Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Trust the trust

As of today, Wrexham FC is owned by us, the fans. The Wrexham Supporters' Trust has played a blinder in securing ownership and freed us from the horror of dodgy owners and freeloaders.
Despite all those who doubted and, in some cases, conspired against the Trust - they have delivered and deserve our support. We have never doubted them.

We're on top of the league and on top of the world.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, put it rather well:

"I am absolutely delighted that the deal has finally gone through. The Wrexham Supporters' Trust has already shown its business acumen and proven to have a steady nerve under pressure - as is evident from the rollercoaster ride of the past few months. My congratulations go to them for all their hard work in securing this deal.

"This has been a long time coming and I hope that the democratic ownership of the club now puts to bed the nightmare years of Hamilton, Gutterman and all the others who have sought to profit at the expense of North Wales's premier football club.

"As someone once said, this isn't the beginning of the end it's the end of the beginning. A bright new future beckons for this great club. Things are going the right way on the football field and we now have the chance to make sure things to the right way off the pitch as well."

Firefighters back public sector strikes


Great turnout from Wrecsam firefighters in support of the N30 strike today.

Biggest march in Wrecsam in living memory


About 700 marchers joined the protest by public sector unions in Wrecsam today, including many who were not on strike today - including RCN nurses and firefighters. The mood of sympathy and solidarity was very evident throughout the town.
Plaid Cymru distributed 500 leaflets to marchers and passersby and the turnout marks a real escalation in the growing conflict between workers and the ConDem government.
A rally is currently being held in the Little Theatre. With hindsight we should have booked the "big" theatre!


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The strike in Wrecsam

Plaid Cymru will be marching in solidarity with public sector workers in Wrecsam tomorrow, as surveys reveal growing support for the strike among the general public.
Whether you're out on strike on November 30 or supporting the campaign against public sector cuts to pensions and services, join us at Queen Square at 11.30am.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Q and A's

Which one is right?:

Wrexham CBC Q and A:

Q I am not a union member but I don’t want to cross the picket line on 30 November. Can I take part in the industrial action?

A .Yes. As a non- union member you are deemed to be taking part in “unofficial strike action”. However, as there will be colleagues taking part who are union members and thus taking part in “official action” you will be protected from any breach of contract claim that could be made against you.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Q and A:

Q Can I take strike action if I am not in an union?

A Staff not in a Trade Union will technically be in breach of their contract if they do not attend work on the 30th November. Staff are therefore strongly advised to attend work as usual, if they do not belong to a trade union.

Be interesting to see if non TU member employed by the BCU is disciplined for refusing to cross a picket line!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Colledion Steddfod Wrecsam.

Dwi wedi peidio blogio ar y pwnc yma gan obeithio neith y tymer wella ond annhebyg ydy hynna o ddigwydd felly waeth i fi gael deud fy neud.

Yn gyntaf oll mae angen datgan siomedigaeth fod Steddfod arbennig o lwyddiannus fel Steddfod Wrecsam wedi gneud colled ariannol o £90,000, ac mae rhaid hefyd datgan fod y targed lleol o £300,000 ar targed noddi o dros £400,000 mwy neu lai wedi ei chyrraedd.

Y broblem hefo Steddfod Wrecsam fel nifer o Eisteddfodau diweddar ydy gormod o bethau ymlaen a dim digon o fobol i'w mynychu. Er enghraifft, roedd gan Faes B ddau lwyfan ym Mhrifysgol Glyndŵr, roedd gan Faes C lwyfan a gweithgareddau yn Ysgol Bryn Offa, roedd Theatr Bara Caws yng nghlwb RAFA ac roedd nosweithiau hynod lwyddiannus Cymdeithas yr Iaith yng nghlwb yr Orsedd Ganolog; ac ar ben hynny roedd Cyngherddau drudfawr yr Eisteddfod yn y Pafiliwn. Nawr, mi fues i mewn pedwar gweithgaredd yn y Pafiliwn, un yn Faes C a dau yn yr Orsaf Ganolog, ac ar wahân i'r Pafiliwn roedd popeth arall yn ddigon fforddiadwy.

