Friday, 30 September 2011

Wythnos ddigon tila!

Dwi'n siwr y bydd Now Gwynys, Seimon Glyn ar gweddill o be sydd ar ol o Lais Gwynedd yn falch o weld yr wythnos yma yn dod i ben, mae hi wedi bod yn wythnos gach go iawn. Ddoe, mi fethodd Llais ac ennill sedd oddi ar Plaid Cymru mewn is etholiad yn Penrhyndeudraeth ac yn gneud petha'n waeth fyth yn colli hen sedd Gwilym Euros yn Stiniog i Blaid Cymru sydd yn rhoi mwyafrif i'r Blaid ar Gyngor Gwynedd. Mae petha wedi taro'r gwaelod hefo y Cyngh Aeron M Jones, Llanwnda, yn cael ei wahardd o'r Cyngor am fis am torri côd ymddygiad y Cyngor drwy ddeud petha cas am Dyfed Edwards ar ei flog. Mae popeth yn digwydd mewn tri, be fydd nesa tybed

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Estate office closure plan kicked out

Plans to drastically cut the hours of estate offices in various parts of Wrecsam have been thrown out by the council's Social Affairs, Health and Housing scrutiny committee.
The recommended proposals would have seen estate offices in Caia, Broughton, Gwersyllt, Plas Madoc, Rhos and Central closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This was despite officers acknowledging that more than 3700 people used the offices weekly.
The committee heard from Cllr Carrie Harper that the plans, which were uncosted, would see a massive reduction in services for little or no saving. She moved an amendment to retain current opening hours that won 6-3.
The scheme was also described as a false economy, given that officers themselves conceded that changing UK government policies on benefits would probably mean an increased number of people needing help, advice or make payments at the offices under threat.
Caia's Plaid Cymru councillors Marc Jones and Carrie Harper described the plans as "short sighted" at a time when more pressure was being put on the local housing offices since the closure of the central paying office in Lambpit Street.
They and Gwersyllt West councillor Arfon Jones expressed concern following the meeting that the main problem facing Wrecsam Council was the £11 million going out of the Housing Revenue Account each year to the UK Treasury in the form of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy. Cllr Jones said: "Much more needs to be done to pressurise central government to give up this unfair subsidy for London councils. Wrecsam tenants are being deprived of improvements and renovations to their homes because of this daylight robbery.
"Securing that funding for the borough would enable us to invest millions more each year in modern kitchens and bathrooms."

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Robin Hood Tax

The European Commission led by France and Germany intend to unveil detailed plan for the introduction of a new Financial Transaction tax or a Robin Hood tax in Europe. This proposal is not supported by the UK, Sweden or the US because of fears that Financial institutions will move out of Europe unless the FTT is implemented globally. The Swedes sum up the argument against the FTT:
The Swedish finance minister, Anders Borg, explained this month the opposition of his country, which does not use the euro.

‘‘We have substantial experience in Sweden,’’ he said. ‘‘Basically, most of our derivative and bond trading went to London during the years we had a financial transaction tax, so if you don’t get a solution that is universal, it is very likely to be detrimental for European financial markets.’’

The arguments for such a tax are persuasive but will only succeed if the global financial centres agree to adopt it, but at least the Europeans are looking at other ways of reducing deficits without the need for such deep cuts. They should be applauded for their efforts.

We have previously blogged in favour of a Robin Hood tax here, here and here

Fire service cutbacks put lives at risk

Today's Leader makes it clear the risk of further cuts in the fire service caused by the Con-Dem coalition's cuts agenda.
There's more to this story still to come out. Fire Authority members need to be very careful before they vote for frontline service cuts next month when there are serious questions to be asked of the Fire Authority's management decisions.

Cutbacks at Wrexham fire station could put lives at risk

Published date: 26 September 2011 |
Published by: Phil Robinson

LIVES could be put at risk if proposals to cut down on cover at Wrexham Fire Station get the go-ahead.

That was the grim warning after it was revealed North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority will trim £2.4 million from its budget over the next two years.

At its meeting last week, the authority’s executive panel was presented with five options for saving the money, which saw members back a plan to roster crews in a way that needs fewer firefighters.

Although this ensures stations are not closed or the number of appliances cut, it will lead to between 22 and 36 job cuts and save between £850,000 and £1 million.

But further options considered by the panel could have drastic consequences for the Wrexham station.

One would see the axing of one of the two full-time fire engines based at Wrexham along with 24 crew jobs and another would mean the removal of the third back-up engine manned on a part-time basis.

Plaid Cymru’s leader on Wrexham Council, Cllr Marc Jones, warns that if fire chiefs do not hit their £2.4 million cuts target simply by altering rostering arrangements they will turn their attention to the other options, which could endanger lives in Wrexham.

He said: “The authority went for the rostering option but that won’t save them the amount of money they are looking for.

“This is the thin end of the wedge and puts the Wrexham station in the firing line.

“Wrexham has a growing population and more houses being built mean more people.

“There is also a large industrial estate to consider.

“The fire authority has got to come clean on what its plans are for Wrexham because if cuts are made at the station lives could be put at risk.

“The whole community here will be very concerned about any cutbacks.”

A report on the options considered by the executive panel says the axing of the second fire engine at Wrexham, which covers the town centre, Gwersyllt, Coedpoeth, Rossett and Farndon, and reducing 24 full-time posts, along with the second appliance at other stations, would save £874,000.

