Saturday, 31 October 2009

Clear as Mud!

Here is Nosemonkey Eutopia's excellent summary explaining the roles of the various European institutions...enjoy!!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Letter to The Leader.

This is in response to a letter from John Humberstone, UKIP's Westminster candidate published in The Leader on Monday 26th October 2009, which was basically a criticism of WAG for not giving Wrecsam a share of the £118 million SCIF funding and going on to praise John Marek and criticise the Labour AM and the Plaid group on Wrecsam Council for being ineffective.
___________________________________________

Dear Editor,

John Humberstone’s description that Wrecsam is being starved of investment is a gross exaggeration and misrepresentation of the facts (Leader Letters 26th October). Whilst it is disappointing not to receive a share of the £118 million Strategic Capital Investment Fund it does not mean that Wrecsam is being starved of funding. The reality is that one department of Wrecsam Council (Children and Young People’s Services) received nearly £16 million in grants from the Welsh Assembly Government in 2009/10, in addition to this Rhosymedre and Llay School have received about £8 million pounds in capital investment. An investment of £23 million can hardly be described as being starved.

John Humberstone must be congratulated on his complete political transformation from a pro Assembly/Pro devolution member of Plaid Cymru in 1999 to an anti Assembly/anti European supporter of UKIP in 2009. It is an unique achievement to be able to cover the whole political spectrum from left to right in such a short period of time, but it does raise questions as to whether Mr Humberstone actually knows what he stands for?

Yours sincerely,

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

How many Presidents do we need?

Tony Blair is being touted as the first permanent President of the European Council following adoption of the Lisbon Treaty (assuming the Czech's ratify the treaty) This is being opposed by the Tories who are lobbying hard with the smaller European nations to reject Blair. Should we really be wasting political capital over what Nosemonkey's EUtopia describes as basically a job that carries no power or influence,
"Whoever lands the job (and it’s highly unlikely to be Tony Blair) will have practically zero influence on anything, acting instead as little more than a moderator between the governments of the member states as they continue to run the EU show. And will be in office for just two and a half years – which is no time at all in EU terms (hell, it’s just taken more than a decade to get agreement on a treaty which doesn’t solve half the problems it was meant to…)"

We already have two Presidents, President of the Council of the European Union which is the job that gets rotated every 6 months between European leaders; and the really influential job, President of the European Commission who is Jose Manuel Barroso.
It begs the question why we need a third President? It just seems to me that with every treaty we just seem to create an additional layer of bureaucracy.

North-South divide, part 94

Today's Leader front page highlights the "Wrexham/Cardiff divide", a theme that has resurfaced from time to time over the past 10 years of devolution.
The complaint is that the North is ignored by "the South", or more specifically Cardiff Bay. This tends to rise whenever any project fails to get Assembly funding.
Two projects submitted by Wrecsam Council - for a £2m stand for the Racecourse and a £10m business park on the Ruthin Road - may or may not have been good enough. I know there were problems with giving public money to a privately owned company (i.e. Wrexham FC or Wrexham Village) but the Western Gateway scheme is an important development for the whole borough.
But my main concern is that people - whether politicians or journalists - who play up the North-South divide are often just hostile to the concept of devolution and the Assembly itself. Opposition to the Assembly has diminished to the point that only the cranky UKIP is calling for it to be abolished.
Most people want decisions that affect Wales to be made in Wales - and hopefully we will get more powers to do that sooner rather than later.
The South will always get more than the North because two-thirds of the Welsh population live there. And, while there are areas of relative affluence, there are many more areas of poverty and deprivation.
Politicians with an anti-Assembly agenda should be wary about stirring up the North-South divide for their own sectarian ends.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Letter to the Daily Post and Leader.

The following was sent to the Editors of the Daily Post and the Leader:

Dear Editor,

Despite predictions from the Treasury that our economy will grow the news last week was pretty dire with the economy in fact shrinking again. This coupled with the news that the big banks, or even our banks; are to pay massive bonuses to the top risk takers (those that got us in this mess in the first place). Now the RBS is talking of paying their risk takers somewhere between £4 and £5 billion in bonuses which I think is disgraceful when you consider it took £20 billion of our money to save the bank in the first place.

