Monday, 31 October 2011

Freedom of Information Act - Decision Notice (BBC)

On the 6th June 2011, I made an FOIA request of the BBC to determine the composition of the BBC Question Time audience from Wrecsam because it was generally felt that the audience was not representative of the Wrecsam area. The BBC refused to provide the information based upon a statutory exemption in the Act.

The Information Commissioner upheld the BBC's position and the comprehensive decision notice is shown below.

fs_50401168

The fact that the BBC is specifically exempted by the Act is perverse, a public service broadcaster funded by licence payers (a form of taxation) should be open and transparent but it is not. The Freedom of Information Act should be amended to include the BBC as a public body.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Not the greenest of governments after all!

Another Con Dem promise of being the greenest government ever will be dumped on Monday when Chris Huhne the Climate Change Secretary will allegedly reduce the Feed in Tariff on renewable electricity from 43.3 pence a Kilowatt/hour to 21pence, or a 50% reduction. The claim in the report is that it is a levy on housholders electricity bills and the government are increasingly concerned about rising bills:
The feed-in tariff scheme, introduced 18 months ago, has been a huge success and has led to 100,000 households installing solar power.

This is because the levels on return on a typical £10,000 investment have been very generous, at about seven per cent per annum – far in excess of rates that can be found in the banks.

This has sparked a mini-solar boom, and from fewer than 500 companies employing about 3,000 people before the FIT was introduced, there are now 3,000 companies with a 25,000 workforce, which has been predicted to expand to 360,000 by 2020.

Yet the Government has become nervous of the subsidy's cost, as it is paid not from the Treasury but by a levy on household electricity bills – an increasingly sensitive subject – and wants to limit it.

..."Coming from a Government that said it would be the greenest ever, this is completely misguided and will be a devastating blow for the solar industry," said Howard Johns of Solar Trade Association.

"Solar installation will be limited to a few rich people, and all the installation going on in solar housing will stop. Hundreds of companies will go bankrupt."

What Howard Johns says is quite right, if the Feed in Tariff is reduced by 50% thousands of jobs in solar PV manufacture will go in places like Sharp in Llay as the reduced incentive will make people think again on spending £10,000 when it will take 18 years to recoup their original investment. Solar renewable energy generation will grind to a halt.

Arguments in support of a reduction in FIT are flawed; it is claimed that the FIT subsidy is paid through a levy on household bills which is quite right but which only adds 5% to the bill...compare this to the 30 to 50% increase in energy prices over the last two years. The FIT subsidy is therefore money well spent to reduce our carbon footprint and to generate renewables

A rough calculation of the cost of the Feed in Tariff since its introduction in April 2010, is around £800 million (based on 100,000 houses having produced 3,500 KWh and being paid 43.3p per KWh), this is the same as the PROFITS of nPower and Scottish Power put together for the last year. Imagine what the profits of all the gas/electricity producers are? No doubt it would dwarf the cost of the FIT subsidy.

Chris Huhne and the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition have rolled over and acquiesced to the anti climate change Tory agenda.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Campaign banner unveiled in by-election


The new campaign banner is unveiled on the main entrance to Rhiwabon - you can't miss it!

Former Labour councillor backs Plaid candidate in Ruabon


A former Labour councillor is the latest to back Pol Wong's campaign to become the new Plaid Cymru councillor for Ruabon.

Cyril Williams, who represented the village for 27 years as a Labour and then independent councillor, said:

"I have known Pol for many years and am fully supporting his campaign. He will make a great contribution for Ruabon as our councillor."

Mr Williams, who lives in the same street as Pol's martial arts school, is the latest community figure to back the by-election candidate, who was chosen by Plaid Cymru after the sudden death of their popular councillor Barrie Price.

Cllr Price's wife, Elaine, also urged voters to come out to vote for Pol. In a statement of support she told voters in Ruabon:

"I would urge you to give your support to the Plaid Cymru candidate to carry on the good work Barrie had started and intended to continue."

Pol Wong, who has run martial arts classes in his village gym for the past 15 years, said:

"Elaine is a very well-respected person in her own right in the village and worked tirelessly alongside Barrie for the benefit of the community. I'm very humbled to have her backing.

"The same can be said for Cyril, who has been a good neighbour of mine for many years and is also a hugely respected figure in the village.

"We've had a great response on the doorstep so far and intend to step up the campaign in the coming week. We will knock on every door in the village so that people can tell me of their concerns and problems."

* Get involved in Plaid Cymru's election campaign in Rhiwabon: contact 07747 792 441 or e-mail plaidwrecsam @ gmail.com



Deisebau Newydd i'r Cynulliad

Dyma ddwy ddeiseb newydd sydd ar wefan y Cynulliad:

Adolygiad Asedau ac Eiddo

Rydym yn galw ar y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol a Llywodraeth Cymru i gynnal Adolygiad Asedau ac Eiddo ar eu hadeiladau a / neu eu heiddo unigol i leihau nifer yr eiddo nad yw n cael ei ddefnyddio n ddigonol ac i ddefnyddio r cyfalaf a gaiff ei arbed i ariannu Rhaglen Ysgolion yr 21ain Ganrif.

