Thursday, 31 March 2011

Killed by Green Bombs!

Whilst we must welcome the United States's committment to renewable energy and their conversion to biofuels, but I'm not sure that this is what we hoped they would use the biofuels to power:
The use of biofuels to power half of the US Air Force (USAF)'s fleet by 2016 is a step closer after the successful test flight of an F-22 fighter jet at supersonic speeds, using a 50-50 blend of a bio-feedstock and standard jet fuel.

On 18 March, a Raptor plane was flown at 40,000 feet – and at one-and-a-half times the speed of sound – half-powered by a biofuel derived from Camelina Sativa, a member of the mustard family.

So what this means is that even more land for agricultural production will now be put aside for biofuels production; a point made by an Aerospace and Defence Industry spokesman from Brussels:
Alexandre Dossat, a spokesman for the Aerospace and Defence industry association in Brussels, said that there was now "proof" that biofuels could work for aeroplanes at subsonic and supersonic speeds.

But to keep from falling behind in the global biofuels race, "decisions should be taken now in Europe," he said.

"We need a massive scaling up of production," he told EurActiv, "and that requires support from political authorities to make available legislative incentives and subsidies to make sure that biofuels take off at this very initial stage".

Personally I share Greenpeace's Sebastian Risso's concerns,
"Biofuels are plant-based and they require a lot of land," he told EurActiv. "But most land in the world is already used so it causes a knock on effect either by forcing agriculture somewhere else or pushing communities off their land," he added, pointing to research which indicates an increase of greenhouse gases through the expansion of farming.

Risso's solution – addressing demand-side issues such as short-haul flights – received some surprising support from one biofuel industry insider, who wished to remain anonymous.

"I'm not sure a growth in the biofuel market would be a positive thing," he told EurActiv. "We'd have to see where the feedstock came from and make sure that the source was sustainable."

To me biofuel production equates to higher food prices and that can't be right.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Lluchio llwch i lygad!

Roeddwn i'n siomedig iawn ar ôl darllen cyfraniad aelod seneddol newydd De Clwyd, Susan Elan Jones ar flog WalesHome.org.

Cyfraniad arwynebol a syml iawn oedd yr erthygl, gan ddefnyddio problem fach hefo trydaru dros y penwythnos i ddangos rhaniadau ym Mhlaid Cymru. Fel rhywun fuodd yn y Gynhadledd o'r cychwyn i'r diwedd, does dim rhaniadau, ond mae 'na wahaniaeth barn sydd yn rywbeth i'w ddisgwyl mewn plaid sydd ag aelodaeth yn cynrychioli'r spectrwn wleidyddol o'r chwith i'r dde.

Doedd yna ddim yn gynhadledd i ddarogan fod y blaid yn mynd fwy i'r dde ond i'r gwrthwyneb, sef Plaid Cymru yn llenwi'r gwagle ar y chwith adawyd gan y Blaid Lafur.

Cyn belled a bod y posibilrwydd o glymblaid hefo'r Ceidwadwyr yn y cwestiwn, mater i'r aelodaeth fydd hynny ac mae hi'n ddigon teg fod yr arweinyddiaeth ddim am datgan barn ar y mater.

I fod yn onest, be ydy pwrpas yr erthygl yma yn y pen draw?

Ymgais i bardduo Plaid Cymru a thynnu sylw i ffwrdd o wendidau mewnol y Blaid Lafur yn arbennig y rhwygiadau amlwg o fewn Llafur yn dilyn fyny at y refferendwm.

Hwyrach dylem ofyn i Susan a Lesley Griffiths pam yn union y gwnaethom cyn lleiad ar gyfer y bleidlais IE, oedden nhw wedi cael ei rhybuddio gan CLP Wrecsam i beidio ag ymwneud ar ymgyrch IE gan fod arweinyddiaeth y Blaid Lafur lleol yn driw i Peter Hain ac yn ymgyrchu dros bleidlais NA.

Be sy'n digwydd o fewn y Blaid Lafur Gymreig i'w bod hollt rhwng Little Brits, Peter Hain a datganolwyr Cymreig Carwyn Jones ar unig beth mae Susan Elan Jones yn ei neud yw lluchio llwch i lygaid etholwyr ynglyn ar sefyllfa fel mae hi yn ei phlaid ei hun.

PFI and Labour hypocrisy

Labour MP for Clwyd South Susan Elan Jones has a rather desperate go at Plaid Cymru on Wales Home, specifically attacking its new not-for-profit investment in jobs and apprenticeships as "PFI, pure and simple". Such a Private Finance Initiative - a glorified HP scheme for the public sector that involves private companies making a fortune - would be a bad thing of course.

So surely Susan Elan Jones would have been opposed to PFI in all its other manifestations. Such as the PFI scheme for the Aylesbury estate in Southwark, where she was a Labour councillor until 2010? Labour didn't invent PFI, the Tories did. But Brown and Blair took up the PFI idea with such enthusiasm that many consider to be a Labour policy.

Next time Labour want to send out the attack dogs, try to find one with some teeth.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Elections in Wales!

It would appear that 2014 will be the only year for a while when we won't have an election.

In 2012 we will have council elections, 2013 European elections, 2015 a Westminster General election and in 2016 Welsh Parliament and local elections on the same day!

It's not only the sheer number of elections that we seem to have but the number of ballots held on the particular day. Let's take the 5th of May as an example where there will be three ballot papers, a Welsh Assembly constituency ballot a Welsh Assembly Regional ballot and an AV referendum ballot.

It will be even worse in 2016 when we will have potentially 4 ballot papers; Assembly constituency, Assembly Regional, Unitary Authority ballot and possibly Community Council ballot.

An added complication is the fact that not everyone can vote in each election, take for example EU migrant workers; they can vote in Welsh Assembly, County Council, Community Council and European elections but they can't vote in a Westminster election or the AV referendum.

On the 5th May 2011, we will have a situation in all constituencies where some electors will be given 2 ballot papers and others 3 papers; and as if this isn't confusing enough the Boundaries Commission will review Westminster boundaries and Local Authority ward boundaries sometime between now and 2016.

The Lib Dems in Government have a lot to answer for!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Who will be first Welsh Lib Dem to quit?

A leading Scottish Lib Dem has quit his party over coalition cuts on the eve of the Scottish election.

According to BBC Scotland:

Hugh O'Donnell was the leading candidate in the party's Central Scotland list.

Mr O'Donnell said was unhappy with the direction of the party in Scotland and the UK Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

Mr O'Donnell, who served as a Central Scotland list MSP for four years, will now stand as an independent candidate in the region.