Rather than pay themselves bonuses the bank should look at lending this money to hard up businesses and homeowners who struggle to raise the cash they need to prosper

Even the US have beaten this rotten government of ours to taking action by deciding to cap bonuses of those bankers who were bailed out in the US. The big question is where is Brown and Darling and why are they not taking similar action? The failure of our government to take decisive action is akin to “fiddling whilst Rome burns.”

Gordon Brown should seriously consider taking the advice of that other dour Protestant, Oliver Cromwell,
“You have been sat to 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!.”

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Defend the Royal Mail - Support the Posties



CWU postal workers' picket at Wrecsam sorting office at Regent St.

To find out more about why the strike is on, read this and don't believe Mandelson's lies.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Wales being left behind...again!!

David Cameron has promised Martin McGuiness and Peter Robinson, that he will honour Gordon Brown's pledge to provide the Stormont Government with £1 billion to pay for the transfer of power over policing and criminal justice from Westminster to Stormont. Part of the billion pounds will also pay for legacy issues arising out of the troubles.

So here we have it, Scotland has devolved authority over Policing, Northern Ireland will soon have the power but what about Wales? Devolvement of Policing and Criminal Justice to Northern Ireland can't have been easy with their recent past history, and in comparison it should be a relatively simple task to devolve the same powers to the Welsh Assembly Government.

Plaid Cymru MP's have been calling for criminal justice to be devolved for some time so why isn't it happening? Whenever the National Assembly want powers in any other areas they go for an LCO, so why not an LCO on Policing and Criminal Justice? Is it because there is no will by AM's for this to happen?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Special Relationship.

The publication of a Guardian/ICM Poll today which shows that Conservatives are now on 44% (+1%), Labour on 27% (+1%) and Lib Dems on 18% (-1%) will have done little to alleviate concerns across the pond as to the foreign policy direction of the Conservatives if elected. A broad coalition of US Foreign policy experts from Hilary Clinton to John McCain have expressed their concerns that the Conservatives have left the mainstream centre right grouping in Europe the EPP and joined a grouping of far right parties which is described in today's Guardian as, "alliance with far-right parties with alleged antisemitic and neo-Nazi links." The Americans are also concerned that Cameron will try to wreck the Lisbon Treaty if it hasn't been ratified by the time of the next election.

It will be inteesting to see how William Hague manages to reassure Clinton and McCain during his visit to the US and whether the Special Relationship will survive an Eurosceptic Cameron government; or will the US look to France or Germany to assist them in influencing European policy. This visit by Hague has the potential to become a 'spectacular own goal' for David Cameron.

For links to these stories go here and here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Electoral Boundary Review

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales have published draft report with recommendations to cut back on the number of Councillors in respect of Denbighshire, Neath Port Talbot and Newport and each could lose up to 10 Councillors. A review of Wrecsam Council will commence in January 2010. If Wrecsam were to lose 10 seats on the basis of the electorate they would be:

1. Gwenfro (Labour) - 1229
2. Plas Madoc (Labour) - 1249
3. Wynnstay (Labour) - 1392
4. Maesydre (Lib Dem) - 1490
5. Llangollen Rural (Ind) - 1548.
6. Bryn Cefn (Lib Dem) - 1574
7. Chirk South (Ind) - 1581
8. Queensway (Plaid) - 1585
9. Penycae (Labour) - 1598.
10. Pant (Ind) - 1601.

BBC News link

Eisteddfod Wrecsam 2011

Cynhaliwyd ail gyfarfod llwyddianus iawn i gynnal Eisteddfod Wrecsam 2011 neithiwr. Roedd y theatr yn Ysgol Morgan Llwyd yn orlawn gyda nifer fawr o fobol yn gwirfoddoli ar gyfer yr aml bwyllgorau fydd ei hangen. Hefyd mae y Cadeiryddion i gyd wedi ei dewis ac felly y Pwyllgor Gwaith. Y gamp nesaf fydd ffurfio pwyllgorau ar gyfer y talgylchoedd lleol ac i godi'r arian i gynnal y Steddfod.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Gagged by Libel Laws

Simon Singh writing in yesterday's Sunday Times says that bloggers are reluctant to write anything critical for fear of financial ruin. Singh himself is currently being sued and he has spent £100,000 to defend the suit and he could end up paying up to a million pounds. It's always nice to know that there is the absolute defence of "fair comment" to libel, which means that what is said is true.

This is what Simon Singh had to say

UPDATE - Some more on this case by George Monbiot.

Bechod dros UKIP!

