Sunday, 30 January 2011

Political Policing?


This is a photograph of a peaceful protestor that was pepper sprayed by Police outside Boots in Oxford Street today as part of the #ukuncut protest targeting Boots and other corporate giants that avoid paying UK Corporate taxes.

#Ukuncut issued the following press release:
UK Uncut is issuing a statement condemning the use of pepper spray by police on a peaceful UK Uncut protest on Oxford Street this afternoon.

Before 15:00 outside Boots on Oxford Street a female activist tried to push a leaflet through the closed door of Boots explaining the details of Boots' tax avoidance to the staff.

A police officer then arrested the individual for "criminal damage". Around 20 people tried to help the female being arrested and 10 were subsequently pepper sprayed. Three people have been taken to hospital.

Anna Williams who saw the incident said "I condemn the violent behaviour of the police who have attacked a peaceful protest against tax avoidance, with three people being taken away in an ambulance."

she continued, "This is yet another example of political policing that is about protecting corporate interests and not those of ordinary people. We will not however be intimidated off the streets! We have a right to protest when the government are making unnecessary cuts that will hit the poorest in our society the hardest."

Boots staff said via a twitter group (BootsMealDeal), "We at Boots are disgusted by Police behaviour today."

As always we can rely on the Metropolitan Police to screw up, it probably wouldn't have happened in any of the other Police forces.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Increase in Serious Crime!

Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales is quite right to warn the Home Affairs Select Committee that:
...there could be a rise in crime in England and Wales if planned funding cuts go ahead.

He gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on 11 January 2011 as part of an inquiry into the Coalition's proposal to cut funding by 4% then 5% in the next two years.

Central funding will fall to £9.3bn in 2011-12, then £8.8bn the year after.

In the Spending Review in October, police learned they faced a 20% cut in funding by 2014-15.

Mr McKeever said there could be 20,000 fewer officers in service, saying there was a correlation between a cut in numbers and crime rates.

We are already seeing an increase in SERIOUS crime in North Wales now. North Wales Police regularly trumpet a fall in ALL crimes in North Wales on a year by year basis but this hides increases in serious crimes and decreases in MINOR crimes. Because there are more minor crimes than serious crimes the increase in serious crime is masked by a decrease in all crime rates.

For example in December's Monthly Information Bulletin, All crime is down nearly 10% in the year to the end of December 2010 compared to the end of December 2009. Other minor crimes like criminal damage and theft from motor vehicle are down 12 and 18% respectively.

More serious crime like Burglary in the home is up nearly 6%, Robberies are up 20% and Serious Sexual Offences are up 6%.

Whilst we must applaud a fall in criminal activity as it affects quality of life issues irrespective of how minor the crime is, we must also be aware that a fall in Police numbers will in all likelihood result in increases in the most SERIOUS criminal activity.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

No Big Society in Birmingham!

Birmingham City Council have cut £600,000 grant funding to the city's Citizens Advice Bureau leading to the closure of five advice centres with the loss of 45 FTE jobs not to mention the 80 to 100 volunteers that supported the service. Last year these five offices saw 56,000 people with problems and provided free advice and support. Where do these people go now? It will be interesting to see how decisions such as these fit in with Cameron's Big Society!

We have already had a similar situation in Wrecsam where the Council cut £44,000 of grant funding to Shelter Cymru stating that the Council itself will fill the gap which is a totally flawed argument.

This latest example just goes to show that the whole Third Sector is at risk by the Con Dem austerity measures leaving millions of people vulnerable to all kinds of social problems without proper and affordable advice and support structures.

This decision by Birmingham City Council is extremely short sighted and will come back to haunt them as council services will be unable to cope with the increased demands.

Please sign the GoPetition to save Birmingham CAB Open Door Service

We are not inferior!

Paul Matthews a so called Welsh businessman living in Newbridge, Gwent, and a spokesman on business for True Wales doesn't believe the Welsh people are competent to run their own affairs, he believes we are inferior. In fact what Mr Matthews comments suggests is that he himself is lacking in self esteem and self confidence.

However Geraint Talfan Davies writing in Click on Wales, the Institute of Welsh Affairs news magazine demolishes Mr Matthews's arguments in pretty spectacular fashion:
Paul Matthews, a business spokesman for True Wales, the group campaigning against full law-making powers for the National Assembly, has told the online business magazine, Wales Insider, that people in Wales do not have the abilities needed for full law-making powers. He is quoted as saying, “I am a Welsh person. We’re not the most innovative or creative, and very often those that are, move out of Wales.”

In one short sentence he has stated the most concise case for law-making powers. His depressing thought, if turned into public policy, points Wales down the shortest route to the knacker’s yard.

It is a wonderful rallying cry: Vote No on 3 March in favour of the congenital inferiority of Welsh people, Vote No if you think Welsh people cannot do what the English, Scots and Northern Irish are allowed to do, Vote No if you think Wales doesn’t have two ideas to rub together, Vote No if you really believe there is no hope, Vote No if you would rather leave, Vote No if you think this is how you want it to be, for ever and ever, Amen.

On behalf of all those creative people who have put Wales on the stages of the world, on behalf of all those who have contributed to our literature, music and art, to politics and government, to the history of working people, to cooperative ideas, to scientific advance, and to business, thank you, Mr Matthews, for clarifying the choice.

Plaid councillors plan mini-referendum on City status

Councillors intend to hold their own mini-referendum on city status for Wrexham to gauge popular opinion.

Plaid Cymru councillors will ask people in the popular Monday market their views on whether or not Wrecsam council should apply for city status, because they have concerns that the council isn't hearing grassroots opinion.

Volunteers will hold a stall in Queens Square on Monday 31st January from 11am to 12.30 pm. Local people will be given the opportunity to register a yes or no view and the results will then be passed onto Wrecsam council.

Cllr Marc Jones, who represents the Whitegate ward, said:
"The council is quite rightly consulting with local people before making any decision on bidding for city status. Our concern is that the consultation is limited to those with internet access, which tends to exclude the elderly, infirm and poor. Everyone should have their say in this process and that's why we're opening it up with a street stall in the Monday market.

"It's not a scientific poll but then neither is the on-line survey. At least this will enable us to ask hundreds of people their views and confirm what we're hearing in our patches. I met with residents and tenants in my ward this week and there was genuine anger that the council was considering spending £20,000 on the bid.

"I've looked at the evidence from Newport - the most recent Welsh town to become a city in 2002 - and there is no concrete proof that city status has brought any tangible benefits. In fact, Newport is in something of an economic down spiral at the moment. I'm ambitious for Wrexham's future but I don't believe the town needs window dressing such as calling itself a 'city' to sell itself to the wider world.

"Many politicians and business leaders have already expressed their views quite publicly but we are keen to ensure that local people's voices are also heard loud and clear. As a group we do not support City status but this issue will affect everybody in Wrecsam and therefore it is only right that local opinion should decide the matter once and for all."

Cllr Carrie Harper, representing Queensway ward in Caia Park, added:
"There is a lot of propaganda for City status but the benefits are unclear. What we want to establish is what the people of Wrexham want. Of course this will be a sample of opinion but in conjunction with other polls and other consultation exercises it should help present a picture of local opinion, which should be the deciding factor in my view. I hope people will come along and register their views."