Yr ail broblem ydw i'n weld ydy cost tocynnau am y cyngherddau nos; roedd tocynnau i'r Cyngerdd Agoriadol hefo'r Tri Thenor ar Cyngerdd Pop hefo Caryl tua £30 punt yr un, oedd tu hwnt i nifer o selogion y Steddfod ac oni bai fy mod yn teimlo dyletswydd i fynd fel aelod o'r Pwyllgor Gwaith mae'n debyg faswn i wedi ffendio rhywle mwy fforddiadwy hefyd.

Yn drydydd mae cwestiwn mawr sydd wedi ei ofyn ers rai blynyddoedd rŵan, a hynny ydy, a yw artistiaid sydd yn perfformio yn ecsploetio'r Steddfod ar cynulleidfaoedd drwy drin yr ŵyl fel ryw fath o 'bonws Dolig ariannol? Er bod gen i ddim yn erbyn yr artistiaid gymerodd ran yn y Cyngerdd Pop roedd diffyg arweinyddiaeth, defnydd o gerddorfa ar ffurfioldeb yn ei neud yn gyngerdd diflas, difflach a heb fymryn o awyrgylch. Y teimlad cyffredinol oedd bod y cyngerdd yma i S4C ac i neb arall; mewn ffordd roedd y gynulleidfa yno i sybsideiddio S4C i neud rhaglenni.

Diddorol iawn fasa gwybod yn lle mae'r golled o £90,000 wedi dod o? Y teimlad cyffredinol ydy mai ffioedd afresymol o uchel i RAI artistiaid sydd yn gyfrifol.

Mae'r ateb i'r broblem yn ddigon syml yn fy marn i a hynny ydy rhoi gorau i'r cyngherddau uchel ail drudfawr (neu cael mwy o noddwyr i ariannu) a mynd yn ôl at ein gwreiddiau a chael gweithgareddau traddodiadol llai ei maint mewn lleoliadau lle gall cynulleidfaoedd fod yn rhan o'r gweithgareddau. Hefyd mae angen cadw be sy'n gweithio fel gigs Maes C ac mi ddylsa y Steddfod adael i Gymdeithas yr Iaith ail afael yn yr awenau a rhedeg gigs Maes B; allwn i ddim fforddio'r 'sbats' blynyddol yma!

Mae hi'n gwbl amlwg o'r trafferthion y cawsom wrth godi arian fod yna brinder yn gyffredinol a bod pobol yn gwario llai; hwyrach ei bod hi'n amser i'r Steddfod sylweddoli hynna ac yn arbennig artistiaid fwyaf drudfawr Cymru a lleihau ei disgwyliadau cyn iddynt brisio ei hunain allan o'r farchnad.

No to TeamGB.

This is what Alex Ferguson had to say about Team GB:
"Speaking as a Scot I would say it is a no-no for us in case [world governing body] Fifa seizes the opportunity to try to make the home countries play together as Great Britain all the time, and we wouldn't want that,"

Friday, 25 November 2011

Another Con Dem U-Turn.

The decision by the Ministry of Justice to remove the Youth Justice Boards from the threat of abolition as part of the Public Bodies Bill is to be welcomed. There has long been uncertainty surrounding long term planning and funding for Local Authority Youth Justice Management Boards who are responsible for preventing youth offending and re-offending. This is an area which is ripe to be devolved to the jurisdiction of the Welsh Government so as to avoid the tripartite funding mechanism which is in place at the moment. The Youth Justice Board in Wales must be the only body with such complex funding systems with the Home Office providing funding to the Community Safety Partnerships, the Ministry of Justice to the Youth Justice Board and the Welsh Government to all 22 Local Authority Youth Justice Services. With such uncertainity over funding streams it is impossible to plan ahead. Now is the opportunity to change.

Wrex recycling opens new stall at People’s Market


A recycling project established by the Caia Park Partnership is about to open a new stall on the People’s Market in the town centre. The project which aims to sell used babies and children’s clothes collected locally has gone from strength to strength in the last few months. The new stall will be open from Thursday 24th November and local supporters are urging residents across the borough to call in and pay them a visit.

Wrex Recycling now has 11 red recycling clothes bins installed across Wrecsam, with all profits generated being reinvested to expand the project itself and also to support local initiatives.