Mae UKIP newydd golli achos yn y llys a mae hi'n debyg y bydd raid iddy'n nhw dalu £750,000 o arian yn ol ac yn ol Farage fe ellith hyn roi UKIP allan o fusnes... felly, pawb hefo'i gilydd rwan...ooooooooooooh bechod! Neu fel fasa defnyddwyr Facebook yn ei ddeud, LOL.
Dyma sut adroddodd y BBC y stori.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

No change in the Deep South!

Despite having an African American President, racism, intolerance and bigotry are still present in the US's Deep South as this story in today's Guardian shows.
I wish this couple every success in their claim of discrimination against this Justice of the Peace, it is the only way to change behaviour.

Eluned Morgan

Wales Online reports that Eluned Morgan has found gainful employment with Scottish and Southern Energy as the head of their Low Carbon business development. What is interesting is the fact that Ms Morgan doesn't seem to have any plans to return to politics! Does that mean that Ms Morgan doesn't fancy her chances of winning any of the seats being vacated by sitting Labour Assembly Members, or is this job just to tide her over until the Assembly elections?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Delivering affordable housing - Wrecsam conference 20/11/09

Jocelyn Davies, Assembly housing minister, will be the keynote speaker at a special conference on "Delivering affordable housing" at the Nick Whitehead Theatre, Glyndwr University, Wrecsam, on Friday, 20 November, from 12.30-5pm.

She will also take questions and answers from the audience.

Other speakers (so far confirmed) include Jonathan Brown (Community Land Trust), Alwyn Llwyd (Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd housing association), Alan Anderson of Eco-Mods, Newtown (affordable housing manufacturer) and Aran Jones of Cymuned.

Plenty of opportunity to question key people involved and find practical ways of delivering affordable housing in Wales.

Free admission to those who register before the day. £5 entry on the day.


Pre-register by e-mailing marcvjones [at] gmail.com

Sponsors include Eco-Mods, Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd and Cymuned.

Edwina in Wrecsam today!

Edwina Hart is in Wrecsam today and will be visiting Ysbyty Maelor this afternoon so it's anybody's guess who she is meeting this morning. Keep an eye on her website to see whether Wrecsam or South Clwyd CLP's or either the MP's will declare their support for Edwina over the weekend.

Interesting to see in today's Daily Post that Clwyd West CLP are supporting Huw Lewis just as their AM Ann Jones is. I wonder if South Clwyd CLP will follow Karen Sinclair's lead and support Huw as well?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Concerns about Plas Madoc Communities First.

The success or otherwise of Communities First in Wales came under the spotlight last night being featured on BBC Radio Wales's EYE ON WALES. One of the schemes being investigated by the Wales Audit Office is Plas Madoc Communities First:
A community scheme to regenerate one of Wales' most deprived estates is being investigated over concerns about the way it is being run.

Plas Madoc Communities First in Wrexham has received millions of pounds of public money since 2001.

BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales has found the Wales Audit Office has now launched an inquiry over concerns with the scheme's governance and accountability.

Listen to Eye on Wales on BBC I Player here

More South Clwyd News

It has just been announced that Karen Sinclair, Assembly Member for South Clwyd will be standing down from the Assembly in 2011. Ms Sinclair has been ill with cancer since May 2008. She was first elected in 1999 and was Business Manager from 2003 to 2005. Ms Sinclair won in 2007 with 35.1% of the vote compared to John Bell's 29.3% and Plaid Cymru on 20%. A three way race in an Assembly election. Wonder who will be parachuted in to South Clwyd by Labour this time?
Ms Sinclair is the seventh Assembly Member to announce that they will be standing down in 2011.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Labour select candidate for South Clwyd.

Why have the South Clwyd Labour Party kept their selection of Peckham Councillor, Susan Elan Jones so quiet? There doesn't seem to have been a press release by the candidate, which is unusual as prospective candidates normally want to raise their profile and get name recognition.

Is it anything to do with the fact that Ms Jones is a Labour Councillor on Southwark Council and that opposition parties may accuse them of parachuting another candidate into what used to be a safe seat for Labour... but not anymore. To be fair to Ms Jones, I understand she's a native of Ponciau so she can claim some local connection despite having been away a number of years.

Ms Jones will not however resign her council seat until the 11th November, so as to prevent a by-election and her seat will remain vacant until the next election in Southwark, a decision that did not best please the leader of the Liberal Democrats who had this to say

Susan Elan Jones is clearly committed to pursuing her political career 200 miles away from her current constituents.

