Sunday, 28 July 2013

Plaid Cymru Councillor calls for a halt to the gravy train.


Gwersyllt West Plaid Cymru Councillor, Arfon Jones has called on the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales to show restraint in how much allowances it allows Councillors to claim. 

Councillor Jones said, 
Some Councillors are paid over £8000 a year to chair committees that only meet 4 times a year, that is £2000 a meeting and it is totally unjustified and it should be stopped. When I raised this at Wrecsam's Audit Committee recently the Chair told me the Independent Remuneration Panel had told him he had to claim it. The Remuneration Panel needs to get real and need to stop paying senior salaries to Councillors for chairing so few meetings. I would be embarrassed to accept the allowance for doing so little work

Councillor Jones went on to say,
To put things into perspective, Wrecsam Council want to close Community Centres that cost less than £10,000 a year to run and here we are wasting public money paying a salary to these committee chairs for so little work. This will rightly be seen by the public as a political gravy train and sends out the wrong message that we are not in this together; that is not right and has to change.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

S4C a TG4 yn yr un cwch!

Blog diddorol dros ben gan Séamas Ó Sionnaigh ynglyn a methiant Llywodraeth Iwerddon i ariannu TG4, sef teledu Gwyddelig yn ddigonnol. Mae'n sefyllfa digon tebyg yng Nghymru gyda S4C a'r toriadau a cholli nifer o wylwyr. Hwyrach fod angen rywyn di-flewyn ar dafod fel Séamas i ddadlau yr achos. Nid drwg o beth fasa cyfiethu blog Séamas ar gyfer rhifyn nesa o Barn neu Golwg!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Labour concedes defeat in by-election

Hats off to Martin Shipton for a cracking scoop in today's Western Mail...

He quotes a Labour source as conceding defeat in the vital Ynys Mon by-election a full fortnight before polling day. Devastating news for the candidate Taliesyn Michael, who sports a name far too exotic for some followers of Aneurin Bevan and the Abse-minded.

Here's that damning quote:

 A Labour source said: “Plaid are getting rather ahead of themselves. Rhun is likely to win the by-election, but talk of him as a future leader is very premature."

Sunday, 14 July 2013

QR Codes.

This is just me playing with what is technologically available! Thought the use of QR Codes is an easy way to store information on Smartphone or Tablet.

Any use?

Newsletter - Cylchlythyr, (Haf/Summer 2013)

Publishing misinformation!

I am fortunate that I made the decision not to read the Mail or the Express many years ago for the simple reason that their papers were full of misinformation but I still read some nationals and local papers.

One such paper I read is Wrecsam's Leader published 5 days a week. Last Friday the following letter was published by in the Leader, it is not known whether it was a editorial decision to publish erroneous  information or that they knew but just didn't care about misleading the public.

This was my response to JMH's letter:

Dear Editor,

Whilst JMH of Wrexham (Letters Leader July 12th) is quite entitled to express a view that a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is insane; it is then wrong and misleading to blame that decision on the European Union.

The two European institutions are totally different and unconnected.

The ECHR rules on the European Convention on Human Rights which was introduced in 1953 and is binding on all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

The European Union on the other hand was formed as the EEC in 1957 as an economic union and which has 28 member states.

The success or otherwise of an in out referendum on Europe relies heavily on having an informed electorate, we can’t base our decisions on misleading letters such as this one, and the fact that it was published just shows that the local press, in line with the national press are not interested in publishing accurate information or having an informed public debate.


Councillor Arfon Jones.
Gwersyllt West Ward.
Wrecsam CBC.