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A second rate First Minister!

I admit it, I'm a political raincoat, I look forward to watching 'Y Dydd yn y Cynulliad'(Today at the Assembly) which starts at about midnight and goes on till about 5am! I find the need to watch it because political reporting in Wales is woefully inadequate and as such we are generally uninformed about Assembly proceedings.

I have now watched questions to the First Minister on several occasions and I am increasingly appalled at the poor quality of his answers and his general demeanaour whilst at the Welsh equivalant of the 'dispatch box.' His 'laid back,' nonchalant demeanour conveys his disdain at his role. He just about manages a certain degree of courtesy when answering questions from his own side which in the main are non-challenging. Whenever questions are asked by the Conservative opposition he tends to become somewhat defensive and the odd bit of 'mud slinging'occurs but this deteriorates into a 'batten down the hatches' and outright hostility as soon as Kirsty Williams has the audacity to ask a question. To be fair to Kirsty I think she does a very credible performance in holding the Welsh Government to account but the First Minister clearly doesn't see it that way and the more Kirsty get's 'the bit between her teeth' the more defensive, arrogant and condescending Carwyn Jones becomes, resorting in the end to the same old excuse that everything is the fault of the Con Dem coalition. This is an excuse that is wearing thin and I don't think it will last for 5 years!

There were several questions asked of the First Minister which were dismissed out of hand, one of those was a question about the Estyn Report on educational standards which the FM batted off saying that Leighton Andrews would make a speech outside the Assembly next week; that is totally unacceptable, the FM should have made a statement on the Estyn Report as it was of such importance.

The performance of the First Minister is in my opinion second rate and inferior to the performance of ministers like Jane Hutt, Elin Jones and Jocelyn Davies.

Many of my anonymous Tory followers will jump on my criticisms of the First Minister to twist my arguments to justify a No vote in the referendum. Nothing could be further from the truth, you do not weaken an institution because some of the individuals within it are second rate otherwise we would have abolished Westminster because we had a second rate Prime Minister in Gordon Brown!.

To use the perceived poor performance of the Welsh Assembly Government as a reason to vote No in a referendum to reduce bureaucracy is akin to 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

To have an efficient and competent legislative body in Wales we need three things to happen:

1. Higher calibre of individuals to serve as Assembly Members.

2. A Welsh Civil Service answerable to Welsh Ministers and not the head of the London Civil Service, and that Civil Service needs to be LOYAL to Welsh Ministers which is not the case at present.

3. A resounding YES vote on the 3rd of March, so as to reduce the bureaucratic, burdensome and lengthy processes by which legislation is currently passed.

Railworkers' union demands public takeover of Wrexham and Shropshire rail service

This is from the RMT:

Following the announcement this morning that the “open access” Wrexham and Shopshire service, via Birmingham and in to London, will stop operating on Friday (28th January) RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
"This is a bitter blow to the UK rail industry and it is a scandal that a giant company like Deutsche Bahn can play fast and loose with our rail services in this way and then cut and run when they decide the profit margins aren't fat enough for their liking.
"The UK Government should now step in and nationalise the route to protect both the jobs and the popular Wrexham & Shropshire services and there should be a full inquiry into how this operation, set up with Welsh government and taxpayer support, has been ground into the dust by Deutsche Bahn. Public ownership would protect that public investment rather than allowing the private rail asset strippers to walk away from the wreckage.
"Our immediate priority now is to protect our members caught in the middle of this scandalous private sector failure and we are meeting with the company with the aim of doing just that."
In a further bitter twist the closure of the Wrexham Shropshire service comes on the day that Passenger Focus revealed it has been voted the best operator by passengers with a 96% satisfaction rating.

Bob Crow added:
"With the rug being pulled from Wrexham & Shropshire, this shows conclusively that performance counts for nothing on our railways. All that matters is fat company profits, regardless of quality of services and rip-off fare increases. These figures reinforce the case against privatisation and for public ownership."


NOTES FOR EDITORS:

W&S is an 'open access' train operator set up about 5 years ago following a successful campaign led by RMT Wrexham branch with support from the Welsh Assembly government and DoT following a sustained campaign by communities and businesses in Mid and North Wales for a direct train to London other than Virgin's West Coast service.

It was owned by a venture capital company, which bought 'Laings Rail' the operator of the Chiltern Line franchise. Chiltern Line was taken over by Deutsche Bahn's regional trains arm, DB Regio in around 2007.

The suspicion was at that time that DB really wanted the franchise operator (Chiltern) in order to enter the UK and European rail franchise market and had to take on the open access operator (W&S) reluctantly as part of the package. W&S has found it impossible to compete with Virgin's VHF service without public sector support.

This is a grim warning ahead of RMT's international conference, 'Future Public Transport - Nationalisation Not Privatisation' planned for Monday 31 Jan that the European Commission's proposed 4th rail package, which seeks to create an EU-wide franchise plus open access operator model for domestic passenger train operations, must be resisted.

The Perks of working for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Would it surprise you to learn that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spent £2.6 million on 782 lease cars in the 12 months to the 1st October 2010. Now I don't have an issue if ALL these cars were leased for business use only i.e. for District Nurses etc; but in fact only 173 of these cars are for business use only and a whopping 609 of these vehicles are private use lease cars mainly for senior managers who fit the following criteria:
The purpose of the lease car scheme is to provide transport to employees who are required to be mobile and where it is in the interest of the employer to do so. In this respect a car will be offered to all new and existing employees who are required to travel on BCUHB business and where it is financially viable to do so.

Is there actually that many who need lease cars? It would be interesting to see how many business miles each of the 609 actually did in 12 months and whether it would be more cost effective to pay them Civil Service Essential user or Casual Rate to use their own vehicles. Wrecsam County Borough Council ceased using leased cars 3 years ago because of the exorbitant cost of lease cars.

What makes the situation even worse was that the six ex-Chief Executives of the old Local Health Boards were provided with private use lease cars AFTER amalgamation and BEFORE they had jobs with the new BCUHB and that at a cost of £25,000.

Local Authorities and the Police are having to cut costs and make efficiency savings whilst Health executives are still receiving extensive perks at taxpayers expense.

Assembly 'has earned the right to operate without a Westminster veto on what it does'



A rally supported by local people and politicians from different political backgrounds is to be held in Queens Square, Wrexham town centre, this Saturday at 11am.

The rally aims to raise awareness about the upcoming referendum on more powers for the Welsh Assembly on March 3rd and to give people information about the issues surrounding the vote. A variety of speakers will be attending the event to put their case forward for a YES vote, such as local Assembly Member for Lesley Griffiths, Cllr Marc Jones, Wrexham businessman Tim Tindle and local martial arts champion and community campaigner Pol Wong. Trade unionists and representatives from the Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties have also been invited.

Tim Tindle, Managing Director of IMC on the Wrexham Industrial Estate added:

“The Welsh Assembly understands Wales and has enacted policies to help business in Wales. Through those actions, I believe it has earned the right to operate without a Westminster veto on what it does."


Lesley Griffiths AM said:
"A YES vote for Wales is important so that Welsh laws can be made here in Wales, for Wales, putting us on an equal footing with the other devolved areas of the UK.”