Cutting the third appliance at Wrexham, which is crewed by part-time firefighters, and elsewhere would save £664,000 but, says the report, would lead to delays in attendance times.

There is also a warning in the report that these cuts could spark industrial action by union members.

A spokeswoman for the fire authority said: “The executive panel voted unanimously to recommend to the authority an option which involved rostering firefighters for duty in a different way to the current system.

“This has the benefit of maintaining all the current stations and appliances within North Wales.

“However, the decision has not been made by the full authority and this will not happen until the meeting on October 17.

“The authority may instead choose one of the five options listed which could be either the removal of the second or third appliance at Wrexham.

“We await the decision of the authority in discharging its duty to deliver a balanced budget for 2012 - 2013.”

Monday, 26 September 2011

Top of the league... supporters take control of club

It's finally happened - Wrecsam Supporters' Trust has taken control of our football club after months of uncertainty and agonising.
The 1505 (and counting) members of the Trust, who have raised £500,000 over the past decade to keep the club afloat and now invest in its future, are now the proud owners of our football club.
It's a huge challenge but the club is flying high on the field and the business projections for attendances are being exceeded every week at the moment.
Yma o hyd... as a community club.

Scottish Labour dump Ed the Red!

Despite it being Ed's big day tomorrow with his long awaited Leader's speech to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, the normally loyal Scottish Labour party have decided that their demise in May's local elections is somehow down down to Milipede Junior and not the grey Iain Gray. Scottish Labour's answer is to dump Ed the Red as the Scottish Leader which is basically the same as what the Scottish Tories are doing with their re-branding exercise. It has not been a good day for Labour with Ed Balls's self flagellation day of apologies and the Scots sticking two fingers up at Red Ed.

Let's have more of the same tomorrow.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Some thoughts on Greece.

Since I've come from a short holiday at one of my favourite destinations, the island of Kos, all I've heard on the news is of the financial crisis, the Euro and Greece defaulting on its debt. There were plenty of indications on the ground, one might say that Greece is most cetainly in a deep recession.

For starters prices in Kos were lower now in 2011 than when I was last there in 2006, with half litre of Mythos Greek lager selling at 2 to 3 Euros in local tavernas and 4.5 in the more expensive hotels. A great many tavernas had closed down with the locals putting the blame firmly on the shoulders of the international hotel companies for offering all inclusive deals rather than half board or B&B. In the tavernas and hotels there were far fewer staff than had been before indicating that the private sector had most certainly tightened up with fewer staff working much harder.

One promising aspect of the tourism economy in Greece is that their prices are now cheaper than those in Bodrum, Turkey, which would indicate that tourists may once again come flooding back to Greece from Turkey and Egypt.

It is however difficult to envisage how Greece will succeed in paying its debt when it seems that the main pastime of so many business owners on Kos was tax avoidance and evasion, with ever more inventive ways of paying for goods and services i.e. bill for drinks the bill for food made up as they went along and both bills paid separately.

Having tasted Turkey and Egypt, neither do it for me, I can't wait to get back to Greece, recession or no recession.

NB - For those of you who haven't been Kos Airport it is something to behold! disorganised chaos is an understatement

Friday, 23 September 2011

Flintshire councillor criticised over bacon butty demands

Thought the goings on in Flintshire politics was deserving of a wider readership than just the North East of Wales. Ex Labour AM and now Conservative Councillor Alison Halford, giving councillors everywhere a bad name!

Mwy o wastraff arian!

Mae o wedi cymeryd dan heddiw i fi sylweddoli fod adeilad y Cynulliad y Bae Colwyn yn dal i fodoli er bod yna adeilad newydd sbon yng Nghyffordd Llandudno, sydd yn ôl be dwi'n ddeall yn hanner gwag.

Pan ofynnais y cwestiwn pam fod angen dau adeilad o fewn ychydig filltiroedd i'w gilydd derbynies y math o ateb y disgwyliech gael gan was sifil sef adeilad Cynulliad Cenedlaethol sydd yn Princess Drive, Bae Colwyn ac adeilad Llywodraeth Cymru sydd yng Nghyffordd Llandudno!

Tybed faint o arian fasa'r Cynulliad ar Llywodraeth (a ni fel trethdalwyr) yn ei arbed os fasa na rywyn yn rhywle yn defnyddio chydig o synnwyr cyffredin ac yn cau Bae Colwyn ac yn symud gweithgareddau i Gyffordd Llandudno.

Siawns na chawn ni gwestiwn ar y mater gan un o'n 'haelodau.

Georgia on my mind.

Troy Davies a black person convicted of killing an off duty Police Officer but which he strenuously denied was executed on Georgia's death row.

Samuel David Crowe a white person convicted of killing a store owner in 1988 and which he admitted to, was spared execution and his sentence commuted to life without parole by the same Georgia Board of Parole and Pardons.

The Georgia Board of Parole and Pardons is made up of 3 whites and 2 blacks all of whom were appointed by former Repuplican Governor of Georgia, Sonny Purdue.

Say no more!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

BBC World News.

Whilst I was away on holidays in Kos recently, BBC World News was the only option available and it was on BBC World News that I heard the tragic news about the death of the four miners in the Swansea Valley. At that point I was quite impressed with the service with extensive coverage of the Chief Constable of South Wales and the Chief Fire Officer addressing the media and stood next to them was Carwyn and Peter Hain. The report then quickly moved to an interview with David Cameron and Ed Miliband about the tragedy but no comment from Wales's First Minister.