Gwybodaeth gefnogol - Mae gan y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol swyddfeydd yn Rhodfa r Tywysog, Bae Colwyn, ac mae gan Lywodraeth Cymru swyddfeydd yng Nghyffordd Llandudno, nad ydynt yn cael eu defnyddio n ddigonol ac sy n rhannol wag. Nid oes cyfiawnhad dros ariannu dau adeilad sydd mor agos at ei gilydd yn yr amseroedd ariannol caled hyn i drethdalwyr yng Nghymru. Gwerthfawrogir bod Llywodraeth Cymru a Chynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru yn ddau sefydliad ar wah n ond nid oes rheswm pam nad oes modd iddynt rannu r un adeilad. Mae r un sefyllfa yn wir mewn ardaloedd eraill yng Nghymru hefyd mae n debyg.
Mae'r linc yma

Targedau Ailgylchu ar gyfer Byrddau Iechyd

Rydym yn galw ar Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru i argymell wrth y Gweinidog Iechyd ei bod yn cyflwyno targedau ailgylchu sy n gosod rhwymedigaeth gyfreithiol ar fyrddau iechyd yng Nghymru ar lefel sy n debyg i r hyn a osodir ar Awdurdodau Lleol .


Gwybodaeth Gefnogol - Nododd cais Rhyddid Gwybodaeth diweddar fod Ysbyty Maelor yn Wrecsam wedi cael gwared ar 1,200 tunnell o wastraff y llynedd (nad yw n cynnwys unedau trydanol WWEE). Dim ond 3 y cant o r gwastraff hwnnw a gafodd ei ailgylchu ac aeth 55 y cant i safleoedd tirlenwi, gan gynnwys yr holl wastraff bwyd. Mae r diffyg ymrwymiad hwn i ailgylchu n annerbyniol a chan fod nifer o gyfleusterau ailgylchu lleol ar gael, ni ellir ei esgusodi. Cyfanswm y gost o waredu gwastraff o Ysbyty Maelor yw tua £350,000 bob blwyddyn, a phe byddai hyn yn batrwm cyffredinol drwy Gymru, yna byddai r gost yn tua £5 miliwn.

Mae'r linc yma

This blog draws attention to 2 new petitions on the Assembly Website; to access the petitions click on the above links and then select English in the top left hand corner of the webpage.

Taffy is a Welshman - Alun Rees

Alun Rees wrote this poem in response to the anti-Welsh 18th Century nursery rhyme: "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef".

TAFFY IS A WELSHMAN

Taffy is a Welshman,
Taffy is no thief.
Someone came to Taffy's house
and stole a leg of beef.

Taffy made no protest,
for he doesn't like a row,
so the someone called on him again
and stole the bloody cow.

They stole his coal and iron,
they stole his pastures, too.
They even stole his language
and flushed it down the loo.

Taffy is a Welshman,
Taffy is a fool.
Taffy voted no, no, no
when they offered him home rule.

Six days a week upon his knees
Taffy dug for coal.
On the seventh he was kneeling, too,
praying for his soul.

And now the mines are closing down
and chapel's had its day,
Taffy still lives upon his knees,
for he knows no other way.

Now sometimes Taffy's brother
will start a row or so,
but you can bank on Taffy:
he doesn't want to know.

For when they hanged Penderyn
he had nothing much to say,
and when Saunders Lewis went to jail
he looked the other way.

Taffy is a Welshman
who likes to be oppressed.
He was proud to tug his forelock
to a Crawshay or a Guest.

They give him tinsel royals,
so he has a pint of beer,
and sings God Bless the Prince of Wales
as he joins the mob to cheer.

Now Taffy is a fighter
when he hears the bugle call.
Name any war since Agincourt:
Taffy's seen them all.

He's fought in France and Germany
and many another land;
he's fought by sea and fought by air
and fought on desert sand.

He's fought for many a foreign flag
in many a foreign part,
for Taffy is a Welshman,
proud of his fighting heart.

He's fought the wide world over,
he's given blood and bone.
He's fought for every bloody cause
except his bloody own.
Alun's collection of poems "Yesterday's Tomorrow" (Dinas) is highly recommended.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Crime and the council

You might imagine that the council's Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committee would be the ideal place to raise concerns about anti-social behaviour and policing the town centre - especially when it's making the local front pages.
But the committee has a very narrow remit - to scrutinise the work of the Community Safety Partnership and the particular issue was not discussed.
The meat of the business was the Flintshire and Wrecsam Community Safety Partnership's plan to measure success between now and 2014. Many crime stats in Wrecsam are significantly worse than in Flintshire, yet there was no explanation as to why that is. Both areas have similar social and economic profiles, so why is Wrecsam worse in terms of burglaries, assaults and substance misuse? Why do we have more young offenders re-offending than Flintshire?
These are the questions you'd expect councillors to raise at such a meeting but when you're presented with a 43-page report on the night it's impossible to do more than skim read the contents. Not so much a scrutiny committee as a rubberstamp before the report goes to Exec Board then.

