Saturday, 28 December 2013

Consultants paid £51,000 to state the bleeding obvious

Consultants were paid £51,760 by Wrecsam Council to review leisure provision.

 The Sports Consultancy used statistics on usage and costs that were already known to the council through previous reviews, they only carried out a visual survey of the condition of the buildings and came up with options that were blindingly obvious - to save money the council could close Plas Madoc and Waterworld leisure centres.

 By the same principle, the council could close every library and community centre and save even more money.

 There is the possibility of a new smaller 25-metre pool being built in place of Waterworld but without all the existing features. This would be built on the old police/court complex, which is scheduled to be demolished or moved sometime in the future. The cost of such a new build would be £12 million, to be funded through prudential borrowing at a time when the council is looking to save £9.5m this year. The new build would eat up most of the savings made by closing the two existing leisure centres.

 Other elements in the 207-page report refer to setting up an arms' length Leisure Trust to manage existing leisure provision. As many councils already have this kind of set up, a quick Google search by the council's own staff would have enabled them to come up with this proposal.

The Sports Consultancy also advises that £100,000 would have to be spent on delivering this transfer - presumably to a body not unlike, er, The Sports Consultancy, which has expertise in the field.

 When will see the council's well-paid senior management team start making decisions themselves and using the people with real knowledge in the field - the staff and service users - to make some really radical decisions. Closing leisure facilities would be a short-sighted decision to save a few hundred thousand pounds - so that more money* can be spent on employing consultants to state the bleeding obvious.

* The current Labour-run council spent £882,000 on consultants in the past year, a £332,000 increase on the previous administration.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Reshoring.

Perhaps one of the questions that we should be asking our government here in Wales is, "What are you doing about 'reshoring'?

Yes, I know,  I didn't have a clue what it meant either, until I read this article in The Investor.

Basically reshoring means those companies who have over the last decade or so have 'offshored' their production but who are now returning to the UK because the costs are similar.

One of the companies to 'reshore' are Symington's Golden Wonder who have returned to Leeds and as one of their executives said:
That cost difference has narrowed, ... as pay in developing markets has risen. Wages in China's Coastal areas... have risen 350% in the past 11 years... 'Back in time' Chinese production was 30 to 35% cheaper . Today the company can make noodles in its Leeds factory for roughly the same.
Another company to move home is Caldeira who are moving back to Liverpool after 10 years in China, but what Caldeira are finding is that the skill base for their production workers is no longer there.

Hornby is another company 'reshoring' 10% of its production back to Sussex after closing its Margate factory back in 1999.

So are the Welsh Government actively lobbying those companies who wish to reshore to come to Wales or are they just 'dishing' the money out to facilitate companies moving from one part of Wales to the other

Community facilities saved

Caia Park Community Council has stepped in to save vital community services under threat by county council cuts.
 Plans by the Labour-led Wrecsam council to cut key services such as school crossing patrols, play areas and Pentre Gwyn Community Centre meant that Caia Park CC had to take action.
 Tonight's community council meeting voted overwhelmingly to maintain these services without increasing the precept - the amount of money charged on people's council tax bills will remain the same.
 It's estimated that the £30,000 of extra funding for these services will be found by cutting back on community grants and the environmental budget.
 Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Marc Jones - who chairs the meeting - said:
"The community council, after extensive consultation with local people, agreed it would protect much-needed community services such as play areas, lollipop ladies and Pentre Gwyn Community Centre.
 "If we had not stepped in, the county council would have closed these facilities and left the community without important services. I'm particularly pleased that councillors backed the decision to keep Pentre Gwyn community centre open as it's the only facility the Whitegate area has - the challenge now is to make sure it works with a new management committee."

 The community council decided not to maintain Kingsley Circle community centre due to the estimated £60,000 repairs needed as well as the £15,000 annual deficit.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

How safe is Wrecsam hospital's Accident and Emergency service?



Back in July 2013 the North Wales Health Alliance attended a stakeholder meeting organised by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Among the matters aired was the possibility of removing one of the three A&E services from Bangor, Bodelwyddan or Wrecsam.

One very senior official present argued that it should be Wrecsam because patients could be treated in Chester and the Wirral.

Now the health Minister Mark Drakeford has said that one of the three A&E departments in the north could be downgraded (although he later claimed he meant re-alignment).

This led to a denial by Betsi Cadwaladr's Dr Olwen Williams: “As the minister said, the important thing is that the system works together so that the people of North Wales receive the treatment they need, where and when they need it.

“Let's be clear, at present, there are no plans to change the services at our three A&E units at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor.
“We are, however, always looking at ways to improve the quality, safety and sustainability of our clinical services. Over the past 12 months we have held a series of workshops with stakeholders from the voluntary sector, local authorities, staff, the Community Health Council, patient groups and trade unions to help us shape our future strategic plans.
“We are already undertaking a lot of work to improve existing services, including building a state of the art emergency quadrant at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, redeveloping the A &E building in Ysbyty Gwynedd and upgrading the Minor Injuries Unit at Llandudno Hospital."

Upgrades and new builds in Bangor and Bodelwyddan. No mention of improving Wrecsam. 

How safe is Wrecsam's A&E department?

UPDATE: This is a comment on wrexham.com: I'm currently awaiting a very minor outpatients procedure. I was referred to see a consultant by my Wrexham GP. The resulting appointment letter was sent from Countess of Chester. Although I saw the consultant at the Maelor yesterday, the short procedure will be carried out at…The Countess of Chester. So other than the room at the Maelor, where I spoke to the consultant, all my treatment plan is being conducted from Chester!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The people vs the council

PROTEST DEMO OUTSIDE WRECSAM GUILDHALL 
ON LLWYN ISAF
1.30pm, WEDNESDAY, 11 DECEMBER

There are four months to go before Wrecsam Council starts its slash and burn approach to frontline services. We have already seen plans to close libraries, community centres, play area and cut school crossing patrols (regardless of their high-risk nature).
 Now the council plans to abandon most of its leisure provision, including closing Plas Madoc leisure centre and Waterworld with the "possibility" of opening a new swimming and gym facility on the Waterworld site. Other leisure facilities, such as the Queensway gym, would close and others would be given to schools to run - hitting their budgets.
 Schools are not immune from the cuts - despite a growing number of pupils, heads and governors are being asked to make cuts year on year.
 Similarly bus services to rural areas are being axed and already hard-pressed social services further pressurised.

