Thursday, 8 March 2012

A challenge to Ken Skates

Ken Skates, the Labour AM for Clwyd South, seems to be on a mission to attack Plaid Cymru at the moment. This intervention in the Senedd yesterday suggests he's a little miffed with Plaid councillors in Wrecsam:

Ken Skates: With regard to Plaid’s motion, it sometimes disappoints me when there is a difference between what is said in the Chamber and what is delivered on the ground. To speak directly about my constituency, we have a position in the Wrexham area where Plaid Cymru talks in its manifesto about increasing the availability and the building of affordable homes, but in my constituency, councillors are opposing the increase in homes. This is against a backdrop of a threefold increase in homelessness in the Wrexham area since 2009.

Waiting lists are stretched, and the construction industry is strained, but this is being driven by the dogma and prejudice of opposition. I give way to the Member.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: I am disappointed at the severe lack of understanding of the situation in relation to the comments being made about local development plans in Wrexham. The whole point is that housing is developed in an organic way that responds to local needs, and not in a top-down way based on figures dictated to local authorities. Would you not agree?

Kenneth Skates: You mention local needs, but on the ground, your councillors do not agree with the local needs. Your councillors are fighting—

Llyr Huws Gruffydd rose

Kenneth Skates: No, I am not giving way again. The point is that your councillors are being driven by dogma and prejudice. You should know this—you employ one of them.

At the risk of being labelled dogmatic and prejudiced (and I should point out I'm doing this in my free time, Ken), the AM needs to back up his own rhetoric with some facts. Here's a few he might be unaware of:

- His Labour colleagues were among those who backed the council's LDP proposals for 8,000 new homes over the next decade. They are as appalled at the inspector's insistence on 11,700 as the rest of us.

- The inspector also insisted on fewer affordable homes as a proportion of these houses because developers didn't like that sort of thing. Obviously the developers have a powerful ally on their side in the shape of the local AM.

- Building an additional 3,700 homes means building on public open spaces and extending settlement boundaries. The last Labour council tried to build on the Nine-Acre Field in Wrecsam - does Skates now advocate that?

- If not the Nine-Acre Field, on which fields does Skates want to build these 3,700 additional homes (the equivalent of a new village the size of Coedpoeth and Johnstown)?

- The LDP was formulated after a two-year consultation with thousands of respondents throughout the borough. The overwhelming view of local residents was to build on brownfield sites, to maximise the level of affordable homes and to reject the idea that we build commuter estates rather then for local needs. Does Skates reject their opinions as "dogmatic" and "prejudiced"?

- During the past decade, when 1,000 homes a year were built in the borough, the waiting lists grew in Wrecsam. Building executive houses that are beyond the reach of most local people's pockets does not solve that problem.

- Granting permission for thousands of unaffordable homes does not immediately stimulate the construction industry - the private housing developers are not building now because they're waiting for the market to pick up. If he was serious about creating jobs in the construction industry, he would be lobbying his Labour Government for funding for councils to build more council housing.

Skates accuses Plaid councillors of "dogma and prejudice". So much so, he managed to repeat the phrase in twice, fair play.

If Ken Skates wants a serious debate about ensuring we have more affordable housing in Wrecsam, let's have a public debate and see where local support lies.

• In the same debate, Ken Skates also misled in the Assembly Chamber about Plaid Cymru's support or otherwise for the proposed supermarket development in Llangollen. He claimed: "Who is at the forefront of opposition (to the supermarket)? Plaid Cymru activists".
In fact the chair of Llangollen Town Council, perhaps Llangollen's most prominent Plaid activist, was among those who voted for the proposal.
When challenged after the debate he said he was referring to a Plaid member who had "liked" a Facebook page supporting local shops. Is this what he terms "the forefront of opposition"?

Facts or "dogma and prejudice"?


Anonymous said...

You could sell tickets for that!

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Skates's mathematical skills are also in doubt. Our LDP wanted 30% of the total to be affordable, that is 2,400 houses. Planning Inspector wants that reduced because developers can't make enough profit and increase the numbers to 12,000. So we reduce the proportion of affordable homes to 20% of 12,000 which is 2,400. End result is...more general housing but no more affordable homes. If the proportion goes down to 10% we get 1200 affordable homes out of 12,000 so we could end up building MORE general housing and LESS affordable homes.

Is it me or is this argument difficult to follow?

Skates really needs to get to grips with his job, housing is far too important an issue to be left to people who cannot grasp simple arguments!

Plaid Queensway said...

So Ken Skates wants to hurl personal insults at Plaid Cllrs from the safety of the chamber.Let's have a public debate Ken in full view of the people of Wrecsam, where you can tell them that you support concreting over our town with houses that the vast majority of us can't afford.

In fact, why don't you come along to the next full council meeting in Wrecsam? Let's see how much you actually understand about this situation. Come along and tell us all about your take on the 'afforable housing' and the general market housing situation in Wrecsam and it's impacts. I'll be there, if you're going to accuse me and my colleagues of being 'prejudice', have the decency to turn up and say it directly.

Rhys McKenzie said...

I'd make the trip back home just to see that^.

Hey Ken, why don't you come back to good ol' Clwyd South and put the question to the people. Let's see how many take to the idea of building a new Rhos or two to respond to demand from outside the local area. I'm sure you'll have loads of people on your side.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Come on Ken tell the people of Wrecsam that you and you're colleagues want to build on Nine Acre Field and Dean Road fields, your party has tried to build on Nine Acre Field once and got a bloody nose.

Anonymous said...

Skates is using this to play political games at the Senedd, where nobody from Wrexham or Clwyd south watches!

You MUST use his support for executive housing on your leaflets in the run up to local elections. Combined with your active support for affordable housing.

Labour supports executive housing whereas Plaid is the party of the people and wants to tackle the affordable housing backlog.