Will a few Welsh Lib Dems try to save themselves in the same way?

Diffyg Parch i'r Iaith.



Yn ddiweddar penderfynodd pump o Undebau Credyd Gogledd Cymru gyfuno i ffurfio un Undeb ar draws y Gogledd sef y North Wales Credit Union (ia dim cyfieithiad Cymraeg). Lleoliad y pum Undeb Gredyd oedd Caernarfon (Llechen), Clwyd Coast (Rhyl a Phrestatyn), Llandudno a Caledfryn (Dinbych a Rhuthun) a Wrecsam. Pan ymunais i ag Undeb Gredyd Wrecsam ryw ddwy flynedd yn ôl cwynais nad oedd gwasanaeth dwyieithog ar gael er bod yr Undeb yn cael ei chefnogi yn ariannol gan yr Awdurdod Lleol ac felly a dyletswydd i ddarparu yn ofynnol a gofynion strategaeth iaith Gymraeg yr Awdurdod hynny.

Hwyrach y gallai rywun faddau i Wrecsam am fethu a darparu gwasanaeth ond mae'r ffaith fod hen wefan Undeb Gredyd y Llechen yn uniaith Saesneg yn anfaddeuol a hithau wedi ei sefydlu yng Nghaernarfon sef cadarnle yr iaith.

Hwyrach mae hon fydd y frwydr gyntaf yn dilyn y mesur iaith newydd.

Mae cwyn ffurfiol wedi mynd i Fwrdd yr Iaith, ag i'r Gweinidog a gofynnaf i ddarllenwyr y blog yma i hefyd neud cwyn drwy e-bostio info@northwalescu.co.uk

Marching against the cuts




More than 500,000 marched against the cuts in London yesterday, including many from Wrecsam. The sheer size of the march was reminiscent of the anti-war march in 2003 with huge contingents of public sector workers from Unison, Unite and the PCS.
There were also lively scenes at Downing Street, where a group of anarchists in a Trojan Horse tried some kind of street theatre. The anger against the Tories and Fib Dems was very real although the sight of a few ancient Labour Party banners stuck in the throat - this was the party that, had they won the last election, would have cut almost as deeply and almost as quickly. This was the party that failed to regulate the bankers and professed to be intensely relaxed about the super rich, to the extent of not taxing them. All that has changed in opposition of course, but people have long memories and won't be fooled by the Miliband makeover.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Is Wrecsam part of Wales?

Public meetings do prompt people to say the strangest things but surely the Lib Dem candidate wasn't serious when he said that Monmouth and Wrecsam may want to have a referendum on whether they were part of Wales.

I know it's difficult to take the Lib Dems seriously but when they come out with reactionary nonsense like this, it really is worrying.

Hustings (part 1)

Today saw the first encounter between the Wrecsam candidates, with interesting questions from Yale students.

The most interesting aspect of the question and answer session was the student who asked John Marek how he'd switched from Labour to Tory (unfortunately ignoring the left-wing interlude). Marek is still in denial about being a Tory, claiming to want to tax the bankers. Unfortunately his chancelllor, George Osborne, shows no sign of wanting to tax the enemy.

Also amusing was the Lib Dem inability to string together a coherent answer - no surprise given the relationship with the Tories.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Fancy a Seedy Saturday?


All gardeners and aspiring gardeners are welcome to join the Seedy Saturday event at Pentre Gwyn community centre on April 16, when seeds and plants will be exchanged and expert advice will be on offer.

Please spread the word.

Conference hears that 20,000 ex-service personnel are in prison or on probation


Plaid MP backs campaign to support military veterans


A packed conference of ex-service personnel and their supporters has heard a Plaid Cymru MP pledge to continue campaigning on their behalf after revealing that about 20,000 ex-veterans are either currently in prison or on probation.

Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru MP for Meirionnydd Dwyfor, was speaking at the Forces For Good conference in the Catrin Finch Centre in Wrexham, where he explained how the campaign for the particular problems facing millions of ex-servicemen and women was "gaining traction".

He said:
"The campaign for the welfare needs of veterans of the armed forces is growing. The current Bill on ex-service personnel going through Westminster seeks to address the adverse affect on veterans but it's disappointing that debate has been stifled. Many fall through the welfare net and, although they are trained to the highest level, are not prepared for live outside the forces.

"I first became involved when I realised, through my work in the courts, the number of violent cases involving ex-servicemen that were coming through the criminal justice system where there were no apparent motives. I made enquiries about the number of prison inmates who were veterans and was told there were no figures."

He explained that working with the probation service, he had established there were up to 20,000 veterans in the criminal justice system, including an estimated 8,500 in prison. He said the challenge now was to change the system that allowed this to happen and ensure there was sufficient help in terms of alcohol and drug misuse, housing and health - especially the mental wellbeing of traumatised soldiers.

Mr Llwyd said:
"We need a representative in the cabinet who deals with the welfare needs of veterans rather than the priorities of the MoD budget."


Marc Jones, Plaid's Assembly candidate for Wrexham, also attended the conference, which attracted ex-military personnel from across Wales and beyond. He said:

"There were many very harrowing tales of how ex-service personnel were more or less abandoned by the Ministry of Defence once their time was up. The knock-on effect of months of training to desensitise people for a war situation can't be undone in 24 hours, and the tales of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and family break-up leading very often to prison show that there is a responsibility on the MoD to resettle its personnel as well as train them.

"Wales provides a very high percentage of the UK armed forces - about 10% - considering its small size and we need better treatment for those men and women. For example, unlike the USA, there is no mental health assessment before they leave the military. In the States, 21% have been found to have mental health issues whereas veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to deal with their own PTSD issues, often by self-medicating through alcohol and drugs."

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Map o Dlodi Plant ym Mhrydain.

Dyma fap o dlodi plant ym Mhrydain heddiw (cydnabyddiaeth i'r Guardian a Save the Children)

Tybed faint o wahaniaeth neith penderfyniad Huw Lewis i ddargyfeirio arian Cymorth tuag at dlodi plant? Mae hi'n amlwg nad ydy arian Cymunedau Gyntaf wedi gneud fawr o wahaniaeth a dydy polisiau y Llywodraeth Geidwadol ar fudd-daliadau yn mynd i neud dim ond gwaethygu y sefyllfa.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Focus on investment and skills to drive Wrexham and Flintshire's economic growth

Plaid pledges 7,000 new jobs and 4,000 apprenticeships for north-east Wales



Plaid Cymru’s Assembly candidates in Flintshire and Wrexham have launched their election manifesto with a bold pledge to build the economy of Wales, create thousands of new jobs and ensure young people have the right training and skills for work.

