Sunday, 29 January 2012

Y BBC yn ariannu S4C.

Hwyrach fod y stori yma ynglyn ar BBC yn talu Murdoch a BSkyB, £100 miliwn y flwyddyn i ddangos rhaglenni y BBC yn ateb pam fod S4C yn derbyn toriadau dwfn. Does na ddim rheswm fel y gwela i pam fod angen rhoi yr arian cyhoeddus yma i Murdoch yn y lle cyntaf.

Sgwennwch lythyr i Jeremy Hunt i gwyno am y sefyllfa yma ac yn arbenig yng nghyd destun S4C.

Labour's Widows Tax!

It seems that in response to a Government consultation on Council Tax on how to save 10% of the Council tax benefit bill, many Labour council's have suggested abolishing the 25% discount on council tax for single people. There is no evidence that Welsh Labour controlled councils are considering this but remember that the Welsh Labour Party is heavily influenced by its London bosses

If the Single People's Discount was abolished in Wrecsam 20,000 single households would be worse off by around £200 a year on average or £400,000 less income being spent in the area.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Another Unionist Argument Flop!

The Foreign Secretary William Hague's threat that his overseas Embassies and High Commissions would cease to promote Whiskey if Scotland was to gain independence, has been shown in the Scottish Parliament today to be an idle threat. In fact The Scottish Development body are charged £3000 every time they hold a reception in a foreign embassy to promote whiskey.

Now I thought British Embassies are there to promote 'Britain' but it seems not to be the case when it comes to Scotland and probably Wales; this then begs the question who do these expensive governmental facilities actually serve?

Yet another example of, " We are not in this together"

Monday, 16 January 2012

A bad start to the week for Labour!

After Ed Balls's swing to the right last week, Labour may well have been expecting better news but it doesn't appear to be so.

The first negative story relates to the head of a Regeneration Agency in Glasgow receiving a £500,000 golden handshake by Labour Councillors.

The second negative story concerns Tom Harris MP having to resign as Labour's media advisor after creating an online video which portrayed Alex Salmond as Hitler.

And the third story concerns Luke Bozier a former Senior Labour advisor defecting to the Tories.

I wonder what the rest of the week will bring poor old Ed Miliband?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Another Planet

I no longer need convincing that these Tories are on another planet. Who in their right mind would suggest that taxpayers should fund a new royal yacht to celebrate the queen's diamond jubilee and only at a small cost of £60 million especially as were in the middle of a recession.

Who indeed but the arch monarchist and England's Education Minister, Michael Gove MP.

This is no joke, Gove has written to both Jeremy Hunt and Nick Clegg on the subject and is reported in the Guardian. Following hot on the heels of Cheryl Gillan's little 'insider dealing' this little outburst will do nothing to enhance the credibility of this coalition government.

I wonder if Cameron still intends to remind us that were all in this together

Balls to the workers - Labour accepts Tory cuts to please City

Labour chancellor Ed Balls has let the cat out of the bag, saying Labour would not reverse Tory spending cuts, which are leading to a double-dip recession. He added that Labour would support the Tories' freeze on public sector workers' pay.

Ed Balls said:

"However difficult this is for me, some of our colleagues, and some of our wider supporters, we can't make any commitments now that the next Labour government will reverse tax rises or spending cuts and we won't because we don't know how bad things will be on unemployment, growth and the deficit."

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS union, summed up the dilemma that fellow trade unionists in Wales had already articulated:

Labour have made a big strategic mistake because what they're in danger of seeing here is that millions of voters in core areas - people with the least - will suddenly think 'what is the point of voting for the Labour party if it still means cuts in jobs, cuts in pay and cuts in welfare?'

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Alternative Unionist!

Not all Scottish Unionist politicians want to join Johann Lamont in supporting the Miliband/Cameron/Clegg position of picking a fight with the Scottish people over independence.