Cllr Marc Jones, who represents the Whitegate ward in Caia Park, said:
"The current system means that the Assembly can only pass laws in devolved areas if they are given the go ahead by Westminster, a process that can often take months or even years. A YES vote would reduce bureaucracy and ensure more accountability for Welsh politicians. The basic message from campaigners is that decisions affecting Wales should be made in Wales."


Pol Wong commented:
"To me this referendum is an overdue opportunity for us to start making decisions for ourselves. I also think it will make our own Assembly more accountable to us. Surely the Assembly that only has the interests of Wales to think about is going to make better decision than politicians in London who have no connection or understanding of Wales or her people."

Campaigners are urging local people to come along to Saturday's event to find out more about the referendum and the benefits of supporting a YES vote on March 3rd.

End of the line for Wrexham-Marylebone train service

TRAIN CUTS BLOW FOR WREXHAM

The end of the line for the Wrexham-Marylebone direct train service is a "terrible blow" for Wrexham.

That's the view of Plaid Cymru's Assembly candidate for the town Marc Jones, who said: "The direct service to London created jobs and helped to revive the town's main train station. It was also a service that won plaudits for the standard of care and comfort.

"The news that its parent company Deutsche Bahn are pulling out of the town and ending the service is a terrible blow, not only to the workers directly employed but also to the many thousands of people who used the service for both business and pleasure. It's a real bolt from the blue."

He said he had been planning to take his family on a day trip to London in the school half-term and had been looking forward to travelling direct with the Wrexham-Marylebone service.

Mr Jones said: "We've used it before and it seemed to be very well used. But it was well documented that the company has had to contend with other rail companies trying to block its route to London and that contributed to the fact that it took four hours to get from Wrexham to London."

He added that maintaining good rail services through Wrexham was essential and he had already been speaking to Assembly officials about the alternatives that could become available in the wake of this shock announcement.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Direct Action does work!

The grassroots campaign #Ukuncut to hold big companies like Vodafone to account has won a major and symbolic victory by the announcement in the Financial Times that:
"... that the National Audit Office is now launching an inquiry into the way that HMRC reaches tax settlements with major clients. When the NAO report comes out, top tax officials can expect a grilling from MPs on the public accounts committee... The furore is an embarrassment for the government. It means that, in the age of austerity, there is a perception – whether fair or not – that HMRC is selling out to big business."

This is great news and shows that direct action taken against big corporate entities like Vodafone and Arcadia does work. With thousands of people taking to the streets and closing down shops in peaceful protest the resultant publicity has stirred the National Audit Office into taking action by investigating how HM Revenue and Customs settles tax disputes with the corporate giants. The subsequent report will then be considered by the powerful House of Commons Public Accounts Committee who will hopefully recommend to government the need to tighten up on tax avoidance loopholes.

HT to #ukuncut.

More Tory woes!

Councillor Richard Lowe is a Conservative Councillor on Cheshire West and Chester Council. Last week Councillor Lowe was selected as the prospective Tory candidate for Alyn and Deeside constituency, but resigned two days later for 'personal reasons,' with the Welsh Conservative Party saying they wouldn't be 'commenting further.'

Now Councillor Lowe is somewhat 'gaffe prone' having had the Tory whip on Chester Council withdrawn from him for making a 'sick joke' on his Facebook page about Madeline McCann. It has also been revealed that Councillor Lowe has not been particularly committed to his council role either, having only attended one council meeting in 6 months but still being entitled to his £12,000 a year members's allowance.

The Welsh Conservative Party are not having much luck with their candidate selection for the Assembly elections, Cllr Lowe is the second of their candidates to resign soon after their selection; with Anthony Ridge-Newman resigning as prospective candidate for the Gower for again unknown reasons.

Rumour has it that the Welsh Conservatives will select that 'safe pair of hands' and outspoken Tory, John Bell as their candidate for Alyn and Deeside.

Mwy ar Ynys Mon!

Torrwyd y stori ar y blog yma dros wythnos yn ol mae John Chorlton Arweinydd y grwp Llafur ar Gyngor Ynys Mon fydd yn ol pob son Arweinydd newydd y Cyngor yn dilyn y Cyfarfod Cyffredinol ym mis Mai. Doedd hi felly ddim llawer o sioc fod yr arweinydd presennol Clive McGregor wedi sacio John ac arweinnydd grwp Menai y Cynghorydd Hefin Thomas o'i gabinet. Tybed ydy hyn yn meddwl fod Clive wedi dod i ddealltwriaeth a chytundeb a grwp arall o fewn y Cyngor i roi digon o fwyafrif iddo fo reoli os ar hyn o bryd does ganddo fo ddim mwyafrif. Diddorol hefyd fydd gweld pwy fydd yn cymeryd portffolio's y ddau a ddisodlwyd?

Monday, 24 January 2011

Y Byd ar Bedwar.

Llongyfarchiadau i dim y Byd ar Bedwar am ein hatgoffa o fethiant Heddlu Gogledd Cymru am fethu diogelu dau berson bregus sef Lee Sellars a Brita Burns y ddau wedi rhewi i farwolaeth tra dan ddylanwad diod. Fe feirniadodd y crwner yn y ddau achos methiant yr heddlu i amddiffyn y ddau.

Yn achos Brita Burns a fu farw yn nhref Caernarfon prif feirniadaeth Comisiwn Annibynnol Cwynion yr Heddlu oedd diffyg goruchwyliaeth a derbyniodd dau Ringyll 'eiriau o gyngor' gan brif swyddogion am eu methiant.

Oes ganddo ni ryw sicrwydd na ddigwyddith hyn eto? Oes meddai y Prif Gwnstabl Cynorthwyol Gareth Pritchard sydd am ein sicrhau fod prosesau a pholisiau wedi ei cryfhau. Yn bersonnol dydw i heb fy sicrhau o gwbwl gan mae methianau crai oedd be ddigwyddodd, nid polisiau a phrosesau sydd ei angen ond 'synnwyr cyffredin'ac os fasa'r plismyn yma wedi defnyddio chydig o synnwyr cyffredin yn lle dilyn polisiau ffurfiol yr heddlu hwyrach y buasent wedi gneud penderfyniadau gwahaol iawn yn y ddau achos.

Yn ail, dydw i heb fy sicrhau na ddigwythith hyn eto, gan na fydd goruchwyliaeth digonol o waith plismon o dan y gyfundrefn newydd fydd ohoni; lle fydd yna naw 'hwb'ar gyfer plismona 'response.' Y son ydy mae dim ond un Rhingyll fydd yna ar gyfer pob 'hwb'a thrwy ddefnyddio esiampl Wrecsam, un Rhingyll fydd yn gyfrifol am oruchwylio pob digwyddiad mewn ardal fawr a phoblogaeth o 130,000; ar hyn o bryd mae yna dri Rhingyll yn gneud y gwaith yma.