 Very little, it seems, is escaping this axe. Except the chief executive, the mayor and the many layers of senior managers who seem immune to the cuts. Likewise, the Labour-independent-Tory coalition of councillors running the council hasn't thought to give up their £100,000 a year collective pay rise. There is inefficiency and waste at the top of the tree that isn't being tackled.

 Until now the resistance to these cuts has been localised and fragmented. It's been easy to dismiss protests to save a community centre in Whitegate, a library in Rhos, a school crossing patrol on the Holt Road.

 But now people understand the extent of what this council is doing - cutting the key services that we pay our taxes and Council Tax for - there is growing opposition.

 Facebook pages can be ephemeral things but Save Plas Madoc Leisure Centre  has gained 2023 followers in just a week. This group of local people and users of the pool and leisure facilities have also organised a snap protest tomorrow outside the Guildhall at 1.30pm - just before a scrutiny committee meeting discusses the proposed closures.

 Now's the time for people to show their anger with the council for all its short-sighted decisions and offloading of responsibilities.


Friday, 29 November 2013

North Wales Fire service faces cuts crisis

Drastic cuts that would endanger lives and see more than 200 firefighters' jobs lost are planned in the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service's service consultation document 2014/2015

This non-devolved service has seen its budget frozen by the UK coalition government for the past three years. The document outlines plans to keep the service at the same level of cover (without cuts) by increasing the budget from all unitary authorities across the North by £1 per head of population. Unless Council Tax is increased, the following cuts will come into play to achieve £3.3 million of savings:

• close 7 retained fire stations, and therefore permanently shed 100 firefighter posts AND• remove one wholetime fire engine from service in Wrexham (the only fire station in North Wales that has two), and therefore permanently shed 28 firefighter posts 
AND• remove the retained fire appliances and therefore permanently shed 100 firefighter posts from the wholetime fire stations in Holyhead, Caernarfon, Bangor, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Queensferry and Wrecsam, leaving just one fire engine on each station.

There is a huge impact if these cuts go ahead in Wrecsam and the other stations across the north. At present there are three appliances (one retained) and 10/15 personnel can attend a major incident or split to attend three separate incidents. There would be a single appliance and just five personnel covering from Chester to Johnstown (or even further) and from Mold to Penley - a massive area for 1 appliance.

Councils are already cutting their own services - as any casual reader of this blog will know, Wrecsam Council is proposing to axe key frontline services from next April. It's unlikely they will be able to find additional funding for the fire service.

The consultation is open until 9th December and the Fire Authority will meet soon after that to decide the fate of NWFRS once they have been told by the unitary authorities if they will pay up the money needed to stand still.

Plaid Cymru in Wrecsam was out in support of the Fire Brigade Union's recent strike over pensions recently (see photo below) and will continue to fight shoulder to shoulder with firefighters to ensure a decent service.











Wrexham council terminate tenancy for councillor

Wrexham councillor Keith Gregory has been refused the tenancy on his own home following a widely publicised dispute with Wrexham council. In a letter received on Friday 29th November, Head of Housing Andy Lewis states: “I can confirm that your tenancy of 13 Colwyn Road has come to an end and the decision has been made not to grant you a new tenancy at that property”. No explanation as to why this decision was made was included with the letter.

Cllr Gregory has reported Wrexham council to the Ombudsman for maladministration and accuses the council of discriminating against him. The complaint concerns the handling of his housing case by the council after a split with his former partner.

The dispute began in October when Cllr Gregory received a hand delivered letter from the council informing him that his tenancy had ended. The letter stated he would now be classed as a ‘tolerated trespasser’ at his home in the Smithfield ward, where he is also the county councillor.

Mr Gregory and his former partner state that the council never informed either of them that by taking her name off the tenancy, she would also be ending Cllr Gregory’s part of the tenancy as well, a point already conceded by the council.

 Both state that in fact they were advised on 3 separate occasions by the council that Mr Gregory’s former partner would be allocated another property and that Cllr Gregory could remain at Colwyn Road. The 3 bedroom property has been specifically adapted for Cllr Gregory who is registered disabled and suffers from spina bifida, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arthritis.

The council have spent over £7,000 adapting the property to date, a cost that would have to be replicated if they were to move Cllr Gregory somewhere else. In addition, the cost of removing the adaptations from Colwyn road could lead to a total bill of about £20,000. Given the reassurances from the council and the fact that the property was adapted for Cllr Gregory’s needs,  the letter received back in October stating he was no longer a tenant and was being classed as a tolerated trespasser  came as a big shock.

Regarding the latest news and the final decision not to give him the tenancy, Cllr Gregory said:

 “On the same day as receiving the decision about my tenancy, I also obtained information from an FOI request which I feel clearly shows I am being discriminated against. Of 78 cases over the last two years where one former joint tenant has requested a sole tenancy from the council, every single one has been granted that tenancy. It seems I am the only tenant in Wrexham to be treated in this way.”

“Additionally, a process that should have taken 4 weeks has taken 15 weeks and I do not believe the council has followed the relevant lettings protocol. I have also complained that the hand delivered letter I received classing me as a tolerated trespasser, appeared just hours after big articles were published in local newspapers regarding my criticism of the cost of Wrexham’s Mayor. I find this a very strange coincidence. The Ombudsman has referred my case to the council to investigate and I’m currently waiting to hear back from them."

Cllr Gregory states he will challenge the council’s decision to force him to leave his home.


“The stress from this situation has been very difficult to deal with, the way it’s been handled is disgraceful.  I will fight them all the way, they shouldn’t be treating me differently because I’ve challenged them about cutting local services and proposed they should cut the Mayor’s budget and highly paid consultants instead. I’m very much looking forward to taking this matter to court and am currently getting advice as regards the next step”.

Wrecsam Council blasted for £600,000 legal fees bill to fight Equal Pay claims

Council bosses in Wrecsam have been blasted for spending almost £610,000 in legal fees to fight thousands of equal pay claims. An FOI request by Plaid Cymru also revealed that in addition to the bill for external legal advice, the council has also used 1,133 hours of officer time fighting the claims since 2007.

The claims affect mainly female workers who have waited eight years to see the cases settled, with many expressing frustration about the ongoing delays. Both current and former council employees across Wrecsam are owed millions, with settlement agreements finally being sent out to many this week.