Lack of Enterprise Zones

 Oh dear. Labour AM Mike Hedges has committed a cardinal sin in his latest article for clickonwales. He exposes the latest lazy politics surrounding his government, which is content to recycle the failed ideas of 30 years ago. In doing so he risks the wrath of economic development minister Edwina Hart, who has trumpeted the idea as the savior for the Welsh economy.
Hedges, who seems increasingly unafraid to challenge the prevailing Labour lethargy in Cardiff, doesn’t mince his words:
In the early 1980s a number of Enterprise Zones were created throughout Britain including in Wales the lower Swansea valley, Delyn and Milford Haven. Based upon the principle that all policy ideas are recycled every 20 to 30 years – after those involved first time around have changed jobs or retired – then Enterprise Zones have returned once more and are now official government policy again.Their purpose was to stimulate private sector economic activity, thus creating employment in less well-off areas. This was to have been achieved using tax incentives, including:
  • 100 per cent tax allowances for capital expenditure on industrial and commercial buildings.
  • Exemption from paying business rates for 10 years from the date of the building being occupied.
Developers and investors also benefitted from simplified town planning, where planning permission was not required for new developments provided they complied with the published planning regime for the zone. Some other minor benefits were also available, including exemption from training board levies and expedited custom facilities.Initially, retail was excluded from Enterprise Zones but in many, including Swansea, it became a significant player. In Swansea the term Enterprise Zone is often used as an alternative for out of town shopping area. Wikipedia describes the Swansea Enterprise Zone thus, “The regeneration has attracted many light industries, offices and in particular retail outlets to Swansea.In early 2011 a report from the think tank Centre for Cities, and the not-for-profit organisation The Work Foundation both said the concept of enterprise zones and parks was out-dated. The Work Foundation report said, “Most of the areas that had such zones are still struggling today — places like Middlesbrough, Speke, Hartlepool and Swansea.” Most of the jobs created had simply been displaced from other areas. It continued:“Evidence from previous Enterprise Zones suggest that up to 80 per cent of the jobs they create are taken from other places; that Enterprise Zones do very little to promote lasting economic prosperity. Most Enterprise Zones create a short-term boom, followed by a long-term reversal back into depression; and Enterprise Zones are hugely expensive. Evidence from the 1980s suggests that Enterprise Zones cost at least £23,000 per new job they create.”According to a 1987 evaluation by the Department of the Environment, only 13,000 of the 63,300 jobs created in Enterprise Zones were new jobs, with the remainder displaced from within the area. The relatively small size of the Enterprise Zones meant that, in many cases they displaced jobs from within the same town or city. A 1999 study, UK Enterprise Zones and the Attraction of Inward Investment by Jonathan Potter and Barry Moore (here), suggested that around 25 per cent of new jobs were displaced from within the same town or city. This type of local displacement destabilises local economies by artificially enticing businesses into less competitive areas. The result is that other industrial parks outside the zone are left with empty units.Enterprise Zones were also created in the USA, especially California where it has been the state’s major economic development intervention. However, a report published by the Public Policy Institute of California in 2009 concluded that it had failed to achieve its key goal of increasing jobs. The report“…contrasts employment growth in Enterprise Zones with comparison areas and concludes that the program, on average, has no effect on job or business creation. The report recommends a re-examination of the program, which offers tax credits and incentives to businesses in 42 designated zones throughout the state. The program’s cost in the next fiscal year is estimated at nearly half a billion dollars.”The second interim report on Enterprise Zones by the Department of the Environment in 1995 identified that:“…in general a significant proportion of the rates relief available to tenants of properties on Enterprise Zones have been absorbed into the rental payments of new tenants, through higher rental values on Enterprise Zones relative to the control group off zone… assuming capital allowances are shared between investors, developers and landowners (rather than being passed on to tenants) the majority of the benefits from capital allowances appear to have gone to the investors…. Enterprise Zones do not appear to have been successful in encouraging hives of companies with close integration in the pursuit of mutual business development.”The Swansea Enterprise zone speeded up the regeneration of the lower Swansea Valley which was a very good thing. At the same time, however, it created a large out of town retail centre that had a detrimental effect on the city centre.The generally negative account of the impact of Enterprise Zones in the 1980s took them off the agenda for the next 25 years. Now they have returned the challenge must be to learn the lessons from the first wave and to not make the same mistakes with the new Enterprise Zones.

The only enterprise zone in the north east is in Deeside, where it’s likely to suck in enterprises from closer to Wrecsam due to the tax breaks. Is that really the point of Government funding?

Friday, 12 July 2013

Ceidwadwyr yn colli sedd yn is-etholiad Caerhun, Conwy.

Cynhaliwyd is-etholiad yn ward Caerhun, Cyngor Sir Conwy, neithiwr, lle cipiodd cyn Gynghorydd Annibynnol a chyn Arweinnydd  Cyngor Sir Conwy, Goronwy Owen Edwards y sedd yn ôl oddi ar y Ceidwadwyr. Roedd Goronwy wedi colli y sedd o 6 pleidlais i'r Ceidwadwyr ym mis Mai 2012.