The party's candidates highlighted how these new jobs - part of a 50,000 jobs plan for Wales - will be created through a £500m Plaid’s “Build for Wales” Company to get our economy moving, a £90m fund for business loans as well as tax relief to help develop our town centres and small businesses and an ambitious ‘Train2Work’ scheme, which will establish 30,000 apprenticeships each year to boost the skills and employability of young people across Wales.

Marc Jones, Plaid's candidate for Wrexham, outlined how Plaid’s decisive actions as part of the One Wales government protected thousands of jobs during the recession and how the party would now help Wales’ economy recover and grow to ensure a wealthier nation. He explained that up to 7,000 jobs and 4,000 apprenticeships would be created in the north-east through this bold scheme.

His Delyn counterpart, Carrie Harper, said:

“In the next Assembly, Plaid will create a £500 million Plaid’s “Build for Wales” Company for Wales to underpin economic growth and to create up to 50,000 jobs. The Company will bring about investment in transport, our schools, our hospitals, new homes, our information technology and our energy infrastructure. Our “Build for Wales” Company would be good for the Welsh public sector, good for business and best of all would be a vital counter-cyclical stimulus - in supporting and creating jobs."

Discussing Plaid’s vision for a modern workforce Shane Brennan, Plaid's Alyn and Deeside candidate, added:

“In this government, Plaid’s priority will be to increase attainment in the skills that will develop this part of Wales’ potential for economic growth.

“We have to support the workforce of today which is why we will roll out the new Basic Skills in the Workplace projects to support at least 1000 employers and 30,000 employees.

“Our aim will be to do our best in preparing our young people for the world of work.”

The ambitious plan also includes plans to reduce business rates for smaller businesses. Plaid's Clwyd South candidate Mabon ap Gwynfor said:

“It is Plaid's intention to create a Welsh Valuation Office Agency to ensure a level-playing field for small businesses rather than the current system, which favours the larger out-of-town developments.

"In the meantime Plaid is pledging that the temporary rate relief scheme which is due to end in October this year will be made permanent. This means for the next Assembly term, around half of small businesses in Wrexham and Flintshire will pay no business rates at all.”

All the fun of the hustings

Wrecsam will see at least four hustings - Question Time-style meetings featuring all four candidates in the Assembly elections in front of an audience. They promise to be a real opportunity for voters to put the issues that concern them directly to the candidates and it will be interesting to see what those key concerns are.
The first is this Friday in Yale College before a few hundred students. Last year's event proved to be fairly lively with the students cheering on some answers and losing the will to live as Tory John Marek clashed repeatedly with Labour's Ian Lucas. Bickered is probably a more accurate term, as the two patently despise each other.
Much the same can be said for Dr Marek's relationship with Labour's AM for Wrecsam Lesley Griffiths, who refused to share a platform with him during the Yes referendum campaign and used to be his secretary.

Maelor hospital - rubbish at recycling

The Daily Post follows up our story about the Maelor hospital's appalling recycling rate.

A NORTH Wales hospital has been blasted for appalling recycling rates.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital recycles a tiny 3% of its rubbish compared with its much greener neighbours Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, on 35% and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan, on 42%.

Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham councillor Marc Jones said it was a terrible record, especially with the town having excellent recycling facilities.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board chiefs yesterday promised to sort it out.

Cllr Jones said the bulk of the Maelor's 1,129 tonnes of waste annually was sent to landfill and was costing £325,000 every year.

"Wrexham council has a large recycling facility on the industrial estate but the local hospital only recycles 3% of its waste – we need to see more joined-up thinking between public bodies on this matter,” he said.

Wrexham households currently recycle more than 40% following a push by the council and the award-winning Recycle With Michael scheme.

Cllr Jones added: “It’s about time all public bodies, including health boards, got involved in recycling as we all have to these days.”

A BCUHB spokesman said: “The health board is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and is making arrangements to improve recycling rates at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. We will soon be developing a new waste management service across North Wales and will ensure that significant recycling conditions are an essential requirement.

“Recycling rates at Ysbyty Gwynedd and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd stand at 35% and 42% and this has been achieved through ensuring waste is appropriately sorted before being disposed and investing in new equipment such as cardboard bailers.

“Items recycled at these hospitals include paper, catering oil, batteries aerosols, surplus equipment and furniture, fluorescent tubes, glass, plastics and cans.”

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A civil service for Wales

Lee Waters posts an interesting piece about the fact that the senior civil service in Wales is not fit for purpose.
That's certainly the feeling of anyone who's had dealings with senior WAG bureaucrats, whose permanent secretary is answerable to London's civil service rather than the people of Wales.
Having a "Little London" in Cardiff Bay is not good for our democracy. But identifying a problem is only the first step. It's essential that the Welsh civil service is re-structured to meet the needs of Wales rather than ensuring that devolution is a partial and begrudging handing over of power from the mothership.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Trydar yn Gymraeg!

Dyma erthygl ddiddorol iawn gan Read Write Web ar ddefnyddio Trydaru neu Twitter i ddiogelu iethoedd lleiafrifol yn y byd. Dyfeiswyd sustem gan yr Athro Kevin Scannell o Brifysgol St Louis i adnabod 500 o iethoedd lleiafrifol sydd yn cael ei defnyddio i drydar. Nai ddim ceisio egluro y sustem ond ddim ond tynnu eich sylw fod yr iaith Gymraeg yn drydydd drwy'r byd yn ei defnydd i drydaru hefo bron 1600 o ddefnyddwyr Twitter. Yr iaith leiafrifol sydd yn cael ei defnyddio fwya ydy Creole Haiti ac wedyn yr iaith Fasgeg, Euskara.

Braf gweld y Gymraeg yn cadw fyny gyda y dechnoleg newydd a rhwydweithiau cymdeithasol fel Gweplyfr a Trydar, ac mae na ymgyrch ar droed i gael safle Twitter wedi ei gyfiethu i'r Gymraeg.

I wybod mwy am pwy sy'n trydaru yn Gymraeg a be ydy'r pynciau llosg ewch i UmapCym

I'r rhai ohonoch sydd ddim wedi cychwyn ar drydaru rhowch gyfle arni yma a defnyddiwch y Gymraeg.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Dickens is going to Court.

BREAKING NEWS
Neville Dickens local businessman and developer in Wrecsam is to face charges relating to the demolition of the Grade II listed, Mine Rescue Station in Maesgwyn Road, Wrecsam.

Link to the Daily Post report, http://stwnsh.com/2j8

More on intolerant Tories.