Queensway councillor Carrie Harper who has been involved with the project from the start praised the work of staff and volunteers in taking the project to its next phase: “Wrex recycling is an exciting project and the only one of it’s kind in Wrecsam. The team have already reached the finals for the Wales Recycling Awards for ‘Community Recycler of the Year 2011’ for their efforts in getting it off the ground. Staff members and volunteers at the Caia Partnership collect and sort the clothes and prepare them for re sale, the clothes are top quality and I’m sure the stall will be very successful”.

Project organiser Tracey Prandle said: “ We’re really excited about the stall and are looking forward to the opening. We collect all sorts of used items such as clothes (Adults,childrens and babies),shoes, bags, belts, bedding and hangers. We’ll also come to collect these items from residents if they have 3 bin bags or more for us. The new stall means we now have a base to distribute these items in the centre of Wrecsam which is a huge step forward for the project.”

Wrex Recycling now has red clothes banks installed across the borough at the following locations:

The Red Dragon pub car park Prince Charles Road
The Hand pub car park Holt Road
Water Ways garden centre car park Holt Road Llan Y Pwll
Kings Mills pub car park Kingsmills Road
Travellers pub car park
Kingsmills Road Plas Coch retail park, opposite DW Sports
Island Green retail park, first car park
Co op store car park, Rhosymedre
Co op store car park,Johnstown
Cross Foxes pub car park, opposite pub
Somerfield car park, Gwersyllt

Items can also be dropped off at the Caia Park Partnership itself, residents can get in touch on 01978 310 984. Alternatively for more information, the project has a Facebook Page which can be found under ‘Wrex Recycling’

Y ffordd newydd Basgaidd o gyfathrebu?

Mae'r erthygl yma ar golwg.360 yn haeddu mwy o drafodaeth, yn enwedig yn sgil diflaniad tebyg papurau dyddiol Cymreig dros y blynyddoedd nesaf. Yng Ngwlad y Basg mae newyddiaduraeth tanddaearol wedi goroesi wedi degawdau o arbrofi.
Ydio'n bosib creu llwyfan arlein tebyg i Goiena yma yng Nghymru, sy'n debyg i Wlad y Basg o ran ei natur gymunedol/blwyfol a chryfder cyfryngau lleol/rhanbarthol yn hytrach na chenedlaethol? Oes modd dod a phapurau bro, radio arlein, blogiau, gwefannau cymunedol a ballu at ei gilydd i greu rhwydwaith Gymraeg o newyddion?
Yn sicr mae'n well bet na trio atgyfodi dadl Y Byd byth a beunydd.

Mae'r un ddadl yr un mor berthnasol i'r cyfryngau Saesneg yng Nghymru wrth gwrs.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

New bus service for town centre

A new 19-seater bus service will run between the train station, bus station right down to the High Street and then Eagle's Meadow as part of efforts by the council to attract more shoppers to the town centre.
The move, which was backed by the council's Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee, comes after a long battle by myself, Cllr Carrie Harper and Cllr Keith Gregory to get the buses back into the High Street.
Despite initially sounding keen, the private bus companies decided against this and now the council is developing its own service that will come down Regent St and pick up passengers on the way.
This will be a great bonus for those who are less mobile and find it difficult to walk all the way from the bus station to the High Street.
It will mean some loss of parking spaces for Blue Badge holders but there will be some compensation because they will be able to park from 9am.
Darren Williams and his team deserve praise for working through a novel solution to answer the needs of shoppers and traders in what has been a very difficult balancing act.

The last Post?

News that Liverpool Daily Post (an entirely separate animal to the Daily Post produced in Wales) is to go weekly will send shivers down many journalists' spines.
The Liverpool DP only has a circulation of 8,200 and is part of the Trinity Mirror group that has also seen the Birmingham Post go weekly. Although the Western Mail and Daily Post (Wales edition) are still a long way from that kind of circulation, it appears to be a group tactic to deal with falling circulation.
The Leader too, which is rumoured to be about to ditch its Mold HQ and move to the Deeside print headquarters, has seen dramatic falls in circulation - currently below 17,000.
The ability to adapt to rapidly changing ways of accessing news and media generally will determine which media outlets survive the next few years. But the further erosion of the Welsh newspaper industry would be a disaster, albeit one largely of their own making.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Join the march against cuts in Wrecsam on November 30

This from the North Wales Against Cuts campaign:

PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS MARCH AGAINST CUTS IN WREXHAM ON NOVEMBER 30

Hundreds of public sector workers are expected to take to the streets of Wrexham next Wednesday, 30 November, to protest against the Tory-Liberal Democrat government's cuts agenda.