I'm sure the residents of the Lane will take a dim view of her newly found commitment to north Wales and her cynical resignation date that denies them their right to a vote. Labour clearly expect to lose any election and are in disarray, with half of their council group standing down or being forced out.

Susan Elan Jones is joining a long queue of ambitious Labour politicians who realise their only hope is to pursue their careers elsewhere.


The sad part for Ms Jones is that it may all be to no avail as some of the comments on the UK Polling Report for South Clwyd testify.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Accountability v Efficiency.

On the 1st October 2009, the new Betsi Cadwaladr University NHS Trust was formed and has responsibility for delivering health serices across all six Local Authority areas in North Wales. The Board of this new Trust has ONLY ONE elected member across all six authorities. If the BCU Trust has only one elected member to hold it accountable to the people of North Wales why does the North Wales Fire Authority need 28 elected members on its board at a cost of £41,000 in allowances only (not counting expenses) and the North Wales Police Authority has 9 elected members who receive a whopping £75,000 in allowances last year to hold it accountable. This doesn't include allowances of elected members serving on other outside bodies like the National Park and various quangos. Don't think there will be much change out of a £1 million throughout Wales which is three times what I'm expected to save from Wrecsam's Children's Social Services budget this year. In light of the impending funding crisis there is a need to look at the make up of these outside bodies and possible reduction in the numbers of elected members that serve on these bodies.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Pitw

Mae Ian Lucas AS yn deud mae y rheswm pam nad yw yn cyfiethu ei adroddiad blynyddol yw bod y lwfans gyfathrebu yn bitw a nad yw yn ddigon i gyfiawnhau y gost o gyfathrebu. Mae'n amlwg nad yw Mr Lucas yn gwybod fod y llyfr gwyrdd yn caniatau talu treuliau cyfiethu. Esgus gwael bron iawn cyn waethed ag esgus David Davies, AS Mynwy sydd yn gwrthwynebu cyfiethu gan nad oes digon o Gymru Cymraeg yn Sir Fynwy ai fod o'n meddwl ei fod yn wastraff arian! Be mae hyn yn ei ddangos fod y Toriaid a Llafur ddim wedi newid dim yn ei hagwedd negyddol tuag at roi cyfleon cyfartal i siaradwyr Cymraeg.
Dyma sut adroddodd y BBC y stori
Cyfweliad gyda David Davies i'w glywed yma Diolch i Simon.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Success!

Readers of this blog will recall my petition to the National Assembly calling for Section 6 of the Welsh Language Act 1993 to be amended so that Members of Parliament are included in the list of public bodies covered by the Act. This follows Ian Lucas's failure to produce his Annual Report to his constituents bilingually. The Petitions Committee considered this petition yesterday and received legal advice which shows quite clearly that Welsh Assembly Ministers have the powers to amend the list of public bodies to which the Welsh Language Act applies. The Committee agreed to write to the Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones to ask whether he had considered this matter; personally I would have been more blunt and asked him in no uncertain terms to use his powers to include Welsh Members of Parliament under the Act.
To view go to Senedd TV
It will also be discussed on CF99 tonight.
Listen to David Davies's politically incorrect rant here. Thanks to Simon.

Humberstone the Hypocrite

John Humberstone the ex-independent councillor for the Smithfield ward in Wrecsam has been selected to stand for the United Kingdom Independance Party for Wrecsam at the next Westminster election. John has done the rounds of the political parties -SDP, Plaid Cymru, Forward Wales, Libertas and now UKIP. Now UKIP seems a strange choice of party for an internationalist like John Humberstone who has his fingers in many pies when it comes to 'providing services' to the Polish community in Wrecsam i.e housing and jobs.
For someone who benefits to such an extent from migration it seems to be crass hypocrisy and acting against one's economic interests to support an anti-immigration party such as UKIP. We can but wonder if John Humberstone's decision has caused a rift between him and his mentor that other great internationalist our ex AM and MP, John Marek!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Affordable housing - "the perfect storm"

A recent meeting at Wrecsam Council was presented with the idea that the Welsh Assembly Government is insisting on 9900 new households in the borough from now until 2021.

But, on closer inspection of the accompanying paperwork, it appears that WAG is saying that, based on recent past trends, the number of households will grow by this much.