Llai o oruchwyliaeth, mwy o gamgymeriadau!!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Vodaphone - we haven't forgotten about you

A dozen campaigners came together to protest in Wrecsam high street against the tax dodging antics of Vodaphone again today. The response suggested that the negative feedback on the company was starting to take effect - many had heard about their £6bn tax evasion and were angry that the Lib Dems and Tories were justifying £7bn welfare cuts but letting off big corporations from their tax bills.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

£40,000 cut for every school in Wrecsam - what the Tories want to do to education in Wales

The budget proposed by the Tories in Wales would lead to additional education funding cuts equivalent to over £40,000 per school by the financial year 2013-14, according to figures released by Plaid Cymru. The figures also show that education in Wrexham alone would lose out on an additional £3.1m.

Plaid Cymru's candidate for Wrexham in the forthcoming Welsh elections, Marc Jones, has described the Tory funding proposals as "staggering". Marc Jones said that while Plaid recognises the vital role that education will play in the future of Wales, especially in terms of the economic recovery, the Tory plans would badly let down the children of Wales and would lead to a second-class education system.
Marc Jones said:

“These figures reveal the true cost of the Tory budget proposals for schools in Wales and it is staggering. Their plans would see additional education cuts in Wrexham of more than £3.1m, this is equivalent to well over £40,000 per school by 2013-14. There would be teachers and teaching assistants losing their jobs in virtually every school in the borough.

"Thankfully the Tories - as the third party in the Assembly - are not in a position to implement their plans, which would let down Wales and Welsh children very badly indeed.

“Plaid Cymru is ambitious for education in Wales. It is vital for the future of our nation and our economy that it is made a central plank of the next government. The Tories are playing politics with our children's future."

Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate for the North Wales Region Llyr Huws Gruffydd added:

“The reality of their rhetoric would lead to schools, and learning more widely, being severely underfunded, condemning our children to a second-class education. This would have disastrous consequences for our economy and for the well being of our nation.”

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Latest on Biffo.

Brian Cowen, An Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fáil won a confidence vote of the FF Parliamentary Party tonight and as a result his main challenger Foreign Minister, Micheál Martin tendered his resignation which was reluctantly accepted. It is not known by how many votes Cowen won. Cowen will now lead Fianna Fáil into the next General Election whenever that will be.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Being informed - the case for a Welsh media

It's a fact that only 17% of the population of Wales reads a Welsh-based daily paper, e.g. Daily Post, Western Mail, as opposed to 70% of the Scottish population. This means that many people who consider themselves to be politically aware and even politically involved can be completely ignorant of the subtleties of the Welsh political dimension.
In the past week, I have been in meetings where people have been unaware that the Educational Maintenance Allowance is being retained in Wales or that the proposed counter-revolutionary changes to the NHS in England are not being rolled out in Wales. Now this is straightforward stuff for anyone who reads this blog and others on a regular basis, but that's a minority and unlikely to become a majority anytime soon. Anyone reliant on their news from a London-based newspaper or London-based radio or TV station is unlikely to have realised that the coalition government is only responsible for health and education in England. That ignorance is scary.
So how best to counter it?
The long-term answer is a Welsh media that is more widely read, heard and viewed. The short-term answer is for the English-based media to recognise the reality of devolution and start to explain that the story they're writing about only affects England. This has emerged fitfully with the tuition fees debate, as even the Daily Mail recognised that Wales was doing things differently. But a consistent - and neutral rather than negative - approach to the devolved nations? Dream on.

What's 'Biffo' up to?

Guest blog by Plaid Hightown



While families throughout Ireland consider whether they should leave the country their Taoiseach considers whether he should leave his office. The last week has seen Brian Cowen’s future as leader of Fianna Fail and Taoiseach hang by a thread and it appears that it was all coming to the end for a man more popularly known as Biffo,(not exactly a term of endearment for the big man from Offaly).

A disastrous stewardship of the economy and historic lows in the polls for the once all conquering Fianna Fail party has led to calls from his own backbenchers for him to go and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs hinting that he would challenge for the leadership of the party.

Cowen recently addressed a meeting of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party and said that he would not resign and he would speak to each TD individually on Thursday and Friday to gauge the party’s view on his leadership. It is now widely accepted that a majority of his cabinet including big hitters the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are calling for his resignation

An Taoiseach will address the nation this evening, there have been contradicting yet credible reports in the Irish press about what his decision will be. For anyone interested in seeing this important announcement I have provided a link,to the RTE News (follow link to RTA News Now)and it is expected that the address will be carried on the main evening news which is at one minute past six.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A Snapshot of Wrecsam County Borough.

Rathan than use Department of Work Pensions data like Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support and other similar welfare benefits to paint a picture of Wrecsam County Borough's demography I decided to look at households and a snaphshot of council tax payments throughout the County Borough. Households that receive benefits or whose household income is low will be entitled to either full or partial Council Tax; it is therefore a good guide to identifying those households that are living in poverty.

As at this week there are 58,420 'chargeable dwellings' in Wrecsam County Borough Council and of those 1,457 (2.5%) dwellings are exempt from paying council tax for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons why homes are exempt is that they are empty and unfurnished and there are 522 of those. This statistic in particular is worrying bearing in mind the numbers of people we have on housing waiting lists and the increasing number of homeless. Perhaps the Strategic Housing Team need to start looking to bringing these homes back into use by implementing our Empty Homes Strategy.

I was quite surprised at this next statistic, 20,062 current claims for single person 25% discount of council tax. Frankly, I would never have thought that as many as 34% of households are single.

The number of households on FULL Council Tax benefit was 9576 or 17% of total households, which means that these households are economically inactive but also include pensioner households in receipt of pension credit.

The number of households in receipt of PARTIAL Council Tax benefit is in effect a measure of the 'working poor' where there is someone within the household who is working but on a low income and that figure is 4419 or 7.6% of total households.

So what we have in effect is that a quarter of households in Wrecsam County Borough Council are living in relative poverty as defined by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

By using these measures which are consistent across local authorities and rarely changes it is possibly to map improvements or deteriorations within local authorities and of course across local authorities. It would be an interesting exercise which unfortunately I don't have the time to undertake for all the local authorities in Wales but I will be doing this exercise for Wrecsam on a 6 monthly basis to see if we can detect an improvement in the economic situation and to see whether these figures correlate with job opportunities and a decrease in Job Seeker Allowance claimants.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Quote of the day

Asked yesterday if he would like to respond to the fans' questions, Mr Moss said:

“I’m not answering any more questions.

“I have had enough of Wrexham Football Club.

“This is a private business and we feel we are doing the best for it.”


A real Ratners moment.

Dyfodol Cyngor Ynys Mon


Trist iawn roedd clwywed fod y Cynghorydd Clive McGregor am roi gorau iddi fel arweinydd Cyngor Ynys Mon. Dwi wedi nabod Clive ers blynyddoedd maith fel uwch arolygydd yn Heddlu Gogledd Cymru ac yn ddiweddarach fel gwleidydd. Os na ellith Clive droi petha rownd yn Ynys Mon faswn i ddim yn rhoi arian ar neb arall yn gneud ddim gwell. Mae'n debyg fod y person i olynu Clive fel arweinydd wedi ei ddewis yn barod sef y Cynghorydd John Chorlton,(llun) arweinydd y grwp Llafur.