This sums up to me all that is wrong with the BBC's coverage, the BBC should have transmitted Carwyn Jones's response to the tragedy as the First Minister of Wales. This is a perfect example of devolution not even registering with the BBC, so much for impartiality and accuracy in reporting.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

An invitation to the Saith Seren - Seven Stars back in business

The old Seven Stars pub in Chester St, Wrecsam, has now been secured on behalf of Canolfan Gymraeg Wrecsam.
This is a new community cooperative venture that's looking to re-open the building as a centre to promote all things Welsh locally with food and drink downstairs and room for offices, meeting rooms and classes upstairs. As well as welcoming Welsh speakers, learners and supporters, it will also focus on providing local produce and Welsh food and drink, especially real ale (we plan to open a micro-brewery in the cellar).

The intention is to lease the building in the short-term with the option to buy in the future.

We need to raise money in order to get the bar and kitchen ready for opening in December and we'd like to invite you, as a potential investor, to a meeting in the Saith Seren (Seven Stars in Welsh) this week.

+ + + + +

Public meetings for potential investors:

IN WELSH - Wednesday, 21 Sept - 2pm, 5pm or 7pm - please note which one you'd like to attend.

IN ENGLISH - Thursday, 22 Sept - 2pm, 5pm or 7pm - please note which one you'd like to attend.

There will be a short introduction, a question and answer session and then a quick tour of the building to allow you to see the potential for the Centre.

Wine and light refreshments available.

As we only have limited space for each meeting, we need to know whether you are coming in advance: Contact 7saith [at] or text 07747 792 441.

If you can't make it, you can also invest online now here and find out how to volunteer at the centre.

Croeso i'r Saith Seren

Mae adeilad y Saith Seren (yr hen Seven Stars) yn Stryt Caer, Wrecsam, bellach wedi ei brynu ar ran Canolfan Gymraeg Wrecsam, y fenter gydweithredol sy'n bwriadu ail-agor y lle fel canolfan i hyrwyddo popeth Cymraeg yn lleol.

Y bwriad yw y byddwn yn ei lesio yn y tymor byr gyda'r opsiwn i'w brynu.

Mae angen codi arian er mwyn cael y bar a'r gegin yn barod i'w agor erbyn dechrau mis Rhagfyr a hoffwn eich gwahodd chi, fel buddsoddwr potensial, i gyfarfod yn y dafarn yr wythnos yma.

Cyfarfodydd cyhoeddus i fuddsoddwyr potensial:

DRWY'R GYMRAEG - Dydd Mercher, 21 Medi - 2pm, 5pm neu 7pm - nodwch pa un rydych am fynychu.

DRWY'R SAESNEG - Dydd Iau, 22 Medi - 2pm, 5pm neu 7pm - nodwch pa un rydych am fynychu.

Bydd cyflwyniad byr, cyfle i holi cwestiynau ac yna taith fer o amgylch yr adeilad er mwyn gweld sut le fydd y Ganolfan.

Gwin a lluniaeth ysgafn ar gael.

Dim ond nifer cyfyngiedig fydd yn cael dod i bob cyfarfod felly rhowch wybod os ydych yn dod erbyn 17 Medi os gwelwch yn dda.

Cysylltwch â ni ar 7seren [at] neu tecstiwch 07747 792 441 os am ddod.
Os na fedrwch fod yn bresennol ond am fuddsoddi, mae'n bosib gwneud yma a thalu gyda PayPal neu cerdyn credyd.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Angladd Barrie / Barrie's funeral

Cynhelir angladd y Cynghorydd Barrie Price Ddydd Iau, 22 Medi am 10.30yb yng Nghapel Hill St y Rhos a'i gladdu wedyn ym mynwent Rhiwabon. Blodau gan y teulu'n unig gyda rhoddion i gronfa Cymorth Dwr.

Councillor Barrie Price's funeral service will be on Thursday 22nd Sept at 10.30am at Hill St Church, Rhos followed by internment at Ruabon Cemetery. Family flowers only but donations to Water Aid

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Total Politics - llwyddiant blogiau'r Blaid

Llongyfarchiadau i Blog Menai am gadw ar frig y siart arbennig yma am flwyddyn arall ac hefyd i Syniadau, sydd wedi datblygu'n adnodd gwerthfawr iawn. Y syndod ydi'n bod ni dal yn yn y tri uchaf!

Mae'n dipyn o beth fod blogiau Pleidiol yn cymryd y pedwar sbot uchaf efo blogiau lled-genedlaetholgar yn rhannu'r rhan fwyaf o'r gweddill. Dim ond Peter Black o'r pleidiau eraill sy'n cael sniff. Sgwn i be ddigwyddodd i Aneurin Glyndwr?