This is based on the recent extraordinary housing boom in Wrecsam, which saw the borough experience a "perfect storm" of three distinct factors: EU migration, migration from within the UK and rapid growth in student numbers at NEWI in the past 5-6 years. In just two years more than 2000 homes were built, more than double the numbers anticipated in the council's current development plan. House prices in Wrecsam were the 3rd fastest rising in the UK from 1997-2007 because of the demand created by this "perfect storm". Prices more than trebled - a rise of 262% in just 10 years. [source Halifax Building Society].

The rapid EU migration was a specific event, UK in-migration was three times the Welsh level and NEWI/Glyndwr has undergone rapid and specific development in the last few years.

WAG's letter is clear that this is not expected to continue - but it's for the council to show why it won't continue:

The projections are based on past trends and are not forecasts of the future number of households. It is for local planning authorities to consider the appropriateness of the projections for their area, based upon all sources of local evidence,
including the need for affordable housing identified by the Local Housing Market Assessment (LHMA). Local planning authorities have the ability to deviate from the Assembly Government’s household projections if they have robust evidence and policy context. They can also undertake their own policy-based projections, but they must justify the reasons for doing so and explain the rationale behind their own projections.

Local planning authorities need to consider thoroughly the implications of the new Welsh Assembly Government household projections for their LDP. They should consider how appropriate it is to take them forward in the Local Development Plan or provide evidence to substantiate any alternative figures.


Accompanying 2006 household projections also make it clear the intent:

Local authority household projections indicate the likely number of households if existing trends continue. This may lead to new policies being introduced, which may result in the original projections not being realised. This means that the household projections will have met one of its prime functions – to illustrate the consequences of recent and current
trends in household formation, and allow policy makers and service delivery planners an opportunity to change this.


The perfect storm provides "robust evidence and policy context" to explain why we should NOT continue past trends and look to tackle the problems we've encountered by reducing the overall housing allocation while maintaining the affordable housing allocation as high as possible.

One reason in-migration from other parts of the UK is higher than average because the houses built in Wrexham were disproportionately executive homes when local need was for two-bedroom starter homes. Another reason was that Cheshire was building too few new homes around Chester - this will change due to the decision by Cheshire West and Chester Council to build 400+ homes a year.

Affordable housing and developers' profits

Wrecsam Council's Local Development Plan will soon go out for public consultation. It shapes council policy on a number of important issues from now until 2021.

Among them are the number of new houses that get built during that period. We've seen extremely high rates of development in the past few years up until the recession - more than double the number of houses anticipated were built in some years of the boom. So it's important from Plaid's perspective that we restore the balance now and plan for a far more modest house building programme to meet local needs and changes in the way people live (e.g. people are living longer so we need more bungalows for pensioners).

The past boom means that there is planning permission still existing for a further 4000 homes in the borough and fewer than 100 of those houses are expected to be "affordable".

That's why, with the remaining homes that are permitted, it's important that we maximise the number of new homes built that are affordable for local people. It was estimated that we need 2200 affordable homes to meet our housing needs in the area.

This could be achieved under the current plans if we were to adopt a policy of insisting on all new housing being 100% affordable. This has been rejected by the council as "unviable" - that's to say they don't believe developers will build for less than 15-18% profit margins. The council's planning officers are arguing for 30% affordable housing, which means we will fail to meet the needs of local people.

This is based on a false premise. In the recent housing slump we've seen developers have to take far lower profits (not to mention losses) and we also have a situation where housing associations build 100% affordable housing by having a lower margin on the house building.

What appears to be lacking is a determination to achieve the council's own priority of affordable housing - something that was highlighted in the most recent full council meeting held on 23 September. An amendment by lead member on housing Mark Pritchard and seconded by Plaid Cymru proposing that all appropriate council land, excluding public open spaces, be considered for affordable housing was defeated by 22-12. The defeat was secured by a combination of Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors.

Another obstacle is now being put in our way... more of that in the next post.

Huw Lewis a leftie? Pull the other one

Merthyr poet and political activist Mike Jenkins has this interesting take on the left-wing pretensions of his local AM Huw Lewis, one of three candidates for the Welsh Labour leadership.

Mike doesn't pull his punches about his absentee AM:
Lewis was a rabid Blairite then, so the recent support of so-called leftie Jon Cruddas seems amazing. At one meeting, he accused me of 'living in cloud-cuckooland', but maybe that's closer to Merthyr than his residence.