Scottish elder statesman and ex leader of the Scottish Labour party Henry McLeish distances himself from his own party's position and brands the union as not fit for purpose. The report in today's Herald Scotland goes on to say:
Mr McLeish told The Herald that pro-Union parties would ignore at their peril the question of Scottish identity.

He said that rather than talking about "devo max", a more effective concept would be an autonomous Scotland, with full fiscal and devolved powers but within the UK, because the status quo was unfit for purpose.

Mr McLeish warned his party against linking its campaign to the Tories, whom he branded toxic and the LibDems as dysfunctional.

Mr McLeish, who helped draft the Scotland Act, said his proposal reflected the country's identity and its aspirations, adding: "We care about the Union but we want to change it."

He said the Union's main backers refused to acknowledge change and were fighting bitterly against "any legitimate request or aspiration of parts of the UK to self-determination".

Turning to the prospect of an independent Scotland being banned from using the pound following comments by Chancellor George Osborne, Mr McLeish warned it was "part and parcel of a Conservative-inspired Westminster debate not just against independence but against Scotland".

He said: "The Conservatives, who are genuinely uninterested in the whole idea of devolution as their history has shown, will use fear and try to exploit ignorance."

He said they were "obsessed with central control and for some of them "Britishness" was increasingly about England, not the UK, and the struggle for power".

Mr McLeish said change was happening in countries all over the world so "why should anyone be surprised or shocked that it should happen in the UK? What the Tories don't get is the idea that this change is inevitable," he said.

He said that since the SNP first won power in 2007 there had been a significant shift from traditional class allegiances to "identity politics".

Mr McLeish claimed a negative pro-Union campaign "kicking Alex Salmond or the Nationalists or independence" would be counter-productive.

Whilst McLeish does not advocate full independence he most certainly supports 'devo-max' which is a refreshing position for a senior Labour statesman.

Redwood - the "modern English nationalist"

Just in case you needed a reminder of why we need independence...

John Redwood used to be the Welsh Secretary (aka Colonial Governor) and is here happily describing himself as a "modern English nationalist".

There are Conservatives who would be happy to wave goodbye to Scotland because they like the idea of what might happen next.

Former Welsh Secretary John Redwood wrote on his blog: “The dream ticket for a modern English nationalist is a decision by Scotland to leave the UK, followed by the ending of membership of the EU because the member, the UK, no longer exists.”

Would never have guessed the way he belted out the anthem with such gusto...

What does make this scenario interesting is that, when Scotland votes for freedom, there will be a very strong mood in England to ditch Wales.

Salmond is making all the running while Carwyn Jones is dawdling in the changing rooms, scared of upsetting his own party unionists as much as the UK government.

More faintheart than braveheart.

Police Commissioners - The Way Forward

An excellent non partisan article by Elfyn Llwyd MP on Police Commissioners where he invites 'like minded people' who have an interest in standing for Police Commissioners to get in touch. This is what Plaid Cymru are all about; putting the people of Wales before narrow political interests

Later this year, in November 2012, there will be the first ever elections for Police and Crime Commissioners for the four police forces in Wales.

Plaid Cymru have opposed the introduction of these elected police and crime commissioners on the grounds that this involves a probable politicisation of policing and that is not a good use of policing resources at a time of public sector cuts.

At present, policing is carried out under the supervision of Police Authorities who include a range of local councillors nominated by their local authority and also members of the public.

These powers would allow policing priorities to be determined by a single elected commissioner, according to their wishes and manifesto, rather than these priorities being determined through consensus across the political spectrum and with more than significant input from the public members of the authority.

We believe that this is a retrograde step for policing as politicisation may lead to one viewpoint being prioritised over another and the police forces themselves no longer being considered neutral in how they treat crimes.

This could damage the hard-won trust and faith in our effective and excellent police forces in Wales. Furthermore, policing has to be by consent woe betide us if that consent is eroded.

During the debates on the introduction of these commissioners, the negative attitude of the UK Government towards Wales has once again been illustrated.

As local democracy is in the hands of the National Assembly, the UK Government needed our agreement for the re-forming of police authorities into what are to be known as Police and Crime Panels to supervise the work of the commissioner.

