Saturday, 31 August 2013

Re-location of Gwersyllt Post Office : Reply to my Submission.

This is the reply I had from the Post Office to my submission opposing the re-location of Gwersyllt Post Office



Thursday, 29 August 2013

Brymbo housing déja vu


Plans to build a further 150 homes on Brymbo will be discussed by Wrecsam’s planning committee on September 2nd. For many of us, it will be a re-run of December 2010’s planning committee, which saw Brymbo Developments Ltd’s plans for 150 houses thrown out on the grounds of over-development.
BDL appealed the decision - and lost.

Despite that, BDL has now come back with a new scheme that is essentially identical to the last one – it argues that it needs the additional 150 homes to be able to pay for the spine road it promised back in 1998. This road is vital to link Tanyfron, the new estates and Brymbo and should have been a pre-condition of any of the developments on the old Brymbo steelworks site.


Why should this scheme succeed on September 2nd when if failed nearly three years ago? For one simple reason – back then there was a clear argument made by Plaid Cymru councillors on the planning committee against over-development. Who will make that case now?

At least Brymbo Community Council have had a change of heart - they're now wholeheartedly against the development and make the same arguments as we made three years ago.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Welsh timber firm branches out into solar power

A Rhuthun-based timber company is branching out into timber-framed solar panels - the first of their kind in the world. Clifford Jones Timber has already proved its green credentials by recycling its waste wood into biomass boilers onsite.

Solar power just got greener – that’s the proud claim of one of the UK’s top timber manufacturers who have developed the world’s first commercially produced timber solar panel frame.Clifford Jones Timber, who make over two million timber fence posts annually, have now turned their attention to the solar industry – and estimate it could be worth hundreds of millions in the next seven years.
The Ruthin-based company have developed its TimberSol range of wooden frames for solar panels – conventional panel frames are made from galvanised steel.
The frame is mounted on wooden polyposts, with the end that goes into the ground clad in polyurea to give a longer life while the frame is made from handmade laminated timber, made in the company’s own glulam plant and with a 25-year guarantee on frame and post.
Clifford Jones Timber Sales Director Nigel Bacon said: “Timber frames have been made before but the difference is that we are the first with the capability to mass produce them, enough for up to six million solar panels a year.
“They are strong, durable, easy to install and made from FSC – Forest Stewardship Council – timber that is fully traceable and from sustainable forests, as is all the timber we use.”
Clifford Jones Timber, the UK’s largest manufacturer of round fence posts, employ 77 people at their premises at Ruthin and at Gretna, in Scotland, and process 100,000 tons of timber a year.
The range of products they supply includes fence posts, gates, laminated timber for the construction and leisure industries, bedding for horses and even cat litter, and a range of wood fuels, from dried logs and wood briquettes to wood pellets for biomass boilers.
Nigel Bacon added: “Everything that comes onto the site here is used, nothing goes to waste thanks to three biomass boilers installed onsite.
“It’s that commitment to sustainability that has encouraged us to develop the wooden frames for solar panels.
“These could be used either on small domestic installations or on large scale solar parks and we believe we are leading the way in this field, not just nationally but Europe-wide.
“Solar power is clean energy and so now are the frames which can hold the solar panels and they are competitively priced so they are at least as cheap as steel frames and, of course, they have a much smaller carbon footprint.
“The potential here is enormous because a medium-sized solar park producing 15 megawatts of electricity would require 60,000 solar panels which would need over 20,000 Posts and Beams which could be worth £1.5 million.
“We are uniquely well placed to manufacture these frame systems because we make the fence posts and we have the glulam plant producing laminated timber which is four times stronger than ordinary wood.
“The design we have developed is also easily adjustable because solar panels have to be adjusted to the angle of the sun, depending where in the world you are – on the equator the sun is directly overhead but in the UK the panels need to be approximately at a 35 degree angle.
“That flexibility means that our frames could be used anywhere in the world and that could open up massive new markets for us.”
He added that Clifford Jones Timber already has the capacity to manufacture up to 1.5 gigawatts of timber solar frames a year to hold up to six million solar panels which could be worth over a £100 million to the company.
That annual capacity is equivalent to the current amount of solar power already installed in the UK and he said: “We estimate that Clifford Jones Timber could help to reach the Governments target of 22GW by 2020 with the TimberSol frame system.
“That target is only seven years away but in that time we could manufacture 10GW worth of frame system worth to the company potentially hundreds of millions of pounds and those are big numbers.”