Cllr Arfon Jones who has been making enquiries on behalf claimants said:

“ I was stunned to see how much has been spent to avoid paying these current and former employees money they are rightly owed, clearly it is also wrong that they've had to wait 8 years for it. Many have commented to me that if they owed the council money, there is no way they’d be given 8 years to pay up. I’m sure this huge bill will come as a surprise to many councillors, I certainly had no idea as to the extent of the external legal fees which are eye watering. The truth is that the council should have faced up to its obligations on this issue.”

Carrie Harper, Plaid’s Parliamentary candidate in Wrecsam added: “This is a massive bill purely to avoid paying compensation to people who are entitled to equal money for equal work. This staggering legal bill is of course public money that in my opinion has been squandered over the last eight years on expensive solicitors, only to delay what was clearly inevitable. Unfortunately the only people rubbing their hands together with glee at the end of all this are the lawyers.”

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Scottish Independence Debate in Reverse.

HT to @Greetinfaced1 for tweeting what is without doubt Tweet of the Day even on this historic day for Scotland


Sunday, 24 November 2013

More Planning Hoooh Ha!

Today's Observer reports that Shropshire Council plans contains plans to build 2,600 houses in the county by 2026, this includes 200 luxury homes adjacent to the site of 'Old Oswestry' a 3,000 year old Iron Age on the outskirts of the town. This has led to fierce opposition from both local groups and English Heritage and opponents have collected a 6,000 name petition. Shropshire Council have admitted to the campaign group Hoooh (Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort), that; "... the 2600 figure is both arbitrary and inexact"

Now I always thought that Local authority anticipated housing numbers were based on Government population predictions. The population for Shropshire in 2031 is predicted to be 338,000 up 16.9% from 289,000 in 2006. I'm not sure how building 2,600 homes between now and 2026, will meet the need of an additional  population of 49,000, which is why I suppose the figures are described as arbitrary and inexact!

Now, let's try to apply this inexact science to the housing needs of Shropshire Council's near neighbour, Wrexham County Borough Council, which has a population in 2012, of 135,919 and a predicted population of 163,500 by 2036, an increase of  28,000. 

Now, this is where it really get's confusing because Wrexham CBC's Local Development Plan for 8,000 new homes over the next 15 years to be inadequate to meet the housing needs by the Planning Inspector who immediately cancelled the plan and ordered a new one to be drawn up to include 12,000 new homes.

I'm just glad that Wrexham Council have a meeting of their Planning Policy Panel this week, time to get some answers I think.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gwariant ar yr Iaith Gymraeg.

Siomedig iawn oedd clywed fod Llywodraeth Cymru am dorri ei cyllideb ar hyrwyddo'r iaith Gymraeg; hyd yn oed cyn y toriadau doedd y gyllideb ddim yn ddigonol o bell ffordd.

Sylweddolais heno wrth wrando ar ddarlith Meirion Prys Jones sef Prif Weithredwr, Network to Promote Language Diversity (NPLD), yn Gwersyllt, faint mor fregus ydy'r iaith heb adnoddau digonol.

Cymharwyd Cymru a Gwlad y Basg, lle mae y llywodraeth Basgaidd yn buddsoddi rhwng 150 a 180 miliwn Ewro y flwyddyn yn hybu yr iaith. Canlyniad hynny yw fod y boblogaeth sydd yn siarad yr iaith yn cynyddu 5% bob 10 mlynedd.

Yng Nghymru mae y Llywodraeth yn buddsoddi tua £25 miliwn yn hyrwyddo yr iaith a chanlyniad hynny yw fod y nifer siaradwyr Cymraeg yn dirywio 2% mewn 10 mlynedd.

Cynydd yn gyllideb y Gymraeg sydd ei angen a ddim toriadau.

Diolch i Meirion am dynnu ein sylw at yr ystadegyn gwarthus yna; a cofiwch yrru ebost i'ch Aelod Cynulliad drwy fynd i wefan Cymdeithas Yr Iaith i brotestio y toriad yma i gyllideb y Gymraeg.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Plaid Cymru concern at increase in consultants’ costs at Wrexham Council

Plaid Cymru Press Release.

Plaid Cymru councillors in Wrexham have raised concerns at the increased spending on external consultants and legal advice by the local council.

Wrexham Council has published details of how much they spent on Consultants and on external legal advice. The details in an Information Report to members show that spending on Consultants and External Legal Advice has increase by 66% on the previous year from £1.14 million to £1.9 million.

The rise in net costs was even higher – consultants’ costs went from £478,000 to £810,000. The £1m legal experts’ fees was mainly for advice on the outstanding equal pay claim and “other major projects”.

The details are in Part 2 of the report to councillors, so not available to the public.

Gwersyllt West Plaid Cymru Councillor Arfon Jones has written to Wrexham Council asking for the report to be discussed by a Scrutiny Committee. He said: "I have written to Councillor Steve Wilson, the chair of the Customers, Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee, asking him to list this report for discussion.

“This is a big increase in spending whilst we are having to cut back in other areas. We shouldn't be accepting these figures without some challenge and scrutiny from members. It seems perverse that we are offering redundancy and early retirement to our skilled staff whilst increasingly spending on consultants to do some similar work.

“We should also be asking why we are not collaborating with neighbouring authorities to share expertise; much of what we spend on consultants is identical to what other councils are also spending on consultants.”

Thursday, 14 November 2013

'Cut the consultants and mayor, not lollipop ladies and play areas' - community tells Labour council

Caia Park Community Council voted tonight to send a clear message to Wrecsam council - before you touch lollipop ladies, community centres, play areas and library's across Wrexham County Borough you'd better reform the role of Mayor and cut your spending on consultants.

Axeing these frontline services would save about £403,000. Plaid councillor Carrie Harper proposed that the savings from reforming the mayor's post (currently £138,000 a year) and the additional spend year on year on consultants (up £332,000 since Labour took power) was enough to make up the shortfall.

This comes on the back of Gresford Community Council sending a similarly clear message to suspend the mayoral position rather than closing their library.

More and more communities are saying "don't cut frontline services" to a Labour-run council that is opting to cut from the bottom up rather than the top down. No wonder independent councillors propping up this lacklustre regime are talking openly of jumping ship. That would leave Labour reliant on Tory support to stay in power... 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Disbelief at Labour no show at bedroom tax debate

Dozens of Labour MPs decided to play truant at yesterdays House of Commons vote to scrap the bedroom tax. The crucial vote, arranged by Labour, failed to win a majority by a mere 26 votes. Had the Labour MPs managed to turn up, the vote would have been won. Although it would not have been binding, the vote would have clearly shown the will of Parliament.  