When the National Assembly voted not to give them that authority to change the rules in Wales, they decided that, rather than listening to our democratically elected Welsh government and take part in fruitful negotiations, they would come through the back door.

In England, local authorities will decide their members on police and crime panels while in Wales they will be determined by the Home Secretary in London.

This cannot be right, as it is unwelcome interference in Wales.

However, despite our opposition, and the opposition of the National Assembly for Wales, these elections will take place.

Although we are not in agreement with the roles, it is important that strong, competent candidates are in place to fight these elections on a platform which is beneficial for Wales.

Extremist politicians who might mis-use the powers of this role must be defeated. Those who would mis-use the powers of the police force must be prevented from getting their hands on the levers of power.

Plaid Cymru believe that policing, alongside the rest of the justice and home affairs portfolios, should be devolved to the National Assembly.

This is the natural home for powers in Wales, especially when linked with the notions of social and restorative justice which run so deeply through our communities.

We propose, instead of politicising the police in the way that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat have so damagingly suggested, that a more consensual approach could help ensure that our four Welsh police forces are run in best interests of our nation.

This alternative approach could see strong candidates put themselves forward, representing the ethos of Welsh communities and their faith in a balanced, diverse, proactive police force in all four police authority areas, with support across parties and from those of no party.

If policing, crime and justice were devolved then we would have the power to determine our own policies in these areas – and develop Welsh solutions for Welsh problems.

We would have a criminal justice system which responds to Welsh needs, not that of knee-jerk responses to tabloid headlines.

Plaid Cymru have several criteria for what would make a good police commissioner in Wales. They should be people who support Welsh control of the criminal justice system from start to finish, should put the welfare of the wider community first and should be against the politicisation of the police force.

We would welcome making contact with any candidate who meets these criteria and wants to stand for election as police and crime commissioners as an independent, non-partisan candidate.

If four such candidates can be found around Wales, one for each police force area, then Plaid Cymru would support these candidates.

If, however, such candidates did not come forward, then we will put forward our own candidate so that electors would have the opportunity to support the above aims that must be represented on the ballot paper.

We therefore invite members of the public who support our aims on policing to come forward and help ensure effective and improved policing for our communities.

Friday, 13 January 2012

The right leader at the right time

Along with many other Plaid members and supporters, I was inspired by Leanne Woods energy and vision tonight during an enthralling address to a packed audience at the Racecourse in Wrecsam.

Leanne decisively set out her vision for the party and for Wales, demonstrating why I believe she is the right choice to lead Plaid Cymru.

Leanne brings clarity and a vision which is totally in tune with the times. In one way it is radical, it’s new and it answers the problems that we face in Wales in the present day. At the same time, it provides a platform for future prosperity and a better quality of life for the people of Wales.

Leanne’s vision is built on the strengths that we posses in Wales and therefore is actually deliverable. Even better than this, Leanne bridges the gap between Welsh speaking and non Welsh speaking communities, as well as connecting with the older generation and especially the younger generation. This ability to engage and connect across the board will take Plaids message to a new generation and will rejuvenate our party. In my view, this makes Leanne Wood the right leader at the right time. Leanne articulated tonight the thoughts and feelings of the grass roots membership and she can certainly count on my vote when the time comes.

Cllr Carrie Harper, Wrecsam.

Plaid meeting packed for Leanne

40 Plaid Cymru members and supporters packed the 1873 Suite at The Racecourse Ground in Wrecsam to meet Plaid leadership contender Leanne Wood tonight.
Leanne outlined her vision for Wales, explaining the need for "real independence" that would transform the Welsh economy and ensure a more prosperous and self-sufficient country.
The audience, drawn largely from Wrecsam, enjoyed an interesting question and answer session.
Leanne spoke in Welsh and English and it was great to see
non-members join up after the meeting, including ex-Labour Party members.
Her message of co-operation and promoting local enterprise was echoed Councillor Marc Jones, who chaired the meeting. He said : "There's a real momentum behind Leanne's campaign. She's reaching out and bringing in new members throughout Wales and I'm delighted at the new members she's bringing into the Wrecsam branch.
"They will have their say in the leadership campaign and I would urge those who want to take part in the Plaid leadership election to join up before January 26th."
Among those who have joined Plaid Wrecsam recently is firefighter Mike Davies (pictured with Leanne), the Fire Brigade Union's North Wales branch secretary.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Healthy Eating in Schools.