One explanation for higher re-offending rates among youngsters offered by a representative of the CSP was the high number of private care homes in Wrecsam. These take youngsters with behavioural and other problems from authorities all over the UK, often at extortionate rates of thousands of pounds per week. The bonus for the other councils is that it gets problem kids off their streets - for us it's the opposite.
Although other councils are meant to inform the host county when this happens, many "slip under the radar". So when the kids abscond or commit crime locally, we clear up the mess.
It's time authorities and private care homes were forced to report what they're up to and it's time we asked why Wrecsam has a disproportionate number of such homes.

At least we will be allowed to scrutinise that properly in the future.

The Race for the Áras

You are 15% ahead in the Opinion Polls in the race for the Presidency of Ireland with a few days to go so what could possibly go wrong?



I'm sure Gallagher wishes the ground would just open up!

Whilst Martin McGuiness's brilliantly timed ambush is unlikely to help him to get to Áras an Uachtaráin, it could help Labour's Michael D Higgins to win.

Not long now to wait!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Anglesey Council : Are they a law unto themselves?

There has been a lot said over the years about the way that Anglesey Council run their business but to disregard legal obligation is probably a new low for them. I am course referring to Anglesey Council exempting Wales largest bus operator, the multinational Arriva from conducting enhanced CRB checks on the drivers that drive school buses:
A spokesman for Anglesey council said that Arriva had been excused the checks because of the widespread nature of its business.

He said: “All drivers and passenger assistants used on our [school bus] contracts by all companies apart from Arriva have been CRB checked.

It seems that there is one rule for one bus operator and another for 'smaller' bus operators; but that is not the only point. The other and far more important point is that there is a very good reason for enhanced CRB checks and that is Ian Huntley.

Huntley killed Jessica Chapman and Hollie Wells in Soham in 2002 and was later convicted of murder. Huntley was a school caretaker with no convictions but had previous arrests for sexual offences. An enhanced CRB check would have identified his previous arrests and intelligence. As it was at the time, checks revealed nothing.

Following on from Soham the Bichard enquiry made a number of recommendations in relation to safe recruiting of staff to work with children. These recommendation were encapsulated in legislation The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which places requirements on employing staff engaged in 'regulated activities' that is working with children. Amongst those requirements are enhanced CRB checks; school Bus driving is a 'regulated activity.'

I therefore cannot see how Anglesey Council can legally exempt Arriva from conducting enhanced CRB checks on drivers of school buses.

I for one will be seeking reassurances from Wrecsam Council that ALL school contracts will stipulate that the drivers were subjected to enhanced CRB checks.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ex-martial arts champion to fight by-election for Plaid Cymru


A former martial arts world champion has been selected by Plaid Cymru to fight the Ruabon by-election.

Pol Wong, who has run a martial arts gym in the centre of the village for the past 15 years, will be standing for Plaid Cymru after the sudden death of their popular councillor Barrie Price last month.

Mr Wong said: "It's a very great honour to be chosen to follow in the footsteps of Barrie Price. He was a very hard-working and conscientious councillor for Ruabon and is sorely missed.

"He was also a very rare politician in that very few people had a bad word to say about him, as we have seen in the many tributes paid to him since his passing.

"I will do my utmost to carry on his good work and ensure that people in Ruabon have a strong voice in the Guildhall and someone who will represent their interests at all times."

Commenting after the candidate selection, Plaid Cymru's group leader on Wrexham Council Marc Jones said: "This has been a very difficult time both for Barrie's friends and, more importantly, his family. The best tribute we can pay to Barrie is to continue his good work as a Plaid councillor and do what's best for the people of Ruabon and Wales.

"That's why we are delighted to have selected a candidate who is well known locally and who has campaigned on a range of issues over the past few years.

"Pol has taught hundreds of local children over the years and many now bring their children to his gym. He was also active in the last-ditch attempts to stop Merseyside's waste being dumped in the Hafod quarry and has campaigned against plans to over-develop North-east Wales for the benefit of Cheshire commuters."

Mr Wong added: "I've always been very proud to be Welsh and always been involved in voluntary work in the community. Along with my close connection with Ruabon and my genuine respect for and friendship with Barrie, it's a natural step to take to stand as a councillor."

The by-election was called by Labour and will be held on November 17.

To get involved with the campaign, contact plaidwrecsam @ gmail.com or 07742 073 949.

The other candidates who have put their names forward for the by-election contest are:

Dana Davies (Labour)

Adam Owen (Conservative)

Andy Kendrick (Independent)


Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Observer gets it wrong!

Today's Observer reports on Sinn Féin's Martin McGuiness's faltering campaign to become the next President of Ireland. McGuinness is in third place on 14% behind Labour's Michael D Higgins and the Independant Sean Gallagher who tops the opinion polls on 40% with 4 days to go until the voting commences.

Although the report is quite right about McGuiness's slump in the polls; it wrongly identifies Michael D Higgins as being in the lead when in fact the last few opinion polls show Sean Gallagher leading by 12 points over a week ago this has now been extended to 14 points; and barring a disaster with second preference votes looks very likely to become Ireland's next President.