One of the Labour no shows, along with 5 other Welsh MPs, was Wrexham’s very own Mr Ian Lucas, despite almost 1,400 people in Wrexham being affected by the vile Tory coalition policy.

Last night’s events raise big questions about Labour’s sincerity over the bedroom tax. The party’s blundering over the issue since it came into effect has been well publicised, leading to claims that the party has been mired in confusion.

It eventually announced a commitment to end the tax if it wins the next election back in September of this year. The party’s website leads with the following quote from its leader Ed Milliband:

 ‘If we win the next election, I will scrap the Bedroom Tax. No ifs or buts

It would seem that what the party desperately needs more than anything is butts on seats, if it expects anyone to take them seriously. It is unforgivable that a key opportunity to scrap this tax has come to nothing thanks to Labour’s lack of genuine commitment.

Plaid Cymru’s MP’s attended last nights debate and voted to scrap the bedroom tax.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Council has 15 different advice services – Plaid calls for streamlining to protect frontline services

Plaid Cymru Press Release:

A Plaid Cymru councillor has challenged Wrexham council to protect frontline services by streamlining its management and bureaucracy.

Councillor Arfon Jones, who represents Gwersyllt West, called for some “blue sky thinking” on how to make savings whilst minimising the effect on front-line services.

He said Wrexham Council had failed to act on recommendations of a Welsh Government Advice Services Review published in March this year.

This report highlighted how many organisation provided advice services in Wrecsam County. Councillor Jones said, 
"I was shocked when I read this report and to find that there were over 35 organisations in the County Borough that provided advice in one form or another and that 15 of these advice services were provided by Wrecsam Council itself. “Most, if not all, of these organisations receive public money and there is a massive duplication in the management of these services provided. Why, for example, do we need three different advocacy services? These services provided by the council are all separate stand-alone services and have their own bureaucratic management structures."

Cllr Jones went on to say, 
"I wrote to Wrecsam Council back in June this year asking for them to look at the cost of these separate services but received no reply." 

Cllr Jones called for an urgent review of Advice Services within the County Borough: 
"We need an urgent review as to how much these duplicated services cost the taxpayer. All the Council advice services should come under one roof with one management structure; this would provide an expanded service for less money. We should also consider whether it is more effective and efficient to commission advice services from not-for-profit organisations like Citizens Advice and Shelter. “Whatever we do, I believe there is huge money-saving potential without affecting the actual frontline services that we provide. As an authority we should be seeking to squeeze out inefficiencies and not wholesale decimation of community services such as libraries, school crossing patrols and play areas." 


Saturday, 9 November 2013

Small minds

Please sign this... a small sign of small minds

Wrexham Council is proposing to close 3 libraries, including Rhosllannerchgrugog. This is to save £92,000 as part of the council's cuts for 2014/15. In 2008 Rhos library was awarded £100,000 grant from CyMAL to refurbish the building which is a key part of day to day life in Rhos and the surrounding communities of Penycae, Pant, Ponciau and Johnstown. The nearest library, if closure is agreed, will be in Ruabon.

Mae Cyngor Wrecsam yn bwriadu cau tri llyfrgell, gan gynnwys un yn Rhosllannerchrugog. Bydd hyn yn arbed £92,000 fel rhan o gynllun toriadau'r cyngor. Yn 2008 cafodd y llyfrgell £100,000 o grant er mwyn adnewyddu'r adeilad, sy'n rhan annatod o fywyd y pentre a chymunedau Penycae, Ponciau, Pant a Johnstown. Os bydd yn cau, y llyfrgell agosaf fydd Rhiwabon.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Plaid Cymru welcomes Silk announcement

Plaid Cymru Press Release

Plaid Cymru has welcomed the UK Government’s response to Silk Commission Part 1 recommendations.  This comes a year after the Silk Commission published its first report in November 2012.
Plaid Cymru has campaigned for the recommendations to be implemented in full since they were first unveiled, arguing that they provide key levers that will be vital to Wales’ economic future.
However the Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood has warned that the Welsh Government should move ahead as quickly as possible to devolve Income Tax powers in order to improve the Welsh economy and promote accountability for the Welsh Government.
The Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood said:
“The Welsh Government must be responsible for raising a material proportion of its revenue – following the practice of other OECD countries. Plaid Cymru broadly welcomes the announcements made this morning on financial powers for the National Assembly for Wales, albeit we would have preferred them to have gone further.
“The Party of Wales has pushed for the implementation of the Silk recommendations from the very beginning, and it is good to see that the UK Government has finally made some progress, even though they have fallen short of the full implementation.
“Borrowing powers have great potential to revive the economy across Wales, they could allow us to revolutionise our transport and communications infrastructure in all parts of the country. Broadband, the reopening of Beeching-cut rail lines, a national house-building programme, investment in school buildings and a home energy efficiency scheme are all shovel-ready schemes which will create jobs.
“Plaid Cymru has always maintained that the recommendations made by the Silk Commission in its first report promoted accountability and responsibility for the National Assembly for Wales, and to strengthen our democracy in Wales.
“We now need to move ahead, without further delay.
“We need powers over income tax to incentivise the Welsh Government to create well-paid jobs, which will radically change the landscape. This process needs to begin as soon as possible.
“I’m disappointed that the UK Government has decided not to implement the Silk Commission’s recommendations in full and we await their detailed response and further detail, which is due to be published later this year. There are many outstanding questions which will need to be addressed by the UK Government in their fuller response.
“Plaid Cymru has consistently said that Wales needs job-creating powers if we are to transform our economic fortunes and create new jobs. We must now press ahead with devolving these powers as soon as possible and I look forward to working again with all four parties represented in the Assembly to do so.”
The Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd said:
“The ball is now in the Labour Welsh Government’s court - it is vital that they don’t halt our economic recovery by delaying the referendum on income tax powers.
“Any further dithering will cast doubt over Labour’s alleged commitment to further devolution.
“We must also not underestimate the challenge of securing a legislative slot in Westminster in order to bring the process forward.
“This morning, the First Minister claimed that his party is not in favour of devolving income tax until the Barnett formula is reformed to provide fairer funding for Wales.
"Whilst we also believe in reforming the Barnett formula, let's not forget that the Labour Party had 13 years in government to do so. Now is not the time for further delay.
"Plaid Cymru is firmly in tune with public opinion in pushing for more powers and will always put Wales first."