Bill and Star Etheridge are Tory activists who were suspended by the Conservative Party following a complaint made about images on Facebook where they were photographed holding two 'golliwog' dollies.

The Facebook group where the images were displayed was to campaign against 'political correctness', and this is what Bill Etheridge had to say about it all:
Forced Out Of The Conservative Party For Not Being Politically Correct

Until today, both myself and my wife were Conservative candidates for the May Council Elections.

I worked as a Campaign Executive in the run up to the last election and am a member of Dudley North and South associations. I am also Chairman of Claverley association.

We are openly Thatcherite and believe in an EU referendum. We also organise the local branch of The Campaign Against Political Correctness.

We received a letter today from Conservative Head office suspending us from the party as our activities with the campaign against PC could be considered to bring the Conservative party into disrepute. The main problem was that we had been pictured holding a toy Gollie

Our response was that a party which stifled free speech and was prepared to discipline members for holding a rag doll was no longer the Conservative party. We have both resigned with immediate effect.

We do not intend to be silenced and will increase our campaigning in favour of Freedom and Against Political Correctness

Oh dear, so the Tory Party hasn't changed then, it is still the same intolerant party of the past.

Who votes for a party like this?

Do as I say, not do as I do

There's a certain logic in barring Welsh MPs from voting on matters that will only affect England. That's why Plaid MPs don't vote in such matters.

But it's rather ironic, as Alwyn ap Huw points out, that the Secretary of State for Wales, who is raising the possibility of a ban, represents Amersham and Chesham in leafy Buckinghamshire.

So when will she stop interfering in matters that only affect Wales?

Firefighters' union backs Plaid candidate

The firefighters' union in Wales has backed the Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate for Wrexham Marc Jones.

The Fire Brigade Union's Welsh committee agreed to give Marc Jones £500 towards his election campaign after many years of cooperation with the trade union activist.

Mr Jones, who is also a county councillor for the Whitegate ward, worked voluntarily for the FBU Wales during the 2003 strike and helped edit and produce the union's weekly strike bulletin.

Mr Jones, a former journalist, said he was delighted with the donation:
"I've worked with the FBU locally and nationally for almost a decade, promoting trade union issues and concerns. This was most evident during the bitter firefighters' strike, when the FBU took on John Prescott and the Labour government. There was huge public support for the firefighters' cause, which was evident in the money we raised on the streets of Wrexham, but Labour behaved like the worst kind of employer and tried to smash the union into submission.

"In my role as a journalist I've also written about fire safety issues of concern to the FBU and continue to work with the local FBU branch secretary Mike Davies, who was instrumental in helping me to get this very welcome donation."


He added:
"It's a huge boost to Plaid's coffers locally as we are entirely reliant on members' donations and fundraising efforts for our campaigning. Unlike the big London parties, we don't get funding from millionaires and tax exiles so every penny from respected organisations such as the FBU is a great boost to supplement our own efforts.

"It's also an important reminder to trade unionists that Plaid is a party for workers in Wales. We are committed to defending public services such as the fire service as we go into the Assembly elections on May 5."

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Government Minister Visit to Steel Works Site welcomed

Plaid Cymru candidate for Clwyd South Mabon ap Gwynfor has welcomed the news that Government Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Jocelyn Davies AM (Plaid Cymru) is to visit the Brymbo Steel Works site tomorrow, Thursday 17 March.

Mabon ap Gwynfor said that the lack of any tangible developments other than housing on the old Steel Works site at Brymbo has been a major concern locally, following promises made by the developers, BDL, to create jobs, a new school and conserve the area's heritage.

Mabon ap Gwynfor said,
“I’m concerned that having made many promises initially for the old steel works site the only thing we’ve seen built are houses bringing vast profits to the coffers of a few individuals. BDL have failed to develop the basic infrastructure that this community needs including the spine road and other promises, and this having already received over £7m public funding to help clear the site.

“The site has a lot of potential and a wealth of heritage to it. The Steel from this area built the British Navy and made the UK the economic power house of its day. The fossilised Carboniferous forrest that has been found on site has national significance as it is the most comprehenisve record of its kind, and has the potential of attracting tourists interested in the early history of our planet.

“I would urge the Brymbo Heritage Group to use the meeting as an opportunity to discuss how best they can work with government bodies like CADW in order to benefit fully from the areas extraordinary historical past.”

LEIGHTON ANDREWS WELCOMES CAPITAL FUNDING BOOST

Education Minister Leighton Andrews has welcomed the announcement that three major school capital programmes will receive £22.3m funding from the Welsh Assembly Government's Centrally Retained Capital (CRC) Fund.

Funding includes:

• £8 million for Dinefwr Cluster Tri-Level reform - to reorganise learning provision for people aged 14-19 in the Dinefwr area of Carmarthenshire;

• £7 million for Transforming Post 16 Education in Merthyr Tydfil - to reconfigure post-16 education and training in Merthyr Tydfil through the development of a tertiary college; and

• £7.3 million for Bridgend -Gateway to the Valleys 11-18 Schools - to support the consolidation of education services resulting in a new build school.

It has also been confirmed that funding for 38 other capital projects will progress as planned in 2011-12.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said:
"The capital funding announced this week shows our continued commitment to improving the standard of buildings and facilities in schools, colleges and universities across Wales.

"We have faced a very challenging budget settlement but we have worked hard to ensure that capital projects can continue in 2011-12.

"By continuing to fund 38 capital projects in 2011-12 we are improving and enhancing buildings and facilities which will be of huge benefit to pupils and students across Wales.

"The settlement we have received has meant we have had to make difficult decisions about deferring seven capital projects until 2012-13. This does not mean that these projects have been cancelled. The projects will go ahead and will be funded in 2012-13.

"We will continue to work with local authorities and further education institutions to ensure that funds are available to support delivery at the right time. If opportunities arise to accelerate or bring projects forward then we will do just that.

"A key commitment of the Welsh Assembly Government's 'One Wales' agenda was to create schools fit for delivering a modern and progressive curriculum in the 21st Century. These significant capital funding announcements are helping us make that commitment a reality."

Note - Amongst the schemes to be funded in 2011/12 is the £4.2 million for a proposed new Welsh school in Gwersyllt.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bold ambition for a better Wales: creating jobs and apprenticeships

Plaid’s focus on investment and skills to drive Wales’ economic growth
Help for small businesses


Plaid Cymru’s leader has tonight outlined his party’s vision for building the economy of Wales. In his speech Ieuan Wyn Jones AM outlined key election pledges for Plaid Cymru including creating up to 50,000 new jobs across Wales.