The march and rally, which starts in Queen Square in Wrexham town centre, is one of hundreds being organised across the UK as part of a TUC day of action by millions of trade unionists protesting against cuts in their pensions and the wider government cuts.

Strike action will see health workers, school teachers, council workers, tax inspectors, lecturers and civil servants join the march with community activists such as disability campaigners also getting involved.

Peter Jones, of the UCU lecturers' union and a leading member of the alliance of public sector trade unions behind the march, said: "There's incredible anger that public services are being cut and workers' pensions are being raided to pay for the reckless gambling of the bankers.

"This day of action is all about public sector workers saying 'enough is enough' to the government about their pensions being cut while they're expected to pay more and work longer. As well as those affected directly, there are millions more who will be hit by cutbacks in services and benefits. This march is for everyone - whether in the public sector, private sector or among the growing army of unemployed - affected by the cuts."

He added: "Thousands of people work in the public sector in this part of Wales, whether in the NHS, the council, schools or civil service. This attack on workers, many of whom are low paid, will have a major knock-on effect on the local economy. That's why trade unionists have banded together to form North Wales Against Cuts - we must fight back to defend our jobs, homes and families, schools and hospitals among others."

The march through town begins in Queens Square at 11.30am and will end with an indoor rally at the Grove Park Little Theatre on Hill Street at 12.30pm.


Friday, 18 November 2011

Health and Social Care.

It's been over two years since the report, "Setting the Direction" was published. The key purpose of this document was to:
"... to set out a framework aimed at assisting LHBs in the development and delivery of improved primary care and community based services for their local populations; particularly for those individuals who are frail , vulnerable and who have complex care needs."

It goes on to identify key elements of the framework as:
"close alignment of health and social care in a system that delivers preventative, pre-emptive, reactive and rehabilitative care focused around the needs of the individual;"

Despite the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board being responsible for the GP Out of Hours service in the Wrecsam area it seems that the service is unaware of how to contact carers outside normal working hours.

In response to a recent complaint I made regarding a lack of joined up/seamless working between Health and Social Care in Wrecsam I received the following explanation from Grace Lewis Jones, Director for Communications for the Trust:
"The GP Out of Hours have never been made aware of the existence of a specific 24/7 Care Service based at Plas yn Rhos, but Dr .... is now in the process of investigating the remit of the Plas yn Rhos Service...

"As a direct result of ..........'s experience the Out of Hours Service are now reviewing their system for accessing social care at night to ensure it still remains appropriate."

Where have the Out of Hours Service been over the last 2 years?

Perhaps this is something for the Community Health Council to address.

Our Unambitious First Minister.

This is a letter I wrote to the Daily Post AND which was published today. The letter is in response to our First Minister's Institute of Welsh Politics lecture and reported in the Daily Post here:

Dear Editor,

Much has been written about Carwyn Jones’s competency as First Minister since May of this year, but nothing demonstrates his timidness and lack of ambition for Wales than his lecture to the Institute of Welsh Politics at Aberystwyth and reported in the Post, Nov 15th, ‘Carwyn sets out Devo Limits’, where he seems to be content to sit back and to pick up the crumbs left by Scotland’s march to independence. What sort of First Minister allows the governance system in HIS country to be decided by Scotland’s relationship within the UK? Shouldn’t he govern to meet the needs of the people of Wales?

What the people of Wales need is a constitutional change to be able recall moribund politicians like Carwyn Jones who are not delivering for the people of Wales.