Y canlyniad yn llawn oedd:

Neil Bradshaw (Ceidwadwyr).   170 (22%) - 18%

Goronwy Edwards (Ann).        321 (42%) +2%

Pered Morris (Plaid Cymru).      162  (21%)  +2%

Sian Peake-Jones (Llafur).          109 (14%) +14%

Y stori fawr ydy cwymp anferth ym mhleidlais y Ceidwadwyr a dydy'r cynnydd yn y bleidlais Lafur ddim yn arwyddocaol am ei bod heb sefyll yn 2012.

Y cwestiwn rwan ydy, a wneith Goronwy ymuno a chlymblaid Plaid Cymru sydd yn arwain yng Nghonwy neu aros ar ben ei hyn neu ymuno ar wrthblaid Doriaidd? Amser a ddengys.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Unite Members Protest outside Wrexham Council's Guildhall.

A small number of Unite The Union members protested outside Wrexham Council's Guildhall prior to today's Executive Board. They protested against Wrexham Council's contract with Highway maintenance contractor Enterprise who were accused of operating a 'blacklist' of workers.

Enterprise are wholly owned by Amey Construction which are owned by Spanish Company Ferrovial who along with another two companies have been awarded the contract to build Crossrail in London. These companies operate 'blacklists' on the Crossrail contract which Unite are actively campaigning against.

These companies featured recently in Panorama's, 'Blacklist Britain' programme.

The protest corresponded with a question being asked at the Executive Board:
Will Wrexham CBC as a responsible employer ensure that any future contracts are not awarded to firms that engage in 'blacklisting' of union members?
This received a rather bland non committal answer by the Lead Member for the Environment Councillor Bob Dutton to the effect that Enterprise have an union agreement and that the council will be monitoring the contract to ensure the law is complied with. We are however none the wiser whether Enterprise operate 'blacklists' or whether Wrexham Council will include no blacklisting as a community benefit in future tendering exercises.

Another fudge by a Labour led Council.

Bob Crow on Ed Miliband!

RMT's Bob Crow responds to Miliband union speech

“When Tony Blair is wheeled out to underpin Ed Miliband’s attack on the affiliated unions than you know that this is a panic move driven by the demands of big business and a right wing media who would prefer that the working class have no voice at all.

“RMT was expelled from the Labour Party almost a decade ago and in that time we have actually increased our political influence as we have had the freedom to back candidates and parties who demonstrate clear support for this trade union and its policies.

“With this latest assault by Labour on the unions the time is right to start building an alternative political party that speaks for the working people and the working class communities that find themselves under the most brutal attack from cuts and austerity in a generation. Clinging to the wreckage of a Labour Party that didn’t lift a finger to repeal the anti-union laws despite 13 years in power is a complete waste of time.”

Sunday, 7 July 2013

John Bufton goes bandit.

UKIP's Welsh MEP John Bufton has publicly disagreed with his leader Nigel Farage on future UKIP policy on the Assembly and Devolution. Bufton states he is totally committed to abolishing the Assembly and opposing more devolution, whilst Nigel Farage, somewhat surprisingly has said that he is now comfortable with devolution and a federal UK. Mr Bufton has even gone as far as to suggest the need for a new anti-devolution party as he believes that a pro devolution UKIP is no different from the Tories.

It will be interesting to see who UKIP select to replace John Bufton to top the list for next year's European elections and whether that person will back Bufton's stance on devolution or Farage's and whether Bufton will form a new party. Whatever they decide upon it could well split the anti European vote three-ways.

This is good news indeed for the pro European parties in Wales.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Problem pwy?

Yr un un hen stori yn codi ei phen eto heno yn y South Wales Evening Post gyda rhyw Lafurwr bach di-nod yn cwyno ei fyd na ddylai Cyngor Nedd Port Talbot 'wastraffu' arian ar gyfieithu ar y pryd yng nghyfarfodydd y Cyngor gan fod pawb yn gallu siarad Saesneg. 

Dwi wedi deud o'r blaen ac mi ddeuda i eto - ddim problem Beca Lewis a Chynghorwyr eraill sydd am siarad Cymraeg ydy costau cyfieithu, dydyn nhw ddim angen cyfieithu, maen nhw'n dallt Cymraeg. 