The Ynys Mon AM highlighted how these new jobs will be created through a £500m infrastructure fund to get our economy moving, £90m fund for business loans as well as tax relief to help develop our town centres and small businesses and Plaid’s ambitious ‘Train2Work’ scheme, which will establish 30,000 apprenticeships each year to boost the skills and employability of young people across Wales.

Mr Jones outlined how in government, Plaid’s decisive actions have protected thousands of jobs during the toughest of recessions as well as how the party will now help Wales’ economy recover and grow so that our nation becomes wealthier.

Ieuan Wyn Jones AM said:

“In this Assembly term we will create a £500 million Build for Wales Fund for Wales to underpin economic growth and to create up to 50,000 jobs. The fund will bring about investment in transport, our schools, our hospitals, new homes, our information technology and our energy infrastructure. Our ‘Build for Wales’ fund would be good for the Welsh public sector, good for business and best of all would be a vital counter cyclical stimulus - in supporting and creating jobs."

Discussing Plaid’s vision for a modern workforce Mr Jones added:

“In this government, Plaid’s priority will be to increase attainment in the skills that will develop Wales’ potential for economic growth.

“We have to support the workforce of today which is why we will roll out the new Basic Skills in the Workplace projects to support at least 1000 employers and 30,000 employees.

“Our aim will be to do our best in preparing our young people for the world of work.”

Speaking on the issue of business rates the Plaid Leader said:

“It is our intention to create a Welsh Valuation Office Agency to ensure a level playing field for small businesses rather than the current system, which favours the larger out-of-town developments as they do at present.

"In the meantime Plaid is pledging that the temporary rate relief scheme which is due to end in October this year will be made permanent. This means for the next Assembly term, until the system is reformed, around half of small businesses in Wales will pay no business rates at all.”

"Shocking" leaflet from Fib Dems

The Liberal Democrats are shocked. So shocked that the word is in two headlines on their glossy paper "Wrexham Herald" which appeared yesterday.
One "shocking waste" apparently was the north-south express train that didn't stop at Wrecsam ("which only politicians use" - proof please). What a bummer that Ieuan Wyn Jones announced it would be stopping at Wrecsam after all just last week - presumably after the Herald went to press.
The other "shocking waste" is the air link to Anglesey, the UK's most deprived county. Not surprisingly "Local Lib Dem campaigner Aled Roberts" (who's day job is leader of Wrecsam council but best not mention that when you're playing the populist card and attacking politicians and bureaucrats) is outraged at the idea. Not so his Lib Dem colleagues in Anglesey, who like others in that area see it as an important tool in reviving the local economy in the wake of huge job losses.
The Lib Dems also play up the north-south divide in Wales for narrow political advantage as they moan about missing out on investment - ignoring the recent investments in Wrecsam's schools from the Welsh Government.
But while Plaid and Labour are failing in Cardiff, hang on, there's hope for us all... apparently "the Lib Dems are delivering jobs for Wrexham". Mmm, two men standing outside the fence at Sharp factory don't convince me of any jobs boom. We know the Lib Dems in coalition with the Tories (something they forget to mention, naturally) and will be responsible for decimating the public sector in terms of the NHS, local councils and civil servants (such as the tax office and jobcentre). Now that is shocking.

PS The Fib Dems are so concerned about the Welsh economy that they printed their glossy rag in Oxfordshire.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

£105 million boost for Capital Spend in Wales in 2011-12

Despite the massive cuts in public spending announced by the Con Dem government in London, the Welsh Government announces excellent news for the people of Wales with substantial increase in capital spending:
Ministers have announced an extra £105 million for capital investment in Wales in 2011-12 as part of a £1.3bn capital spending plan.
This vital additional investment – together with an extra £8.32 million in 2012-13 and £8.07 million in 2013-14 – was announced today by the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and Minister for Business and Budget. It represents a major boost to vital infrastructure investment and the construction industry in Wales.

As a result of the UK Government’s Spending Review, the Welsh capital budget has been cut by over 40% in real terms over the next four years. The extra funding announced today will help cushion the impact of that cut, giving the go-ahead for transport, schools, health and other projects that would otherwise not have happened.

Do we need say more except that the One Wales Government continues to deliver for the people of Wales.

Less Public Engagement.

Despite claims by David Cameron (prior to the election) that he will enhance the ability of the public to engage with politicians by allowing House of Commons debate on petitions with more than 100,000 names, what has actually happened is that Cameron's government has reduced opportunities for the public to engage as the following demonstrates:

I tried to create a petition on the 10 Downing Street website to petition the Prime Minister to abolish the Welsh Office recently but was unable to do so. I then emailed the Downing Street web team and got the following response:

Dear Mr Jones,

Thank you for your email.

The petitions system is closed.

The website states that the Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young announced on 2 December 2010 that online petitions to the Coalition Government will be moving to DirectGov in 2011.

Paper petitions can still be posted to Downing Street and should be sent to: 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA. To hand deliver a paper petition, please contact the Diplomatic Protection Group Liaison Office on 020 7321 7154 to discuss the process and requirements.

You can also make your views known by writing to or emailing the Prime Minister. Contact details can be found on the Number 10 website: http://www.number10.gov.uk/footer/contact-us

Kind regards

Downing Street Web team

I wonder when if ever in 2011 does Sir George Young intend to reinstate the petitioning system on the DirectGov website.

Another backward step for open government and democracy...Liberal Democrats asleep on the job again.

Paul Rogers and Heritage!

Paul Rogers the prospective Tory Assembly candidate for Clwyd South was appointed a special policy advisor on heritage to Tory Assembly Leader Nick Bourne in January this year. This is an extract from the Clwyd South Conservatives website:
Welsh Assembly Candidate for Clwyd South Paul Rogers has been invited by the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the assembly Nick Bourne to become a special policy advisor on heritage.

Paul Rogers has a keen interest in local heritage been working on a range of issues in communities across Clwyd South.

If Councillor Paul Rogers has such an interest in Wrecsam's heritage perhaps he could have availed himself of the opportunity to comment on Wrecsam's heritage strategy at last week's Exceutive Board when the strategy was discussed and accepted.

The question we need to be asking is whether Paul Rogers's appointment has any substance or is it just a publicity stunt to beef up his cv and to boost his candidacy?

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Procurement.

Paul Williams the prospective Tory Assembly candidate for Ynys Mon never misses an opportunity to make partisan and unwarranted attacks on the Deputy First Minister and his officers on his Druid blog. This week he attacks Ieuan Wyn Jones regarding the lack of opportunities for local Welsh companies to tender for public work contracts citing the building of the Welsh Government building in Llandudno Junction as a case in point with Pochin having been awarded that particular contract.