Basic editorial mistakes likes this does nothing to enhance the credibility and reliability of what is our most reliable and balanced media outlet.

Lost in Care

In July of this year, Keith Towler the Children's Commissioner for Wales published his report, "Lost in Care" about the experiences of Looked After Children leaving care:
The aim of this publication is to give readers a flavour of what it is like to leave care and to demonstrate the experiences of young people who are currently preparing to leave care as well as those who have recently left care. It draws on the information we have gathered from young people themselves as well as drawing on reports and statistics produced by other key organisations.

This report was discussed at Wrecsam's last Corporate Parenting Panel and it was agreed that steps would be taken to implement those recommendations of the report not already in place.

Following on from this report, Assembly Member Ken Skates (having won a backbench ballot) now intends to introduce a Private Members Bill to extend care for Children Leaving Care from 18 to 25 years of age with a particular emphasis on housing. Such initiatives are to be welcomed as there are many young people leaving care who end up on the streets or in prison and further support for them is long overdue.

Despite asking Ken whether his proposed bill has being costed and whether the Government will support the substantial increase in funding to Local Authorities that introduction will entail; no reply has been forthcoming.

In recent years the numbers of children placed into care has increased substantially but budgets for Looked After Children teams have not seen similar increases. Additionally court judgements such as Southwark (Homeless 16 and 17 year olds treated as being in care) and Barking and Dagenham (unaccompanied Asylum Seekers) have imposed a further financial burden on local authorities which has not been considered in past budget settlements.

Ken Skates and the Welsh Government need to reassure the WLGA and opposition parties that his Private Members bill will be fully funded so as to obtain cross party support.

It is somewhat ironic that the only 'ambitious' piece of legislation aimed to improve ourcomes for a vulnerable group, which has emanated from the government benches in the last 6 months is a private members bill.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Labour's control and centralisation agenda.

A written statement by Gwenda Thomas the Deputy Minister for Social Services, "Safeguarding and Protecting People at Risk" seems to have been missed by most media outlets and commentators. It is however well worth a read if only to show the controlling and centralising nature of the Labour Government's agenda:
I intend to use the Social Services Bill to require the establishment of Safeguarding & Protection Boards to replace the current LSCBs and non statutory adult protection committees.

The functions of the Boards will be subject to consultation in 2012, but will encompass the existing statutory functions of LSCBs including developing policies and procedures to co-ordinate work, disseminate best practice, awareness raising and undertaking research and the scope of the adult protection committees.

I have said many times that doing things 22 times is not sustainable. Evidence presented by CSSIW and other inspectorate bodies earlier this month again suggested that LSCBs are not working as effectively as we had hoped. The rationale for fewer boards is considerable. As is the case for placing adult protection boards on an equitable footing with those for children.

Both the Independent Commission and the Safeguarding Children Forum saw merit in reconfiguring the current structure of LSCBs to align with the current Local Health Board footprint.

I have decided that the new Safeguarding and Protection Boards should be match the proposed Public Service Delivery footprint of six.

In advance of the legislation, my expectation is that LSCBs will begin planning for the change and move onto a collaborative model as soon as possible. The functions of LSCBs, prescribed in regulation will remain unchanged in the interim. The consultation period around the Bill will enable us to discuss and plan with stakeholders the changes to current adult protection arrangements.

The LSCB here refers to LOCAL Safeguarding Children's Board which will no longer be LOCAL as the 3 LSCB's in North Wales will be amalgamated into 1 to follow the blueprint of the Local Health Board and we all know that they don't work. As one who sits on the recently formed joint Wrecsam and Flintshire LSCB I really cannot envisage one that works across North Wales because of the sheer volume of the work and the differences in practise across the six counties; it will be exceptionally cumbersome and bureaucratic. The other problem here is that Ministers will not stop tinkering with processes and are basically changing things for the sake of changing them and with no evidence base that new structures will work. LSCB's were after all not introduced until 2006 following legislation in 2004. Five years is not a long time. All this does is introduce more bureucracy to distract front line managers away from their work in protecting children. Constant interference by politicians and administrators does nothing to ensure better outcomes for children.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

When Westminster comes to town



The Welsh Grand Committee - a toothless body including all Welsh MPs and a few representing English constituencies - was meeting in Wrecsam's Guildhall today.
They were met by campaigners opposed to Tory plans to cut 120,000 public sector jobs while also cutting the 50% tax rate for the rich.
Among those confronted were Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, who oozed patronising sympathy, and her fellow Tory minister Chris "Grey" Grayling. This is a man so grey that he could barely look the protesters in the eye as they asked him to tax the rich not cut jobs.


But the best fun was had with the appearance of Michael "No it's not a wig" Fabricant, Tory rightwinger and MP for Lichfield.
Why was he there claiming expenses on a trip to Wrecsam? What could he possibly know about Wales?
Well, Michael got on his high horse very quickly and said: "My mother is from Wales and I own a house in Wales. And I probably speak very good Welsh."
Stop digging please, Michael.

