am y ffaith fod popeth yn Gymraeg a doedd o'n dallt dim...roedd o wedi gwrthod prynu ddim byd yn stondin Rhiannon am fod popeth yn Gymraeg...doh!! A cyn i chi ofyn os mae Tori oedd o; na Lib Dem.

Dwi hefyd wedi gorfod cwyno i Cyngor Sir Wrecsam ynglyn a diffyg darpariaeth drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg er eu bod newydd yru adroddiad i Bwrdd yr Iaith yn canmol gwaith y cyngor gydai darpariaeth.

Mae'n amlwg fod yna dal lot i neud cyn ddaw y Steddfod yma yn 2011.

Unemployment in Wales Part II

Economically active means those in employment and those unemployed, in June 2008, it was 1.437 million and 1.430 million in June 2009 which is 7,000 people less.

Economically inactive means those NOT in employment or unemployed and include those on occupational pensions OR those on the sick and on sickness benefits, now those figures have increased between June 2008 and June 2009 by a whopping 23,000 people (963,000 to 986,000)

So are there less unemployed in Wales or is the Department of Work and Pensions moving people from economically active to inactive?

Another piece of data which would suggest that unemployment is not reducing in Wales is the claimant figure for Job Seekers Allowance which was 78,500 in June 2009 but 79,400 in July 2009 so JSA claimants is going up but the number of unemployed is going down...apparently. And just to show how serious the recession has hit Wales, the JSA claimant number in June 2008 was 44,000.

Unemployment in Wales.

The latest figures for a consecutive monthly reduction in unemployment in Wales is to be welcomed, Wales was the only region to see a drop in the numbers of unemployed by 2000 to 108,000. These however are just headline figures it doesn't drill down into the detail, for example how many move from available for work to economically inactive or to Employment Support Allowance (the old Incapacity Benefit) or the self employed who have insufficient National Insurance contributions to get JobSeekers Allowance...one thing is for sure there is a big difference between those who are economically inactive and those registered as unemployed.

The HMRC publish some interesting statistics on Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits. Based on tax credit figures they calculate that in April 2009 the number of FAMILIES out of work in Wales were 110,700 and those families had 192,600 children. In April 2008 the figures were 72,300 families and 134,900 children this shows a 53% increase in the number of families out of work over a 12 month period.

As we all know there are lies, damned lies and statistics, and the ones we choose to use depends on what spin we want to put on the story...unemployment is going down but child poverty is definitely on the up according to those figures. There is one word of caution however and that is the take up of Working Tax Credits is poor so the figures I quoted could be worse!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Peter Mandelson and Affirmative Action.

Peter Mandelson's answer to Alan Milburn's report on Social Mobility is to overhaul univeristy entry to provide students from poorer backgrounds better opportunities to access more popular courses at the more prestigious universities. He intends to do this by reducing the grades required to access a course, for example the standard qualification for medicine courses is three A grades but for pupils from poorly performing state schools grade B's would suffice.

This is very similar to the process of Affirmative Action in the US where quotas of places were reserved for disadvantaged minorities and later points were granted for such things as ethnic background. This proved to be the most divisive of all policies because better performing middle class students were being 'bumped off' the admission list in preference to disadvantaged candidates. In America this led to massive resentment from the 'silent white majority' who abandoned the Democrats in droves for a new right wing conservative Republican party of Nixon, Regan and Bush and look where that got us.

We must look to the lessons fromhistory and to ensure that we do not create resentment amongst the middle classes in this country by supporting this system of 'quotas' that Mandelson proposes. Any attempt to 'bump pupils off' admission lists in favour of lesser qualified will result in a backlash that will increase divsion and intolerance in this country

A far fairer system would be that utilised by Kings College Medical School in London where students from disadvantaged schools with lower grades have to attend a 'catch up year' before they start their substantive courses.

What we need is positive action to ensure that gifted pupils from disadvantaged homes receive support in their schools to achieve their potential, or has the government given up on trying to raise standards in our public schools?

Read the Times Online story here.

Google Analytics

Nothing much to blog about this morning so I decided to have a look at Google Analytics to see what the blog statistics were like. I set up Google Analytics on the 24th April 2009, and in the 76 days since then the blog has received 6,467 visits or an average of 85 hits a day. There were 2,322 Absolute Unique Visitors or an average of 30 a day.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Rhwydweithio.

Dyma un o'r pethau dwi'n fwynhau yn y Steddfod ydy cael sgwrs yma ac acw, yn amlach na dim yn y Bar Du. Fano roeddwn i bnawn dydd Iau yn sgwrsio gyda rai o selogion y Blaid ac mi aethon i son am natur gwleidyddion cenedlaethol heddiw ag ydy nhw yn gallu cysylltu hefo y werin a phobol go iawn. Nawr mae na rai gyda chymeriad, carisma ag agosatrwydd, pobol sydd yn gallu siarad man (small talk) ag yn gallu gwasgu dwylo, a rhai eraill reit i'r cyfeiriad arall lle mae rhywyn yn meddwl sut gaeth rhain ei hethol yn y lle cyntaf, dydy nhw ddim yn gallu cyfathrebu o gwbwl ar lefel personol.