Diddorol gweld pwy fydd yng nghlymblaid Chorlton, hwyrach fod yna siawns yma i'r cyn arweinydd Gareth Winston Roberts neud 'comeback.' Fel mae hi'n sefyll ar hyn o bryd mae yna 14 yn y grwp Annibynnol mae Gareth Winston yn perthyn i a 5 yn y grwp Llafur, felly does ond angen dau arall i gael mwyafrif. Mae Bob Parry arweinydd Plaid Cymru wedi datgan yn barod ei gefnogaeth i Clive McGregor a'r grwp Llais i Fon.

Yn ol pob son mae y Gweinidog dros Lywodraeth Leol, Carl Sergeant yn 'gandryll' hefo'r newyddion diweddara i ddod o'r ynys. Tybed neith o wahaniaeth mae un o fewn ei Blaid ei hyn fydd yn rhedeg y sioe ar ol mis Mai?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Racecourse latest: Transparency and honesty please

Plaid's Assembly candidate for Wrecsam Marc Jones has called for "transparency" and "honesty" from Wrexham Football Club's owners Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts.
He was responding to news that the Racecourse Ground had been put up as security on a loan by the Rugby Football League to the Crusaders rugby league team. The agreement between Wrexham FC (2006) Ltd and the Rugby Football League was lodged at Companies House on Christmas Eve and has only now become public thanks to research by fans.
It is not clear whether the charge on The Racecourse was a condition of the Crusaders coming out of administration.
Mr Jones said: "The owners, who have 100% control of Wrexham Village, Wrexham FC and the Crusaders, have a duty to be transparent and honest about The Racecourse.
"If there is a logical and sound reason for putting a charge on the ground, then football and rugby fans alike should know about it. If there is a danger that The Racecourse could be lost to the football club, then that is incredibly worrying.
"We should be able to concentrate on the football club pushing for promotion and the Superleague team starting a new season.
"What is concerning many people is the secrecy and lack of transparency about these dealings. I would urge the owners to make clear their intentions and to reassure people in Wrexham about The Racecourse."

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Capital Funding for Schools.

In July 2010, the Welsh Government announced the succesful bids for the third and last tranche of the transitional School Buildings Improvement Grant (SBIG) for the year 2012/13. A week before Christmas all Local Education Authorities who were succesful in their bids received a letter from DCELLS (Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills)advising that these succesfull bids may be deferred for 12 months; and that Jane Hutt AM will make a Ministerial Statement, again before Christmas, but no more was heard.

The question that no-one can get an answer to is what happens to the capital funding for 21st Century schools which is the successor funding model to the SBIG supposedly commencing in 2013/14, if the SBIG is deferred?

Syniadau in his blog and comments seems to suggest that a portion (£6 million) of Cardiff City Council's 21st Century Schools bid is coming from the SBIG bloc grant, perhaps because the Welsh Government haven't sufficient capital funds to cover all the projects.

The list of succesful SBIG projects (up to now) are as follows:

Ynys Mon: £7.7 million.
Bridgend £26 million.
Cardiff £26.9 million
Carmarthenshire £10.2 million.
Ceredigion £3.6 million.
Conwy £15.4 million.
Denbighshire ££3.1 million.
Flintshire £4.5 million.
Gwynedd £5.5 million
Pembrokeshire £4.2 million.
RCT £8.1 million.
Swansea £15.4 million.
Wrecsam £4.1 million.

The Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire and Wrecsam, bids are for Welsh schools or in Cardiff's case part of the bid is for a Welsh school.

Any marks for guessing which projects will be deferred?

UPDATE - Meeting held today between Wrecsam officers and DCELLS confirmed that ALL SBIG 3 deferred and consequently BAND A of 21st C Schools. Begs the question what they have spent the £134 million for school improvement on. In understand that an opposition AM has/will be asking Leighton Andrews or Jane Hutt questions about these monies. I wonder if my original suspicions are right, that this money has gone on the tuition fees top up?

1300 students protected from coalition cuts

More than 1300 further education students in Wrecsam will benefit from the Welsh Government's decision to secure the future of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
Plaid Cymru's Assembly candidate for Wrecsam Marc Jones said the announcement showed the commitment of the Welsh government in promoting distinctive Welsh policies. He said that students at Yale college were among those benefitting from the continued scheme.
One of them is Syd La Roche, 17, of Caia Park, Wrecsam. He said:
"Some of my mates wouldn't have done the course without the EMA. It definitely made it easier for me to stay on the course, it would have been harder without it."


Whilst the EMA has been protected in Wales it is being scrapped by the UK government. The EMA provides up to £30 per week for students over the age of 16 to stay in education on a means tested basis ensuring that students from the poorest backgrounds benefit.
Marc Jones said:
“This shows our determination to protect funding in education and invest in developing further education for young adults.
“I know that there are a great number of students that without the EMA could not see a future for themselves in education.
“This is a vitally important scheme and one that makes a huge difference to people seeking further education that otherwise could not afford it.
“There are 1300 students in Wrecsam who rely on EMA. The contrast between the situation here and in England could not be greater as the Assembly government invests in the next generation.”The Conservative-Lib Dem government’s decision to scrap the EMA in England was short sighted.”

Real sporting heroes

We've all got our sporting heroes - Alan Ball in his white boots was the first to break my heart. Neville Southall who was caked in mud before the first whistle blew, we were all on first-name terms with Gareth, Gerald, JPR and Merv the Swerve. That goal by Mark Hughes at The Racecourse. Likely lads Joey Jones and Mickey Thomas (although Graham Whittle was always my favourite from the 77-78 promotion season). Jinking Shane Williams.
But for proper sporting heroes you have to look a little closer to home.
My kids owe so much to the coaches, managers and organisers who volunteer to brave the wind and rain and snow (and parental criticism) every week to put on sporting events. Thousands of youngsters throughout Wrecsam benefit from their efforts and as parents we can all see what an impact it makes on the development of our kids. I know my two owe a huge amount to the patience and effort of volunteers at Rhosddu Youth FC, Marchwiel Youth FC and Wrexham Rugby as well as karate and boxing trainers.
Before the gimmicky term of "the Big Society" was invented as a cover for Tory-Lib Dem cuts, these people were already volunteering their services. They are like the glue binding our communities and we should never take their work for granted.

Tory broken promises keep mounting

Cameron did everything possible before the last election to convince voters that the Tories were no longer the nasty party. But take a look at the list of broken promises made in the first seven months of the coalition's government of broken promises:

Three days before the election, Cameron said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, "any cabinet minister … who comes to me and says ‘Here are my plans’ and they involve frontline reductions, they’ll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again". Yet £81bn in cuts now rain down on frontline services.
Would VAT rise? A month before the election, Cameron said: "We are cutting wasteful spending … our plans don’t involve an increase in VAT."
As for the NHS, "We will stop top-down reorganisations of the NHS," said the coalition agreement, yet now what health secretary Andrew Lansley calls his "revolution" rolls in [in England].
The coalition promise that "we will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms" has gone the same way.
Two months before the election, Cameron eulogised universal child benefit: "I wouldn’t change child benefit, I wouldn’t means test it, I don’t think that’s a good idea."
On education maintenance allowances, Michael Gove said, just before the election: "Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping EMA. I have never said this. We won’t." [Scrapped in England]
On tax credits, the promise was to cut them only for families on £50,000, but the budget book shows families with an income of just £30,000 lose all credits.
Liam Fox promised "a bigger army for a safer Britain", but it now loses 7,000 soldiers.