Top 15 Welsh blogs

1 (1) Blog Menai

2 (3) Syniadau

3 (2) Plaid Wrecsam

4 (14) Welsh Ramblings

5 (35) Borthlas

6 (9) Peter Black

7 (8) Betsan Powys

8 (6) Miserable Old Fart

9 (13) Wales Home

10 (16) Bethan Jenkins

11 (-) Blog Banw

12 (-) Jac o’ the North

13 (5) Vaughan Roderick

14 (4) Hen Rech Flin

15 (20) Valleys Mam

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Councillor Barrie Price

It's with great regret that we announce the sudden death of Councillor Barrie Price. He was 66 and died yesterday after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Plaid's group leader on Wrecsam Council Marc Jones said:

"Everybody in Plaid Cymru knew Barrie and will be stunned to hear of his sudden and untimely death. He was a vice president of the party for many years and a long-standing activist. He was deputy leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Wrecsam Council and a very able councillor for Rhiwabon.

"He was incredibly dedicated to his community, to his family and to the cause of Welsh freedom. Through thick and thin, Barrie was one of a small band of campaigners who finally got his reward in 2008 when he was elected as a county councillor.

"He had real passion and commitment to the cause, but he was also unfailingly polite and ready to see both sides of an argument. I can't remember a day when Barrie didn't have a smile on his face and that is how we should remember him."

Our party, this council and Wales will miss him immensely. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Elaine, his children and grandchildren, who meant the world to him.

UPDATE: Some comments from the Leader website sum him up perfectly:
  1. Posted by: Welsh Witch at 10:21 on 15 September 2011 Report

    Such tragic news. Barrie was a true gentleman. Nothing was too much trouble, he was kind, thoughtful and always had a smile to share. He will be missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts go to Elaine and his family at this very sad time

  2. Posted by: a cahill at 10:38 on 15 September 2011 Report

    If ever there was a Cllr who deserved respect this man was the one...although I only spoke with him on one occassion his whole attitude and intellegence were impressive and a shining example of a man dedicated to the people who elected him and to Wrexham as a a person and Cllr he will be sadly missed.

  3. Posted by: sarfra69 at 10:48 on 15 September 2011 Report

    Very sad news, Barrie was a lovely and very kind man. He did a lot for Ruabon, he will be missed. Our thoughts are with Elaine and family at this very sad time

  4. Posted by: Democracy at 11:30 on 15 September 2011 Report

    If all politiicans were like Barrie Price then we would be living in a far better world. What a terrible loss for Rhiwabon, Wrecsam & Wales!

  5. Posted by: tommy at 17:19 on 15 September 2011 Report

    This is sad news,I only met him on a few occasions and he emanated sincerity.The best councillor Rhiwabon had seen in many a long year.

  6. Posted by: Welsh Witch at 17:48 on 15 September 2011 Report

    Barrie was a true gent, totally sincere in all his actions, will be sadly missed by me and all my colleagues at Remploy Wrexham. His support of our factory was tremendous and he always made time for us, even when he had other commitments - he was one in a million - John Brooks on behalf of Remploy Wrexham

Monday, 12 September 2011

Small is beautiful: Busting the independence myths

Myth #1: Wales is too small to survive as an independent nation

Myth Busted:
Wales, a country of 3 million people, is not too small to survive as an independent country. It is a fact that there are over 100 other independent countries in the world that are smaller than Wales. In fact, of the top 10 wealthiest countries in terms of GDP per capita, 9 have a population of less than 5 million, and 7 of those have a smaller population than Wales.

Of the countries of the European Union, the six most prosperous are small countries:

EU Member State GDP per head (in PPP) Population
Luxembourg 58,900 0.5m
Ireland 32,600 4.2m
Netherlands 29,500 16.3m
Austria 28,900 8.3m
Denmark 28,600 5.4m
Belgium 27,700 10.5m
Economic prosperity is no longer secured through being a large country or empire nor by using military force to gain access to markets.

There is no longer a link between the size of a country and its economic success.

That a small country the size of Wales can prosper is evident.

Those that argue otherwise are either unable to accept the evidence for this, or must believe there is something peculiar about the people of Wales that means they’re incapable of making a success of things.

Myth #2: Wouldn’t Wales’s budget deficit be too big for it to cope?

Myth Busted:
The UK currently has the biggest budget deficit in the developed world.

The argument that Wales gets more in public spending than it pays in taxes is often seen as evidence that Wales cannot pay its own way. When you consider the deficit of the UK as a whole, the argument does not stand up to scrutiny.

There are undoubtedly economic challenges facing Wales. The current GVA of Wales is around 77% of the UK average.

The challenge to those who oppose independence on the grounds that Wales cannot afford it is to explain why being part of the United Kingdom has led to this poor economic performance.

It’s important to remember that Wales has historically been a creditor to the UK Treasury and more than paid its way over the years. Of course the wealth that Wales once generated, and will do so once again, did not remain in Wales for the benefit of its people.

Myth #3: People don’t care about independence. It’s a distraction from real issues that matter to people.

Myth Busted:
We believe that independence for the people of Wales is central to a prosperous economy and society. The quality of local services, job security, affordable housing which are the issues that affect people’s lives can be dealt with far better by an accountable, elected Welsh Government.

Myth #4: We’re stronger together! Why break-up Britain?

Myth Busted:
The ‘separatist’ label is often thrown around by opponents of Welsh independence. Do they think we’d somehow tear Wales apart at the border and move it somewhere else? The truth is we are the opposite of separatists. We want to be a full part of the international community and of institutions such as the European Union and the UN. An independent Wales would still be a neighbour to the other countries of the United Kingdom. There will always be strong, social, cultural and economic bonds between the people of the countries of the UK.

The difference would be that we could be a partner to the other countries with our own voice being expressed. This would make for a stronger relationship.