Cynghorydd/Councillor Arfon Jones,

Ruabon by-election

Ruabon by-election result

Dana Davies (Lab) 231
Pol Wong (Plaid Cymru) 230
Andy Kendrick (Ind) 155
Adam Owen (Tory) 59

Llongyfarchiadau mawr i Pol am wneud cystal mewn tair wythnos o ymgyrchu.
Congratulations to the victor. Roll on May 2012.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Question Time, Ruabon style


Question Time came to Ruabon on the eve of the county council by-election. Or rather it didn't for three of the four candidates as they failed to turn up. Only Pol Wong, Plaid Cymru's candidate, faced questions from voters that ranged from planning to parking.
Stella Matthews, the mother of the Labour candidate and also the agent, turned up and tried to get the meeting cancelled on the grounds that they had refused to take part. She had also earlier told people in the village that the meeting had been cancelled and tried to insist to one shopworker that she take down a poster advertising the event. This annoyed the shopworker enough to bring her along to the meeting but by then Stella had gone.
It's a shame the other candidates didn't stay to listen to the concerns of local people. It's a shame that they treated the democratic process with such contempt. If they're not willing to answer to the people before they're elected, what hope is there of them being answerable once they're in post?
Fortunately, the signs for tomorrow are good. The campaign has entered its final 24 hours and Pol is on course to retain Barrie Price's seat for Plaid Cymru.

Use your vote on Thursday - vote Pol Wong

Labour Market Statistics.

The Regional Labour Market Statistics (November 2011) were released today and overall it shows an increase in unemployment and claimant counts. The total number of unemployed in Wales had gone up from 122,000 (April/June Quarter) to 137,000 in the second quarter.

The situation for the 18 to 24 age group has again worsened with the numbers of claimants in that age group who have been claiming for more than 12 months having doubled between May and October this year with 900 more long term claimants.

Ieuan Wyn Jones is quite right in warning the First Minister that Wales is in danger of losing a whole generation to the ranks of the unemployed. Plaid Cymru are also right in opposing the government's budget and demanding more emphasis on economic development.

It will be interesting to see how the First Minister and the Government will spin these statistics, best guess is... let's blame the Con Dem government in London!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Scottish Tories are still in disarray!

I wrote a few weeks ago about the race for the leadership of the Tory Party in Scotland and the bad feelings and dirty tricks that were going on. Despite electing the establishment favourite Ruth Davidson MSP as their new leader the simmering discontent seems set to continue as Ms Davidson fails to command the loyalty of the 15 MSP's in the Tory Group with defeated leadership candidate Murdo Fraser refusing the Deputy Leadership whilst his campaign manager Liz Smith refused Ms Davidson's attempt to move her from Education spokesperson to Rural Affairs. It therefore appears that the new deputy leader will be another defeated leadership challenger Jackson Carlow MSP who came in third in the Leadership elections. Ms Davidson's immediate concern will however be her inability to form a front bench team of spokespersons to scrutinise and challenge the work of the SNP Government.

It seems therefore that Ms Davidson will not enjoy a leadership honeymoon period that most new party leaders benefit from. Perhaps there are lessons here for all political parties who are considering electing new leaders and that is to gain the support of the MSP's who you intend to lead, or as the Scotsman leader said in an aptly titled piece, "Tories’ new leader reaps what she sows as rivals kick back":
The reasons for this mood of rebellion among Tory MSPs is obvious to all, and should be to Ms Davidson herself. Many of the party’s few tribunes at Holyrood voted for her rival Murdo Fraser, who yesterday refused her offer to remain as deputy leader, the position he occupied under Annabel Goldie, and promptly walked off to the back benches after being refused the job he wanted of leading the Tory campaign against independence.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hunterston - a tale of two energy policies

Today, North Ayrshire Council rejected a planning application for a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston. This decision is to be welcomed because it was to be sold on the basis that emissions would be 25% less (and increasing over the years to 90%) because of CCS Technology (Carbon Capture and Storage). This is as we all know unproven and untested technology and to grant planning permission on such technology would be grossly negligient on the part of the council.