The list is long – prison for anyone carrying a knife; no cuts to the navy; keeping the child trust fund for the poorest third of families; no hospital closures; 3,000 more midwives; a two-year council tax freeze – and more. Bluster about bank bonuses, wellbeing, going green and family-friendly government were all deceptive conceits too.


Clegg is being rightly hammered for his broken promise on tuition fees but it seems the coalition just can't stop breaking promises.

More 4 and the Daily Show.


Guest blog by Plaid Hightown.

Since 2005 the More 4 TV Channel has been showing Jon Stewart's Daily Show allowing the British public the opportunity to watch one of the best satires in the history of comedy and given a genuinely original insight into American politics. This is how the Daily Show website describes the programme:
Tired of having your news spoon fed to you by big network suits and the smaller, chattier suits on cable news? Join Jon Stewart and the Best F#@king News Team Ever as they bring you the news like you've never seen it before -- unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity or even accuracy.

The Daily Show is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning program that takes a reality-based look at news, trends, pop culture, current events, politics, sports and entertainment with an alternative point of view. In each show, anchorman Jon Stewart and a team of correspondents, including Aasif Mandvi, Wyatt Cenac, John Oliver, Jason Jones and Samantha Bee, comment on the day's stories, employing actual news footage, taped field pieces, in-studio guests and on-the-spot coverage of important news events.

However since the new year, More 4 will go from showing four new episodes each week of the Daily Show, to a once a week highlights package. More 4 have said that the reason for this is that it wants to concentrate on ‘high end’ American programming.To this end they have purchased and intend to show the US version of Shameless!

What sort of person believes that replacing what is one of the greatest popular dispositions on American politics since the likes of Walter Kronkite and Edward R. Morrow graced the airways with a knock off of a Channel 4 programme to be a high end replacement? Now More 4 proposes to have an American version of one of their programmes to segway between hours of Grand Designs and hours of Come Dine With Me!

I know from the comments sections on this blog that we have readers of many varied political opinions however I hope that we can all agree that to be deprived of such great entertainment and discourse is a grave disappointment to those with an interest in not just current affairs but intelligent entertainment. We must also remember that the United States is still the most economically, culturally and militarily powerful countries in the world and it is absolutely necessary to have some intelligent understanding of American popular and political culture.

If you agree with me that by cancelling The Daily Show; Channel 4 is failing in its public duty then please make a complaint here.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Baptist Fundamentalists to Picket Arizona Funerals.

This is a report from the Huffington Post regarding the decision by Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, to picket the funerals of the Arizona shooting victims:
Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka church known for its inflammatory anti-gay protests, plans to picket the funerals of the six people gunned down in Arizona on Saturday.In a flier posted on its web site, the controversial church writes, "THANK GOD FOR THE SHOOTER -- 6 DEAD!" The message continues:

God appointed this rod for your sins! God sent the shooter! This hateful nation unleashed violent veterans on the servants of God at WBC--hoping to silence our kind warning to obey God and flee the wrath to come.

The flier claims that the shooting of both a House member and a federal judge -- the latter of whom was killed -- is god's punishment for judicial and Congressional action against the WBC. "God sent the shooter to shoot you! And He's sitting in Heaven laughing at you!" the announcement reads.

In graphic language, it continues:

Your federal judge is dead and your (fag-promoting, baby-killing, proud-sinner) Congresswoman fights for her life. God is avenging Himself on this rebellious house! WBC prays for your destruction--more shooters, more dead carcasses piling up, young, old, leader and commoner--all. Your doom is upon you!

In December, Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards. The group is known to display signs that say "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God For Dead Soldiers."

To read the whole poster go here
Rarely am I lost for words, but if this is what free speech under the US constitution is all about then I'd rather be without it. I'm hard pressed to think of anything more offensive or imflammatory than this.

Slow news day today?

Is it really? An (apparent) nutter kills six and wounds thirteen in a random shooting in Tucson, AZ and amonst the wounded is the Democratic Congresswoman for Arizona's Eighth District. Amongst the more prominent stories in the main media outlets today was this one about the queens head which will remain on the Uk's stamps even though the Royal Mail is likely to be sold off.

Unfortunately the bloggosphere is no better than the mainstream when it comes to this 'nothing story', with O'Neill (Pint of Unionist Lite) lamenting his loss of sleep should the queens head not be on our stamps anymore. This is what he said:
We can all sleep a little bit easier tonight:
A law is set to be passed guaranteeing that UK stamps will continue to feature the Queen's head - even if Royal Mail enters foreign hands.

At present, there is no legal obligation to show the monarch's image, although Royal Mail has always done so.

Postal Affairs Minister Ed Davey said any potential buyer would have to be "mad" to drop it, but the new law would provide a "safeguard" just in case.

Haven't we got anything better or more important to talk about?

The Rotton Boroughs Awards 2010.

Of the seventeen Private Eye's Rotton Boroughs Awards 2010, only one went to Wales and I don't suppose there are any marks for guessing that the award would probably have something to do with Ynys Mon Council. Yes David Bowles the Interim Chief Executive was awarded "The Sir Geoffrey Boycott Dead Bat Award," which reads:
To Anglesey council’s “interim managing director” David Bowles, who repeatedly refused to tell the Today programme how much he earned. All he would say was “I’m actually employed by a private company”. Actually, he gets £1 from the council... which pays Solace Enterprises Ltd £275,000 for his services.

I'm quite surprised, as is Caebrwyn Thompson that no other Welsh Local Authorities feature in these awards; but the Welsh public authority most deserving of a Private Eye award (in my opinion) is the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board for whom 2010 has been an Annus Horribilis...as Mrs Windsor would say!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Tories looking after their mates!

No its not big business this time but the monarchy. Yes Cameron has managed to slip in a piece into legislation that exempts the Royal Family from the Freedom of Information Act and public scrutiny.

This will prevent us seeing correspondence that the Royals AND their representatives send to Ministers seeking to influence policy; in fact any correspondence which will have the slightest connection to the Royal Family will be protected and will not have to be disclosed.

Personally I think this is a bloody disgrace and who the hell do the monarchy and their supporters think they are subverting the transparency of government and democratic decision making.

This is yet another example of the Tory elite in this country protecting the monarchy...don't anybody say to me that we are a classless society.

This further begs the question what is that elitist Lib Dem leader doing about all this?, he's the one who got elected on the back of libertarian principles of civil rights and open transparent government. It seems that this is another U turn by Nick Clegg or a case of Cameron and Osborne simply ignoring him!

We shouldn't be letting things like this pass without some form of direct action and perhaps those great campaigners #ukuncut, fancy a sit in at Windsor Castle...or Balmoral would be nicer still!

Nick Bourne's Big Government!

This is a tweet from @nickbourneam
Spoke today to Crickhowell residents concerned at lack of clearing of pavements of snow and ice-- pursuing.True elsewhere alas.

My reply:
no Big Society volunteers in Crughywel then? Must create a bigger state to clear snow .I wonder where the money coming from?

No seriously, does Nick Bourne, like his wannabee Clwyd South Assembly member, Paul Rogers, think money grows on trees?