Nawr mae yna ambell un yn y Cynulliad sydd a chymeriad brwd, carismatic ag agos atoch fel Nerys Evans a Leanne Wood, ac wedyn mae ganddo chi y bobol sydd gwbwl i'r gwrthwyneb!... a na, nai ddim mynd cyn bellad ai henwi nhw ond mi allwch gyd ddyfalu pwy ydy nhw.

Mae angen i'r gwleidyddion a gweinidogion hefyd ddod lawr ryw chydig ag ail gysylltu gydai pleidlais grai cyn i Lais Gwynedd neud i ni be da ni wedi neud i'r Blaid Lafur a dwyn ein pleidlais grai draddodiadol Gymreig. Os am syniadau ar sut i gyfathrebu ar werin gwyliwch ar yr Arglwydd Roger Roberts wrthi.

Does ddim rhyfedd fod mwyafrif o fobol wedi datgysylltu o wleidyddiaeth hefo cyn lleied o wleidyddion ar gael hefo'r gallu i ysbrydoli.

Friday, 7 August 2009

North Wales Police Authority, Part II

Letter sent to the Daily Post - 7th August 2009

Dear Editor,

North Wales Police have been very active at the Eisteddfod promoting diversity from recognizing staff achievements in Welsh language skills to a greater awareness of the need to report hate crime; and they are to be praised for their work in this area.

Perhaps certain members of the North Wales Police Authority could also benefit from receiving some diversity training especially when it comes to Welsh provision in the Force. Not only are a few members lukewarm towards providing equal provision in Welsh, one or two are downright hostile. It seems that these same members are hell bent on unravelling all the good work that has been done over the last 10 years and has increased in pace since Brunstrom’s departure.

The behaviour of some of these Authority members at public events such as the award ceremony for 10 years of Welsh Language achievement at Llandudno Junction recently is frankly deplorable and brings the Authority into disrepute.

May I sugges to Kelvin Dent the Chief Executive of the North Wales Police Authority that if he wishes to nominate a member to represent the Authority at the Eisteddfod that he nominates someone who has a basic understanding of what goes on there and not someone who comes out with crass insulting statement about the Eisteddfod’s Welsh only rule, it only adds to the rapidly declining reputation of some members of the Police Authority.

In conclusion may I add that this letter is not a criticism of the Authority as a whole, many of its members are committed to the principle of equality and fairness, it is aimed at the more divisive and intolerant members of the Authority…they know who they are, as we do.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Eisteddfod Wrecsam 2011

Balch oedd cael cadarnhad fod y Steddfod yn dod i Wrecsam yn 2011, lleolir y maes ar 150 acer o dir ar fferm Lower Berse sydd ar ffordd A525 i Rhuthun ac wrth ymyl y ffordd ddeuol.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Totnes Primary Election.

The Conservatives in Totnes selected their candidate for the Westminster election via an American style primary election. A primary election is very similar to our hustings where party members get together to select the party's candidate. In America there are two types of primaries, open and closed primaries. In the closed primaries only those people registered as Republican and Democrats can vote in their respective primaries. In the open primaries registered Democrats can vote in Republican primaries and vice versa, which is the process used in Totnes where all registered electors had a vote. The open primary is open to all sorts of abuse and manipulation by the opposition parties. I recall a few years ago that an open primary in Mississippi was subject to a court challenge because white Republicans were voting en masse against Democrats's strongest challenger and selecting the weakest candidate so as to giver the Republicans a better chance of winning the seat in the subsequent General Election.

I'm not saying this happened in Totnes but it most certainly has the potential to happen if the opposition parties ever succeed in getting their act together.

UPDATE - This is the case in Mississippi

Llais Gwynedd

Be ydy'r pwrpas i'r Blaid yma, mae nhw'n dod i fyny hefo unryw reswm i dynnu allan o'i cyfrifoldebau i wneud penderfyniadau anodd. Mae ei hagwedd tuag at lywodraethu mewn amserau lle mae adnoddau yn brin yn gwbwl anghyfrifol. Mae nhw'n gwrthwynebu be mae clymblaid Cyngor Sir Gwynedd yn geisio ei wneud ond heb gynnig dim yn ei le. Y sialens i Lais Gwynedd ydy deud wrtho ni sut fasa nhw yn datrys y broblem, ac ar ben hynny deud o lle mae'r arian yn mynd i ddod o? Codi treth cyngor hwyrach!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Yr Wyl Gymreig

Tra ryda ni yn mwynhau'n hunain yn dathlu ein hiaith a'n diwylliant yn y Steddfod Genedlaethol yn y Bala, trist iawn yw gweld yr anoddefgarwch yn y ffordd mae lleafrifoedd iethyddol eraill yn Ewrop yn cael ei trin sef yr Hwngariad sydd yn byw yn Slofacia. Dyma'r stori o Press Europ

Tybed be mae'r Undeb Ewropeiaidd yn ei wneud i wrthwynebu y math yma o ragfarn iethyddol sydd hefyd yn bwydo rhagfarn y dde eithafol yn Hwngari yn erbyn y Romani?