Drug Seizures North Wales.

There has been a significant drop in drug seizures across England and Wales in 2012/13, which may well go some way to explaining the big reduction in crime that we have seen recently. The drop in North Wales Police area has been significantly more than in Wales as a whole.

The highest numbers of seizures was in 2008/09 with 2531 seizures compared to 1571 in 2012/13 a reduction of nearly 40%. Across Wales the reduction was only 10%, from 13,790 to 12,339 seizures.

What these figures don't tell us whether there have been less seizures but greater quantities seized,  but the national indications are that quantities seized by Police Forces is also down with quantities of Cannabis Resin seized down 45%.

I don't think there is anyone who believes that drug use in North Wales has reduced by 40% over the last few years so there is therefore only one answer to these significant changes and that is Policing priorities, with seizures of controlled substances no longer seen as a priority resulting in a reduction of proactive targeting of possession of drugs and consequently a reduction in crime figures.

Perhaps the Police Commissioner, Winston Roddick can explain how North Wales Police's operational policing tactics fits in with his Police and Crime Plan, where Protecting People and Reducing Harm is a Policing objective?


Monday, 28 October 2013

Free Wi-Fi for Cardiff City Centre

It's great news for Cardiff that they have succeeded in obtaining funding to deliver high quality Wi-Fi across the city centre from the Super Connected Cities Project. The areas that will be covered will be tourist areas and the St David's Shopping Centre:

Cardiff County Council is to introduce free Wi-Fi across the city centre next month, as part of the Super Connected Cities Project.The partnership between the council and BT Wholesale will see wireless technology installed on the city’s lamp posts and other street furniture.
Cardiff’s cabinet member for finance & economic development, Russell Goodway, said: “‘hese wireless technologies will add to the huge investment in fibre broadband that BT has already made across Cardiff and give the city a real competitive edge when it comes to attracting new visitors and businesses.
‘This will also significantly improve the speed, reach, strength and reliability of 3G and 4G mobile services that is offered to mobile and smart device users.’
The WiFi service will initially cover the busiest areas for tourism, commerce and leisure, before being extended to the Cardiff Bay area in 2014. 
Plaid Cymru in Wrecsam did raise the need for free Wi Fi in the town back in June 2012, but the suggestion seemed to have been quietly shelved as nothing has been heard of the of it for quite some time.

One of the council's strategic aim in the 'Plan' is the economy and to "create a vibrant, diverse and inclusive economy;' and I'm not sure how poor connectivity will help us to achieve this aim. This is something that needs re-visiting as a matter of urgency.
 

The Tax Gap.

According to the HMRC the tax gap, which is the difference between what the Revenue reckon they should receive in tax and what they actually received is down in 2011/2012 to 7% or £35 billion a year. In other words the Revenue believe they are collecting 93% of what is owed to them.

The Revenue break down the missing billions as follows:


  • £5.4bn is lost through the hidden economy                         
  • £5.1bn through tax evasion;                                            
  • £4.7bn via criminal attacks;                                             
  • £4bn through avoidance;                                                
  • £4.4bn as a result of non-payment;
  • £4.3bn as a result of differences in legal interpretations;     
  • £4.3bn as a result of ‘failure to take reasonable care
  • £2.9bn is lost through error.
The HMRC further believe that £16.7 billion of missing tax is attributable to Small & Medium Enterprises (SME's) and only £8.8 billion from large corporations with the rest being due from individuals and criminals.

It would be interesting to find out if there has been any 'independent' research done into the 'tax gap'.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Price of electricity to double with nuclear

The price of electricity is set to double if the UK Government continues down the road to nuclear power.

George Osborne is ready to strike a deal that would see the Chinese state fund a French state-owned nuclear energy firm build a new N-power plant at Hinkley Point, just across the Severn from Cardiff.

 'The UK will be agreeing to buy electricity from Hinkley Point for 35-40 years at £93 per megawatt hour or thereabouts, according to the whisper from Westminster.That is roughly twice the current market rate for electricity, and far in excess of the £40 per megawatt hour that was airily waved around by the Department of Energy only half a decade ago.
 Nuclear power, it seems, can only be bought at a cost roughly equivalent to on-shore wind, complete with its subsidies to landowners. Maybe that is the price that has to be paid for secure low-carbon supplies, but at current energy prices, the first impact of Hinkley Point will be to add to consumers' bills, just as wind does today.
"In the long term," the chancellor continued, new nuclear should lead to "lower and more stable energy bills."
The key phrase there is "long term". The claim rests on the assumption that the costs of other sources of energy will continue to rise and make £93 appear a bargain sometime in the future. That assumption may or may not prove correct – but coming from a government that supposedly thinks fracking will revolutionise the energy market, it's a strange argument to hear.
But is £93 the real cost anyway? The devil will be in the detail of this contract – specifically, in the indexation formula for the strike price. If Hinkley Point's entire output is tied to the rate of inflation for 40 years, we could be staring at a truly astronomical cost by the end of the contract.'

This week's Private Eye also warns that the UK Government is attempting to soften the blow by allowing off-shore wind schemes to get three times the current rate for electricity with tidal lagoons - a real prospect for Wales - getting SIX times the current cost.
 All window dressing to make nuclear more reasonable.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Independent councillor joins Plaid Cymru

Councillor Keith Gregory, who represents Smithfield ward on Wrecsam Council, has joined Plaid Cymru.

 He made his announcement at a packed public meeting with Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru's leader, and spoke from the heart about his decision to join after working with Plaid Cymru locally and listening to Leanne's speech at the recent party conference in Aberystwyth.

 The meeting was part of Leanne's leader tour throughout Wales and also the opportunity to launch the Westminster campaign of local candidate Carrie Harper.

 Carrie spoke with passion about the way people can take control of their own lives and communities rather than passively accepting what is being done to them. To create a better Wrecsam and a better Wales, she said, we had to challenge the stale politics of the big three London parties.

 Leanne's pitch was more direct - if you want to change Wales for the better, join Plaid!

 Her success in recruiting Keith and a number of other new members on the night shows how successful that message is. Ymlaen!