At a time of pay freezes, pension cuts and job losses for public sector workers, how much is this grand committee costing us? It won't be cheap if you factor in all the travelling and accommodation costs for the MPs and the penguin-suited minions (see below). The archaic trappings of Westminster belong to a different age as well as a different country.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Provisional Welsh Local Government Settlement 2012/13

Welsh Local Government Settlement.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg (Rhan 2)

Yr ail ŵr gwadd i siarad yng Nghynhadledd Flynyddol Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg oedd y Gweinidog Addysg, Leighton Andrews a llongyfarchiadau iddo am areithio yn y Gymraeg ag hefyd ateb cwestiynau yn Gymraeg.

Prif themâu'r Gweinidog oedd rôl bwysig rhieni ond bod angen parchu'r gwahaniaeth ar amgylchedd lleol yn arbennig safonau a sefyllfa tlodi plant. Canmolodd y Gweinidog yr Awdurdodau Lleol hynny oedd wedi mesur y galw am addysg Gymraeg ac wedi cynllunio darpariaeth ond roedd yn feirniadol iawn o'r awdurdodau oedd heb ymateb i'r galw. Dywedodd y gweinidog ei fod am ddeddfwriaethu fel bod rhaid i Awdurdodau Lleol fesur y galw a chyhoeddi cynllun yn flynyddol ar sut y maent yn mynd i gyflawni'r ddarpariaeth Cymraeg yr ôl y galw. Fe gyhoeddir Papur Gwyn i'r perwyl yma.
Symudodd y Gweinidog ymlaen i son am safonnau a chydnabod fod cyrraedd safon boddhaol mewn llythrennedd yn fwy o sialens mewn ysgolion cyfrwng Cymraeg nag Ysgolion Saesneg ond fod ysgolion Cymraeg yn llwyddianus ar y cyfan. Cydnabu y Gweinidog hefyd fod cylchoedd Meithrin yn gweithio yn dda ond fod angen mwy o gydweithio rhwng y Mudiad ag ysgolion cynradd.

Pwysleisiodd y Gweinidog hefyd bwysigrwydd 'normaleiddio' defnydd o'r iaith bob dydd a thu allan i'r dosbarth drwy hybu gweithgareddau Cymraeg i deuluoedd.

Gofynnwyd nifer o gwestiynau o'r Gweinidog ond y teimlad yn gyffredinol oedd am i ni gynnwys ein sylwadau a chwestiynau mewn ymateb i'r ymgynghoriad sydd mynd mlaen i'r strategaeth ac wedyn y Papur Gwyn.

Fel Keith Towler mae angen croesawu ymroddiad Leighton Andrews i wella pethau yn y sector Cymraeg fel bod dysgwyr trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn cael yr un tegwch a phawb arall.

Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg (Rhan 1)

Cynhaliwyd cyfarfod blynyddol RhAG yn Ysgol Gymraeg Bryn Tawe, Abertawe, dydd Sadwrn, pan groesawyd y Comisiynydd Plant, Keith Towler i annerch fel un o'r siaradwyr gwadd.

Cychwynnodd Keith drwy longyfarch RhAG gan ddweud na fasa Strategaeth Addysg Gymraeg yn bodoli heb eu dylanwad. Aeth ymlaen i sôn fod holl waith y Comisiynydd a'r llywodraeth wedi ei selio ar hawlia Confensiwn y Cenhedloedd Unedig ar Hawliau'r Plentyn gan bwysleisio pedair erthygl:
Erthygl 12
Mae gan blant yr hawl i ddweud eu barn ynghylch yr hyn a ddylai ddigwydd pan fo oedolion yn gwneud penderfyniadau sy’n effeithio arnyn nhw, ac i’w barn gael ei
hystyried.

Erthygl 13
Mae gan blant yr hawl i gael a rhannu gwybodaeth onid yw’r wybodaeth yn niweidiol iddyn nhw ac i eraill.

Erthygl 29
Dylai addysg ddatblygu personoliaeth a thalent pob plentyn yn gyflawn. Dylai annog plant i barchu eu rhieni,a’u diwylliant nhw ac eraill

Erthygl 30
Mae gan blant yr hawl i ddefnyddio iaith ac arferion eu teuluoedd, boed y rhain yn cael eu rhannu gan fwyafrif y boblneu beidio.

Wedyn defnyddiodd Keith yr esiamplau yma i gefnogi ac i feirniadu'r ffordd mae rhieni ac eraill yn mynd o gwmpas ymgyrchoedd i sefydlu ysgolion Cymraeg. Yn gyntaf cadarnhaodd fod gan blant hawl confensiwn i addysg drwy'r Gymraeg ond ar y llaw arall beirniadodd gefnogwyr a gwrthwynebwyr addysg Gymraeg am ddefnyddio iaith emosiynol yn ystod trafodaethau a bod angen meddwl sut mae hyn yn dylanwadu ar blant, ar pwysau mae ymgyrch yn ei roi ar y plant i gydymffurfio. Mae hefyd angen i blant fod yn rhanddeiliad mewn unrhyw ymgynghoriad ac mae angen gwrando ar ei lleisiau nhw.

Wedyn aeth ymlaen i sôn am eiriolaeth ar angen am hynny drwy'r Gymraeg a hefyd gwasanaethau i blant ac anghenion arbennig drwy y Gymraeg a dyna be fydd ymchwiliad nesa y Comisiynydd.