H/T Welsh Icons

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Campaign against Payday loan firms launched


Plaid Wrecsam and local trade unionists launched our campaign against PayDay Loan companies today. There was a great response on the street - people really hate these legal loan sharks.
 Both Cash Converters and The Money Shop were targetted and many people stopped to talk about the problems people face.
 Most interestingly, one of our members went in to ask about the rates. A £100 loan until the next payday would cost £130 - a staggering 30% monthly interest which equates to a ridiculous 400%+ APR. Although the member isn't currently working, she was still offered the loan subject to some bank checks - so these "payday" loans are in fact being offered to people on benefits.
 The Plaid Cymru leaflets distributed on the day pointed people in the direction of the local credit union in King Street. A similar £100 loan would cost just £2 a month in interest.
 What is needed now is for the North Wales Credit Union to start pushing its positive message far more openly that small weekly or monthly savings can allow members to get low-cost loans for the emergencies in life. The Payday loan sharks are far more likely to get that trade when they're aggressively pushing their offers in the high street.
 Plaid AM Bethan Jenkins is currently consulting on a new Welsh law to tackle legal loan sharks by introducing "financial literacy" in schools.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Premier Inn yn gwrthod defnyddio y Gymraeg.

Ar hyn o bryd mae Premier Inn yn adeiladu gwesty newydd yn Wrecsam a gofynnais i reolwraig ganol tref Wrecsam i gadarnhau bydd arwyddion a phopeth yn y gwesty yn ddwyieithog.

Dyma'r ateb a dderbynies:


I met with the new Operational Manager at the Premier Inn (former Jacques Yard site) yesterday. Having previously contacted Whitbread (the owners of Premier Inn) regarding the use of bi-lingual signs, I followed up the question with Robert Cooke who will be managing the opening of the site and will be there for the first year.
His response was that while he had also questioned the decision, Whitbread as a company had decided that the majority of their guests would not be Welsh speaking but from further afield. This decision was based upon their knowledge of the market-place and their customer base, the border nature of Wrexham as a town and the percentage of the population speaking Welsh as a first language. Premier Inns in the west of Wales have bilingual signs. He also pointed out that most of the signs are purely directional with use of symbols and arrows rather than words as this is better for other first language visitors.
The staff at Premier Inn will all wear name badges and those badges incorporate flags for the languages that the wearer speaks (he has one member of staff with five different flags on their name badge, for example).
The decision is made from a business perspective bearing in  mind the needs of their customers.
Ymateb cwbl annerbyniol ac annigonol.

Mwy i ddilyn.

DIWEDDARIAD: This from Premier Inn on FB :
Hello everyone, thanks for your comments and just a quick update to let you know we are having dual signage at our Wrexham hotel when it opens soon. Have a great evening!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Let's Make a Difference to Health in North Wales.

Press Release by the North Wales Community Health Council.

OPPORTUNITIES TO CHAMPION PATIENTS’ RIGHTS IN NORTH WALES
 
The organisation that represents patients’ rights in North Wales has several vacancies and is seeking additional members.
 
The North Wales Community Health Council (CHC) is looking for more members to strengthen the voice of local people in influencing patient care in North Wales.

The CHC is the public’s independent ‘watchdog’ in the National Health Service in North Wales. Our CHC members represent the public interest and play an important role in influencing the way that health services are planned, delivered and improved.

CHC members are local people who act as the eyes and ears of patients and the public, listening to their concerns and working with the health service to improve the quality of patient care.

An additional 12 new members are needed across the six counties in North Wales to help the CHC continue to deliver its vital service to the community.
 
We are looking for people from all walks of life and from all age groups - the most important requirement is a genuine interest in improving health services for your community.  Some key skills which would be useful include: an understanding of local health issues; being able to work in a team and with a diverse range of people
 
We particularly welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups including women, minority ethnic and disabled people.
 
If you have a genuine interest in health services and would you like to make a positive difference then you can help by joining the Community Health Council team in North Wales. 
 
For further information please contact us on:
 
( 01248 679 284 or 01978 35 6178  or
* admin@bcchc.org.uk  or visit our website on www.bcchc.org.uk

It hasn't worked well in the past but let's make sure it works well in the future.