Below is a petition to the National Assembly's Petition Committee:
The Petitioners call upon the Welsh Government to consider legislation to exclude Mobile Fast Food Vans from operating within a 400 metre exclusion zone around all schools in Wales during the hours of 8am to 4.30pm weekdays during term time.

Supporting Information

Wrecsam Council have recently agreed a Planning Guidance note which states that - New Hot Food Takeaways should not be located... within 400 metres of the boundary of a school or tertiary college.Planning conditions cannot be used to restrict use of mobile fast food vehicles and if they comply with highways and environmental health regulations they can operate unlicensed. It is therefore argued that to legislate as suggested will serve to promote a social objective of reducing the availability of cheap unhealthy foods to children, to reduce obsesity and to promote healthy eating.

To sign the petition copy and paste this link: (English) (Cymraeg)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

New Westminster seats for Wales revealed

These are the proposed Westminster constituencies - a total of 30 instead of the existing 40:
1. Menai ac Ynys Môn - 74,453
2. Gwynedd - 73,297
3. Ceredigion and
North Pembrokeshire - 74,173
4. South and West Pembrokeshire - 76,039
5. Caerfyrddin - 76,549
6. Llanelli - 76,970
7. Gower and Swansea West - 77,453
8. Swansea East - 76,637
9. Neath - 76,747
10. Aberavon and Ogmore - 73,895
11. Bridgend - 73,596
12. The Vale of Glamorgan - 74,728
13. Cardiff West - 74,844
14. Cardiff Central and Penarth - 76,346
15. Cardiff East - 79,287
16. Caerphilly and Cardiff North - 73,873
17. Newport West and
Sirhowy Valley - 73,217
18. Newport Central - 76,461
19. Monmouthshire - 73,862
20. Torfaen - 76,639
21. Blaenau Gwent - 77,304
22. Heads of the Valleys - 74,029
23. Rhondda - 73,194
24. Pontypridd - 77,786
25. South Powys - 78,136
26. Glyndwr and North Powys - 74,554
27. Wrexham Maelor - 78,353
28. Alyn and Deeside - 80,268
29. Dee Estuary - 80,278
30. North Wales Coast - 78,628
Locally, the Wrecsam constituency expands to take in the Maelor Saesneg as well as the villages of Ruabon, Coedpoeth, Minera, New Broughton, Brymbo, Brynteg and Bersham. The Clwyd South constituency disappears - partly into Wrecsam and partly into the new Glyndwr North Powys seat that will stretch from Denbigh right down to Welshpool. Both become more attractive propositions for Plaid Cymru as a result. There will, however, be an unseemly scramble among existing Tory and Labour MPs to grab the remaining seats given that Wales is losing 10 seats.
The impact on the Assembly constituencies hasn't been decided yet.

UPDATE: Map here

More Thought Police!

I'd never really thought of or come across the British Humanist Association before and even though I'm not impressed with what they've succeeded in doing you have to give them their due they do have influence.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed a new revision of the model funding agreement for Free Schools by the Government in order to preclude ‘the teaching, as an evidence-based view or theory, of any view or theory that is contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations.’ This highly significant change has been made in order to ban creationism from being taught in Free Schools, and prevent creationist groups from opening schools. The change follows the BHA coordinating the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ campaign, which called for this precise change.

Does this mean that Religious Education or whatever the subject is now called can no longer be taught in our schools, or is the New Testament ok and just the Old Testament that is banned?

Will I also be penalised by the Humanist thought police if I put my O'level in RE down on my CV?