The shape of things to come?

Will communities have more of a say in the way local leisure and other facilities are run in coming years?

That's the impression you get from reading this report.

The Assembly Government’s new Community Asset Transfer Programme will run for three years from October 2009. It's a partnership between the One Wales Government and the BIG Lottery Fund to provide financial assistance for the transfer of ownership of assets from the councils and other public sector bodies to community groups and voluntary organisations.

The fund will be worth £13 million over the next three years and aims to contribute to the regeneration and strengthen communities.

The new Community Asset Transfer Programme aims to make it easier for communities to take ownership of publicly-owned assets.

Given the expected squeeze on council funding in the coming years, are we going to see community groups running local facilities rather than see them close?

There are pluses and minuses to this - the most obvious plus being a greater sense of community ownership and democratic control. On the downside, if the funding dries up after three years how will a community group raise the funding for large-scale repairs on a building or fund a major project. Is that why we pay our taxes?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Do Re Mi.

Watch this and banish the Monday morning blues!

Tories to force jobless to work

That is the front page headline of today's Sunday Times which refers to David Cameron's announcement at the Tory Conference tomorrow of a new Work Programme. Under this new scheme the Tories propose:
1. Rigorous medical checks to see whether those on Incapacity benefits are capable of work.
2. Private companies and charities used to get longer term unemployed back to work.
3. Benefit claimants who refuse to take training places will see their benefits cut.
I don't see there is anything new here, James Purnell abolished Incapacity Benefit and replaced it with Employment Support Allowance in October 2008. The Department of Work and Pensions have always had the ability to sanction benefit claimants for refusing to attend training courses and stop their benefits. As for using private companies to get people back to work this is also in place as part of the Purnell reforms. Try reading this story from the Mail and this story from today's Sunday Times and tell me what the difference is? The truth is that you vote Tory get Labour and vice versa, its all the same tired London based politics.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hightown flats

The decision to demolish the Hightown Flats is the right one to take because the structural problems of the complex won't go away. Most importantly seven out of 10 residents agreed and I hope work will begin as soon as possible on the job.
The biggest challenge will be to house the 120 or so families remaining in the flats - about 50 are now empty. Many will naturally want to stay as close to Hightown as possible and that means many will look to a move to Whitegate.
That is problematic because there are so few vacancies each year in the area - just nine last year - due to the amount of council houses that have been bought.
It's obvious too that many people in the flats want to stay together and, rather than be dispersed to the four winds, it makes sense to ensure that a substantial amount are housed in the same area or development.
With that in mind, it makes sense for the council to try to use some of the empty private accommodation in the town and come to an arrangement with the owners on a short-term basis. That ensures homes for the Hightown residents but also will not mean that people already on the waiting list are effectively leap-frogged when it comes to accessing in-demand areas like Whitegate.

Labour Leadership Battle

From today's Daily Post only three of North Wales's eleven Labour MP's and AM's have declared which candidate they favour. Two AM's Karen Sinclair and Ann Jones support the partisan uncompromising Huw Lewis whilst Albert Owen is backing Caerwyn Jones. I don't know about the remaining eight, Chris Ruane, Ian Lucas, Mark Tami, Martyn Jones, Betty Williams, Lesley Griffiths, Carl Sergeant and Sandy Mewies. I don't know whether Edwina Hart and Lesley Griffith's forthcoming visit to the Inspire Project at the Maelor Hospital in Wrecsam has any significance as to whom Lesley intends to support?

The poll at the Daily Post shows Caerwyn in the lead with 53%, Huw on 30% and Edwina on 20%. Don't suppose the furore over neurological services and the attempt to close or downgrade Llandudno Hospital will have endeared Edwina to those scarce Labour members in North Wales.

Released Prisoners and Priority Housing.

Readers will recall my previous blog, Ghettos on the subject of released prisoners being provided with priority housing under the Homeless Persons (Priority Need) (Wales) Order 2001. Below is a list of Homelessness Acceptances for all Local Authorities in Wales from the implementation date of this legislation, 1st April 2001 to the 30th March 2009 (FOIA request)

What strikes me in these figures is the high percentage of Prisoners Homeless Acceptances in Local Authorities along the border such as Newport which begs the question are we in Wales being used as a dumping ground for released prisoners from across the border who have tenuos local connections. No doubt it would be an interesting exercise to ascertain how many of those 5,255 individuals had addresses outside Wales when they were sentenced to imprisonment?