Gresford colliery fears over fracking exploration



Fears that any drilling for Coal Bed Methane near Wrecsam could accidentally strike the flooded coal workings at Gresford colliery have been raised.
The concerns were aired by a former mining surveyor who worked at the mine before it closed in 1972 at a public meeting in Saith Seren, Wrecsam, this week. Phil Owen, of Wrecsam, explained that any drilling to extract methane from the coal seams could easily breach the old workings from Gresford, which spread close to the planned test borehole near Borras. 
 He vowed there would be mass opposition to any such move, given that there are still hundreds of bodies of dead miners interred after the 1934 explosion. 

 The meeting organised by North-East Wales Against Fracking Action was attended by about 50 concerned local residents and activists. They heard detailed opposition by Paul Mobbs, an environmentalist who also spoke in Oswestry on the same subject. For more detail on Paul's excellent analysis of the situation see Oswestryi.com's report.

Locally, energy companies are interested in extracting methane gas from deep coal seams. This is unlike the shale gas extraction more common in the US. The place to look for the history of coal bed methane extraction is Australia. Dart energy, the company owning licences to drill from Oswestry up to Wrexham, moved its operations to the UK last year when Australia tightened up its environmental regulation of the industry. The coal bed methane story is covered in a 45-minute documentary made by the Australian equivalent of Panorama (at the foot of this post).
More than 100 people signed a petition against local fracking on Saturday. 

For more information on the planned test drilling at Commonwood Farm, Borras, Wrecsam, and its implications for the whole of the area, see Paul's page.




Saturday, 19 October 2013

Summary of Important Welsh Government Consultations.

Below are a summary of important Welsh Government Consultations.

Increasing Council Tax on Second Homes.

The Welsh Government is seeking views on whether it should grant local authorities discretionary power to increase council tax on second homes and how this should work in practise. There seems to be a general consensus within Plaid Cymru that powers should be granted to increase the level of council tax to 200%. This consultation ends in 9 days. The link to the consultation is to be found  here

Designated Persons Order (No 1)

The purpose of this consultation is to determine whether public bodies are accountable enough and whether an increased level of scrutiny and challenge is required. The Consultation mentions several bodies that may be open to greater scrutiny, chief amongst them being Local Health Boards and Registered Social Landlords. I personally feel that Third Sector/Not For Profit Sector should be more accountable especially after the AWEMA scandal. I therefore believe if a Third Sector/NFP receives more than £75,000 public funding then it should be open to scrutiny and challenge.
The link to this consultation can be found here.

Former Prisoners and Priority Need Housing.

A particularly relevant consultation for Wrecsam with a 2,200 inmate Titan Prison coming here.

At present Wales is the only part of the UK that has specific legislation giving former prisoners priority for housing needs, this is carte blanche, if you are a former prisoner you will get to the top of the housing register. Clearly this is not working and the Government is recognising this as the following comment by Carl Sargeant suggests, "I am concerned at the burden on local authorities and communities that arises from the priority need status that is given to former prisoners."

The Welsh Government are considering amending this legislation to only apply to 'vulnerable former prisoners.'

If we don't get this right this may have severe implications on availability of social housing in the North East of Wales so HAVE YOUR SAY. 

The future of regulation and inspection of care and support in Wales.

This is a government White Paper who are intending to change the inspection and regulatory regime in Wales so that it is outcome based. This White Paper is welcomed and long overdue. There has long been a lack of joined up thinking around inspection within Children Services in Wales with inspectors visiting as many as 5 or 6 times a year and impacting on both front line and management of  Childrens Services. I have previously commented on this HERE, HERE and HERE.

Please take the time to respond to these consultations...they are important.


Friday, 18 October 2013

Liverpool Women's Hospital.

Whilst we await the recommendation of the Royal College of Paediatricians to our First Minister on moving Neonatal Intensive Care from North Wales to Arrowe Park perhaps we should reflect on this interesting little article from this week's Private Eye:


Once Arrowe Park's cots are full this is where our babies will go. The Care Quality Commission's most recent report in September states that improvements are required in:

  • People should get safe and appropriate care that meets their needs and supports their rights.
  • People should be cared for by staff who are properly qualified and able to do their job
  • There should be enough members of staff to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs 
These revelations that one of the biggest Maternity Hospital's in the UK is failing to provide adequate staffing and care MUST convince the First Minister that our babies are better off being cared for in Glan Clwyd and the Maelor rather than a failing privatised NHS system in England.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Plaid Cymru calls on council to 'flatten the pyramid'

 Plaid Cymru Councillor Arfon Jones has called on Wrecsam Council to address the top-heavy management structure in the council to contribute to the massive savings the council has to make.

 Cllr Jones, who represents Gwersyllt West, said: "We have one Chief Executive, three Strategic Directors and nine Chief Officers earning a combined total of £1.38 million a year in 2012/13 which is an increase of 4.5% on the previous year, with the lowest paid getting over £93,000 and the Chief Executive on a whopping £135,000. It begs the question if we have nine Chief Officers responsible for their departments then why do we need three Strategic Directors?"

 Cllr Jones went on to point out that, over the last two years, a total of a 151 staff had left the authority with an 'exit package'. More than a third of all staff that left with packages were made compulsory redundant with nearly all of them receiving an exit package of less than £20,000, indicating that they were low-paid staff in the main.

 There were no compulsory redundancies for staff entitled to exit packages over £40,000.

  Cllr Jones added: "What these figures show is that we are quick enough to dispose with our lower-paid frontline staff but the managers remain. It will be interesting to see a breakdown of the pay grades of the 368 staff that have volunteered for early voluntary redundancy or retirement and whether the council will let senior staff go." 


 Plaid Cymru's Prospective Parliamentary for Wrecsam, Carrie Harper: "The Labour administration in Wrecsam is going for the quick hits of salami slicing frontline services, outsourcing and increasing charges that alienate the public and hit the local economy.

 "There are senior officers in the council who spend a fortune on consultants to do their work for them; that needs to stop. We need to flatten the management pyramid in Wrecsam, it is far too top heavy." 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Caia Community Council rejects cuts agenda

If Wrecsam Council was hoping to offload its financial woes onto Caia Park tonight, it failed. The county had wanted community councils throughout the borough to take financial responsibility for community services.
Tonight Caia Park Community Council - in a show of unity - agreed to defer any decision about taking on basic community facilities such as community centres, play areas and school crossing patrols until the county council supplied more accurate financial information about the real cost.

It was telling that even Labour's own finance lead member, Malcolm King, concurred that the figures given to the community council weren't accurate after new information was received today. 