This is as silly as the Evangelicals in the US trying to ban evolution...haven't we moved beyond the Scopes trial?.

As we say in Wales, "Pawb at y peth y bo," (Each to his own). Let's get a life peeps

Plaid leadership contender targets Wrexham

Plaid Cymru leadership candidate Leanne Wood will be speaking in Wrecsam this Thursday as part of her campaign to become the party’s leader.

Leanne Wood, the regional Assembly member for Cardiff and the Valleys, is speaking at the 1873 Suite at the Racecourse ground on Thursday, 12 January at 7.30pm.

Local Plaid councillor Marc Jones said: "Leanne is the reason I joined Plaid Cymru. She’s passionate and principled about her politics, putting the interests of ordinary people first rather than bankers and big business.

"She’s also an original thinker who will lead a talented team so that Wales can take greater responsibility for our own affairs. Many people are joining Plaid because they’ve been inspired by her campaign."

Ms Wood is touring Wales talking to as many of Plaid Cymru’s members as possible. Her campaign has focussed on reviving the Welsh economy, creating jobs and prosperity.

Leanne Wood said: "We are the party for the whole of Wales and Plaid has to reach out to every corner. Plaid needs to make inroads in areas likes north-east Wales if we are to become the biggest political party.

"I’m delighted to be speaking in Wrecsam and for the support of party members in the area. It is very encouraging."

Leanne Wood’s campaign has already been endorsed by Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards, former MP Adam Price and Assembly Members Bethan Jenkins and Lindsay Whittle.

Cllr Jones added: "The meeting is open to Plaid members and supporters in the area and I know many local trade unionists, who admire Leanne’s principled support for recent strike action to protect jobs and pensions, will be attending. The 1873 suite will have a bar and buffet on the evening."

Monday, 9 January 2012

Ffigyrau Gwylio S4C

Dyma ddatganiad i'r wasg gan S4C:
Mae nifer gwylwyr S4C wedi cynyddu dros y flwyddyn 2011 yn ôl ffigurau a gyhoeddwyd gan y Sianel heddiw.

O ran cyfartaledd cyrhaeddiad wythnosol S4C yng Nghymru yn 2011 gwelwyd cynnydd o 7,000 – i fyny o 467,000 yn 2010 i 474,000. Dros y Deyrnas Unedig, mae cyfartaledd cyrhaeddiad wythnosol y Sianel i fyny 2,000 ar y flwyddyn – o 616,000 yn 2010 i 618,000 yn 2011.

Bu cynnydd sylweddol hefyd yn y nifer o siaradwyr Cymraeg fu’n gwylio S4C yn 2011. Y cyfartaledd cyrhaeddiad wythnosol yn ystod y flwyddyn oedd 223,000 o wylwyr yng Nghymru – 26,000 yn uwch na 2010.

Yn yr oriau brig, gwelwyd cynnydd o 1,000 ar y ffigwr yn 2010 – i fyny o 28,000 i 29,000.

Wrth groesawu’r ffigurau, dywedodd Arwel Ellis Owen, Prif Weithredwr S4C, “Mae’r canlyniadau hyn yn galonogol iawn ac yn profi bod mwy a mwy o wylwyr yn cael eu plesio gan yr amrywiaeth eang o raglenni sydd ar gael ar S4C. Ein nod, hyd yn oed mewn cyfnod economaidd ariannol fel yr un sy’n bodoli ar hyn o bryd, yw sicrhau bod ein harlwy ar y sgrin yn un o safon uchel ac yn un sy’n bodloni nifer cynyddol o wylwyr yng Nghymru yn bennaf ond hefyd yng ngweddill y Deyrnas Unedig.”

Yn arwynebol mae hyn yn newyddion da iawn ond hoffwn cael cardarnhad fod y 200 o focsys BARB mewn tai lle mae Cymru Cymraeg yn byw; dwi angen cael fy argyhoeddi o hyn!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Who is Maria Miller?