Friday, 7 January 2011

No olive branch here!

Despite it being the season of goodwill there is no love, tolerance or understanding in the election of a new Grand Master of the Orange Order of Ireland. In a totally uncompromising tone the new Grand Master, Strabane farmer, Roberts Stevenson said,
“There is no fear of me attending a GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) fixture because too many GAA clubs are still named after convicted terrorists and for that reason they carry too much baggage for me,”

He went on to call for
"unionist unity to prevent Sinn Féin gaining the post of first minister in the Northern Ireland Executive after next May’s Assembly elections."

So much for the Good Friday Agreement and the joint governance of the North of Ireland by the DUP and Sinn Fein over the last 4 years.

They are not immune!

David Chaytor ex Labour MP for Bury has just been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for theft and false accounting of £18,000 of taxpayers money. He claimed the money for a mortgage that he had already paid off. Nice to see that Members of Parliament are not immune from prosecution despite trying to claim parliamentary privilege.

Justice for All

In November 2010, the Government issued a Green Paper on Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales. These reforms if legislated WILL very seriously restrict, what advice that legal aid will fund and who will be eligible for legal aid. Justice for All is a
"...coalition of legal and advice agencies, politicians, trade unions, community groups and members of the public campaigning to ensure everyone is treated fairly under the law. Free, independent advice and representation on legal
matters is essential to achieve justice for all."

Justice for All have published a detailed briefing paper on the impact that these reforms will have on Advice agencies like Shelter and Citizens Advice Bureau as well as the ability of low income families to obtain legal advice.

With Council's cutting back on funding to Advice organisations this green paper will have a devastating impact on the advice that Shelter Cymru, Citizens Advice Bureau and other advice organisations will be able to provide to the most vulnerable in our society.

I would ask that you join Justice for All's campaign to oppose this Green Paper and to ask your MP's to sign this EDM

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Tory tries to have it both ways

Is the Tory councillor who is demanding that the Welsh Assembly Government spends more money on potholes in any way related to the Brymbo Tory who wants to cut WAG's funding for Wrecsam council by £4.4m? I think we should be told.

120 attend Yes for Wales campaign launch in Wrecsam


There was a full house at the "Yes for Wales" campaign launch for the north-east last night as 120 packed the Catrin Finch centre at Glyndwr University, Wrecsam.
The meeting was chaired by Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis, who is spearheading the "Yes for Wales" campaign, and heard speakers from all four main parties: Dafydd Wigley (Plaid Cymru), Lesley Griffiths AM (Labour), Mark Isherwood AM (Tories) and Cllr Aled Roberts (Lib Dem).
All were united in stressing the need for a Yes vote but the main body of the evening was given over to comments from the audience, who were enthusiastic in their backing for the campaign.
Some concern was raised about how people in the north-east could access information, given that so many get their TV signal from the north-west of England and don't read Welsh newspapers. This media blackout wasn't helped by the absence of any press at the launch itself.
Among the most passionate and telling contributions was that of Eleri Edwards, widow of ex-Meirionnydd MP Wil Edwards - who put the campaign in context: "Our devolution campaign is unfinished business".

There will be a campaign committee meeting next Thursday to plan out grassroots campaigning locally - to get involved contact
the campaign at info @ yesforwales.com

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Welsh school campaigners ‘overjoyed’ at verdict

This is how the Leader reported on last night's Planning Committee meeting which granted outline planning permission for a new Welsh School in Delamere Avenue, Gwersyllt.
CAMPAIGNERS calling for another Welsh language school to be built in Wrexham notched up an important victory last night.

Members of Wrexham Council’s planning committee voted in favour of giving outline permission for the scheme on land at Alyn Waters Park and Gwersyllt Park, Delamere Avenue, Gwersyllt.

Speaking after the meeting one of the driving forces behind the campaign,
Gwersyllt West councillor Arfon Jones, said he was delighted.

“I am absolutely overjoyed. There has been so much hard effort put in by so many people to reach this stage,” said Cllr Jones.

“Obviously there is still a great deal of work to be done, but this is a very important step forward. This school is designed to meet the demand which is there.”

There has been a large amount of controversy over the plans, with strong views expressed both for and against building the school.

There was a packed public gallery at last night’s meeting held at the Guildhall and many visitors applauded the final decision of the committee.

A report by Wrexham Council’s chief planning officer Lawrence Isted highlighted the issues that protesters and supporters of the school had put forward.

The list of objections included impact on wildlife, traffic generation causing an impact on highway safety, increase in on-street parking, the land is outside the settlement limit, lack of adequate consultation with residents and suggestions that another area of Wrexham should be used.

Among issues which supporters of the project raised were a big demand for Welsh medium education in Gwersyllt, the school would be a valuable asset for the village, the site was served by existing public transport links and the school would help to improve educational facilities in Gwersyllt.

In his report Mr Isted wrote: “On balance I consider the need and justification put forward for a new Welsh medium school in this location overrides existing UDP
(Unitary Development Plan) policies.”

Ysgol Gymraeg newydd ar ei ffordd i Wersyllt

Penderfynodd pwyllgor cynllunio Wrecsam i gefnogi cais am ysgol Gymraeg newydd yng Nghwersyllt, y cyntaf yn y sir ers degawd.

Doedd o ddim yn benderfyniad unfrydol a deud y lleia, ond cafodd y gwrthwynebwyr dweud eu dweud a'u hateb gan Aled Roberts ac Arfon Jones, sydd wedi gweithio'n ddiflino i sicrhau'r ysgol newydd yma.

New Welsh-medium school for Gwersyllt gets approval

Tonight's planning committee approved a new Welsh-medium school for Gwersyllt, the first in the borough for more than a decade.

It will meet the needs of the 150+ children from the area who currently have to travel to Plas Coch and Bodhyfryd schools and future generations.

It wasn't an easy ride by any means, but the opposition's points were thoroughly aired and comprehensively answered, not least by Arfon Jones who has worked tirelessly to ensure this has become a reality. The idea of a new school arose from a 2007 survey of parents, back in the summer of 2008 there was a consensus that the school was needed in Gwersyllt but it's taken until now to get the approval.

PS I wasn't going to post tonight as planning committee was a bit of a marathon but some Anonymoron wrote elsewhere on this blog about Plaid "promoting their ideology" by backing the school. What sort of planet do these people inhabit?

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

£3,000-a-week Racecourse charge 'bombshell'

Echoes of Hamilton in new deal

Wrecsam's Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate has described news that Wrexham FC's owners are planning to charge the football club £3,000 a week to play on The Racecourse as a "bombshell" for fans.

Marc Jones said:
"The news that the club's two owners Ian Roberts and Geoff Moss intend to charge both the football club £150,000 per year to play on the Racecourse is outrageous. That's £3,000 a week and contradicts previous statements they have made."

In 2009 the owners put out a statement stating:

'Wrexham FC (2006) Limited ('WFC' Ltd) is the company that runs the Football Club and which owns the freehold assets such as the stadium and training ground.

Both the Racecourse and Collier's Park training ground will remain in the ownership of Wrexham Football Club (2006) Limited and will not be at risk as a result of the development... All development profits will be retained for the benefit of the Football Club. For the avoidance of doubt this means 100%.'