Wrecsam Council tops League Table!

Every year the Western Mail produces a 'rough and ready' league table of the 22 Local Authorities based on the Data Unit Wales's Local Authority Performance Report 2008/09.
Top of the table this year is Wrecsam County Borough Council and although the Western Mail admits its a 'rough and ready' guide it still indicates that Wrecsam Council is performing well in a number of areas and providing a quality service something that I as a member of that Council am very proud of. The next few years will be the real test of our continuing ability to deliver services in the face of a severe shortfall in resources.

No Identity Card = No Passport!

Since 1997 an unprecedented amount of legislation has been passed which restricts our freedoms, liberty and privacy. This extends from an increase in surveillance to legislation to take and retain DNA from innocent people as well as ability to monitor telephone calls and email usage. The one major area the government have failed...up to now to legislate for is identity cards with overwhelming opposition to their introduction on the grounds of civil rights and costs. This doesn't however mean that the government have given up on introducing identity cards, they are just becoming more devious as to how they go about it. According to the single issue campaign group
No2ID the government intend to link the issue of passports to identity cards; in other words no identity card equals no passport.

Traferthion yr Urdd.

Fel aelod o Bwyllgor Trwyddedu Cyngor Sir Wrecsam, mae gen i dipyn o gydymdeimlad hefo rhai sydd yn gwrthwynebu rhoi trwydded i werthu diodydd ar faes Eisteddfod yr Urdd. Yn wahanol i arweinyddion yr Eglwysi ddim rhesymau moesol, dirwestol na chrefyddol sydd gen i yn erbyn y penderfyniad ond rhesymau pragmatig, ymarferol ac yn bwysicach fyth rhesymau cyfreithiol. Mae Steddfod yr Urdd yr wyl ieuenctid fwyaf yn Ewrop gyda nifer helaeth o'r cyfrannogwyr dan ddeunaw oed. Ond y cwestiwn mawr ydy sut mae'r Urdd yn mynd i oruchwylio y llefydd yma, ag iddyn nhw beidio a dweud y bydd fel y Steddfod Genedlaethol gan fod yna ddim goruchwylio i weld yn y fan yno. Mae'n anodd cymharu Steddfod yr Urdd hefo unryw wyl arall ond yr agosaf o ran niferoedd ac oedran ydy Jamboree's y Sgowtiaid a does yna ddim diodydd meddwol ar gael yno. Felly mi fuaswn ni yn galw ar fy nghyd Gynghorwyr ar Bwyllgor Trwyddedu Ceredigion i wrthod y cais yma oherwydd nifer fawr o fobol ifanc dan ddeunaw fydd yn bresennol a diffyg y gallu i oruchwylio.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

How the rich control politicians

This excellent insight in the Independent into how politics works at the top should be required reading for anyone who thinks that Cameron is about change. Cameron is "Blair's heir" insofar as he's sold his soul for a headline in The Sun.
One telling comment is that Cameron and Osborne seem at home with the rich and powerful as they party on their yachts and holiday in exclusive Mediterranean villas. Of course they do, they went to the same public schools and share the same social networks.

Labour thinks different?

Watching Gordon Brown & Co inventing last-minute policies to try to win over voters at the next election wasn't pretty. Some have focussed on the hypocrisy over free hospital parking. There's been a lot of hot air expended on The Sun dumping Gordon - no surprises there given Murdoch's cynical desire to back a winner (who won't tax the rich).

But, amid the random policy inventions, one snippet struck me as breathtaking in its hypocrisy - the idea that the Post Office could be turned into a People's Bank.

This is something long advocated by Plaid among others. It's not something London Labour's leadership has been pushing. Indeed London Labour was, until a huge campaign mounted by the postal workers' union CWU, advocating part-privatising the Post Office network. It was prepared to abandon this fantastic community resource to the free market until the posties threatened to stop funding the government party to the tune of £1 million. The u-turn, albeit grudging and temporary, was inevitable for a cash-strapped party facing an election.

On this, as with so many issues these days, it seems Labour in London is being forced to adopt policies made in Wales - scrapping SATs, introducing free prescriptions and now hospital parking.

Plaid's new slogan is Think Different. Think Plaid.
Perhaps Labour's been listening!