Maria Miller is the Conservative MP for Basingstoke and the next in line to be Secretary of State for Wales if and when Cheryl Gillan resigns over the Government's decision to continue with the HS2 rail link between London Euston and Birmingham which goes through her Amersham constituency.

Mrs Miller's claim to the job is that she is from Bridgend and was educated at Brynteg Comprehensive School. It's anybody's guess how much contact she has had with her Welsh roots since then or what knowledge she has of Welsh issues. She does not list any Welsh Committees on her biography.

Mrs Miller has been a member of parliament since 2005 and is currently the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disability within the Department of Work and Pensions and has been leading on the critical changes to Disabilty Living Allowances as part of the welfare reforms.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Police Overtime.

A recent FOI request of North Wales Police by the Taxpayers Alliance elicited that overtime payements to Police Officers in the force increased by a third to £3.6 million in a year. Needles to say that the Taxpayers Alliance are critical of this increased spend notwithstanding that the North Wales Police have been forced to make massive budgetary cuts in the last 12 months due to the Conservative Government's policies so the use of overtime to make up a shortfall should come as no surprise.

In response to the report in the Daily Post I wrote the following letter:

Dear Editor,

One should not be surprised to read that North Wales Police’s overtime payments have increased (Police overtime cost hits £3.6 million, Post January 5th). The Police have a duty to protect life and property and to do that they must judge the appropriate resources that are required and if those resources are not available then the Police have no option but to pay overtime to protect the public;… who would be the first to complain if the Police failed to respond appropriately?

What is surprising in your report is that the Conservative lobby group the Taxpayers Alliance are critical of the use of overtime whilst a Conservative Councillor on the North Wales Police Authority seek to defend North Wales Police’s use of overtime. What both of them conveniently forget is the massive cuts that a Conservative led Government have imposed on the Police Service both locally and nationally is the whole and only reason why the overtime budget has increased.

What your article clearly shows is that the Conservatives have long lost their reputation as the party of law and order and are floundering in the dark when it comes to public safety; to them goes the dubious credit of having actually broken the ‘thin blue line.’

Cynghorydd/Councillor Arfon Jones,

What we can achieve

A visit to the Wrexham Lager brewery tonight prompted a real sense of pride in our town's achievements over the past few months.

Firstly, we have a fantastic new brewery in the centre of town taking on the lager multinationals and already serving 45 pubs in the area after just a few months. Building on a great tradition and using state-of-the-art equipment, this local enterprise has produced a great tasting local product and provided local pubs with a real boost in this recession.

Secondly, we have a fine Victorian listed building in the centre of town - the old Seven Stars pub - re-opening at the end of this month as Wrecsam's Welsh centre and trading as Saith Seren. It will, of course, be serving Wrexham Lager as well as other local and Welsh food and drink and will provide a welcome for all. It's been re-opened by a cooperative venture that's attracted investors locally as well as from as far afield as San Fransisco.

Thirdly, our resurgent football club has finally been taken over by the fans with another cooperative. That has coincided with a fine run of form under Andy Morrell, which is always good to see, but in the long-term it means we will never again fall prey to the vultures that have circled the Racecourse for more than a decade. The Wrexham Supporters' Trust is fast approaching 2000 members, who all co-own the club, and deserve our wholehearted thanks and support.

The re-birth of the Crusaders rugby league team as North Wales Crusaders has also come about as a result of fans taking the lead. Having been shafted by the previous owners and subsequently dumped out of the Superleague, there will be a period of rebuilding from the grassroots. Good luck to them.

This is what we can achieve when ordinary people do extraordinary things. The bankers and big business can sit there counting their obscene bonuses because they don't care about communities. We don't have that luxury - if the Welsh economy is going to develop, we'll have to do it ourselves and these new community-based enterprises point the way forward.

All these projects have been achieved in the past six months (although some of these projects have been years in the making) - a time of deep recession and general economic pessimism. All give Wrecsam a lift and a profile both nationally and internationally. The glass is certainly half full!