Mr Jones, who is contesting the May election for Plaid, said:

"The owners need to explain to fans and other interested parties such as Wrexham Council why this has changed and why they now feel able to charge the club to play on a pitch it already owns. Any additional costs for the club will make it more difficult for the club to pay for players and continue to press for promotion. Far from being to the benefit of the football club, the involvement of Wrexham Village in this is very worrying."

He said the news brought back unpleasant echoes of the Alex Hamilton era, when a previous owner had to confronted by fans to prevent him from moving the ownership of the Racecourse from the football club to his own company.

Mr Jones said:
"Hamilton secretly sold the Racecourse to a company he owned in 2002. As well as a clause to kick the club out of the Racecourse, he proposed to charge £30,000 a year in rent. Hamilton would have got away with this had it not been for the determination and tenacity of the fans, who exposed his secret deal and challenged him in court.

"It's a huge concern that the present owners seem to be trying the same tactic and piling further financial pressure on a club that by their own admission is losing money. Wrexham fans deserve assurances that we are not seeing a re-run of the Hamilton era and I would urge the owners to re-think their plans."


Back in 2004, I produced a BBC Wales programme called Week In Week Out that helped fans expose Alex Hamilton's dealings re the Racecourse.
Hamilton was recently banned from being a company director for his role in Wrexham FC.
One footnote: While asset-stripping Wrexham FC, Hamilton also sold the Lex training ground on the Mold Road by Gwersyllt to himself for £90,000.

Yes campaign focused on giving power to the people

Press release for Yes for Wales campaign:

Welsh Rugby Union chief Roger Lewis will chair the launch of the official Yes campaign for the March referendum in north-east Wales on Wednesday (January 5).

The public meeting at the Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University, Wrexham, will hear speakers including local Labour AM Lesley Griffiths, Plaid honorary president Dafydd Wigley and council leader Aled Roberts unite to support a Yes vote on March 3. A speaker from the Conservative party has also been invited. The campaign also has the backing of trade unionists and local community campaigners.

Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths said: “This referendum is about how we can improve things for the future of our country and its people. It is vital we communicate this message to the people of Wales, so that they know exactly what they are voting for and why a Yes vote is important to them.”

Dafydd Wigley added: "Under the current Government of Wales Act, if the National Assembly want to change the law in Wales on devolved matters such as education, housing or local government, they can only do so if they get the advance permission of the House of Lords. It is an affront to democracy and an insult to Wales that an unelected chamber in London can veto the wishes of our democratically elected Assembly.

"Those who have had to work with the present system are agreed that there needs to be a Yes vote on 3rd March. With all four parties in the Assembly supporting this change, I hope that Welsh voters - whatever their political allegience - will give the Assembly the tools they need to make devolution work effectively for Wales."

A local campaign spokesman said: "This referendum is about giving power to the people. The Yes campaign is one that is going to be delivered in this part of Wales by ordinary people on the ground. This meeting is a chance to bring people together and get the local Yes campaign off to a great start.

“The people of Wales are no less capable of making their own decisions than those in Scotland or Northern Ireland, yet our system is lacking in comparison.

“People in Wales deserve to have the rights to decide how they want their country run. It is time this expensive and long-winded system is ended and instead people in Wales, not committees in Westminster, took control.

“A Yes vote would be a clear sign that as a nation we are ready to take greater responsibility in shaping Wales for future generations. March 3rd is our chance to say Yes for Wales and give ourselves and our children the best possible future.”

The meeting starts at 7pm and everyone is welcome.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Yr A55 a Bwyd!!

Os yda chi'n gyrru o'r ffin i Gaergybi, ble yn union fasa chi'n stopio i gael bwyd? Does ganddo chi ddim ryw lawer o ddewis Little Chef yn Kinmel a Llaneurgain, One Stop a Burger King yn Llandegai a ryw ddau gaffi arall o gwmpas Hen Golwyn/Llanddulas a Penmaenmawr/Llanfairfechan. Does run i weld o ryw safon uchel, ddim mwy na'r mwyafrif a'r y traffyrdd yn Lloegr. Ond drwy ddwud hynny mae'n ambell i le gwerth chweil i aros ac i gael pryd wedi neud o gynnyrch ffresh lleol. Cyfeirio ydwyf am Wasanaethau Tebay ar yr M6 bron a'r gopa mynydd Shap yn Cumbria lle ceir pob math o gynnyrch lleol o ardal Westmoreland. Dau deulu lleol sydd yn rhedeg Westmoreland Ltd ac maent nawr yn cyflogi dros 500 o fobol mewn ardal lle nad oes llawer o waith.

Os ydy cwmni lleol yn Cumbria yn gallu bod mor llwyddianus pam ein bod ni yng Nghymru ddim yn dilyn eu hesiampl nhw ac yn agor ryw fath o wasanaethau siop Fferm ar yr A55 mewn rywle fel Caerwys yn Sir Fflint...fasa hi ddim yn joban rhy anodd cystadlu hefo McDonalds na fasa. Hwyrach y dylsa yr undebau amaethyddol ar FSB ddod at ei gilydd a chychwyn Siop Fferm debyg i Westmoreland ar yr A55 fel busnes cydweithredol.

Gweler yma am engraifft lwyddianus arall o wasanaethau siop Fferm ar yr A49 yn Ludlow, a Rhug ar yr A5 yn Corwen, sydd hefyd i weld yn arbennig lwyddianus.

Mae angen mwy, llawer mwy!

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Old Firm.

Tommorrows old firm game at Ibrox stadium between Rangers an Celtic will have added poignance especially for Rangers fans as it is also the 40th anniversary of the second Ibrox disaster when 66 fans were killed at the end of an old firm match on the 2nd January 1971 as 100,000 fans were in the process of leaving the ground.

We can only hope that the rivalry between the two sets of fans can be put aside during the minutes silence tomorrow and that Celtic fans will show due respect to the memory of those killed fourty years ago.

Another Hart failure!

It doesn't come as any surprise to read that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will start 2011 with yet another crisis. The latest crisis is that reported in the Daily Post that "North Wales heart patients 'banned' from Liverpool."

THE lives of hundreds of people suffering acute heart and chest complaints could be put at risk after a Merseyside hospital said it will no longer admit patients from North Wales.
Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital (LHCH) took the extraordinary move to ban patients from the region, unless their condition is urgent, because of a funding shortfall.

The ban will affect people waiting for heart bypass and cardiac valve surgery and letters have already been sent to GPs across the region telling them their patients have been bumped off the waiting list

North Wales GP's representative, Dr Eamon Jessup is quite right when he described the situation as an unmitigated disaster and puts patients lives at risk. Questions need to be put to the Health Minister Edwina Hart about why the BCU Health Board seem unable to negotiate and commission these life saving treatments from the LHCH.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i bawb - Happy New Year to all

It's going to be a hectic one - politically at least.

In 10 weeks there's the "yes for Wales" Referendum to win.

In 20 weeks we have the Welsh General Election and the chance for a real change in the Assembly.

Throughout the year there will be a growing campaign of resistance against the Fib Dem-Tory cuts, which will start to bite in the coming months.

Who knows what 2011 will bring?

Dream big!