Spread the word.
 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Response to Post Office Consultation regarding the re-location of Gwersyllt Post Office.

This is a response to a Post Office consultation to re-locate Gwersyllt Post Office from its current location at Hope Street, Gwersyllt, to a Spar Shop and Garage on the A541 Mold Road. 

Please feel free to use this response as the basis to letters that others may wish to send in opposition to this proposal. The Consultation closes on the 11th September 2013, and responses should be sent to:
consultation@postoffice.co.uk or FREEPOST PO Consultation.

I am the Wrexham CBC County Councillor for Gwersyllt West ward which adjoins the ward where the current Post Office is located and the ward where you propose to re-locate the Post Office. The vast majority of the residents of my ward use this Post Office due to its proximity and location. 
The community of Gwersyllt has a population of about 10,000 residing in the villages of Gwersyllt, Summerhill, Pandy, Bradley, Rhosrobin and Sydallt. Up to about 3 or 4 years ago these communities were served by FOUR Post Offices but those at Bradley, Rhosrobin and Summerhill were closed. 
Your attempts to consult with the public on this re-location is in fact a ‘sham’ and an insult to people’s intelligence. It is clear from the letter and information sheet that this is a ‘done deal’ and you are carrying out this sham consultation to satisfy the requirements of Consumer Futures and the Post Office’s conscience. 
The reality of the situation is that you wish to continue apace with your profitable business partnership with A F Blakemore’s who operate the Spar shops; in fact you already have 57 if not more franchises operating within Spar shops and as such no other local businesses were offered to run the Post Office service even though the proprietor of Derek’s Convenience Store on Wheatsheaf Lane, Gwersyllt, was interested and has an empty shop next door to her current store which she owns. This begs the question why no tendering exercises were undertaken as both Lidl and Tesco are also within a ‘stone’s throw’ of Hope Street and would have been interested. Can you provide evidence that you have carried out an ‘expression of interest’ exercise?
My second objection concerns necessity; is it necessary to move the Post Office from Hope Street? The previous postmaster owns the Hope Street building which he put up for sale some 4 years ago but little interest was received and he retired 2 years ago but still retained the newsagents business. Since then the Post Office has been run by the existing staff but managed by Potent Solutions in Bolton. I have seen no evidence that Potent Solutions wish to surrender management of the Post Office or that the existing staff have been offered the opportunity to run the Post Office themselves. In fact the future for the existing staff is unknown, will they be subject to Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE) or will they be made redundant? I have also spoken to the previous postmaster who confirms that he as the owner of the Post Office and has not put the Post Office under any pressure to re-locate.

It seems that the main reason why the Post Office cannot find staff to run Post Offices is the massive reduction in payments i.e. from £60,000pa to £40,000pa to postmasters as well as a reduction in transaction fees. This is clear evidence of re-location for cost cutting reasons rather than efficiency and improved service reasons.

My third objection to this re-location is accessibility. The new proposed location is not easily accessible for the infirm and elderly. The new location is 0.55 miles west of the present location. The new location is well away from the retail centre of the community and is away from the centres of population; whilst the existing location is directly across the road from a railway station as well as having easy access to a number of bus services and not just the two that serve the new location. The Spar is also located on a busy dual carriageway controlled by a complex junction system which is unsuitable for pedestrian use.
 
In conclusion I believe that your decision to move the Post Office is a flawed business decision based on a belief that it will reduce costs and increase profitability when in fact the accessibility problems will reduce your profitability as people will seek services in more accessible locations. I am also concerned that as a business who has a ‘social responsibility’ you have failed to carry out an impact assessment on the ‘local benefit or disbenefit’ effect of your decision.

You may also be aware that at the last count some 1400+ Gwersyllt Post Office customers have signed a petition opposing your decision to re-locate.
 
I would ask that you reconsider your decision and continue to provide the service from Hope Street or alternatively carry out a tendering exercise so that other businesses in Gwersyllt have a level playing field to compete.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

£2,000 to chair a committee meeting - welcome to the Wrecsam gravy train

Today's Leader has an edited version of my letter regarding the controversy surrounding a new payment of £8,000 for a Labour councillor to chair the Audit Committee. Plaid councillor Arfon Jones had made his views clear and provoked a very personal outburst from the council leader.