Myth #5: Most people in Wales feel Welsh and British and will never want independence.

Myth Busted:
In the modern world it is inevitable that people within Wales will have several identities.

Identity is a personal thing and is separate from questions of democratic accountability.

Personal identity does not necessitate support for a particular way of being governed.

Myth #6: Independence is irrelevant in the modern globalised world?

Myth Busted:
The inter-dependence of countries is a fact of modern life. We want to play our part in the international community. As Winnie Ewing of the SNP put it: “Stop the World, we want to get on”. Globalisation not only makes an independent Wales relevant; it also makes it a more viable prospect.

An independent Wales becoming a full member of global institutions such as the UN and playing a full part in the global economy would give Wales the opportunity to thrive.

No longer does being a part of a large country or empire provide an economic advantage, small countries have access to the same global market.

Myth #7: Wales would be kicked out of the European Union.

Myth Busted:
It has been officially confirmed that Wales, if independent, would remain within the European Union. Former Secretary General of the European Commission confirmed this, when discussing the case of Scotland:

“There is no precedent and no provision for the expulsion of a member state, therefore Scottish independence would create two new member states out of one. They would have equal status with each other and with other member states.

"The remainder of the United Kingdom would not be in a more powerful position than Scotland…Anyone attacking the claim in respect of one country is attacking the claim in respect of the other. It is not possible to divide the cases.”

Also, under the principles of the Vienna Convention on the Law of International Treaties, Wales would remain a part of the European Union, as would the other countries of the UK. The Convention states that an international agreement still applies to newly independent countries when a signatory state is broken-up.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Plaid supports recalling Local Development Plans

Today's Plaid Cymru conference heard a motion submitted by the party's Wrecsam branch to scrap the use of Welsh Government population projections and not to support LDPs that push housing development beyond local need. The motion was supported unanimously by members.

In a speech to conference, Plaid Cllr Carrie Harper said: " Welsh Government stats are currently forcasting over 320,000 new houses for Wales over the next 20 years and most of these houses are being catered for now in our Local Development Plans. To put these numbers into perspective, that will mean two new cities the size of Cardiff plus another town the size of Wrecsam. These houses are not based on local housing need within Wales but instead are aimed at attracting further in migration into the country. The vast majority of these houses will not be affordable for the majority of the Welsh population."

"The Labour Government say they're standing up for Wales, well we say they're concreting over it."

Plaids north Wales AM Llyr Huws Gruffydd went on to say: "The concern being expressed by councillors and local communities across Wales is how the Labour Government and senior civil servants in Cardiff are imposing targets on councils that are way out of line with local need.

"It appears they (Labour) are continuing the errors of the past decade, which saw a free-for-all for developers that has already put pressure on infrastructure such as our transport network, schools, health services and social services. We do not want to continue to repeat this mistake."

Plaid Cymru are already part of a national campaign by Deffro'r Ddraig, who have submitted a petition to the Welsh Governments Petition Committee. The Petition calls for all Local Development Plans across Wales to be recalled and for housing numbers to be brought in line with genuine local needs. The petition will be heard by the committee at the end of November.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Wanted: A new type of leader for Plaid