I orffen dywedodd yn ddigon di-flewyn ar dafod, na ddylai swyddogion/athrawon ddwyn perswâd ar blant na rhieni plant hefo anghenion ychwanegol i dderbyn gwasanaethau drwy'r Saesneg a bod hynny yn gwahaniaethu ar sail anabledd.

Mae ymroddiad Keith Towler tuag at hyrwyddo hawliau plant i dderbyn gwasanaethau trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg i'w groesawu.

Tories on the verge of imploding in Scotland

It's not only Labour that are in crisis in Scotland but the Tories as well. Going by this article in the Herald their situation is critical and it hinges on the bitter leadership battle to replace Annabelle Goldie as Leader of the Scottish Tories.

In the midst of this battle is the Tories's new Glasgow Regional list MSP, Ruth Davidson who is apparently the 'establishment' favourite to win the leadership and who has been accused by the campaign teams of the other 3 candidates of being favoured by the party in Scotland. Davidson's campaign team hit back:
In a sign of the civil war raging within the Tories, John Lamont MSP, Davidson’s campaign manager, hit back at what he called a “deliberate, vicious and frankly desperate” bid to smear her, and accused others of being prepared to embarrass the party in a “shocking display of naked self-interest”. The extraordinary developments suggest whoever replaces Annabel Goldie as leader on November 4 will inherit a party riven by internal feuds.

Isn't life a bitch!

Labour MSP attacks free prescriptions

More evidence, if it was needed, that Labour politicians really are quite stupid:

A Labour MSP has launched an attack on the SNP, describing one of the Nationalists' key achievements – the removal of prescription charges – as "right-wing economics".


Kezia Dugdale, the newly elected regional MSP for Lothian, launched the attack whilst appearing as a guest on Radio Scotland’s ‘Call Kaye’ phone-in programme on Thursday.

The Labour MSP, who was a surprise addition to Labour’s Holyrood ranks, was discussing a speech by Douglas Alexander in which the senior Labour MP admitted the party had been "well and truly gubbed" in May’s Holyrood election and that they needed to move on from negative politicking in order to regain lost support.

Ms Dugdale hit out at suggestions that Labour had abandoned its socialist roots and was losing former supporters to the 'socialist' SNP as a result.

Responding to callers who had described the SNP as more social democratic, Ms Dugdale said: "I simply do not accept that analysis. If you look at some of the stuff they’ve done over the past four years, like bridge tolls, freezing the council tax, prescription charges, business rates down and now their plans to cut corporation tax – they’re all tax cuts, they’re all very much right-wing economics."

Ms Dugdale’s labelling of the council tax freeze and free prescriptions as "right-wing" will puzzle many given that her own party had pledged a two-year freeze in their manifesto. Indeed, it was Labour-run Glasgow council that first introduced the policy in 2006 – prior to the SNP coming to power.

Did no-one think to tell her that it was Labour in Wales who introduced this policy? Or is it only right wing because the SNP introduced it in Scotland.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Bill Brereton's sour grapes?



Aled Roberts's nightmare start as a Liberal Democrat Assembly Member isn't yet over. A Labour member from Clwyd South has asked the police to re-open their investigation into whether he should be an AM. And now the Lib Dem candidate for Wrecsam, Bill Brereton, has joined the calls for a re-investigation of the whole affair:

Yesterday Mr Brereton confirmed that several weeks ago he had asked senior officials of the party to provide him with a satisfactory explanation for the discrepancy between Mr Roberts’ statement that he had accessed the Electoral Commission document on a particular day and Ms Jenkins’ assertion that the document had not been accessed on that day.

Mr Brereton said: “Kay Jenkins was very explicit in the statement she released.

“I have not received the answer I was seeking from a senior party official. If there is a comprehensive explanation and it is provided to me, I would be the first to say I was satisfied. But the last time I spoke to the party official, on September 28, his last words were ‘I hear what you say’.”


Why now Bill?

A spokesman for the Welsh Liberal Democrats said: “There is nothing new here.

“This is just sour grapes from someone who had been hoping, a few weeks ago, to work for Aled Roberts. Perhaps that explains why these issues are being raised so late in the day."

And we thought the Tories were the nasty party.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Youngsters give councillors a grilling


Members of Senedd yr Ifanc, Wrecsam's youth parliament, were at the Guildhall last night to give councillors a grilling as part of Democracy Week.
The youngsters were also out in Queen Square on Saturday, where Plaid councillors met up with them.
They're already leading the way in challenging council perceptions and helping to shape their communities by making sure youngsters' views are taken on board. All too often, the only publicity youngsters get is bad publicity and Senedd yr Ifanc are challenging that.
They gave the councillors present last night a hard time when it came to questions and long may it continue. The coming generation face a real struggle in terms of education, housing and jobs - far worse than the generation before them. But with intelligent questions about the dangers of coalition, Welsh independence, potholes and how councils spend their money, this group are well equipped to deal with these challenges.

Perhaps the most poignant moment was when asked "do you know who your councillor is?" only one could answer. "Barrie" she said.