One thing that struck me when I heard the report today was that the final decision would rest with the Scottish Ministers. Had the same thing happened in Wales, say Wylfa B, the final decision would have been taken by Chris Huhne (or is the unelected unaccountable Infrastructure Planning Commission still in place?) and not Welsh Ministers - a situation that our Prime Minister Carwyn Jones finds preferable!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Plas Madoc Communities First - heads should roll

The Plas Madoc Communities First scandal first erupted in October 2009 when a BBC Wales radio programme aired concerns about misuse of public money. The concerns had been raised by whistleblower Mandy Bostwick, who had been employed briefly by PMCF. Her concerns were backed by Plaid's Janet Ryder AM, despite attempts by the police, PMCF and the local council to rubbish both her claims and general credibility.
To her very great credit, Mandy Bostwick stood her ground in the face of intimidation and the blackening of her name in a campaign orchestrated by Miriam Beard.
Janet Ryder's office was called following the radio programme by an incandescent Miriam Beard demanding that she attend a public meeting for the people of Plas Madoc to express their anger. She agreed but the meeting mysteriously never took place as the police and Wales Audit Office started investigating.
Throughout this sorry saga, recorded at length on this blog, the trustees who oversaw the project failed to take a lead. Among them is Councillor Paul Blackwell. This is what he had to say in December 2009, six weeks after the allegations were made in the media but a full TEN MONTHS after Mandy Bostwick took her concerns to the directors of PMCF:

Yesterday Plas Madoc Councillor Paul Blackwell, who sits on the PMCF board said the scheme was fully co-operating with the investigation.

Coun Blackwell said: “There is full co-operation with the investigation and at the moment there is no evidence of any wrong doing.”

Well it's there for all to see now.
For their failure to oversee a project that has spent millions on the Plas Madoc estate, for their failure to take seriously the whistleblowing of an employee, the directors of Plas Madoc Communities First should hang their heads in shame and resign.

Welsh Government Inspection Regimes!

I have written previously, in critical terms of the demanding and bureaucratic nature of Welsh Government inspection regimes i.e. Estyn, CSSIW and HIW (Health Inspectorate Wales) and their lack of joined up thinking.

Towards the end of last year (perhaps beginning of this year) Wrexham's Local Safeguarding Children's Board was inspected by a team that consisted of representatives of CSSIW. HIW, Estyn together with HMIC (Police Inspectorate) and HMIP (Probation Inspectorate) spent 3 days there looking for bad practise to justify their existence. A few months later Wrexham's LSCB amalgamated with Flintshire and 10 months later CSSIW produced its report on Wrexham LSCB, which frankly has little value because of the structural changes.

The CSSIW also produced an overarching report on all 19 LSCB's in Wales and the most interesting part for me was this:

LSCBs operate within a complex framework of partnerships and
organisational structures. These include Health, Social Care and Well
Being Partnerships, Community Safety Partnerships, Children and Young
People’s Partnerships (CYPP) and Local Service Boards (LSB); four
police authorities, seven local health Boards and 22 local authorities. On
the one hand, this results in many of the same people sitting on more
than one partnership, which can lead to the responsibilities of the
partnerships becoming blurred (e.g. some CYPPs taking responsibility for
safeguarding) and on the other hand a range of different people from one
agency being involved in different partnerships and there being little
clarity about how the cross cutting issues are dealt with.


Doesn't this just sum up what is wrong with the whole system?

Welsh Government creating partnerships and Welsh Government Inspectorate criticising them because they don't understand how they are supposed to work together; were they supposed to work together? If the Inspectorate don't know how it all works together then we would be hard pressed to explain how these partnerships deliver outcomes for children

I shall say it again, what is needed is a rationalisation of the bureaucracy; we cannot afford to have more people checking than we have doing.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Plas Coch roundabout - no traffic lights, no congestion

The roadworks on the Plas Coch roundabout by Homebase currently mean that's it's down to one lane and there are no lights in operation. Despite this, I've sailed through at various times of the day.
Should we turn the traffic lights back on when the roadworks are finished? One for the highways dept to ponder.