Guest post by Shane Brennan, former Assembly candidate for Alyn and Deeside 2011

Whilst the recent election results were disappointing, there are many positives to take from the year so far. It was the grassroots of Plaid Cymru that successfully campaigned for a Yes vote in the referendum giving the Welsh people their first parliament since Glyndwr's time.
We also have a terrific opportunity to move the national movement forward with our forthcoming leadership election. It is clear from our recent performances that we need to reform our approach order for us to succeed in building a better Wales.
Despite the negative election results I am confident that with Plaid Cymru will lead Wales to take its rightful place as an equal amongst the other nations of the world. I am also confident that an independent Wales will be a better place for all of the people of Wales and will serve as an example of a happy and successful society.
There have been a number of significant factors inhibiting the advance of the Welsh movement. But I believe we are now at a point in history where we can change that. The recent election results have seen us as string as ever in the heartlands of the north and west. The impending leadership contest gives us the opportunity to remold our image and break out of our old strongholds and establish new ones.
We are automatically at two particularly difficult disadvantages. The first being that the lack of a strong indigenous media and the overbearing volume of the London-based media drowns out any Welsh political dialogue. The other is the misconception of our party as being a rural, middle class, Welsh-speaking party.
Independence for Wales can only be achieved when Plaid Cymru is regularly winning elections. This is unachievable as long we are seen as being irrelevant to the majority of voters because of the fact that they are urban and non-Welsh speaking. As a result of the forthcoming leadership contest we have the opportunity to dispel this image of Plaid Cymru.
It is inevitable that during the leadership campaign that someone will say that charisma is not the only quality we need in a new leader, and they would be right. But it is a key quality needed in any political leader. Politics is after all, above all else, a popularity contest and people are more likely to vote for someone they like. The recent success of Alex Salmond and Jack Layton’s NDP particularly in Quebec would bear this out.
Most of the electorate only engage with politics a few times a year and they usually do so through the leaders of the parties. Our previous leaders have all tended to look and sound the same; this is due to the fact that all of our leaders have come from similar class, geographical and professional backgrounds. In order for us to reflect modern Wales and connect with the ordinary voters who would not have been inclined to vote for us in the past we must have a leader who is demonstrably different from previous leaders.
It is vital that our next leader be above all else a strong, passionate and charismatic media performer. Like all of the other large political parties the age profile of our membership is increasing, any new leader must address the issue of recruitment immediately or we face our very own demographic time bomb. In electing such a leader we can engage more vigorously with the media and in one move change the public image of our party making it more appealing to both potential voters and potential members.
A change of leadership can only be a start to the reinvigoration of our party. We have repeatedly emphasised that we are a different type of party to the three main UK parties, however we are structured like them and measure success by the standards that they have set.
If we are to be a different type of party we must start acting like one.
Alongside a more prominent leadership we need to reinvigorate party structures by devolving the organisation and building a ward-based party. Internal discipline must also be strengthened to ensure that all party officers are held accountable for party performance locally and that elected members adhere to party policies and ethos.
As the UK parties have embraced counter-cyclical economic policies to the detriment of the working class there is a growing space for a political alternative. As Plaid Cymru is the only socialist party capable of winning elections we must ensure that the public is aware of the alternative policies that we can provide.
It has long been conventional wisdom that most people are socialists when it comes to their health and education but reactionary when it comes to taxes and crime. Given the current economic conditions we are witnessing a paradigm shift of the type not seen since the fall of Soviet state capitalism. As neo liberalism was in the ascendancy for the last twenty years we must prepare to ensure that socialism is the answer to our current and future problems.
We must clearly and passionately articulate our socialist policies. We must never forget that Independence is a means to an end rather than the end itself. It is apparent that the current economic downturn will see a sustained period of economic stagnation. Welsh nationalism needs to be positioned to give voice to the people who have had their expectations dashed and their horizons limited.
We must embrace and lead a vibrant and confident socialism otherwise we will be consigned to being a niche party representing a Welsh-speaking middle class who are economically reliant on the past successes of the language struggle.
Since the election in May I have had plenty of time to contemplate the future of the party. I have discussed the leadership contest with fellow party members and acquaintances.
After this period of due consideration I have come to the conclusion that the one person best qualified to meet the needs and challenges of the leadership of Plaid Cymru is Leanne Wood AM. It is my hope that Leanne is seriously considering running for the leadership and I urge her to enter the race.
Plaid Cymru and Wales needs the leadership that only Leanne can provide. Leanne has proven herself to be a very capable media performer as well as being a passionate nationalist. The election of Leanne as leader would demonstrate that we are indeed a party for all of the people of Wales.
The achievements of Plaid Cymru have been truly amazing and the the generations of patriots who laboured in the national struggle in the last few decades will be remembered as Wales' greatest. In the next few months we have the opportunity to move our party forward and ensure that Plaid Cymru is seen as the party for all of Wales.

Nadine Dorries and the abortion amendment.

I have been following the attempt by Nadine Dorries MP to amend the Health and Social Care bill to prevent abortion providers giving advice to pregnant women (in England). My own personal view is that we can't have enough advice providers for pregnant women to cover family planning as well as terminations. Figures for Wales would suggest that there is not enough advice available especially to young women between 15 and 25.

Overall figures for England and Wales show a fall in the number of abortions between 2009 and 2010. In Wales the figure fell from 8841 to 8632 or 2.4%. The abortion rate in Wales was 15.2 per 1000 women aged 15 to 44 whilst the rate in England was 17.6.

There is a vast differences across Wales with Newport, Swansea, Torfaen, Merthyr and Ynys Mon showing a fall of between 10 and 14% in the number of women having abortions between 2009 and 2010. On the other hand, Monmouth, Blaenau Gwent and Ceredigion show an increase of between 10 and 20% in the numbers of women having abortions over the same time period. Similarly on the rate per 1000, Swansea, Merthyr and Newport have seen big falls.

The figures that caused me the most concern however are the % of women under 25 who have repeat abortions with the average for Wales being 20%,which means that in 2010, 929 women under 25 in Wales had a repeat abortion. Bridgend, Conwy, Denbighshire and Pembrokeshire all see significant increases (3 to 5%) in repeat abortions in the under 25's, whilst Powys and Swansea show a decrease of 9 and 3% respectively in the same time period.

The number of abortions in Wrecsam remains similar between 2009 and 2010 at 437 with 22% or 50 repeat abortions in women under 25.

One can only speculate on the number of repeat abortions there would be should we in Wales be crazy enough to follow Nadine Dorries's amendment to reduce the availability of advice on terminations.

There is most certainly a lot of work that needs to be done to explain the variations and to see if there is best practise and lessons to be learnt from Newport, Swansea and Merthyr.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A dangerous precedent

Tonight's planning committee included an item on the agenda from the developers of housing on the Pentre Bach estate on the outskirts of Wrecsam that would have set a dangerous precedent.
Redrow and Miller Homes wanted to waive the existing agreement for affordable housing on their respective parts of the estate and, instead, make a reduced payment for affordable housing elsewhere in the borough.
In the case of Redrow, the eight homes (seven flats and one house) had been available for part-buy at 30% below market value. Despite this, only one had been sold and Redrow approached the council to sell them on the open market. As compensation for breaking the affordable housing condition, it offered the 30% market value differential - about £200,000 for the eight homes.
Used elsewhere, this would have allowed the council to build or buy two or three houses, so clearly it was a very bad deal in terms of improving the chances of local people finding affordable housing.
But it also demonstrates that an inflexible affordable housing scheme doesn't help the situation. We were not told whether Redrow had offered the homes to housing associations for rent and how intensively they had marketed them at the below market value. The main problem with the latter option is that mortgagers currently want 25% deposits, so that first-time buyers would need £16,000 or more to put down on a one-bedroom flat. For anyone on an average wage, finding that kind of money without parental help or winning the lottery is pretty much impossible.
The developers did not consider reducing prices - as is happening with open market housing - and to have gone along with the plan would have set a dangerous precedent for all other housing developments. We would have ended up with our affordable housing targets in tatters.
Fortunately, planning chair Mike Morris coupled with objections from Plaid councillors Marc Jones and Carrie Harper deferred any decisions to allow for more information on what would have been a fundamental change in our housing strategy.