As always the Druid is somewhat off the mark a point picked up by Iolo in his excellent blog, "Own Goal from Druid" where he demolishes the arguments presented by Williams and explains in great detail the sub contracts and local employment opportunities arising out of the Llandudno Junction project.

Whilst I am no expert on procurement I am aware of great efforts made by Ieuan's, Jane Davidson and Jane Hutt's officers to draw up a 'procurement framework' for renewable energy tenders i.e photovoltaic panels, where 'local' SME's were given greater opportunities to tender. This project has now been delayed following complaints that the framework was 'uncompetitive.' The complaints were allegedly made by large multinational companies.

What this shows is that the governmental will to help local SME's in Wales, is there; but that the legislation is not geared up towards local procurement. The really difficult question is who is responsible for changing legislation in respect of procurement, is it Westminster or Cardiff?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Abolish the Welsh Office/ Diddymu y Swyddfa Gymreig

Follow link to sign a petition to abolish the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales as it is superfluous under the new constitutional settlement.

http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43791.html

Arwyddwch y ddeiseb i ddiddymu y Swyddfa Gymreig ar y sail nad oes digon o waith i gyfiawnhau ei pharhad yn dilyn y setliad cyfansoddiadol newydd.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

London parties ignore people's voice on city status

The controversial decision to support Wrecsam's bid for city status in the face of unanimous opposition from all those questioned has been condemned by Plaid Cymru councillors.

Plaid group leader Marc Jones said:
"The Executive Board voted 7-2 to press ahead with the doomed bid for city status, despite deferring the decision last month to allow for a consultation with people in the borough. That consultation revealed a clear majority against, as did soundings with young people, community councils and our own street referendum.

"Despite this, representatives for Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats all backed the city status bid and ignored the democratic views of the people. Why commission a poll if you then ignore it?"

He slammed those parties for failing to respect the majority view:
"One of the reasons people are so sceptical about city status is that certain politicians are so passionately in favour. The Westminster expenses scandal showed there is a huge cynicism about the political elite generally because they are so removed from day-to-day reality and this decision will only feed that perception.

"We were told city status would bring benefits to the council but this vote will rebound on those who voted in favour. The decision to go against the democratic vote will cost the council a great deal in terms of goodwill, credibility and trust locally. The only people who emerged from that decision with their credibility intact were Plaid's representative on the board Arfon Jones and independent councillor Dave Bithell (who both voted against) and Mark Pritchard, who abstained because he accepted the people's views."

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

New pressure for improved train service

Fresh pressure has been put on the Welsh Government to route a new north-south express rail service through Wrexham.

Plaid Cymru's leader on Wrexham Council Marc Jones spoke today with the office of Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, who is expected to make an announcement soon about the route.

Cllr Jones said:
"Ieuan Wyn Jones is making it clear that the new train service is designed to improve links between the north and south. He understands the importance of that service for the largest town in the north and I'm hoping our lobbying for continued improvements to our rail links pays off.

"Wrexham has seen a direct devolution dividend in terms of improvements in rail services and to the main station in the past decade. I very much want to see this continue with the help of the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru ministers within that government."


UPDATE: New Holyhead-Cardiff service will stop at Wrecsam.

Labour split on coalition !

For how long will the Welsh Labour party tolerate our ex-colonial secretary, Peter Hain to undermine the One Wales Government? We in the other parties have long considered Hain to be a liability and his latest escapade in claiming leadership of Welsh Labour from Carwyn Jones is nothing less than an attempted coup for which he should be disciplined. If you sign an agreement you stick to it otherwise you won't get another one.

This is how the BBC reported on the split within Welsh Labour:
Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has branded Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister in the assembly government, "ineffective".

But First Minister Carwyn Jones stressed he was in charge of Welsh Labour and defended his colleague in the Labour-Plaid coalition cabinet.

It follows comments by the Plaid leader about the future of the Wales Office.

Mr Hain said it was difficult to justify having someone "as ineffective as Ieuan Wyn Jones".

It is Mr Hain's second dig at his party's coalition partners in as many days.

In a statement issued by the Welsh Labour press office on Monday, Mr Hain said that after last week's Yes vote in the referendum that "people are now asking 'what is the point of Plaid Cymru'?"

Mr Hain has now said: "Ieuan Wyn Jones wants a discussion that goes wider than the future of the Wales Office.

"I think we need to have a mature debate about the future role of the Welsh Deputy First Minister.

"Can you really justify having a Deputy First Minister in an assembly cabinet of only nine?"

He added: "It is difficult, I think, in the long-term to justify having a Deputy First Minister in the Welsh Assembly Government as ineffective as Ieuan Wyn Jones."

Both the first and deputy first ministers were asked about Mr Hain's attack when they appeared together at the Welsh Assembly Government's weekly press briefing.

Carwyn Jones said: "Those are Peter's comments. These are not comments that are issued by the government.
'Competing for votes'

"Ieuan and I know that over the next few weeks we will have to think about how we manage the process going up to the election on 5 May. We know that all parties will be competing for votes during the course of that time.

"I don't have any ineffective ministers in my government."

Asked about Mr Hain's role in the election campaign, he said: "I am the leader of the Welsh Labour Party. I anticipate leading the campaign into the assembly election, so it's my role of course to speak on behalf of the party."

The first minister later released a joint statement with Mr Hain saying voters wanted to hear Labour's plans for jobs and policing.

"This is what we are focusing on and will continue to focus on until 5 May," he said.

They added: "The blunt truth is that although there are four parties in Welsh politics, there are only two futures for Wales. A country that is fair and equal with Labour, or a Wales that faces death by a thousand Conservative and Lib Dem cuts."
'Slap-down'

Ieuan Wyn Jones has said Labour and Plaid will need to discuss how they part company to fight the election campaign after four years in coalition.

Last month the Plaid leader reacted angrily to anonymous briefings against him from critics in the Labour Party.

The Conservatives' leader in the assembly, Nick Bourne, said Carwyn Jones's comments were a "public slap-down" for Mr Hain.

Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards said: "There is clearly a power struggle ongoing within the Labour party in Wales and Mr Hain is out of control."

Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said: "There will be many people who are now confused about who speaks for Welsh Labour - Peter Hain or Carwyn Jones."

It will be interesting to see how Labour will approach coalition government if they fail to get an overall majority on May 5th, it won't be easy for Labour thanks to Hain's ill thought out comments.