Monday, 10 October 2011

Duncan Barkes!

Who is Duncan Barkes you may ask? Well apart from being a current affairs blogger on Dale & Co (Iain Dale), he is also a radio broadcaster. One thing he is not is an expert on all things Welsh especially S4C; but that doesn't stop him writing some real rubbish in his most recent contribution to Mr Dale's blog - S4C should be privatised.
The blog is worth quoting in full just for its entertainment value:
There is much rumbling in the Valleys regarding S4C, the Welsh language television channel that you and I fork out for. Currently the channel receives a £100million grant from the Government. However, as of 2015 the funding will come from the BBC licence fee.

Either way, we are paying for something that is an unnecessary indulgence in these challenging economic times. I like the Welsh, especially their lamb, cider and music (the Manic Street Preachers being a personal favourite pop beat combo of mine), and one of the best evenings of my life was spent quaffing ale with the finest folk of Flintshire in the Blue Bell Inn, Halkyn.

I love the TV show ‘Gavin & Stacey’ which is partly set in Barry Island, and there are several unprintable things I would like to get up to with Welsh singing goddess Katherine Jenkins given half the chance.

Yes, my affection for the Welsh and their beautiful country is sound, but I do not believe that Wales should have its own television channel. In short, I am fed up with my money being used for projects or services that are no more than cultural or political vanity projects.

A study last year by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board revealed that 196 out of 890 programmes broadcast on S4C had ZERO audience. That’s right, from Cardiff to Anglesey thousands of Welsh people simply did not tune into vast chunks of the output of their dedicated TV channel.

The background to S4C is fascinating. It was set-up by the Conservative Government in 1982 when Channel 4 launched in the rest of Britain.
It was launched by Gwynor Evans, the then leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, who threatened to starve himself to death if the station was not created.

Almost thirty years on and times have changed. And whilst there are still obviously Welsh speakers in the country there is clear evidence that increasingly there is no real appetite for a TV channel that broadcasts exclusively in the Welsh language. With the wealth of content also available online, surely a fresh outlook is called for.

The Government has made it clear that it can no longer afford to fund this luxury. It has cleverly passed the buck to the BBC, who will fund it through the licence fee that we are all forced to pay. I do not want my already extortionate licence fee to be used to underwrite a service that appeals to an increasing minority.

The BBC is complaining about the freeze of its licence fee and has announced many cuts in the last few days. If it had any sense it would either offer S4C as a subscription only service (then we would see how popular it really is) or hand the responsbility of it back to the Government with a suggestion that the service is privatised.

You and I should no longer be funding S4C. As the economy once again goes belly-up an obvious cut is surely the public funding of a niche TV channel that nobody seems to care much about.

Far more deserving of a blog is the excellent informed and accurate response by 'Iwan' to Barkes's rant:
*Sigh*. The S4C BARB viewing figures have been debunked many, many times by people who actually know what they're talking about, including the cross-party Welsh Affairs Committee. Yes, a lot of programmes registered as zero, but that's because during daytime S4C runs an award-winning service for pre-school children, and BARB doesn't count those children in its figures. They're actually very popular programmes.

So since the whole premise of this blog is a load of cobblers, it's hard to know how to respond.

Should public funds only be used to fund majority interests? That would mean cancelling all religious programming, all arts programming, all sports programming… even Eastenders isn't watched by a majority of the British public, should it too be cancelled as a minority interest? If not, where exactly would you draw the line? (And bear in mind that Pobol y Cwm, S4C's soap opera, is actually watched by a higher percentage of the available audience than Eastenders.)

You can either believe that some public funding for cultural initiatives is a good thing in general (whether you personally appreciate them or not), or you can believe that funding for S4C, opera, theatre, libraries etc (they're all pretty much in the same boat – appreciated by their audiences, not understood by anyone else), is inherently a bad thing. In which case you're probably a charlatan, but you may well have saved yourself a few pennies, to the cultural detriment of the country. Well done you.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Lib Dem AM slates own party over S4C cuts

Lib Dem Assembly Member Aled Roberts has slammed his own party over cuts to S4C's budget.

Speaking at a Cymdeithas yr Iaith rally in Wrecsam today he said "The [UK] coalition government's plans will harm broadcasting in Wales. The statement by the Minister [Jeremy Hunt] made hours after the Bill was passed - will mean we have potentially no Welsh Channel after 2015.

"If the Channel has no financial security, its independence is gone. That's not right."

He insisted he was not a rebel and said all four parties in Wales were against the moves to absorb S4C into the BBC, itself facing major cuts.

The rally, outside the BBC's centre in Wrecsam's Glyndwr University, also heard from local Labour MP Ian Lucas. Previously hostile to the Welsh language, he said he "believed in diversity in broadcasting in Wales. I will support a properly funded S4C, an independent S4C."

Cllr Marc Jones, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Wrecsam council, said we should expect nothing else but attacks on the public sector from the Tories but we should remember that S4C is unique - as the only television channel born of struggle and protest. He attacked the way the channel had become remote from its original roots in Welsh communities and had become corporate and complacent.
"S4C is in crisis at the moment. But in every crisis there is opportunity - this is our chance to reclaim S4C as 'Sianel Pobl Cymru' - the people's channel - rather than Sianel Crachach Cymru. Let's re-launch S4C as an independent channel free from control in London."