This contrasted with Cllr Brian Cameron's earlier attempt at political point scoring, in which he claimed the council had been given all the necessary information. 

 There was also a general consensus that people in Caia should not have to shoulder the additional burden through higher Council Tax to pay for services they already get. Times are already very difficult with rising bills and pay not keeping up with inflation.

 The most positive aspect of the meeting was that councillors should knock on as many doors as possible to get the views of residents in their wards on the proposals.


If you have a view on whether the community council should pay to keep Pentre Gwyn and Kingsley Circle Community Centres, 10 play areas dotted around the community and the three school crossing patrols on Holt Road and outside Gwenfro and Hafod y Wern schools - let me know on marcvjones [a] gmail.com

 The county council is saying that, unless the community council pays, it could close these services in April 2014. Plaid Cymru councillors in Caia tonight challenged that view, saying any cuts should first take place in senior council management rather than frontline services.

So have your say and make sure the Guildhall is listening.

 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Another big U-turn by Labour in Wrecsam.

Prior to the Council elections in May 2012, Labour in Wrecsam put out this spend, spend, spend leaflet 


One of their promises was to promote Wrecsam as a place to shop etc. The previous administration had in fact reduced car park charges with the exact same aim to promote the town which was supported by Labour members of the authority.

Following his appointment as Leader, Councillor Neil Rogers was quoted in an article in the Leader newspaper as saying:
“We want to start having dialogue about the situation concerning car parks. It is high on my agenda... 
“We fought against the plans that the last administration had for new parking charges. We now want to see what we can do to make things as attractive for shoppers and residents as possible, with car parking very important in relation to that.” 
“It is important the businesses of this town are given the chance to prosper,” he said. “We value the service they are providing for the town and are keen to help them in any way we can. 

“Town centres are struggling across the length and breadth of Britain and we have to find ways we can help Wrexham town centre prosper. 

“We need to work together to find the best way forward regarding car parking.

Less than 18 months later, Neil Rogers's administration bring a report to Wrecsam's Executive Board proposing a number of parking INCREASES in the town. When Independent Councillor and local businessman, Bill Baldwin challenged the Leader's U-turn by reading out the above article, Councillor Rogers replied that he didn't realise in May 2012, how deep the cuts were going to be. That was met by gasps of disbelief and heckles at his disingenuous explanation.

They have no shame!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Campaign mobilises to combat fracking firm




Plaid celebrate the return of millions in Wrexham tenants rent


Plaid Cymru have claimed a victory following news that a substantial part of £11.4m of rent money currently taken by the London Treasury every year, will be returned to Wrexham council. The Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Scheme – which has seen over a billion pounds of Welsh council rent money paid to the Westminster Treasury – will be reformed, leaving more money in the hands of Welsh councils.
Wrexham councils Executive Board are due to discuss the implications of the announcement, along with targets to reach the Welsh Housing Quality standard on Tuesday, with millions now being due to return to the local housing pot.
Until now, councils which raised more money from council housing rents than they spent on maintaining those properties, have had to send surplus monies to the Treasury. Money was then redistributed to councils throughout England and Wales which spent more on maintenance and refurbishment than they received in rent.
Figures obtained by Plaid back in 2010 revealed that 21 of Wales’s 22 local authorities had lost money to the Treasury ranging from over £139million in Cardiff to £110 million in Wrexham.
Plaid's Wrexham Parliamentary candidate Carrie Harper, branded the scheme as ‘the great rent rip off’ back in 2010 when campaigning against the subsidy system. In response to the ending of the scheme and the upcoming discussion at Wrexham council, she said:
“This is fantastic news for Wrexham. Although the details of the exit from the scheme have yet to be settled, we already know it will mean millions returning to the housing budget locally. This will allow Wrexham council to meet the Welsh Housing Quality standard by 2020 and hopefully permanently take the stock transfer issue off the agenda.”
“As well as using this money to invest in our local housing stock, it also opens up the possibility for the council to build new council housing for the first time in over 40 years. It is going to make a huge difference and I’m hugely proud of the role Plaid has played in remedying this injustice.”
Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has relentlessly pursued the issue in Parliament. He first raised the ‘great rent robbery’ just two days after giving his June 2010 maiden speech. After his debate later that year, he tabled a motion to gain the support of fellow MPs for scrapping the scheme. Unfortunately, not a single Member of Parliament from Wales, other than from Plaid Cymru, supported his calls to end the unfair scheme.
Carrie Harper added: “ Plaid have continuously campaigned to raise awareness about this housing scandal both locally and at Westminster. There can be no doubt that our MP Jonathon Edwards has played a leading role in finally bringing this rent rip off to an end. The return of this money will rightly bring big benefits to council tenants both in Wrexham and across Wales.”


Shameless Labour Minister's Spin.

Dear Editor,

In their respective columns in last Friday's Leader, two Welsh Government Ministers, Carl Sargeant and Lesley Griffiths make identical points and that is to congratulate their ministerial colleague Edwina Hart on her £44 million investment in redoubling and improving the rail link between Wrecsam and Chester.

What they forgot to mention is that this was an embarrassing U-turn by Mrs Hart of a decision she made less than 3 months ago, to divert this money from the North East of Wales to her pet rail projects in South Wales.

The £44 million had initially been earmarked for the Wrecsam/Chester line by Plaid Cymru's Ieuan Wyn Jones when he was Deputy First Minister of the One Wales Government.(2007/11)

Opposition politicians in the Assembly are to be congratulated for forcing Mrs Hart into her U-turn. 

Regards,

Councillor Arfon Jones

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Think outside the box when re-shaping services, council urged


A report on Re-shaping services will be considered by the Executive Board next Tuesday. It's focus is relentlessly on cutting frontline services to save £50m over the next four years.

In response, Plaid Cymru's Gwersyllt West Councillor, Arfon Jones said: 

"This report brings clarity to what we as a Local Authority are facing in the future and its good that the report is in the public domain. Whilst I accept there is going to be less money in the spending pot, this report seems to think that the only way to reduce spending is to drastically cut front-line services. There are other ways of protecting services and one of those ways is by generating additional income by thinking outside the box. “The fact that many of our Post Offices are at risk of closure or re-locating provides the Council with opportunities. For example why don't the council bid to run Gwersyllt Post Office from the council-run Resource Centre? This would provide Wrecsam Council with much-needed income and ensure that an important community benefit business remains at the village's heart. This would be a win-win situation for the council, the Post Office and the community." 
Councillor Jones went on to say:  
"This need not be restricted to Gwersyllt but could be extended to other parts of the County Borough where threatened Community Centres could be utilised in a similar fashion and which would ensure their long term viability. I really believe the administration should consider this as an option."