Independence? Yes please say Scots

It's only a narrow lead, but the Scots are heading for independence according to the latest poll.
The latest TNS-BMRB poll, published today by The Herald, shows those who would vote Yes for independence ahead by 39% to 38%. The last time those who back Scotland going it alone were in front was a one-off lead for independence supporters in spring 2008.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Off Sales.

The Licensing Committee of Wrecsam Council recently heard an application for a licence in respect of a Mini Market in Brook Street, Wrecsam. The application was to sell intoxicants between 0600 hours and 2300 hrs 7 days a week 365 days a year. The grant of the licence would have increased the number of such premises from 2 to 3. This Mini Market is situated directly across the road from Liquid Nightclub, Envy Nightclub and Chicago Rock and the Police strongly objected to the grant of the licence basically on the evidence of problems caused by the other two Mini Markets i.e. Preloading and anti social problems from alcohol being consumed on the street. The Licensing Committee refused the license based on 1) and 3) of the four licensing objectives below:

* the prevention of crime and disorder;
* public safety;
* the prevention of public nuisance;
* the protection of children from harm.

These are the only grounds on which a licence can be refused or revoked and it is particularly difficult to show that the grant of a new licence will lead to any of the above.

It was therefore particularly timely of Alcohol Concern to publish a report specifically highlighting public health problems link between underage drinking, hospital admissions and the number of off licences in an area.
Under current legislation, licensing committees do not take public health issues into account when approving applications. Alcohol Concern's chief executive, Don Shenker, said: "The increase in hospital admissions among young drinkers is a cause of real concern and it is particularly worrying that the increased number and concentration of off-licences may be contributing to this. Local areas must have the ability to decide for themselves how many licensed premises they allow, rather than be obliged to grant new licences, as in the current system."

Don Shenker is absolutely right, the 2003 Licensing Act needs to be tightened up and an additional licensing objective of 'promoting public health' would go a long way towards greater control on the sale of alcohol.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

AMs demand Public Inquiry into treatment of Powys Fadog

Finally it looks as though the civil service will be brought to account as regards their handling of the Powys Fadog project in Llangollen.

Two north Wales Assembly Members are now demanding a Public Inquiry after years of unexplained delays and attempts to stop the project. Plaid AM Llyr Huws Gruffydd and Conservative AM Mark Isherwood have written to Carwyn Jones expressing concerns about the appalling way the group have been treated. From 2005 until 2010 the project had been approved by the management team of the WDA, the then Minister of the relevant department Andrew Davies and later was also approved by the subsequent Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones. All these decisions were mysteriously over-ruled by the Permanent Secretary for Wales, Gillian Morgan. She has never given an explanation despite numerous enquiries from members of the public, Powys Fadog and even Assembly Members.

It’s not very often that politicians from different political parties agree on much, however in this case the blatant discrimination inflicted on Powys Fadog by the civil service is clear for all to see. There is no doubt that the problems started following political interference by Karen Sinclair (the then AM for Clwyd South) but as is pointed out in this excellent blog post by Jac o' the North ‘she could have done nothing without the help she received in Cardiff’.

The time has come for our politicians across the political spectrum to hold the ‘Welsh’ civil service to account. The Permanent Secretary for Wales is currently only answerable to her boss down in London, the Cabinet Secretary Gus ‘O Donnel. We must demand that she now becomes answerable to the people of Wales.

The civil service will no doubt fight tooth and nail to prevent a Public Inquiry into Powys Fadog, of course they will not want all the sordid details of their actions to be laid out in full public view. However, it is vital for the Welsh democratic process that this Inquiry does take place. This 'politicians v’s civil service' showdown will play a significant role in determining who exactly is in charge of our country.

For more info direct from Powys Fadog regarding the way the project has been treated, please click here.


Despite agreeing in a meeting with Powys Fadog's board to write to Edwina Hart and request a review of the Welsh government decision on River Lodge, Ken Skates Labour AM for Clwyd South has withdrawn support following publication of this information to the press. Instead he is now calling for a Health centre at the River Lodge site. The original request for a health centre came from Karen Sinclair (former Labour AM for Clwyd South). In a series of letters to Ministers back in 2009 she attempts to discredit Powys Fadog along with requesting a Health Centre at the site instead.

Wrecsam councillors tell National Trust to get house in order

The National Trust has yet again come under fire for hypocrisy over its plans to build a new luxury village on the Erddig estate in Wrecsam. In a front page article in today’s Times newspaper, the Trust has blasted UK government plans to relax planning laws which will allow development on green belt in England, saying “unchecked and damaging development will blight the English countryside”. The newspaper highlighted the Erddig development in Wales to demonstrate the organisations hypocritical behaviour over the issue.