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Lucas o blaid y Gymraeg? Sgersli bilif!

Mae'n destun gryn syndod yn Wrecsam fod Ian Lucas, yr Aelod Seneddol lleol, am anerch rali Cymdeithas yr Iaith Ddydd Sadwrn yma.
Dyma'r gwleidydd a ymatebodd i lythyr Cymraeg fel hyn, a wastraffodd amser yn ceisio cael y ddraig goch ar Jac yr Undeb a chefnogodd cais i stopio cyhoeddiadau rheilffordd dwyieithog rhag bod yn Gymraeg yn gyntaf.
Wrth gwrs bydd Mr Lucas yn defnyddio'r cyfle i lambastio'r Toriaid am dorri cyllideb S4C. Rhaid gofyn a fyddai o a'i blaid yn gwneud unrhywbeth yn wahanol pe bae nhw mewn grym rwan?

Health Minister refuses to rule out PFI for hospitals

This exchange in the recent Plaid Cymru debate about district general hospitals set alarm bells ringing.
The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is generally agreed to have been a financial disaster in England, where it is on the verge of bankrupting some local NHS trusts. A Commons select committee condemned the use of private finance schemes to fund public services such as hospitals and schools as "extremely inefficient" because of the costly long-term levels of repayment.
Under the One Wales agreement, when Plaid was there to provide some backbone, PFI was ruled out of the NHS and rightly so.
So it was a huge concern to see our local AM Lesley Griffiths, also the Health Minister, open the door to this discredited financial system:

Bethan Jenkins: You mentioned ageing infrastructure. Under the One Wales Government, we agreed not to use private finance initiatives in the health service. So far, this Government has been silent on the use of PFI. Will you commit here today not to use PFI in the health service?

Lesley Griffiths: I am not a fan of PFI. You have to accept, however, with regard to putting money into hospitals, that our capital budget has been reduced by a huge amount and that we are not going to have the money that was available to the last Government. The more we try to say that change is not an option, the more problems we will create for the future. We have to keep reviewing services and rethinking how best to use our staff and how best to focus services on the basis of the evidence.

PFI was a Tory invention, to artificially balance the books and funnel public funding into providing profits for their friends in big business. Gordon Brown and New Labour took up the idea with enthusiasm and only now the chickens are coming home to roost. The failure of PFI seems to have bypassed the new Welsh Government.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street.

If we relied on the BBC, Sky or the British (establishment) newsmedia would we have known about the massive protests that have been going on in Manhattan and Wall Street against bankers and corporate greed. The answer is probably not because it seems that there has been a deliberate attempt at imposing a blackout on the story. For those who were determined to find out what was going on, we had to revert to watching the news on Russia Today or Al Jazeera

The following is an excellent summary from the thejournal.ie for those who have believed for too long that the BBC is a public service broadcaster and has the public interest at heart:
THE OCCUPY WALL STREET protests have spread across the United States, as the demonstrations enter their 18th day.

Demonstrators marched on Federal Reserve banks and camped out in parks from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine, in a show of anger over the country’s economy and corporate greed.

In Manhattan, hundreds of protesters dressed as corporate zombies in white face paint lurched past the New York Stock Exchange clutching fistfuls of fake money. In Chicago, demonstrators pounded drums in the city’s financial district. Others pitched tents or waved protest signs at passing cars in Boston, St Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.

The arrests of 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend galvanized a slice of discontented America, from college students worried about their job prospects to middle-age workers who have been recently laid off.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are using a common slogan – we are the 99 per cent – to highlight the inequalities that see in their society. On their website, organisers have written that they are inspired by “the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic” to achieve their ends, and stress the need for nonviolence during the demonstrations.

It's hard to believe that Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on for 18 days and the sad part about it is that we can never question the BBC's ban on reporting this story because they are protected from being accountable to licence fee payers by an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act.

The BBC are an organisation that lacks openess and transparency and that is bad for democracy.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Daily Fail

The Daily Mail screwed up spectacularly tonight by accidentally publishing on the Mail Online website the WRONG story about the Amanda Knox appeal hearing in Perugia, stating that her appeal against the conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher had been rejected



HT to @SimonNRicketts for the screen print before the Mail Online managed to pull the story down.

Just goes to show just how poor the journalism at the Mail really is.

In the race to publish, accuracy goes out through the window.


UPDATE - To read the whole fantasy and the 'made up' quotes go here

There must surely be some serious repercussions here for the Mail.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

This is a new one for the Tories.

Ex leader of the Scottish Tories, Annabelle Goldie will tell the Conservative Party conference, that Scotland is NOT subsidised by the rest of the UK and its the rest of the UK that will be worst off by Scotland leaving the union. That settles it then, Welsh independence it must be. Thank you Annabelle for your honesty, but not too sure that the English Unionists including Cameron will be overly impressed. Yet another nail in the coffin of the Union.