Miriam Beard trial - 2

Criticism of trustees as well as Miriam Beard

A fraud trial heard today how an internal auditor from the Welsh Government found significant and fundamental failures in the financial controls of one of its scheme set up to alleviate poverty.
It led to a full investigation which uncovered a culture of generosity among staff in the Plas Madoc Communities First project.Clare Collett, of the Welsh Government's internal audit service, made a two day visit to Plas Madoc in 2009 for a review of the files and found the failures in the financial controls in place.
In evidence at Mold Crown Court, she said that there was confusion about the ownership of a caravan which was used by residents for holidays at Rhyl.Co-ordinator Miriam Beard, who is on trial for fraud charges she denies, told her that the charity owned the caravan but said that they had kept it fairly quiet because they did not want the residents to know.
It was felt that if they did, then they would feel that they would have a right to use the caravan when they wanted to.
The prosecution say Beard purchased the caravan for £9,000 then paid rent for it to one of her sons but then claimed that he was being paid to maintain it and keep an eye on it.
It is alleged that she defrauded the charity by paying more than £25,000 into the bank account of her elderly father, names as a Mr D Gay, and then diverting the money to her own.It was invoiced as providing drama tuition for young people although it is claimed her father knew nothing about it.
Beard claims that the money was paid out with the approval of the board when it was not used up at the end of the financial year – so that it would not have to be returned to the Assembly. It was later used for future projects, she says.Miss Collett said Beard had said that she had given her fuel card to Sinead Moynihan, a Hollyoaks actress, and had told her that it was to be used once a week when travelling to Plas Madoc to provide drama classes.
But the prosecution say that her son, who was Miss Moynihan's partner, ran up a £4,000 bill on the fuel card. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the actress.
Cross examined by Russell Davies, defending Beard, Miss Collett agreed that problems in financial controls were previously identified in 2003 during a review by Wrexham council but there was no evidence of any follow-up.
Mr Davies said that while his client was in the dock, the Welsh Government audit raised wider concerns than her role and said there were control weaknesses throughout the organisation. He said the board of trustees had not effectively discharged its duties.
He suggested that his client was an creative and artistic person rather than an accountant, and was not qualified to coordinate and control financial matters.
Mr Davies said that while Beard's two sons had been employed by the charity, it was clear that other people, including board members, had families working for it.

Beard, 55, is alleged to have milked the charity, set up to improve the large estate near Wrexham, one of the poorest in Wales, out of more than £54,000.
Beard, of Tryfan Uchaf at Henllan near Denbigh, denies 12 charges of fraud in a position of trust and one of joint theft with her husband.
James Beard, 46, of the same address, denies eight charges - six charges of fraud and two of theft.The case continues.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Farm Subsidies.

Whilst Gregory Barker argues that Feed In Tariffs for Renewable Energy need to be reduced because it adds £26 to each households energy bills a year, Caroline Spelman on the other hand is quite happy to continue creating more and more farm subsidy millionaires from the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) grants which costs each taxpayer (not households) a £107 a year.

This is how the Guardian reported on the CAP a few weeks ago:
Britain will try to "substantially" reduce European subsidies handed to millions of farmers each year but will resist European commission plans to limit payments to the richest...

Britain will argue that the commission's plan to cap the amount of money paid to Europe's biggest farmers is unworkable, and would lead to artificial changes of ownerships. In addition, it will argue that proposals to pay younger farmers more in order to encourage new entrants into the industry would prove unworkable.

The campaign group farmsubsidy.org says there are 1,212 farm subsidy millionaires across Europe, including 268 in Germany, 174 in France and 29 in Britain. Charities such as the RSPB and corporations such as Nestle are believed to receive more than £1m a year. The Queen qualified for £473,500 in farm aid in 2009 for Sandringham farms.

Several government ministers and their families receive large sums from Europe. The environment and fisheries minister Richard Benyon's family estates received over £200,000 in EU farm subsidies in 2009, the farming minister Jim Paice and the Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson both have farms, and David Cameron's father-in-law, Lord Sheffield, is a wealthy landowner believed to be receiving large EU subsidies. Benyon resigned his chairmanship of the family estates business when he became a minister.

In total, nearly 200,000 farmers in Britain received payments of £3.3bn in 2009, up from £2.6bn in 2008, but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has enforced an information blackout on the subsidies paid to the richest.

Sugar and dairy processing companies were among the largest recipients of European farm subsidies last year. The number of farmers and food companies who received individual payments of more than €1m this year increased by more than 20% on the previous year, according to farmsubsidy.org.