Leading councillors ignore people's views on city status

Today's Executive Board voted 7-2 to press ahead with the doomed bid for city status, despite a 2-1 rejection of the idea in the poll they commissioned.

Only Plaid Cymru's Arfon Jones along with Dave Bithell respected the views of the vast majority of Wrecsam people sufficiently to vote against. Mark Pritchard abstained.

As Cllr Jones said: "Why commission a poll if you then ignore it?"

Labour, Tory and Lib Dems all voted for.

The general view seemed to be - "the people have spoken, the bastards!"

Monday, 7 March 2011

Politics South Kerry style!

South Kerry's, 'sugar daddy' Jackie Healy-Rae, so named for his success in bringing home the 'pork barrels' to his constituency, retired from the Dáil Éireann this year; only to be replaced by his son Michael, thus leaving a vacancy on Kerry County Council, where Jackie's other son Danny continues to serve.

It would seem that even at 80 years of age Jackie still hasn't given up on politics and is planning on making a return to the County Council by being co-opted by Danny onto the Council.

Incidentally Danny was co-opted when Jackie was elected to Dáil Éireann in 2003.

So another Irish political dynasty continues to thrive but Michael is unlikely to get the concessions from Fine Gael that his father got from Fianna Fail.

I hope that you've followed this little story, but Irish politics is never straight forward, so if you haven't followed it try reading this in the journal.ie.

Red Dragon pub saved for community

The only pub on the Caia Park estate has been saved by tonight's planning committee, who voted 12-1 against accepting a scheme to turn it into a centre for patients with brain injuries.

The committee heard how a new landlord at Red Dragon pub has recently taken over and re-energised the pub as a community hub with football, darts and pool teams, charity fundraising events, a basement gym for local people and even a morris dancing group using it for practice.

Cllr Ron Prince proposed refusal and was backed by Plaid councillor Marc Jones, who questioned whether the recent upsurge in the pub had been taken into consideration when considering viability. Both also questioned whether the site, on a busy road next door to a late-night takeaway and a popular convenience store with early deliveries, was the most suitable location for patients recovering from brain injuries.

Cllr Jones said closing the Red Dragon would leave an area of 12,000 people with no community pub and it was not good enough that the report considered town centre pubs as an adequate substitute.

Speaking after the 12-1 vote against planning permission, Cllr Jones said:
"The council has a policy to protect pubs where they are viable businesses as they are important community facilities. I hope the Red Dragon can continue to thrive as an important centre for the community and doesn't join the lengthening list of pubs in the area that have closed in recent months."

Who came sixth in a two-horse race?


Lies, damn lies and bar charts... the Lib Dems in Barnsley Central

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Youth Justice Service in Wales

A recent meeting of Wrecsam's Youth Justice Management Board agreed to look further at the possibility of charging Local Authorities that place children in Independent Care Homes in Wrecsam.

At present there are 54 children placed in specialist children's homes in Wrecsam CBC that provide therapeutic services for children with, "long term severe behavioural and emotional difficulties." The authorities that place the children in these care homes pay the companies in the region of £250,000 per annum per child or £5000 per week.

Due to the difficulties that the children have, some will invariably offend and come to the notice of the Youth Justice Service. At any one time 25% of the workload of the Wrecsam YJS are looked after children from Independent Care Homes for which Wrecsam get no additional funding from the placing authorities. In addition to the extra numbers, children in these care homes are more likely to be the subject of serious incidents that need to be reported to the Youth Justice Board; in fact 50% of all serious incidents reported to the YJB are looked after children in Independent Care Homes.

The decision was taken to charge the placing authorities is based on, "The demand on resources is increasingly difficult to sustain. Serious incident reporting is a time consuming bureaucratic process which takes resources from other YJS services."

Legal advice suggests that it may be possible to charge and we are now looking further at this. The problem of funding YJS is further exacberated by the decision of the Westminster Government to abolish the YJB and for responsibility to go to the Ministry of Justice. This is dealt with in the Green Paper, "Breaking the cycle." but there is a lack of clarity over a whole host of issues in relation to devolution the main one being funding.

There is a need for intervention at a Westminster and Welsh Government level and AM's should be calling for a Ministerial Statement on Youth Justice in Wales from Carl Sergeant the Local Government minister.

The Things they Say

I must admit I've always been a bit jealous of Welsh Ramblings because of the wonderful list of critical comments that they have under, "The Things They Say." that they have. It's an indication that a blog is 'getting under the skin' of opponents. Whilst we've had some nasty comments directed at us in response to specific postings (which we invariable publish), we rarely have anything quite as venemous as that which John Broughton publishes about us. John Broughton is a an extreme right wing Clwyd South Tory living in ................(Removed at the request of Mr Broughton). This is his latest contribution on his twitter @grahnat:
Plaid Wrecsam is the saddest most bile filled blog in n Wales. Logic & reason play no part in their posts just unadulterated nationalism.

Coming from an 'unadulterated Tory Unionist' is indeed a compliment to a Plaid Cymru blogger; watch out Ramblings were catching up with you!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Wrecsam votes Yes by 2-1

Wrecsam has voted decisively yes by a margin of 2-1 in the referendum on further powers for the National Assembly. The full result is:

Yes 17,606
No: 9,863


According to BBC Welsh Affairs editor Vaughan Roderick:
"A striking result at Wrexham. There were people who had thought the whole north east would vote No. But the change this time, compared with 1997 is incredible. And compared to 1979 it is a total transformation. It's possible that scarcely anywhere will vote No this time."


The change of attitude across the north-east is sensational. Wrecsam, Denbighshire and Flintshire all rejected devolution in 1997. In 2011 they have all voted in favour.

Plaid Cymru members and supporters can give themselves a deserved pat on the back. They have delivered the overwhelming majority of "yes for Wales" leaflets and newspapers in the north east, where the Tory Party (with the honourable exception of Mark Isherwood) has been negative and the Lib Dems have been ineffective.

Now we have the tools to improve Wales, we need a stronger voice from the north-east in Cardiff to advance the needs of people here. That can only be achieved by voting for Plaid candidates in Wrecsam, Clwyd South, Alyn and Deeside and Delyn.

Total Wipe Out

That's the only way to describe the Liberal Democrat performance in the Barnsley by-election yesterday. They were second in the general election and sixth yesterday. They came in behind UKIP and the BNP losing their deposit in the process with their proportion of their votes going down by 13%.

It wasn't exactly a good day for the Tories either, being beaten to the second spot by UKIP.

Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724 (60.80%, +13.53%)
Jane Collins (UKIP) 2,953 (12.19%, +7.53%)
James Hockney (C) 1,999 (8.25%, -9.01%)
Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463 (6.04%, -2.90%)
Tony Devoy (Ind) 1,266 (5.23%, +3.58%)
Dominic Carman (LD) 1,012 (4.18%, -13.10%)

As one twwet said, "I wonder what Nick Clegg is doing today?"

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Tory one-man band in the North East?

This afternoon saw Community Housing Cymru's Wrecsam roadshow, where issues surrounding housing, social care and regeneration were discussed.

It was an interesting afternoon and the Q & A was of a high standard with Mark Isherwood (Tory), Bill Brereton (Lib Dem), Ken Skates (Labour) and myself for Plaid. But I'm a little concerned that the Tories seem unable to provide anyone but Mark Isherwood to speak publicly on their behalf in Clwyd South and Wrecsam. Isherwood was also the sole Tory frontman for their non-existent "Yes" campaign in the referendum.

Surely it isn't because they're scared of giving public exposure to the mavericks, Paul Rogers and John Marek?

Vale of Glamorgan.

At a recent full council meeting Wrecsam Councillors decided to freeze their member allowances for another year. Whilst considering the report details were provided of what other Council's were paying their members. The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales sets maximum allowances that members can claim but many councils do not claim the maximum allowed. One of the Council's that do claim the maximum allowable is Conservative controlled Vale of Glamorgan.

Details of what Councillors in the Vale get are as follows and Wrecsam figures are in brackets after:

Basic Allowance - £13,868 (£12,681)
Leader - £38,139 (£34,597)
Dep Leader - £22,537 (Not Paid)
Lead Members - £17,336 (£6,918)
Chairs of Committees - £9,708 (£6,918)
Leader of opposition - £9,708 (Not paid)

So much for the Tories wanting to make cuts to services and to freeze staff salaries. They are quite happy to rake the maximum allowances in for themselves.

The Tories in the Vale of Glamorgan should take a cut in their member allowances and practice what they preach!

People reject city status bid

People in Wrecsam have voted decisively against the council bidding for city status. The online poll results were 66% Against, 34% For. The majority of community councils consulted were also against, as was the Senedd Yr Ifanc youth council.

That's a pretty categoric response, especially as the council site was full of propaganda supporting city status. It may give the pro-city status Leader newspaper food for thought too, as its online poll was also against.

Plaid's street poll also confirmed the trend.

Despite this, council officers are still recommending that councillors support the bid.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Fire engines? What fire engines? We sold them to pay off the company debts

So this is what happens when the Private Finance Initiative goes bad. The Independent reports the following:

The company that runs London's fleet of fire engines faces a financial crisis over unpaid taxes after the Inland Revenue applied for a winding-up petition from the court.

The Fire Brigades Union last night claimed that the problems at AssetCo Fire and Rescue could result in the 113 appliances based in 169 fire stations in the capital being sold off to raise funds. AssetCo, which has launched a drive to raise £8m to pay off its debts, has won permission to delay its court hearing until mid-April.

The company has a £30m-a-year contract under the Public Finance Initiative to maintain and manage the brigade's front-line vehicles and equipment. It also provides emergency cover if regular firefighters are not available, as happened during last year's fire dispute. It was the first deal of its kind in the UK, replacing previous plans for soldiers to be on standby in Green Goddesses to fight fires. The firm also operates Lincolnshire's fire engines.

AssetCo, which was originally a subsidiary of British Gas, recently announced a share sale to tackle its cash-flow problems. It insists its difficulties are only short-term and it is in no danger. But Matt Wrack, the FBU's general secretary, last night demanded that the Government intervene to remove the fire engine fleet from AssetCo's control. "The safety of Londoners, and of London's firefighters, is in the hands of a company which could be wound up in six weeks' time because of tax debts," he said in a letter to the Fire minister, Bob Neill.

"At the least, this will mean that there is no one to maintain London's fire engines. At the worst, it could mean that London forfeits its fire engines to pay AssetCo's debts."

Last night a spokesman for AssetCo said it was confident that the firm could sort out its financial problems. He pointed to a £120m contract secured by a joint venture involving the company from the United Arab Emirates armed forces.

The spokesman said the London contract operated through a special-purpose vehicle, which isolated it from wider financial risk. A spokesman for Mr Neill said the contract was a matter for the company and the London fire brigade. A spokesman for the brigade said: "We plan for all events that could affect the fire and rescue service we provide and do not anticipate an impact on London's fire engines."

Lib Dem Hypocrisy!

Bill Brereton is the Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate for Wrecsam having previously fought Delyn for them. Bill was also 'campaign manager' for Tom Rippeth in Wrecsam last May. Not only did the Lib Dems nationally produce some 'dodgy' leaflets with even 'dodgier' graphs but they did the same in Wrecsam. It seems that Bill who is a leading campaigner for the Yes AV referendum has been upset by comments made by the No2AV campaign. He tweeted on it a few days ago:
#No2AV hit a new low this week. Take action right now to demand decent and truthful advertising: http://bit.ly/i5zfPl #Yes2AV @yesinmay

I must say I was surprised at Bill demanding 'decent and truthfull advertising' and I'm sure that we in Plaid Cymru will be monitoring Bill's Assembly election leaflet to ensure that they are truthful and decent.

I'm sure that what No2AV said is no worse than what a certain Liberal Democrat Councillor on Wrecsam CBC said about the Yes for Wales campaign and its supporters.

It's a shame that Bill doesn't follow his party's lead and campaign for a Yes for Wales vote with the same vigour as he does for a Yes to AV vote.

UPDATE - The Councillor referred to above is Phil Wynn who apparently is no longer a member of the Liberal Democrats but he remains part of the Lib Dem Alliance on Wrecsam Council until the AGM in May, when he may fly elsewhere...the Tories perhaps?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

"We must give them reforms or they will give us revolution"


Which autocratic regime will be next to totter and topple in the Middle East?

Perceptive commentator David Osler points to Saudi Arabia, where:
It seems that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has noticed what has been going on elsewhere in the Arab world, and has announced a £269bn giveaway package of the type that used to be popular with chancellors of all UK parties in pre-election budgets.
So public sector workers get a 15% pay hike, there will be more help for students and the unemployed, and some imprisoned debtors will be let off the hook. There will also be massive extra spending on education, infrastructure and healthcare between now and the end of 2014, in sharp contrast to the austerity packages prevalent in Europe.

He quotes Tory politician Lord Hailsham, who after the Second World War realised that the ruling class had to make concessions to workers: ‘We must give them reforms or they will give us revolution’.
Gadaffi and Mubarak weren't quite as perceptive of the challenges they faced.