Y bobol sydd angen 'gwasanaeth cyfieithu' ydy'r rheini fel y Llafurwr, Mark James sydd ddim am ddysgu'r iaith. Os mae 'na gostau i gyfieithu, problem pobol fel Mark James ydy hi a ddim problem ni, siaradwyr Cymraeg. 

Mae angen gofyn i bawb sydd yn cwyno am gostau gyfieithu, "Problem pwy yw hi?"

Re-balancing Britain.

Much has been said in the press about Leanne Wood's Keynote speech to IPPR North's event in Manchester on Monday 1st July 2013, but I'm not sure the real messages from the event were reported upon. To place the event into context one needs to read Leanne's speech which can be found here and realise that what is often quoted in the press, "Plaid leader Leanne Wood says England needs a truly left-wing alternative" was only a small but perhaps a provocative part of the speech where she actually admits that the possibility of an English left-leaning alliance was utopian!
The potential for an English left-leaning alliance is enormous. Utopian this maybe. But we need new utopias. Politics as usual has not delivered. Think tanks like the IPPR have been vital in placing territorial justice in these islands on the agenda. But we need to go one step further and start thinking the unthinkable. The art of the possible, of the purely transactional, has failed Wales, failed Scotland, and failed most of England, too.
The real significance of what Leanne had to say is this:
There has to be a radical, muscular redistribution of economic activity - the redistribution of credit through a network of regional investment banks, and the redistribution of enterprise and activity through a system of economic incentives. 
In England, this should mean powerful regional government for the North. So far, political signs are encouraging. The Adam Smith Institute has called for a Council of the North.IPPR North has been consistent in its support for northern devolution, and more recently the Hannah Mitchell Foundation and its president Linda Riordan MP have been making an eloquent case for a new northern democracy. 
 The task that I have set Plaid Cymru is the radical rebuilding of the Welsh economy. This is too difficult to achieve by acting alone. We are just 5% of the population of Britain. We need to work with others who share our interests. The Party of Wales would greatly welcome an alliance with progressive forces from all parts of England.
Following Leanne's address the IPPR North's Director Ed Cox responded by saying he was thrilled by Leanne's appeal and the phrase the economics of renewal and the politics of liberation. He did not however  stay long on the question of politics, the constitution or left-leaning alliances, but quickly moved on to the 'crunch;' question... the economics.

He argued that its the economic argument that will win the day with the Treasury when it comes to the redistribution of wealth which was fundamental to re-balancing. Ed made the point that the economy of the North is twice as big as that of Scotland but that it was disadvantaged because it was not a nation but was a dependant economy

He then made reference to the report of the North Economic Futures Commission and the key building blocks to prosperity, skilled jobs, innovating businesses, linked industries and supplier businesses co-locating...need an Innovation Council. Then we had the age old issue of transport infrastructure (£2595 per head spent in London and South East whilst £5 per head spent in the North East which is a huge disparity).
Access to finance was clearly a key building block and the IPPR wish to see a regional banking system and for regions to have the ability to raise their own revenue...up to 50% at the regional level. Finally, the IPPR wish to see government stop tinkering with institutions like the Regional Development Agency ( lessons here for us with the WDA).

The subsequent audience discussion on the whole was warm towards the views of Ed and Leanne although some Labour Councillors made the point that there was no support for a left-leaning alliance in England but they also admitted that London centred Labour policies left a great deal to be desired. There was little support for City Regions with the main argument being that such policies increase deprivation in rural areas. There was questions from members of the Campaign for an English Parliament but they didn't seem to 'get' that an English Parliament without re-balancing the English economy would do nothing to reduce the division between London/South East and the rest of England. The most interesting observations came from members of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation which works for a fair and prosperous North of England. Concern was also raised about 'noises' from London and the South East for greater independence so as to avoid further redistribution of wealth.

Overall I was particularly impressed by all the contributions (with the exception of one outburst by an UKIPesque 'angry white man'), and I feel that this is a great opportunity to co-operate with like minded people to bring pressure on the government for further devolution of economic tools and finance  to re-balance the economy to make all the regions outside London and the South East more prosperous.