So there we have it the Con Dem government want to reduce the CAP but not to the richest which means that if they have their way small farmers in Wales will suffer; whilst the Duchy of Cornwall, the Queen, Nestle and Tate and Lyle will continue to add to the millions of pounds of taxpayers money that they've already accumulated in farm subsidies since 1999.

Retrospective Consultation!

Yes, retrospective consultation is a new one on me as well, but obviously isn't to Gregory Barker MP, Climate Change Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The hapless Mr Barker has been given the 'poisoned chalice' job by Chris Huhne of consulting on a reduction in domestic feed in tariff for renewable energy. He is so anxious to be rid of the job that he announces that the reduction of the Feed in Tariff will be introduced on the 12th December 2011; a full 11 days before the consultation ends on the 23rd December 2011!

I now have a whole new understanding of 'meaningful consultation.'

Plas Madoc Communities First trial - 1

For legal reasons, comments should avoid prejudicing the ongoing case against Miriam Beard.


Plas Madoc housing scheme boss 'milked £54,000'
James and Miriam Beard arriving at Mold Crown Court for a previous hearingThe head of a scheme to regenerate a deprived housing estate "milked" £54,000 of its funds for herself and her family, a jury has been told.
Miriam Beard, 55, who ran Plas Madoc Communities First Project at Acrefair, Wrexham, also hid her previous convictions, Mold Crown Court heard.Mrs Beard, of Henllan, Denbighshire, and her husband James, 46, deny a number of fraud and theft charges.
Prosecutor Karl Scholz said the case centred on dishonesty, deceit and lies. Mr Scholz said the case was primarily orchestrated by Mrs Beard. He said Plas Madoc Communities First Project was a registered charity set up to improve the local community.
Mrs Beard had been appointed its co-ordinator in 2003 after working as a welfare rights money adviser for Wrexham council's social services department. But Mr Scholz alleged that she concealed her past by claiming to be 10 years younger. She claimed that she left university and went straight to work after obtaining A levels and GCSEs.
In truth, Mr Scholz told the court, she had been due to sit six CSE examinations, failed three and failed to turn up for three. She never went to university.He said Mrs Beard did not disclose her criminal record and had been convicted of offences of dishonesty and other matters in the 1970s. Mr Scholz said that she had served a prison sentence in 1979 for conspiracy to defraud.
He said Mrs Beard was answerable to no-one at the scheme apart from a board of trustees who apparently had very little hands-on knowledge of what was taking place. He added that she was, in effect, using the assets of the charity for her own ends and "milked" £54,000 from it.
The court heard Mrs Beard found a way to pay her son Daryl Kelly £18,300 on the pretext that he owned a holiday caravan on the coast and was renting it to the project for the use of residents. When checks were made, she changed her story and said she was hiring him - at £18,300 for two years - to maintain and keep an eye on it. The caravan was at all times owned by the charity.
The charity also paid £3,000 for a vehicle for Mr Kelly and the evidence showed that he bought another vehicle for £2,000 and sold it to the charity for £8,000.
She also arranged for him to use her fuel card and he ran up a £4,000 bill over a 15-month period, it was alleged. It was alleged that she arranged for two cheques, totalling more than £25,000, to be paid into her father's account for running or providing services for children. The court was told that no such services were provided. The money was then withdrawn and paid into her account and there was no suggestion that her father knew what was going on.
The court heard that Mrs Beard had produced a document outlining youth activities that were proposed which, among other things, would help quell the stigma attached with Plas Madoc, she said. Drama groups were planned to build confidence and self-esteem, together with football, rugby, healthy eating sessions and drama producers, directors and make-up artists would give talks. Other issues would be tackled including bullying, drugs, alcohol, environmental issues and the programme would end up with a presentation to showcase the youngsters' achievements.
But the platitudes contained in the document she prepared was all a tissue of lies, said Mr Scholz. He said she had arranged for building materials and the hire of a digger which she needed for work at her home at Henllan to be invoiced to the charity together with two hotel bills at the Wild Pheasant in Llangollen. Mrs Beard denies 12 charges of fraud in a position of trust and one of joint theft with her husband. Her husband denies eight charges - six charges of fraud and two of theft.
The trial, before Judge Rhys Rowlands, is expected to last two weeks.