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Wrexham.com's Councillor's Progress Report.

This is in response to a Q&A posed by wrexham.com, our hyperlocal online news source and supposed to be published on their website today. This hasn't gone to all 52 Councillors but only to the 12 that responded to a similar exercise at the time of the May 2012 election and who were elected.


1. What was your first priority / aim for your ward prior to being elected and have you managed to achieve it? 


There were two actually, one local and one County Borough. The local one was to build a footway from Pendine Nursing Home towards Gwersyllt, this has not been achieved basically because of intransigence on the part of our Highways Dept, they list reasons as 1) No money 2) They don't own the land 3) Owner won't sell 4) Doubtful if compulsory purchase order will be successful if there is a public enquiry 5) No evidence of accidents having occurred. I haven't given up but it is proving a hard nut to crack!

My second priority was to campaign to retain the £11 million a year that we give to the Treasury every year in housing subsidy, that campaign has been won and part of this money will be retained (its complex), we campaigned for this with Jonathan Edwards MP. 

2. Since the election have you found your ward members engaged in your work, and if so what has been the main engagement tool? 


Ward members engage predominantly when they have a problem and the way they engage is varied...telephone, mobile, text, lots of E-Mail, Facebook chat and Direct messages on twitter. Many ward members are interested in my work and I have a great deal of contact following publication of a newsletter. I also have a lot of contact following a high profile campaign like the Stansty One Way campaign.

I also have a lot of public engagement in my role as a member of the Community Health Council especially around the campaign to prevent the Neonatal Intensive Care services being moved from the Maelor to Arrowe Park.

3. A post on the Wrexham.com forums stated that local democracy is healthy when councillors are pushed on issues affecting their ward members. Some have called for an open forum discussion. Do you feel you are pushed enough by the people you represent and could an open forum be a tool to achieve that? 


Absolutely, and one excellent example of this was the Stansty One Way system where local members and the lead member were put under considerable pressure by local people to scrap the project which is what happened.

 Likewise the campaign to retain Neonatal intensive care services in Wrecsam was a contributory factor to a change in Health Minister and the First Minister taking responsibility for the decision. 

Another effective grass roots campaign was the Twitter campaign against Whitbread/Premier Inn which forced an U-turn on bilingual signage at the new Premier Inn after only 3 days.

You only need to be pushed if you don't have your finger on the pulse or you are not responding to action by your constituents. The answer is to try and stay ahead of the game.

4. What one thing you have achieved over the last 15 months are you most proud of? 


Getting gas central heating into Bryn Awel Court instead of the expensive Economy 7, this will alleviate fuel poverty for many tenants some of whom were paying 40% of their disposable income in fuel costs. The sad part was that it took so long because of a lack of urgency on the part of the council and Wales and West Utilities.

I'm also very proud of what some members of the Community Health Council achieved as individuals in bringing the Health Board to account and basically changing the culture of the CHC and making it a truly  patient representative body and working with the North Wales Health Alliance

5. What do you see as the long term future in terms of Wrexham's identity and how do you think it will be achieved? 


A very pertinent question following Wrecsam's Planning Committee's decision to grant BDL planning consent to build more houses in Tanyfron; at the rate we are going Wrecsam will not have its own identity we will be identical to every other commuter town.

 We must stop developer led planning else the County Borough will be covered in concrete.

 We need Planning legislation that addresses LOCAL housing needs and LOCAL employment and LOCAL leisure opportunities.

 Building commuter estates is not sustainable we need jobs where the people are and where the houses are and we need many many more affordable homes.

Unsustainable communities without proper infrastructure do anything to reduce carbon emissions and deliver on the green agenda

A lot of work remains to be done to regain the character and identity of the town in the form of its markets. 

We have also spent too much time and money in the past on wanting to be something we are not i.e. a City 

6. Your current term in office is one where the council are implementing cuts. If you had to pinpoint one area the council should spend more in, and one area where they should spend less, what would they be? 


I firmly believe that we should 'maintain' funding at its current level within Adult and Childrens Social Care. Demands for services are constantly increasing within Childrens Services and demographic changes mean that people are living longer and there is a need to support them to live independently longer. The one area where there is potential for savings is within our mammoth pyramid management structure that we have in some of our silos (sorry departments).

It is very difficult to elaborate anymore on  this question as much of what has been discussed in this area was in Part 2 reports and I'm basically gagged from reporting my thoughts on the issue.

7. Where are your current efforts focused and what visible improvements would you like to achieve between now and the end of this term in your ward? 


County Borough wide I would like us to carry out an internal stock condition survey on our 11,000 council houses to determine which houses are in the poorest condition so we can target our resources at  the most needy tenants rather than sticking our finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing, which is the way we currently allocate £15 million.

Locally I will continue to fight for this footway

8. What do you think has been the best decision taken by the council since the election? 


There has definitely been an improvement in education and school standards much of it a continuation from the previous administration. I thought this year's results at GCSE and A Level were much improved than in previous years

9. What do you think has been the worst decision taken by the council since the election? 


There have been decisions I have disagreed with but that is the nature of politics, I don't think there have been really bad or incompetent decisions, well not yet anyway, but the hard ones are to come 

Where I believe the new administration has failed is in its public relations, for example  Chief Exec's pay and School Transport, they give the impression of  forever shooting themselves in the foot and they are extremely thin skinned and defensive. 

They really need to realise that challenge and scrutiny is an essential part of a healthy democratic process and not hide behind petty personal attacks to justify their stance

10. In our Q&A at election time we asked for your best memory of the town, so would like to ask you this time around what have you been most proud of in terms of the town since you were elected? 


Since the election there has been a definite increase in grass roots political activity, with Plaid Cymru and Unite the Union leading the way.

 We have had Change Wrexham for our Future and Wrexfest, we have had days of action against Blacklisting of Union members, PayDay loan picketing and Zero Hours pickets, as well as a grudging  acceptance by Wrecsam Council of the Social media and webcasting campaigns 

The most profound change however is my conversion to Rugby League! and I was very happy to see the North Wales Crusaders win the double and get promoted to the Championship, which is one down from the Super League.

 Writing this just after the Chester game, I suppose the least I say about Wrexham FC the better.