The National Trust is now spearheading a campaign to protect the English countryside from the UK government’s proposed planning changes in its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The National Trust gained planning permission for its new village of 223 houses on green field in Rhostyllen, Wrecsam back in 2008. The plans met fierce opposition from local campaigners who held a referendum demonstrating local people in Rhostyllen were against the plans 2:1. The Trust also came under heavy criticism after the development was advertised to potential buyers as being in Rhostyllen ‘Cheshire’, reinforcing campaigner’s assertions that the planned village was clearly aimed at commuters and not based on local need. Campaigners maintain the development, not yet built, was part of the controversial West Cheshire Plan, which aims to build over 20,000 houses across north east Wales.

The ‘Not on Erddig’ campaign went on to make headlines across the UK after forcing a vote of National Trust members on the proposals at the Trust's 2008 Annual General meeting in Liverpool. Campaigners initially won the vote with over 14,000 Trust Members voting against the proposals, although the Trust's chairman at the time Sir William Proby used his block vote of 8,000 to push the plans through. Campaigners also forced a vote of no confidence in National Trust leaders because of Erddig, with over 10,000 backing the motion.

Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper who led the ‘Not on Erddig’ campaign said: “ The hypocrisy of the National Trust over this issue is astounding. How can anyone take their supposed disgust at plans to build on green belt in England seriously after their behaviour here in Wrecsam. It is a great shame they’ve never shown the same concern for green fields here in Wales and instead rode roughshod over local opinion. The Trust lost a lot of members because of its behaviour over Erddig, it’s now time they scrapped the proposals once and for all and got back to their core aims of protecting the countryside for everyone.”

Fellow campaigner and Plaid councillor Marc Jones said the Trust's recent statements on the UK governments plans to change the planning system were an example of “breathtaking hypocrisy” after their attempted money grabbing exercise at Erddig. He added “They have no shame”.

The Catalans show the way!

What a shame that we in Wales don't have the national pride and self confidence of the Catalans to fight for our language and culture as one instead of constantly looking for divisions:
Spain gives Catalonia 2 months to dismantle the Catalan language immersion. As a consequence of last year’s Spanish Constitutional Ruling, which made 1 million Catalans take the streets in protest now the Spanish Judiciary system has given the Catalan Government 2 months to dismantle the Catalan immersion system and give Spanish the same weight as Catalan (Spanish is currently taught as a subject in Catalan public schools).

The immersion system has guaranteed during the last 30 years that the children who live in Catalonia finish their compulsory education being fluent in both Catalan and Spanish and has been praised internationally as a model of integration. Catalan is the language of Catalonia. Spanish media and Spanish speaking immigration (both from Spain and latin american countries) exert great pressure over Catalan and the Spanish Constitution theoretically should grant the language diversity protection.

But this not new, this is just yet another attack against Catalan language from Spain during the last 300 years. Not long ago it was banned during 40 years from public life during Franco’s dictatorship. This new initiative would have the results of creating two separated societies where the newcomers would not be able to speak the language of the country and would of course minoritize over time the usage of Catalan until making it residual.

Incidentally, it is completely impossible to find a school in the Spanish State outside of the Catalan speaking countries where Catalan education is an option. And Catalan is not an official language in Spain or in Europe, despite being with 10 million speakers the language number 13 in a European Union with 27 official languages.

Right now the internet is burstling with protests against this measure and calls to civil disobedience are made from all sectors of Catalan society and the hashtags #jonoacato and #somescola are trending topics both in Catalan and in the Spanish twitter rankings .

I am losing count of the primary and secondary teachers who have already already replied in twitter that they will not stop teaching in Catalan no matter what.

The Catalan government hasn’t yet officially replied to this.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Queensway ward no longer in top 3 deprived wards in Wales

New statistics published recently by the Welsh government show that Caia Parks Queensway ward in Wrecsam has seen a significant improvement in terms of its rankings in the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation.

In 2008 the ward was ranked the 2nd most deprived ward in Wales by the index which measures a combination of factors such as income, employment, health, education, housing, environment and community safety. In this years 2011 results the ward has moved to 9th position in the index, a significant improvement on previous rankings.

Since 2008 the ward has been represented by Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper who welcomed the progress that is being made, she said:“ A lot of work has been going on in the ward over the last few years. I must congratulate the Caia Park Partnership in particular who have undoubtedly made a huge contribution to the wards ranking this year. The organisation which is based in Queensway runs a variety of services and social enterprises across Caia Park. They have established Sparkles Day Nursery, a community café and have recently launched ‘Wrex Recycling’ which has been nominated for the Wales Recycling Award. The organisation also offers training courses and runs schemes to help local people back into work. Over 80% of the staff at the Partnership are local people and they currently have an active volunteer base of over 150 locals.”

“ Queensway ward which is predominantly council housing has also received a lot of council investment over the last few years. The ward has received the highest council capital spend in the borough for the last two years on the run, with money spent on installing new central heating systems and a large re-roofing programme which will continue this year. I am also confident the ward will benefit from the councils upcoming scheme to install solar panels in some of its housing stock which starts in October. Other investments such as new road resurfacing and a variety of environmental improvement projects are also making a difference. There is still plenty more work to do but it’s fantastic to see things moving in such a positive direction.”