Unfortunately, the Leader couldn't find space to publish the final two sentences of my letter, so here it is in full. 

 Dear Editor,

I was surprised to read the ridiculous outburst from Wrecsam Labour Council Leader Neil Rogers (Leader, July 31, Page 5) after a perfectly reasonable challenge by Plaid Cymru councillor Arfon Jones. He had challenged  the payment of £2,000 per meeting to the Audit Committee chair. This is impossible to justify at a time of staff cuts, service cuts and wage freezes for frontline staff.

Cllr Rogers is also incorrect in saying that the previous administration did not address such an outrageous allowance. In fact there was no need to address anything as the only standing committee to meet just four times a year was the Audit Committee, which at the time was chaired by the Chair of the Finance and Scrutiny Committee and therefore did not receive any additional allowance.

It was only after the May 2012 election that the Labour-led coalition decided to pay TWO senior salaries, one to the Chair of the new Scrutiny Committee and one to the Chair of the Audit Committee. It shouldn't come as any surprise that the two chairs to benefit are both Labour Councillors.

The Cardiff Labour Government can't seem to pay for a proper rail service between North and South but the Gravy Train is still on track at Wrecsam Council.

yours

Marc Jones
Plaid Cymru

Wrecsam

Monday, 5 August 2013

Pyrotechnics at Football Matches.

This was the scene at the Racecourse at the start of the New Saints v Legia Warsaw in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League on the 17th July 2013.


Yes, not one or two but a good dozen to fifteen pyrotechnics went off despite Police warnings that all fans entering the ground would be searched to prevent the setting off of pyrotechnics.

Since that match there has been no suggestion at all by UEFA that they will issue proceedings against Legia Warsaw for breach of stadium rules.

It seems that UEFA are not consistent with their policies on stadium safety:
Uefa have begun disciplinary proceedings against Celtic over the lighting of fireworks during the Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville.
Full details of Celtic's problems can be found HERE and HERE

There's a big question mark here over UEFA's impartiality towards Celtic and an explanation is required.




Sunday, 4 August 2013

Leading from the front


The Ynys Môn by-election landslide continues to cause ripples - of delight in Plaid ranks, of dismay and disillusion in all the other parties.

The focus has rightly been on the victorious candidate, Rhun ap Iorwerth, but the professional nature of the campaign was vital to that landslide. The data collected will stand Plaid in good stead for the coming European and Westminster elections.

Political analyst Richard Wyn Jones makes some perceptive comments about the campaign, highlighting Plaid rediscovering its ability to campaign and win. He also explains that that the Ynys Môn result - together with Plaid's success in a Caerffili council by-election on the same night - was at odds with a recent opinion poll. This showed Labour's vote up significantly in Wales but, as Jones says, it's a remarkably soft vote.

Voting Labour is now a reactive position if you don't like what the Tories are doing. There are few positive reasons to vote for a lacklustre Miliband, veering wildly Blairite attacks on the unions and a desire to keep those union paymasters on board. Labour's focus is on winning back Tory voters in the south-east of England and that means tacking further to the right - not an attractive proposition for Welsh voters.

 There are even fewer reasons to vote for the lazy Labour Government in Cardiff, where Carwyn Jones presides over a failing NHS and a failing education system with no vision for improving the Welsh economy. In many parts of Wales, Labour is being blamed for the current health crises by focusing on re-adjusting the bureaucracy rather than improving frontline healthcare.

 To top it all, Labour-run councils across Wales are planning millions of pounds worth of cuts to services and jobs. This could include outsourcing and privatising entire council departments, bringing Labour into conflict with council workers and unions.

People in Caerffili and Ynys Môn didn't vote Labour because they could see a more dynamic vision and ambition for Wales in Plaid Cymru.

The credit for that must go to everyone who took part but in particular two people who have led from the front and inspired the grassroots from the minute these by-elections were called.

 Leanne Wood is a hands-on leader who was out delivering "Good Morning" leaflets at 5.45am in Bro Aberffraw and then knocking on supporters' doors until 9pm at night. This was her first Assembly election test and she led by example, inspiring hundreds of other Plaid members to join her on the island.

The other person leading from the front was Plaid chief executive Rhuanedd Richards, who ensured the campaign was focussed and targetted as all future Plaid campaigns will be. They must be if we are to become the largest party in the Assembly in 2016.